181st Bardot Blog: Getting Medeia a real Life Biography: Part II – Jason

The Real Aetia of Myths about Medeia

The epic Argonautica by Apollonius of Rhodes foully traduces the inherent historicity embedded in Early Greek Mythology, wherein the origination of Jason’s epic voyage both before and after his marriage to Medeia. That most all myths and epics before the Hellenistic Age of Greece were so easily traduced makes a pointed contrast to the conservatory role for early Greek myth by Latin Literature and Roman Classical Mythology.

That said for openers, the degree to which we must disdain the wretched epic author Apollonius derives from his reckless dismantlement nigh to perdition of most of the Sun Saga, an opus of three constituent long myths of novella lengths.  Refined by the Great Oral Tradition, there’s consensus that they were about (1) Aiëtes & Idyia, (2) Phrixus & Chalkiopë and, at last (3) Jason and Medeia. Fully obliterated are the myths by accretion, (4) Pasiphai & King Minos II, (5) Medeia & her son Medeios by Aegeus and (6) Cirkë and Telegonos son-of-Odysseus. Such was once the Sun Saga, and mostly about marriages respective to each novella epic that worked into mostly graced destinies, or which led to much unhappiness for the children whom they conceived.

Medeia’s real biography by Early Greek Myth was mostly about a woman of divine gifts and under tutelary goddesses and demi-goddesses who helped her dispense horrid justice upon wicked men. Much of graciousness and generous benefice, however, Medeia dispensed upon men in whom she found repose of her trust and selflessness. Her dispensations of harshest redress are remembered, of course, far more than her feats of generosity as a steady, judicious counselor to male sovereigns. Nary any redress or divine redemption was exacted upon a mortal woman – regardless her alleged divine pedigree by Helios — who might well have been a chosen mortal incarnation of the Goddess Hekatë. Those kind of themes connote that aetia – primal cause and just reasoning, both as existential myths about her – for all dastardly episodes of Medeia’s long lifetime.

A marriage made by Aphroditë ended most appropriately through the wisdom and wiles of Goddess Hekatë to counteract the lust for Jason induced by the Goddess Desire. That served redress upon the perfidious husband to the union of Jason & Medeia. It was marriage most fit for Jason to exploit after he’d ventured far beyond his powers and means to take on the bride’s brilliant and dauntless father Aiëtes. His promises were hollow, beginning with his boast that he was Medeia’s surest means to escape and travel away from the new and unwanted homeland of her mother Idyia’s marriage to Aiëtes. Her mother had died of it, left behind her sacral legacies upon her birthplace of the Isthmus of Ephyrëa.

I doubt there are many, if any modern Greek Mythologists, who think about these essential premises of the marriage, or that it to lead into so much doom visited upon Medeia by most all the principle men so oddly introduced into her life by the Fates. She’s a major convenience to an epic story line about Jason, not a lead protagonist. Few Greek Mythologists, moreover, would hope her ever living contentedly ever after Jason, first in Attica and  finally upon the Isthmus of Ephyrea over all the years in consequence of her once happy and successful marriage to Aegeus — despite that wedlock, her second marriage, was doomed by her malicious stepson Theseus. Such was her destiny notwithstanding that her Fates disposed all her favorable powers to the service of Aegeus’ wants and needs. As we shall declaim about through much later Bardot Blogs than this 181st posting, we’ll vigorously argue, short of rigorously substantiating, the hows and the whys of several a few major episodes within Medeia’s lifetime.

The Early Greek Myth about How the Marriage of Jason & Medeia
and Why it Failed

The name which the Chiron of Magnesia meant “healer” or “atoner” when he granted it to the hero Jason presupposed a young teenager who’d been named Diomedes at his birth. He was born in northeast central Greece, later to be supposed Iolkos below Mount Pelion whose long southward descent by rift nearly envelops Pagasai Bay.1 He received the dub of Jason when Chiron,2 his instructor at war medicine and war strategy, thought  his bright student should fit the martial role of master physician, to best maintain thereby the large mobilizations that would affect  any major and prolonged warfare. As a matter of generalship at war, hygiene and repair of wounds was part of the logistical demands required of the outstanding War Wanax, the Chief-of-Chiefs.

He became an adventurer instead. The chief exploits of this hero are related by the Myth Index through a long article titled Argonautae, Thereby we can confine ourselves to his personal history withal this particular posting, which is deliberately kept as indirectly referent as possible to Medeia’s complicities in Jason’s life.

According to the common tradition of recitations, whereby the ancient consensus, he was a son of Aeson and Polymedë, although the name of his mother varies by different writers—-Polymelë, Amphinomë, Alkimedë, Polyphemë, or Rhoeo. After the death of Kretheus, the appointed High King over Aeoleis, the founded seaport of Iolkos became important to the principality of Haemon vouchsafed to the father Aeson. However, Pelias, an uncle, or according to others, a brother of Jason, came to rule over Iolkos by appointment of Great King Aiakos/(Aeacus lat. lit)3.

Insecure and wary of his told out Fates, Pelias heeded an oracle that he should be killed by a prime descendant of Aeolus, and, therefore, he should put to death all foremost rivals by that nation race, the Aeolidae. Jason, whose grandfather was supposed the late high king Kretheus, was himself an eldest son. He needed to be saved and he was, by close relatives, who lamented over his Fates that had him doomed as though he were already dead. On good and inspiriting advice, which overcome such morbid thoughts, they entrusted young Diomedes to Chiron to be educated upon Mount Pelion, where a school of martial arts. That high chief over the native Magnesians, and the founder of that school already become famous upon Mount Pelion, the Master turned that haunt into a virtual refuge for rejected or disaffected royal sons, by rendering from there suppliant protections over defenceless young men such as Jason.

Pelias, still distraught over his Fates, was advised by a second oracle to be on his guard against a man with only one shoe. Not long after his murderous intrigue against foremost rivals amidst the Aeolians, which feat he deemed sufficiently successful, Pelias offered up fitting sacrifice to Poseidon, whereupon he invited among the congregants partaking of the butchery the grown and mature Jason. Subsequently, moreover, Pelias did not recognize his nephew/brother Diomedes. Until, that is, the newly renamed Jason arrived with only one sandal, having lost the other at crossing the Anauros, a river on the banks of which he was living a lowly tenancy under the high equestrian Minyans –  the favored subjects of his grandfather Kretheus.

Another tradition represents Jason as coming into Magnesia directly from Mount Pelion, instead of from the river Anaurus, whereas other rhapsodists mention the Evenus or Enipeus rivers. But adding to the valid designation of the Anauros has been the appearance of Hera, a goddess in love with Jason, before whom she assumed the appearance of an old woman. Standing upon the bank of the river, she requested him to carry her across. Jason in so doing lost one of his sandals, inferring the true design of Hera behind her request, to inevitably have the conjoined cousins/brothers Pelias and Jason clash to the death against each other. Under the training of Chiron, the duel would be impossible for Jason to lose Others rhapsodists relate that Jason was formally disinvited by Pelias, and that foiled the reason why Jason came from Mount Pelion to Iolkos, to find his aged father Aeson still alive, whereupon he could demand outright the throne of the usurping Pelias, that it be surrendered and his sham undertaking as a supposed guardian of Aeson be exposed as a fraudulent means of putting down the superior claim, inherent Jason’s primogeniture over Pelias.

Aeson was alive but in activity for refusing Pelias as the superior choice of king over Haemonia, perhaps as somehow reckoned by grandfather Kretheus before he died. Put somehow upon the defence, Pelias rendered homage to his brother/cousin Jason, but with only conditional consent: Before he would surrender the throne he demanded of Jason proof of a superior succession to his brother Aeson by performing an ordeal. He must remove a curse which rested upon the nuclear family since the Aeolidai. He must fetch a golden fleece, thereby soothing the spirit of Phrixos (the originator of the curse in accordance with the Saga of the Heliodikoi, summarily known best as the Sun Saga]. For that heritage ram of gilded saffron fleece, a token and an heirloom by gift from Hermes, was justly the possession of the royal House of Kretheus, but it had been lost when Phrixos and his sister Hellë had mounted the ram alive whereby to escape the internecine conflicts that their stepmother Ino had fomented and blamed directly upon her stepson……4

[ I shall not say now or here the part of the Sun Saga concerning Phrixos and the  bravely surmounted ordeals that lead him through divine agency to Aiëtes’ far away kingdom in the west. Suffice only to say that he married there Chalkiopë, the king’s second born daughter and the half-sister of Medeia, by the marriage of the Aiëtes after the death of his first and greatly loved wife Idyia.]

……The common story asserts a surreptitious arrival of Jason to Iolkos, but he soon provoked Pelias’ to remember the oracle about the man with one shoe, and knew thereby his imminent great peril from his ill-disguised guest. Feigning ignorance, Pelias duly asked Jason what he should do if he were told by an oracle that he would be killed by one of his subjects, perhaps a closest relative? Jason, on the suggestion of Hera, who hated Pelias, answered, “I would send him out to fetch the golden fleece, whereby his utmost peril from which he can easily survive because he’s innocent of any genuine threat against you.”

Pelias accordingly ordered Jason to fetch the golden fleece, which was in the possession of king Aiëtes, under guard of an ever-watchful dragon amidst a land inhabited by other greatest beasts.

Upon Jason’s desperate recourse to propitiation, wherefrom an endowment from Hera, Argos, a son of Phrixos’s youth, or another man, Arestor, built the gloriously fated ship The Argo. He invited aboard the principal heroes of Greece to form crew in support of his just and numinous expedition. Those companions embarked from Iolkos, Jason holding the helm oar but well counseled by many fine pilots. This company first landed at Lemnos Island, which was governed by Hypsipylë, whose enticements had him at sojourn with her over two winters and a very fair voyaging season in between. By her carnal comforts of his needs of manhood, Jason became the father of Euneus and Nebrophonus (or, as others would call him, Deiphilos, or Thöas). After many adventures beyond the next embarkation, in resumption of his expedition, Jason and his companions arrived to the kingdom of Aiëtes.

He brought that king to declare what was the just compensation for a daring deed to win promise of the Golden Fleece should its guarding dragon be subdued. The king’s daughter Medeia presiding, she attested for her father’s conditional promise.  Upon meditating the manner in which Jason might best fulfill the surrender of the Golden Fleece, the sorceress Medeia divulged her arts of sorcery, and while hatching a conspiracy, Aphroditë intervened to cause the maiden to fall rapturously in love with Jason.  Under the spell, she explained how dangerous was her father’s imposed ordeal,  lest he should be easily killed by brazen-hoofed, fire-breathing bulls – seemingly docile despite their immensity –   whom Jason was meant  to yoke to a plough, Medeia promised to assist him variously until the fleece was yielded to him as soon as purloined from the dragon guarding it.

In return Jason would take an infernal oath that he would honestly make her his wife, then take her down to Greece and have her installed there to her mother Idyia’s abandoned great estate(s) upon the Isthmus. When Jason promised to do so, Medeia gave him an ointment, with which he was to anoint his body, shield and spear. Its concoction was meant to make him for a single day invulnerable to searing fire or wound by molten iron. She further informed him that from the dragon, which he had to slay, he was to sow its teeth in a field ploughed with the above-mentioned yoked bulls. Thereupon armed men of chthonic force would rise up against him, and so she commanded Jason to throw stones among the teeth, explaining that as the bulls would alight upon those stones to possess them selfishly and viciously, bulls and armed warriors would destroy one another—or else it would be easy for Jason to destroy their either remnant few survivors.

So brilliantly counseled, including the cautious steps by steps to undertake, Jason succeeded in doing the ordeal he’d been bidden to perform at Aiëtes behest. The king, of course, refused to give up the golden fleece, for, besides knowing himself tricked thus duped, Aiëtes had formed his own secret plan, that to burn the ship Argo and destroy the Argonauts at their encampment where Medeia had escaped to upon discovery of her brilliant treason. Alerted of her father, of course, in the night she conducted her beloved Jason to the fleece, sent the dragon into deepest slumber by a potion, and having taken possession of the fleece by her blessed act to have saved the dragon, she hauled the prize woolen carcass up the mast and embarked hastily well away with Jason in the ship now saved from her father.

The plot deepened, most nefarious schemes ensuing. Her brother Absyrtos Medeia inveigled into accompanying her at flight. Then, according to some rhapsodists, at saying of the departure, Jason fought with Aiëtes, and killed him. Jason, who was wounded but was soon cured by Medeia, a far better healer by medicine that the Chiron had educated Jason to concoct. And yet, according to the common story, by the consensus of many bards, Aiëtes was only delayed at pursuing the fugitives, and soon enough, or anyway, he was nearly to overtaking The Argo. Medeia promptly killed her brother Absyrtos, and scattering the parts of his body upon the ship’s wakes she fled away and ahead for every part staggered and dropped overboard. For the collecting of those scattered limbs detained the bereaved Aiëtes…….

[Jason and Medeia supposedly escaped with a few last remnants of Apsyrtos. The Argonauts were subsequently purified by Medeia’s aunt-Cirkë from the blood crime of murdering the lad. She’s also supposed to have wisely reversed the itinerary of escape, changing it to a northwest passage around the Greek Peninsula and then down to Pagasai Bay where Iolkos was tucked at its head. But that round-about itinerary was only a make believe escape, a plot motif or emendation of the Saga, to explain why Jason and Medeia made a first formal return to the Great Land, whereby their most unreasonable deliverance possible by the journey back to Pelias.]

What actually happened next was a first layover of the journey down the Ionian Gulf at Scheria, the fantastic island of the Phaeacians. But then a turn of fortunes so utterly amazing! Some of Aiëtes able seafarers and warriors at pursuit found a way to overtake the Argo! By threat of invasion full force to wreak utter mayhem, the pursuers demanded the surrender of Medeia. Alcinous of Scheria Island promised to give her up, but only righteously, such as Medeia could not be until she was formally married to Jason. He then hosted Aiëtes’ lieges to abide time to discover the true situation. Duly Aretë, the wife of Alcinous, contrived to hurry the marriage, in order to avoid the necessity of her husband surrendering Medeia.6 Releasing their young guests as their worthy suppliants, Jason and Medeia achieved the west shore of the Isthmus of Ephyrëa under strong and fair following winds, first the Boreades, and down the Great Gulf with Zephyra and his zesty Harpy Winds blowing strongly abaft…..

[What happened next, by way of explaining how the married couple resolved a conflict between themselves, is lost recitation from the Great Oral Tradition – upon which is based these original Early Greek Myths that composed the Sun Saga of three parts, each of novella length. For the conflict entailed Medeia’s desire to assume governance over her matrimonial lands by her mother Idyia, whereas Jason was all in a dither to cross the Isthmus, organize a next expedition upon its other side with whomever of the Argonauts still wished to continue on as crew. The supposition was Jason’s prevalence over Medeia on account of her love for him by divine enchantment, and natural willingness to be selfless about her own best interests through waiver of her considerable enrichment of inherited large demesne upon the Isthmus. Such selflessness was likely persuasive of the Argonauts to brave themselves onward, knowing too well how essential the assistance of Medeia to effect bold triumphs over all adversities. But let it be emphasized, there’s no means to proofs of what’s been lost from Early Greek Mythology. Instead, please pay heed, we resume the most reasonable plotting by affording strongest contrast to the final and fraudulent Classical and Hellenistic Greek Mythography.]7

….At a juncture that required next most circuitous means to onward progress, Jason and Medeia arrived at Iolkos. Here the poet Ovid proves the most astute of mythologists by what he contrives from his own lost sources to have been the most reasonable further plotting of the Sun Saga’s final novella. The Poet states that Jason found his aged father Aeson miraculously alive. Medeia rendered him restoratives to affect the father’s further vigor, whether real or only convincing by appearances. Accordingly, the mission changed into a just restoration of Aeson, regardless of the accomplished ordeal of the golden fleece. This quirk of plot would allow Medeia and Jason to return to the Isthmus and resume the resettlement and refurbishment of her mother’s estates. She also would have secured her superior place over the commerce of Aiëtes brought ashore the Isthmus through agency of her nephews, the sons of Phrixos.

According to the common tradition, by circumvention of Ovid’s likely correct mythography, the voyage of the Argo become too excessive of duration. Pelias reasonably believed that the Argonauts would never return with Jason. Besides, he had in the meantime resolved to kill his brother Aeson or, according to another version’s recital, entrap and incarcerate Jason. Amazingly, Aeson begged to be permitted to put an end to his own life to spare Jason, but he was refused. Forthwith he drank the blood of a bull which he’d sacrificed, and thus (for some befuddling reason) he died after so long lingering his pathetic life. Jason’s mother publically cursed Pelias for this crime, and hied herself smartly away from Haemonia. Pelias ruthless killed her surviving young son Promachus. Just after these heinous blood crimes, and only then as the common tradition has it, Jason arrived and presented the Golden Fleece to Pelias.

Appalled by Aeson’s death, owing to his own unnecessary procrastination  and tardiness at dedicating the ship Argo to Poseidon while upon the Isthmus, Jason had also dismissed the Argonauts. He became thereby powerless of any means to a just redress of his father’s suicide perforce. His propitiation was mismanaged, moreover, by failure of rites of thanksgiving to include what was owed to the boons of Hera and Medeia’s tutelary goddess Hekatë. That dedication had him desperate for manpower after the fantastic Argonauts went home. Jason then took on a new crew that was composed, of course, of Medeia’s best hirelings off the Isthmus, so that his expedition could proceed valiantly. All else of challenges far above his head, yet again, he too typically called upon Medeia to overcome any next tribulations and, forthwith, sought somehow to wreak sure vengeance upon Pelias. He made some kind of retreat into hiding to allow her brilliant methods by which to implement the uncle’s ruin.

The Ruse? Medeia managed covert means and disguise by which she earned employ in the royal household of Pelias. Serving well, both obsequiously and covertly, she inveigled the daughters of Pelias to perform what she had done for Aeson to rejuvenate him……

[Here, though, please notice the contradiction that’s so promptly realized here, that she could not have both restored Aeson for no time granted her to do so]

…… By her bidding, the maiden princesses must cut their father into hunks and simmer them in a pot, pretending thereby that they would reassemble by magic and restore Pelias to youth and vigor as so recomposed. She demonstrated her own efficacy by changing a ram sheep back into a wee lamb, by boiling the dissected parts of his aged body in a cauldron.  Commanded by Pelias to replicate the same means to rejuvenation, he took a potent narcotic to overcome his brief submission to his daughters while bathing in private within the large crater pot. He did not emerge from that privacy alive, of course.

Medeia’s Demonstration
of
the Rejuvenated Ram

Jason was so appalled by the atrocity committed that he gave a way his wife’s machinations to affect the blood crime. He did not need Akastos the son of Pelias to drag Medeia away from Iolkos. According to other acceptable traditions, Jason, having taken for granted Medeia’s vengeance upon Pelias, spared the other members of the family, and even raised Akastos, [his first cousin],  to the throne of his father and uncle. For the earliest legends failed for any mention ever of Jason’s expulsion from Iolkos. The greatly respected Hesiod even related that Jason, once restored as king over Iolkos, became by Medeia the real father of Medeios, who also was educated by Chiron upon close neighboring Mount Pelion.

According to the finale of the common tradition, though, Jason cravenly fled from the sure consequence of Medeia’s designed means to affect Pelias’ virtual self-suicide. He abetted her escape, therefore, by returning to the Isthmus of Ephyrëa. There they lived in marriage to a sacramental term of a Great Year, 100 solar months, or eight and two-third years.

Five or six years then passed.

As the term of wedlock neared expiration, Kreon, a high priest of supreme offices by Thebes, betrothed his daughter Glaukë to Jason, whom he inveigled into an annexation, a very considerable part of the Isthmus to be conjoined to her border estates of Thebes. Medeia, who had made Jason the Keeper of the Isthmus on account of her own great contributions to Ephyrëa, was irate over the conspiracy, but she kept her silence in order to sleuth out the Kreon’s comprehensive strategies.8

Incented nonetheless to desert Medeia, Jason lay low and stayed reticent of the plot. His good wife was not about to be humbled and abused by yet another man who would reduce or debase her. Invoking Hekatë and the deities by whom Jason had sworn to be faithful to her, she sent to Glaukë her children bearing her gift of a poisoned garment and diadem. When the latter put on the garment composed of lethal filaments, she, together with her father Kreon, was consumed by the poisonous incendiary substance that issued from the gifted vestment upon its any content with the skin of the wearer. The daidem flashed ablaze around the skull of the would-be bride! Medeia had her children by Jason killed – after agonizing over their lives for being accursed by her very own blood crime. She then fled in a chariot drawn by four winged dragons. Supposedly the gift of her grandfather Helios she was accompanied by a large entourage of champions-at-arms to Athens. Her younger children, whom she’d spared, she placed as suppliants upon the altar of Hera Akraia, but the most overwrought of the Isthmians wrenched them off that refuge and put them to death…..

