In this post we present and discuss an excerpt from Diodorus Siculus‘ ‘Library of History‘.
Diodorus Siculus, “Library of History”, Book V, 47.
Ancient Greek: “Περὶ δὲ τῶν κατὰ τὴν Ἑλλάδα καὶ τὸ Αἰγαῖον πέλαγος κειμένων νῦν διέξιμεν, τὴν ἀρχὴν ἀπὸ τῆς Σαμοθρᾴκης ποιησάμενοι. ταύτην γὰρ τὴν νῆσον ἔνιοι μέν φασι τὸ παλαιὸν Σάμον ὀνομασθῆναι, τῆς δὲ νῦν Σάμου κτισθείσης διὰ τὴν ὁμωνυμίαν ἀπὸ τῆς παρακειμένης τῇ παλαιᾷ Σάμῳ Θρᾴκης Σαμοθρᾴκην ὀνομασθῆναι. ᾤκησαν δ´ αὐτὴν αὐτόχθονες ἄνθρωποι· διὸ καὶ περὶ τῶν πρώτων γενομένων παρ´ αὐτοῖς ἀνθρώπων καὶ ἡγεμόνων οὐδεὶς παραδέδοται λόγος. ἔνιοι δέ φασι τὸ παλαιὸν Σαόννησον καλουμένην διὰ τοὺς ἀποικισθέντας ἔκ τε Σάμου καὶ Θρᾴκης Σαμοθρᾴκην ὀνομασθῆναι. ἐσχήκασι δὲ παλαιὰν ἰδίαν διάλεκτον οἱ αὐτόχθονες, ἧς πολλὰ ἐν ταῖς θυσίαις μέχρι τοῦ νῦν τηρεῖται. οἱ δὲ Σαμόθρᾳκες ἱστοροῦσι πρὸ τῶν παρὰ τοῖς ἄλλοις γενομένων κατακλυσμῶν ἕτερον ἐκεῖ μέγαν γενέσθαι, τὸ μὲν πρῶτον τοῦ περὶ τὰς Κυανέας στόματος ῥαγέντος, μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα τοῦ Ἑλλησπόντου. τὸ γὰρ ἐν τῷ Πόντῳ πέλαγος λίμνης ἔχον τάξιν μέχρι τοσούτου πεπληρῶσθαι διὰ τῶν εἰσρεόντων ποταμῶν, μέχρι ὅτου διὰ τὸ πλῆθος παρεκχυθὲν τὸ ῥεῦμα λάβρως ἐξέπεσεν εἰς τὸν Ἑλλήσποντον καὶ πολλὴν μὲν τῆς Ἀσίας τῆς παρὰ θάλατταν ἐπέκλυσεν, οὐκ ὀλίγην δὲ καὶ τῆς ἐπιπέδου γῆς ἐν τῇ Σαμοθρᾴκῃ θάλατταν ἐποίησε· καὶ διὰ τοῦτ´ ἐν τοῖς μεταγενεστέροις καιροῖς ἐνίους τῶν ἁλιέων ἀνεσπακέναι τοῖς δικτύοις λίθινα κιονόκρανα, ὡς καὶ πόλεων κατακεκλυσμένων. τοὺς δὲ περιληφθέντας προσαναδραμεῖν εἰς τοὺς ὑψηλοτέρους τῆς νήσου τόπους· τῆς δὲ θαλάττης ἀναβαινούσης ἀεὶ μᾶλλον, εὔξασθαι τοῖς θεοῖς τοὺς ἐγχωρίους, καὶ διασωθέντας κύκλῳ περὶ ὅλην τὴν νῆσον ὅρους θέσθαι τῆς σωτηρίας, καὶ βωμοὺς ἱδρύσασθαι, ἐφ´ ὧν μέχρι τοῦ νῦν θύειν· ὥστ´ εἶναι φανερὸν ὅτι πρὸ τοῦ κατακλυσμοῦ κατῴκουν τὴν Σαμοθρᾴκην.”
