Apollodorus’ description of an ancient expedition from the Aegean towards the Eastern Mediterranean which ends with the colonization of Egypt

In this post we present and analyze excerpts from Apollodorus‘ “Library“.

Important note: This post is a necessary forerunner of a coming presentation on the “Cataclysmic Myths” from the island of Rhodes that Diodorus Siculus describes in detail in his “Library of History“. We decided to split this research in parts for our reader’s convenience. You will also need to read, for comparison, an analysis of an earlier version (the Aeschylean one) of the same set of myths here.

(Source for the Ancient Greek text. Source for the English translation)

The Eastern Mediterranean

Library, Book II, 2.1.1-2.2.1

Ancient Greek: “Ὠκεανοῦ καὶ Τηθύος γίνεται παῖς Ἴναχος, ἀφ᾽ οὗ ποταμὸς ἐν Ἄργει Ἴναχος καλεῖται. τούτου καὶ Μελίας τῆς Ὠκεανοῦ Φορωνεύς τε καὶ Αἰγιαλεὺς παῖδες ἐγένοντο. Αἰγιαλέως μὲν οὖν ἄπαιδος ἀποθανόντος ἡ χώρα ἅπασα Αἰγιάλεια ἐκλήθη, Φορωνεὺς δὲ ἁπάσης τῆς ὕστερον Πελοποννήσου προσαγορευθείσης δυναστεύων ἐκ Τηλεδίκης νύμφης Ἆπιν καὶ Νιόβην ἐγέννησεν. Ἆπις μὲν οὖν εἰς τυραννίδα τὴν ἑαυτοῦ μεταστήσας δύναμιν καὶ βίαιος ὢν τύραννος, ὀνομάσας ἀφ᾽ ἑαυτοῦ τὴν Πελοπόννησον Ἀπίαν, ὑπὸ Θελξίονος καὶ Τελχῖνος ἐπιβουλευθεὶς ἄπαις ἀπέθανε, καὶ νομισθεὶς θεὸς ἐκλήθη Σάραπις: Νιόβης δὲ καὶ Διός (ᾗ πρώτῃ γυναικὶ Ζεὺς θνητῇ ἐμίγηπαῖς Ἄργος ἐγένετο, ὡς δὲ Ἀκουσίλαός φησι, καὶ Πελασγός, ἀφ᾽ οὗ κληθῆναι τοὺς τὴν Πελοπόννησον οἰκοῦντας Πελασγούς. Ἡσίοδος δὲ τὸν Πελασγὸν αὐτόχθονά φησιν εἶναι.”

English: “Ocean and Tethys had a son Inachus, after whom a river in Argos is called Inachus. He and Melia, daughter of Ocean, had sons, Phoroneus, and Aegialeus. Aegialeus having died childless, the whole country was called Aegialia; and Phoroneus, reigning over the whole land afterwards named Peloponnese, begat Apis and Niobe by a nymph Teledice. Apis converted his power into a tyranny and named the Peloponnese after himself Apia; but being a stern tyrant he was conspired against and slain by Thelxion and Telchis. He left no child, and being deemed a god was called Sarapis. But Niobe had by Zeus (and she was the first mortal woman with whom Zeus cohabited) a son Argus, and also, so says Acusilaus, a son Pelasgus, after whom the inhabitants of the Peloponnese were called Pelasgians. However, Hesiod says that Pelasgus was a son of the soil.”

NovoScriptorium: The word “αὐτόχθονά” should be translated as “indigenous / autochtonous” instead of “son of the soil.”. By putting Ocean and Tethys as the parents of Inachus the myth, most likely, wants to denote that all these happened in a very old age. Indeed, from Titus Flavius Clemens, also known as Clement of Alexandria we learn that:

“In the times of Phoroneus, who was after Inachus, the Cataclysm of Ogygos is placed in Hellas”.

Inachus reigned before the Cataclysm of Ogygos, which was the oldest of the various cataclysmic events recorded by the Aegeans/Greeks in their Mythology/National History. So, Phoroneus had been the first king after the Cataclysm of Ogygos.

We learn here that while Phoroneus had been king, the Peloponnese hadn’t yet acquired its known -until today- name. In this version of the myth, Apis (and Niobe) had been Phoroneus’ children (Instead of Apis being a son of Apollo, like in other versions of the same myth). Moreover, in this version of the myth we are told that Apis, instead of a benefactor had been a tyrant and named the land ‘Apia‘ by himself (not like in the version where the people themselves gave the name to the land to honour him). Then we are told of a coup that occurred; Thelxion and Telchis (please note this name; its importance will become clear in the main, forthcoming post) conspired and killed the tyrant. The reference to …Sarapis must have been a much later addition to the myth, as no other ancient source refers to such a thing. And remember that Apollodorus wrote during the syncretic Hellenistic Age (or if we follow the, most likely, opinion of contemporary academics, the work was written after the 1st c. BC, around the 2nd c. AD. Hence, a “Pseudo-” has been added to the original supposed writer from Athens of the 2nd c. BC. But we are still during a syncretic era, now the Graeco-Roman one), which can easily explain such additions. Extremely important is the information that Zeus and Niobe gave birth to Argus and Pelasgus. (Note that Ἄργος = Argus = Argos and Πελασγός = Pelasgus = Pelasgos. There is absolutely no difference in Greek, while in English, for conventional reasons, the name of the person becomes “Argus” while the name of the land “Argos”, etc)

Argus and Pelasgus are brothers. 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. It is sufficiently apparent that the myth tells us a story of people with a white skin colour (remember ‘argos‘) who started migrating (remember ‘pelasgos‘) from the Peloponnese towards other directions at some unknown point in time. From the narration we are lead to suggest that these migrations must have started after the Cataclysm of Ogygos.

The additional information from Hesiod is further strengthening the certainty that all these stories, regardless of their variations, referred to the indigenous/autochthonous populations of the same region. All these agree, nearly absolutely, with the version of the myth provided by Aeschylus; the (indigenous) inhabitants of the Peloponnese were called Pelasgians after Pelasgus.

