Sunday, July 1, 2018

Lincoln and The Elements - Quod Erat Demonstrandum

An excerpt from Ketcham's "The Life of Abraham Lincoln: Entering the Law":

"In treating of this topic, it will be necessary to recall certain things already mentioned. One characteristic which distinguished Lincoln all through his life was thoroughness. When he was President a man called on him for a certain favor, and, when asked to state his case, made a great mess of it, for he had not sufficiently prepared himself. Then the President gave him some free advice. 'What you need is to be thorough,' and he brought his hand down on the table with the crash of a maul,–'to be thorough.' It was his own method. After a successful practise of twenty years he advised a young law student: 'Work, work, work is the main thing.' He spoke out of his own experience.
There is one remarkable passage in his life which is worth repeating here, since it gives an insight into the thoroughness of this man. The following is quoted from the Rev. J. P. Gulliver, then pastor of the Congregational church in Norwich, Conn. It was a part of a conversation which took place shortly after the Cooper Institute speech in 1860, and was printed in The Independent for September 1, 1864[:]
'Oh, yes! "I read law," as the phrase is; that is, I became a lawyer’s clerk in Springfield, and copied tedious documents, and picked up what I could of law in the intervals of other work. But your question reminds me of a bit of education I had, which I am bound in honesty to mention.
'In the course of my law reading I constantly came upon the word demonstrate. I thought, at first, that I understood its meaning, but soon became satisfied that I did not. I said to myself, What do I do when I demonstrate more than when I reason or prove? How does demonstration differ from any other proof? I consulted Webster’s Dictionary. They told of "certain proof," "proof beyond the possibility of doubt"; but I could form no idea of what sort of proof that was. I thought a great many things were proved beyond the possibility of doubt, without recourse to any such extraordinary process of reasoning as I understood demonstration to be. I consulted all the dictionaries and books of reference I could find, but with no better results. You might as well have defined blue to a blind man. At last I said,–Lincoln, you never can make a lawyer if you do not understand what demonstrate means; and I left my situation in Springfield, went home to my father’s house, and stayed there till I could give any proposition in the six books of Euclid at sight. I then found out what demonstrate means, and went back to my law studies.”

Bless him.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Greek Kappas Can Also Stand In For Latin Qu's

[1] Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις ἐξῆλθεν δόγμα παρὰ Καίσαρος Αὐγούστου  
ἀπογράφεσθαι πᾶσαν τὴν οἰκουμένην:             
           And it happened in those days that there came out a decree from Caesar Augustus that the whole world be enrolled; 
[2] αὕτη ἀπογραφὴ πρώτη ἐγένετο ἡγεμονεύοντος τῆς Συρίας Κυρηνίου:              

            This first enrollment occurred while Quirinius was governing Syria.

                                      -ΚΑΤΑ ΛΟΥΚΑΝ - The Gospel of Luke 2.1-2. Trans. is my own
When reading an ancient text, it is often helpful to keep in mind that what one is reading has probably been a good deal influenced by what a scribe has heard. Elisions and other orthographic alterations often occur in texts which were dictated by an author to a scribe, for the scribe would merely record what the master spoke aloud, elisions and all.
This process of dictation becomes even more woolly when one begins translating between languages; for example, what would an ancient Greek speaker hear when a Roman said the name "Augustus" to him? How would the Greek accent that name? Would he pay much attention to how the Roman said it, or would his natural Hellenic tendencies take over and would he pronounce it as a Greek speaker would (cf. Catullus LXXXIV)? By comparison, we know what the Greeks did with proper nouns like Jesus and John: the Hebrew יֵשׁוּעַ "Yeshua" was transliterated as Ἰησοῦς ("Iesous") by the Greeks; and John originates from the Hebrew יוֹחָנָן "Yokhanan", which was taken by Greeks as Ἰωάννης ("Ioannes"), and then by the Romans as "Iohannes/Ioannes" to be later Anglicized to "John". 
Roman names like "Valerius" gave the Greeks some additional trouble, as the V, making a w sound (the digamma having dropped out of Greek centuries earlier) was transliterated by ouΟὐαλέριος.
So, wanting some of the sounds common in Hebrew (e.g. "sh", "v/w"), the Greeks did what they could with what they had.
Armed with this knowledge, we can clearly see from the above verses how Luke transliterated "Augustus": "Αὐγούστου" is the Genitive of Αὔγουστος - no problems there. 
But what about a name like Κυρήνιος? The transliteration of this name would be Kurenios, which would be further Latinized to Cyrenius - but could the name also be transliterated as "Quirinius", as Classical Greek lacks the "qu" sound?

What evidence may we gather which proves how scribes of the day grappled with their own spelling conventions in transliterating the Greek kappa to the Latin q and vice versa? In the Regula Sancti Benedicti ("The Rule of St. Benedict"), a guide written in the early 6th century A.D. for the formation and maintenance Western Christian monastic communities, St. Benedict tells when the Christian liturgical prayer, Kyrie eleison ("Lord, Have Mercy") is to be said:

"Post hos, lectio Apostoli sequatur ex corde recitanda, et versus, et supplicatio litaniæ, id est Quirie eleison. 
"After these [prayers], a reading of the Apostle may follow, which is to be recited by heart, and verses, and the petition of litany -- that is, the Kyrie eleison."                       
                                                                    -Regula Sancti Benedict IX. Trans. is my own.

This petition is, of course, Greek, and is written properly as Κύριε, ελέησον, and is usually transliterated as "Kyrie, eleison". This is not, however, how St. Benedict (or, at least, his scribe) has written the prayer: the scriptor has exchanged the Greek kappa in Κύριε with q- to give us "Quirie eleison".
And lest it be pointed out how dubious and misguided it is to entirely trust an Internet source, let us turn to a handful of manuscripts (which are numbered) of the same text which were written in the various centuries spanning from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages and focus our attention on how the Kyrie is spelled with both k's and q's (and even c's!):

St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek Cod. Sang. 914, dated first third of the 9th century A.D.

Oxford, Corpus Christi College, MS.197, fol. 32v, dated late 10th century A.D.

Hatton 48, Canterbury, c. 8th century A.D.

Other instances of the Kyrie in the Regula and its manuscripts follow suit (sometimes the same manuscript will exhibit different spellings!). Since the variance of spellings between k's and q's (and even c's!) in the many centuries following the diminishing of the Roman empire in the West, it is reasonable to assume that such differences and confusions were most likely commonplace throughout the entire intercourse of Greek and Latin. 

Monday, March 26, 2018

Macrobius' Saturnalian Slander: Concerning Vergil and Pisander

The gentle Vergil, whom instructors call the Mantuan swan, perhaps because he was not born in that city, he considered one of the most terrible pedants ever produced by antiquity. Des Esseintes was exasperated by his immaculate and bedizened shepherds, his Orpheus whom he compares to a weeping nightingale, his Aristaeus who simpers about bees, his Aeneas, that weak-willed, irresolute person who walks with wooden gestures through the length of the poem. Des Esseintes would gladly have accepted the tedious nonsense which those marionettes exchange with each other off-stage; or even the poet's impudent borrowings from Homer, Theocritus, Ennius and Lucretius; the plain theft, revealed to us by Macrobius, of the second song of the Aeneid, copied almost word for word from one of Pisander's poems; in fine, all the unutterable emptiness of this heap of verses.
-Joris-Karl Huysmans, À rebours. Trans. by John Howard

What "plain theft"? Was Vergil a thief? Of course; he was a poet. And why should it at all matter? Did not the ancient poets plagiarize each other shamelessly, cribbing lines and similes, descriptions and metaphors, forcing dactyls and iambs to shed one meaning, one setting, and to adopt another meaning in a new scene, a different situation? Naturally; this was, and still is, the business of the poet. And therein lies the rub: it is the difference and the variations in which the poet, whom one may freely call a plagiarist, adopts (steals?) another poet's lines to suit their own purpose. There is little more pleasing for the reader than to read a line of Vergil and catch within his dactyls a simile recognizable from Homer, or espy a word or two, a little snippet snatched here from Lucretius or there from Catullus; indeed, the very thing of which Des Esseintes complains in the passage above taken from À rebours, what he sneeringly calls Vergil's "impudent borrowings", should be the very trait in Vergil which makes him a great poet: that his scope and breadth are wide, and his ability to adopt and adapt beautiful and recognizable passages, lines, and words from other artists is adroitly executed. Let one complain of these "impudent borrowings" all one desires; but know that the entire nature of artistic endeavor is caught up in the selfsame accusation. But none of this quibbling is any excuse for sloppy slandering. Calling a poet a plagiarist, a thief, in a way in which the poet is not is quite unfair and does nothing to aid the reader in understanding the poet's work, in walking the poet's walk, so to speak. Therefore, we ought to understand the difference in a poet adopting and adapting parts of another's words against the outright taking of whole passages, even books, without any alteration or adaptation, the "plain theft" as it is called in the above passage; furthermore, we ought to set out with an aim to correct where such a slander is found, such as here, recorded by Huysmans and leveled by Macrobius against Vergil. After a little research and reading, we shall find that either something more complex than what first meets the eye could be at work here, or Macrobius was simply mistaken.

