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Two Tombs for Hyrnetho: A Case Study in Localism and Mythographic Topography*

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Hawes, Greta. “Two Tombs for Hyrnetho: A Case Study in Localism and Mythographic Topography.” CHS Research Bulletin 5, no. 2 (2017). http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay:HawesG.Two_Tombs_for_Hyrnetho.2017

§1 It should be uncontroversial to observe that stories are shaped by the contexts in which they are told. When a storyteller aims to please – or persuade, or entertain, or frustrate, or rebuke, or challenge – his audience, his stories are part of his rhetorical arsenal. The form of a story will thus follow its function. There is, then, no such thing as ‘Greek myth’ as an essential, abstract, inert concept, but only Greek myths, particular instantiations of Greek storytelling, each aimed at different ends, preserved in our textual and visual archive. Another way of expressing this idea is to say that storytelling is always a local activity. The thousands of instantiations of Greek myth that we have – variants and versions, full narratives, and fleeting allusions – do not express primarily some overarching concept of ‘Hellenicity’; rather, they conform to the aspirations, anxieties, constraints, opportunities, beliefs, and practices of thousands of interlocking locales – communities variously constituted – in which they were told.

§2 Here, though, we encounter something of a paradox. For our archive of Greek myth consists not of the living voices of these communities, but of textual records. We find it quite easy to conceptualize Greek myths as inherently local in an oral environment: we can imagine the locale of classical Athens, its denizens arrayed in the Theatre of Dionysus, responding with war-weariness to the Trojan Women of Euripides. Likewise, we can easily grasp how the performance of a Pindaric ode within and by a particular community might reveal particular nuances in its language. It is more difficult for us to conceptualize how localism animates those texts which not only eschew communal performance, but which also seem directed to an amorphous, virtual community quite different from the small-scale, place-bound communities of the archaic and classical periods. This article argues for a new model of ‘localism’ within two prose texts of the Imperial period, the Library of Apollodoros, and the Periegesis of Pausanias. The Latin locus, like the Greek topos, encompasses both physical places, and passages of text. In these pages, I consider the analogous dynamics which emerge between storytelling as an activity which takes place within a particular locale, and storytelling as a facet of prose-writing. In essence, I am reconsidering how the instantiations of myth that we find in documentary writing are shaped by the local needs, ambitions, and constraints of a particular textual perspective. My material comes from the mythic episode of the division of the Peloponnese amongst the descendants of Heracles.[1]

§3 The idea that the southern Peloponnese was once divided into three portions by the descendants of Heracles works better in theory than it does in practice. Temenos, Cresphontes and Aristodemos invade the Peloponnese, seeking to regain the territory of their great-grandfather, Heracles. Their campaign succeeds, although Aristodemos is killed. Here is how Apollodoros describes the division of this newly-won land amongst the victors (2.177–178):

Once the Heracleidai] controlled the Peloponnese, they […] cast lots for cities. The first lot was Argos, the second Lacedaimon, and the third Messene. They got an urn of water and agreed that each would throw a pebble into it. Temenos and the sons of Aristodemos, Procles and Eurysthenes, threw in stones. But Cresphontes wanted to be allotted Messene, so he threw in a lump of dirt. Because this dissolved, only the other two lots could be retrieved. Temenos’ lot was drawn first, the lot of the sons of Aristodemos was second. And so Cresphontes received Messene.[2]

§4 The narrative logic of Apollodoros’ account is undeniable: the three victors divide the southern Peloponnese amongst themselves, each taking as his own a major city. As a briefly-told story, it has the attractive appearance of completeness, objectivity, and coherence. But on the ground, the situation was rather messier.