(Source for the Ancient Greek text)
English: “We shall now give an account of the islands which lie in the neighbourhood of Greece and in the Aegean Sea, beginning with Samothrace. This island, according to some, was called Samos in ancient times, but when the island now known as Samos came to be settled, because the names were the same, the ancient Samos came to be called Samothrace from the land of Thrace which lies opposite it. It was settled by men who were sprung from the soil itself; consequently no tradition has been handed down regarding who were the first men and leaders on the island. But some say that in ancient days it was called Saonnesus and that it received the name of Samothrace because of the settlers who emigrated to it from both Samos and Thrace. The first and original inhabitants used an ancient language which was peculiar to them and of which many words are preserved to this day in the ritual of their sacrifices. And the Samothracians have a story that, before the floods which befell their peoples, a great one took place among them, in the course of which the outlet at the Cyanean Rocks was first rent asunder and then the Hellespont. For the Pontus, which had at the time the form of a lake, was so swollen by the rivers which flow into it, that, because of the great flood which had poured into it, its waters burst forth violently into the Hellespont and flooded a large part of the coast of Asia and made no small amount of the level part of the land of Samothrace into a sea; and this is the reason, we are told, why in later times fishermen have now and then brought up in their nets the stone capitals of columns, since even cities were covered by the inundation. The inhabitants who had been caught by the flood, the account continues, ran up to the higher regions of the island; and when the sea kept rising higher and higher, they prayed to the native gods, and since their lives were spared, to commemorate their rescue they set up boundary stones about the entire circuit of the island and dedicated altars upon which they offer sacrifices even to the present day. For these reasons it is patent that they inhabited Samothrace before the flood.”
(Source for the English translation)
NovoScriptorium: Let us now proceed with the analysis of the above very interesting excerpt.
Diodorus writes that the ‘first inhabitants’ of Samothrace were “authochtonous” (“sprung from the soil itself” we read in the translation we use), i.e. not immigrants from somewhere else but indigenous, locals. These people “they inhabited Samothrace before the flood“. In this era, the island had the name “Saonnesus“. At a later time, migrants from the island of Samos and Thrace came to populate the island re-naming it (for obvious reasons) from “Saonnesus” to “Samothrace“. But what does “Saonnesus” mean? The name derives from the verb ‘σαόω‘ which means ‘I save/rescue‘ and the word ‘νήσος‘ which means ‘island‘. Therefore, the name itself suggests that the place had been some kind of refuge for Humans; it saved/rescued them. Indeed, it must have been; this specific island is the highest island in the Aegean (excluding the big islands of Euboea and Crete). When the flood(s) came, its natural height must have worked to save some people.
The first inhabitants had left no particular Historical Tradition behind them, neither genealogies of their leaders (perhaps this reference is an indirect indication that there had been no written language back then). Diodorus writes that they spoke “an old, local, dialect” (and not “an ancient language which was peculiar to them” as read in the translation we use). The word ‘dialect‘ used here does not suggest a different language than the one used later on in the island; it only denotes that it was a very ancient, local dialect of the same language spoken by the later “Samothracians”. It is very well known that around the World, even today, all languages contain a few or many localized dialects, sometimes so different in sound from the ‘main’ language that one would think it is a different language. The same is valid for the various Greek dialects, past and present. For example, Doric, Ionian and Aeolian (among others) dialects in Antiquity, Pontic Greek, Cypriot Greek (among others) in more recent Historical times. What Diodorus writes is that elements of this very old dialect remained alive in the linguistic reality of the island, all of them closely related to the religious practices/sacrifices. This suggests not only ‘continuity‘ of the oldest population but also ‘homogeneity‘ with the ‘newer/migrant’ one. Religious activities used to be the center of every ancient society; we believe that it is rather clear that if there was a substantial difference in beliefs between the ‘older’ and the ‘newer’ inhabitants of the island, not forgetting that the ‘authochtonous islanders’ after the flood must have been quite fewer in number than the newcomers, then the ‘invaders’ would have easily wiped out the locals to enforce/establish their own ways in every social level. On the contrary, not only we are informed that they lived and evolved together, but the very ancient dialect survived in the most important aspect of an ancient society, its religious activities. Hence, we hardly have any doubt that the inhabitants of Saonnesus, Samos and Thrace, before -and after, of course- the flood were related, i.e. they were not different people anthropologically and ‘ethnologically’. Samothrace was considered a very special religious place for millennia, famous for its Mysteries. Various Mythological and Historical characters visited the island to be initiated into its mysterious rites or to get some advice from the local priesthood. If we believe other ancient authors, the oldest inhabitants of the island had been the Pelasgians. Since Diodorus is one of the most well-informed ancient Greek authors, and since he makes no such reference, we remain hesitant on the accuracy of this one.
Diodorus writes that a number of floods befell on the people of the island; but we also learn of a great flood that occurred somewhere in Time. And then we receive a description of it:
“For the Pontus, which had at the time the form of a lake, was so swollen by the rivers which flow into it, that, because of the great flood which had poured into it, its waters burst forth violently into the Hellespont and flooded a large part of the coast of Asia and made no small amount of the level part of the land of Samothrace into a sea“.