Firstly, what is Macrobius' charge? In the fifth book of the writer's Saturnalia, which takes the form of a Platonic or Ciceronian dialogue during the eponymous seasonal festivities, the characters continue their discussion of Vergil and his writings:

1 Tunc Evangelus inridenti similis: Bene, inquit, opifici deo a rure Mantuano poetam conparas, quem Graecos rhetoras, quorum fecisti mentionem, nec omnino legisse adseveraverim. Unde enim Veneto rusticis parentibus nato, inter silvas et frutices educto, vel levis Graecarum notitia litterarum?           
Then Evangelus made a grin as if mocking and spake: "Well thou art to compare the Poet hailing from the Mantuan countryside with God the Creator. Yea, I declare the Poet hath not been entirely read by those Greek rhetoricians whom thou hast made mention. For whence came his skill? If born he was of country parents near Venice, brought up amidst woods and trees, whence came his polished skill in Greek letters?" 
2 Et Eustathius: Cave, inquit, Evangele, Graecorum quemquam vel de summis auctoribus tantam Graecae doctrinae hausisse copiam credas, quantam sollertia Maronis vel adsecuta est vel in suo opere digessit. Nam praeter philosophiae et astronomiae amplam illam copiam, de qua supra disseruimus, non parva sunt alia quae traxit a Graecis et carmini suo tamquam illic nata conseruit.           
And Eustathius spake: "Have some caution, Evangelus, that thou trust'st that any of the Greeks or any of that abundant font of most noteworthy authors clung to their Greek training as much as the adroit skill of Maro at once allowed him to gain, and then sprinkle throughout his own works. For outside of that same abundant font of philosophy and astronomers about which we argued above, not small are those other borrowings which he hath drawn from the Greeks and hath sown throughout his own song as those borrowings had been born therein." 
3 Et Praetextatus: Oratus sis, inquit, Eustathi, ut haec quoque communicata nobiscum velis, quantum memoria repente incitata suffecerit. Omnes Praetextatum secuti ad disserendum Eustathium provocaverunt.             
And Praetextatus spake: "Please, Eustathius, discuss with us such things as these as well, as much as what can be brought up in thy memory which hath been so a-suddenly roused." And then they all followed Praetextatus and called on Eustathius to argue. 
4 Ille sic incipit: Dicturumne me putatis ea quae vulgo nota sunt, quod Theocritum sibi fecerit pastoralis operis auctorem, ruralis Hesiodum, et quod in ipsis Georgicis tempestatis serenitatisque signa de Arati Phaenomenis traxerit, vel quod eversionem Troiae cum Sinone suo et equo ligneo ceterisque omnibus quae librum secundum faciunt a Pisandro paene ad verbum transcripserit:             
And so thus he began: "Do ye think that I would speak of those things which are commonly known, such as how the Poet made use of Theocritus as a model for his shepherd's works? for his farming songs Hesiod? and for his weather forecasts in his own Georgics he drew from the signs taken from Aratus' Phaenomena? Or what of the Fall of Troy with his Sinon and wooden horse and all the rest which make up the his second book -- translated nearly word for word from Pisander? 
5 qui inter Graecos poetas eminet opere quod a nuptiis Iovis et Iunonis incipiens universas historias quae mediis omnibus seculis usque ad aetatem ipsius Pisandri contigerunt in unam seriem coactas redegerit et unum ex diversis hiatibus temporum corpus effecerit, in quo opere inter historias ceteras interitus quoque Troiae in hunc modum relatus est, quae Maro fideliter interpretando fabricatus sibi est Iliacae urbis ruinam?              
"And of this Pisander, who among the Greek poets stands foremost because in his work -- which from the marriage of Jove and Juno begins and then contains the entire history of the rest of the ages of the world up to Pisander's own present age -- he re-ordered into a single series all the stories he had gathered together and he did cause a single corpus to be made from the different gaps of time, and among the rest of these stories was the destruction of Troy also told, a story which Maro fashioned in his own way by faithfully translating the ruin of the city of Ilium? 
6 Sed et haec et talia ut pueris decantata praetereo."            
"But both these and such things I dismiss as if rote chanted to boys in school." 
-Macrobius, Saturnalia V.ii.1-6. Trans. is my own.

"[D]ecantata" indeed. Eustathius continues his oration for a time in much the same vein, touching on things every schoolboy should know, such as how the first half of The Aeneid is modeled off of Homer's Odyssey, while the latter half after The Iliad -- all good on that front; but the speaker's offhanded claim that the entirety of the second book of Vergil's Aeneid is merely a verbatim translation of a certain Pisander's mighty and laborious work is quite an accusation, not to mention that said accusation is included in a preterition worthy of Cicero's Catilinarian invectives. Additionally, Eustathius mentions other poets in the same breath alongside this Pisander, but apart from Homer (a few lines down), Vergil is not accused of stealing 'ad verbum" from any one of them. So, keeping in mind that the ancients could distinguish between borrowing, cribbing, adopting & adapting, and outright stealing, word-by-word theft, verbatim copying, and the like, then what is Eustathius (and by extension, Macrobius) talking about? Who is this Pisander, the author of this mighty work here extolled?

Many commentators note that there are two poets called Pisander known to the Greeks
1: the first is a 7th century B.C. epicist hailing from Rhodes who authored Ἡρακλεία "The Herakleid", a work centering on the labors of Herakles; the second is an A.D. 3rd century poet hailing from Laranda who authored the Ἡρωικαὶ θεογαμίαι "The Heroic Marriages of the Gods". This is most likely the poet to whom Eustathius refers, as the Ἡρωικαὶ θεογαμίαι was composed of some sixty volumes and did indeed have as its subject the whole history of the world. The historian Zosimus references his work in a Herodotean aside concerning Alaric's stop at town called Emo which, according to legend, had been founded by the Argonauts: 
"Afterwards placing |155 their ship, the Argo, on machines purposely constructed, they drew it four hundred stadia, as far as the sea-side, and thus arrived at the Thessalian shore, as is related by the Poet Pisander, who has comprehended almost the whole story in a poem called The Heroic Marriages 65/77 of the Gods." 
-Zosimus, Ἱστορία Νέα "New History" Book V; 29. Trans. by Green and Chaplin

It appears we are speaking of the same work and thus the same writer. However, there is one near-insurmountable problem: one must take into account that Vergil himself hails from the 1st century B.C, some four hundred years earlier than this Larandan Pisander, and because of this, the latter would have to be more influenced by the former than vice-versa. And just in case the 7th century B.C. Pisander is forgotten as a suspect, his own work concerning Herakles would hardly have contained the Fall of Troy as Vergil told it in his own second book of The Aeneid, and thus would have most likely been a poor model for our Roman poet's purposes.

So where does one go from here? This is where the journey leading towards the solution to this mystery splits branching into four differing paths (and scholars seem to amusingly choose one or sometimes more of these paths as another place to stake their claim, dig in their heels, and make ready for a long siege): either, firstly, Macrobius is correct about his character's assertion that Vergil copied off a certain Pisander's Fall of Troy and passed it off as his own second book of The Aeneid; or secondly, Macrobius is mistaken about Pisander and has done so purposefully; or thirdly, Macrobius is just plain mistaken about Pisander and is ignorant of his mistake; or, finally, Macrobius is correct in his character's assertions, and it is some error on part of an editor, commentator, or reader that has perverted the writer's original meaning so it seems to be a mistake. 

The firstly enumerated option, in which Macrobius is correct in Eustathius' assertion that Vergil copied off of an otherwise unknown poet named Pisander, requires us to entertain the idea that there was another now-lost poet named Pisander who lived before Vergil's own age, and who has subsequently been erased from history (cf. footnote#1) apart from scant and fleeting references. However, as far-fetched as this idea may be, it is not entirely without precedent: the famous and oft-quoted Catullus himself would have been lost to us modern readers had not his writings survived the centuries in a single manuscript copy. The odds of some future scholar finding in a Old World tomb or in a jar or in a cave hitherto lost evidence of a mighty and learned pre-Augustan Age Pisander who wrote of The Fall of Troy and whose Greek verses mysteriously match up with Vergil's famous Latin hexameters are not entirely non-existent, but highly improbable.