[According to the Hellenistic Age historian Diodorus, the violence was all in part to a mutual casting aside of the marriage by husband and wife. Medeia set the marriage palace at Thebes on fire, wherein Kreon and Glaukë were burnt alive. Jason somehow escaped. Medeia reconciled with him, even to delivering three more sons by him –  Thessalos, Alkimenes, and Thersandros –  the last two of whom died later because  killed, whereas Thessalos became the eventual ruler over Iolkos and Haemonia. The historian also states off contradictory sources, that Medeia first escaped to Thebes, where she cured the son of Amphitryon and Alkmenë, their boy named Alkeios/Alkëos. [If so, she spared the mortal life of the far future Herakles, who was the honorific name granted to Alkeios before his apotheosis into immortality]. Only after that act of salvation did Medeia flee to Athens, to become a suppliant to King Aegeus, by their agreement already composed when first she’d first sleuthed out the foul intentions and precise machinations of her treacherous husband.

Making Sense of a Mess

 There are numerous errata throughout the Hellenistic Greek Mythology from which Apollonius of Rhodes extracted his Argonautika. You have noticed them by the numbers placed in subscript throughout the summary version of Jason’s biography, itself  inherent the story of Medeia and himself.

Here I explain further by those numbers:

1…….. The mythically designated, original birthplace of Jason – in Iolkos of the petty kingdom of Haemonia – is unlikely to have had him born royal there. Both toponyms presuppose the non-existence as yet of the Kingdom of Magnesia, which was an important subrealm realm of Kretheus’ High Kingdom of Minya. The port and the petty kingdom were, by contrast, insignificant entities, unformed beneath the sway of the greater kingdom that Magnesia became subsequent to the 1370s BC. It had been until then an important matriarchate under Minyan martial occupation until emancipated, we think, by Aiakos at reconquest. By then, it agreeable, that its matrilineal dynasty had been debased by Minyan invaders during the 15th century BC. In fact Kretheus became a high king rewarded with the restoration of that matriarchate’s confiscated lands, in a regent caretaker capacity that endeared Kretheus and his taken wife Tyro to his liege sovereign, the Great King Aiakos, the son-of-Aegina, a displaced matriarch herself.

2…….. Chiron/Cheiron was a name title for the high chief over the indigenous Magnetes, “pony people” of Pelasgian descent from which the Kingdom of Magnesia took its name. The success of one particular high chief was to found a school of martial arts and sports medicine, leading, it seems, to a precedence of alternating “head masters,” all named Chiron, who were either champions-at-field and –at-Horse or most masterful physicians-at-field. Such was the reputation of the school that it lured royalty of highest equestrian culture and caste.

3…….. We believe that Pelias was a step-brother of Aeson, born of a forced marriage imposed upon Tyro, of an anonymous sire who had debased her. So Pelias is an uncle of Jason, the son of an incompetent father, Aeson, so that Jason’s primogeniture as the only licit grandson by Tyro was of no account whatsoever to render him superior claim upon a petty kingdom, perhaps only a chieftainate, located somewhere within Aeoleis (but more likely westward from Pagasai Bay). There’s inference that we should heed that Pelias was ambitious, thus a serious rival to his Aeolian contemporaries amidst the petty royal enclaves whom the MYTH INDEX dubs Aeolidës. It seems credible to us that Pelias the uncle greatly exceed Jason in promise, if not in licit pedigree, so he had to earn by merit grant and title of high chief over Haemonia. That grant compelled Jason into fortune seeking abroad of his birthplace, and into missions abroad by which he could court or vie for a foreign bride of substantial legacies. His circumstance was usual for the sons of early Greece’s most important women by primordial legacies.

4……… We must wonder why a curse upon the Aeolides because Phrixos lost his beloved sister Hellë. Both of them escaped a homicidal stepmother by mounting together Hermes’ gift of flying ram. It had dumped her into a fatal pledge while flying over the strait which would be named the Hellespont for her. Given that a curse was to be reckoned with nonetheless, Jason manifests his true character by dawdling with his preeminent Argonauts along the way to Cholkis where the golden fleece. Upon which disclosure we can have no further credibility from Apollonius. The real reason for the dawdling was recruitment of crew for a voyage to the realm of Aiëtes at the head of the Adriatic Sea. But the epic couldn’t be about a realm of Italy when the epic poem was written with the geography of that peninsula well known. A fantasy setting, including fierce monsters and surprising wonders, had to be made up as new mythography utterly unalike a voyage along the east shore of the Adriatic. The recruited Argonauts also amply demonstrate that all knowledge of when they lived had become smashed broken eggs scrambled before cooked in the pan. For the most part they were second sons of dynasts newly ascendant, such as describes Kastor and Pollux by Tyndareos, Laertes by Arceisius, Alkeios/Herakles by Amphitryon, et al

5…….. We won’t disdain the very good stories about Medeia’s assistance of Jason once she’d been made to fall in love with him by Aphroditë. The lack of credibility resumes, however, once the Argo becomes too overladen for swift flight and must delay the more rapid pursuit fleet that Aiëtes has dispatched. This episode was meant to enthrall Apollonius’ audiences with the unimaginable vastness of the Euxine or Black Sea. Instead, most bardic renditions of the epic induced ridicule from audiences because every time that Medeia had to delay pursuit she had to drop overboard a hunk of her brother Absyrtos; and for every part of him sent afloat, Aiëtes must pause to pick it up less he lose it for a proper laying to rest by funeral rituals still utterly unknown. It was all too impossible to imagine; The Argo had no difficulty at out-distancing the pursuit fleet given the Heroes composing her crew.5

6……. We must dismiss the entire diversion of the escape itinerary by the Phaeacians of Scheria Island (modern Corfu). That race of seafarers was named for Phaiax, a man born early in the 14th century BC, and who lived almost a generation later than Jason. Medeia’s years of age would have exceeded Phaiax’ by at least fifteen years, if only that amount because she’s such a young heroine of Early Greek Myth. She would have passed Scheria Island 60 years earlier that his instatement as High Chief over the Scherians in 1349 BC.

7…….. We have already objected to the Saga’s lack of reasonable plotting of how the divided self-interests of new husband Jason and wife Medeia were resolved. Her entire purpose was to restore herself to her beloved mother’s homeland of the Lower Isthmus, before Ephyrëa had become named Corinth after a pinnacle named the Acro-Korinth. The end of the voyage would have greater likelihood of an arrival to the Isthmus where Medeia was allowed a brief beginning of a full restitution—of herself as sole heiress to Idyia’s landed matrimony. Enabled of competent assistants, she could then have met Jason’s terms of marriage by making an informed expedition to deliver the Golden Fleece. Well prepared to dethrone Pelias, such plotting, we think, was the likely original last part novella of the Sun Saga. The time spent in restoring Medeia to full matriarchal estate would, we emphasize, be time also well spent at sleuthing out Pelias, whether or not the voyage of the Argo could be protracted as Apollonnios would have so.

8……… After Jason and Medeia had become joint accomplices to her heinous blood crimes to destroy Pelias, we have a final absurdity by Apollonius for citing Kreon as a sovereign over Corinth – meaning the entire Isthmus – and not just a foremost dignitary at offices by Thebes. This blunder of his identity with an entirely improper realm is inexcusable, implying that Thebes has somehow been annexed by Corinth.

Our Emphasis Hereon upon Medeia 

The Sun Saga’s last part of novella length, when originated and recited as Early Greek Mythology  had not so much to do with Jason as it did with Medeia. Classical Greek Mythology revised the emphasis in Jason’s favor, although the preeminent role in the Saga concerns Medeia once she’s completed her coming-of-age and proves a precocious murderess.

In closing this posting, therefore, we leave readers with our promise to bring Medeia to her proper illustrious characterization, which began with her supplication and subsequent marriage to Aegeus. Even at that, though, we presume that there was some additional Early Greek Mythography that sufficed to explain how Medeia was rendered legitimate as a consort to her new sovereign liege.

We’ll resume our story of her  with those justifications, albeit with sufficient premise and lead ins to her ultimate exoneration as a mother capable of having her children my Jason killed – all of them!


for the Bardot Group

175th Bardot Blog, No. 7 in Series: Scheria Island, Final Reckonings about Odysseus & Kassiophë, Part I

As said in outset, we know hardly enough about Odysseus’ fifteenth to nineteenth years of age. They attest to his very thorough immersion in the affairs of Scheria Island. Its close mainland shore also presented him a vast forestry that was the main endeavor and hard toil of mid-summers spent along coastal Epeiros. Since his grandfather Arceisius’ strong manhood years of youth, which he spent at prospecting stands of immense  trees, ideal fells had recurred so far north of the Echinades Isles. Odysseus and his predecessors by the House of Cephalos had made a grand joint venture of the harvested fells by an essential contract with the House of Phaiax. As it went, the Scherians were exempt from conscription into the Ithacan League and it’s allied navies so long as they fed the great logs into the shipworks of the largest Echinades Isles.

Accordingly, every one of those four, nearly five full summers had Odysseus most concerned and preoccupied with that precise season’s naval operations, whereby his close attendance upon the logging, hauling and towing of heritage timbers extracted from a woodland fells of giant trees. Their exact species are part of the knowledge that we lack, but stands of Serbian Spruce seem likely, an obvious guess, whereas European Redwood in not ascertainable but also likely because we know the wood extracted and subsequently rendered as dugout longboat hulls enjoyed very long service lives. For Redwood is alike the many Cedars for the characteristic resistance to wet rot and worm rot.  There were also virgin heritage stands to exploit for the extraction of extremely tall Hickory, Chestnut and Oak. Still, the greatest heritage stands of immense timbers have greatly differed from each other as native to their continents. The past of the stands above the shoreline of Ëpeiros is so long ago that we cannot affirm European Redwood as a tree native to its continent.

We have said enough about Odysseus’ rotations at conducting the forestry extraction itself, in particular that it phased through mid-summer a fortnight at a time, on account of the very intensive task required of all strongmen compliments within his crews and onboard billets of foresters. He brought such greatly fatigued men ashore for fortnights of an idyllic hospitality, the most salacious details about which we have elucidated as several years reconfirmed, even if they must remain speculative as well. Now that we’re at the last two of those midsummers by these serial postings, within the identical years of 1269 and 1268, Odysseus has accomplished such

“hard rest” and exuberant recreation under the hospitality extended to him most personally by the Meda (Governess) and Potnia (Queen) and Supreme Matriarch Kassiophë. She probably was deemed of all three of those titular standings at once, as they related respectively to Scherias’ agronomy of very special natural resources; to her supreme sovereignty over a timocratic polity of indigenous islanders brought to hard working meld with immigrant seafarers long ago become indigenous natives of Scheria. Of course, moreover, her supreme authority over a utilitarian hierarchy of matriarchs operating wholly alike her was part and parcel of her sole leadership over the House of Phaiax.

Odysseus and the most remote Meda of the Ithacan League had become an ardent love match through consortships renewed every summer and acquitted upon every new child conceived from each of them. Their ardor began at the last League Council, held in 1272,  upon venerable Samë of Cephalonia Island, where the east coast plantation commonwealth and vast landed matrimony of his paternal great grandmother Lysippë.  Although they had proved wise to ask for no more than his sired children off her lap, they deigned not to exceed that openly expressed paternity. That  children were rendered so obviously, all conceived within durations fortnight long of torrid carnal relations during summers together, attested genuine wedlock. Their first daughter had proved their foremost and favorite child, whom they’d conceived  over the long festival night of the League Council’s convocation. So clearly to be raised as Kassiophë’s heiress presumptive, a Körä[KOW-RAH] or High Princess, so for why the little girl was named Aretëgenaia, “Excellently Borne,” before the one and only summer intervening the next of reunion together—because Odysseus had to spend a year away from Scheria for the healing and long convalescence over a boar’s goring of his groin.

The other four children – borne after Aretëgenaia, all sprouting into infancy as annually apart –stood proof of each renewed consortship by his potency and her fecundity. They are much the less known children, however, by Fates untold. Their ignominy is in part due to the vivacity and precociousness of “Aretë,” she apt to upstage her littler brothers and sisters. But her notoriety was in part due to her brazen roseate hue of summer sunlit hair. Beheld by all the crews and commands off the Home Fleet awhile their unrestful sojourns and most energetic recreation with the Meda’s large entourage of female peers hosting them to their ardor, the oldest child made too very clear whom she was by and how she was of her father’s complexion and bleached styling of hair. She became known  eventually for exceeding her mother’s beauty by the inherited and most delighting traits of her ancestresses, from whom Kassiophë had culminated a tradition of most attractive women.

Odysseus must also be adduced to another maritime ancestry that was also multigenerational and long venerated on account of his great grandmother’s own seafaring forbears—men who had to bravely bear up to the imperial oppression of Crete’s House of Minos, despite their many revolts over the exactions upon their productivity. Of course, he was the third direct successor off the late patriarch Cephalos, to whom Kassiophë’s forbear, Phaiax, was comparable. They had been closest friends since teenagers, and  over their very long lives at reigning apart from each other, they had a lifetime compact with each other which worked intuitively as well for each others highest naval peerage by their longest native subjects of proud maritime heritages. Likely all Odysseus’ maternal ancestors, boon friendships grew in common over the waves, alike to how both royal emigrés out of the Saronic Gulf, its rim power Attica and the House of Erechtheus affected their keen fllowings of loyalseafarers. Amidst the Scherians, therefore, Odysseus was uncommonly welcome because he was held a native by his deeper maternal roots. He was so obviously foremost at serving the native orders whom he hardly got to know because he was their supreme sovereign’s Consort Home Lord Protector. For Phaiax had earned that role from the Island’s female establishment, while also by his proofs as a protector from scourge become the paramount male liege sovereign to have championed Scheria as a matriachate—just as Cephalos’ immediate forbears had solaced the  native matriarchs of traditional domination over the most important of the future Ionian Isles.

All except the Garden Isle, the later called Zakynthos, the most possessed and martially occupied of all the Echinades Isles. But that’s for another discussion, one that’s not befitting here.

Long since Phaiax, Scheria Island had reverted to matriarchal sovereignty, even though a royal dynasty stood behind all Home Lord Protectors [ the Medoi or Medons] under or by the House of Phaiax. A patron dynasty as first founded, by novelty alone it had briefly superceded Kassiophë’s supreme matron clan traditions of matrilineal successions. The consequence, though, was a shoirt breach of the matrilineage passing down through so many generations of illustrious women that a reversion of supremacy back into hierarchic royal matriarchy seemed as though by affirming consent of the Great Mother herself. These particulars have already been examined in passing, stressed as important, but they are worth here some repetition again, especially in the context of the kind of polity that Cephalos and Pahaix had managed to replicate from their home origins upon the Saronic Gulf of eastern Greece. The reversion to matrilineage would prove an important precedent and one that demonstrated a satisfactory establishment of the Attican Prince and Commodore Phaiax over his many fellow emigrés. For that following had married also into the ranked social order of the indigenous Islanders. They were principled nearly alike to Odysseus’ Cephallenes out of Attica. Their own particular polity remained happily under a league of supreme sovereign matriarchs over both insular and nearest mainland dominions which loomed large over the Ionian Sea. The difference between the dynastic patron Houses of emigré seafarers, therefore, lay in the sole sovereignty at two highest vested males, such that Cephalos, Phaiax and their direct male descendants had established respective ruling dynastys that had earned fealty, howsoever briefly or enduringly, from their families of their wives belonging to the League Council and hierarchic Matriarchy over the Scherians.

Yes, all of that has to seem complicated, but that’s only because of the deeper complexities inherent two different types of Timocracy [Timokratia] such as Cephalos and Phaiax had brought to their distinct actualizations. Coincidentally unified by the first night of their torrid passion for each other, Odysseus and Kassiophë since 1272 BC – even as never married sacramentally  – had become as though a proclamation of inherited patron rule (genuine patriarchy) by a joining of their maritime social orders of male rankings with the indigenous, hierarchic, prosperously agronomic matriarchs. The latter, who ruled to sole and always good effect upon their common orders, had and still served their subjects selflessly, whether villagers and proud rural tenants under typical matron plantation commonwealths proved so apt the Late Aegean & Adriatic Bronze Ages.

[Note: We are to learn that an age invented by 19th century AD archaeologists has little to nothing to do with the Mycenaean Age supposed by creation of Argives and the imperial House of Perseus & Andromeda. Whatever influence imperial Argolis had once had in the far west of Greece, it had lapsed with the decline of the Persêids since 1394 BC. Whoever were of the Mycenaean culture as transformed by Pelops, Eurystheus and Atreus, moreoever, bore descendants who had  to live through many humiliations during the 14th century BC, until the Argives could slowly revive under the Great Peace of their Great Wanax Regent Thyestes.] just before the Trojan War Era popped up over far eastern horizons.]

Impending Change in the Far West of Greece

Patron dynastic rule over Scheria, however, was going to change after the last summer year, 1269 BC. Twenty-five years would ensue until the daughter Aretëgenaia’s lifetime as ascended to replace her mother. The last twenty year of that duration would demarcate Odysseus’ epochal absence from Cephallenia. He’d become her War Wanax throughout the Trojan War Era—even though there was not a glimmer of warfare arising far eastern horizon of Anatolia in 1269. So suddenly imposed as that ten year war was — upon most all of Hellas and earliest Greece – major transformations became inevitable. But they were not going to happen to Scheria.

On such a bold prognostication, it should entertain my most intellectual readers of these Bardot Blogs that this particular posting seeks to explain the very special forms of matriarchy that (1) Cephalos proved to have championed for the Rim Powers of the Saronic Gulf; and (2) the co-regencies of (a) Arceisius & Laërtes and Laërtes & Penelopë engendered—that last, (3), while Odysseus was long away as War Wanax in behalf of all Cephallenes from 1262 to 1240 BC.

Strong Roots: We Revisit Timocracy

I deem Aristotle the true father of Political Philosphy, despite the insistence of our modern political scientists that he was long preceded by several masters of the Anatol. credit the thoroughness of Aristotle’s homework about the ancient polities, and about the political belief systems affecting the practices of government by the ancients. All he has to say must thoroughly impress. A very good example, moreover, is his way of expounding a lost system of governance from before his day and age, Timokratia, or Timocracy. “Lost” in this context means that robust and rigorous definitions of its socio-politcal form of practical tenets did not pass from best proponents and examples in the deep past to known polities during Aristotle’s  3rd century BC lifetime within the early Hellenistic Age (350 to 150 BC).

Aristotle does not adequately define, but he masterfully typifies Timocracy as a form of democratic government on account of its division of population by layered or hierarchic polities of a society. Peculiarly, he recognized layers as co-equal to each other in accordance with general social and distinctions of their individual contributions per se, as recognized by the other layers. Hierarchy, for instance, was the clear  layering of a society constructed from the very lowly, mostly excluded subjects from governance who achieved nonetheless upward working impacts and reactions from highest ranking subjects of foremost inclusion in all activities of operating governance.

Timocracy, accordingly, even as a “lost art of participatory governance” was idealized as superior to Athenian Democracy. It cast disdain and obloquy upon Elite Rule by both the  Worthy (Esthloi) and Wealthy, both of whom extended only limited franchise and participation to common class and caste echelons of meritorious society. Elite Rule at its best congregation of leaders demonstrated honest and masterful administration of the public good. It could operate democratically in the sense of informed, even openly conducted debates that conjoined authoritative commoners of expertises to the special challenges and missions, either of excellent governance or at promulgation of prosperity that a highest elite worthy could undertake through his high class or personal enmdowments of sovereignty. Too often, moreover, the Elites were grasping, or they succumbed to aristocratic juntas, gangs of mobsters and cadres of the the rich, whereby the defining elements of Oligarchy. Or the Elites voted in a tyranny, despotic central government by the arbitrary will and force of a tyrannical imposter at Constitutional Monarchy could arise, happen and perpetuate himself. So for how could arise  a repudiation of benign autocracy, normally reserved for paramount war leaders or long successful  peacetime dynasties of sovereigns or persons who demonstrated “inherited divine rights” towards foremost eligibility to earn suprem sovereignty through an exalted marriage.