At this point we must recall one of our older posts. From officially published material presented in this older post we read:
“The meltwater events point to an increased outflow of low salinity water from the Black Sea driven by rapid sea level rise >1.4 m following freshwater outbursts from Lake Agassiz and the final decay of the Laurentide ice sheet.”
“the submergence of the Black Sea shelf at 9300 calendar years BP was caused by the ingress of Mediterranean water and was abrupt, taking < 40 years”
“The transformation of the lake to a sea is affirmed by increases in the shells’ strontium and oxygen isotopic ratios towards the external ocean value.”
As we see, there is now proof that indeed such flooding events took place in the Aegean, starting from around 9,300 yBP until 7,600yBP.
We can confidently say that Aegean/Greek Mythology is, once again, confirmed by Modern Science.
We also learn that:
“The inhabitants who had been caught by the flood, the account continues, ran up to the higher regions of the island; and when the sea kept rising higher and higher“
“in later times fishermen have now and then brought up in their nets the stone capitals of columns“
“cities were covered by the inundation“
Running up to the highest possible place of a specific region in order to save their lives is a well recorded practice of the inhabitants of the Aegean and the Greek peninsula. For example, let us recall here one of our older posts on this. The Myth is clear that there had been built cities before the flood and that, just like it -sometimes- happens in our time, fishermen used to bring up in their nets various remnants of the older civilization(s). Indirectly, we are told that the cities which sunk were situated on the Aegean islands, the coasts of Asia Minor and the Hellespont. Archaeological research has indeed shown the existence of “cities” in the area of interest during the Neolithic era. Modern Science also confirms the Myth that “the sea kept rising higher and higher” for ~40 years.
Let us now read some selected parts of another very informative paper titled “Network biogeography of a complex island system: the Aegean Archipelago revisited“, by Konstantinos Kougioumoutzis et al. (2016):
“The Aegean Archipelago is one of the largest archipelagos in the world with more than 7000 islands and islets (Triantis & Mylonas, 2009). Its high environmental and topographical heterogeneity, complex geological and palaeogeographical history, as well as high diversity and endemism, render it an ideal stage for biodiversity and biogeographical studies”
“Most Aegean islands are of continental origin, except those belonging to the South Aegean Volcanic Arc (SAVA): Anafi, Kimolos, Milos, Nisyros, Polyaegos and Santorini”
“During the Pleistocene glacial and interglacial periods, connections among many Aegean islands and adjacent mainland were established or broken in a labyrinthine sequence of events At 480–250 ka, the North Aegean Trough (NAT) was isolated from the open sea and the North Aegean Island Bridge connected mainland Greece with NW Anatolia. A large lake, with several deep basins, occupied the Central Aegean and the Central Aegean Island Bridge connected mainland Greece with Anatolia. At 180–140 ka, mainland Greece was isolated from Anatolia and the East Aegean Islands formed three distinct Anatolian peninsulas in a N–S axis. At 30–18 ka, some of the Aegean Islands started to acquire their present configuration and at c. 8 ka, all of the Aegean Islands were finally formed“
“the North Aegean Islands have very low affinities with the Aegean Islands situated south of the NAT and despite their close geographical proximity, Thasos and Samothraki belong to a different phytogeographical region than Limnos. This could be attributed to the isolation of Thasos and Samothraki from northern Greece during the latter phases of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, c. 13 ka). Moreover, NE-ae was practically formed at c. 10 ka, when all the islands comprising it were at last separated from Asia Minor“
NovoScriptorium: Therefore, there seems to be hardly any doubt that what the Myth refers to is the big geological transformations that took place in this part of the Earth between ~10,000-8,000yBP.
Implications of the above:
a) the Aegean Myths are not ‘fairy tales’ but they contain actual information about the Past.
b) those who recorded the various events obviously had experienced them
c) those who recorded and maintained the Myths over time were, basically, the same people, anthropologically and ethnologically speaking
d) these people have recorded events which date back to the Mesolithic/Early Neolithic Age
e) in the ‘cosmotheory’ of these people, all these tales, of the oldest or more recent Past, were being considered as their ‘National History‘ -at this point we suggest a read of one of our older posts. Moreover, they boasted about being indigenous/autochthonous in the same area ‘since the beginning’ (in a future post, we shall present -hopefully- the majority of these references)
Therefore we conclude that:
Any proposition of ‘massive population replacement’ in the Aegean/Greek peninsula from the Mesolithic Age to the Roman times must be refuted as it contradicts Logic. Of course, after many recent discoveries, any such proposal would also be contrary to the Archaeological record.
Research-Selection-Analysis for NovoScriptorium: Isidoros Aggelos, Philaretus Homerides