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PHENICIAN AFFINITIES OF ITHACA.
The field of the limited, but not unimportant, inquiry which I now propose will be sufficiently defined and opened if we bear in mind
1. That of the three great Ethnical factors making up the people to whom Homer sang, namely the Phænician, Achaian, and Pelasgian, the first named brought as their contribution to the national compound nothing less than the arts of life, which are the instruments of civilisation.
2. That the Phænician element came into Greece not, except in the case of the Cadmeians of Bæotia, by the immigration of races or bodies of men, but by the introduction of individuals or families, perhaps appointed under the Egyptian Empire, certainly qualified, to take the lead for political and social purposes in an infant society.
3. That the Phænician name in Homer includes what is Egyptian, and generally whatever had come from the south-eastern quarter of the Mediterranean, by means of the Phænician ships.
4. That Homer never in any case assigns a non-Hellenic origin to persons, or to manners, that had become Hellenic; and that it is only by comparison and inference, and the various forms of probable evidence as opposed to direct information, that we can establish any conclusions about them, as between indigenous and exotic origin.
I have to inquire, then, whether there are signs in Ithaca itself or in its king, or in both, which tend to show that his family was of Phænician extraction, and that the island bore marks of Phænician settlement within it.
Firstly, I think that these inferences will be strongly supported by an examination of the state of society on the return of Odysseus.
It is obvious that, if we accept as historical an expedition of the great chiefs and national forces of Greece to the East for an effort prolonged through a course of years; and if we also accept as possible the lengthened detention of some one or more among those chiefs by a course of sea-travel after the termination of the war, we are prepared to expect, as a consequence, a considerable amount of disorganisation in the dominion so long deprived of the presence of its head. We look for something bearing a resemblance to what happened to Western Europe in the not wholly dissimilar case of the Crusades.
But the case of Ithaca presents to us much more than this. Even in the Iliad, there are signs tending to show that Odysseus was not fully and effectively acknowledged as sovereign throughout his nominal dominions. Doulichion, which according to my interpretation designates the larger part of Cefalonia, supplied nearly half of the whole body of Suitors (fifty-two out of one hundred and sixteen); and these were probably the wealthier, as they alone are stated to have taken with them into Ithaca a certain company of attendants (dresteres), six in number. But in the Catalogue (N. ii. 625) the contingent from Doulichion appears under Meges, not under Odysseus. Further, Odysseus commands only the inconsiderable squadron of eleven ships. There is but one smaller body specified, namely the nine ships from Rhodes; but the smallness of the force contributed by that island is probably to be accounted for by its distance and imperfectly established allegiance. The small squadron of Odysseus was, however, furnished not by Ithaca alone, but by Samê, Zante, and a strip of continental dominion (I. ii. 632–5). It seems probable that such a range of territory must have supplied a greater force, bad it been completely assimilated to the rule of the Arkeisian family.
Let us now turn to the Odyssey itself. It is no wonder that the returning chief, as he arrives without companions, is at first led only to the house of a known and trusty dependent. But it is highly remarkable that at no stage of his proceedings does Odysseus either make or meditate an appeal to the people at large, or even to a section among them. He has only at best a handful of individuals specially related or dependent to assist him; his real reliance being upon his own energies and the unbounded resources of the great Athenê. Nay, he has cause to beware of a hostile popular intervention in the fearful business he has to carry on. Before he begins the slaughter, he carefully closes the doors of the palace, and places the swineherd so as to prevent any ingress, as well as any exit (Od. xxii. 126-30). Very different was the mind of the imperilled Suitors. Will no one, says Agelaos, 'go up by the postern, and let the people know? They will soon give the alarm, and make an end of this man's bow-play' (131-4). But, inasmuch as one man can hold the narrow passage (138), nothing can be done ; and the work proceeds to its terrible consummation. Later, when Odysseus has repaired to the residence of his father, the friends of the dead Suitors (xxiv. 420) gather a public Assembly. It is addressed by Eupeithes, father of Antinoos, who had been the leader of the band. His purpose is to avenge them on Odysseus : his only fear, lest the hero, with his friends, should get away from the island (425-37). Medon, the Herald, then warns the concourse that he has seen a divinity giving countenance to the great retribution (442-9); and Halitherses, an old friend of the long absent chieftain, bereupon takes courage, not to assail or resist Eupeithes, but only to declare that he abstains from following him (462). But more · Macmillan's Magazine, 1877, ‘Dominions of Odysseus' considered geographically. than half of the Assembly start up with shouts, and follow Eupeithes to battle (463-6). Then follows, under the auspices of Athenê, his own death, and the defeat and rout of his party: the havock made by Odysseus being finally arrested by the intervention of Zeus, who brings about an accommodation. But, all the way through, the numbers in active partisanship are entirely with the party of the Suitors, and that portion of the Ithacan Assembly which had not favoured them remains neutral. We have here a spectacle very different from that presented by an homogeneous sovereignty. Odysseus and his friends everywhere appear with the signs of a minority upon them. It is with an evident consciousness of this state of facts that Halitherses addresses the Assembly, and describes the failure of the attempts which he and Mentor, friends of the absent chief, had been used to make towards stirring up the Ithacan people, not to uphold the rights of the absent lord, but to curb the insolence and arrest the misdeeds of the Suitors (456).