The antepenultimate option, in which Eustathius is incorrect in his assertion concerning Pisander, but Macrobius is aware of his character's mistake, requires the reader to look at The Saturnalia and its characters as a whole: for if intentional, then there must be a reason for Macrobius to do it. Does it serve some purpose for Macrobius in writing The Saturnalia to have Eustathius chant and list such things about Vergil as if they were schoolboy rote ("decantata")? Is it meant to be clear that Eustathius is mistaken about Pisander, and that his mistake is framed by a preterition? The purpose of preterition is to draw attention to a thing by declaring the thing ought not to have attention drawn to it. Is Eustathius being used as a mouthpiece by Macrobius to make some subtle and smarting observation about youth being taught errors in their classrooms by memorizing mistakes during their lessons? This question is larger and more complex than what this present writing is meant to examine; it should be sufficient, however, to reassert that the summary of Pisander's poem provided by Zosimus proves that at least Eustathius, if not Macrobius himself, is thinking of the same poet, and is thus mistaken.

The penultimately enumerated option is the one which is most easily commented upon via Lex Parsimoniae: Macrobius is just wrong. Under this assumption, no creation of a fabled Pisander is needed, no mental gymnastics are necessitated, and no linguistic jujutsu is required to try and justify what the man has written: he was merely mixed-up and meant another author or date or whatever, for the Pisander who lived in the reign of Alexander Severus could not have influenced Vergil who himself lived centuries earlier. This option is most likely to be correct out of the enumerated four above, given that Eustathius' convenient summary of his Pisander's work matches the historian Zosimus' summary of the work of Pisander who hailed from the reign of Alexander Severus. If Eustathius and Zosimus are speaking of the same Pisander (and they rather conclusively seem to be), then the same Pisander could not have influenced Vergil. Ergo, Macrobius/Eustathius is merely mistaken.

Finally, we come to the lastly enumerated option, the one which renders the entire accusation entirely pointless from the start. Besides the use of the phrase "paene ad verbum transcripserit" ("[Vergil] translated nearly by the word / word-for-word"), Eustathius/Macrobius' language concerning how Vergil treats his poetic models is rather standard and non-nefarious: fecerit sibi ("he made for himself"), traxerit ("he drew"), fideliter interpretando fabricatus sibi ("he fashioned for himself by faithfully translating") all seem to denote how Vergil treated any and all of his models, be the model Homer, Lucretius, Ennius, or Catullus. In fact, just a little ways further in the text, one finds Eustathius/Macrobius using much the same language he uses when he accuses Vergil of plagiarizing Pisander as when he describes how Vergil models himself off of Homer: "Et si vultis me et ipsos proferre versus ad verbum paene translatos... (And if ye even wish me to offer a few verses [of Homer] which [Vergil] translated nearly to the word/ word-for-word." V.3.1). He then offers snippets and stanzas of Homeric lines and their Vergilian copies. So, did Vergil really copy Homer "ad verbum"? Of course not. One might say Vergil drew (traxerit) from many different authors and sources, and he made (fecerit) and fashioned (fabricatus) his own version (sibi) from those earlier works. Even so, is this accusation of paene ad verbum transcripserit and fideliter interpretando fabricatus, and ad verbum paene translatos so much different than what Catullus did to one of Sappho's famous fragments for his own Carmen LI ("Ille mi par esse deo videtur")? Given all of this, and given how the ancients view poetic plagiarism as a whole, are Eustathius' words meant to be an accusation or charge of malice at all? Did Macrobius even mean to throw shade on Vergil? Or do our modern eyes read his words, see in these words our modern sensibilities concerning plagiarism, and then react to these words appropriately? I must admit, I was surprised at the variance in tone between Huysmans' sneering treatment of the accusation and reading the offhanded and indifferent accusation offered by Macrobius himself. We must keep in mind that some fifteen centuries or more separate Huysmans and us from our subject matter; therefore, we ought to always ask ourselves, are we reading the ancients rightly?

1If only it were so easy: many scholars actually do posit the existence of a third Pisander based on mentions made in various mythographic scholia tied to the writings of Pseudo-Apollodorus, and perhaps to Apollonius of Rhodes and Euripides -- I have not included this third Pisander in this present writing because he is a little on the spurious side. Despite the number of scholars (such as John Conington, Nino Marinone, Alan Cameron, Deubner, Felix Jacoby, and E.L. de Kockwho believe in the existence of a mythographer named Pisander, the evidence of such a person is nonexistent outside of the above-named scholia, which, in the end, amounts to a handful of prose fragments, the dating of which cannot be conclusively determined. For while Pseudo-Apollodorus will occasionally mention that a different version of the story he's telling might come from a certain "Peisandros" (e.g. Biblioteca I.8.5), it remains inconclusive as to whether Apollonius or Euripides made any use of him (or even if he existed to be made use of); frankly it seems unlikely he is a source of Euripides -- he seems informed by the tragedian. Indeed, some scholars, believe this Pisandran material belongs to Pisander of Rhodes, the epicist, and thus dates from the 7th century B.C; others, like de Kock, argue that the material originating from this Pisander belongs to the Hellenistic Age, or even (bizarrely) after Pseudo-Apollodorus. Additionally, the scholia don't even quote Pisander; they merely provide a summary of his telling (the scholium on Euripides opens with: "As Pisander tells the story..." and ends with: "This is what Pisander says"). 

If I may be allowed to throw my own wrench into the whole ungainly mess, I would argue that Diodorus Siculus, a contemporary of Vergil, claims in his Historical Library that no complete history or telling of the pre-Trojan War period existed to his knowledge:
ἐν μὲν ἓξ ταῖς πρώταις ἀνεγράψαμεν τὰς πρὸ τῶν Τρωικῶν πράξεις τε καὶ μυθολογίας, καὶ τοὺς χρόνους ἐν ταύταις ἐπ' ἀκριβείας οὐ διωρισάμεθα διὰ τὸ μηδὲν παράπηγμα περὶ τούτων παρει . . .  
"While in the first six books I wrote down before the deeds and the myths of the Trojans, and the times in these tales I could not define the dates with any accuracy on account of there being no such fixed chronology of events..."   
                                      -Diodorus Siculus, Βιβλιοθήκη ἱστορική, "Historical Library" 40. Trans. is my own.
If this mysterious mythographer Pisander was so well-known that he is a worthy source of quotable material on myths, why does Diodorus not know of him or his work?

All in all, the only thing these fragments prove is that a Greek man called Pisander was quoted several times by another mythographer (and maybe few other writers) concerning various mythological episodes. Why should this scantily-quoted writer identified as Pisander also automatically be a great and influential, yet otherwise unknown mythographer named as a source for Vergil's Aeneid? Furthermore, why should one be at all hard-pressed to prove that Eustathius is talking about a different Pisander from the one who seems to have written the work which he conveniently takes some effort to describe? If the historian Zosimus is correct in his reference to Pisander, then how many Pisanders wrote lengthy mythological histories of the world starting with the marriage of Jove and Juno and were called "Heroic Marriages of the Gods"?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Troy Book-Ended: Parallels in Iliad Book II and Aeneid Book II (Vergilian Cribbing - Æneid Book II)

Identity of genre admits diversity of imaginative quality. Virgil himself has sometimes suffered from the neglect of this principle and critics have wasted time in showing that he is a weak Homer—forgetting that Homer is a far weaker Virgil, and that neither poet could possibly console us for the loss of the other. 
-C.S. Lewis, The Allegory of Love

The gentle Vergil, whom instructors call the Mantuan swan, perhaps because he was not born in that city, he considered one of the most terrible pedants ever produced by antiquity. Des Esseintes was exasperated by his immaculate and bedizened shepherds, his Orpheus whom he compares to a weeping nightingale, his Aristaeus who simpers about bees, his Aeneas, that weak-willed, irresolute person who walks with wooden gestures through the length of the poem. Des Esseintes would gladly have accepted the tedious nonsense which those marionettes exchange with each other off-stage; or even the poet's impudent borrowings from Homer, Theocritus, Ennius and Lucretius; the plain theft, revealed to us by Macrobius, of the second song of the Aeneid, copied almost word for word from one of Pisander's poems; in fine, all the unutterable emptiness of this heap of verses.
-Joris-Karl Huysmans, À rebours. Trans. by John Howard

Given the opening line of The Æneid, Arma virumque cano, we should not be surprised at the artificial cutting of the epic in twain, where the first half, Books I - VI, are based primarily off of Homer's Odyssey, and the second half, Books VII - XII, off of Homer's Iliad; therefore, the primary themes of the first half concern a "man" and his "wanderings", while the second half concern the "arms of war". Despite these overarching generalities, Vergil often diverges from the model of his larger arcs in interesting ways, in that some of the scenes and structures of some books are modeled off of works and authors different from The Odyssey and The Iliad; nor should this realization be surprising, as The Poet is known as a clever thief of other poet's lines. In conclusion, by an examination the similarities and differences between the second book of Homer's Iliad and the corresponding book of Vergil's Æneid, we may gain insight into the ways in which Vergil uses, adapts, and differs from his models, and such insight may prove helpful as additional ways to read, interpret, and understand the scope, tone, and structure of The Æneid.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

These Are The Dorians You Are Looking For: Disputing the Dorian Invasion Theory

"About the year 1104 B.C, a new wave of immigration or invasion came down upon Greece from the restlessly expanding north. Through Illyria and Thessaly, across the Corinthian Gulf at Naupactus, and over the Isthmus at Corinth, a warlike people, tall, roundheaded, letterless, slipped or marched or poured into the Peloponnesus, mastered it, and almost completely destroyed Mycenaean civilization."