Conversely to such a dissolution of Constitutional Monarchy or its oldest look-a-like, Traditional Matriarchy, Aristotle correctly observed how Athenian Democracy had failed utterly under imposters upon its general public, even if men held paramount as the best type of leader, because the common masses beneath the general polity succumbed to mob rulers, self-serving demagogues or persons superior at wealth creation and aspiring its dispensation to the masses. Selfish rather than selfless, perhaps on account of their ill-gained personal endowments, the demagogues couldn’t sustain the prosperity of the generally franchised. Philip II of Macedonia most ostensibly could and did, even before his son Alexander’s vastly enriching conquests. Tension between latent proponents of oligarchy and intemperate enthusiasts who would repudiate such few elite persons became paramount during the 27 year long Peloponnesian War. Mob rule or oligarchy, either as dominating the many city-states of Greece, were not ready to rally and militarize themselves in time for Macedonia’s incursions upon them under Philip II. The father of the conqueror Alexander the Great. The Athenians had lost the character and selflessness of their prior great leaders, and so they had none to negotiate practically peace or rapprochement with a sovereign who was well-disposed to the Greek city-states as a philhellene capable of preserving the self-determination of his subjected states.

Obviously I cannot be exhaustive at all definitions for all best forms of supreme governance as were known in earliest Antiquity. Timocracy derived from a fluidity of such forms, even if formless itself of any of them except for harmonious, coordinated and confluent objectives by all the forms as occasionally fully allied. What a mouthful! To reduce it to gist, I prefer to discuss rather than define the exemplars of Timocracy for a sturdy pragmatism, mostly attained and reinforced by selfless characters, either highly placed or lowly, enabled of contribution harmoniously and prosperously fostering of whole peoples. Subjects by all strata of their society, conjoined by merits and means from subjects of other but closely allied societies, they aspired for self-determination, or autonomous as harmonious within themselves, regardless the sovereignty to whom they were subjected. And yet the sovereigns were the recipients of all that autonomous zeal that they would so reluctantly allow their self-determined subjects. Therefore they were not content to invest their “natural inferiors” with the enabling skills and employs to further themselves in their own ways and by their own means.

Timocracy, by contrast, coordinated their lightly ruled society as the sharing out of  missions and through their zeal for fellowship with sovereigns nearly alike them. Of course, they were closest elite friends and close knit together allies that felt compelled to take the best from each other  by countless shared unique contributions, howsoever small or seemingly petty, enabled by only one or a very few among their fellowships by class or by caste.

My first example has been the kind of small boy who won easily the affections of his chosen communities, each as separate from each other at first. As he became a boy and a lad, though, he developed his priviledged birth and social standing through small and large contributions to each community, usually by learning a unique talent especial and yet appropriate to each. That earned  him when early years a teenager a juggernaut of roles and promotions to highest standings, all by contributions and briefly held “offices” from every community which he selflessly served just because he liked their denizens and they most especially like him. (such were the rim powers around the Saronic Gulf, about which the book whose cover is illustrated nearby.

At last he became the consummate intermediary to their myriad interactions of enterprise with each other, even to building a communion of meritorious populace among the several societies that were ruled by his enabling sponsors. Supportive of his contributions that always rewarded them, and because he was born to parents that belonged to his mostly royal or ennobled sponsors, his various superiors made him the most determinative of their own most worthy, often lowly subjects by the castes, classes and rankings beneath their exalted sways and suasions. And that, at last, made him a paragon—even though ruling nobody other than cadres and admixtures of special fellowships. He diffused his own engendered prosperity as a shorer commandant over merchant ship convoys and coordinators of far reaching overaln caravans into all his constituent supporters, many of them men and women older than himelf, and as many from whom he’d earned allegiance since a very little guy who had introduced them to his magnificent father.

[The father Deion, while an obscure mythic personage, seems to have been a very special person within early Greek prehistory. While fathers had difficulty immersing themselves in the lives of their youngest children, Deion seems to have arranged and encouraged all sorts of adults in and about Eleusis to look after Cephalos while he himself was called away too frequently to the tumultuous border warfare strung out along the Eleutherais Woodlands above the inland MesoGaia of Alkathôos, Eleusis and both mainland parts of Attica. Accordingly the boy learned the lore that would prove so useful a platform from which to advantage the Saronic Gulf Rim Powers when Deion managed to settle a stable peace along the north mainland’s corridors of portable trades, two of which ran  east to west and vice versa without interferences of south bound interlopers .]

 

Cephalos the Ward of Eleusis

Born to the famous sanctuary that was a true citadel of early Greek religion, the lad named for his mother’s matronymic, “the Hersëid Ward of Eleusis,” was an active learner within the greatest destination of worship by pilgrims from everywhere of early Greece. The earliest society into which he introduced himself as a delighful little boy were either holy and selflessly devotional, the high sisters and elders, or young women maidens or matrons, who were pledged postulants of varying ranks or orders from within sororal colleges. Among the orders’ youngest residents were many very special boys and girls. all much older than Cephalos. These children were specially gifted of mind and memory and likely possessed psychic gifts. Often they were children of especially easy learning assimilation, and often their aptitude for learning, especially anything highly meticulous, became clear at their youngest ages, or at ages well below when formal reasoning makes onset or is usually attained after the twelve years old.

Cephalos’ mother Hersë was a gifted “mnemonic adept,” which is to say of a psychic gift, of both memory and precise recitation of dense archival knowledges. They could reiterate at one standing what we would call book length rcitals of 150,000 words. She was, in fact, a repository of law and doctrine and ritual enunciations that would astonish us. Such adepts didn’t have photographic memories; they had instead instant, easy and permanent retention of most anything that they heard for a first and likely only time as a well trained listener. Absent such gifts, Cephalos acquired from those boys and girls the self-confidence to assume that anything once heard was permanently learned and easy of reiteration.

My point by what seems a digression is the always great need within illiterate societies of a person who could grow into a consummate intermediary at many skills, roles and capacities at communication. They were the proven essentials that underpinned Timo-cracy as an especially harmonious polity of social governance, For Timocracy is an essential layering or ranking of distinct social levels, especially those below the social standing of the catalytic intermediary, who enacts his or her special standing to earn the backing and generous consents from the several superior levels, of the rich or highly ennobled. Cephalos’ grandmother Metiadusa and Mother Hersë had both been precocious maidens of most persuasive gifts as soon as their attained maidenhoods by nobility. They were intermediary to upper level Medai, the goverenesses of manor and small hamlet plantation demsnes. Besides their exalted sacral majesties, whereby they earned the devotions of all commoners of either a lowly class or highly skiledl caste, such women were outstanding at the business of sovereignty, especially at management of agriculture for surplus unto exports. They exercised their dependants at an intricate agronomy that served all bases of a rural based prosperity. Matriarchal rural estate engendered the surpluses unto maritime commerce, by the exports off landfalls which appointed male hegemons originated through foreign exchange, or by internal domestic barter between exporters seeking returns of invaluable imports – they returned to the providing matron governesses of “First Estate.” Matriarchy within itself was a hierarchal governance, by rankings of plantation high matrons and high sisters, all a active supervision over rural plantation demesnes. Agronomy under such women took form as the typical symbiosis between female superiors and the leading male tenants who were utterly devoted to them. Governesses and most meritorious tenants were essential to commonwealth establishment, what we call enterprise “going concerns’ that served basic prosperity and oftentimes enriching burgeon from export maritime commerce.

Cephalos was well trained into such management skills. He learned them from observation of practices and at ongoing seasonal drills. Through imitation of tenant leaders called hegemons, he eventually proved early a superior lad at land stewardship, the highest of male rankings within any commonwealth plantation agronomy. Some men by that station attained became the devoted husbands of governing matriarchs over vast rural estate, earning thereby the title off lordly demesne teretaon or overlord, or even a title of dominion, (Consort) Home Lord Protector, Medon. [Incidentally, all males of rural establishments must take summons to drills-at-arms and other means to the ends of a hierarchic commonwealth defense by both men-at-arms, masters-at-arms or champions-at-arms.

Cephalos’ father, Deion of Dauleis, began his youth as a distinguished master-at-arms. He rose by rapid ascendancy and much hard fought warfare to a martial-at-field and warlord adjutant to the High Kings of Kadmeis. Either were mostly tacitly spoken titles until that kind of champion or martial was “summoned to field,” whereupon he was instantly honored with the appointed capacities of a genuine warlord. In his late twenties at such a mature martial  attainment, he earned specialty warlord status after many very testing war campaigns in service to the High King Labdakos (over Kadmeis, a precursor to Thebes above the buffer woodland between that region and the rim powers along the Saronic Gulf), Deion became reputed for leading fast deployment of skirmishers while himself a front lines’ champion-at-arms wearing heavy weaponry and armor especially reserved for elite men at martial command. Indeed, he became particularly famous for beating back, or repelling or even humiliating foremost martials-at-Horse and at chariotry—admittedly at feats-of-arms that required  mostly level terrain that Deion had no experience of, except to know how to kill horses upon hilly ground, or kill their chariot drivers by ambushes, or take on by rapidity afoot while spearing or toppling champions-at-Horse aboard their chariots.

By such prowesses and his exceptionally athletic warrior attainments Deion won Hersë as soon as she achieved maiden entitlement as the Diomeda over Eleusis, By that succession to her hallowed mother, Hiera-Metiadusa, the supreme elder over Eleusis and heiress to the fertile Thriasian Plain, he earned full approval after Hersë’s trials-at-bridal. He married her as the lead couple over a mass marriage ceremony that was annually conducted at Eleusis just after the autumn equinox of 1390 BC. Unlike so many champions-at-arms he soon proved himelf potent, eager, accessible and ample of stamina for the satisfaction of his too long chaste, hungrily eager bride. By the marriage, moreover, the bride and her subordinate husband/consort filled two very vital roles appurtinent to Timocracy, respectively, the supreme matriarch and executive of rural demesne, and the war leader and home lord protector who rallied her lolwt male populace. Beneath her were the sisters postulant of holy orders at active supervision of rural farms and livestock ranches. For holy orders also composed the traditional plantation commonwealth demesnes.

Because of the constant trespass by border invaders into the north mainland of Greece – from 1425 to 1390 BC with another five years next to pass of southerly encroachment – Deion advanced from Kerkyon, or Warder of Eleusis, to appointed warlord and Chief-of-Warders, under whom mobilized for allied defence Eleusis’ many neighboring dominions a/o realms along the Saronic Gulf. Actively in the field during the annual fair weather seasons of such constantly pestering warfare, Deion porved a brilliant martial-at-field and a superior sovereign-at-arms at negotiating truces or lasting peace with the foes whom he crushed.

He served his war powers to his ablest adjutants and  finest warriors through enjoining his rallies of the common orders to the vital logistical support that he needed in order to maintain border garrisons and keep his elite troop levels well fed and sustained throughout spurts of active campaigning. His special acumen for negotitated warfare proved a great strain upon his marriage. To Hersë his absences were a deprivation of her wants.. Notwithstanding her festering objections, his constant repulses and successes at bringing enemies to peace terms, even to full pull-back retreats, endeared him to Herse’s sovereign relatives and foremost allies, from whom, I must emphasize, a third level of ranked society that functioned as a high echelons of Timocracy. That was the high nobility composed of priviledged men borne to ennobled mothers.

First of all to admit of Cephalos’ future good luck throughout life,  there were Hersë’s blood relatives – her much older brother Pandion; her nephews Aigeus, Pallas, Nisos and Lykos; and, attendantly, their sovereign wives – Pandion’s Pylia, Aigeus’ Meta by Attica, Pallas’ several wives of exalted pedigrees alike to  Nisos’ Abrotë, and, finally, Lykos’ Asterodia over Salamis Island. Brilliant men and women altogether, their subjects composed from unusually dense habitats of coastal villagers and rural denizens lodged upon finest plantations. Cephalos became conversant with these petty royal or highest appointed sovereign ranks as a lad. He learned from their mix how to be instrumental over the planting seasons intensive during autumns and the winter crop harvests of the equally internse spring season. He was of especially meritorious service to the rural damoi, or yeomanry, of his aunt-Pylia, his grandmother Metiadusa and of cousin Aegeus’ second wife, after his Meta died, Chalkiopë of Aktë over gulf coast Attica. He also became an excellent student understudy to his cousin Lykos, a highly intelligent hegemon, and later land steward over his wife’s many scattered estates upon Salamis Island. (These are the minor characters in the book whose cover is illustrated nearby)

Venturing into the Domains of Literacy

I leave second to last some mention of his education into other essential services, in particular his attainments as a student of writ and numeracy under the appointed cadres of literacy of Eleusis Shrine. These were “shrine schools” under teaching orders at the training of sisters novitiate and postulants at writ. They had to learn the syllabary of Linear A Minoan. There was an elite male teaching order over boys brought to Eleusis because they had obvious aptitude for heraldry and for official courier duties at writing, delivery and recitation becoming also from that same writ of Linear A, By these young lads, all somewhat older than him as introduced to the Shrine, Cephalos took for granted that brilliance at studies was commonplace within such enclaves of the Sanctuary. Brilliant himself, he was able to keep up with the gifted boys and girls, even though he did not have their varyious psychic gifts. He also developed speech and retentive listening under the active nurture of his mother, joining her schoiling of mnemonic adepts alike her. From the turnover of such students as matriculated from Hersë, Cephalos was going to develop his own star bureaucrats at numeracy and written accountancy of agronomic transactions and maritime commerce compacts for his older relatives, While they far outranked him during his boyhood, he grew to become their devoted underling at mastery of communications. Literacy was a key  albeit understated capacity of any realm and well organized society, and essential, of course, to Eunomia, or superb governance, whether subservient to retainers under constitutional monarchy or intermediaries at nurture of Timocracy.

Last to compose a healthy and robust polity of Timocracy were the many rankings of merit, skills of hand, mental acuities and caste artisans that made up the many elite divisions of labor and capacity within any society capable of “organized complexity.” Here, though, the question that hardest to answer— What or what came first? A brilliant youngster like Cephalos, or a self-made, very dense social congregations already at hand to him. For a dense populace of foremost practitioners of everything most essential must also mean ample intercommunications and interactions between highest and lowest rankings, and across each distinct level composing the several hierarchic quadrants of Timocracy (see below).

A best answer it seems, has Cephalos and such populace developing conveniently together, and somewhat rapidly so. As his boyhood years passed, he was increasingly owing his mother and uncle on account of their generous support of him among the seafaring coastal villages of their subjects. Just as importantly, his father Deion’s offered him his own very special finesse at leading many followers and followings while also serving well their dependents and home communities most harmoniously. The foremost of these common orders came from within an indigenous maritime race, almost a nation race of mariners. They were called the Lelegës, or Lelegans [LEH-leg-ayss (ahns)]. Aboriginal to northern Eurasia and primordially nomadic therefore — most likely from below the Baltic Sea Coast — they’d diffused through the northern coasts and peninsulas of the Mediterranean Sea. They come down through myth as a people called the Hyberboreans (“High Northerners”). They were builders of large ships and long lodge buildings, whereby they were fortuitious to Cephalos’ destiny. Through the encouragement of his father to begin with, Cephalos was to have them his heartland populace by which to orchestrate the building of merchant deep sea vessels and earliest warships as appurtenant to coastal guard and  largest scale portside infrastructure improvements for his times. Lelegans proved to greatest density along the Isthmus and Eleusis Sound, although they were servile underlings as well to Cretan dominated ports of the Pyrrhaios and Phaleron along the east coastal Saronic Gulf.

Cephalos was a very popular child who was the youngest of his sovereign generation while nearly a contemporary to the next. Noble lada and grown girls became his very good students at all missions of excellent mind, even of no special giftedness other than an aptitude of mind and  strong practical inclinations. Elderly people, just as those youngsters, were drawn to his handsome appearance and charm, although he doesn’t seem to have been charismatic, The royal and highest peerage admired the clarity of his projected speech, his astute explications and his enormous sense of fairness at argument and persuasion. He could be very competitive, but he was also the kind of friend and leader to give a person every chance to join his elite cardres or to do well for themelves by other employ that he could arrange for them. He often fashioned for them preoccupations from scratch that befit their aptitudes or strengths. Elite shipwrights and masters builders by a large number of essential crafts found from him reliable employment. Ever an intermediary to an employer of nobility or high mercantile rank, employ by an entirely new fashioning became jobs that  sustained the practitioners at broad occupation of his or her extended family.

Unwittingly, and from within the many large enterprise involvements of his seniors and superiors, he proved an ideal intermediary to the organization and maintenance of many subordinate capacities, each in direct, even if lowly support of either kind of sponsor. He volunteered himself to all venues where ships were under construction, and made every kind of effort to position himself as an apprentice to every phase of major ship assembly. His highest advanced specialty had him serving a shipworks as a shipwright at inboard construction of amidships especial  to deep sea vessels. Later that meant where the benching for the crews at oarage was constructed, but also the strong “wales” for running rigging, line sheeting and hauling up of yards. Thereby  the coordinated wears of sail as spanning overhead and clear of amidship holds above the bilges of longboat dugout amidships. He proved innovative by his rights to contribute at mastery, but he was mostly an apt listener of suggested improvements forthcoming from underlings or artisanal expertise. Their best ideas he championed until his sponsors and superiors accommopdated them. That was first by persuasion of his astute mother whereas later through and thereby his brilliant uncle Pandion and aunt Pylia. Lykos continued to make Cephalos his prodigy at most everything else of high mercantile abilities.

As he progressed from shore duties and mid-level commands attendant upon activities of shipwrights and master constructors, he was promoted into an efficient shore commandancy and supervision of highly organized land-based support operations of merchant marines. These were both domestic and foreign, and led to his fluency in the inflected Greek of Anatolian Karia, Crete and “lingo-Lelegan.” When he grew older and ready for sea duty, he became conversant with the best of merchant magnates and their supercargoes over the holds of their ships. He could orchestrate whole convoy assemblages ideal to the itineraries  that embarked to bring back to the home ports the greatest number of turnovers of those holds. The prime function of supercargoes at the supervision of such matters was more Cephalos’ coordinated mastery of their high caste than his being an appointed supercargo himself. His sponsors enabled that capacity because they were so often his own relatives. Still, it seems, he was also the “go to” maestro for the most preeminent of foreign merchant magnates who sought him out directly for his skills at provision. These included, sometimes, skilled manning and “short Hiring” from the Lelegans, his able sutlers ashore at preparing stores for voyages of long returns to the foreign homelands, Innumberable as were the permutions and combinations of his dutiful helpers upon landfalls or awhile his teenage years at sea duty upon deep sea, he could make either or both his sponsors or foreign magnates happy at their reciproicities with each other. One example of his special  astuteness was to observe men senior to him in age or by functional expertise whenever they became “bully lazy,” He had no truck for overly officious men who pulled seniority to the disadvantage or outright exploitation of up and coming young men whose energy, hustle and aptitude allowed them best apprenticeships within the programs perfrormed in his sponsors’ behalves. This meant he had to overcome considerable resentment for his waivers of seniority, but he bore out such resistence handily and soon was facilely outclassing his own oldest rivals who must most resent his intrusions upon their domains.

[Those resentments mounted up until cumulatively many of them by his age fifteen. His mother then arranged his sea suty as a lowly command apprentice himseld, in service to a captain over a Minoan warships stationed at the Pyrrhaios Strand of Attica.]

He manifest the same alacrity at safeguarding the humble craftsmen of expertise while controlling the most importunate fellows who might displace them by impositions of Cephalos’ “higher ups.”. They didn’t , though, because he could convince them not to, or even want to. Best to consider him a rival but know best when to become his subordinate. He made many a much older man a good friend, just as his father Deion had done by superlative example at leadership over the Eleusinians. What endeared the common orders of all the realms and allied coastal landfalls was Deion’s quick musters of them for services in support of men at their defending of borders. But as soon as each such urgent service was rendered, he minimized the deprivation of such underlings by restoring them expeditiously homeward, where their peacetime services were most needed means of livelihood. Commoners were happy to volunteer to endeavors of realm once they learned that whenever earliest volunteered, then earliest sent back home for the needs of industry, community and home life.

Less we sense Cephalos exclusively active within masculine circles, enterprises and mostly strongmen needful programs, he was just as popular and well received by women of many handcrafts, workers of small manufactories and whole companies of artisans attendant to naval enterprise. The women, too, were generally Lelegans, thus instantly well-disposed to any intelligent employment of dependents upon mariners and seafarers at sea duty overseas. Women served such populace directly at the crafting of chandlery, cordage, crafting of containers and other works of fine craftsmanship; they also contributed indirectly, by performing at commissary, lodging or inn keeping and at outfitting of ships preparatory to their embarkations into cruises of long duration. These were all lowly women, seemingly limited of opportunity, but they were essential to all sorts of task management that made best use of the talents and simple adequacy of performance from such humble functions of dense coastal societies. They were the overseers of all the dirty work, because it all came under Cephalos’ cognizance, and, therefore, his fullest appreciation of each essential function to a broad coastal “common-wield.”

