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Palamedes


Palamedes: Name

Some scholars have connected the name of Palamedes with palame, “palm of the hand, skill, cunning , handiwork,” since the hero is presented as a master of cunning. But Palamedes is a master of intellectual, scientific, skill, not of manual skill, his ingenuity is different from that of Daidalos, described as son of Eupalamos. Since the Greek palame corresponds etymologically to the Latin palma, “palm which may mean also the “blade of an oar”, it has been suggested that Palamedes who is a navigator has a name that means” oar”. But it is certain that the name that means “oar”. But it is certain that the name Palamedes who is a navigator has a name Palamedes has the typical form of Greek personal names composed of two roots.

The second element is common ending of names such as Diomedes, Nikomedes, and Ganymedes; it expresses the idea “to be mindful of, to provide, to devise” and it almost certainly connected with the root of measures. From this root there is formed in Greek metron, “measures”, medimnos, “large unit of volume for grains”, medomai, “to be concerned, to contrive”, medon, “administrator, ruler”, metis, “advice, shrewdness”, metiao, “to meditate , to consider, to plan,” medea, “counsels, cunning, prudence, “ mestor, “counsellor”, the name Klytaimnestra means “glorious advisor” and has the same meaning as the German Radegund.

The same root with similar meanings occurs in most Indoeuropean languages. The fact that next to a Norse maela, “to measure”, there is a Gothic mel, “time” and Old High German mal. “point of time, mealtime”, parallel to a Lituanian metas, “time year”, suggests that the Indoeuropean root of moon and month (men in Greek ) has the same meaning. Ancient mythology stresses the association of the moon with measurement. It is remarkable that in Semitic languages there is a root that seems identical; Akkadian madadu, “to measure”, Hebrew middah, “measure”, possibly related to Akkadian ammatu, “cubit”, Hebrew ammah, “cubit”, Arabic amata, “he measured”. One cannot exclude from consideration the basic concept of Egyptian civilization, that of maat; the world was created and operates numero pondere mensura, and there is an order to which man must try to conform and which man must try to preserve. This Egyptian conception is called maat (Coptic meei, mei, me), rendered in Greek transcriptions by-ma and in Akkadian ones by mua. The term is derived from mac, “ true, right”.

The first part of the name Palamedes is derived from pala, “stone”. This word is found all over the Mediterranean and it is the clearest piece of evidence for these Italian linguists who like to discover the traces of a submerged pan-Mediterranean languages. The term pala is connected with measures and with the metal trade, so that its universal occurrence does not prove anything about linguistic affiliations. In Greek there are the term **paipalon, “rocky place”, and **paipaluris, “rocky, craggy, mountainous”, with the derivatives **dyspaipalon and polypaipalon ** In Hesychios there are listed the glosses * ¹eyya. yijos and Bayyeka pnpos*. In the Alpine region of Italy there are commonly used today the words pala, “rocky peak” balu, “ block of stone” and balma, “shelter under rocks”, Strabo, Poseidonios, Pliny, and Justinus report the terms pala, palux, palaga, palacurna, balux, baluca, as being used to refer to the “gold nugget”, mainly in Spain. In Greek the word is used to describe a little stone (calculus) used a sa lot; palos, lot, ballot”. and paipallo, “to draw lots”. The term pala may be linked with plinthos “flat stone” ; this term has a pre-Greek ending and reveals the apocope of vowels typical of pre-Greek languages. One could also consider the Latin pila, “column, pillar, pile of stones” ; in Latin there is also a word pilates or pellates explained as lapidis genus. Perhaps mention should be made of the word for “ball” which is pila in Latin and palla in Greek.

It is regrettable that Italian linguists of proven judgment and skill have allowed themselves to be carried away by a nationalistic infatuation with an original pan-Mediterranean language. For this reason they have not noticed that their argument about the universality of the term pala can be carried beyond the Mediterranean area. I may quote the Hungarian pala, “slate”, the Finnish pii, “flint”, the Yukagir pie, “stone, mountain”, the Samoyed fala, “stone”, and hyla, “rock”. the meaning of the root in Semitic languages suggests also the possibility of a link with the Finnish pala, “fragment” ; in other Ugro-Fennic languages I may quote the Lappish baelle, “side, half, thing divided lengthwise, “ the Selkup Samoyed pele and peleka, “half, side”. the Ziryene pelem, “splinter, small piece of wood, small board”, the Yenisei Samoyed fibie, “bit, fragment”, the Ostyak pelek. “thing divided lengthwise”, and the Hungarian fele, “half, side”, and farag- “to cut (wood), to chip (stone).”

Since the term is somehow connected with measures, a Semitic origin may be expected. Mention may be made of the Akkadian pilu or pulu, “ construction stone”, which may be linked with paru, “ stone beat”, and parutu, “which may be linked with paru, stone bead”, and parutu, “white marble, alabaster”. Most likely it is matter of the root of the verb palaku, “to cut, to divide, to measure” ; from this root there is formed pulukku, “mound of a mount-ain, pelku or perku, “ boundary , district, “, palgu, “canal”, pelakku, “whorl that gives weight to a spindle “ . The hebrew pelekh has the last mentioned meaning and that of “district”.