§5 This myth has obvious supra-local applications: it impacts the pasts of at least three different communities, and thus requires some co-ordination among them.[3] At this supra-local level it provided an aition for the Doric identity of the southern Peloponnese.[4] Moreover, it explained why, despite the fact that the communities of the southern Peloponnese shared a single mythical genealogy, they formed into three distinct – and often agonistic – groups.[5] We might best describe Greek myths as forming a fluid network: ‘fluid’ because their norms are ever-flexible, available for revision, and subject to the twin whims of novelty and irrelevance; and a ‘network’, because so many of these stories connect to and impact others, and so the fluidity occurs within a frame of external constraints. Put bluntly, we might think of local ambitions and contingencies as shaping the immediate forms of stories; laid across this is a trans-Hellenic framework which forges connections, emphasizes shared concerns, and highlights those myths held in common by several communities. So, it is not merely that the mythic past provides a set of paradigms for the historical present; past acts of storytelling – whether preserved in the oral archive of ritual, memory, and performance or the textual one – also provide a basic – and inherently conservative – template against which such stories are retold.

§6 Such constrained shaping of the story is clear when we consider its applications within a single community. From the Spartan perspective, for instance, the death of Aristodemos is not a mere detail, but a necessary feature of the plot: it explains how two kings shared the kingdom of Laconia from the very beginning, in spite of it being a single ‘allotment’; it is the aition for the unusual double kingship at Sparta.[6] Yet the Spartans could not transform other parts of the story unilaterally. Once they controlled Messenia as well as Laconia, they did not simply promote a version of the story which had the Peloponnese divided into two, rather than three, portions so as to normalize the new political order. The tripartition is too intrinsic for that. Rather, they seem to have exploited a tradition that Cresphontes was quickly deposed as king of Messene and his sons exiled. Isocrates has ‘Archidamos’ add that these sons fled to Sparta and offered the Spartans their territory. The Spartans, it seems, could thus justify their control of Messenia by arguing that they had rightfully re-established Heracleidai rule there and – moreover – that this was sanctioned by the Delphic oracle.[7] This rather clumsier solution of reducing the three allotments to two points to supra-local checks on Spartan autonomy in storytelling. Further, it shows how poorly the story fit Spartan aspirations: although our earliest reference to the story is in Tyrtaeus, the fact that it provides a charter for Messene as a separate kingdom makes it unlikely to have originated at Sparta.[8]

§7 As Jonathan Hall has shown, the story was probably an Argive invention.[9] A basic datum of the story suggests this, in that Argos is always the first-claimed, and thus presumably the most valuable, ‘lot’. But there is other evidence besides. Only the Argives had an historical royal line named for one of the ‘original’ Heracleidai.[10] Moreover, because Heracles’ parents were closely associated with Tiryns, Mycenae, and Mideia, the reestablishment of his line at Argos provides the clearest expression of a Heraclid ‘return’ since this would be the recovery of his birthright; by contrast, Heracles had conquered the kingdoms of Sparta and Pylos, and given them to Tyndareus and Nestor for safekeeping against his eventual return, making the claims there based on conquest rather than inheritance.

§8 The best evidence for this story being an Argive invention pertains – paradoxically – to the aspect that seems to fit most poorly there. The story assumes that the southern Peloponnese is essentially three kingdoms, each headed by a prominent city. The two western portions are unproblematic. Tyndareus’ kingdom is the Laconia of the historical period, under the control of Sparta. The lot described by Pindar as pertaining to Nestor’s kingdom of Pylos (Pythian 5.70) later comes to be identified (as in Apollodoros) with Messene; both represent the polity of Messenia. But Argos does not fit so easily within this pattern, since it cannot easily be equated with a territory equivalent to – let alone superior to – Laconia and Messenia. In Homer, and the mythic tradition more generally, the name ‘Argos’ could pertain to the city, to the Argive plain, or even to the entire Peloponnese.[11] Added to this, the simultaneous currency of competing genealogies across the Argolid makes creating any coherent map of its heroic kingdoms an impossibility. Homer describes both Diomedes and Agamemnon as ruling over Argos (e.g. Iliad 2.108; cf. Iliad 6.224).[12] In the Catalogue of Ships, the Argolid is not a single kingdom. Rather, Diomedes, Sthenelos, and Eurylos are joint rulers of a territory encompassing Argos, Tiryns, Hermione, Asine, Troizen, Eionai, Epidauros, Aigina and Mases; Agamemnon is king of Mycenae (Iliad 2.559-80). In historical times, the Argolid was notable for its ethnic diversity and for the longevity of numerous independent poleis. Restricting ourselves to just the Argive plain for a moment, it is unlikely that Argos asserted control over the cities of the eastern plain – including Mycenae, Tiryns, and Mideia – before the middle of the fifth century.[13] With this in mind, we can see that the very neat division of the southern Peloponnese into three parts reflects not geo-political reality, but the aspirations of the city of Argos. Only if Argos controlled a much larger territory than it did would it make sense if descendants of Heracles, who had originally been cheated of a kingdom on the eastern Argive plain, returned to rule from Argos. This deliberate conflation of the Argive city with the whole Argive plain reveals the function of the story in its earliest contexts as a charter for Argos’ later expansion.