How it all added up to Timocracy follows:………

The Prime Quadrants of Timocracy as a Socio-Political Governance

Agronomy was the prime (1) quadrant of enterprise within a realm or a loose cooperative of realms held together by mutual maritime commerce and  an extended coastline that rendered the operations of ships contiguous. Cephalos had most excellent teachers in his grandmother and mother, but when organizing agronomy to engender the greatest diversity unto an annualized net worth from exports of increasing diversity, he became the child prodigy of his uncle Pandion, cousin Nisos and his mown mother. His contributions to his cousin Pallas were indirect, by his rewardfs to his cousin in return for that first cousin’s fundamental skills at arms, whereby the essential combative skills that his own father out and upon the borders had not the time to foster in his only son. The two cousins, while at great separation of their ages, became greatly to esteem each other, although Pallas was also going to prove a cruel and often treacherous prince of Attica with respect to his unhappy wives and resentful children. Cousins Nisos and Lykos took him in charge for their own ends out of deep comradery, but mostly because Cephalos never disappointed them, no matter how novel or incongruous the tasks they set for a cousin only a lad at service to them from well before his first teenage year.

Most importantly, Cephalos proved a vital source of useful intelligence about what was a-doing or going on importantly abroad their petty kingdoms. His sponsors led detached lives, and they had difficulty observing for themselves, without Cephalos keen eyes, ears and artful gifts for careful and yet polite inquisition into any particular source of the best poop. Masters of the shipwright arts took him under their protection at the urging of the absent father Deion. They eventually adopted him as a fellow Lelegan on account of his rewards to them by returns. The mutual fealty of a royal ward and masters at mutual need of each other grew their loyalties, especially after the marriage of his parents came to a sad end of its arranged term, in 1381, and then to dissolution in 1380 for failure of Hersë to bear anymore children by Deion. He was then just become nine years old, but he already found himself at meld with most all communities that offered whole new dimensions to his interests, These early years and those just before and afterwards are the subjects of the third book in my series Cephalos Ward of Eleusis.

The juggernaut of offices and rapid promotions spanned from the east coast of the Isthmus of Ephyrëa (Corinth and Megaris as once combined), through and past Eleusis  and then along the coastlines of Gulf Attica unto the west coastline of the Lower Peninsula of Attica that was called Aktika. Places of his common frequency were Salamis Island upon Eleusis Sound, the so-called Corner of Alkathöos where dense and closest together landfalls, together ideal for concerting their congregations of shipwrights, master millwrights and foresters of special, even highly unique lumber, the raw material of ships. Notwithstanding his dogged interest in masterful ship construction, the seasons of Eleusis’ agronomy began with the planting seasons of autumn and ended with the harvests, after which the intervening wintertimes at end the instant summonses of him and the Lelegan men ahore to contribute his supervision and their labor to the many day long tasks of agriculture and livestock husbandry. Those two quadrants of prosperity fit  as well with the overseeing ministries under Cephalos’ foremost relative, Aegeus, the Regent Custodian over all of Attica since  1384. Later King of Attica, from 1370, ff., Cephalos befit the royal ministries variously, beginning with road building and trail cutting for overland caravan transport. Mind you, Attica was still reunfying its two mainland realms Aktëand Aktaia with the Low Peninsula of Aktika. After his father went away from Hersë, whereby he became a strategos, or “general,” under Great King Aiakos, the rebuff of Minyan Invaders and the subsequent imperial realm of Aeoleis & Minya, a long peace ensued from that young imperialist at settling all border feuds. Cephalos thereon congealed a firmest unity of Attica so aptly and brilliantly by his overland commerce that he even caused an abrupt rupture with his first cousin the Regent. Aegeus could not help envy and resent the enormous popularity of his youngest first cousin, especially while invited into the winter court held upon the Kekropia, or High City, as the Acropolis of Athens was once known.

Meanwhile, he remained vital at assistance of his cousin Lykos, from whom Cephalos learned more until too much about the vile depredation of the imperial Minoans on foreign shipping out of the Saronic Gulf, whether by their Greek trading outposts or Levantine or even Karian by trade colonies respective to Salamis and Oinopë, both isles within the Saronic Gulf. Lykos helped the reconciliation of Aegeus with Cephalos after his brief years of consortship with a sixteen year old Princess, the future Queen of the Magnesians. Their collaborations together henceforth built great domestic tranquility throughout the dominions and demesnes of Attica’s First Estate, inclusing all matriarchal establishment of the fertile inland Mesogaia, which was shared by many of the Saronic Gulf Rim Powers. That rural agriculture drew manpower to the needs of their male tenant farners and livestock herders from the retired veterans of Deion. These were men formerly at the border defences and occasional warfare required of repelling trespass upon the MesoGaia.

Lykos and Cephalos converted then to drivers of mule and donkey trains – nominated them as something akin to caravansiers (my invented term) – while distributing imported commerce through inland itineraries and roundabout circuits of caravans. Other veterans off the former border garrison and from the regularly armed musters of militia became able drayers. They hauled from forests long and large timbers for building merchant vessels, and eventually for the planking of warship hulls. These mature master-of-arms rubbed out brigandry in the course of their good management over the caravans. Cephalos originated and coordinated the drayers while Lykos saw fit to support them well and abundantly with traffics in goods under reliable needs of overland transport.

So then for the third quadrant, (3) overland caravan commerce,  at meld with (1) inland rural agronomy and (2) coastal maritime commerce, the last inclusive of many slipways at the building and maintenance of ships for cruising deep sea. Which leaves me to explain the fourth and last quadrant, (4) strategic planning of foreign alliances and compacts, such as had to include active gathering of intelligence through diplomacy attendant routine conduct of overseas trades and domestic commerce upon the landfalls of the Saronic Gulf. The increasingly bully Minoans off of Cretre Island, especially aggressive and predatory after 1370 BC, possessed a major shore station upon the Pyrrhaios Strand; it laid out at the eastern entry of the Eleusis Sound.

[Note: That was the name, meaning Fire Beacon(s), that preceded the ancient and modern name for the Port of Athens, Piraeus/Peiraios, but now called more simply the Piraeus. Because all the rim powers were feudatories under Crete’s imperial House of Minos – with the important exception of the Isthmus of Ephyrëa –, sovereign relations vis á vis Crete were especially active and often intrusive, although Deion and Cephalos had both to learn well  how to stand smartly aloof from the sea lords at residency of the Pyrrhaios or points inland between it and the High City Kekropia.]

The mother Hersë, however, was never aloof. Rather she led the diplomacy of Eleusis and Attica  as an able surrogate for her brother Pandion and her nephew Aegeus (who, I add here, was actually her close contempory) She was recipient of preferred trading compacts with the Cretan merchant magnates, allowing both Lykos and Cephalos aloof albeit obsequious roles that exploited their maritime ilk by helping her to achieve overseas contacts and safe passages for their convoy assemblages. There was also the warehousing of exports and the shoreline operations most actively  serving transient sea lords and merchants preoccupied with other parts of early maritime Geece. They, in turn, imposed the Cretan navies and their captive merchant convoys upon all maritime commerce from the far end of Eleusis Sound, at far east of where the Sanctuary hugged landfalls of foreign embarkations and wherefrom inland caravan departures off the landfalls of Alkathöos and the Isthmus.

What the four quadrants now composed and so sketchily introduced orchestrated together was a Timocracy of many actively contributing social layers within each of them. First point to be made in general to them all, they essentially dissolved borders between the coastal realms that shared the Saronic Gulf. All realms were virtually each one acting for all and all acting for one harmonious whole polity. That polity of male population  operate at its best overseas, aboard ships, but the wives and children of the common order mariners permeated shore industry and enterprise throughout all landfalls. Longshoremen, men held to activities ashore were coordinators by appointed stations far above their born common places, because recognized for their good leadershp and apt coordination of sovereign operations which aloof upper social layers of Timocracy could not handle in any hands-on manner.

While Cephalos  was a boy he learned how these lowly layers communicated with each other, and with the higher up, senior  levels, and how they nurtured each others needs, or fulfilled their respective needs of each other to produce for the common weal that held together by the quadrant of maritime commerce. Whatever brought home and landed ashore, along with what the overland commerce brought back of rewarding trade exchanges, fed into warehouses as  goods meant for re-export embarkation or for distribution overland by caravans. The whole of such domestic operations meant a vast interdepencacy of many working parts and applied merits. It made that quadrant a sum greater than its parts, because of the limited self-determination vouchsafed to each layer with a quadrant within the overview of its  cooperative polity. Matriarchs far inland of demesne had good operating roots and foundations in the costal landfalls, but so did the caravans that embarked from an elongated shoreline and then through the inland demesnes of landed governesses. Ministers kept a light touch upon it all, but they were as though an infrastructure of service personnel whereby the sound accountablitiy of most everything that was going on of economic and gorvernmental concerns.

Fostering the accepted interdependence, and the harmonious fluidity between the principals over the vital quadrants, was a consummate intermediary at coordination of the general overview. Cephalos learned to be that person from his father Deion at his dependence upon all quadrant populaces – whether active by location inland, or ashore, or overseas by the entrepöts. Where the possibilities of warfare and violence, the quadrants coordinated as their leaders martially afield, or upon the caravan circuits, or at coastal guard. Not only the quadrants of Timocracy operated harmoniously, but the realms as well. They, too, became interdependent  states and hierarchies of female and mlae estate. They relied upon each other, but mostly because Cephalos managed so well the verbal and written  communications between them. That returns us to the sagacity of Aristotle, because that was his art, ro discern the how and why of intricate interdependencie. He fathomed it also for the applied arithmetic at accountings off mostly verbalized transactional affairs of elite men and women. He fathomed their intercommunication through writ of maintined clerisies of scribes and retained cadres of couriers. Arsitotle wopuld have had no trouble imagining a young lad become an intermediary from among young lads and teenagers of his own age most apt to serve him well.

Accordingly, the parents of Cephalos’ petty royal and highest ennobled born contemporaries came into his various orbits of the quadrants, even  as they passed their own coming-of-age and sought a place that they aspired to among his many meaningful activiites. Cephalos and they were also capable of practicing utmost discretion, even to covert and subversisve activities supportive of what the principals above him required of him. Or just as their parents and most certainly their sovereigns did and had to do as imperial Crete became more and more monopolistic, more grasping of the maritime commerce and too intervening upon hosted transient foreigners after 1370 BC. When Cephalos was attained to his last teenage year, he became the intermediary to coordinate the quadrants of Timocratic self-governance and self determination into a concerted secession from any and all imperial masters.

For that’s where he was meant to lead in accordance with his Fates…..

A Partial Conclusion

The meld of the four quadrants introduced, and the several layerings of social ranks, too, shall need more discussion of their most important interactions through a next posting. But the gist of Timocracy as here said by this posting should have taken shape in my readers’ minds to this point of my introduction of the polity during the Late Aegean Bronze Age. There was a lot of exchanging and swapping going on at all times, and that constant process involved people of all stations and places amidst the supportive layers   and dimensions laid side by side within the constituent  societies.

In my next posting I shall have to become more the political philosopher than I have expounded to be so far. Thus I’ll be again introductory of operational cooperation between the defined polities of each realm, such as Cephalos found most harmonious together as confluent into his broadening interests. We shall learn of his kind of naval and overland establishments, then, too, how his most selfless and energetic nature at building  alliances and compacts in behalf of closest relatives, increasingly close friends and of supportive adults whom he brought into his own best attitudes and postures towards themselves. Lastly, we’ll learn how and why he had to become a mostly independent, roving operative – neither truly sovereign nor richly  magnate nor royal minister nor land steward – even as he became a merchant prince over the very Timocracy that engendered him while his catalytic role at making it into Aristotle’s most preferred form of participative governance.


for the Bardot Group

180th Bardot Blog: Update on Medeia & the PreClassical Tradition of Mythic Literature & Interpretation

[Image] A Young Irene Pappas in the dramatic role of Medeia

Most regular readers of these Bardot Blogs can’t readily appreciate the prehistoric syntheses that have alienated the Bardot Group from the PreClassical Tradition of scholarship and its canons of strict literary interpretation. Long offered by Classic Studies Academia, all prior ages of the History of Literature, we’ve found, renders the copious opera of Classical Greek Mythology defunct – at least obsolescent, and best deemed obsolete. Such, then, for what is PCT.

From time to time we assert anew our alienation from its gross revisionism and heedless expunction of Early Greek Mythology. We become vociferous with respect to famous mythic personages who have enjoyed a truly special luster from their original conception in interpretation of real life fame and notoriety. Despite their farthest pasts, we consider them to have been real persons by the rhapsodists of Early Greek Mythology. Such opera set them right biographically, howsoever sparely as spoken or composed to syllabic writ. The constituent great myths, some of them sagas, were the only, but likely the best ever sources to retain the historicity inherent every origination passed on through rhapsody (the term-of-art for the professionalism of archival rendition). Greece’s most famous mythic sagas and the robust offshoots by brilliant interpreters proved intellectually retentive even as there was slippage of good memory in a most robust sense of mythic retention.

Our Example of a Ruined Original Mythic Saga

Medea, whom we’ll insistently spell Medeia [Meh-DAY-ah] after the Ancient Greek manner (by contrast, that is, to the Latinized Greek name by the Erasmian spelling of the PCT) is just such a famous personage to have live to great glory from her early lifetime to her mid-life, even as forgotten, or gotten wrong, for her efficacious old age. She’s also a subject of our greatest condemnation of expunction, because she had ample chance to prove a most famous leading governess over Isthmian Ephyrëa, a precursor region to Corinth/Korinthos and Megara/Megaris as combined. What amazed all Greeks living from the 1st millennium BC onward, considering her truly hideous blood crimes perpetrated against sovereign men, was how her blood crimes wrought her neither divine ire nor any harsh redress from the Gods and Goddesses who might be supposed tutelary (safeguarding) over her victims. Even her mortal admirers, her contemporaries, adjudicated her grotesque capital crimes. And yet they reasoned properly that she should and would be exonerated after weighing the compelling causes against the ensuing benefits to her contemporary humankind. Her every bloody performance proved out as singular to an enduring benefit of implied righteousness. Usually her deeds were impugned but their just motivation prevailed over honest reaction to atrocity. Many hard critics perceived her a savior from tyranny, or worst oppression upon masses, or saw her as a font of severest redress possible against the vile machinations of cruel and wicked men – who deemed themselves to powerful to be stricken down.

Her blooded victims were proven mostly upstart, vaunting and presumptuous men – including her father Aiëtes. Those who were saved from her worst miscreant victims learned to admire the manner and method by which she dealt out proper and also severest justice. Whether approved or disapproved by “the Deities” mattered little to Medeia. Her victims had to be put down notwithstanding her violent or hideous means; that she was so atrocious was her lack of any other recourse to a defiance of tyrants and oppressors.

The motive for this and a next short series of postings has been the release of another artsy-fartsy book in the PreClassical Tradition of Ancient Greek Mythography. It’s a stupid and silly work that has earned, nonetheless, an important literary book review from Mary Beard. I acknowledge her a most respected classicist who’s also a most greatly praised contemporary Latinist. Being well versed in Roman Classical Mythology and its own mythographers (e,g., Ovid, Vergil and others nearly as famous). The Bardot Group takes no umbrage that she saw fit to afford her own literary sense of Medeia to prospective readers of her book review. We find nigh abominable, however, that she exonerates an inept interpreter of early Greek legend out of now well known prehistoric period within the Great Oral Tradition. She almost seems to have forgotten Greek Mythology, or know what she does of it solely from what survived to the like of Ovid.

A Really Offensive Book in the PreClassical Tradition

The cover nearby of the offending book by David Vann is as dark as its portrayal of Medeia long voyage westward in flight with Jason. Dreadful open sea that’s devoid of any told geography dominates the content between its cover flaps. This makes it typical of the mythography by the Ancient Greeks and Romans about the only heroine ever from the farthest orient, wherefrom Medeia emerges a demi-goddess, borne the granddaughter of Helios Hyperion, and a high priestess postulant to Hekate, “the Goddess Sorceress at the Darkest Arts,” taught her until her fifteenth year by her aunt Cirkë. Vann points up just how bad rhapsodists of maritime Greeks were at writing about them, the illustrious forbears out of the Late Bronze Age centuries of the Eastern Mediterranean and whole sea estuaries. We wonder, though, how Vann appraises the mythographers that lived over four centuries later than the original rhapsodists of the Sun Saga of Myths. Were they at all competent at their mythic subjects, even as he himself effaces them as real, even if minimally plausible personages.

Vann begins the flight of Jason and Medeia from Colchis, a region rich in gold at the far end of the Black (a/o Euxine) Sea. First in appearance in the stern of the Argo, Medeia crouches terrified, mean spirited and brooding nasty in contemplation of her father Aietes’s justice upon her. She crouches even as she looms over the several times amputated corpse of her brother Apsyrtos, her means of halting a dreaded overtaking by ships far superior to the Argo. She sends overboard a hunk of Apsyrtos as soon as an intuitive moment of dread for what’s oncoming astern.  The feared vanguard of chasing ships must halt altogether to pick up the ongoing severings , So for just the first of the many irrational ploys that Vann respects from his source mythographer – Apollonius of Rhodes, and his Argonautica, an epic novella out of the Hellenistic Age Conservatory, the Alexandrian Library. Thus we must first discover of the imagined far east of the oldest Greeks the stupid and tactically inept denizens whom their ancient descendants regarded nigh barbarian. For wouldn’t any ship that found a floating hunk of the butchered Prince wave ahead his companion ships, pressing them ahead in continuance of a dogged, least interrupted chase. All awhile that every directive from Aietes, presumably from far astern rearguard of his whole pursuit fleet, he orders whole fleet halts midsea That way, Medeia’s ship, the Argo, can remain under a relentless press of pursuit, whereby to exhaust the fabulous crew that manned her.

Except, that is, she does not afford us a list of those fabulous Bronxe Age Heroes who illuminated the finest genealogies of Vann’s greatly disrespected Old Greeks. So, most readers of this polemic book review must be made aware otherwise of the source of all that Vann has to say about Medeia and Jason. He’s instead all for implausible feats by literature of very best pedigree, that being a much revised and redacted work written in the 3rd century AD. Very poorly received in its own time as so late, the epic poet’s critics out of the Alexandrian Library laughed him out of their club. Not that the once intellectual center of the post-Hellenistic Period’s literati gave much heed to any great works of history already deemed ancient by the club.

His epic work is appreciated in the History of Literature becasue Apollonius pioneered a literary motif much use by the School/Club, perhaps even at over-use ever since. Especially esteemed by English novelists of our most recent eras of high literature, they called his motif the “interior monologue.” Vann makes frequent utility of the motif while quite ignoring altogether the historicity or prehistoric content that once resided inherent Apollonius’ own authoritative sources of what could be known, thus well remembered, about Jason and Medeia. The Bardot Group, moreover, has always taken greatest distress over books based upon classical mythological content when their authors ignore entirely the great reform that Robert Graves brought to the subject personages populating Classical Greek Mythology. For his classical dictionary of myths and their sources led Graves and other mythographers since WWII to an alternative interpretation from Vann’s. Too obviously a trained adherent of the PreClassical Tradition, Vann ignores that Aietes and Medeia were denizens of the long delta of outflow by the Eridanus (Po) River of Italy.

Since Graves’s reformed interpretations, Aiëtes was a pre-Hellenic sun worshipper renedered fabulous as a demigod borne to his sire Helios Hyperion off the lap of a comely Oceanidae named Perseis, a Titaness out of the Oldest Greek Beliefs in Ocean and Tethys and their spawn. Medeia was the beloved niece of her father’s sisters, one of whom, Pasiphae, became the Wanassa over the imperial Cretans and the exalted wife of King Minos II over the House of Minos, whereas the other aunt was the several illustrious Cirkës, a luminary sorceress out of the cult tradition of the Goddess Hekate. I may be along among Vann’s readers for deeming Medeia’s genealogy very unimportant to her whole life story as known and most greatly appreciated on account of her mortality and very obscure birth origins.

Because, you see, Medeia wanted out of the dynasty and great commerce of her father with all the vigor of her young soul. After her mother Idyia died, all she wanted to do next was return to the important legacies of great landedness that were her inheritance by Isthmian Ephyrëa. The book under review makes clear that Vann has no study of this necessary homework. He commits a greatest crime of intellectual dishonesty to have ignored what he must have learned from Graves. It makes him an incredulous poseur as a mythographer.

Given such failings, just what does the PreClassical Tradition entail to first worth if Vann can pass her assessment of what required scholarship? There are no cardinal rules of reckoning, I guess, but the rules attached to the PCT canons don’t create such deliberate dishonesty any longer, most certainly not today. It thrives on solely amidst our ahistorical novelists, on our blinders-on humanities adherents of derided ancient masters,and upon pseudo=social scientists who presume that they’re somehow qualified as prehistorians.