For the sake of complete record I may mention the Coptic polc, “to divide, to split”, pelce, “tattered cloth”, and polcs, “lump of earth”.

Apparently the term existed in Semitic languages both as a biconsonantal and as a triconsonantal root. The tri-consonantal root is reflected in the forms palaga and palux of the Western Mediterranean and in some of the Ugro-Fennic derivatives. The trilliteral root appears in the Greek palache, “something earned by lot”, and balleka, “ lot”. These terms may be compared with the Finnish pepata, “to play, to gamble” and peli, “game”.

The root seems to be connected with a term of the international trade of metal meaning “ax” : Akkadian pilaqqu, Sanscrit parasu, Greek pelekys. The association of the root with the notion of splitting is confirmed by the Arabic falaqa , “to split, to divide lengthwise”, and filqatum, “fragment, half of a thing.”

The Sumerian antecedent of the Semitic terms has not yet been entirely clarified. The Sumerian bal means ‘ax, to break, to hit, to dig, spindle” ; ax” it is rendered in Akkadian as pilaqqua and as “ spindle “ as pelakku. But in Sumerian there is also a a sign bullug of which the basic meaning seems to be that of “post, pillar”, which is usually rendered into Akkadian by kudurru, “boundary stone”, but is also transcribed as pulluku, pulukku, palluku, palukku. Finally, there is a homophone, the sign bulug2, which means “to split wood”.

It would seem that pala is a term, the spread of which goes back to an age in which there axes of stone. It appears older and more widespread than another international term that has received much attention : to the Sumerian arudu “copper’, expressed by a sign that seems to represent a kettle or a boiler, there has been connected the Latin raudus “lump of copper used as money”, the Basque urraida, “copper”, the Slavic ruda, m” iron”, the Finnish rauta, ‘iron”, the Albanian arents, “stee;”, the Germanic aruz from which there was formed the German Erz, “ore metal, bronze” and the English ore, which indicates also monetary unit. The Akkadian waru, eru means “bronze copper, brazen container”.

In Greek epic language polis is ptolis and polemos is ptolemos. This linguistic peculirity may explain why the name of Palamedes apperas as Talmithe in Etruscan. A similar archaic or dialectal Greek pronunciation may explain the Latin talus, “knucklebone, die”, corresponding to a Greek palos, “ lot”, (A Latin talpa, “mole”, burrowing rodent”) Pliny (XXXIII, 4, 21, 67) reports that, in Spain a rock formation indicating the presence of gold minerals under it was called talutium, and he also mentions the occurrence in Spain of palaga for “gold nugget”. Since the name of Apollo is connected with pala in the sence of “stone “, it could be asked whether polis, which originally meant the “akropolis”, is derived from the same root and meant the “rocky”.

The epithet Pallas applied to Athena is commonly explained as meaning “young woman, wirgin”, by quoting pallax, “young man” and pallakis, “ concubine” (pileges in Hebrew); but it is significant that the Greeks did not feel that the name Pallas had such a meaning and looked for other explanations . Pallas is associated with the palladion which is a stone fallen from heaven. Athena may have acquired her character of war goddess because of her association with the palladion as Pallas Athena; Athena is the goddess who protects the city against her enemies (erysiptolis). Perhaps the name Athena Polias has the same meaning as Pallas Athena: she is the goddess of the rock, the akropolis, and of the stone (later a statue) preserved there as a palladion. The linguist PaulKretschmer has associated the name of Athena and the country called Athika with the Latin athanuvium , atanulum, “vase, bowl”, the Latin athanulus is explained by a Greek gloss as “sacred vessel used by priests” and as “treasured object, relic”. Hesychios mentions a Greek term attana which he explains as tegana “frying pans”. I may add that it may be matter of a termderived from the root of the English tun or ton ( Norse tunna), for which there has been suggested a Sumerian origin. Kretschmer calls attention to the fact that Athena as Ergane was the protectress of pottery makers and of craftsmen in general and that vessels of several sorts had a particular role in her cult; the pize of the Panathenaic games were the famous Pan-athenaic amphorai. Perhaps Athena being identified with a sacred vessel, was assimilated to Pallas identified with a stone that was kept as palladion. In the biblical vision of Zechariah the function of palladion is performed both by an amphora and by a weight of lead. The Hebrew Ark,a container, was placed on a stone and considered equivalent to stones.

Nilson explains the name of Apollo by the gloss of Hesychios pella= lithos, “stone”, and most probably he is right. There is no question that at Delphoi Apollo was identified with the omphalos, which is a stone, the foundation stones of the universe. The opholos with its pattern of meridians and parallels represents the upper hemisphere and hence represents the numerical order of the universe. The method of interrogating the god at Delphoi consisted in placing above the omphalos a roulette wheel in which obviously there moved a pebble or a few pebbles. Nilsson observes that at the sanctuary of Apollo Didymaios, “the Twin”, of Miletos the god was represented by two stones in form of astragalos. A copy in bronze of one of these astrogaloi has been found and it is a standard of weight. The astragaloi, like pebbles, were means for consulting the divinity and hence for revealing the numerical order of the universe. The astragaloi of the Temple of Apollo Didymaios were carried in procession, and so was the omphalos kept at the Temple of Zeus Ammon in Libya.