§9 The Argive version thus requires a division of the southern Peloponnese into precisely three parts to fulfil its vision of the Argolid unified under its leadership. The success of this propagandist projection is apparent in the fact that the tripartition is an invariable aspect of the story. But a flourishing of stories of secondary foundations after this tripartition, particularly in the Argolid, evidences further negotiation and dissent on the ground. Beyond the Argive plain, the Argolid encompassed also Corinth and its territory, and the Acte, comprising Troizen, Hermione, and Epidauros. At no point before the Roman period were these territories politically unified. Diodoros reports that Ephoros attributed to each a different founder (FrGH 70 F18b = 8.8.5):[14]

Aletes [was] the founder of Corinth; Phalces, the founder of Sicyon; Tisamenos, the founder of Achaia; Oxylos, the founder of Elis; Cresphontes, the founder of Messene; Eurysthenes and Procles, the founders of Lacedaimon; Temenos and Kissos, the founders of Argos; and Agraios and Deiphontes, the founders of the cities on the Acte.

§10 This list, combined with accounts from elsewhere, suggests an arrangement that expands the original Heracleid return by positing a further set of allotments. Tisamenos is the son of Orestes, displaced from the southern Peloponnese by the arrival of the Heracleids. Oxylos is their guide, who is rewarded for his work with the kingdom of Elis. Aletes was invited by the Heracleids to rule Corinth, which they had reserved from the tripartition for him (e.g. Diodorus 7.9.2) The remaining oecists, Phalcles, Kissos, and Agaios are elsewhere described as sons of Temenos; Deiphontes is a son-in-law. Ephoros’ arrangement allows the poleis of the Argolid a measure of autonomy within a centralized conception of the region as a whole; perhaps we have here stories which were originally independent and only later assimilated into the supra-local tradition of the Heracleidai.[15]

§11 Three dynamics of localism have emerged from our discussion of this story ‘on the ground’ so far. Firstly, we have seen that supra-local negotiation creates a shared narrative with basic univariable features. While local particularities shape each retelling, the story is not entirely the possession of any one locale. Such supra-local considerations act as one of a number of different checks and balances on storytellers’ flights of fancy. Secondly, local chauvinism fuels the competitive projection of propagandistic stories which will show that community in its best light. And, thirdly, we have seen that local dissent creates alternative ways of telling the story. These three dynamics are of course intertwined: local dissent again driven by chauvinism, and constrained by supra-local considerations. I turn now to consider how these dynamics, which we can trace in broad outline on the ground, play out amongst the passages of text which make up our archive of Greek myths.

§12 When we revisit the passage from Apollodoros with which I began, we recognise how disconnected it is from the geo-political competition which shaped the story. His distanced perspective also shapes his account of the next generation (2.179):

Temenos renounced his sons, Agelaos, Eurypylos, and Callias, and favoured his only daughter, Hyrnetho, and her husband, Deiphontes. The sons found some men who would kill him for money. But after this murder, the army decided that Hyrnetho and Deiphontes should rule the kingdom (βασιλείαν … ἔχειν)

§13 Apollodoros’ prose is plain and dogmatic. It eschews the obvious rhetoric of ideology or chauvinism in favour of a bland omniscience. But it is no neutral account of mythic data: his threefold division of the Peloponnese seems logical only because, in this narrative context, it is disentangled from the contingencies of actual politicking. The success of his approach is predicated on an avoidance of geographical specificity. Just as Temenos’ allotment of ‘Argos’ represented some theoretical third of the Peloponnese, and not an exact allocation of land measured out on the ground, likewise here, the ‘kingdom’ that Hyrnetho and Deiphontes inherit from him has no spatial dimension but remains a figment of the mythic imagination without territorial analogy. Taking up my conflation of the two meanings of locus, we can see that this passage functions successfully in its narrative context precisely because Apollodoros does not identity the exact place to which this story belongs. Apollodoros’ local viewpoint – that is the particular, immediate concerns that animate his storytelling approach in any one passage of text – operates above the granular level of poleis-based communities.