"One thing [this warlike people] had in unheard-of quantity -- iron. They were the emissaries of Hallstatt* culture to Greece; and the hard metal of their swords and souls gave them a merciless supremacy over Achaeans and Cretans who still used bronze to kill." 


"This terminal catastrophe in the prehistory of Aegean civilization is what modern historians know as the Dorian conquest, and what Greek tradition called the Return of the Heracleidae." 

-Will Durant, The Life of Greece, Chapter III.VI. The Dorian Conquest

These Are The Dorians You Are Looking For

Few theories in classical scholarship match The Dorian Invasion (what Durant called "the Dorian conquest") in terms of violating the basics of sound research in favor of hopeful yet groundless suppositions to fill in the gaps separating the evidence. The theory works something like this: in the 1820s and '30s, a desire grew amongst Hellenic scholars to account for the apparent differences in the Trojan War/Heroic Age culture of the Mycenaeans/Akhaians and the cultures of the post-Dark Age Classical Greeks. Thomas Keightly, an Irish writer known for writing fairy tales and compiling "fit-for-ladies" editions of Graeco-Roman mythology and history, referred to the event first as the "Dorian Migration" in his textbook on Greek history (1831) and then later as the "Dorian Invasion" in his text on Greek mythology (1837). Like Durant, historian William Mitford links the event to a so-called "Return of the Heracleidae" in his History of Greece (1823), and describes it as an invasion and conquest of the southern Peloponnese by the northern Dorians. 

Drawing from references to an event mentioned by Herodotos, Thoukydides, and other ancient writers, these scholars began to write about a southward invasion taken on by a savage iron-wielding people, and this event nearly wiped out the Mycenaeans/Akhaians, just as they themselves had once invaded and nearly destroyed the native Pelasgians nearly a millennium earlier. These northern barbarian warriors were called the Dorians, whom some scholars wrote of as wielding iron weaponry which surpassed the bronze armor and edges of the Mycenaean forces:

"The Dorians seem to have been armed with iron, the commoner use of which metal may have given them a great superiority in war. They bore round metal shields, and wore a square woollen cloak, fastened over the shoulders with brooches (safety-pins)"
-H.B. Cotterill, Ancient Greece, The Dark Age
It was their advent which brought about the end of Mycenaean/Akhaian civilization and stability, and thus inaugurated the Dark Ages of Greece. Centuries later, emerging from these dark times, the Dorian people were hereafter viewed as an ethnic branch the Hellenic people living prominently in the Peloponnese and the western regions of northern Greece. When a Classical Greek would have thought of a Dorian, they would have thought first of a Spartan (as in Herodotos' statement below that King Kroisos equated Dorians with Lakedaimonians). In the end, the Invasion Theory strives to explain how this Doric people came to arrive where they came to arrive, for their violent invasion would neatly explain not only the Dark Ages, but changes in pottery, art, and in styles of brooches (safety-pins!) between the two periods which are separated by these so-called Dark Ages; however, the theory's proponents seem to have little issue either ignoring or warping the evidence in favor of this view. A perfunctory examination of the literary and archaeological evidence available points to the Dorians being the northern branch of the Mycenaean/Akhaian Greek-speaking population who migrated both southward and eastward following the fall of Troy in Asia Minor. 

Firstly, let us begin with the first account of the movements of the Aegean peoples. Here follows the pertinent passage concerning the Dorians and their origins from the first book of Herodotos' Historiai

[KLEIO.56] τούτοισι ἐλθοῦσι τοῖσι ἔπεσι ὁ Κροῖσος πολλόν τι μάλιστα πάντων ἥσθη, ἐλπίζων ἡμίονον οὐδαμὰ ἀντ᾽ ἀνδρὸς βασιλεύσειν Μήδων, οὐδ᾽ ὦν αὐτὸς οὐδὲ οἱ ἐξ αὐτοῦ παύσεσθαι κοτὲ τῆς ἀρχῆς. μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα ἐφρόντιζε ἱστορέων τοὺς ἂν Ἑλλήνων δυνατωτάτους ἐόντας προσκτήσαιτο φίλους, ἱστορέων δὲ εὕρισκε Λακεδαιμονίους καὶ Ἀθηναίους προέχοντας τοὺς μὲν τοῦ Δωρικοῦ γένεος τοὺς δὲ τοῦ Ἰωνικοῦ. ταῦτα γὰρ ἦν τὰ προκεκριμένα, ἐόντα τὸ ἀρχαῖον τὸ μὲν Πελασγικὸν τὸ δὲ Ἑλληνικὸν ἔθνος. καὶ τὸ μὲν οὐδαμῇ κω ἐξεχώρησε, τὸ δὲ πολυπλάνητον κάρτα. ἐπὶ μὲν γὰρ Δευκαλίωνος βασιλέος οἴκεε γῆν τὴν Φθιῶτιν, ἐπὶ δὲ Δώρου τοῦ Ἕλληνος τὴν ὑπὸ τὴν Ὄσσαν τε καὶ τὸν Ὄλυμπον χώρην, καλεομένην δὲ Ἱστιαιῶτιν· ἐκ δὲ τῆς Ἱστιαιώτιδος ὡς ἐξανέστη ὑπὸ Καδμείων, οἴκεε ἐν Πίνδῳ Μακεδνὸν καλεόμενον· ἐνθεῦτεν δὲ αὖτις ἐς τὴν Δρυοπίδα μετέβη καὶ ἐκ τῆς Δρυοπίδος οὕτω ἐς Πελοπόννησον ἐλθὸν Δωρικὸν ἐκλήθη. 
And when these verses came back to him, Kroisos was most pleased above all, hoping that a mule would in no way rule as king over the Medes instead of a man: so, neither he himself nor those who came after him would lose his empire. And after he learned these things, he sought who the mightiest of the Hellenes might be and how to win them over as friends, and in so doing he discovered the Lakedaimonioi and the Athenaioi to be the chief peoples, the former being of the Doric tribe and the latter of the Ionic. For these have been the foremost distinguished peoples, being in existence from the beginning, one as a Pelasgian people [the Ionians] and the other as a Hellenic people [the Doric]. And never have the Pelasgoi left from their home, while the other hath wandered very far and wide. For in the time of King Deukalion, the race of Hellen lived in the land of Phthia, and under the leadership of Doros, a son of Hellen, they dwelt in the land at the base of Ossa and Olympos, a place called Histiaiotis. And from Histiaios they were driven out by the Kadmeioi, and then they dwelt in Pindos, calling it Makednon. And thence unto Dryopis they passed over and from Dyropis they came to the Peloponnese and were called the Doric tribe.
-Herodotos of Halikarnassos, Kleio (Book I); 56. Trans. is my own.

Hardly an invasion. So, the Dorians, the tribe of Doros, a son of Hellen, son of Deukalion (the Greek Noah), were driven from their northern homeland by the southern Kadmeioi, the Cadmeans, i.e. the ancient Boiotians (see the Thoukydides passage below). They then moved to Mt. Pindus, which they called Makednon (Macedon?) and then to Dryopis, and then the Peloponnese, i.e. where Sparta is located, a town which becomes inextricably linked with the Dorians. The verbs here do not denote any violent action. The most active verb in the whole account of the Dorians' movements is actually passive, as it describes the Doric tribe being "up-rooted" ἐξανέστη, "taken out after lifting up from a seated position" by the Kadmeioi. If anything, that describes an invasion, only it happened to the Dorians. The other verbs are variants of standard moving verbs and are more migratory in nature (μετέβη and ἐλθὸν). 

It is to be here noted that in a commentary of this passage, editors W.W. How and J. Wells take time to describe the details of the Dorian Invasion in a section they entitled, "Evidence for reality of Dorian invasion", claiming that the facts concerning the invasion were "fully-developed" in the time of Herodotos. The "evidence" which follows amounts to thus: quoting Tyrtaios fr. 2 and Pindar's Pythian Ode I.63, the event must have been an invasion (or maybe not: "Beloch argues the story is an invention"), and is based upon the following enumerated "facts": 
  • "Modern archaeological research tends to vindicate the accuracy of Greek myths in their general outlines.
  • "If tradition is ever good evidence, it would be so for an event of such importance.
  • "Tradition is confirmed by the existence of subject classes (probably subject races) in many parts of the Peloponnese.
  • "The Dorians always looked on themselves as being new-comers in the Peloponnese. 
  • "The tradition explains such facts as resemblance of Dorian and Aeolian dialects (Busolt, i. 195) and the connexion of the Lacedaemonians with Doris, which is of great importance in historic times."
-W.W. How & J. Wells, commentary on Herodotos' Historiai. Kleio.56

Immediately following this less-than-impressive enumeration, the editors admit that "[i]t must be frankly admitted, however, that we know nothing of the details of the Invasion."