Apollo is the god of measure, science, philosophy, and in general of the higher intellectual activities. He is a god of music, because music is intimately connected with measurements devices. It is not surprising to see Apollo called Nomios since nomos is a part of measures; Apollo is particularly linked with legalism. In mythology he appears closely connected with the palladion of Troy and he is presented as a lover of Kassandra to whom he gave the gift of prophecy. He would have given a similar gift for similar reasons to the Cumaean Sibyl, a figure who Jews and Christians accepted as their own, since she prophesied historical events connected with astronomical ages. The Cumaean Sibyl stood inside a vessel, like the prophetess I have mentioned in relation to the Hebrew Ark.

The name of Apollo occurs as pulendja and pillenni in Lykian and a pldana in Lydian. One may wonder whether these forms contain pala and another root, corresponding thereby to the Greek Palamedes.

The conclusion that Palamedes is the lord of the stone, acquires even more relevancy when it is considered that Palamedes has some similarities to the god Hermes, the name of which means “stone, rock ballast, foundation, prop, post”, and was worshipped in the form of stones. The boundary stones (horoi) had the form of Hermes, and the god was called epitermics, “guardian of boundaries”. The word horos is etymologically connected with the Latin urvus, “circle around a city (urba) marked with the plough” ; the nouns herma and horos could be related since the former corresponds to a Latin surus “stake”, a Sanscrit svaru- “varsman-, summit “, Anglo-Saxon swer, “post, column”. Another cognate is the Greek rhion, “mountain peak, headland”, It would seem that the Greek oros, mountain, district” and horos, “boundary “, are related; the loss of an initial sigma and digamma may or may not cause an aspiration. Heros means “Landmark, region , pillar measure, mathematical term, definition”.

In the last century Panofka suggested that Palamedes means “he who can read lotos”. The linguistic evidence I have gathered intimates that Panofka may have been right. But whereas I do not exclude this specific meaning of the name Palamedes, I would prefer to render it by “Master of the Stone”, not excluding any of the operations and concept as-sociated with stones. Perhaps “calculator” is an adequate rendering. But one must not exclude from consideration that Palamedes personifies the idea that world was conceived and operates numero pondere mensura. This concept and the corresponding notion that there is Law to which man must conform and which man must try to preserve, is expressed in Egypt by maat. The Egyptian gods and the Egyptian kings bear the title nb mact, “Lord of Justice”. The name Palamedes may have a similar meaning.

3. Nilsson explains the omphalos of Delphoi as a phallic symbol according to a style of interpretation that is today highly fashionable. The only specific argument is that the object is convex, but resort is made also to the general argument that all stones play a role in Greek cults are sexual symbols.

The theory that stones are sexual symbols was advanced after it was realized that stones play a major role in Greek worship; instead of resorting to an intellectual or abstract explanation, since the general tendency of scholarship in this century is to downgrade or deflate the intellectual achievement of the Greeks, the role of stones was explained by resorting to Freudian concepts. To this I can only answer that the Freudian argument does not explain anything because it explains too much: any human activity may be said to have sexual connotations, since, for instance, a painter paints a picture and a sculptor cuts a statue to satisfy sexual drives. I have already stated that in my opinion the argument that the Greeks invented coins as libidinal symbols is tantamount to saying that knives were invented as libidinal symbols. There is today a scholarly technique which consists in offering childish explanations for ancient practices and them justifying the inanity of these explanations by ascribing to the ancients a childish mentality. The technique of imputing to the Hebrews a worship of stones and then quoting this worship as an evidence of most primitive thinking, is one of the main points of a book that was considered epoch-making in the study of ancient religions: Hebrew Religion by W. O. E. Oesterly and theodore H. Robinson. They say (p.9): “While it is not difficult to understand that man in a primitive state of culture should have had animistic ideas about trees and rivers on account of their movements, the case is somewhat different when it is seen that similar ideas were held in regard to stones of various kinds”, but they and a flat stone the female, even though they reject the contention of others that an upright stone is a phallic symbol. I have shown that the an upright stone is a phallic symbol. I have shown that the sacredness of stones among the Hebres, instead of being evidence of “primitive “ mentality, expresses a conception of the universe that is the most close to modern scientific thought. The omphalos of Delphoi which Cesterly and Robinson mentioned as further evidence of an “animistic” stage of ancient religion, actually embodies the highest achievement of the ancients in the field of science.

 

Palamedes: Geography

1. The hero Palamedes is a figure of the mythology of the Argolid plain. Some writers refer to him as Argive, and he is supposed to have deposited in the Temple of Tyche in Argos the dice he had invented: but his cult can be located even more precisely within the Argolid plain.

Palamedes is a navigator; according to one tradition he has as brothers Nausimedon, “ the Shipwright”, and Oiax, “the Helm”. He has strong similarities with Palaimon , a god of sea storms worshipped at Korinth. Palaimon was identified with another Korinthian divinity, Melikertes, who certainly is Melgarth, “ God of the City”, the city god of Tyre in Phenicia.