Ancient Greek: “ἀλλὰ περὶ μὲν τούτου πάλιν ἐροῦμεν: Ἄργος δὲ λαβὼν τὴν βασιλείαν ἀφ᾽ ἑαυτοῦ τὴν Πελοπόννησον ἐκάλεσεν Ἄργος, καὶ γήμας Εὐάδνην τὴν Στρυμόνος καὶ Νεαίρας ἐτέκνωσεν Ἔκβασον Πείραντα Ἐπίδαυρον Κρίασον, ὃς καὶ τὴν βασιλείαν παρέλαβεν. Ἐκβάσου δὲ Ἀγήνωρ γίνεται, τούτου δὲ Ἄργος ὁ πανόπτης λεγόμενος. εἶχε δὲ οὗτος ὀφθαλμοὺς μὲν ἐν παντὶ τῷ σώματι, ὑπερβάλλων δὲ δυνάμει τὸν μὲν τὴν Ἀρκαδίαν λυμαινόμενον ταῦρον ἀνελὼν τὴν τούτου δορὰν ἠμφιέσατο, Σάτυρον δὲ τοὺς Ἀρκάδας ἀδικοῦντα καὶ ἀφαιρούμενον τὰ βοσκήματα ὑποστὰς ἀπέκτεινε. λέγεται δὲ ὅτι καὶ τὴν Ταρτάρου καὶ Γῆς Ἔχιδναν, ἣ τοὺς παριόντας συνήρπαζεν, ἐπιτηρήσας κοιμωμένην ἀπέκτεινεν. ἐξεδίκησε δὲ καὶ τὸν Ἄπιδος φόνον, τοὺς αἰτίους ἀποκτείνας.”

English: “About him I shall speak again. But Argus received the kingdom and called the Peloponnese after himself Argos; and having married Evadne, daughter of Strymon and Neaera, he begat Ecbasus, Piras, Epidaurus, and Criasus, who also succeeded to the kingdom. Ecbasus had a son Agenor, and Agenor had a son Argus, the one who is called the All-seeing. He had eyes in the whole of his body, and being exceedingly strong he killed the bull that ravaged Arcadia and clad himself in its hide; and when a satyr wronged the Arcadians and robbed them of their cattle, Argus withstood and killed him. It is said, too, that Echidna, daughter of Tartarus and Earth, who used to carry off passers-by, was caught asleep and slain by Argus. He also avenged the murder of Apis by putting the guilty to death.”

NovoScriptorium: First thing we are told is that the land then took the name “Argos”, instead of “Apia”. And we already learned that the inhabitants of the same region were also named “Pelasgians”. In this version of the myth, Argus married the “daughter of Strymon”; this is a clear indication that the “Pelasgian Cultural Continuum” extended up to the river Strymon. And this is exactly what we were told, far more clearly, in the Aeschylean version. In Apollodorus’ version we learn that Argus, the guard of the “heifer” (Io), had been the grandchild of the first Argus. One interesting piece of information is that this Argus had been the son of Agenor, who was a son of the first Argus. Please, keep this name and remember it. Of course, the rest (the “supernatural” details) are just ‘poetic sauce’, an exaggeration willing to show how good of a guard this Argus had been.

Ancient Greek: ” Ἄργου δὲ καὶ Ἰσμήνης τῆς Ἀσωποῦ παῖς Ἴασος, οὗ φασιν Ἰὼ γενέσθαι. Κάστωρ δὲ ὁ συγγράψας τὰ χρονικὰ καὶ πολλοὶ τῶν τραγικῶν Ἰνάχου τὴν Ἰὼ λέγουσιν: Ἡσίοδος δὲ καὶ Ἀκουσίλαος Πειρῆνος αὐτήν φασιν εἶναι. ταύτην ἱερωσύνην τῆς Ἥρας ἔχουσαν Ζεὺς ἔφθειρε. φωραθεὶς δὲ ὑφ᾽ Ἥρας τῆς μὲν κόρης ἁψάμενος εἰς βοῦν μετεμόρφωσε λευκήν, ἀπωμόσατο δὲ ταύτῃ μὴ συνελθεῖν: διό φησιν Ἡσίοδος οὐκ ἐπισπᾶσθαι τὴν ἀπὸ τῶν θεῶν ὀργὴν τοὺς γινομένους ὅρκους ὑπὲρ ἔρωτος. Ἥρα δὲ αἰτησαμένη παρὰ Διὸς τὴν βοῦν φύλακα αὐτῆς κατέστησεν Ἄργον τὸν πανόπτην, ὃν Φερεκύδης μὲν Ἀρέστορος λέγει, Ἀσκληπιάδης δὲ Ἰνάχου, Κέρκωψ δὲ Ἄργου καὶ Ἰσμήνης τῆς Ἀσωποῦ θυγατρός: Ἀκουσίλαος δὲ γηγενῆ αὐτὸν λέγει. οὗτος ἐκ τῆς ἐλαίας ἐδέσμευεν αὐτὴν ἥτις ἐν τῷ Μυκηναίων ὑπῆρχεν ἄλσει. Διὸς δὲ ἐπιτάξαντος Ἑρμῇ κλέψαι τὴν βοῦν, μηνύσαντος Ἱέρακος, ἐπειδὴ λαθεῖν οὐκ ἠδύνατο, λίθῳ βαλὼν ἀπέκτεινε τὸν Ἄργον, ὅθεν ἀργειφόντης ἐκλήθη. Ἥρα δὲ τῇ βοῒ οἶστρον ἐμβάλλει ἡ δὲ πρῶτον ἧκεν εἰς τὸν ἀπ᾽ ἐκείνης Ἰόνιον κόλπον κληθέντα, ἔπειτα διὰ τῆς Ἰλλυρίδος πορευθεῖσα καὶ τὸν Αἷμον ὑπερβαλοῦσα διέβη τὸν τότε μὲν καλούμενον πόρον Θρᾴκιον, νῦν δὲ ἀπ᾽ ἐκείνης Βόσπορον. ἀπελθοῦσα δὲ εἰς Σκυθίαν καὶ τὴν Κιμμερίδα γῆν, πολλὴν χέρσον πλανηθεῖσα καὶ πολλὴν διανηξαμένη θάλασσαν Εὐρώπης τε καὶ Ἀσίας, τελευταῖον ἧκεν εἰς Αἴγυπτον, ὅπου τὴν ἀρχαίαν μορφὴν ἀπολαβοῦσα γεννᾷ παρὰ τῷ Νείλῳ ποταμῷ Ἔπαφον παῖδα. τοῦτον δὲ Ἥρα δεῖται Κουρήτων ἀφανῆ ποιῆσαι: οἱ δὲ ἠφάνισαν αὐτόν. καὶ Ζεὺς μὲν αἰσθόμενος κτείνει Κούρητας, Ἰὼ δὲ ἐπὶ ζήτησιν τοῦ παιδὸς ἐτράπετο. πλανωμένη δὲ κατὰ τὴν Συρίαν ἅπασαν (ἐκεῖ γὰρ ἐμηνύετο ὅτι ἡ τοῦ Βυβλίων βασιλέως γυνὴ ἐτιθήνει τὸν υἱόν) καὶ τὸν Ἔπαφον εὑροῦσα, εἰς Αἴγυπτον ἐλθοῦσα ἐγαμήθη Τηλεγόνῳ τῷ βασιλεύοντι τότε Αἰγυπτίων. ἱδρύσατο δὲ ἄγαλμα Δήμητρος, ἣν ἐκάλεσαν Ἶσιν Αἰγύπτιοι, καὶ τὴν Ἰὼ Ἶσιν ὁμοίως προσηγόρευσαν.”