The Tenets of the Pre-Classical Tradition to Classical Studies

(1) That Greek mythographers of the oldest historical periods are the most reliable sources, for having lived closest to the imputed times, all at dates uncertain, of the mythical and prehistorical settings—wherein, of course, the greatest personages that once populated them.

(2) That Greek sources of mythography are also the best upon which to rely because only the surviving works of greatest literature can meet all the contemporary tests of fine editing, proper censorship and appropriate revisionism that made abusive fools out of Renaissance historians of literature, and of later period humanists, too, whose religionists therein detested pagan worshippers, their Olympian deities and adoration of the Idyll by the Great Mother Creatrix .

(3) That a fusion of all the recitative opera by Early, Classical and Roman Classical Mythologies is valid, because each of those contributory phases, especially with respect to their greatest works of mythic interpretation, allowed whole anthologies of mythic opera. Thus all myths should conform to the rules of naming by Erasmus, whereby all place settings and names of personages take his orthography a/o spellings for printed literature. That permits erasure of the Greek orthography inherent the constituent opera. Thus Medea, a Latinized Greek name, must always be written instead of Medeia, the only accurate orthography whereby recital of the heroine’s name correctly.

(4)That the Ancient Greeks and the Roman Literati had no sure reckoning of dates or dating, but that does not militate against them as properly revered sources, even when using dates haphazardly drawn from any periods of prehistory at far apart from each other. Leave them every liberty of mythic conjuration. In no way, therefore, does failure or dating illiteracy besmirch the adduced authentic accounts of oldest mythic sagas known, or any renditions at epic length as drawn earliest from Homer and Hesiod.

(5) That Greek History in toto actually began with Homer’s two masterpiece epics of the 8th century BC, to which Hesiod’s Theogony and Works and Days were added canons as the authoritative history of Greek religion since sometime within the middle of the 7th century BC. Greek acculturation began with both those Masters, despite the allusions, by Homer in particular, that he was greatly owing to a Great Oral Tradition that long preceded his lifetime.

[Homer, it’s now estimated, lived the middle of the Eighth century and likely the first one-third of the Seventh century BC).

A Good Start to a Series by Shanower

(6)That the Trojan Saga, a composite of eight original epic recitations, is the only true account of a greatest conflict that might be fictitious or is not. The best way to know this particular PCT creed is to buy Eric Shanower’s illustrated series, Age of Bronze, from its beginning to its end of all major personages illustrated to have lived in the Trojan War Era. Notwithstanding our praise, the Bardot Group stands for and wholly in proof that the Trojan War was a real and prolonged war of Greek prehistory. It was fought between philhellenic Troias, a feudatory of imperial Hattic Anatolia, and the early Greek Peninsula composed to two major coalitions of still early Greeks – the Danaans and Argives, who fought for contradictory ends and conflicting ambitions within themselves – wholly besides the ultimate recapture of Helen that mobilized their expeditions across the Aegean Sea.

(7) That the only relevant religion of Greece was that finally shaped and wrought as the Olympian Pantheon. To it the Roman Pantheon stood in parallel. The former, by a long evolution, became an orthodox polytheism sometime late in Greek Lyric Age, Sixth century BC, as reinforced through later dramatic enactments, all carefully judged for their righteousness, that became the masterpiece Classical Greek Dramas of the Fifth century BC.

(8)That the oldest names known are also eternal as pronounced still, even though they were transliterated into alphabetic script since the eighth century BC. Hardly a correct orthography that’s anyway definitive of how their persons were actually called or addressed, those names teach the hard rules of classical nomenclature. So, too, for place names, howsoever large or small geographically, once brought to most frequent mention by earliest alphabetic writ. So, accordingly, the names of mythic personages, and the toponyms of ancient places, compose a cardinal orthography in accordance with what the PreClassical Tradition demands,  whether drawn from oldest Greek epic, or from Latin take-offs that utilized Erasmian or Latinized Greek throughout the Renaissance Age.

Allow here, too, that the Bardot Group for whom I write is agreeable solely to that Eighth Rule aforementioned. It remains cardinal in absence of plausible philological alternatives. All the other seven rules, alas, have different degrees of absurdity, because there have always been extremely well-educated Greeks and Romans who really knew the earliest and most original mythology, all of which was solely recitative. Even if later bards and.or mythographers fell well short of preserving the accuracy, the prehistoric authenticity of accurately reiterated, original source literature, they likely were taught by pedagogues of strict adherence to the Eighth Rule.

So listed, and briefly remarked, we return to Vann’s “interior monologues” by Medeia and what he brings forth to us about what her world composed of or was “felt” by her to have been at her precocious age of fifteen years old.

A Woman Obsessed with Introspection

It takes very few pages for Medeia to emerge as hideously a father hater, while also long become self-centered, a most conceited sorceress, and a gross manipulator of her overly superstitious contemporaries. She has early notions that she’s well-fated to become a King-Killer, especially of kings who have no graced ancestry or high pedigree or worthiness for a royal succession. They all must fail the proper stature as a founder and first ruler over a patriarchal dynasty. Because, it seems, they have no worth and too much to despise to carry one onward. There is no room for deviance from dynastic or sacral matriarchy in Medeia’s youthful mind. Even though we know her mother Idyia was by that primordial tradition of oligarchic governance, Medeia had no aspirations to become a matriarch in her sole right, even though too often forgotten is that she achieved highest sacral title or else queen. She would deem herself well-fated if she could become a Supreme Sister over her mother’s Ephyreans. Their earliest polity the Bardot group has adjudged to have been a matriarchal theocracy composed from sister superiors over colleges of priestesses and from a hierarchy of secular matron governesses over rural plantation demesnes. Vann’s kind of innate repudiation of matriarchy is a propensity that the PreClassical Tradition approves of, whereby to deny, and perhaps to obliterate, the Silver Age of Humankind which Hesiod recited once viable and attributable to a long lost era of Matriarchy. The PCT disdains the classic observation of the historian Diodoros, who stated, “Once we were all named after our mothers and often knew not our fathers’ names.” Accordingly, the Tradition has never admitted of royally and sacrally borne bastards who were deemed entirely licit by their honored mothers and their loyal subjects at veneration.

The first half of the book has Medeia constantly introspective about where she stands in any world hierarchy of ranked personages. By her pedigree she naturally positions in reach of monarchy. She’s mostly highly introverted otherwise by beholding what the future betides for herself and her chosen closest associate — Jason performing earliest as one but solely for her convenience to get way from the Eridanos River Basin forever. Vann has Medeia right in one respect, though, and that I gladly grant him, that his Medeia has not a whit of prescience, or well-reasoned anticipation, of where developments lead. Hers are not mantic gifts and capacities. Her world is opaque, insusceptible to facile readings of omens and signs. None of the Argonauts have those gifts of foresight either. Her mind, moreover, doesn’t regulate her thoughts allegorically. That admission has left me wondering whether and how Vann wants to produce a heroine who most capable of eavesdropping, or for gathering highly secret intelligence or even for sleuthing out plots brilliantly before such forms of intrugue could be hatched. Those are gifts of the utterly unprescient. That omission, which I thought would be fulfilled as I read on, proved how wrong by only chanced fall back upon the real suspense that I should have gained from the book.

The gratification of masterful suspense was left unsatisfied again by Vann after he’s taken Jason, Medeia and the Argonauts down the Hellespont to have them finally fully escaped from Aiëtes. I only realized over so many pages of redacted mythography that the butchered corpse of Apsyrtos could no longer plausibly stink up the bow deck of the Argo even though downwind from the crew aboard. I guess there finally was some thoughtful soul aboard, an Argonaut who dispensed with the bodily remains, because, it seem the stripped torso and pelvic haunches proved no longer useful or needed while the ship flowd tidally into the Aegean Sea.

The Return to Iolkos

Some suspense finally imbues the book by the next very famous phase of the epic novella. Beginning at Page 283 out of the 416 that compose the whole book, by then we have earned some inkling of the more robust legacies bequeathed Medeia from her mostly unknown and yet knowable mother Idyia. By her mother’s pedigree, not by Aiëtes’, Medeia greatly exceeds Jason’s pedigree by his late weakling father, Aeson. She discerns that Jason’s uncle, Pelias, is a usurper over an undistinguished patron clan that holds an easily maintained tyranny over Jason’s would-be, should-be subjects, the hopelessly obscure Iolkans. Grant Vann at last some intellectual curiosity to have found out that the Iolkans were utterly lacking in maritime commerce and naval tradition, and, too, that it was preposterous that Jason could have ever given it to them by the voyage of the doughtily built Argo.

As he conveys us that honesty, Pelias has no interest in advancing his realm among humankind for any posterity that could prove him legitimate as a usurper. Having sent Jason away on a major and most perilous errand, he makes no fame for Iolkos by subjecting Jason and Medeia to slavery in the port for six years. A proper book reviewer should not mention that fact. But I have to, because Vann is in a very big hurry to have Medeia gain full vengeance upon her enslaver Pelias. The rest of the book is about how she does so, and yet Vann’s is hardly the best mythography that can be written about how she won to herself the exquisite delight of a perfect crime, the first of many that we can know about Medeia as attained her still very early age of 21 years old. For her second perfect murder ends the book, but shouldn’t count as a proper ending because Vann has all the mayhem occurring at Corinth where Kreon is king over the Isthmians…..

[Note in excursus: In Early Greek Mythology, we explain, Kreon was a retired regent perforce from the High Kingdom of Kadmeis – as deposed by the remarriage of his preeminent sister Iocasta to a properly ascended Oedipus, the son of her late husband Laios, who was her new husband’s sire by a dalliance with a priestess.]

……The machinations by the full aftermath and flight from Iolkos soon has Medeia shunned by the Corinthians as a cause of Jason’s unjust abdication perforce, the result from her haughty compulsion to overcome the Jason who would bully her while free to enjoy his adultery with Glaukë, the Kreon’s daughter, who so immediately begins to tryst Jason amidst the high city AcroKorinth of the Isthmus. No mention or realization of Vann, therefore, that the greater Sun Saga has Medeia earning on her merits and endowed abilities a just supremacy over the theocratic matriarchy that Ephyrea once was throughout the 14th century BC. As a realm in whom her mother had deep roots, her illustrious pedigree would have easily positioned Jason at the front ranks of the male order of most worthy merchant magnates. No matter any of that though, because the author wants us to know instead why Medeia found it so easy to murder her two puling brat children, the youngest the most obnoxious, while dispatching Kreon and Glauke to oblivion and Jason to ignominy. Believe me, he makes a mess of that all, to my wonderment over how Mary Beard, who seems to appreciate his writing style (at least) as she concludes her important review of Vann’s opus.

I can only guess that Mary found Medeia too tempting a heroine of Antiquity to overlook, and once she had read the book about her and had found it’s grievous faults, found it easy enough somehow to claim the book deserves some kind of recognition for the rehash its purports to be.

My Admitted Biases

I admit to have given Medeia considerable study. I know a lot about the Sun Saga, especially with respect to what Vann has redacted down to meaninglessness for his book. My own published mythography about Medeia mostly concerns her youth and lifetime as a precocious refugee brought back to Ephyrea at an age about 28 years old, where ill-Fates by impending lapse of her hurtful marriage to Jason were realized. For they formally married at last, after “running away on the lamb” with Golden Fleece and wandering back to where Jason actually was borne and first named Diomedes. The fleece allegorically in hand, my Medeia has already many times committed murder. The troth they avowed to each other was honest sacramental wedlock and of honorable term of duration, for a Great Year of 100 solar months. Like Vann, I admit to some years left blank, from her years of age sixteen through twenty. Only the spanned age 21 to 28 suffices to good discussion.

Accordingly, at that last age attained, to what should have been the zenith of her earned ascendancy, she murdered again and became a suppliant to King Aegeus over Attica. Without any seduction on her part, or coercion on his, Medeia became his consort mistress. She bore him the son he so wanted and needed,  Medeios, circa 1370 BC. For that most wanted and blessed conception he made her his wife and queen consort, enabling thereby  a most successful co-regency over the Atticans. Those storied years are my own means to explain the greater complexity of her flight from Jason and acquittal of her obligations to Ephyrea. With considerable assistance, after which the considerable gratitude owed her by the Ishtmians for the great and bold deed behind her flight, Medeia performed singularly as usual, the proofs finally outspoken that she had foiled a conspiracy, its plot an armed invasion of the Isthmus. So, despite the bloody trail of her last murders’ causation, my book, in which Vann’s story features as otherwise known, explains why and how she was exonerated, even absolved for her blood crimes despite so obviously capital and usually subject to divine redress.

I shall have more to say about my book as it draws close to its impending release at this year’s end.


for the Bardot Group

 

Postscript: This posting was originally the 168th Bardot Blog by way of a book review. This Bardot Blog enhances its prehistoric robustness over and beyond the mythological analysis that has allowed me a new synthesis in the character of Early Greek Mythology.

174th Bardot Blog, No. 6 in Series: History of Naval Legacy unto Laertes & Odysseus

We left our last posting before addressing the major shipworks and specialty construction compounds of Cephallenia. They consisted of four main venues upon the Ionian Sea, and a fifth, very recent, at Phaleron along eastern Aetolia’s shoreline upon the Great Gulf of Korinth. They were where war galleys and attachments of supplying merchant classes required especially great populace regularly orchestrated. Each of them performed artisanally  the numerous phased modules of their praxeis, or program if installed large components. We have explained why those venues failed to befit a capital seat for all major ship construction near or at large owing to their vulnerability to surprise blockading envelopment by capable enemies. Most all major harbors of Dülichion, Cephalonia, Taphia and Prebeza Chersonese could be blockaded effectively, whereupon any dislodging of vessels from such entrapment meant a sure overexercise of Cephalos’ naval genius, as well as his huge funds of patience.

Once he found the Cut that cleaved tiny Ithaca Isle, Cephalos happily built resident lodges and working area esplanades for final accomplishments, mostly fine finishing of war vessel superstructure and sailing wear, Both beacme required of all war vessels coming out of the multi-phased build-outs from main venue shipworks aforementioned. Eventually the Cut came to compose Bathi Inlet or Fleet Harbor, for warship triakonters; whereas the Great Harbor was used for warehousing of supplies and portable chattel needs, for the docking and for pier works for pentekonters or Great Gulf Galleys. Largest vessels of merchant marine also preferred elaborate pierworks for their parking away from constant deep sea cruising.

Additional Provenance

[Longboat dugout hull of a Triakonter, its basic amidship.]

As the illustration depicts in review of our many past Bardot Blogs, the Great Gulf Galley evolved from Cephalos’s dugout longboats, his first very seaworthy warships that were the direct precursors to a slim and fast advanced prototype of the Triakonter. Constraints of girth and length of logs attainable from near sea coast to the Saronic Gulf had kept hulls slim at lengths to beam ratios of about 9:1. The count of crew manning sweep oars had to be held to between 10 to 13 oarsmen. Oars breasting both broadsides of the vessel, however, could be double-manned per sweep handle of oar, thereby allowing greater range and reach of his warships while hard challenges to stamina and fastest stroking rates. Advanced vessels by the class composed his Fleet of Secession that had been so singular to the battle water engagement outside of the Saronic Gulf in 1365 BC. Then, equally excellent advanced class galleys came off the deep sea mains to conjoin themselves to a major rubout of pirates and their sponsoring sea lords out of Crete and Pyrrhaios Portside of Attica. Those so-called Near Fleets later became the Far Fleets that destroyed the far western imperial war fleets of the Great Minos of Crete just east of the Strait of the Messenes (modern Messenia of today).

Cephalos subsequently began another course of inventive provenance unto the Great Gulf Galleys that eventually destroyed Cretan hegemonies everywhere asserted. He treated with Oedipüs of Kadmeis to use the Bay of Alykai for an entirely new shipworks receptive to his logging of coastal forests along the Great Gulf (of Korinth). He drew to that perfect lee shore logs of broad girths for dugout carving into longboat hull bottoms. The girths were also uniformly proportioned to their trunks of great lengths. Those features enabled him to venture a next class of galley capable of breasting 20 to 25 sweep oars each broadside.

Off his shipwrights’ earliest innovations – afforded the longboats of his previous class of dugout hulls –, their basic amidships had to exclude installations of any outriggers or pontoons that could allow double manning to each sweep oar. His design was acclaimed instead for the sturdy albeit make-shift rigging of the new ships for sails, mostly as square hung between two spanning yards. Soon the class could have the main yards extended, then affixed with studding sails luffed to extension booms (see the above color illustration of such sails fully luffed). For most sea conditions oars alone stabilized their coursing, deterring the leeway effects upon the runs of all light ships of very shallow drafts.

He’d greatly admired the Taphians whom he’d conquered in 1352 BC for their paddled lonboat dugouts as built abeam with outriggers. He soon appreciated their considerable speed underway by skimming pontoons hung off cantilevered broadside deck extensions—apöeteis (pl.). That enhanced lateral stability for sail wear of heavy fabrics, he hauled sails and yards up tall, easily raised and lowered masts that enabled finely dressed , patterned sails of toad flax linen. Yet he also perceived for any typical longboat the essential limitation of any outrigger — a loss of seaworthiness under conditions of quartering rolls of choppy sea. By eliminating the out-riggers, he must successfully effect steady balance and stability by nesting the benched layouts of his oarages [crews of rowers were just so-called] upon level amidship platforms.

 

Variant poses of Triakonters’ Oarages by their basal bench grouting and tight  seating from fore to aft of the amidship. Oars were large and lengthy proportionally to the oarsmen that swept them through water, making them ideal for the transport of men-at-arms as partners to rowers (sharing the same sweep handle) while the ship was underway point-to-point landfalls of desitnation).

Typically, Cephalos and his leading adjutants proved outstanding at instructional oarsmanship, and that for his crews meant difficult plying of their sweeps through high, frothy, often opposing waves sets. But their hulls were built to “set-up” a level platform which enabled arcs of sweep stroking to cause strong headway. With the mast fully stepped, then firmly stayed broadside, its peak affixed with collared stay ends, the grouting of the running rigging basally to both broadsides rendered a dogged vessel at the rowing. Such a galley proved almost as fast as any outrigged dugout paddle craft under fair winds abaft. But the innovated class was also a fast and rugged ship whenever rowed into any heavy facing sea. I must leave to proper contexts ahead and otherwise the few limitations imposed upon the lesser longboat warships under any extreme weather.

Zakynthos and Arceisius, Cephalos’ Successors as Co-Regent

After wiping the Cretans off the Great Green and replacing their hegemonies over the Aegean and Adriatic Seas with his own,[ after a fashion], Cephalos applied his naval genius to bulk carrying freighters and merchant marine hulk transports of his naval era’s far ranging maritime commerce. Building or imitating their various classes for ever the isles’ expanding outreach, whereby to attain the steady burgeon of prosperity that allowed him to afford his naval capital assets, the effect he had was to tranquilize all seas. He left his warship fleets to loyal commanders capable of keeping sustained peacetime commerce,or he deployed them into pirate waters where full rubouts of that scourge was necessary. He carried through on his reutation as utterly merciless to either pircacy or brigandry, wiping out both ilks to the last man, and often the haunts and hide-outs that included their women and children.As the first High Chief over the Echinades Isles, including the later Ionian Isles, Cephalos promoted as his most promising successor Zakynthos son-of-Pterelaus, whose mother was a widow of a man whom he’d conquered. Meanwhile their senior and junior co-regency, the boy Arceisius by his last wife Lysippë grew to strongest predelection to prove himself a true Lord of the Seas in the finest tradition of his sire..

Zakynthos predeceased Arceisius when the latter was in his middle thirties of age. He had become a protegee of that late Sea Wanax under his father’s superb administration and support of landbased shipworks and all related navarchy over populaces elsewhere dense longshoremen communities. Arceisius became co-regent with his father when Cephalos was nearly seventy years old. Earlier, while a commodore of the Isles’ Home Far Fleet, Zakynthos enabled the prospecting of Ëpeiros’ heritage old growth forests. There Arceisius developed coastal stands of immensely tall and broad girthed timbers as an indutry of extraction, including reforestation of exploited clearing. Almost of his adoptive father Cephalos’ genius to develop outstanding naval followings, father and son became contentious when the vast shipworks of the isles proved too zealous at mostly building merchant vessels.