Palamedos is the son of Nauplios, son of the god Poseidon and the nymph Amymone. According to another version the wife of Nauplios was Klymene, banished from Krete by her father Katreus, son of Minos. Amymone was one of the Danaids, that is, a daughter of Danaos who came from Egypt by way of Rhodes and landed at Lerna. Nauplios, who had invented the art of settling the Egyptian crew who had sailed with his father -in-Law. shall show that Nauplia and Lerna are the same. This formation suggests that Nauplios is connected with the maritime trade of the Eastern Mediterranean, whether it was trade with Krete, Rhodes, or Egypt. There were two trade routes between Greece and Egypt: one moved from the Delta straight to the north to make a landfall at Rhodes, and the other moved along the coast to Kyrene to make from there a short crossing to Krete.

Scholars have concluded that Nauplios was the eponymous divinity of the city of Nauplia, the present Navplion (Napoli di Romania, according to Venetian toponymy). In the last century Navplion was the first capital of independent Greece, until the capital was for sentimental reasons moved to Athens who had sunk to the level of a village under Turkish rule. The city of Navplion is dominated by a lofty rock which today bears the name of Palamidi. But originally the name of Nauplios and Palamedes were associated with a wider area. Ernest Meyer has observed that writers of the fifth century B. C. use Nauplia as an adjective and speak of and, referring therefore to a region called Nauplia, The name of Nauplia must have been originally applied to the entire stretch of sandy beach that terminates the Argolid plain. This beach is closed at the two end by rocky promontories; the northern promontory forms the present harbor of Navpluion, and the southern one protects a roadstead where there is today the locality and railroad station of Mile so called after some mills that used to be there. As long as there were employed ships of the Homeric type, he entire sandy beach between the two promontories could be used to launch ships, so that the entire shore area was called Nauplia. Nauplios was the eponymous hero of this area. When ships of deeper draught come into use, they had to land at the two harbors at the two extremities. Euripides often refers in detail to the region in his tragedies, reflecting the Athenian policy of alliance with Argos; he speaks of Naupliai aktai, “Nauplian capes” and Nauplios capes” and Nauplioi limenes , “Nauplian harbors “, in the plural. The geographer Skylax distinguishes a polis Nauplia from the harbor Nauplia. The polis Nauplia was located at the south, where are ruins of a city called Lerna by archeologists. The present Navplion , at the north, was not a polis , but merely a harbor used by the polis of Argos; Strabo calls it.

and Diodoros,

Ptolemy (Geo. III 14,33) mentioned Nauplia as an epineion, that is as the naval base of a power. The Nauplia to the north remained the only important one after the polis people of Argos destroyed the polis of Nauplia. But the Venetians still distinguished Napoli Vecchio from Napoli di Romania, the city to the north,

Pausanias reports that the Spartans upon gaining possession of Messenia settled at Mothone the inhabitants of Nauplia who had been recently expelled from their city by the Argives (IV 24,4; 35,2).. The destruction of Nauplia belongs to the period of Argive resurgence in the second quarter of the fifth century B. C. , when as a result of the Persian Wars the domination of Sparta in the Peloponnese was shaken that had suddenly become a major power encouraged challenges to Spartan dominance. In this period Argos conquered the neighboring cities of Tiryns, Mykenai, Midaia, and Asine. Pausanias (II 36,4; III, 7, 4) reports that Asine was totally destroyed except for the temple of Apollo Pythaios. He mentions the resettlement of the refugees of Asina at Asine in Messenia together with the resettlement of the Nauplians at Mothone (IV 24,4). Part the general movement against the Spartan domination was the revolt of the people of Messenia against their Spartan overlords (464 B. C.), but this effort failed, and the Messenians were defeated and expelled from their land. The expelled Messenia to resettle the victims of Argos, the ally of Athens.

The location of the polis Nauplia was also known as Lerna because it was next to a lagoon called Lerna. This lagoon has been completely filled today, but it still existed in some measure in the period of Venetian ascendancy. The lagoon Lerna was formed by the waters of the river Erasions which has a course of only a couple of miles, springing from a source called Lerna itself or Amymone. Amymone is Palamedes’ mother. The water springs at the foot of a rocky wall through an opening that today is enclosed by the chapel of a Christian saint; it may be surmised that the chapel replaces a pagan holiness dedicated either to Amymone or to Palamedes. Pausanias (II, 24, 6 ) reports that where the water gushes forth there were offered sacrifices to Dionysos and to Pan. The village next to the source is today called Kephalari, “Waterhead “., but Father Pacifico, who visited the area before the second Turkish invasion which radically changed the land ownership and hence the toponymy that survived since ancient times , mentions in the area a large borough (Una terra grossa) called Palamida.