English: “Argus and Ismene, daughter of Asopus, had a son Iasus, who is said to have been the father of Io. But the annalist Castor and many of the tragedians allege that Io was a daughter of Inachus; and Hesiod and Acusilaus say that she was a daughter of Piren. Zeus seduced her while she held the priesthood of Hera, but being detected by Hera he by a touch turned Io into a white cow and swore that he had not known her; wherefore Hesiod remarks that lover’s oaths do not draw down the anger of the gods. But Hera requested the cow from Zeus for herself and set Argus the All-seeing to guard it. Pherecydes says that this Argus was a son of Arestor; but Asclepiades says that he was a son of Inachus, and Cercops says that he was a son of Argus and Ismene, daughter of Asopus; but Acusilaus says that he was earth-born. He tethered her to the olive tree which was in the grove of the Mycenaeans. But Zeus ordered Hermes to steal the cow, and as Hermes could not do it secretly because Hierax had blabbed, he killed Argus by the cast of a stone; whence he was called Argiphontes. Hera next sent a gadfly to infest the cow, and the animal came first to what is called after her the Ionian Sea. Then she journeyed through Illyria and having traversed Mount Haemus she crossed what was then called the Thracian Straits but is now called after her the Bosphorus. And having gone away to Scythia and the Cimmerian land she wandered over great tracts of land and swam wide stretches of sea both in Europe and Asia until at last she came to Egypt, where she recovered her original form and gave birth to a son Epaphus beside the river Nile. Him Hera besought the Curetes to make away with, and make away with him they did. When Zeus learned of it, he slew the Curetes; but Io set out in search of the child. She roamed all over Syria, because there it was revealed to her that the wife of the king of Byblus was nursing her son; and having found Epaphus she came to Egypt and was married to Telegonus, who then reigned over the Egyptians. And she set up an image of Demeter, whom the Egyptians called Isis, and Io likewise they called by the name of Isis.”

NovoScriptorium: Apollodorus provides us with the various versions concerning the genealogy tree of Io. Regardless of which version had been accurate, what is clear is that Io had been of native descent and not a foreigner to the land. What is also clear is the confusion of the ancient authors about the exact time that Io had lived. And this is very reasonable because these stories come from a number of different eras; a) before the Cataclysm of Ogygos, b) after the Cataclysm of Ogygos, c) before the Cataclysm of Deucalion, d) after the Cataclysm of Deucalion.

This implies a time interval of several hundreds or, better, thousands of years until their recording in written form; with this in mind, one can easily explain the ‘uncertainties’ on some aspects of these very old stories. Apollodorus agrees with Aeschylus that Io had been a priestess to Hera. He also agrees that Zeus seduced her. The confusion about the exact genealogy of Argus, the guard of the “heifer”, is explained in the same context as the one previously discussed. What is clear though is that Argus had been a native of the land and not a foreigner. The version of Acusilaus should be taken a bit more seriously in consideration; this is because the ancient Tradition (as recorded in the Medieval Suda Lexicon) informs us that he actually became an author-publisher after his father found, while digging in his land, copper plates with letters on them which described these old stories and the various genealogies. This may suggest the existence of written language (obviously, of the same core-language -regardless of the differences between the various dialects- and with similar writing elements to the ones of Acusilaus’ epoch) in the Peloponnese far earlier than believed until now, but since we have no archaeological proof in hand we cannot suggest this with absolute certainty, even though we consider this as an event that gathers great probability of being the actual case. It has to be said that the Peloponnese has suffered, many times in the Past (especially during our Time of interest, that is, during the Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene) from multiple and severe natural disasters; not only abrupt climate changes but also great earthquakes and tsunamis. It cannot be excluded that even if there were some remnants of Writing, for example from the Neolithic, a series of such disastrous events could have easily wiped out any possible evidence (especially if people had the habit to write on wood – something that several ancient authors suggest). The only -academically recognized and published- case of possible Neolithic Writing from Greece and the Aegean comes from Dispilio. Please read here a useful analysis. 

The reference to “the grove of the Mycenaeans” is an anachronism used to help the reader understand of which area the -far older than the Mycenean era- myth talks about. Then we read of the journey of Io out of the Peloponnese, which -mainly- symbolizes, as we have discussed in the analysis of the Aeschylean version, expeditions from the Aegean towards other directions. Let’s see what we learn from this version.

came first to what is called after her the Ionian Sea. Then she journeyed through Illyria and having traversed Mount Haemus she crossed what was then called the Thracian Straits but is now called after her the Bosphorus. And having gone away to Scythia and the Cimmerian land she wandered over great tracts of land and swam wide stretches of sea both in Europe and Asia until at last she came to Egypt, where she recovered her original form and gave birth to a son Epaphus beside the river Nile”

We learn that the Aegeans reached the North Balkan peninsula up to Illyria (Note: the name and extend that this region had in Apollodorus’ time); remember here that the Aeschylean version suggested that the Pelasgians (in a later epoch than Io’s) ruled all the lands up to where modern Albania is (and a bit further North). Mount Haemus is a general ancient name for all the Balkan Mountains north of “historic” Greece. Hence we are told here that the Aegeans (their influence and, perhaps, rule) of that distant era expanded all over the Balkans (lower of the Danube, as it can be presumed through the text). We are told that they moved to North-West Anatolia through Thrace and the straits of Bosphorus (the name itself means “passage of the heifer” derived from “βοῦς” andπόρος“). In this version of the myth we are told that the Aegeans moved to explore/conquer some lands of the Euxinus Pontus / Black Sea (Scythians and Cimmerians). This is something that the Aeschylean version does not refer to. Then, Apollodorus’ version avoids the details of the rest of the journey in the Eastern Mediterranean and Anatolia which Aeschylus provides us with, and finalizes it in Egypt (where Io gives birth to Epaphus), the same as Aeschylus does. Then we learn that

She roamed all over Syria, because there it was revealed to her that the wife of the king of Byblus was nursing her son; and having found Epaphus she came to Egypt and was married to Telegonus, who then reigned over the Egyptians”

The reference to Syria, as a place that the Aegeans visited in their expedition(s), had been indirect in the Aeschylean version; in the Apollodorus’ one it is direct. In Egypt, we learn that Io got married to the local ruler. This could be another indirect way, analogous to the ones Aeschylus also used, to tell us about the mingling between the indigenous Egyptians and the Aegean colonizers. But the name “Telegonus” indicates otherwise; “Tele-gonus” literally means “of a genus from afar/born afar”. This simply means that Telegonus had not been a breed of Egypt but also a migrant there. We are not told though from where.