§14 Apollodoros’ Library uses genealogies as its primary organisational device.[16] These lineages are the ‘spine’ along which stories are recounted in sequence with few radical breaks. Because Greek genealogies are broadly regional in nature, Apollodoros’ stories accord also with a broadly geographical plan. His second book (following modern divisions) traces the descendants of Inachos; he is the river which runs across the Argive plain, and thus his descendants populate the Argolid.[17] Much of the book is taken up with Heracles; the return of the Heracleidai which ends book 2 thus rounds out both the cycle of Inachos’ most famous descendent, and records the final few rulers of mythical Argos. On the ground, the boundaries and territories of myth were practical matters; precise delineation mattered. But in Apollodoros, such disputes were beside the point; As Charles Delattre puts it –

For the mythographers, space was thus a matter of onomastics: a place name […] might just as well indicate a space organized according to the text’s own rules, which need not be plotted as on a geographical map. Before being a place, it was a commonplace, a cultural repository. And the geography of mythographical texts thus became a space of writing, a mental universe.[18]

§15 Thus, Apollodoros’ ‘Argive kingdom’ invokes a plausible, but ambivalent, verbal commonplace. His supra-local approach creates a ‘contractual’ perspective: in narrating myths in a distanced manner, he necessarily organises, conflates, simplifies – and ultimately codifies – traditions, trading one locale’s stories off against another’s.[19] In this context, Argos’ aspirational vision is normalised as ‘the story’, and there is no space for the dissenting voices apparent elsewhere.

§16 We turn now to the only detailed accounts of Hyrnetho that have survived, four passages in the second book of Pausanias’ Periegesis.[20] This text is not mythographic senso stricto, but it contains so much mythic material that we can nonetheless speak of it as playing the role of a de facto mythography. The ten books of Pausanias’ Periegesis carve the southern and central mainland of Greece into discrete regions. It then traces a series of ideal itineraries through these regions, creating in this way linear chains of logoi which contextualize the theoremata. Notably, in this work, the two meanings of locus merge: each passage of text is the description of a place. Because the very structure of his work precisely locates mythological heroes and heroines within their native locales, it shows us what is at stake in recounting them from a local perspective.

§17 The Argolid is described in Pausanias’ second book. The unusual, fragmented politics of the region is signalled in the atypical structure of the book. Throughout the Periegesis, each constituent geographic entity (which might be as large as a region, or as small as a single polis) is typically described twice, once in an introductory sketch of its myth-history, and then through an itinerary which takes in its major sites.[21] Most books are dominated – or even entirely taken up with – a single geographical entity and therefore feature few of these overarching myth-historical introductions. In book two, however, Pausanias describes each city-state of the Argolid (Corinthia, Sicyonia, Phliasia, Argolis, Epidauria…) in its own turn. Separate civic identities require the narration of separate pasts; without political unity, Pausanias cannot make a single account of Argolid traditions.[22]

§18 Pausanias gives us a single, coherent account of the myth of Hyrnetho. But he splits this account among four passages. This narrative fragmentation reflects dispute over exactly which locale she should belong to, a situation intensified by Pausanias’ narration of Argive disunity through a disjunctive narrative structure. Hyrnetho appears first in his history of the city of Argos (2.19.1):

Temenos publicly favoured Deiphontes […] as a general in wartime, and an advisor at other times, rather than his sons. This was after he arranged his marriage to Hyrnetho, long his favourite child. Because it was thought that he wanted her and Deiphontes to inherit his kingdom, his sons plotted against him, and Keisos, the eldest, seized the throne.