The water of the source Amymone or Lerna formed the lagoon Lerna on the shores of which there was calculated Nauplia. The water of the source was supposed to come through subterranean channels from the Stymphalian Swamp which was considered an entrance to Hades or part of Hades itself. The lagoon Lerna was supposed to be bottomless (abyssos), even though only a few feet deep. For the Greeks a swamp formed by the mouth of a river or in general any swamp formed by a sluggish river or by the confluence of two rivers, was considered an entrance to Tigris and Euphrates as an entrance to Hades. Places where a river ends into the sea or into another river were sort of boundary lines of another world. It may be relevant to mention the practice of medieval Jews who preferred to be buried on the seashore in order to be closer to the place of Final Judgement. In the ancient temples there tanks of water that were considered a symbol of the primeval water, of the water of the nether world. In Greek these thanks were called thesauroi; they developed into temple treasuries because it was customary to throw into them coins or proto-coins, the obol of Charon. In Greek the term lerna is used as a synonym of thesauros; lerna probably means “hollow” and seems related to the German leer, “hollow, empty”, A swamp on which one can neither navigate nor walk, is particularly symbolic of the chaos, of the primeval water out of which the world was born or emerged. The lagoon Lerna was called abyssos, the term may be related to the Akkadian apsu (from the Sumerian abzu) which is both the watertank of a temple and the primeval water.

The link of Palamedes with Lerna is also indicated by the tradition that one of the Argonauts called Palaimon or Palaimonios was son of Lernos. Lernos is the grandson of Nauplios and the son of Naubolos, “He who launches Ships”.

Lerna was an important religious center and the focus of the myth of the snake Hydria and the Danaids, those who filled a bottomless vessel. Connected with it were the famous Lernaian mysteries which were related to the possibility of going to, and returning from, Hades. Since Palamedes is a figure strongly similar to Odysseos, on one side, and to Hermes, on the other, Palamedes may have been a navigator who could go to the land of the dead. Odysseos is a navigator who can go to the land of the world and to the nether world. Hermes, who is a divinity of boundaries, was also known as Psychopompos, since one of his important functions was that of leading the souls to the nether world. Since Hades is identified with the primeval water out of which emerges the inhabited earth, the upper hemisphere, it can be reached by going underground or by going to the end of the earth. Dante reaches the southern or lower hemisphere where there is Purgatory, by going underground through Hell, but he states that the souls of the departed reach it by navigating with a ship that leaves from the mouth of the Tiber.

According to Pausanias the river that feeds Lerna is called Amymone and the Hydra grew at its source. The lagoon Lerna was also known as Alkyonian Swamp. Alkyone is the first of the Pleiads and is supposed to control the periods of cam and storm of the sea..

2. It is evident that the cult of Palamedes was located in the area of Lerna and Nauplia, but it was also connected with the sanctuary of the Heraion, which is near the apex of the Argolid plain. There is a myth, probably related to Heraion to recover her virginity in a source near Lerna; this source may be the source Amymone. On the strip of land between the lagoon and the sea there was a sanctuary of Temenos, the Temenion; Hera must have been the wife of temenos, before being transformed into the wife of Zeus for the reason that the chief female divinity of established theology has to be the wife of the chief male divinity. There is a tradition that Hera quarreled with Zeus and went back to live with Tenemos who had nurtured her when she was young. Temenos is also as king of the Stymphalian Swamp, the alleged place of origin of the water of Lerna; at the Stymphalian Swamp there three shrines of Hera: of Hera as a child when she was with Temenos, Of Hera as a wife when she was with Zeus, of Hera as a widow when she worshippers of Temenos, Zeus was dead and Hera had reverted to her legitimate companion. Temenos is the divinity of the prototype field, the entity called temen in Sumerian.

At the Heraion, Hera was worshipped also as Prosymna, and Prosymnos guides the souls in the mysteries of Lerna. Pausanias (II, 37) mentions Demeter Prosymne as the divinity of these mysteries; the same divinity is named in an inscription found at Lerna.

Nauplia and Palamedes are connected with the sanctuary of Hera known as the Heraion. In historical times the sanctuary appears as dependency of the city of Argos, but one may wonder whether this was the situation before the fifth century B. C. , since the sanctuary is most close to Mykenai with which it was connected by a sacred road that skirts along the edges of Mount Euboia and of which remains are still visible today. According to Pausanias (II, 17,1) the distance between Mykenai and the Heraion is 15 stadia. Herodotos (I, 31) states that the distance from Argo is 45 stadia in telling the story of Kleobis and Biton who, replacing the missing sacred cows of Hera, dragged the processional chariot with their mother , priestess of Hera, all the way from Argos to the Heraion.

It seems that up to the year 468 B. C. the Heraion was under the control of Mykenia; according to Diodoros (XI, 65) quarrels with Argos over sanctuary had been running even earlier. In that year the Argives razed Mykenai to the ground and sold its inhabitants into slavery, so that from that day the Heraion was an undisputed possession of Argos.

In order to justify their expansion the Argives invented a king called Pheidon who would have established about the time of the first Olympic Games an empire extending over a large part of the Peloponnese, claiming to be restoring an even earlier power held by Temenos (the husband of Hera as I have explained ) interpreted as one of the descendants of Herakles.

Pausanias (II, 16, 2) reports another version according to which great power of Argos would have existed in the time of Danaos. His great-grandsons would have divided the kingdom: one remaining in Argos and the other receiving the Heraion, Mideia, Tiryns and the coastal area of Argolid. This story was constructed to explain why the areas mentioned as possessions of the second king were not Argive territory at the beginning of historical times.

