Anthropological information in ancient Greek Myths?

Does the Ancient Tradition, i.e. Mythology, contain information on Human Evolution and Human Migration? This article presents and analyzes two excerpts from Apollodoros and Clemes which appear to describe relevant beliefs of the ancient peoples. 


Apollodoros (‘Βιβλιοθήκη’ – ‘Library’) delivers: «From Niovi* and Zeus –she was the first mortal woman he mated with- were born Argos, as Acousilaos says, and Pelasgos, from whom the inhabitants of Peloponissos were named Pelasgoi». «Acousilaos says that Argos was born of the earth (γηγενής) »

*(or ‘Niobe’)

NovoScriptorium: Obviously, no ‘god’ mated with any mortal woman. This is said though with the purpose of demonstrating some divine or noble ancestry together with oldness. There existed though historical persons, old and quite a few (nearly a hundred), with the name ‘Zeus’ (during the ‘mythological times’), whose stories were unified much later as stories of one and only person, and additionally, a deified person.

(‘Zeus‘ as a theological figure is a rather different discussion. The interested reader can find relative articles in our ‘Philosophy‘ section)

Independently of which approach applies here, we see that Argos and Pelasgos are brothers. Argos is called ‘γηγενής’ (gegenes), meaning ‘born of the Earth’, indicating he was a native and not an immigrant from elsewhere. The word ‘argos’ means ‘white’, ‘ablaze’, ‘resplendent’. The word ‘pelasgos’ means the ‘neighbouring’ or, if we accept another explanation of the word found in Plato, means ‘migratory’. They were born from a common uterus (same mother) says the myth, and their cradle was the Peloponnese (their father was Zeus, the highest god. Hence, it could also have a theological meaning; Created by god).


From the above, we can then assume that the ancient Greeks believed that white Man (‘argos‘) first appeared in the Peloponnese, at an unknown, obviously very old era. Of course, from there, people at some point began to spread. The migrating populations were named ‘Pelasgoi’ (‘Pelasgians’ in English). The cultural and ethnological affinity of the so called ‘prehistoric’ populations archaeologists happen to find in various sites, in the Balkans, in Europe and the Mediterranean, is actually expected if one takes in consideration what the ‘prehistoric’ people themselves believed on the issue.

Please also read this post


Clemes delivers: «In the times of Phoroneus, who was after Inachos, the Cataclysm of Ogygos is placed in Hellas and so is the beginning of Kingship in Sikyona with Aigialeus as first king, Europos as second and Telchin as third. At the same era the reign of Cretas in Crete began. Because Acousilaos claims that Phoroneus was the first human to be [“πρώτον άνθρωπον ( or Εuseb. “ανθρώπων”) γενέσθαι”]».

NovoScriptorium: In the way this is written, we obviously have either a contradiction due to a mistake in phrasing, either we receive the outstanding information that Inachos (or Inachus) was not a human, at least not in the shape we know of it. The transition from one human species to the next could be actually implied here. Modern Anthropology assures us that this actually happened at some point in Time (You may want to read about one of the latest finds from Greece). But here, we may have one of the very few, almost simultaneous to the fact, human recordings that it did happen. This would imply ability to record facts. And recording facts demands language, at least oral language, if not written, too.

We also see here a reference to the Cataclysm of Ogygos, which is different to the Cataclysm of Deucalion. In their Mythology, the Greeks recorded not only one Cataclysm (the majority of the World’s ancient peoples have also recorded one Cataclysm) but a second one as well, which was even older. The word ‘ωγύγιον’ (ogygion) was used by the Greeks of the Classical era to denote ‘the extremely old’, it was a synonym for the ‘extremely old’. So, Hellas, Sikyon and Crete are presented to have been not only inhabited in those ‘ogygia’ years, but they had organized states with Kingship as well. So, according to the ancients themselves, ‘Civilisation’ dates back much further back in Time than we tend to teach. We firmly believe that the Tradition of ancient peoples should be taken quite seriously in account when we study the Past.

Please also read this post


Research-Selection-Analysis for NovoScriptorium: Isidoros Aggelos

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