For piracy became rampant in the east of the Great Land by way of replacing the Cretans who had once dominated those overseas mains. Arceisius determined a vacuum that was being filled by scourge into which he wished to intervene. To do so needed warships capable of eradication campaigns of long duration every fair voyaging season. Thus began the considerable enlargement of the class Triakonter into a greater class of progenitive Pentekonters, from which the Great Gulf Galley evolved from 1328 to 1304 BC, until it became ubiquitous along the Ionian and South Seas. Arceisius caoitalized such great ships from the spoils that his numerous triakonters of his Home Far Fleet gained by destroying pirate Sea Lords of the Floes, during this time when those long islands upon the Ionian Gulf’s east shoreline had not yet become named the Dalmatian Isles. Other great spoils gains were obtained by rapid raids southward upon Crete, where the formerly imperial seafarers had taken up scourge anew to their great enrichment.

Building several very large Far Fleets, they became special purpose to sructured convoy movements outside routine long cruising over seas and along three mains that crossed the Aegean Sea. One such fleet conjoined with Commodore Phereklos of Aiakos’ Great Kingdom to escort the Great Grain Convoys from the Hellespont or Strait of Dardanos to various points of dispersion for further distribution of bulk break-down loads of grain throughout the Mid-Sea Isles (the Cyclades). Phereklos returned the bulk grain freighters via the Abantis Strait along Aeoleis, picking up mares-in-foal on the way up, and taking aboard yearling stallions for the autumn long crossing of the Rim Sea—whose shoreline passed the Trojan Allies conjoined to this avenue of main pure bred horses at export. The Far Fleet from the Isles served escort duty to the eastern traders plying west and homeward in that same season. It overwintered within the Saronic Gulf, where the port of Niseia was disposed to it, Thereby it cam to be called the Winter Far Fleet. The South Far Fleet had a major station of navarchy at Binglaphia at far along the Lakonian eastern shoreline that reached toward Cape Malea. For the Ionian Gulf an explorative Far Fleet plied its head, which consisted of migrant traders entering from Istria of the Lower Balkan Peninsula while also fleeing the chilling climate change over Eurasia. That fleet also served the river trades that stretched inland and far upstream the Eridanos River, the later Po River of the watershed of the Italian Alps.

The far fleets culminated in Arceisius’s legacy to pass on to his son Laërtes, borne to his wife Chalkomedusa in either 1308 or 1307 BC. By then as many as thirty Great Gulf Galleys were launched every year, although their period of thir construction from carved dugout longboat hulls to final outfitting upon the Cut of Ithaca ranged from sixteen to twentty-two months. Four years after Laërtes’ birth, ship construction ceased even as the great logs out of Ëpeiros continued to be received throughout the southern shipworks. The temporary finality of galley build-outs was owing to the War of the Brothers Rivalry, when imperial Argolis came to civil war between Thyestes and Atreus. That war would undergo many name changes – War of the Theban abd Isthmian Occupations, the Long Turmoil or simply the Isthmian War. We think its sixteen year duration was a real prehistoric war that became the mythic war between divinities, the Titanomachia, wherein the Olympian Gods of the New Beliefs vies against the Old & Ancient Beliefs subsumed under Earth Mother Gia, her titanesses and titans.
Howsoever blown outof proportion as battles of deities from one mountain setting to another, at great tumbling of landslides while all the overwrought conflicts. And yet it had a far simpler naval warfare inherent the might of Argolis and her Saronic Gulf Rim Powers at asserting their navies against the Messenes and the Islanders of the Far West. Arceisius led the latter naval force ti intercept an armada of the Argives and the Rim Powers before they could reach past Cape Malea of Lakonia. Through a sries of brilliant feints, some of which involved dugout longboats that were so unfnished as hulls of warships that they had to be deoloyed instead as gigantic paddle boats. But by keeping them close to the Lakonia shoreline and hidden behind Elaphonisos Isle across from Binglaphis, Battle Commodore Arceisius kept them in rearguard reserve fro the pivotal battle moment when they woulf be his instrument to ram all Enemy daring enough to take them on. But Arceius’s vanguard was deployed as a blockade betwen Cape Malea and Kythera Island, forcing Enemy to advance all offensive arrays to take them with their hundreds of heavy war galleys out of the Argolic and Saronic Gulfs,

Without pursuing the detail of the battle further, suffice to say that a feint of vanguard retreat had Enemy overexposing its scattered strength, just as the Argives and their Allies extended themselves too far westward. Arceisius’ triakonters flared as though in flight to deep sea, prseenting their tight fl;ank formations to their own rearguard of huge paddle boats concealed behind Elaphonisos Isle. The presentation gave the many paddlers to bring their longboat dugouts up to speed, each such hull suspending off both thir broadsides low slung ramming timbers that just barely touch water surface. Without baffling the longboats’ speeds in slow acceleration toward the flanks of Arceiisius impressive flank maneuver, Enemy chasing them arrears and mostly blind to what ride the sea behind a tiny island at pretense of blockade, his entire force was brought to flank nigh to perpendicular to his opposition very odd slim vessels. Before Enemy as a whole force could react and reassemble for a defense, the huge paddle boats rammed every large vessel of Enemy. In fact, they need not ram their hulls into enemy. They simply struck through the long timbers suspended their broadsides, ising on such timber to penetrate an enemy hull, the other to clutter the battle water to impede enemy retreats of maneuvers. Then, as the innumerable warships of enemy were stricken almost all at once, or by rapidly repetitive ramming smites along the whole length of flank alignment, Arceisius had his vanguard triakonters turning around and attacking all enemy warships that were still breasting oars broadside. For every gallery of oars esposed a triakonter ran over them while also crushing its larboard broadside to his opponent’s. It took some time to belabor the crippling of ships, the duration allowed the huge paddle boats to retreat west as fully accomplished of mission. The vacated the battle water to fight another day, upon their build-outs into great galleys to fight anew under oars instead of by paddling.

They would not fight another sea battle, however. Arceisius’ victory over the enemy armada was so complete to sinkings and careenings of all enemy strength that a next morning had all the western navies the major sea power of that day in 1299 BC. He would never relent that strength, even though the sixteen year long war discouraged Arceisius from expanding the sizes of his far fleets. Instead he took the launches of the winning paddle boats each as they came off the slipways, using them to freight landsmen warriors and their needed logistical resupplies to landfalls that were martially occupied by the foes of Thyestes, of Neleus’ sons over the Messenes, of Sisyphus over the Isthmians and refugee Thebans and finally his own few naval enemies. It was a grand and most famous legacy to leave to son Laërtes, who began to support his father through iontensive naval support of Sisyphus from 1295 BC onward to then end of the Long Turmoil by hesitant armistice in 1286. For then Arceisius assemble armada enveloped the Peloponnesus by gathering up naval strength for a grand land invasion set for the autumn of that year upon the west shore of the Isthmus. Amassing strength ever so covertly by the rounding of the Pelopnnesus, the armada finally could sail downwind the Great Gulf at full force of Zephyr the West Wind abaft all sterns, and in plainest sight once came a dawn after a long night of passage.

That so-called Battle of Four Mountains (each salutary of a region brought to reconquest—Phokis, Thebes, Isthmian Ëphyrëa and Sikyon) sundered the two major components of Enemy – imperial Argolis from the Minyans at martial occupation of Thebes. Arceisius came out of the warfare as the Wanax of the Western Isles.

Laërtes as Co-regent with Arceisius, 1286-1277, and Sole Sovereign, 1277- 1268

Odysseus was the beloved grandchild of Arceisius until he died in 1277 BC, at a still indeterminate age. Odysseus was almost ten years old, and became the next year the command apprentice in training under his Father’s supreme command over all navies and sole sovereign over the region that formally was named Cephalennia in 1271 after countless years of being called so by most all foreigners in admiration of Cephalos and all the Isles that they regarded a western kingdom.

Laërtes went missing from Odysseus’ boyhood summer months to restation the far fleets as they were supposed to be deployed before the long war was waged. He resumed the escorting of the Great Grain Convoys, of which shares earned from bulk redistribution Cephalennia effectively gained a treasury in support of all far ranging naval operations – whether for preparations of naval warfare or for substantive exchange in support of the Isles’ maritime commerce throughout the Aegean and Cretan Seas. When his father died, Laërtes self-sacrifice at some neglect was rewarded by Odysseus becoming a command apprentice to take aboard his own great ship at supreme naval command – The Lütrökas (Loo-TROWK-ass, which name means The Redemptor in Oldest Greek). For the ensuing six years the father was to enjoy the happy years of a lad and young teenager such as he had missed of those ages in life because born into a major war.

Back to the Great Gulf Galleys

It can be argued most credibly that the great galleys of the Isthmian War or Long Turmoil did not win their class appellation until its sixth year had elapsed. For in 1296 BC most all the naval warfare staged outside the Great Gulf of Korinth, where its entry the Maw. For from that entry, in turn, constant shuttles of resupply and transport of warriors attested the great needs of oppressed shorelines and interiors of realms upon the Gulf. But all such galleys as I illustrate in the abstract below became, in fact, Great Gulf Galleys by designation.

[A highly abstract rendition of the galley class as fully manned by oarsmen to their bench stanchion stations for rowing. The long oars extending the top deck were manned by four or five men to each sweep, which was used to counteract the leeway of the warship’s bearing when underway strong wind and waves sets oncoming from abeam.

The illustration also shows, admittedly just barely, the stacked levels of the amidship in support of a whole crew or oarage for and aft the eccentric mast (here laid down and obscuring the mast box into which it was stepped for raising along with dismantled standing rigging.

The stacked level suggest very fine milling of all lumber elements, although that was hardly the case. Most all carpentry was rugged and crude hewn, but the joinings for sturdy module assembly of each level were highly sophisticated, perhaps even lost art as yet for our rediscovery. Thwarts and Framing used natural bents of timber found in nature as boughs or hardfwood trees or trees readily cleaved into splits, such as the many Cedars, especially the Sentinal or pyramidal Italian Cypress.

Finally, these very long ships were also very narrow of hull in contact with water — even when minimal of freeboard because greatly burdened with crew baggage, weapons and stores — not to say of special billets manned by experts who performed them.

When Odysseus became the Fleetmaster over the Home Near Fleet of the Ithacan League in 1271 BC, that one class of warship exercised complete control over all seas under hegemony — through which highly ennobled merchant magnates of Cephallenia coursed their complex itineraries of merchant marine at long cruising.

Skeletal Abstracts of Modules and Components to the Great Gulf Galley,
circa the 1260s BC. Please ignore the isobars of these overhead views of the dugout vessels that affect a progression of early building out of the entire vessel, for and aft modules attached, They serve mostly as my own draftsmanship guides to your author’s poor gifts at artistry.The benching shown here is also foreshortened by subtraction of twenty seating stanchions astern. That serves for clarity of the overhead viewpoint downward but not through the superstructure.The left side hull is distinctive for the aft sled peeking out from the bottom of the dugout hull. It was the aft extension, even a projection of the amidship’s bottom aft, whereby the entire tropis that was much alike a keel but technically a misnomer for one.

Over previous postings, admittedly long ago before now, we have the staged the build-outs of the capital class dugout longboat hull for a Great Galley. Such construction usually began at Prebeza Beach, at least as partially carved dugouts, or until they were framed and thwarted above their bilges at Taphia Isthmus. All phases progressed through the nesting or installations of modular benched oarages, four modules constructed for each readied hull. The need for four was the eccentric placement of the mast box amidships, fore and aft of which the sectional benching at larboard and at starboard by their spannings of beam. Such articulation of the amidship was a really outstanding feat of naval architecture, as was a later enhancement, the installation of strong armatures that cantilevered broadside decking above both broadsides of the warship. Pontoon suspended from these modules by way of skipping over wave surface, and for enhancement of balance mostly maintained by the good stroking of the rowing crew, or oarage. The overall effect was a relatively narrow hull beneath mid-level cantilevered structure that was road of beam to facilitate a sturdy platform for smooth sweep stroking of oars. Considering the heavy manning, the Great Galley later named after the Great Gulf of Korinth, was fast running battle cruiser. It was exceeded only by the twelve ships — named Great Boeotian Ships by scholars of naval history — that conveyed Odysseus in embassy to Troy for parlay of ransom and restoration of Helen after he abduction in early 1262 BC. We will close this posting about them, but we have nominated the class as the Cephallene Battle Shuttle on account of its built-in freighting capabilities.

Stems for poops and prows were also highly elaborate constructions, and both were built upon “tongues” of the basal dugout which extended from pith wood of heritage logs astern to their long and flexible peaks, called “Beaks.” We must admit to scant knowledge and almost no sources of depiction about how poop and bow modules were built and looked. The profile below is a rough abstraction of a Great Galley as readied for long distance rowing with the mast down and crutched amidships, over which shading canvas was stretched to relieve crews from bright sunlight while hot climate temperatures.

 

Below and aside are vertical depictions of Great Galleys under square sail and yards, top view, and bows-oncoming as lanteen rigged yards for the luffing of sail much alike our modern jibs and genoas as handled while aloft by spinnaker booms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All planking was performed at Taphia Isthmus or ashore that Isle’s two sounds southward from its barrier shoal. All hulls were then rowed or towed to Dülichion Sound for their finishing of superstructure both amidships, fore and aft. Essentially it finished the extension of the basal dugout longboat as a finely wrought  work of naval architecture and structural integrity. Subsequent design innovations carried beyond the two generations of full genesis of the class as Laertes’ modifications for freighting as well as fighting. That meant standing and running rigging for wear and handling of sails. It must be emphasized, however, that sailing was a “jury-rigged” proposition, which is too say of stepping of the single mast by means of easily dismantled rigging in general. Furthermore, except for a minimum manning for rowing while at sailing, by sweeps to deter leeway pressure by wind or waves oncoming abeam, handling of sails from raising them to sheeting them for best luff of fabric sent aloft was a whole crew endeavor. Sail master directed all handling, while the pilots astern barked orders for the best trimming of warship at its downward  momentum of coursing.

The Great Gulf Galley by Legacy to Odysseus

Our sense of Laertes assertion carries a caveat, however, that his production of vessels by carefully managed stages, and by demands for resources from his closest allies and commercial dependents, far superseded the bare facts of his father Arceisius’ original, already superior design of a basic oared vessel for all battle encounters deep sea. Laërtes became a genius at the logistics of construction resources and tools, both ancillary to essential timber and milled lumber requirements. Logistics involved Triakonters as shuttles for supplies and water replenishment, whereas the Great Galleys were variously enhanced to shuttle freight, in particular beverage containers, livestock. dry stores and fresh provisions available in bulk. In  short, logistics made possible flexible and prompt coordination of many integral interdependencies between classes of vessels, as did  the divisions of labor by the billets aboard every hard working ship. Highly specialized woods and finely crafted chandlery attended good logisitics in operation.

Laertes’ ideal commerce was always to have all of that the ready and well-manned for his own shipyards upon the Cut of Ithaca Isle. He restlessly optimized. Design changes accommodated his keen sense of practicality. Odysseus would prove him out as a fine judge of proper compromise awhile the building of his father’s capital warships, a capacity of leadership reserve for the Wanax alone. Odysseus became a far greater patron and contractor of merchant vessels. Both capacities proved out well once his supreme command over all the operational  preliminaries to the greatest longboats ever that he’d have rowed and sailed across to Anatolia where the Trojan War. Through the assistance and counsel of veteran oarsmen, moreover, he took their “cutting edge” innovations of amidships superstructure as expresed through the crews’ spokeman, also his leading shipwright and sail master  Eurybates. Together they stepped into highly advanced sailing rigs, both of lateen and broad sail styles of handling.

I shall not let us get to far ahead of the years while Odysseus was Fleetmaster. We have a story to tell about the years intervening that rank and his ascendancy to co-regent Sea Wanax. So I conclude this posting with some observations about naval history in general.

The first oared vessels to conduct deep sea warfare with impunity, regardless severest weather conditions abroad the eastern Mediterranean, had two paramount features that were essential to a warring ship’s seaworthiness. They were also fundamental to fast rowing charges into any battle engagement where the speed and momentum by deft steerage evidenced clearly superior maneuverability of an oarded vessel within tight water confines—regardless their extreme lengths as seemingly difficult of turning underway or turning about in expeditious manner. The impeding features to turning were the sledded stern beneath the rising poop stern and the extreme cut-wake extension of prow beneath a warship’s reverse stem. The latter is not ever to be confused with a ram, but is too often so construed of LABA era war galleys. Rather, instead, both features stabilized a war galley of extreme length by the interplay of the stresses imposed upon bow and poop, both ends, especially while the entire vessel ran underway with all oars breasted. The faster the coursing by the oars, in fact and in practice, so the enabling of a long stroking style of rowing, whereby, too, the more stable the vessel plied through calm rolling swells so typical of both the Adriatic and Aegean Seas.

Later millennia and eras of oared vessels were mostly about duels of ships within tight water confines. Warships smote each other by trampling enemy oar galleries, or they hurled missiles broadside as though fighting top deck platforms. Well drilled crews charged their warship forward, but they also manifest considerable dexterity of bladework by retreating blades briskly from concussions in consequence of their brute force charges. A melee would bring all ships into rapid, violent closures, victory subsequently determined by who survived to regroup and surmount all disabled enemy.
Back in these earlier times in which we’re hereon immersed,  naval warfare was mostly about far ranging vigils, well coordinated patrols and maintenance of well enforced hegemonies by whole fleets over all near horizons. The navy that was best supplied — crews of ships devoured foodstuffs and water bladders at a rate of nearly a ton of both each day — dominated any  small sea within a greater sea. Such a navy had to wait at mooring or upon beach for fair winds to rise abaft next headings onward. Their fareways to a next destination or patrol area had to be carefully surveilled. Patience or extended layover upon a landfall could prove starving and thirst making. Catchement of water and filling of water bladders attended the logistics expected of supporting landfalls under hegemony of a stron naval power. Other matters of replenishment by finely tuned logistics, attested to brilliant navarchy – or admiralty in the sense of well-administrated shore command. Whereas a finest battle commodore must keep himself mostly at sea, or at briefest rest possible at landfall perforce horrible weather against voyaging onward, he kept all his hands daily preoccupied with needful chores and strenuous militant drills. Drills were myriad  and exacting, and we must always remember that they depended upon freemen crews willing and ready to prove their mettles. The battle fleet commodores and their flotilla commanders – both of whom outranked ship skippers whether mere captains or pilots – covered all landfalls and ports within their assigned ambits. They kept at surveillance the coming outs, the comings in from one water of far faring ambit at verge to another. It all had careful systematization.

Laërtes had all the necessary logistical genius, while he was also an ablest manager of required provisions for whole fleets of crews. Odysseus became his able optimizer while advancing his father’s many sound tactics of fleet deployment into his own far more comprehensive naval hegemonies asserted afar and abroad. Even as Fleetmaster over the Near Seas he was soon to accomplish more than the ancient Minoans had ever attained abroad their own supposed hegemonies over the Cretan and Libyan Seas. Any navy needed great elbow room, and they operated over vast seascapes, accordingly. Tight fighting within suddenly contrived battle sets became of the Cephalids’ ambushes upon fleets- both father and son most inventive at such tactics. They set few ambushes themselves, in person, preferring grand containment strategies of Enemy instead. Outstanding adjutant commands enabled their capacities as battle commodores to either corner or entrap foe within a broad water’s confines or hem in enemy against the beaches of his last recourse by flight.

This great second maritime era of fighting ships also must mean rapid speed away, by escape from superior numbers of foe, or when under conditions of a sudden ambush by vessels of superior maneuverability and numbers. Foes such as pirates fought as squads, by bully numbers, or they didn’t fight at all. The great ships of the Ithacan League, therefore, must sometimes turn tail most adequately, then run downwind from the best pursuit awhile a foe’s broad flank salients at following. Such resort was always into deep and perilous sea. There the League’s fleets dominated, by seaworthiness of their vessels alone, usually a next moment of sudden retaliation that ran them through far superior numbers like a pair of ferrets can slither through teaming swarms of barn rats.

The killing would then be pitiless and thorough, no mercy ever shown an enemy overtaken. Always, too, the massacre of their shore operatives, wherever their huants and hide-outs. The Cephallenes were conditioned to be merciless. That was the way of the imperial Cretans before them. That was the greatest proof in evidence that a great navy could also be a supreme naval power.

As we proceed into Odysseus’ gained prowess to command whole fleets, keep in mind his own accomplishment by his summers spent upon Scheria Island and just across the channel to mainland Epeiros. He drew early from those years thirty immense logs that would yield sixteen that allowed him to conceive a true battleship of a dauntless class. With Eurybates to carry their build-outs to completed launches in 1268 BC, twelve of them, led by The Ameilicha, he would take overseas to Troy.

for the Bardot Group

173rd Bardot Blog, No. 5 in Series: Odysseus, Cephallenia and the Geomorphology of Far Western Greek Seascapes

 

Shaded relief map of the Mediterranean. Colored according to relative height. Map projection Lambert Conic Conformal.