Armed with all of this knowledge, we may now turn our attention back to Herodotos:

[KLEIO.57] ἥντινα δὲ γλῶσσαν ἵεσαν οἱ Πελασγοί, οὐκ ἔχω ἀτρεκέως εἰπεῖν. εἰ δὲ χρεόν ἐστι τεκμαιρόμενον λέγειν τοῖσι νῦν ἔτι ἐοῦσι Πελασγῶν τῶν ὑπὲρ Τυρσηνῶν Κρηστῶνα πόλιν οἰκεόντων, οἳ ὅμουροι κοτὲ ἦσαν τοῖσι νῦν Δωριεῦσι καλεομένοισι (οἴκεον δὲ τηνικαῦτα γῆν τὴν νῦν Θεσσαλιῶτιν καλεομένην ), καὶ τῶν Πλακίην τε καὶ Σκυλάκην Πελασγῶν οἰκησάντων ἐν Ἑλλησπόντῳ, οἳ σύνοικοι ἐγένοντο Ἀθηναίοισι, καὶ ὅσα ἄλλα Πελασγικὰ ἐόντα πολίσματα τὸ οὔνομα μετέβαλε· εἰ τούτοισι τεκμαιρόμενον δεῖ λέγειν, ἦσαν οἱ Πελασγοὶ βάρβαρον γλῶσσαν ἱέντες. εἰ τοίνυν ἦν καὶ πᾶν τοιοῦτο τὸ Πελασγικόν, τὸ Ἀττικὸν ἔθνος ἐὸν Πελασγικὸν ἅμα τῇ μεταβολῇ τῇ ἐς Ἕλληνας καὶ τὴν γλῶσσαν μετέμαθε. καὶ γὰρ δὴ οὔτε οἱ Κρηστωνιῆται οὐδαμοῖσι τῶν νῦν σφέας περιοικεόντων εἰσὶ ὁμόγλωσσοι οὔτε οἱ Πλακιηνοί, σφίσι δὲ ὁμόγλωσσοι· δηλοῦσί τε ὅτι τὸν ἠνείκαντο γλώσσης χαρακτῆρα μεταβαίνοντες ἐς ταῦτα τὰ χωρία, τοῦτον ἔχουσι ἐν φυλακῇ. 
And whatever the language it was the Pelasgoi spoke, I do not have any idea with certainty. But if we take as read how the speech of the Pelasgoi of the present day is, it like how the Tyrsenoi who live around the city of Kreston speak -- and indeed, they themselves were once neighbors of a people now called the Dorioi, who were dwelling at that very time in a place now called Thessaliotis. It also sounds like how the Pelasgoi speak where they have dwelt at Plakie and Skylake on the Hellespont, and there they had dwelt alongside the Athenaioi, and a great many of the Pelasgic towns adopted their name. And if we take as read how their speech is, the Pelasgoi were speaking a barbaric [i.e. non-Greek] tongue. And indeed if it is so, then the whole Pelasgic race spoke like that, and Attika, being Pelasgic, altogether changed in the movement towards the Hellenes and learned to change their tongue. For indeed, neither do the Krestonians of today speak like their neighbors, nor do the Plakienians speak like anyone around them. So it is clear that they have kept the characteristics of their tongue while adopting the lands where they are now and there have they preserved those characteristics. 

What Herodotos is describing here is the Akhaian/Mycenaean migration and invasion southward, the event which displaced the Pelasgians and  "changed" (μεταβολῇ and μετέμαθε) the Athenians to trend towards the Akhaians. Everyone, this is the Dorian invasion, just not the Dorian (majuscule) I-nvasion you're looking for. The Dorians, the Dorioi, ARE the Akhaioi, just as the Akhaioi are the Danaoi, just as the Danaoi are the Argeioi, just as the Argeioi are the Greeks. 

They're all the same people. The Dorians were amongst the northern Akhaian inhabitants of the Grecian peninsula and the Balkans. The Dorians were amongst the Proto-Greek-speaking Greeks. They came south, displacing (perhaps violently or otherwise), the Pelasgian presence in the Peloponnese and the coast. As recounted above, the Pelasgian presence was still felt in Attika and Athens and the islands of the Aegean (around the Hellespont, Herodotos writes). The Pelasgians, i.e. Ionians, i.e. Athenians are the ones who possess the non-Greek element, the Pelasgians, in this whole affair. The mistake the Dorian Invasion Theory proponents have made is that they have exaggerated the writings of the Greek historians and transformed an event those writers themselves refer to as a migration of northern Greek peoples into a large-scale southward invasion by a non-Greek-speaking iron-wielding people. Indeed, this will become clearer as we continue reading Herodotos:

[KLEIO.58] τὸ δὲ Ἑλληνικὸν γλώσσῃ μὲν ἐπείτε ἐγένετο αἰεί κοτε τῇ αὐτῇ διαχρᾶται, ὡς ἐμοὶ καταφαίνεται εἶναι· ἀποσχισθὲν μέντοι ἀπὸ τοῦ Πελασγικοῦ ἐόν ἀσθενές, ἀπό σμικροῦ τεο τὴν ἀρχὴν ὁρμώμενον αὔξηται ἐς πλῆθος τῶν ἐθνέων, Πελασγῶν μάλιστα προσκεχωρηκότων αὐτῷ καὶ ἄλλων ἐθνέων βαρβάρων συχνῶν. πρόσθε δὲ ὦν ἔμοιγε δοκέει οὐδὲ τὸ Πελασγικὸν ἔθνος, ἐὸν βάρβαρον, οὐδαμὰ μεγάλως αὐξηθῆναι. 
And the Hellenic race hath ever spoken its own tongue, as it appears to me. It was a branch of the Pelasgic tongue, and starting weak from small beginnings, grew and was increased by many speakers whom the Pelasgoi approached and with whom other barbaric peoples allied. And before all of these facts, it hath been clear to me that neither was the Pelasgic race, a barbaric [non-Greek] one, one which bred very much.
-Herodotos of Halikarnassos, Kleio (Book I); 56-58. Trans. is my own.

Notably, the commentary mentioned above has nothing to say on this passage. Either way, the passage rather conclusively blows an irreparable hole in the Dorian Invasion Theory: the Pelasgians spoke a non-Greek, but maybe an Indo-European tongue, while the "Hellenic race hath ever spoken its own tongue", originally a minor branch of the Pelasgic. According to Herodotos, the Hellenes, i.e. the Dorians, i,e, the Akhaians, i.e. the Danaoi, i.e. the Mycenaeans have always spoken a form of Greek. And indeed, linguistical evidence recovered by archaeology confirms that claim to be true: Linear B is an early form of Greek, so-called Proto-Greek, and so there has been an unbroken chain of Greek speakers in Greece since the Akhaian/Mycenaean migration. For the Dorian Invasion to be true, then a barbaric non-Greek speaking people came south and conquered by displacement or murder the native Greek-speaking populace. If this is true, then why is Greek still the spoken language of the conquered lands? The proponents of the Doric Invasion Theory have to explain how the Dorian Invasion fits into the facts that both the Greeks' own historians (like Herodotos) say that the inhabitants of the mainland have always spoken Greek since their southward migration/invasion, when they displaced the Pelasgians, and that archaeology and linguistics conclusively proves such an event. Did these conquering Dorians stop speaking their non-Greek tongue and adopt their conquered people's Greek language? What would have been the Doric non-Greek language? How exactly did the Greek language survive from the Mycenaean Proto-Greek written in Linear B to the Pre-Classical Greek of the centuries emerging from the Dark Ages, after the time of the so-called Doric Invasion? How did The Iliad survive, for it is a poem sung in Ionic tongues before the Doric Invasion and then continues to be sung and celebrated afterward? How can the invaders be Dorians if Herodotos says that the Dorians were Hellenes and therefore Greek? Indeed, if Herodotos is to be believed, he implies that the Pelasgians' low population is the reason for the growth of Hellenic presence south of their northern homeland: they moved south and their numbers grew; the Pelasgians did not, and centered in Attica and the coasts and islands.