Ancient Greek: ” Ἔπαφος δὲ βασιλεύων Αἰγυπτίων γαμεῖ Μέμφιν τὴν Νείλου θυγατέρα, καὶ ἀπὸ ταύτης κτίζει Μέμφιν πόλιν, καὶ τεκνοῖ θυγατέρα Λιβύην, ἀφ᾽ ἧς ἡ χώρα Λιβύη ἐκλήθη. Λιβύης δὲ καὶ Ποσειδῶνος γίνονται παῖδες δίδυμοι Ἀγήνωρ καὶ Βῆλος. Ἀγήνωρ μὲν οὖν εἰς Φοινίκην ἀπαλλαγεὶς ἐβασίλευσε, κἀκεῖ τῆς μεγάλης ῥίζης ἐγένετο γενεάρχης: ὅθεν ὑπερθησόμεθα περὶ τούτου. Βῆλος δὲ ὑπομείνας ἐν Αἰγύπτῳ βασιλεύει μὲν Αἰγύπτου, γαμεῖ δὲ Ἀγχινόην τὴν Νείλου θυγατέρα, καὶ αὐτῷ γίνονται παῖδες δίδυμοι, Αἴγυπτος καὶ Δαναός, ὡς δέ φησιν Εὐριπίδης, καὶ Κηφεὺς καὶ Φινεὺς προσέτι. Δαναὸν μὲν οὖν Βῆλος ἐν Λιβύῃ κατῴκισεν, Αἴγυπτον δὲ ἐν Ἀραβίᾳ, ὃς καὶ καταστρεψάμενος τὴν Μελαμπόδων χώραν ἀφ᾽ ἑαυτοῦ ὠνόμασεν Αἴγυπτον. γίνονται δὲ ἐκ πολλῶν γυναικῶν Αἰγύπτῳ μὲν παῖδες πεντήκοντα, θυγατέρες δὲ Δαναῷ πεντήκοντα. στασιασάντων δὲ αὐτῶν περὶ τῆς ἀρχῆς ὕστερον, Δαναὸς τοὺς Αἰγύπτου παῖδας δεδοικώς, ὑποθεμένης Ἀθηνᾶς αὐτῷ ναῦν κατεσκεύασε πρῶτος καὶ τὰς θυγατέρας ἐνθέμενος ἔφυγε. προσσχὼν δὲ Ῥόδῳ τὸ τῆς Λινδίας ἄγαλμα Ἀθηνᾶς ἱδρύσατο. ἐντεῦθεν δὲ ἧκεν εἰς Ἄργος, καὶ τὴν βασιλείαν αὐτῷ παραδίδωσι Γελάνωρ ὁ τότε βασιλεύων αὐτὸς δὲ κρατήσας τῆς χώρας ἀφ᾽ ἑαυτοῦ τοὺς ἐνοικοῦντας Δαναοὺς ὠνόμασε. ἀνύδρου δὲ τῆς χώρας ὑπαρχούσης, ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὰς πηγὰς ἐξήρανε Ποσειδῶν μηνίων Ἰνάχῳ διότι τὴν χώραν Ἥρας ἐμαρτύρησεν εἶναι, τὰς θυγατέρας ὑδρευσομένας ἔπεμψε. μία δὲ αὐτῶν Ἀμυμώνη ζητοῦσα ὕδωρ ῥίπτει βέλος ἐπὶ ἔλαφον καὶ κοιμωμένου Σατύρου τυγχάνει, κἀκεῖνος περιαναστὰς ἐπεθύμει συγγενέσθαι: Ποσειδῶνος δὲ ἐπιφανέντος ὁ Σάτυρος μὲν ἔφυγεν, Ἀμυμώνη δὲ τούτῳ συνευνάζεται, καὶ αὐτῇ Ποσειδῶν τὰς ἐν Λέρνῃ πηγὰς ἐμήνυσεν.”

English: “Reigning over the Egyptians Epaphus married Memphis, daughter of Nile, founded and named the city of Memphis after her, and begat a daughter Libya, after whom the region of Libya was called. Libya had by Poseidon twin sons, Agenor and Belus. Agenor departed to Phoenicia and reigned there, and there he became the ancestor of the great stock; hence we shall defer our account of him. But Belus remained in Egypt, reigned over the country, and married Anchinoe, daughter of Nile, by whom he had twin sons, Egyptus and Danaus, but according to Euripides, he had also Cepheus and Phineus. Danaus was settled by Belus in Libya, and Egyptus in Arabia; but Egyptus subjugated the country of the Melampods and named it Egypt. Both had children by many wives; Egyptus had fifty sons, and Danaus fifty daughters. As they afterwards quarrelled concerning the kingdom, Danaus feared the sons of Egyptus, and by the advice of Athena he built a ship, being the first to do so, and having put his daughters on board he fled. And touching at Rhodes he set up the image of Lindian Athena. Thence he came to Argos and the reigning king Gelanor surrendered the kingdom to him; and having made himself master of the country he named the inhabitants Danai after himself. But the country being waterless, because Poseidon had dried up even the springs out of anger at Inachus for testifying that the land belonged to Hera, Danaus sent his daughters to draw water. One of them, Amymone, in her search for water threw a dart at a deer and hit a sleeping satyr, and he, starting up, desired to force her; but Poseidon appearing on the scene, the satyr fled, and Amymone lay with Poseidon, and he revealed to her the springs at Lerna.”

NovoScriptorium: Epaphus, a 100% Aegean (offspring of Zeus and Io) marries Memphisa daughter of the Nile”, i.e. a local woman. This is a clear and direct reference to the mingling of the Aegeans with the indigenous Egyptians. Their daughter Libya gave her name to the region of Libya (by this name, all North Africa except Egypt used to be denoted by the Greeks). Therefore, we may assume that this is an indirect suggestion for an Egyptian/Aegean influence to the cultures and populations of North Africa (please read here a relevant presentation). Poseidon, another Aegean (and brother of Zeus), mates with Libya and she gives birth to the twin sons Agenor and Belus. This Agenor was a descendant of the older Agenor, who was the son of the first Argus. This is certainly used to emphasize that Agenor and Belus had been of Aegean origin, or, alternatively, that the Aegeans of North Africa during the time of Agenor and Belus were still aware of their origins. And then we are told that

Agenor departed to Phoenicia and reigned there, and there he became the ancestor of the great stock”.

This is a direct suggestion that a mingled population of Aegeans and indigenous Egyptians colonized “Phoenicia”, i.e. the region of Syro-Palestine. Then we are told that

Belus remained in Egypt, reigned over the country, and married Anchinoe, daughter of Nile, by whom he had twin sons, Egyptus and Danaus, but according to Euripides, he had also Cepheus and Phineus”.