The map that leads this posting accords with Odysseus’ lifetime years as the Sea Wanax over the Ithacan League while co-regent with his father Laërtes. Throwing my regular readers into a pool of water without any aids at their flotation, my intended immersion is more exotic than it seems by the potential dunking. First, be cause many readers do not know ell the epic hero from The Odyssey of Homer, especially about his years of early manhood some nine years before he crossed the Aegean Sea by way of his naval support of the Trojan War. Secondly, Cephallenia was his maritime region, mostly unknown because most readers arte more familiar with Ithaca, his birthplace isles within the Ionian Sea which still is, in fact, sobriquet for a home return after many years at wandering, and also for the region in which it places so tinily. Third and finally, and almost unknowable until recent years, most everything about the geography of Cephallenia should fascinate even the least curious among us. Fot the rtegion introduces most readers to the scientific research of geomorphology, by which the related, more speculative arts supposed of paleo-geography.

The Larger Setting of The Odyssey

My reference material is the Cambridge University Press publication Odyssey Unbound by Robert Bittlestone, 2005. No longer in print, since 2012, it essays the exposition of the geomorphology of Thinia by John Underhill, by his studies of its rift and valley upon Cephalonia Island of Greece. Bittlestone’s thesis and purpose by the book has been a case for another author of the Odyssey than Homer, as by a rhapsodist former to the epic poet who actually lived upon or knew especially well Cephalonia and her near surrounds of sea and mainland. He sets out to prove where Odysseus lived separately from his epic birthplace supposed of Ithaki Isle of modern Greece.

Because this is introductory to several unfamiliar disciplines, this posting shall attempt simplicity and brevity through the agency of Odysseus himself, at his familiarity with his ancestral homeplaces (1) Samë of Cephalonia Island, (2 and 3) the lost isles of Dülichion and Taphia, (4) Ithaca/Ithaki Isle and (5) his sister Ktimenë’s realm of Thesprotia upon the Small Gulf or Gulf of Ambrakia as modernly known. At all those place there were thje most active venues of ship construction, inclusive all the preparatory stages of the modular practices, praxeis, attendant to the programming by shipwrights. Thereby their whole assemblies of the war galley classes Triakonter, Pentekonter and so-called Boeotian Great Galleys. All classes are addressed as though prototypical ship construction of each class, because most all we know about them during the Greek Late Bronze Age is so thin a gruel for a hearty repast.

Allow me some prehistory of a robust sort to tell you about……..

The Geomorphology of Cephallene Shipbuilding

Odysseus had spent the winter of 1270/69 BC at resumption of his supervision and approvals of current innovations particular to the Great Gulf Galley. He was following through on nearly four years of such retrofits, such as Mentör has chronicled before this posting by his Fifth Royal Chronicle brought to composition by the Bardot Group. As he opens the Sixth Chronicle, here essayed in small part, there’s much of his own historical narration about the evolutions inherent to those great warships, about his great grandfather Cephalos in particular. It accredited creator, at least prototypically, he built the Triakonter war galley into advanced swift ships of great seaworthiness until 1360 BC. He became an exile in that year from Attica and his birthplace of Eleusis on account of a hunting accident that killed his wife Prokris, the exaltation of whom led to accusation and conviction of perpetrated homicide.

Notwithstanding that circumstance, those very ships destroyed imperial Minoa through his boon friends the Princes Erechthëid, in particular Phaiax and Phereklos. Notwithstanding their triumphs at full investiture of Crete Island, and the rubouts of imperial warships everywhere the Greek Archipelago over the next year, 1353 BC, Cephalos had used his six years of banishment very well to fullest further effect of his naval genius. With his thrird boon friend, Nausithöos, they destroyed the Imperial Far Fleets of the last Minos ever Crete ever, through disinformation, covert manipulations, lure of the Minos into peril, and unto a final sea battle that rubbed out 350 years of the so-called Minoan Thalssocracy.

Bay of Alykai, Seaport of Thebes

From 1360 to 1354 BC, upon the west side of the Isthmus of Ephyrëa, Cephalos had based himself securely upon the seaboard of the Plëides Woodlands, now western Megaris. From there he built an extensive shipwork within the Bay of Alykai of Thebes – the recent successor region to Kadmeis, a fallen high kingdom. There Cephalos hustled along a last rapid evolution of the Triakonter by its elongation to sixteen sweep oars breasted both its broadsides. Fells of exceeding tall and yet slim pines off the slopes of Mount Helikon, his old class became an brief tradition of naval architecture, from which, he composed praxeis for a new class, prototypical to the Pentekonter as early as 1356 BC. When Nausithöos and he destroyed the Great Minos, the last of his title by the dynastic House of Minos, within the Cyclopes Islands and just offshore Africa, that especially long and slim war galley, most superbly extended of beam by cantilevered broadside apoëteis, proved most instrumental in the triumph.

They coursed especially fast while unladen, as was required of readiness for sea battles and long distance overtakes of naval opposition.His new class achieved by 1356 BC became over three years some sixty launches, which he rowed through the autumn zephyrs in 1352 at lead of an armada, having met his promise to his his new patron, Amphitryon, Regent Custodian over Thebes, Cephalos was agreeably to naval genius behind that new great friend, and by him the conquest of the Echinades Isles over the formidable opposition of Pterelaus the Uniter. For by then Phaiax and Phereklos had become wholly disaffected from Attica under its new king-of-kings, as Theseus had self-styled himself after the importune death of his father Aigeus. Regarding the superhero of Attica as obnoxious and vexatious, they’d taken their war fleets around the Peloponnese – all navies and all available transports embarking from their customary landfalls in and around the Saronic Gulf. They voyaged around the Peloponnesus, and finally down the Great Gulf, to make a wondrous sight as fully arrayed and oncoming to the Bay of Alykai.

By a reckoning of the class subsequent to its triumphs at lead over Triakonters, I prefer another earliest technical nomination of his fleet class to be otherwise than a prototypical Pentekonter. A coherent class definition, it was not yet standardized to what the name of the ship means— a galley of twenty-five to twenty-six sweep oars breasted each broadside. Those oars could be manned by either one or two oarsmen to each sweep by way of their seated bench configurations. This vessel is much better characterized generically as a great galley monoreme of a single gallery of thole pins and stanchion backrests. That infers a midship whose crouched, only barely seated rowers were uncovered, or shaded over solely by tautened canvas. That made it an aphract vessel, by the Greek aphractos, for a meaning “not decked.” Cephalos’ prototype, moreover, had the apoëteis, or cantilevered beam extensions, decked over to both protect the oar looms resting upon their thole pins, and else to enable some quick stepping of seamen along the outer length, or above the freeboard, of the entire warship amidship. Finally, however, his new class wore at most eighteen to twenty-two sweeps each broadside—the most that his hull lengths could accommodate. So my designation of his class in best technical term-of-art has to be the Great Aphract Monoreme, even as popularly termed the Great Gulf Galley. [Incidentally, the Triakonter came to be popularly known as the Saronic Gulf Galley.]

Approaching the Maritime Era of Laërtes and Odysseus

Now that we’re depart all such technical jargon for keeps, allow that what I’ve set before our readers has greatest purview within Mentör’s much later Archival Chronicles. They began about Cephalos, and they’re replete with Mentör’s description of hull flotations for shipworks at Brauron Cove and Basin of Bay Attica, where slipways extensively concealed around the Saronic Gulf as well – especially after the imposition of the cruel and ruthless Tribute Takings by imperial Minoa from 1268 BC and following until 1354 BC.

I shall not prove redundant with those chronicles, or with that naval shipbuilding history. I skip over the 1350s to 1330s BC to the late 1320s, during which the ascendancy of Arceisius, Cephalos’ son by hiera-Lyssippë of Samë (the Ianeira of the Isles by sacral title and majesty). I redact Mentör even so, by preferring for my readers’ edification, instead, the Master’s superb rendition of the shipworks by then accomplished by his father Cephalos and appointed heir apparent Zakynthos. For their settings, arisen during the primordia of the Echinades Isles, and of Cephalonia Island in particular, are especially interesting seascapes.

Why? Because we next begin with the arrays of slipways at Taphia Isle & Isthmus, where the carving of great logs off Ëpeiros into longboat dugouts until made into hulls byu fore and aft modules most befitting to the true class edition of Great Gulf Galley.There’s considerable geographic orientation for readers that I should and shall provide to taphia. For the primordial features at that isle and all the rest of her sisters are nonconforming to what we know of them today, these modern times, about them. That then shall be what we’ll be mostly engrossed in and about before this posting concludes.

Taphia Isthmus was a necklace of shoals uneroded by winter sea storms arriving off the Ionian Sea. They were primordial reefs by extensive coral formation that evolved over countless millennia. They were heaped with sand and sea shell detritus, and by dead coral beds beneath that apparent surface texture. Even as the shoals were enlarged and heightened by seismic movements from deep below the sea bottom, the Isthmian Shoals were least effected by subduction of the North African Continental Plate as wedging itself under the broad mantle of the European Plate’s edge, by cleavage from NNW, as asserted each seismic upshift that enabled an entire regeneration of new coral beds that widened the shoals.

There was a main cut, or channel through those shoals, by which to enter a large lagoon at Taphia Isle’s northeast end. A tidal cut further east was easily bridged by heavy rafts, whose removal allowed a useful canal by which to drag, or even portage war galleys southward, across a beach head. Thereby that formation, a narrowe depicted below, of the Akananian Sound, the waterway betwen Taphia Isle and the mainland of Arkanania.

Modern Taphia Isle & Isthmus, which perpetuates Taphia’s
Great Lagoon and Entry into the Arkananian Sound

The greatest logs for the deep interior carving and final shaping of bilge bottoms depended upon slipways along the outer barrier reef; it faced northward, up and against the Ionian Sea. At just below the Adriatic Sea, once called the Ionian Gulf, numerous parking berths were gouged out of the old and deep shoal detritus. Scaffolded slipways were then easily installed to bear the whole length of the immense log or dugout longboat, for flotation of either while both earliest and last interior carving doen to their bilge bottoms. Typical of the sandy build over a mostly dead barrier reef, resurgent coral beds thickened the standing shoal during the times of Odysseus.

Along the west side of the lagoon, moreover, all completed dugout longboats could be dragged into another coastal array of slipways. Erected over sand, rolling baulks supported tropeis of hulls. That term is Greek for the basal hull of two cutwake extensions fore and aft. Raised high by scaffolding, footing planks enabled installation of broadside bulwarks. Such earliest finishing of the longboat allowed well-grouted ribs and lower thwart installations in mutual support, or for cradling, of later installed tanchion benching for oarsmen

Without any unusual geomorphology attesting the primordial geography of another venue of shipworks, Prebeza, lies above a chersonese of that name that was likewise utilized to complete basal dugout longboats. While about describing those operations technically, Mentör also defined, forever after and henceforth, just where Taphia Island must actually have located in true Antiquity, from before the dynasty of the Cephalids. Three sovereigns by direct successions – Arceisius to Laërtes to Odysseus – brought their maritime region to a nigh imperial sea power, and their realm to the status of a high kingdom.

Scholars have refused to accept the Isle of Taphia as one and the same as modern Leukas Isle, sometimes called Leukadios, before it became Santa Maura Isle under its name by the Venetian Sea Empire. That it became provable before the Master’s writ, or the Bardot Group’s, could not cause the enormous brou-ha-ha from our caste of armchair scholar castes to desist its consensus. Even from the global High Professoriats great umbrage arisen on accopunt of the great archaeologist Professor Dorpfeld. He’s been disproved since of his bold theory that Ithaca, the homeland of Odysseus and the Cephalids, located verily upon Leukas Island, at along its shoreline upon the Arkananian Sound (but not depicted by my illustration). I let that pass as utterly useless controversy, such as it is and soon shall be explained, on account of yet another and for superior theory than Dorpfeld’s.

Taphia, by what little we’ve understood of her beforetimes, and by all times since, was the homeland isle of Homer’s minor character, Mentes from The Odyssey. About him The Bardot Group insists his homeland House of Hippothöe, by a former annexation of Taphia, from which Commodore Lothröos, a boon friend of both Laërtes and odysseus, owed his direct descent— from Pterelaus son-of-Hippothöe the Great, the great granfather of Pterelaus the Uniter whom Cephalos slew. Mentes made regular destination of Ithaca by his traffic in trade of sideron, or wrought iron. He transported the rude metal in its standard forms of molded bars or staves, or else as sheaves of pre-tempered shafts.

Because most western locations of iron ore were barely known within Homer’s own lifetime, we still can’t establish for a certainty just where Mentes’ resource of the ore, or of wrought ingot brought down to Ithaca as an example destination of his wares for Odysseus’ approval and for wahtever in behalf of. The inference remains that Taphia was a product destination or southernmost depot of ore taken out of the Eridanos River, whose far upstream was abundantly ferrous. His source thereby was very far away from any of the Echinades Isles, even Scheria above the Ithacan League—or just as a merchant magnate of monopolistic proclivities would have his resources situated.

Mentör’s Sixth Archival Chronicle, therefore the Bardot Group’s, has other lessons for us to learn from maritime Cephallenia. For after Taphia Isthmus and Prebeza Chersonese, to which we’ll return in a next posting after this own, the Chronicle takes Odysseus, and us, over to Dülichion Isle. There we’re smacked with yet another geomorphological anomaly out of the geography of Greece’s far past millennia.

By the Imagery, Satellite and Man Conceived

Resources available to this Translator allows me several satellite depictions of the modern Ionian Isles of Cephalonia and Thiaki. They are useful for either my emendation or touch-ups. I’m also able to reproduce the scholarship of respected geomorphologists – sometimes called paleo-geographers – without plagiarizing them unduly.

And yet we’re briefly about to head on and into other fierce contentions. They’re by the pre-classical times of Ancient Greek History—some 450 years later than Mentör’s death just before the 12th century BC. Thjat means long after the Late Aegean Bcronze Age ended. Homer recited his epics during a brief renaissance from the Greek Dark Age, whereupon the Lyric/Archaic Age (725 to 500 BC). Homer defined Cephalonia Island from a consensus about its three major dominions – Palë, Samë and Pronöï – although those toponyms are connotative of “a Mother Island” composed from a mostly tight cluster of common, highly interactive dominions. They were only roughly autonomous sub-realms, therefore. They’re described, respectively, by the modern Paliki Peninsula, to the west; the lowland skirts of Mount Ainos, above whose Thynian Rift offshooting to the northwest was once extensively forested. The third dominion was the modern Erissos Jut, an isolated projection northward at just across from Ithaca Isle or Thiaki.

The ancient geographer and naturalist Strabo was the first historian and geographer to assert that the Paliki Peninsula had once been an isle solely by itself. It was defined as by a channel of indeterminable depth whose width was disputable as readily navigable. That natural canal once ran deep enough, nonetheless, for largest ships, at least in the times farthest past that are pertinent to The Odyssey by Homer’s epic mastery. Since Strabo’s lifetime our geomorphologists have argued with solid respect for him. They have explained the channel such as Strabo himself could not. Now studied seismically and stratigraphically, the channel’s pronounced deep water cleavage became gradually closed over the passing millennia since. [Image Dülichion & Vignette of Ithaca]

The northern end of massif by the Thynian Rift running straight from Mount Anos at the southeast end of Cephalonia to itself, the western side of both islands thereby hung over an abysm. It was a west side cleft of deep submergence by the landmass of Samë as largest ever defined. Strabo’s conceived channel  was a navigable sea passage, visible notwithstanding in our satellite image depiction.as a very narrow, seemingly shallow. It appeared above a “sound,” and entry in fact into the Bay of Argostoli. To have run somewhat broader than the satellite rendition seems an impossibility. My rendering is a modest emendation, moreover, of what two modern geomorphologists, Bittlestone and Underhill, have conceived from Strabo’s strong working hypothesis. They have served us a simple presage to the geological complexities that we’ll briefly confront. For regardless the difficulty of any straightforward exposition in behalf of Strabo, the subject of the modern experts’ geomorphology is a worthy discussion to consider, at least en passant.

I also introduce both scholars otherwise for being so astute as to have explained plausibly why The Odyssey, an epic fantasy, was preceded by many simultaneously running plot lines by their originating rhapsodists, perhaps true bards. Most importantly, those originalists had such a profound knowledge of Cephalonia Island that Bittlestone in particular has ventured to explain for the image presented just where all the characters of the epic walked and strode within an actual insular setting of The Odyssey.

The Paliki Peninsula and Cephalonia Island,  hypthesized as Dülichion and Samë Isles.

Allow that what I’ve depicted over previous and following satellite images shall seem counter-intuitive to our any visualization of a deep and narrow water channel that might sunder two land massifs fused by modern appearances. How can the interior from Ithaca’s Bathi Inlet be buried under Homer’s Pale as barely discernible just south of a northern hillock, laying west side of valley west and below the modern elevation of the Thynian Rift’s massif?

That notion makes sense, though, when we learn, as we must, that earthquakes can be either vertical by their first full force of thrust, or else downward by horizontal bias, a forceful wedge of continental plate subduction. Even as earthquake leave faults that are assumed horizontally fricative, by accepted general theory about the slippage of continentally sized tectonic plates, the plates per se don’t always slip or slide past each other. They are presumed predominantly to do so, nonetheless.

Obviously the channel depicted above is no less definitive of two separate isles than what Strabo might have illustrated through his own thinking upon their situations. The actual axis of the sea passage, or “sound,” is what Strabo would have rendered to persons wholly lay to the obscure field of paleo-geography. Further discussion follows, accordingly…….

Dulichion by a Satellite Image corrective of Strabo.

Strabo, the Bardot Group has found, has been wrong in a most precise sense. The actual sea passage’s axis, as now scientifically theorized, ran within an abrupt shift, by a lift of subduction, whereby a narrow that corrects Strabo’s minor fault of perception. Once the channel was placed to the east and underneath what’s now so clearly the axis of massif off Cephalonia Island’s Mount Ainos. A SSW to NNE vector of axis by water juxtaposes the rift from SSE to NNW. That’s both odd and also counterintuitive—utterly obfuscating.

For the fault zone’s alignment, before the channel lying over an abysm was crammed at both sides and closed up. Formerly a narrow sea trench directly beneath the Thynian Rift. The North African Plate rose up to fill that trench by its wedged force of vector pushing northeastward, leaving the narrow seeming “deep water sound” above to become shallow by the accretion of falling landslides. The filling occurred after many more typical earthquakes that have characterized seismic activity of all the Ionian Isles and the near north mainland nomos of Arkanania. The steep rise of slope thereby the landslide has revealed an immensity of sheer igneous rock massif, itself a projection of some considerable overhang of the sea trench below the concealing upper land mass.. The Thynian Rift’s massif strikes NNW, as said. We state with emphasis, moreover, that a nigh bottomless abysm formerly lay directly beneath the Rift.

How can that be so?

Prehistory of Seismic Cataclysms

To begin at six millennia ago, the North African Plate subducted the Central European Plate. It did so as many as seven times again until a former deep tidal channel, “the sound” as I’ve termed it, became first narrowed of sides, and subsequently crammed close, under the clear verge of continental massif that Cephalonia Island essentially defines to hover above. Each time and in between the two plates eroded or partially slid off and into the abysm. Thereby a high and immense rift became poised as a steep palisade directly over the axis, or isobar, of the plates’ contact with each other by lift of each episodic subduction. That means, as I’ve tried to illustrate well, that the Paliki Peninsula at the cup of the North African Plate had almost to become wedged beneath Homer’s Samë Island, by causing that main insular massif upon the European Plate to rise appreciably. But its exposed edge to tides at the ebb and rise at its overhanging the abysm, flaked off landslides, as did the cliff face of the Thynian Rift’s westernmost extent continue to do so at each episode of subduction.

Long after Mentör’s lifetime, when peninsula and massif finally melded verges by subduction above the abysm – whereupon a complete closure, therefore – the operating force vectors defined Cephalonia Island as it’s now so familiar to a soaring bird’s eye view. While horizontal earthquakes below 7.0 on the Richter Scale are almost an annual occurrence within the Ionian Isles, the vertical shakes that have greatly exceeded that logarithmic scalar of geomorphic force at uplift have occurred a minimum of five times over the 3,200 years since the LABA ended in 1190 BC. The upthrust by each shake of subduction has averaged 60 centimeters by mean rising, or to about two feet for each major instance. What might have been reckoned of force on a Richter Scale must have far exceeded 7.0. Additionally, any of the five speculated occurrences of subduction must have proved oxymoronic, a ”prolonged instance” as the perceived actual enactment. The first moment of each subduction, by itself even so, is nearly impossible for lay persons to imagine.