It may be in the period of argive ascendancy that the invention earlier ascribed to Palamedes came to be ascribed to an imaginary ruler of Argos called Pheidon. To Pheidon is ascribed the invention of metra kai stathma kai nomisma; but his name is particularly associated with a set of famous iron objects that were kept at the Heraion of Argos where they found by the excavator Walston. In my opinion these objects were the reference standards for the system of units known as Euboic in Greece.

The interpretation of the system of measures used in Greece has been a desperate enterprise, because ancient texts refer to a system of measures called Euboic and scholars have associated these standard with the island of Euboia. The island of Euboia which extends along the northern shore of Attika was politically divided into free cities until the turn of the fifth century B. C. when Athens subjected them and initiated a policy aiming at making the island an integral part of Attic territory.

The measures called Euboic have nothing to do with the island of Euboia; they are the units of which the standard was kept at the Heraion of Argos. This is explicitly stated by the Etymologicum Magnum which explains the term

‘Euboic monetary standard”, by the fact that Pheidon of Argos struck coins “at Euboia, a locality of Argolid “. It is most significant that Gregorios Nazianzenos (Or , IV, 107) states that Theodosios II, Athenais Euboeys. The wife of the Emperor Theodosios II, Athenais Eubokia, declares (Viol. DCCXLIV, 321) that Palamedes is Eubouys “by ancestry” and connects him with the island of Euboia; but this is an effort to explain why a figure of Argive mythology could be called Euboeys.

At the Heraion Hera was worshipped as Prosymna and as Euboia. Pausanias states that the Heraion was built on the lower part of the hill called Euboia and that the region around the sanctuary was called Euboia. The Venetian priest Pier Antonico Pacifico travelled through the area on the eve of Francesco Morosine’s campaign of 1685 A. D. to dislodge the Turks from Greece; one could suspect that he was working for the Venetian intelligence. Instead of writing one of the descriptions of Greece common up to the last century which try only to find confirmations for the words of Strabo and Pausanias , he collected the informazione dei paesani e dei viandanti. This information is most valuable, because after the Venetian effort a harsher policy assigning land to Turkish overlords with the result that the toponymy which had survived from classical times was radically altered. Father Pacifico does not speak of Heraion but of tempio dell’ Eubea.

3. It appears that Euboia, “Friendly to the Cow”, was another name of Hera . Walston who excavated the Heraion, calls attention to “the intimate connection (of Hera) with the cow, the sacred herds at the temple , the position of white cows in her rites, and perhaps the immediate relation of the goddess herself to the cow into which she changed herself and with which the myth of Io is so curiously connected,” In my opinion the relations between the area of the Heraion and Egypt, must have been brought about an identification of Hera with the goddess Hathor, represented by cow. The relation between the two must not have always been peaceful, possibly for political reasons. This is indicated by the myth of Io who is presented as Egyptian. According to mythology, Zeus was unfaithful to Hera with Io; this means that Hathor threatened to Heraion. Hera. Io is described also as a priestess of the Heraion. Hera converted Io into a cow; in a cave of Euboia called Boosaule, “the Hall of the Cow” Io bore Epaphos, who is said to be the Egyptian bull Apis; thereupon Hera sent a gadfly to sting Io. The myth probably indicates that the introduction of the cult of Hathor at the Heraion met with some resistance; the struggle must have ended with a complete victory of the cult of Hathor because the former killer of the cow was given the appellative of Euboia, “Friendly Cow” < and acquired some of the characteristics of Hathor. According to Pausanias and to Ploutarchos, Euboia is the name of a nurse of Hera; in Greek mythology the figure of the nurse is a device commonly used to duplicate a divine figure.

To be exact I must observe that a series of Greek and Latin writers identify Io with Isis, but as Margaret A. Murray observes, Hathor and Isis “are so intermingled that it is often impossible to distinguish one from the other”. To the Greeks, Isis was Demeter. This explains why at Lerna there was a cult of Demeter Prosymna, whereas Prosymna is a name of Hera at the Heraion.

The Egyptian Io is also described as a daughter of the River Inachos, the river that cuts the Argolid plain from the the district Nauplia to Argos and to a beyond Argos that is about 6 km. from the Heraion. The River Inachos ended into the sea slightly to the north of the lagoon Lerna; today the mouth of Inachos is only a few hundred meters distant from that of the Erasinos.

Hera is presented either as inimical or as friendly to Io. According to one version Io was favored cow of Hera who charged Argos Panoptes, with one hundred eyes, to watch on her. Hermes put her guardian asleep with the flute and cut her head; it is Zeus who had sent Hermes. Zeus appears either as her lover or as her enemy; Io’s conflict with Zeus is parallel to Prometheus’ conflict with Zeus.