§19 Kissos, then, not Deiphones, is Temenos’ heir. What happened to Hyrnetho is unclear; from the point of view of Pausanias’ Argive history, she simply disappears. Only when Pausanias recounts the history of Epidauros, a few chapters later, does the story continue (2.25.1–2):

Pityreus [the king of Epidauros] […] gave the land [of Epidauros] to Deiphontes and the Argives without a fight. […] They had split from the other Argives after Temenos had been killed: Deiphontes and Hyrnetho on account of the hatred of Temenos’ sons, and the army because it respected them more than Keisos and his brothers.

§20 In Pausanias, then, as in Apollodoros, Hyrnetho and Deiphontes ruled a kingdom, supported by the Argive army; but their kingdom in Pausnaias is Epidauria rather than that of Temenos. Pausanias’ recounting of these parts of Hyrnetho’s story has an innate logic: each episode appears in the locus to which it belongs: the part that concerns her earlier life in her father’s city of Argos in the part of the Periegesis dedicated to that city; the part that concerns her later arrival in Epidauros in the part of the Periegesis dedicated to that city.

§21 But Argos and Epidauros do not merely share Hyrnetho. They fight over her. Pausanias provides our only evidence for this heroine’s tomb-cult; and he reveals not one but two locations for this, one at Argos, the other near Epidauros. All that he says of this former tomb is that it must be inauthentic (2.23.3):

[Next] you see what they say is the tomb of Hyrnetho. If they say that it is a cenotaph memorial to her, then they speak plausibly. But if they believe that the body of Hyrnetho lies here, I do not believe it. Let whoever has not discovered the traditions of Epidauros believe it!  (Pausanias 2.23.3)

§22 The tomb near Epidauros, by contrast, is marked in Pausanias’ account with an unusually long, and quite lurid account of the heroine’s death: two of Temenos’ sons come to Epidauros and seek to get revenge on Deiphontes by encouraging Hyrnetho to return with them to Argos, where she will be found a better husband. Hyrnetho forcefully reaffirms her loyalty to Deiphontes and is taken by her brothers by force. Deiphontes is told of Hyrnetho’s abduction and pursues the brothers in his own chariot. He kills one them but the other kills Hyrnetho. She was, it transpires, in fact pregnant. The surviving brother escapes and Hyrnetho’s body is taken to be buried near Epidauros, at what is now her sanctuary (2.28.3–6).

§23 What is striking about this particular story is how vividly it describes the drama of the event. Its lurid details are arrayed to a single goal: to characterise the relationship between Epidauros and Argos as one marked only by hostility. We can see clearly the supra-local framework which has shaped this story, and the appropriateness of Pausanias’ periegetical structure in revealing how heroes might migrate from one community to another. Like many Argolid cities, Epidauros maintained a tradition of having once been a second-order ‘founding’ by a descendant of Temenos. But whereas these ‘foundings’ could elsewhere be conceived as establishing civic kinship, in this instance the relationship is cast strictly in antagonistic terms. Pausanias’ four passages thus narrate in effect the same story. The account of Hyrnetho’s death and installation as a heroine repeats the story of her ejection from Argos and eventual sanctuary at Epidauros; similarly, the story of Hyrnetho’s brothers’ attempted abduction of their sister finds its recurrent parallel in the fact that Argos still claims to have her tomb. The cult site at Epidauros re-establishes the equilibrium destroyed in the mythic story: it categorically asserts that this woman, twice-persecuted by the Argives and indeed killed as she was being abducted from the territory, resides finally and symbolically in the land which gave her sanctuary, Epidauros.[23]

§24 Despite the fact that Pausanias’ ‘shares’ the story of Hyrnetho between two communities, in the end we get only one set of narratives about her: those of Epidauros. The account that emerges from the Periegesis, in spite of its fragmented presentation, is very neatly designed. This is not an amalgamation of local traditions as Pausanias happened to find them, but a disciplined and deliberate building up of a particular critical position.  As a narrator, Pausanias expects local traditions to be chauvinistic: he expects locals to tell stories which place themselves and their monuments in the best light. In the struggle over Hyrnetho which was presumably going on on the ground, the Epidaureans have won, in that it is their version which made it into Pausanias’ account. The victory of their form of the myth can be attributed in part to the fact that it fits Pausanias’ function. One distinctive aspect of his account of Argos is his tendency to downplay the significance of heroic monuments there. To deny the Argive claim to possess a tomb of Hyrnetho, Pausanias embraces and transmits Epidaurean propaganda.