We are now already in the third generation (most likely, these genealogies do not represent actual generations but greater time intervals) after Egypt’s Aegean colonization. And we are told that Belus, who was the offspring of an Aegean man and a half Aegean/half Egyptian woman, married another “daughter of the Nile”, i.e. an indigenous lady. We understand this as a way of the ancient authors to describe, in the simplest form possible, the ongoing mingling between the Aegean colonizers and the indigenous Egyptian populations. The children of Belus and Anchinoe (which meansshrewd”) were, again twins, Egyptus and Danaus (Euripides adds two more, Cepheus and Phineus). We read  that

Danaus was settled by Belus in Libya, and Egyptus in Arabia; but Egyptus subjugated the country of the Melampods and named it Egypt”.

This suggests influence from the Aegeans (through Egypt) on “Libya”, i.e., North Africa, and Arabia. The nearby (to Egypt) country of the “Melampods” (which means “those with the black feet”) was subjugated and included in the land called “Egypt”. We know nothing further about whether these “Melampods” were inhabitants of a region found inside the territory of modern Egypt or this country was found in modern Sudan. Then we are informed that

they afterwards quarrelled concerning the kingdom, Danaus feared the sons of Egyptus, and by the advice of Athena he built a ship, being the first to do so, and having put his daughters on board he fled. And touching at Rhodes he set up the image of Lindian Athena.

Hence, what we read in the Aeschylean version of the myth as a strong suggestion, here becomes a solid declaration; Danaus and his daughters (i.e. a fraction of the mixed Aegean/Egyptian population) fled from Egypt because of a quarrel for Power (Aeschylus emphasizes mainly on the cultural differences). What is extremely interesting is the reference to Athena, the island of Rhodes and the ability to navigate in the open (and deep) sea. Please note and remember this piece of information relating Athena, Rhodes and Argos (through Danaus and his daughters). Its importance will become fully apparent in the forthcoming main post. As we have discussed in the analysis of the Aeschylean version of the myth, the epoch(s) that all these gather the greater possibility to have occurred are the Aegean Mesolithic and/or the Aegean Early Neolithic. The part of this version of the myth which suggests that

Gelanor surrendered the kingdom to him; and having made himself master of the country he named the inhabitants Danai after himself

is certainly very different than the Aeschylean version, where the king of Argos (and actually of a much greater region, as we have discussed) was Pelasgus at the time when Danaus arrived in the Peloponnese. The last part of this excerpt of the myth, most likely, provides us with a palaeoclimatic element that could be proved helpful in the calculation/estimation of the epoch when the arrival of Danaus in the Peloponnese occurred;

the country being waterless, because Poseidon had dried up even the springs out of anger at Inachus for testifying that the land belonged to Hera” and “(Poseidon) revealed to her the springs at Lerna”.

So, we seek for an epoch when the Peloponnese, that suffered heavily from aridity slightly before the arrival of Danaus, underwent a change towards a wetter climate.

From the paper titledLate Glacial to mid-Holocene palaeoclimate development of Southern Greece inferred from the sediment sequence of Lake Stymphalia (NE-Peloponnese)”, by Christian Heymann et al. (2013), we read:

Late Glacial (15-11.7 ka BP)

Dry climatic conditions as indicated by the elemental proxies prevail until 14.7 ka cal BP and most likely represent the Oldest Dryas. Winter precipitation within the catchment is low, while summers are also dry. Between 14.8 and 14.7 ka cal BP summers become wet. There is no evidence of glaciers after 15 ka BP in the mountainous regions of the Peloponnese (Hughes et al., 2006), including Mt. Kyllini, thus changes in catchment hydrology reflect changes in precipitation and not in meltwater input (…) A shift to humid conditions occurs around 14.7 to 14.6 ka cal BP. Winter precipitation increases, while summers are dry. After 14.6 ka cal BP, precipitation in summer also increases (…) After 13.9 ka cal BP, climatic conditions as indicated by the elemental proxies of the Lake Stymphalia sequence become drier. From 13.9 to 13.4 ka cal BP, winter and summer precipitation is low. At 13.4 ka cal BP humid conditions in winter with dry summers reoccur and last until 13.2 ka cal BP (…) At 13.2 ka cal BP a shift to a drier climate with low winter precipitation but humid summers marks the onset of the Younger Dryas at Lake Stymphalia. This period lasts until 12.1 ka cal BP at Lake Stymphalia.”

Early Holocene (11.7-8 ka BP)

The Late Glacial to Early Holocene transition is marked by a shift in Rb/Sr to a wet climate around 12.1 ka cal BP at Lake Stymphalia. These conditions prevailed until 10.8 ka cal BP. Increasing carbonate precipitation suggests drier summers until 11.1 ka cal BP. This trend is reversed until 10.9 ka cal BP (…) A climatic shift to drier conditions around 10.8 ka cal BP is indicated by Rb/Sr and these dry conditions prevail until 8.5 ka cal BP, although short-term humid winter conditions are centred around 9.8 and 8.7 ka cal BP. Between 10.5 and 8.7 ka cal BP, summers are also dry (…) A shift to more humid summers occurs around 8.7 ka cal BP and these summer conditions prevail until 8.5 ka cal BP (…) After 8.5 ka cal BP, Rb/Sr indicates a shift to a more humid climate with peak conditions around 7.5 ka cal BP, although dry reversals are normal.”

The 8.2 ka event

A short-lived shift to drier conditions can be seen in the Rb/Sr record at Lake Stymphalia centred at 8.3 ka cal BP. Both winter and summer conditions are dry. An increase in Mn/Fe centred at 8.2 ka cal BP indicates oxic/alkaline lake water conditions and points to a low lake level. This might correspond to a regional expression of the 8.2 ka event (Alley et al., 1997). The 8.2 ka event is also evident in other records from the Mediterranean region (e.g., Magny et al., 2003, 2006, 2007; Davis and Stevenson, 2007; Kotthoff et al., 2008a,b; Pross et al., 2009) (…) At Lake Stymphalia, peak dry conditions occur around 8.7 ka cal BP as indicated by Rb/Sr (…) In direct comparison of Lake Stymphalia to the Southern Aegean, core LC21 indicates a shift to cooler sea surface temperatures at 8.2 ka cal BP (Rohling et al., 2002).

Mid-Holocene (8-5 ka BP)

The elemental proxies indicate wet winter and summer conditions from 8 to 7.5 ka cal BP (…) Summer conditions change after 7.5 ka cal BP to increasing dryness that lasts until 7 ka cal BP. A general shift to a dry climate is also indicated by Rb/Sr with peak dry conditions around 7 ka cal BP. Then after 7 ka cal BP, summers become wetter. Around 6.1 ka cal BP climatic conditions in winter become drier, but Rb/Sr indicates a general shift to a wetter climate around 5.8 ka cal BP (…) Climate conditions in the Eastern Mediterranean region became more similar to the present day after 7 ka cal BP (Bar-Matthews et al., 1999).

The above data provides us with quite a few candidate intervals for a “dry-wet” change in the climate of the Peloponnese. What we can be rather certain though is that the events described in the myth have a chronological barrier, as long as the climate conditions in the region “became more similar to the present day after 7ka BP“. In other words, the myth refers to events which occurred before the 5th millennium BC. This confirms our general hypothesis that the myth most likely narrates events that date back to the Aegean Mesolithic or/and Aegean Early Neolithic.