Hermes is presented by Euripides as guarding the chained Prometheus. Hermes is an enemy of Prometheus for the same reason that Odysseos is an enemy of Prometheus; they were all considered inventors of the same lore. Prometheus is a figure that has strong similarities with Palamedes. In the tragedy Chained Prometheus of Euripides, the one who expresses sympathy for Prometheus nailed to a rock because of his discoveries, is Io persecuted by Hera. Since the tragedians tend to confuse the inventions ascribed to Palamedes with those ascribed to Prometheus , it appears that Io must have had some similarity to Prometheus and also to Palamedes who suffers because of his ingenuity. Io in the form of a cow is driven to the point of madness by the sting of a gadfly sent by Hera. The iron objects set up at the Heraion, according to my interpretation, represent the adoption of a system of measures by which was introduced a currency measured by weight that substituted for the earlier currency made of oboloi, that is, roasting sits. At the Heraion there have been found iron oboloi next to a solid bar of iron that embodies the new system of measures and established a standard for the new currency. Since the roasting spits are technically called bounpori oboloi, “ox-piercing sits”, it is possible to understand the motif of the gadfly stinging the cow Io. The conflict between Hera and Io corresponds to the conflict between the old currency of roasting spite and the new currency related to the new system of measures imported from Egypt. In Euripides’ tragedy (879-880), there is a passage that is considered obscure; Io in smarting with pain screams that she is stung by a gadfly’s spearpoint that is apyros, “not yet exposed to the fire”, this adjective properly applies to a brand new roasting spit.

A. set of iron objects similar to those preserved at the Heraion was preserved at the sanctuary of Delphoi. The latter was certainly established under Egyptian influence and was connected with the cult of the Egyptian divinity, Athena Saites. according to Pausanias above the source Amymone there extended a sacred grove in which was a temple of Athena Saites.

Io represents the introduction of new institutions from Egypt; she is a figure parallel to Palamedes and to the Danaid. According to one version, Io conceived by Zeus at the source Lerna, but she delivered Epaphos, that is, the bull Apis, in Egypt.

According to Euripides, Io will have her vengeance when the Danaids shall “return” to Argos (line 854). According to Herodotos (II,91) there was in Egypt a King Belos who married a daughter of the Nile and had the twins Aigyptos and Danos. Aigyptos had 50 sons and Danos 50 daughters. When the twins quarreled over the division of the world, Danaos took off for Greece on the first two-prowed ship ever built. He landed at Lerna and became King of Argos . Later arrived from Egypt the 50 sons of Aigyptos who at first waged was against Argos and then agreed to marry the 50 Danaids to which they were paired by lot. But the Danaids, concealed a hairpin and with it killed their husbands on their wedding night, except for one Danaid who helped her mate Lynkaios to flee to the city of Lynkaia, 60 stadia away (a standard itinerary unit equal to a double hour of march). She asked him to light a signaling fire when he arrived there and she answered with another fire when he arrived there and she answered with another fire from the Akropolis of Argos. Signaling fires were lit at Argos each year in memory of this event.

The Danaids are connected with the lore ascribed to Palamedes; signaling fires, lots, geography , navigation , itinerary distances. The myth of the 50 daughters and of the 50 sons may be simply connected with the number 100. At first the 50 sons of Aigyptos planned to kill the 50 daughters of Danaos on their wedding night, but at the end the 50 daughters kill all 50 sons except one. This possibly would be explained by the 50 sons except one. This possible would be explained by the circumstance that on the abacus in the section of the tens one cannot place more than a counter for 50; if there are two symbols for 50, both are removed and a counter is placed in the line for the hundreds.

The theme of the bottomless jar may be simply correspond to the notion of the lagoon Lerna which is supposed to be bottomless (abyssos), but it may also linked with the infinity of numbers.

Most peculiar is the information that the Egyptian King Belos, the father of Danaos, ruled in Chemnis, a relatively obscure town of Egypt, down the river from Thebes. I would offer the following tentative explanation; an effort was made to connected Lerna with Egypt geographically, but since Lerna could not be linked by simple mathematical relations with Thebai, the geographical and religious center of Egypt, it was linked with another town near Thebai and on the Nile. Chemnis, the present Akhmin, is situated at 260 34’ N 31°43’E; counting in degrees to the north and 9 degrees to the east, a position 37° 34 N 22° 43 E is is obtained, which is that of Lerna. This calculation, if it was performed, can only have been performed by Egyptians.

4. The treatment of Greek standards in the masterly work of Boeckh is the weakest part, even though he had made Greek financial inscriptions his special field, because he could not identify correctly the Euboic standard. In the following century the most daring hypotheses have been constructed in order to connect the Euboic standard of the Peloponnese with the island of Euboia. One of the most widely accepted errors was the assumption that was an archaic coinage of the island of Euboic which should have preceded the earliest coinage of Athens. In order to give body to this figment numismatists assigned to the island Euboia a series of archaic coins known as Wappenmunzen. By a diligent and technically precise study of the punches used in coining, Charles T. Seltaman has proved that these coins are a product of the Athenian mint, but it cannot be said that this product of the Athenian mint, but it cannot be said that this documentation was well received by numismatists. The resistance in accepting a final documentation results from the fact that it causes the collapse of the entire framework of current theories about Greek monetary standards.

