Kinship Myth in Ancient Greece
Lee E. Patterson
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In ancient Greece, interstate relations, such as in the formation of alliances, calls for assistance, exchanges of citizenship, and territorial conquest, were often grounded in mythical kinship. In these cases, the common ancestor was most often a legendary figure from whom both communities claimed descent.
In this detailed study, Lee E. Patterson elevates the current state of research on kinship myth to a consideration of the role it plays in the construction of political and cultural identity. He draws examples both from the literary and epigraphical records and shows the fundamental difference between the two. He also expands his study into the question of Greek credulity—how much of these founding myths did they actually believe, and how much was just a useful fiction for diplomatic relations? Of central importance is the authority the Greeks gave to myth, whether to elaborate narratives or to a simple acknowledgment of an ancestor. Most Greeks could readily accept ties of interstate kinship even when local origin narratives could not be reconciled smoothly or when myths used to explain the link between communities were only "discovered" upon the actual occasion of diplomacy, because such claims had been given authority in the collective memory of the Greeks.
after this until the passing of Alexander, 12 years.4 Also significant is the Marmor Parium (FGrH 239), an inscription set up on Paros after 264 BCE, which begins with the ascension of Cecrops in Athens in 1581 BCE, gives the date of the capture of Troy as 1208, and continues on to 264. Even Hesiod’s “Five Ages of Man” maintains this continuity as the Heroic Age, the fourth in the list, leads directly to the Iron Age, the unhappy period of Hesiod and his contemporaries.5 Finally, there is the
Orestes Tisamenus, son of Orestes and Hermione, Menelaus’ daughter, became king [of Argos]. . . . In the time of this Tisamenus, the Heracleidae returned to the Peloponnesus—that is, Temenus and Cresphontes, sons of Aristomachus, accompanied by the sons of their dead brother Aristodemus. They laid claim to Argos and its kingdom, most properly, I feel, because Tisamenus was descended from Pelops, but they in origin were Perseids.24 The idea is that Temenus, descended from Perseus, a son of Zeus
all Spartans, the collective citizenry for whose glory even the common hoplite (as long as he is a citizen) fights and dies.64 Further, the poet himself serves the common good as much as the hoplite, promoting the Heraclid greatness of the state with poetic skill.65 Our citizen-â•‰soldier is reminded again of this heritage when Tyrtaeus mentions the three tribes in Fragment 19. The association of Dorian and Heraclid that finds ready acceptance in the centuries to come is particularly
with Ptolemy. Second, Jonathan’s boasts themselves argue against Goldstein’s interpretation: Jonathan quite clearly eschews any call for alliance with Sparta for practical reasons, for the Jews have divine 66 All iances and Assistance protection, which has already seen them through their wars with the Seleucids (I Macc. 12.9–15). Most explanations of Jonathan’s motives are couched in the context of the Jews’ place in the hellenistic world at large. In the eastern Mediterranean and Asia, the
Dionysus carries as much weight as what Strabo had read in his sources, namely, that the Oxydracae, whom he calls the Sydracae, were descendants of Dionysus, as the presence of vines and the Bacchic characteristics of their royal processions indicate.92 Arrian’s 103 Ki nship Myth i n A ncient Greece account once again forces us to ask if an Indian tribe would have invoked a Greek god without prior Greek prompting. If we assume that the name “Dionysus” meant nothing to the Oxydracae, to salvage