Ancient Greek: “οἱ δὲ Αἰγύπτου παῖδες ἐλθόντες εἰς Ἄργος τῆς τε ἔχθρας παύσασθαι παρεκάλουν καὶ τὰς θυγατέρας αὐτοῦ γαμεῖν ἠξίουν. Δαναὸς δὲ ἅμα μὲν ἀπιστῶν αὐτῶν τοῖς ἐπαγγέλμασιν, ἅμα δὲ καὶ μνησικακῶν περὶ τῆς φυγῆς, ὡμολόγει τοὺς γάμους καὶ διεκλήρου τὰς κόρας. Ὑπερμνήστραν μὲν οὖν τὴν πρεσβυτέραν ἐξεῖλον Λυγκεῖ καὶ Γοργοφόνην Πρωτεῖ: οὗτοι γὰρ ἐκ βασιλίδος γυναικὸς Ἀργυφίης ἐγεγόνεισαν Αἰγύπτῳ. τῶν δὲ λοιπῶν ἔλαχον Βούσιρις μὲν καὶ Ἐγκέλαδος καὶ Λύκος καὶ Δαΐφρων τὰς Δαναῷ γεννηθείσας ἐξ Εὐρώπης Αὐτομάτην Ἀμυμώνην Ἀγαυὴν Σκαιήν. αὗται δὲ ἐκ βασιλίδος ἐγένοντο Δαναῷ, ἐκ δὲ Ἐλεφαντίδος Γοργοφόνη καὶ Ὑπερμνήστρα. Ἴστρος δὲ Ἱπποδάμειαν, Χαλκώδων Ῥοδίαν, Ἀγήνωρ Κλεοπάτραν, Χαῖτος Ἀστερίαν, Διοκορυστὴς Ἱπποδαμείαν, Ἄλκης Γλαύκην, Ἀλκμήνωρ Ἱππομέδουσαν, Ἱππόθοος Γόργην, Εὐχήνωρ Ἰφιμέδουσαν, Ἱππόλυτος Ῥόδην. οὗτοι μὲν οἱ δέκα ἐξ Ἀραβίας γυναικός, αἱ δὲ παρθένοι ἐξ Ἁμαδρυάδων νυμφῶν, αἱ μὲν Ἀτλαντείης, αἱ δὲ ἐκ Φοίβης. Ἀγαπτόλεμος δὲ ἔλαχε Πειρήνην, Κερκέτης δὲ Δώριον, Εὐρυδάμας Φάρτιν, Αἴγιος Μνήστραν, Ἄργιος Εὐίππην, Ἀρχέλαος Ἀναξιβίην, Μενέμαχος Νηλώ, οἱ μὲν ἑπτὰ ἐκ Φοινίσσης γυναικός, αἱ δὲ παρθένοι Αἰθιοπίδος. ἀκληρωτὶ δὲ ἔλαχον δι᾽ ὁμωνυμίαν τὰς Μέμφιδος οἱ ἐκ Τυρίας, Κλειτὸς Κλειτήν, Σθένελος Σθενέλην, Χρύσιππος Χρυσίππην. οἱ δὲ ἐκ Καλιάδνης νηίδος νύμφης παῖδες δώδεκα ἐκληρώσαντο περὶ τῶν ἐκ Πολυξοῦς νηίδος νύμφης: ἦσαν δὲ οἱ μὲν παῖδες Εὐρύλοχος Φάντης Περισθένης Ἕρμος Δρύας Ποταμὼν Κισσεὺς Λίξος Ἴμβρος Βρομίος Πολύκτωρ Χθονίος, αἱ δὲ κόραι Αὐτονόη Θεανὼ Ἠλέκτρα Κλεοπάτρα Εὐρυδίκη Γλαυκίππη Ἀνθήλεια Κλεοδώρη Εὐίππη Ἐρατὼ Στύγνη Βρύκη. οἱ δὲ ἐκ Γοργόνος Αἰγύπτῳ γενόμενοι ἐκληρώσαντο περὶ τῶν ἐκ Πιερίας, καὶ λαγχάνει Περίφας μὲν Ἀκταίην, Οἰνεὺς δὲ Ποδάρκην, Αἴγυπτος Διωξίππην, Μενάλκης Ἀδίτην, Λάμπος Ὠκυπέτην, Ἴδμων Πυλάργην. οὗτοι δέ εἰσι νεώτατοι: Ἴδας Ἱπποδίκην, Δαΐφρων Ἀδιάντην (αὗται δὲ ἐκ μητρὸς ἐγένοντο Ἕρσης), Πανδίων Καλλιδίκην, Ἄρβηλος Οἴμην, Ὑπέρβιος Κελαινώ, Ἱπποκορυστὴς Ὑπερίππην: οὗτοι ἐξ Ἡφαιστίνης, αἱ δὲ ἐκ Κρινοῦς. ὡς δὲ ἐκληρώσαντο τοὺς γάμους, ἑστιάσας ἐγχειρίδια δίδωσι ταῖς θυγατράσιν. αἱ δὲ κοιμωμένους τοὺς νυμφίους ἀπέκτειναν πλὴν Ὑπερμνήστρας: αὕτη γὰρ Λυγκέα διέσωσε παρθένον αὐτὴν φυλάξαντα: διὸ καθείρξας αὐτὴν Δαναὸς ἐφρούρει. αἱ δὲ ἄλλαι τῶν Δαναοῦ θυγατέρων τὰς μὲν κεφαλὰς τῶν νυμφίων ἐν τῇ Λέρνῃ κατώρυξαν, τὰ δὲ σώματα πρὸ τῆς πόλεως ἐκήδευσαν. καὶ αὐτὰς ἐκάθηραν Ἀθηνᾶ τε καὶ Ἑρμῆς Διὸς κελεύσαντος. Δαναὸς δὲ ὕστερον Ὑπερμνήστραν Λυγκεῖ συνῴκισε, τὰς δὲ λοιπὰς θυγατέρας εἰς γυμνικὸν ἀγῶνα τοῖς νικῶσιν ἔδωκεν. Ἀμυμώνη δὲ ἐκ Ποσειδῶνος ἐγέννησε Ναύπλιον. οὗτος μακρόβιος γενόμενος, πλέων τὴν θάλασσαν, τοῖς ἐμπίπτουσιν ἐπὶ θανάτῳ ἐπυρσοφόρει. συνέβη οὖν καὶ αὐτὸν τελευτῆσαι ἐκείνῳ τῷ θανάτῳ. πρὶν δὲ τελευτῆσαι ἔγημε ὡς μὲν οἱ τραγικοὶ λέγουσι, Κλυμένην τὴν Κατρέως, ὡς δὲ ὁ τοὺς νόστους γράψας, Φιλύραν, ὡς δὲ Κέρκωψ, Ἡσιόνην, καὶ ἐγέννησε Παλαμήδην Οἴακα Ναυσιμέδοντα. Λυγκεὺς δὲ μετὰ Δαναὸν Ἄργους δυναστεύων ἐξ Ὑπερμνήστρας τεκνοῖ παῖδα Ἄβαντα. τούτου δὲ καὶ Ἀγλαΐας τῆς Μαντινέως δίδυμοι παῖδες ἐγένοντο Ἀκρίσιος καὶ Προῖτος. οὗτοι καὶ κατὰ γαστρὸς μὲν ἔτι ὄντες ἐστασίαζον πρὸς ἀλλήλους, ὡς δὲ ἀνετράφησαν, περὶ τῆς βασιλείας ἐπολέμουν, καὶ πολεμοῦντες εὗρον ἀσπίδας πρῶτοι. καὶ κρατήσας Ἀκρίσιος Προῖτον Ἄργους ἐξελαύνει. ὁ δ᾽ ἧκεν εἰς Λυκίαν πρὸς Ἰοβάτην, ὡς δέ τινές φασι, πρὸς Ἀμφιάνακτα: καὶ γαμεῖ τὴν τούτου θυγατέρα, ὡς μὲν Ὅμηρος, Ἄντειαν, ὡς δὲ οἱ τραγικοί, Σθενέβοιαν. κατάγει δὲ αὐτὸν ὁ κηδεστὴς μετὰ στρατοῦ Λυκίων, καὶ καταλαμβάνει Τίρυνθα, ταύτην αὐτῷ Κυκλώπων τειχισάντων. μερισάμενοι δὲ τὴν Ἀργείαν ἅπασαν κατῴκουν, καὶ Ἀκρίσιος μὲν Ἄργους βασιλεύει, Προῖτος δὲ Τίρυνθος.”