Even Seltman who has been charged with being too daring has tried to save belief in the existence of a special metric standard of the island of Euboia. He assumes the existence of a Mykenai-Homeric system of weights used to weigh copper; these copper weights “with the great migrations of the Aiolians and Ionians “ went from Kyme in Euboia to Kyme in Asia, whence they spread and became the basis of the Lydian-Ionian coinage. The proof of this construction would be that for the Greeks the island of Euboia “was the nearest and most familiar source of copper” and that “the metals which they used was extracted mainly from the rich mines of the island of Euboia”.

The doctrine that there was a Mykenaian-Homeric copper standard is an unfortunate product of Ridgeway’s fantasies.

The fact is that Homer mentions a monetary unit called talanton which in my opinion is a proto-coin,a disc of gold foil. The Homeric talanton has been identified with ingots of copper which belong to the second millennium B. C. and which allegedly represent the fleece of a sheep and as such should represent the value of a cow; I have stated that there are plain ingots of copper that acquire peculiar appearance because of the method used in casting them.

There are few passages that indicate that a place called Euboic was a metallurgic center. The only ancient specific reference to mines in the island of Euboia is provided by the geographer Strabo (X, 447 A) who states that once near Chalkis in Euboic there was a mine which produced copper and iron together ; this reference to copper and iron to be found near Chalkis indicates that the foundation of the story is the name of the town which reminds of chalkitis, the Greek name for chalcopyrite, a mineral yielding copper and iron. The name of the town is actually derived from chalke, the purple limpet which was fished from there; there are a few animals that bear a similar name in Greek with reference to their color.

Because of the statement of Strabo, a thorough search for minerals and ancient mines has been conducted in the island of Euboia, but no trace of minerals or of mining has been found.

In spite of the negative evidence collected in the island of Euboia, the superstition about Euboian mines is hard to efface. The usually careful work of R. J. Forbes on Metallurgy in Antiquity states (p. 365) that “The copper mines of Euboia gave cut in Strabo’s time”. But he also reports (p. 303) more accurately ‘ “In Euboia copper ores of Mons Ocha and Aidepsos are mentioned but these are not confirmed by geological handbooks, and it is held by many that Euboia had its fame as a copper-smithing country only ranking with Aigina, Rhodes, or Delos (pliny XXXIV, 9-10), not as a producing center”. Because of the concern with the mines of the island of Euboia, no attention has been paid to the more promising area of the Heraion, even thought slag deposits were reported near Mykenai. Minerals of copper and iron have been found in the area around Mykenai. Ludwig Beck in his history of iron declares: “The oldest and more important copper mines were in Euboia and for this reason they were already exhausted in the seventh century B. C. Minerals of copper have been noticed between Argos and Korinth.” Even though he tries to follow the tradition and rationalizes it by assuming that the mines of the island of Euboia had run dry before the beginning of history, he is forced by facts to shift his attention to the area of Mykenai.

Pliny (IV, 64) reports that copper was first discovered in Euboia, and the same piece of information is provided by the grammarian Epaphroditos. In quoting Epaphroditos, Stephanos of Byzantion states: “For the Euboians are famous iron smiths and coppersmiths”. Ploutarchos quotes a line of Aischylos:

“Taking an Euboic sword cast-in -one-piece”. And he comments that the line proves that there must have been at some time a production of copper and iron in the island of Euboia, even though at his time there was no trace of mines except for a mine of asbestos at Karystos. He believes that the Euboian mines of chalcopyrite became exhausted like the silver mines of Laurion in Attika. The conclusion of this evidence must be that the region of Euboia was an important mining and metallurgic center. This explains why a standard of weight of iron was set up at the Heraion, and probably explains why a trade route linking Egypt with Nauplia and the Heraion seems to have existed.

More cannot be said without a field survey of the evidence of mineral exploitations in the area of the Heraion and Mykenai. For almost two decades. I have tried to convince some Greek archeologists that much could be learned by such investigations. I have pointed out that among the possible results would be that of tracing the reason for the wealth of “golden Mykenai”, Since large masses of gold objects dating from the end of the second millennium B. C. have been found at Mykenai, but nobody has investigated the economic origin of this gold. The studies of Nelson Clueck have tried to prove that the economic basis of the prosperity of the Palestine of King Solomon was the result of the exploitation of copper mines; it may be that the prosperity of Mykenai had similar basis. This metallurgic activity may have continued up to age of Aischylos, that is, up to the beginning of the century. B. C. The exhaustion of the mines plus the destruction by Argos of the neighboring cities may have put an end to it. However, the success of Argos in the campaign against her neighbors may have been made possible by their economic decline.

In Egypt iron becomes common only after the Assyrian invasion at the beginning of the seventh century B. C. and became of general use with the Saite Dynasty. Hence, it could be that approximately around 670 B.C. a trade route was established linking Egypt with the metallurgic center of Mount Euboia. For the benefit of this trade was established at the Heraion . In was in this period that the first temple was erected at the Heraion; as a result of the Egyptian influence Hera acquired some of the characteristic of Hathor. The myths of Io and the Danaids reflects the process of introduction of Egyptian institutions. The Egyptian influence upon the cults of the Argolid plain was mainly expressed through the setting up of the iron standards at the Heraion for the purpose of aiding the export of iron to the Egyptian market; but together with the standards of weight came to the Argolid and, hence, to Greece, all the “inventions “connected with the hero Palamedes.


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