§25 Finally, then, we see that Pausanias’ local viewpoint – that is the particular, immediate concerns which animate his storytelling approach in any one passage – allows for the preservation within our archive of what we might think of as conventionally local forms of storytelling. Yet we must also recognize that these ‘local’ stories have been filtered through Pausanias’ observations, and the ambitions and constraints of his narrative structure. This text organizes Greek myths from the point of view of polis communities, not overarching genealogies, as in Apollodoros. With this in mind, it gives plenty of scope for the appreciation of diversity and dissent amongst communities over their shared ownership of stories of the past. In this particular instance, it shows us the power of the dissenting voices that shaped the story of Hyrnetho, yet it does not reveal the dissent itself. The Epidaurean account of Hyrnetho’s death is unusually vivid in its characterisation; presumably it needs to be to counteract the fact that there is another tomb of this heroine only a few miles away. Pausanias’ overt support for the Epidaureans is similarly dogmatic. And here we realise that Pausanias’ local viewpoint has limits. Hyrnetho did play a role in the civic identity of Argos. We know from epigraphic evidence that Argos had a tribe named for her (the Hyrnathioi).[24] If the city maintained a tomb of the heroine, they could presumably explain how she came to be buried on that spot; perhaps they, too, like Apollodoros, made her Temenos’ chosen successor. But Pausanias gives no space in his account to the Argive side of the story, and this particular myth never makes it into the archive.


Delattre, C. 2017. “Islands of Knowledge: Space and Names in Imperial Mythography.” Myths on the Map: The Storied Landscapes of Ancient Greece, ed. G. Hawes, 261–280. Oxford.

Dowden, K. 1992. The Uses of Greek Mythology. London.

Dunn, F. M. 1995. “Pausanias on the Tomb of Medea’s Children.” Mnemosyne 48:348–351.

Fowler, R. L. 2013. Early Greek Mythography II. Oxford.

Hall, J. M. 1995. “How Argive was the ‘Argive’ Heraion? The Political and Cultural Geography of the Argive Plain, 900–400 BC.” AJA 99:577–613.

——— 1997. Ethnic Identity in Greek Antiquity. Cambridge.

——— 2002. Hellenicity: Between Ethnicity and Culture. Chicago.

Hutton, W. 2005. Describing Greece: Landscape and Literature in the Periegesis of Pausanias. Cambridge.

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Luraghi, N. 2008. The Ancient Messenians: Constructions of Ethnicity and Memory. Cambridge.

——— 2014. “Ephorus in Context: The Return of the Heraclidae and Fourth-Century Peloponnesian Politics.” Between Thucydides and Polybius: The Golden Age of Greek Historiography, ed. G. Parmegianni, Washington, DC.

Musti, D. and Torelli, M. (eds). 1986. Pausania: Guida della Grecia II: La Corinzia e l’Argolide. Milan.

Nagy, G. 2011. “Asopos and his Multiple Daughters: Traces of Preclassical Epic in the Aeginetan Odes of Pindar.” Aegina: Contexts for Choral Lyric Poetry, ed. D. Fern, 40–78. Oxford.

——— 2013. The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours. Cambridge, MA.

Patterson, L. E. 2010. Kinship Myth in Ancient Greece. Austin.

Piérart, M. 2001 «Philippe et la Cynourie (Thyréatide): les frontières du partage des Héeraclides». Recherches récentes sur le monde hellénistique, ed. F. Frei-Stolba and K. Gex, 27–41. Bern.

Prinz, F. 1979. Gründungsmythen und Sagenchronologie. Göttingen.

Wathelet, P. 1992. «Argos et l’Argolide dans l’épopée; spécialemente dans le Catalogue des Vaisseaux». Polydipsion Argos: Argos de la fin des palais mycéniens à la constitution de l’état classique, ed. M. Piérart, 99–116. Paris.