English: “But the sons of Egyptus came to Argos, and exhorted Danaus to lay aside his enmity, and begged to marry his daughters. Now Danaus distrusted their professions and bore them a grudge on account of his exile; nevertheless he consented to the marriage and allotted the damsels among them. First, they picked out Hypermnestra as the eldest to be the wife of Lynceus, and Gorgophone to be the wife of Proteus; for Lynceus and Proteus had been borne to Egyptus by a woman of royal blood, Argyphia; but of the rest Busiris, Enceladus, Lycus, and Daiphron obtained by lot the daughters that had been borne to Danaus by Europe, to wit, Automate, Amymone, Agave, and Scaea. These daughters were borne to Danaus by a queen; but Gorgophone and Hypermnestra were borne to him by Elephantis. And Istrus got Hippodamia; Chalcodon got Rhodia; Agenor got Cleopatra; Chaetus got Asteria; Diocorystes got Hippodamia; Alces got Glauce; Alcmenor got Hippomedusa; Hippothous got Gorge; Euchenor got Iphimedusa; Hippolytus got Rhode. These ten sons were begotten on an Arabian woman; but the maidens were begotten on Hamadryad nymphs, some being daughters of Atlantia, and others of Phoebe. Agaptolemus got Pirene; Cercetes got Dorium; Eurydamas got Phartis; Aegius got Mnestra; Argius got Evippe; Archelaus got Anaxibia; Menemachus got Nelo. These seven sons were begotten on a Phoenician woman, and the maidens on an Ethiopian woman. The sons of Egyptus by Tyria got as their wives, without drawing lots, the daughters of Danaus by Memphis in virtue of the similarity of their names; thus Clitus got Clite; Sthenelus got Sthenele; Chrysippus got Chrysippe. The twelve sons of Egyptus by the Naiad nymph Caliadne cast lots for the daughters of Danaus by the Naiad nymph Polyxo: the sons were Eurylochus, Phantes, Peristhenes, Hermus, Dryas, Potamon, Cisseus, Lixus, Imbrus, Bromius, Polyctor, Chthonius; and the damsels were Autonoe, Theano, Electra, Cleopatra, Eurydice, Glaucippe, Anthelia, Cleodore, Evippe, Erato, Stygne, Bryce. The sons of Egyptus by Gorgo, cast lots for the daughters of Danaus by Pieria, and Periphas got Actaea, Oineus got Podarce, Egyptus got Dioxippe, Menalces got Adite, Lampus got Ocypete, Idmon got Pylarge. The youngest sons of Egyptus were these: Idas got Hippodice; Daiphron got Adiante (the mother who bore these damsels was Herse); Pandion got Callidice; Arbelus got Oime; Hyperbius got Celaeno; Hippocorystes got Hyperippe; the mother of these men was Hephaestine, and the mother of these damsels was Crino. When they had got their brides by lot, Danaus made a feast and gave his daughters daggers; and they slew their bridegrooms as they slept, all but Hypermnestra; for she saved Lynceus because he had respected her virginity: wherefore Danaus shut her up and kept her under ward. But the rest of the daughters of Danaus buried the heads of their bridegrooms in Lerna and paid funeral honors to their bodies in front of the city; and Athena and Hermes purified them at the command of Zeus. Danaus afterwards united Hypermnestra to Lynceus; and bestowed his other daughters on the victors in an athletic contest. Amymone had a son Nauplius by Poseidon. This Nauplius lived to a great age, and sailing the sea he used by beacon lights to lure to death such as he fell in with. It came to pass, therefore, that he himself died by that very death. But before his death he married a wife; according to the tragic poets, she was Clymene, daughter of Catreus; but according to the author of The Returns, she was Philyra; and according to Cercops she was Hesione. By her he had Palamedes, Oiax, and Nausimedon. Lynceus reigned over Argos after Danaus and begat a son Abas by Hypermnestra; and Abas had twin sons Acrisius and Proetus by Aglaia, daughter of Mantineus. These two quarrelled with each other while they were still in the womb, and when they were grown up they waged war for the kingdom, and in the course of the war they were the first to invent shields. And Acrisius gained the mastery and drove Proetus from Argos; and Proetus went to Lycia to the court of Iobates or, as some say, of Amphianax, and married his daughter, whom Homer calls Antia, but the tragic poets call her Stheneboea. His in-law restored him to his own land with an army of Lycians, and he occupied Tiryns, which the Cyclopes had fortified for him. They divided the whole of the Argive territory between them and settled in it, Acrisius reigning over Argos and Proetus over Tiryns.”

NovoScriptorium: From the names of the “couples” we can extract extremely valuable information. We shall avoid here an extensive analysis of all the names (even though it is very interesting indeed); we will though focus on some of the most informative and intriguing of them.