Bolstering the argument against the idea of the Invasion, an article written by Vladimir Georgiev entitled "Mycenaean among the Other Greek Dialects" presents convincing evidence of the linguistic and dialectical differences among the Hellenic people after the Pelasgian invasion and displacement, and the consequences of such evidence necessitates that certain events must have taken place. Firstly, we must account for the presence of a Pelasgian, i.e. non-Greek presence in the Peloponnese. Secondly, a migration or invasion from the north by a Greek-speaking people, who displaced the Pelasgians. Thirdly, this Proto-Greek tongue was split into three main dialects: Iawonic (Ionic), Aiwolic (Aeolic), and Doric. Almost any treatment of the Doric dialect is pointedly absent from the article, as the "Western-Greek" dialect is considered to have "no direct relation to Mycenaean", that is, Ionic-Aeolic. But "Greek" nonetheless -- the article indeed refers to Doric as Greek, not non-Greek.

Beholden to Myth - The Trojan War, the Nostoi, and the Return of the Herakleidai

If all of this is correct, and particularly the claim that Herodotos makes that the Dorians are northwestern Greek-speaking Greeks, then what exactly is the historian Thoukydides describing in this passage detailing Doric movements following the Trojan War?
[A.12] ἐπεὶ καὶ μετὰ τὰ Τρωικὰ ἡ Ἑλλὰς ἔτι μετανίστατό τε καὶ κατῳκίζετο, ὥστε μὴ ἡσυχάσασαν αὐξηθῆναι. ἥ τε γὰρ ἀναχώρησις τῶν Ἑλλήνων ἐξ Ἰλίου χρονία γενομένη πολλὰ ἐνεόχμωσε, καὶ στάσεις ἐν ταῖς πόλεσιν ὡς ἐπὶ πολὺ ἐγίγνοντο, ἀφ’ ὧν ἐκπίπτοντες τὰς πόλεις ἔκτιζον. Βοιωτοί τε γὰρ οἱ νῦν ἑξηκοστῷ ἔτει μετὰ Ἰλίου ἅλωσιν ἐξ Ἄρνης ἀναστάντες ὑπὸ Θεσσαλῶν τὴν νῦν μὲν Βοιωτίαν, πρότερον δὲ Καδμηίδα γῆν καλουμένην ᾤκισαν (ἦν δὲ αὐτῶν καὶ ἀποδασμὸς πρότερον ἐν τῇ γῇ ταύτῃ, ἀφ’ ὧν καὶ ἐς Ἴλιον ἐστράτευσαν), Δωριῆς τε ὀγδοηκοστῷ ἔτει ξὺν Ἡρακλείδαις Πελοπόννησον ἔσχον. μόλις τε ἐν πολλῷ χρόνῳ ἡσυχάσασα ἡ Ἑλλὰς βεβαίως καὶ οὐκέτι ἀνισταμένη ἀποικίας ἐξέπεμψε, καὶ Ἴωνας μὲν Ἀθηναῖοι καὶ νησιωτῶν τοὺς πολλοὺς ᾤκισαν, Ἰταλίας δὲ καὶ Σικελίας τὸ πλεῖστον Πελοποννήσιοι τῆς τε ἄλλης Ἑλλάδος ἔστιν ἃ χωρία. πάντα δὲ ταῦτα ὕστερον τῶν Τρωικῶν ἐκτίσθη. 
And after the Trojan War, Hellas yet migrated and established colonies, with the result that not in peace did they grow in power. For the departure from Ilion was implemented too late, and so many things changed, and seditions in a good portion of the cities were engendered, and the refugees driven out from these places established their own cities elsewhere. For those who are now known as the Boiotoi, when it was the sixtieth year after the taking of Ilion, were driven out of Arne by the Thessalians and then they established a colony in the land now known as Boiotia, but before was called Kadmeia, a portion of which dwelt earlier in that land and also warred at Ilion. The Dorians, in the eightieth year following that war, in alliance with the Herakleidai did hold the Peloponnese. It was only just after so much time that Hellas was steadily peaceful, and no longer in a period of upheaval, did send out colonies: Ionia the Athenaioi peopled, as well as many of the islands, while most of Italy and Sikelia the Peloponnesioi did the same, and to the rest of Hellas' countryside. And all of these colonies were peopled after the Trojan War.
-Thoukydides, Iστορία του Πελοποννησιακού Πολέμου, A.12. Trans. is my own.

This sounds more like the Dorian Invasion Theory to which the learned scholars of the early-to-mid 19th century were referring! But is it? Note how the event is characterized in the Thoukydides above, compared to the Herodotos passages: ἔσχον is used to describe how Dorians (with the Sons of Herakles "ξὺν Ἡρακλείδαις", perhaps in some sort of alliance) relate to the Peloponnese. This verb, from ἔχωcould denote an aggressive "taking" of land through, say, military occupation, but the action could more simply show "to gain possession of". In other words, a military invasion is not necessitated by the use of this particular verb. Greek, a very descriptive language encompassing many, many verbs displaying a wide range of nuance has no trouble supplying any number of verbs to describe the sort of event the proponents of the Dorian Invasion Theory have vividly proposed. The action here described could, in actuality, be more like a "moving-in" (κατῳκίζετο; and indeed, we will see the event described so in other accounts) rather than a violent "invading". One cannot help but notice that it is the same verb Homer uses throughout the Catalogue of Ships in the second book of The Iliad to denote which tribes were in possession of which cities. Therefore, Thoukydides' description of the event does not necessitate an invasion, but more like a migration (μετανίστατό) caused by a general upheaval (ἀνισταμένη) brought on by some sort of factious revolutions (στάσεις) in the majority of the cities (ἐν ταῖς πόλεσιν ὡς ἐπὶ πολὺ) in the wake of the Trojan War.

Given the prominence Greek art and history has put at the feet of Trojan War, it is fitting that it should likewise play a part in this story: while the raids on Hittite land in Asia Minor increased (and elsewhere in the ancient eastern Mediterranean world, for let us recall that Danaan/Akhaian forces even made attacks upon Egyptian land), with the Anatolian attacks and sieges centering mostly around a long siege against Wilusa, the great city the Akhaian raiders called Ilion, the demographics of mainland Greece most likely changed. In the absence of the warrior raiders carrying out eastern sieges by plying the Aegean and greater Mediterranean waters in their rowing warships, could there have been fighting back at home on the Grecian mainland, perhaps a civil war in which power changed hands to a previous underclass? Or could it have been as Herodotos implied, a non-violent decline in population of the eastern mainland Greeks of Mycenae, the Argolid, Attika, and Boiotia in favor of a takeover of the culture of the western Greeks, the more Doric element in the Akhaian people? 

In the Greeks' own mythology, such a parallel event appears: the Nostoi, or "Homecoming" stories, describe the attempts made by Aigisthos and Klytaimnestra in the Agamemnon and Penelope's odious suitors in Homer's Odyssey (The Odyssey also mentions the Aigisthos coup) to usurp the power and property of the ruling class, namely Agamemnon and Odysseus, kings who were winning glory raiding the rich cities of Asia Minor. Could the Nostoi myths be memories and fantasied accounts of the upheavals and migrations described by Thoukydides which he himself claims happened eighty years after the Trojan War? What exactly is the "Return of the Heracleidae", to which Thoukydides refers? The Herakleidai, the "Sons of Herakles", were ancient Hellenic royalty descended from Perseus, the strong-man's four-times father. The stories of the Return of the Herakleidai are inextricably linked to the Dorian migrations in the Greek stories -- one could say that one story cannot exist without the other, for it is with the Dorians' aid that the Sons of Herakles return to rule their ancestral homes in the Peloponnese. The tale goes something like this: the Perseid kings (the children of Perseus) ruled the Argolid and the Peloponnese in the early stories of the Greek legends, but when Herakles' "father" Amphitryon was exiled for the accidental killing of his brother, his brother next-in-line, Sthenelos, inherited the kingdom of Mykenai instead of him. Thus, Sthenelos' son Eurystheus became king instead of Herakles, and, when grown, compelled the latter to undergo his famous Twelve Labors. After Herakles' death, Eurystheus brutally persecutes his children, the Herakleidai, who flee to Athens. In the absence of Eurystheus, Atreus and Thystes, sons of Pelops, son of Tantalos, who was a king of Lydia in Asia Minor, took the kingdom for themselves. Thus, in the generation before the siege at Troy, control of the Peloponnese and the Argolid passed to the control of Atreus, and then the Atreidai, his sons, Agamemnon and Menalaos (cf. Thoukydides A.9). These two war-chiefs would then wage their war at Ilion and Asia Minor, the homeland of their grandfather, Pelops. In the prolonged absence of these two war-chiefs, could not the Herakleidai have returned to the Peloponnese with a large force of Dorians (northern Akhaians) and assumed control? Indeed, could this not be the meaning of the "return" mentioned above? 