We can only comprehend somewhat through witnesses of the last occurrence, in 1953. Let suffice, to say of it here, that the sudden upthrust sounded like metros racing within five stacked subway tubes out of New York City. All of them as though running beneath the Thynian Rift, the five collective sounds of subterranean subways issued from Mount Ainos at SSE, the white mountain peak in our offered images. The tubes, by which the making of a common transit of five trains along a distance to NNW, had a duration transit lasting 25 seconds from first big rumble. Their crescendo to climax of five cacophonies at onrush might have proved nigh deafening. That’s what the uplift would sound like, but not yet feel like.

Twenty seconds into that climactic crescendo all else about must have seemed relatively silent – no longer deafening, that is – but the visual next occurrence had to have proved utterly astonishing. For by looking down from the Thynian Rift upon a hilly landscape below – where, perhaps, small and dense hamlets tucked into gently sloped glens and ales – you’d suddenly see all the houses and major buildings popping up their roofs and then collapsing. The impact of all the roofs upon their foundations would raise dust 100 feet high in a few seconds. All roofs so suddenly to have fallen, mostly collapsing intact, they covered all the the rubble wrought beneath them. Concussions with the ground simultaneously and sidewise, moreover, might barely have been discerned.

The whole incident, accordingly, was an immense and instant squashing. So were all its likes before and afterwards – by a some time next and same inevitable occurrence of subduction.

The five horrendous occurrences of subduction drove every settled populace away. The damage to community was too irreparable. So has been the result of the few horizontal crushes of plates by slippages at above the calamitous 7.0 Richter level. The occurrence in 1953 is, again, the best incident of subduction ever cited, or studied as amost recent example. As astonishing as that sound and sight must have seemed at two briefest intervals apart, the geomorphological process by aftermath of vertical earthquakes is, on the facts of direct consequences, so much more amazing.

The Thynian Rift became each time steeper, apparently higher, and yet its landslides of talus were no more frequent than its line of high ridge – as itself, that is – became stripped and yet rounded of summit eastward. The top of the Rift crackled along very thin fissures. They became gradual scores of surface subsequently, until in semblance they became vertical rills of most marvelously rounded contours, as though bas-relief. They also seemed to drip clay like sap that accentuated rills scored upon the Rift’s surface of incrementally arising steep palisade. The skirts below those rills show slumps and heaps, as though of oozy sap solidified. They seem to drip off the bottom of the cliff face, accordingly. The effect of solid, drooping rock facing makes manifest just how inertial, resistant, almost immutable the Thynian Rift must always have seemed along its entire length south and down to Mount Ainos. So, despite the humongous upthrust that last visited Cephalonia, the erosion is mostly manifest today by seismic renditions captured at where Paliki has now fully subducted former Samë. Three or four major subductions in the past has Mentör decribing the channel once it no longer was a “sound” or tidal sea passage.

As Odysseus describes that palisade to me, it’s steep cliff face high rises above a shallow channel. I later observed it from within its former sound, at the entry at the head of the south bay, Argostoli, a few landslides of gray clay by slump heaps of new shoreline. Whatever had slipped off the denuded cliff to form a smooth ooze of solidified channel embankment were once those lumpen, slumpen heaps. What attests a sheer wall of barren rock, all the way up its face, are shallowly grooved rills vertical as lengthwise – as light scores which they truly are somehow – whereupon dangling creepers suspend over and down the palisade’s wind-blasted complexion. For the wet season’s tempests are smiting that face hard and constantly, to allow such flora to appear just so lush as it seems in springtime, and again at last fortnights of autumn foliage – all the while Odysseus sojourned at Dülichion after our first full summer together had ended our sojourns upon Scheria Island and near mainland Ëpeiros.

So for how modern the Paliki Peninsula became defined, and how its final phases of closure once appeared, thereby to be aptly described Dülichion, an island formerly known until approximately 1600 BC, at almost a millennium before Homer’s epic masterpiece to think it such.

We also have this in passing from Mentor, before I get to main point of geomorphological analysis so particular, as it shall and must be, to Ithaca Isle:

…… Because of those lumpen clay repositories, I discovered for myself the purest powder that can be pulverized and readily sacked. Accordingly, I’ve seen the channel up close in these my ellderly years. I’ve observed it so only in summer or other dry season, when it’s best time to carry the pulverized lumps off and away. It’s easier at such times to see under the parched and dangling creepers, thereby to discern those scores running lengthwise, high and vertical, in parallel courses, at only a pace of width between their rills.
Still, it all looms most splendidly over you, in such dreadful immensity as to think, perchance at any next moment, it all could topple down upon the slim channel and clog it permanently.

 

Strabo’s Channel has been emended to a somewhat narrower depiction than he described. He insisted that water flowed readily from one end to the other during regularly elapsing tides. During storm sets of winter season, it barely showed its bottom during low tides. Mentör, by contrast, describes the channel as both narrower and some places along it visibly shallow. Ebb tides revealed several shallows, not here depicted but most times clearly discerned.

The Tilth of Cephalonia’s Tripartite Agronomy:

The moss colored terrain attests to the latter day main divisions of Cephalonia, as known to Homer from before the geographer Strabo. That particular hue denotes tilth by which to grow crops for resident shipwrights and livestock provender cultivation for transient livestock at pasture before embarked aboard ships as live stores. That the three dominions of ancient Cephalonia were so close together, yet autonomous of governance by their respective High Matrons, or Governesses, is most important. By their contiguous situations there was also a most deliberate coordination of the whole agronomy by all the other islands, or as they were composed in Odysseus’ prime eyars of manhood. A fullest diversity of segregated surpluses, either for export or for livestock stores put aboard ships, derived from the comparative advantages respective to each autonomous dominion at comity within their tripartite.

Oblivious to this topic of our geomorphological interest, Odysseus says about the sea channel and its utility during his last teenage years:

Barns spanned the channel and were at considerable replication with each other. Others are more aptly called lodges and locate within the rolling hilly sprawl lying inland and west side of the sea passage. Their summertime purpose remains, for the weaving of cordage into heavy hawsers, or for braiding strong main sheets of sails, or for firm-stays suited to permanent running rigging of mer4chant vessels. In winter the barns also serve for fine carpentry and the manufactories of chandlery goods. For all that Dülichion is a capital seat for the finest skilled practitioners of most shipwright arts. They define its true nobility of patron class, community, and for the most part clans. Their ilks rule autonomously, regardless the bounty of the resident Medas that so generously feed them.

The density of so many activities and the duties attendant upon so many shipwrights, likely proved daunting to any new visitor. Along the sea passage’s west side there’s terraced [and contoured] embankment and some broad tilth that’s dedicated to provision of the working settlements. Besides the artisans of caste there were many homesteads of veterans off the Fleets. Many ennobled by their sea duty, some after years at able commands, there were also resident there shore commandants, or longshoremen coordinators, even to the relocation there of the few patron clans [heriditary nobility] of Sea Chiefs. Withal, what was originally rural had become rather dense and complexly integrated, even to following daily duty rosters that involved every manner of coordinating assembled skills.

Such dense settlement has had important consequence for Cephallenia and the Ithacan League. Dülichion in particular enjoys autonomy from her First Estate [of matriarchal governance] even as their mostly patron clans are entirely loyal to the House of Cephalos as a matter of supreme naval command over all the shipworks. An order of merit has many persons of high and lowly statures at foremost authority. They set priorities for the shipworks by their set projects and manning of construction duties. There is a naval governance in keeping with, and within the meaning of, my great grandfather, which is known as unique at nominated a timocracy

What that term of governance meant to Odysseus was this:

Whenever the men were not at their skills, they formed into several corvées. They made rotation of each other at the cultivation of crops, all as meet to their proper season and harvest of tilth. Children were put to the hard work of shepherds over the entire range of Dülichion from their very early ages. Then the lads were apprenticed to the shipwrights until their sixteenth years attained, when then they took happily to the summons of conscription into the Fleets. Usually they served their eight years at achieving a particular expertise via shipwright billets once aboard their assigned warships.

The grown girls loom the sails and stitch the standard mariner attire. Among their sex, for those of maiden age, there must also be included the Islander’s incomparable artisans of leather and woven goods. Their craft sororities are the rival of Mentör’s Highlanders in all respects at producing best tanned goods, excepting only their rugged footwear, which the women don’t bother with, or attempt to rival…

A last illustration, previous page, composes what we take from Mentör — by all opportunities so far translated — of his apt descriptions of the tidal sea passage between Dülichion and Cephalonia. But what I say to the point of the geomorphology by which the island stands away from Cephalonia is this: At some point in a century long after the 12th century BC, all that was dense sprawl was uplifted within a duration of a 25 second subduction, Such seismic calamity arose 60 centimeters by the vector of “pull” of swtructures off their foundations upon soclew stones. Arisen that height so suddenly, the duration stopped, all ground shuddered for a few seconds more, awhile the collapse of roofs and any upper stories flattened to the surface of mother earth. It was calamity from which the inhabitants could not recover. We cannot say what became of them, such is the murk of the Greek Dark Age within the greatest likelihood of the episodic subduction.

Odysseus: Dülichion to the west is also still a major livestock exporter and [domestic] provisioner, despite the enormous consumption of meats by its own populace of shipwrights. Add the constantly transient fleets at sea passage to reach Argostoli Bay, once Cephellenia’s largest harborside. Zakynthos, the former Garden Isle just to the south, is likewise steadfast to fresh produce export and livestock stores by resupply of transient fleet components. Samë, the true Mother Island by contrast, was a consistent exporter of grains while wholly self sufficient at fresh consumables after the manner of Pronöë [Erissos Jut]. She, too, had a large portside of seafarers, so that bulk exports in grains must diminish during Father’s lifetime in order to feed the mariner populace. Easily supplanted by bulk export of forest products, at Laërtes behest since the last League Council, [1272 BC], such ordinary enterprise at the raw shaping of woods had the governing matrons always accommodating the needs of millwrights, men innovative by methods of shaping or curing woods, and as such prosperously entrepreneurial through their own retained carpenters and timber millers.

 I remark last about Erissos Jut of Cephalonia, which was also called after its borderline Drakon Valley “the Valley of the Serpent.” Its manor plantation dominion exploited an long, steady, somewhat undulating rise of land plotted by contoured terraces and stepped to contain tilth [alluvium] that’s supplemented by pine needle and leaf fall every autumn. Set to a winding pattern of such terraces, contoured strips of grain cultivation grow within the rubble walls running outward by contours a fair distance at each side of winding farming pathways. In summer, all autumn ground cover removed aside, those terraces supply the island with all its diversified needs— the freshest consumables of diet, plenty of jerked meats off grazing cattle, seasonal legumes and dried fruits out of longstanding, well-kept orchards. It did not produce a surplus of grain, however, because of the mostly wet season farming that is practiced there.

So, while Mentör makes clear to us that Dülichion and Homer’s Palë must have been one and the same, albeit as a peninsula eventually becoming, Odysseus often must wonder why and how a natural channel, easily maintained as such, allowed Dülichion to deem itself a detached peninsula. For despite the nearly annual small earthquakes at reccurrence along the Thynian Rift, and for all the tumbling ooze into its channel below, it remained just barely navigable. In Odysseus time, or according to his observation, all land west of the Thyrnian Rift was a single dominion at service of Cephallenia’s extensive naval operations.

Ithaca as Dülichion

Let’s pause to reconsider the implications of the ongoing inferences—according to the geomorphological tendencies of a most seismically active part of Greece. Bittlestone has made real prehistory out of his findings by relating the Paliki Peninsula to Ithaca Isle, even as I shall argue below why the island detached from the Mother Island Cephalonia was indeed Dülichion all to itself. Bittlestone’s findings are entirely consistent with a major sprawl of integrated shipworks and a society of greatly skilled populace, all dependants, that inhabited dales and glens behind the west shore of the sea passage that once existed, albeit very near or even at a final phase of seismic accretion to fill it in.

Our reliance has been upon Mentör off the acute and regular observations of Odysseus into the past of his forefathers. And there’s the lore he also learned from the Wanax Laërtes. From both their compilations we next address the prior eventualities that concerned the upper Bay of Argostoli and which affected a happening there in 1353 BC.

Acting as both Navarch and Battle Commodore for Amphitryon, Cephalos and his Attican fleet commodores made easy land invasion most anywhere their choices of places to combat the Echinades Islanders. He was particularly alert and knowledgeable that his naval opposition was Pterelaus, the appointed champion-at-arms to defend the Islanders. It was inevitable that they would fight a naval battle from which one of them would emerge unconditionally the victor. That occasion was an investiture of Dülichion via landfalls of the lagoon that indents the Paliki Peninsula, just as it was when still called Palë Lagoon. Bittlestone hypothesizes credibly its posture as first homeplace of Cephalos after the invasion of the Echinades Isles was complete to their martial occupations. Having landed Amphitryon in full land force, the Regent Custodian of Thebes proved his martial prowess at consolidating all land gains by every sea raid and investiture that followed. But then, at last, he got stuck upon Palë at retreat back to the seat and the protective lagoon that Cephalos insisted upon all recourse of Amphitryon to seaward retreat.

It also seems that Cephalos had stated himself wary of the entire land invasion for reasons of the tight confines of the Bay of Argostoli. The narrow sea passage at its head – along the shoreline of Dülichion’s densest populace, gave the Battle Commodore premonitions of dire peril, owing to the head of the bay appearing a means of entrapment, either south or within the sea passage. Leaving his class of troop transports to Amphitryon’s invasion force to reboard along the lagoon, many such ships so provided, Cephalos had drifted his great galleys well south upon the Bay of Argostoli wherein his positioning of vigilance. He left at the entry above the sea channel Commodore Phaiax’ advanced triakonters, escort or scout ships all; their crews well-armed and trained to take on any sudden opposition at approach to the passage. But such force was not expected to prove expeditiously reinforcing, should the southern side of the sea passage become hemmed in by ambush. So all the while of his maneuvers – by Phaiax north and above the passage, Phereklos at south upon the head of the bay and Nausithöos at each side of the tuck of Palë Lagoon – Cephalos stated himself aloud as extremely nervous at center of them all.

Sure enough, Pterelaus brought his entire navy over to a fray from the Garden Island which would be renamed Zaynthos. In such full force that enemy went head-on against Cephalos by a series of arrays that presented a phalanx of his fully manned paddle boats and narrow oared vessels. All such ships had sturdy prows for ramming most effectively. Ideal for the battle, Enemy’s number far exceeded the whole number of Cephalos’ war galleys, and all others, mostly Triakonters under his several adjutants, even as newly dispersed to blockade the lagoon where the retreats of Amphitryon. For such ships could not expose themselves to ramming; they could not withstand repeat concussions from mere paddle longboats. Instead they must trample the oarages of opponent oared vessels, even to trampling the low longboats themselves without concussions.

The battle engagement that ensued had Cephalos’ great galleys bows arrayed thinly from the south end of the lagoon all the way across the head of the bay. It took him much time to summon and achieve reinforcement from his own TriakontersIn such rearguard formations to an outer array of well-manned scout ship triakonters. The latter, formed in arrays alike pickets, took the piercing attacks of Pterelaus’ brave numbers of wholly inferior vessels. He overwhelmed the vanguard defense of Cephalos’ triakonters, but the great galleys drowned all vessels however persistent at breaking off their blades and oar shafts. Cephalos trampled them effectively, even as his adjutants managed to race their triakonters down the sea passage despite some harassment of them from the shore by the Islanders whom Amphitryon had not been able to fully repress, despite his consolidated land victories elsewhere of Dülichion.

In last desperate measure, because mostly defeated at last, Pterelaus managed to board Cephalos’ bannership, a great galley. There he died in the dual that ensued. upon the helm deck. Ever afterwards Cephalos suffered great remorse over his good luck, reasoning correctly that he should have lost the sea battle at considerable sacrifice as well of Amphitryon’s Thebans stuck ashore and utterly incapable of re-embarking their troop carriers.

After that prolonged sea battle of many nervous moments and impasses, Cephalos and Amphitryon settled upon Samë Portside on the east coastline indentation of Cephalonia Island. There they effected a peace, actually an orderly martial occupation over all the Echinades Islands. Amphitryon chafed and brought his force back to Thebes. The matriarchs of dominion and First Estate appointed Cephalos to High Chief over them all, using the treaty compact to retain their powers over the rural and port village commoners subordinate to their agrarian demesnes [the manor plantation commonwealths. The appointment also eased him into full authority over the Second Estate of patron “sea chiefs,” such as had held major power over the maritime social order of the Islanders.

Argostoli Bay forever intimidated Cephalos as a capital water for his establishjed navarchy and supreme naval command.. He preferred having his warships constantly on the rove and building up cache points for their layovers near abroad. He preferred such maneuvers to having them caught within any confining bay water. Given the mythic supposition that he was under the “omni-observance” of his tutelary Eos the Goddess of the Dawn, his fears were not allayed by her prescient command of all knowledges that were most advanced by human work and practical ingenuity at any given time. She would have inspired his most ingenious defense as it had turned out. But he retained remorse over his own disobedience to his own sense, to wit, that the Bay was as ill-suited for any great navy of warships. Rather it was a perfect winter mooring from stormy wet season at the end of the Islanders’ naval years.

Cephalos became content and very active over his first years while living at Samë. On the constant to and fro’, he’s responsible for turning Dülichion into a shipworks for building novel merchant vessels of enduring qualities and practicalities, even as he continued to operate most extensively out of the Bay of Alykai of Thebes—for warship construction and assemblages of convoys out of Ephyrëa. Eventually he became enamored of the small isle of Ithaca for its commanding situation of vigilance offshore the broad entry into the Great Gulf. Phaiax found extensive springs upon the Isle – they would prove appurtenant to the enormous watershed that lay beneath Ithaca and the Mother Island as some contiguous abysm of freshwater subsurface reservoirs. There he finally began to render its Cut of midrift sea passage to make the Isle the Harbor Island, whereupon to situate his expansive fleet operations kept constantly at roving.

That would not diminish Dülichion that it was so cautiously passed over as a capital of navarchy – an admiralty, While still central to Cephalos’ naval operations and the furtherance of the Isles’ maritime commerce, its commerce activities supplanted all its war naval purposes except ship minor building. So to say, therefore, that Ithaca Isle had a very late emergence within the prehistory of early Greece, about the Echinades Isles in particular. In his elderly years Cephalos deemed its location of greatest potential for standing a sturdy dynastic House, over a supreme sea chieftainate, at lead over the patron clan order of the Isles whose many chieftainates alike were dispersed throughout their west coastal archipelago. He left to his sone Arceisius to build out Ithaca, and as he did so ably and aptly, Cephalonia became a seat of agronomy and manufactories of chandlery artisan wares. He made an important naval port of the large cove where modern Argostoli situates today – after destroying it as a haunt of Argive pirates and brash adventurers off the south mainland of Greece. He snuffed out a brief hegemony over the west coast of the Peloponnese by imperial Argolis and its related House of Broteas over Elaea.

While resident Samë Portside, he had sired Arceisius off the holiest woman of the Isles, Lysippë, the entitled Ianeira. Keep in mind, though, that wedlock occurred many years after consorting with the widowed wife of Pterelaus, whose son Zakynthos he adopted and early announced his chosen heir apparent. So long and happy was that consortship, and so reputed Cephalos for servicing many women who deemed him so overpowering and alluring, that the formal royal and sacral marriage to Lysippë bore Arceisius when cephalos wasfar into middle aged. Rather than accept that reality, Homer and Classical Greek mythographers insisted Arceisius to have been a late arrived demigod to Ithaca, without any mortal sire, without a couching of his mortal mother with Cephalos. Instead, Arceisius was a “new man” borne from Zeus and Euryodia. That way he was most properly patriarchal, or just as much later Greeks of historical times deemed Arceisius.

It’s all nonsense along with many other false versions of who and how Cephalos became one of the Late Patriarchs of Greece during the Mycenaean Age. Arceisius remains stolidly a man out of Early Greek Mythology, by which he’s veritably the one and foremost son of his parentage, even though belonging to his father’s second lifetime, lived as the PaleoPatër over the Echinades Isles and the people called the Teleboeans and Taphians. Arceisius’ name which connotes “ a bear,” derived from the clan totem of the imputed mother Euryodia. More likely the name pertained aptly and yet obscurely to the totemism amidst which Lyssippë’s inherited sacral legacies.

In conclusion and in brief, that the Harbor Island as found and first named became the seat of a sea empire begun with Cephalos’ naval genius, was affirmed by Arceisius in fact after he outlived the designated heir apparent Zakynthos. The imperial proportions were perpetuated by successor Cephalids far into the last decade of the 13th century BC.

Accordingly, we’ll be having more to say about Odysseus as the Sea Wanax over the Cephallenes as next we post further discussion of his supreme command over the construction of Great Gulf Galleys.


for the Bardot Group