Busiris” derives from βοῦς + ἱρεύς and literally means someone who ‘cuts’ oxen. This is suggestive of bovines’ domestication

borne to Danaus by Europe” is an indication of, literally, European descent

borne to him by Elephantis” most likely indicates an origin from the region of “Elephantine” (in Egypt)

Istrus” is the ancient name of the Danube; an obvious suggestion of the existence of interconnection between regions

Rhodia” and “Rhode” suggest a link with the island of Rhodes

Asteria” is the name of an island found in the Ionian sea

ten sons were begotten on an Arabian woman” clearly suggests mingling between populations from Arabia with those of Egypt

daughters of Atlantia”; for the Greeks, Atlantia and the Atlanteans can be identified with modern Morocco (its Atlantic side)

These seven sons were begotten on a Phoenician woman, and the maidens on an Ethiopian woman”; not much explanation needed. A clear suggestion of population mingling

sons of Egyptus by Tyria got as their wives, without drawing lots, the daughters of Danaus by Memphis” Tyria clearly links with Tyrus (i.e. modern Lebanon) and suggests mingling of populations. Memphis is suggestive of the mingling (of the Aegeans) with the local Egyptians.

Imbrus” identifies with the Aegean island that -still- bears the same name

Oineus” suggests knowledge of Vinification and, of course, domestication of the vine

Celaeno” literally means “black”. Therefore this is directly suggestive of a mingling with black African populations, too

Amymone had a son Nauplius by Poseidon” this is apparently suggestive for a very close relationship with the sea, ship-building and seafaring. The name “Nauplius” derives from ναῦς + πλοῦς

Oiax” was a son of Nauplius. The name literally means “rudder” and suggests close connection with seafaring

Nausimedon” was a son of Nauplius. The name literally means “he who is a master of the sea

All the “Hippo-” names imply horse usage and, consequently and necessarily, horse domestication

From the last part of the narration we learn that “Acrisius and Proetus… were the first to invent shields”

Having convinced ourselves that the events of the narration took place somewhere during the Aegean Mesolithic or/and Early Neolithic, this excerpt is suggestive of the invention of shields during these epochs. Most likely, we have to do with the Early Neolithic; remember the post about the Aegean expedition(s) in the West. Hercules had an organized army that helped him conquer vast parts of the European Continent. This couldn’t have been done unless the Aegeans had some kind of “superiority” over the natives. And this could very well have been the invention of shields (and other weaponry, of course).

Then we read that 

Acrisius gained the mastery and drove Proetus from Argos; and Proetus went to Lycia to the court of Iobates or, as some say, of Amphianax, and married his daughter

Now, nobody simply gives you his daughter to marry if you are an exiled foreigner and he is a king! This short story is clearly suggestive of close links between the inhabitants of Lycia and the inhabitants of the Peloponnese during the era(s) under examination. Many ancient myths speak of “blood and cultural” connections between the Lycians and the Greeks/Aegeans.

Then we learn that

His in-law restored him to his own land with an army of Lycians, and he occupied Tiryns, which the Cyclopes had fortified for him. They divided the whole of the Argive territory between them and settled in it, Acrisius reigning over Argos and Proetus over Tiryns

In other words, we learn of a migration from Anatolia, Lycia, to the Peloponnese. We further learn of a division of the territory between the two brothers (and factions). Last but not least, we are told that the Cyclopes lived during that era and fortified Tiryns for Proetus and his Lycian army.

The Peloponnese

What is clear from all the above is that the Eastern Mediterranean (also, all the other regions mentioned in the text) had been a very active place during the Mesolithic/Early Neolithic:

People moved from place to place, interbred, fought wars, exchanged knowledge and ideas. What the myth suggests is that the mobility, seafaring and fighting capabilities of the Aegeans stood them out from other groups of the region. They may well have been the only capable seafarers of that distant epoch. With their influence as a catalyst, new “Kingdoms” and “nations” had appeared, all of them breeds between the Aegeans and the local populations. This myth easily explains how the “Neolithic Package” (or, at least, many of its components) expanded in the Eastern Mediterranean, and a bit later all around Europe and North Africa (with the Aegean region as the “Centre of expansion”).

The Cataclysmic event of 12,800 BP (see here 1, 2) must have been the trigger for a giant Aegean migration towards every corner of the horizon in order to survive (whoever had the time and ability to leave the desolated homeland). Then, the other Cataclysmic events which occurred between 9,300yBP – 7,600yBP, must have seriously altered the balance of Power and Influence in the Eastern Mediterranean (and all the other regions mentioned in the text really). This isolated the Aegean colonizers from their “Centre” and eventually lead (at least the ones who were at the greater distances) to their complete (genetic and cultural) absorption from the local cultures. Only the groups who inhabited areas around or close to the Aegean maintained memories and strong cultural elements (e.g. linguistic elements, religious cults) of the older status quo. It is also very likely, if not certain, that the Cataclysmic events of 9,300yBP – 7,600yBP triggered the expansion of the Aegeans towards the Balkans and Western Europe. It was a fight for their survival. And this could explain the quickness and “determination” of their Western expedition (see the relevant post).

Another useful additional read would be this post, where Plato provides us with a description of how some Aegeans survived the Cataclysm(s) and the pre-cataclysmic interconnection between the Aegean and Egypt.

Finally, from the very interesting paper titled “Ancient Egyptian mummy genomes suggest an increase of Sub-Saharan African ancestry in post-Roman periods“, by Verena J. Schuenemann et al. (2017), we read:

“The archaeological site Abusir el-Meleq was inhabited from at least 3250BCE until about 700CE and was of great religious significance because of its active cult to Osiris, the god of the dead, which made it an attractive burial site for centuries.

Abusir el-Meleq is arguably one of the few sites in Egypt, for which such a vast number of individuals with such an extensive chronological spread are available for ancient DNA analysis (…)

The ancient DNA data revealed a high level of affinity between the ancient inhabitants of Abusir el-Meleq and modern populations from the Near East and the Levant. This finding is pertinent in the light of the hypotheses advanced by Pagani and colleagues, who estimated that the average proportion of non-African ancestry in Egyptians was 80% and dated the midpoint of this admixture event to around 750 years ago. Our data seem to indicate close admixture and affinity at a much earlier date, which is unsurprising given the long and complex connections between Egypt and the Middle East. These connections date back to Prehistory and occurred at a variety of scales, including overland and maritime commerce, diplomacy, immigration, invasion and deportation. Especially from the second millennium BCE onwards, there were intense, historically- and archaeologically documented contacts, including the large-scale immigration of Canaanite populations, known as the Hyksos, into Lower Egypt, whose origins lie in the Middle Bronze Age Levant.”

With the above in mind, one may claim that Contemporary Research seems to confirm -at least to some extend, to a general direction- the Aegean Myths on the interconnection and interbreeding between the Prehistoric peoples of the Eastern Mediterranean. 

Research-Analysis for NovoScriptorium: Isidoros Aggelos, Philaretus Homerides, P.D.K., Maximus E. Niles

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