* I wish to thank the staff, fellows, and visitors at the CHS in spring 2017, who without exception made it an exceptional place to live and work. In particular, I learnt much from the Tuesday evening ‘Mythic Cake’ reading group, and from Greg Nagy, whose generous comments improved an earlier version of this paper. This paper is part of a larger project, ‘The spatial dynamics of myth in Pausanias’ Periegesis‘, funded in the period 2017-20 by the Australian Research Council (DE170101251)

[1] Extant references to the division myth are a particularly complex tradition.  For a detailed discussion of the scattered evidence, see Prinz 1979:206–313.

[2] All translations are the author’s own.

[3] The supra-locality of the Heracleid returns is apparent in several ‘artificial’ features of the story. It is clearly an aggregative tradition, shaped by different hands bending and moulding it to different ends at different points in its ‘life’. For discussion, see Fowler 2013:334–342; Hall 2002:80–81.

[4] The Heracleidai are not of course identical to the Dorians, but these two groups are closely associated with one another by ancient sources so as to blur the difference: see Hall 1997:59–60; Patterson 2010:29–31.

[5] Thus, Luraghi 2008:50–51: “Obviously, at least in the form in which we know it from the fifth century on, the myth of the tripartition was not a charter for friendship and cohesion. Its function seems rather to explain why, although being ethnically related, the three polities founded by the Heraclids were on bad terms – which in fact they were for most of their history from the sixth century BC at the latest to the second century AD. The kinship between the founders stresses the continuous and almost proverbial enmity between the polities they founded”.

[6] The two royal lines are in fact named for the respective grandsons of Aristomenes (Agis and Eurypon) not for his sons (Eurysthenes and Procles). For discussion of this arrangement, and how it suggests that the Spartans are working with a tradition originating at Argos rather than one constructed to better fit their own needs, see Patterson 2010:32–34.

[7] The argument found in Isocrates’ Archidamos (22–23) is a fictional one; nonetheless, as Luraghi 2008:55–56, 61–62 and Patterson 2010:81–82 argue, it must reflect a plausible Spartan perspective. Other obvious extensions include the role of Oxylos, who is rewarded for his role as guide to the Heracleidai with the land of Elis (Strabo 8.3.30; Pausanias 5.3 etc) and the story told in Euripides’ Archelaus in which the eponymous hero was banished from Argos by his father Temenos and wandered north, to found a new lineage. This was one of the bases on which the later Macedonian dynasty – including Euripides’ patron, also called Archelaus – claimed connection with their Argive ‘kin’. On the Macedonian use of this Temenid connection, see Jones 1999:37–38 and, more generally, Hall 1997:63–64.

[8] The disadvantageous nature of the basic tripartite division for Sparta is illustrated by the likelihood that the Messenians used this myth to argue for extensions to their territory in the Hellenistic period. On this, see Piérart 2001:29–37.

[9] Arguments for the Argive origins of the story of the tripartition are most clearly set out in Hall 1997:61–62 and supported and extended by Patterson 2010:31–33; Luraghi 2008:51–53; Fowler 2013:340. Hall’s final argument for Argive origins relates to the “far richer, and presumably more developed, genealogical tradition” of Heracles in the Argolid and the fact that the “mythological tradition of Herakles and his descendants received something more of a material realisation in the cultic and topographical landscape of the Argolid than of Lakonia or Messenia” (61). The former cannot be doubted; but as evidence for the material visibility of Heracles’ descendants, Hall offers the ‘monument’ of Temenos at Temenion (actually a tomb, since in Pausanias’ terminology μνῆμα has the narrow meaning of τάφος (see Dunn 1995), the cenotaph of his daughter Hyrnetho at Argos and her tomb near Epidauros, all attested only by Pausanias. With regard to these latter two examples at least, as I will go on to argue in this paper, the fact that we know that these cult sites existed perhaps says more about their relevance to Pausanias’ program than about the cultic landscape of the Peloponnese more generally.

[10] The Spartan royal families were named – as we have seen – for Aristodemos’ grandsons. The Messenian rulers  took the name of Aipytos, who is in some accounts Cresphontes’ son.

[11] See Wathelet 1992.

[12] For further references, see Hall 1995:580n17.