We should keep in mind that the movements of the Dorians into the Peloponnese have been hitherto described more as migrations than invasions, migrations which most likely lasted quite some time and perhaps were not conducted within a single event or even within the course of a single generation. This view of the evidence is probably the best: the famous siege at Troy was just one of many and lengthy raids of the east, expeditions which depleted the Mycenaean/Akhaian populations of the eastern and southern Grecian mainland and gave an opening for the northwestern Greeks, the Dorians, to occupy those areas in their stead. The migrations were probably met with resistance from the native populations who did not raid in the east and resented the increase in their new Doric neighbors, hence the upheavals spoken of by Thoukydides. These details, more restrained than the fantasies of "letterless" (Durant) barbarian hordes sweeping into the lands of the poor Mycenaeans and executing great swaths of their population with their iron swords, better confirm to the evidence at hand; furthermore and finally, enough suppositions about what happened can be made and offered without resorting to inventing a non-Greek origin for developments, such as changes in pottery, art, and brooches, which occurred during the so-called "Dark Ages".

Origins of the Invasion Theory

Having identified the Dorians as being Greek (instead of non-Greek) we must now ask: whence did the idea for an invasion come anyway? Let us backtrack a little and pause to examine the passages put forth by the editors of the Herodotos passage as being important enough to base the existence of such an astounding claim as what has been described as a "Dorian invasion": Tyrtaios and Pindar. The Pindar passage reads as follows:

ἄγ᾽ ἔπειτ᾽ Αἴτνας βασιλεῖ φίλιον ἐξεύρωμεν ὕμνον:
         But come, let us then come up with a friendly song for the king of Aitna,
τῷ πόλιν κείναν θεοδμάτῳ σὺν ἐλευθερίᾳ
         Who with god-built freedom established a city,
Ὑλλίδος στάθμας Ἱέρων ἐν νόμοις ἔκτισσ᾽. ἐθέλοντι δὲ Παμφύλου
          And, with Hyllus' teachings grafted on the constitution, Hieron peopled said city, and opened it to any willing member of Pamphylos' tribe,
καὶ μὰν Ἡρακλειδᾶν ἔκγονοι
          And, yea, the Sons of Herakles,
ὄχθαις ὕπο Ταϋγέτου ναίοντες αἰεὶ μένειν τεθμοῖσιν ἐν Αἰγιμιοῦ
          Dwelling under the heights of Taygetos, ever do they stay under the law of Aigimios,
Δωριεῖς. ἔσχον δ᾽ Ἀμύκλας ὄλβιοι,
          As Dorians. And blessed be they who hold Amyklai, 
Πινδόθεν ὀρνύμενοι, λευκοπώλων Τυνδαριδᾶν βαθύδοξοι γείτονες, ὧν κλέος ἄνθησεν αἰχμᾶς.
          They who hailed from Mt. Pindus, and then neighbors of Tyndaros' sons of the white horses, and their fame with a spear hath blossomed.
-Pindaros, Pythian Ode I. 60-66. Interlinear trans. is my own.

Reports of an invasion still elude us. but more information has been discovered: Pindar confirms that the Doric tribe was composed of three different branches (the Hylloi, Pamphyloi, and Dymanes), each named after a founder of the branch. Dyman and Pamphylos were sons of Aigimios, so all of these are just more names for Dorians. Pindar goes to some effort here to show that the Hylloi, while a branch of the Dorians, are not really so (καὶ μὰν indicates "in addition to, of course, but not the same as the others"), for the Hylloi are composed of Herakleidai, as the branch's founder Hyllos, was an offspring of Hyllos, son of Herakles. In the myths, Hyllos fled north from persecution and was adopted by Aigimios, chieftain of the Dorians, hence the inclusion of his children into the Doric stock. Indeed, all of the proper elements are present here in the Pindar version: the Dorians hail originally from the north ("Mt. Pindus" is in northern Greece, just as Herodotos claims), and then came to live under Dorian law ("the law of Aigimios") in the region of Mt. Taygetos (that is, Sparta), where King Tyndareos once ruled mighty fighting men who once joined with the Herakleidai.

Yet little of this has so far has indicated an invasion -- we continue to find more of the vague movement and "migration" language of the other authors. There is a Pausanias passage which nicely piggy-backs off of Pindar, but likewise yields no fruit of that kind, as it refers to the event in similar mellow terms:

χρόνῳ δὲ ὕστερον κατῆλθέ τε ὑπὸ Ἡρακλέους Τυνδάρεως καὶ ἀνενεώσατο τὴν ἀρχὴν: ἐβασίλευσαν δὲ καὶ οἱ Τυνδάρεω παῖδες καὶ Μενέλαος ὁ Ἀτρέως Τυνδάρεω γαμβρὸς ὢν Ὀρέστης τε Ἑρμιόνῃ τῇ Μενελάου συνοικῶν. κατελθόντων δὲ Ἡρακλειδῶν ἐπὶ Τισαμενοῦ τοῦ Ὀρέστου βασιλεύοντος, Μεσσήνη μὲν καὶ Ἄργος ἑκατέρα μοῖρα Τήμενον, ἡ δὲ Κρεσφόντην ἔσχεν ἄρχοντας: 
"Some time later, Tyndareos returned at the hands of Herakles, and recovered his reign. And the sons of Tyndareos ruled, as well as Menelaos, the son of Atreus, being Tyndareos' heir through marriage, and Orestes too, who was married to Hermione, the daughter of Menelaos. And when the Herakleidai returned during the reign of Orestes' son Tisamenos, Messene and also Argos, both lands given by lot to Temenos as leader of the former and Kresphontes leader of the latter." 
-Pausanias, Hellados Periegesis III.1.5. Trans. is my own.
Once again, the verbs here, κατῆλθέ and κατελθόντων, both forms of κατέρχομαι, are synonyms of the verbs in the other passages we have seen, and do not themselves necessitate a violent invasion. κατέρχομαι means to "come down, descend" or even "to return from exile or banishment", which is exactly what is being described in the mythological accounts of the event. ἔσχεν (another form of ἔχω, like in Pindar) is used to describe how Temenos and Kresphontes "gained possession of" Messene and Argos, two regions of the Peloponnese, where they ruled as "ἄρχοντας".

A search of Temenos and Kresphontes, grandsons of Herakles, gives way to a passage from Pseudo-Apollodoros' Biblioteca:

ἀπολομένου δὲ Εὐρυσθέως ἐπὶ Πελοπόννησον ἦλθον οἱ Ἡρακλεῖδαι, καὶ πάσας εἷλον τὰς πόλεις. ἐνιαυτοῦ δὲ αὐτοῖς ἐν τῇ καθόδῳ διαγενομένου φθορὰ πᾶσαν Πελοπόννησον κατέσχε, καὶ ταύτην γενέσθαι χρησμὸς διὰ τοὺς Ἡρακλείδας ἐδήλου: πρὸ γὰρ τοῦ δέοντος αὐτοὺς κατελθεῖν.
"And, with Eurystheus having perished, to the Peloponnese the Herakleidai came, and all the cities they took. Within a year passing since their return, a destruction held fast to the whole Peloponnese, and it an oracle made clear that it was because of the Herakleidai, for before their appointed time they returned."
-Pseudo Apollodoros, Biblioteca II.8. Trans. is my own.

Lo! Aside from the verbs we have come to expect (more variants of ἔρχομαι and ἔχω), have finally have a verb which almost indisputably implies force: εἷλον, from αἱρέω, means "to take in hand", "to win" or "to obtain", and when used in conjunction with the object "cities", usually means "to take the city". Finally, in Pseudo-Apollodoros, a verb had appeared which indicates something (anything!) like an invasion took place! The problem remains, however: the invading force spoken of here is from the wrong invasion, as it belongs to the Herakleidai, not the Dorians -- the Dorians are meant to aid the Herakleidai in their return some time later. Further reading of this part of the Biblioteca contains details of the repeated attempts by the Herakleidai to take the Peloponnese, along with descriptions of daring feats and duels between Herakles' grandsons and the Pelopids, before finally culminating in a successful invasion of the Peloponnese after allying with the northern Dorian tribe -- all of which is a more elaborate outline than the Dorian Invasion Theory proposes. Pseudo-Apollodoros continues:
ἐπειδὴ δὲ ἐκράτησαν Πελοποννήσου, τρεῖς ἱδρύσαντο βωμοὺς πατρῴου Διός, καὶ ἐπὶ τούτων ἔθυσαν, καὶ ἐκληροῦντο τὰς πόλεις. 
"And when [the Herakleidai] ruled the Peloponnese, three altars to Father Zeus they set up and thereupon made they sacrifices and appointed the cities by lot." 
                                                    -Pseudo-Apollodoros, Biblioteca II.8. Trans. is my own.

We seem to be getting closer to the narrative thread of the Invasion Theory, apart from there being no Dorians: here is the verb ἐκράτησαν ("to be mighty in power") and a mention that the Peloponnesian cities are appointed a leader by lot (ἐκληροῦντο), which could indicate the divvying of the spoils of a war or invasion. So, in order to continue to follow this thread we must ask: what are Apollodoros' sources? 