[13] Hall 1995.

[14] For the significance of Ephoros’ decision to begin with the story of the Heraclid return in the context of uses of the narrative in the fourth century, see Luraghi 2014. Ephoros’ influence is also apparent in the list of Heraclidai in Ps-Scymnos 527–534.

[15] This is almost certainly the case with the story of Aletes: its later grafting is apparent in the fact that it is presented as a secondary founding, with Aletes in some instances made to belong to the generation after Temenos et al. See Hall 1997:57–58. Ephoros’ arrangement assumes a degree of consensus within the Argolid regarding both the leadership of the city of Argos and the shared lineage of all of the Argive city-states. By contrast, Nicolaus of Damascus (fr. 30) has a version which is more hostile to Argos: Deiphontes attempts to rule at Argos after Temenos is killed by his sons, but in the end he provokes a conflict between the Dorians at Argos and the Dryopes of Troizen, Asine, and Hermione.

[16] For discussion of the various organizing principles of the Library, see Smith and Trzaskoma 2007, xxxii–xxxv. For Pherecydes’ genealogical model, see Fowler 2013:710–715.

[17] So, Delattre 2017:275: “[the] component parts [of Apollodoros’ second book] are […] unified by continuous geographical thematic threads, stitching all the various characters onto the common background of the Argolid. The place name ‘Argos’ itself (Ἄργος, both city and region) seems to turn up only incidentally in the narrative, in mediis rebus: it is defined in relation to the homonymous hero ‘Argos’, who gives the territory its new name (1.1.1 = 2.2). Yet the place name had been there from the very outset in the form of a programmatical title defining the second book of the Bibliotheca as the place where the ‘Inachean lineage’ (γένος . . . τὸ Ἰνάχειον) would be set forth; the adjective Ἰνάχειον being immediately glossed by reference to the proper name ‘Inachus’, itself defined as ‘the river of Argos’ (ποταμὸς ἐν Ἄργει, 2.1.1 = 2.1). The same expression occurs as the closing statement in the opening sentence of Book 3 (3.1.1 = 3.1). From the origins up to the partitioning of the Peloponnese among the Heracleidae, into Messenia, Laconia, and the Argolid, Book 2 of the Bibliotheca is redefined as a compilation of Argolica, that is, stories set in Argos or stories about heroes related to it.”

[18] Delattre 2017:277.

[19] For this ‘contractual’ perspective, see Nagy 2011:60, discussing the Hesiodic Catalogue.

[20] Hyrnetho is mentioned only a few times in extant literature. Other than the passages from Apollodoros and Pausanias that I discuss in this article, Nicolaus of Damascus (fr. 30) names her as Deiphontes’ wife. Eustathius’ summary of Diodorus (7.13.1) mentions Deiphontes’ wife but does not name her. Neither gives details about her beyond those found in Apollodoros. She has, accordingly, been little discussed. In Dowden 1992:153 she appears alongside Helen as an illustration of ‘matriarchy’ in mythic society, in that both women facilitated the passing of kingship from father to son-in-law. In Larson 1995:141–144 she illustrates the gendered nature of the ‘wrongful death’ motif.

[21] For details and discussion, see Hutton 2005:68–82.

[22] For discussion of Pausanias’ treatment of the Argolid as a geographical rather than political or ethnic grouping, see Hutton 2005:69–72.

[23] Here I thank Prof. Gregory Nagy, who reminded me of his formulation “equilibrium in ritual is matched by disequilibrium in myth, and this disequilibrium leads to catastrophe for the hero” (Nagy 2013:561), which in turn inspired this line of thought.

[24] For discussion of the evidence for this tribe, and bibliography, see Musti and Torelli 1986:306–307.

About Greta Hawes

Greta Hawes is Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at the Australian National University. Her first book, Rationalizing myth in antiquity (OUP 2014), explored the Greeks’ attempts to make their myths resemble historical narratives. Her current interest in the spatial dynamics of myth is apparent in a forthcoming edited collection (Myths on the map: the storied landscapes of ancient Greece, OUP) and in her ongoing work on a monograph examining the interrelationships between land and storytelling in Pausanias’ Periegesis.

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