Diodorus Siculus, writing slightly before Pseudo-Apollodoros in the 1st century B.C, has what may be the most detailed account of the southward invasion carried out by the Dorians and the Herakleidai:

μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα οἱ μὲν Ἡρακλεῖδαι πάντες περιβοήτῳ μάχῃ νενικηκότες τὸν Εὐρυσθέα, καὶ διὰ τὴν εὐημερίαν συμμάχων εὐπορήσαντες, ἐστράτευσαν ἐπὶ τὴν Πελοπόννησον Ὕλλου στρατηγοῦντος.  Ἀτρεὺς δὲ μετὰ τὴν Εὐρυσθέως τελευτὴν καταλαβόμενος τὴν ἐν Μυκήναις βασιλείαν, καὶ προσλαβόμενος συμμάχους Τεγεάτας καί τινας ἄλλους, ἀπήντησε τοῖς Ἡρακλείδαις. κατὰ δὲ τὸν Ἰσθμὸν τῶν στρατοπέδων ἀθροισθέντων, Ὕλλος μὲν ὁ Ἡρακλέους εἰς μονομαχίαν προεκαλέσατο τῶν πολεμίων τὸν βουλόμενον, ὁμολογίας θέμενος τοιαύτας, εἰ μὲν Ὕλλος νικήσαι τὸν ἀντιταχθέντα, παραλαβεῖν Ἡρακλείδας τὴν Εὐρυσθέως βασιλείαν, εἰ δ᾽ Ὕλλος λειφθείη, μὴ κατιέναι τοὺς Ἡρακλείδας εἰς Πελοπόννησον ἐντὸς ἐτῶν πεντήκοντα. καταβάντος δ᾽ εἰς τὴν πρόκλησιν Ἐχέμου τοῦ βασιλέως τῶν Τεγεατῶν, καὶ τῆς μονομαχίας γενομένης, ὁ μὲν Ὕλλος ἀνῃρέθη, οἱ δ᾽ Ἡρακλεῖδαι κατὰ τὰς ὁμολογίας ἀπέστησαν τῆς καθόδου καὶ τὴν εἰς Τρικόρυθον ἐπάνοδον ἐποιήσαντο. μετὰ δέ τινας χρόνους Λικύμνιος μὲν μετὰ τῶν παίδων καὶ Τληπολέμου τοῦ Ἡρακλέους, ἑκουσίως τῶν Ἀργείων αὐτοὺς προσδεξαμένων, ἐν Ἀργει κατῴκησαν, οἱ δ᾽ ἄλλοι πάντες ἐν Τρικορύθῳ κατῴκησαν: ὡς δ᾽ ὁ πεντηκονταετὴς χρόνος διῆλθε, κατῆλθον εἰς Πελοπόννησον: ὧν τὰς πράξεις ἀναγράψομεν, ὅταν εἰς ἐκείνους τοὺς χρόνους παραγενηθῶμεν. Ἀλκμήνη δ᾽ εἰς Θήβας καταντήσασα, καὶ μετὰ ταῦτ᾽ ἄφαντος γενομένη, τιμῶν ἰσοθέων ἔτυχε παρὰ τοῖς Θηβαίοις. τοὺς δ᾽ ἄλλους Ἡρακλείδας φασὶν ἐλθόντας παρ᾽ Αἰγίμιον τὸν Δώρου τὴν πατρῴαν τῆς χώρας παρακαταθήκην ἀπαιτήσαντας μετὰ Δωριέων κατοικῆσαι. Τληπόλεμον δὲ τὸν Ἡρακλέους ἐν Ἄργει κατοικοῦντα λέγουσιν ἀνελεῖν Λικύμνιον τὸν Ἠλεκτρύωνος ἐρίσαντα περί τινων, διὰ δὲ τὸν φόνον τοῦτον ἐξ Ἄργους φυγόντα εἰς Ῥόδον μετοικῆσαι: τὴν δὲ νῆσον ταύτην τότε κατῴκουν Ἕλληνες οἱ ὑπὸ Τριόπα τοῦ Φόρβαντος κατοικισθέντες. τὸν δ᾽ οὖν Τληπόλεμον κοινῇ μετὰ τῶν ἐγχωρίων τριμερῆ ποιῆσαι τὴν Ῥόδον, καὶ τρεῖς ἐν αὐτῇ καταστῆσαι πόλεις, Λίνδον, Ἰήλυσον, Κάμειρον: βασιλεῦσαι δ᾽ αὐτὸν πάντων τῶν Ῥοδίων διὰ τὴν τοῦ πατρὸς Ἡρακλέους δόξαν, καὶ κατὰ τοὺς ὕστερον χρόνους μετ᾽ Ἀγαμέμνονος ἐπὶ τὴν Τροίαν στρατεῦσαι.

And after these events, all the Herakleidai had victory in a very famous battle against Eurystheus, and because of their success they prospered in their alliances and, under the generalship of Hyllos, made war upon the Peloponnese. And Atreus, after the end of Eurystheus, having seized the kingdom of Mykenai and already made an alliance with the Tegeatai and some others, set out to meet the Herakleidai in battle. And with both camps at the Isthmus pitched, Hyllos on one side called forth to single combat any one of the enemy who wished it, making such an oath as follows: should Hyllos win against his opponent, then the Herakleidai would receive Eurystheus' kingdom, but should Hyllos lose, then not should the Herakleidai return to the Peloponnese within fifty years. With Ekhemos, king of the Tegeatai taking up the challenge and the combat was begun, then Hyllos was slain, and the Herakleidai, according to the agreement, left off from their return and made a northward return to Trikorythos. After some time, Likymnios with his children and Tlepolemos, a son of Herakles, made their home in Argos after the Argeioi willingly accepted them, while the rest of them mad their home at Trikorthyos. When the fifty-year period passed, they returned to the Peloponnese, and of their deeds we shall write later, whenever we hath come upon their times.

Firstly, Diodorus' tantalizing tease that he will further treat the subject of the Return of the Herakleidai must remain only such, a tease, for, naturally, the further details do not appear in any extant copy of the text. Secondly, once again -- these wars, incursions, invasions, returns, &c. are conducted by the Herakleidai -- not the Dorians. The Dorian move southward happens later, presumably described in the part of Diodorus which, of course, no longer exists. 

Who were Diodorus' sources? The man himself claims that the dates for his pre-Trojan War years are estimates at best because no fixed chronology exists for them:

ἐν μὲν ἓξ ταῖς πρώταις ἀνεγράψαμεν τὰς πρὸ τῶν Τρωικῶν πράξεις τε καὶ μυθολογίας, καὶ τοὺς χρόνους ἐν ταύταις ἐπ' ἀκριβείας οὐ διωρισάμεθα διὰ τὸ μηδὲν παράπηγμα περὶ τούτων παρει . . .  
"While in the first six books I wrote down before the deeds and the myths of the Trojans, and the times in these tales I could not define the dates with any accuracy on account of there being no such fixed chronology of events..."   
        -Diodorus Siculus, Βιβλιοθήκη ἱστορική, "Historical Library" 40. Trans. is my own.

Professor Charles Oldfather's introduction to the Loeb edition of The Historical Library makes the claim that Diodorus "followed the Chronology of Apollodorus of Athens in setting eighty years between the Trojan War (1184 B.C.) and the Return of the Heracleidae (1104 B.C.)". But was it not Thoukydides who made the claim earlier than Apollodoros of Athens? Either way, after digging through a rabbit's hole of text after passage after tale, one finally finds mythological evidence of military incursions by exiled Herakleidai to take over the Peloponnese, and  this is most likely where the idea of a violent Dorian invasion came from, ultimately sprung from confusion concerning the repeated attempts described in the later mythographers of the Herakleidai to reclaim the Peloponnese


The use of iron in the Grecian mainland has been dated to a widespread use following the time of the so-called Dorian Invasion, and there is no indication that the northern Dorians' homeland had iron any earlier than anywhere else. I have been unable to pin down the reasons why it was decided that the Dorians had iron before anyone else and that gave them an edge, so to speak, over their foes.


No matter how one fills in the gaps, what evidence we have remains unchanged: the great city centers like Mycenae were abandoned, Linear B disappeared, commerce collapsed, and people began living sparsely and further apart. It is here that the scholars of yesteryear have placed the Dorian Invasion to account for these so-called "Dark Ages" and to explain how the Classical Greeks linked to the earlier Mycenaeans, but this theory has been rather neatly taken apart and is unable to stand up to scrutiny. The earliest passages in the Greek historians which have been used to defend the theory of a Dorian Invasion actually dispel every the facts as used to justify continued belief in the existence of such an event. At the very least, the event can be described as a mass movement or migration south of Doric peoples during a turbulent period following the prolonged raids at Troy and Asia Minor -- this is concluded from the evidence, and explains what the Dorian Invasion Theory sets out to explain while cleaning up some of the more exaggerated and shaky elements of the claim.