Let us now consider what further light can be thrown upon the subject by the race-nomenclature employed during the transactions.
Eupeithes, as we have seen, fears that Odysseus may escape from the island. But where is it that he is deemed likely to seek refuge or aid against the Ithacans ? Not in his own dominions; but among the Pylians, or in Elis (430, 1). Now both these countries were under dynasties which bear signs of Phænician extraction. Nestor was descended through Neleus from Poseidon (Od. xi. 254), a sure Phænician mark. Elis had been ruled by Augeias (11. xi. 701), and one of his descendants commanded part of the Elian or Epeian contingent before Troy (Il. ii. 624). But Augeias is one of the group of persons who bear the peculiar title of anax andrön in the Poems, and I regard this title again as a certain mark of Phænician relations.?
The name ordinarily attaching to the Suitors as a body is Achaioi, or else Kephallenes, which we may consider as meaning those Achaioi who inhabited the dominions of Odysseus. The Achaian name is indeed applied more loosely to the Ithacan population, as it is in the case of the Greek army at large, by derivation from the primary sense, which attaches it to the nobles (Od. i. 272, ii. 7). Such being the general employment of the Achaian name, it is obviously significant that in a marked passage we find the Suitors or their spokesman apply it to themselves in contradistinction to Odysseus, the acknowledged head of the community. And this, not when he was exposed in his disguise to insult, but when upon a full recognition of him they were seized with alarm (xxii. 43, 4). Then it is that Eurumachos addresses him with a futile attempt at conciliation. If you are indeed,' he says, “the Ithacan Odysseus, then your description is a just one of what we, the Achaians, have been about.' Here seems to be indicated a distinction of race between Odysseus himself and the aristocracy of the Islands (45, 6). It is probable that the same meaning is conveyed in the curious passage where Odysseus, after his triumph, considers what means are available for the restoration of his dilapidated property. As to my live stock, much I will get with my own hand by freebooting; and I shall also have free gifts from the Achaians. This may mean that, being now re-established, he would expect contributions from the proprietors who lived under his rule (xxiii. 356-8). It seems, then, as if there still subsisted an unforgotten distinction; as if there was a sense, in which Odysseus was not fully an Achaios, or in which the proprietary class of the Islands were more Achaian than he: so that all the indications thus far agree with the idea that he was not originally or strictly of Achaian blood, and that his family had come into the island bringing with it Phænician associations, possibly also finding them already there.
? Juventus Mundi, p. 171. But I should now state more pointedly the Phoenician
Again. The popular religion of the island agrees with the idea that it was not yet fully Hellenised. It seems to bear traces, possibly of an old Nature-worship prevailing in the country, but unquestionably of Phænician importations. The great day of the trial of the bow was a religious festival of the people (xx. 156, xxi. 258). That Apollo is concerned in it
Antinoos the Suitor, in order to succeed in handling the bow, deigns to sacrifice some picked goats to Apollo the bow-famous (klutotoxos, xxi. 265-7). Yet it is not the feast of Apollo but the feast of the god' (258). This is quite intelligible if in the religion of the island the name and attributes of Apollo were gradually attracting and absorbing an older Sun-worship: and it is difficult to find any other explanation. If the Sun was worshipped there, he was probably worshipped
the supreme local god. And there is a remarkable passage which indicates that Apollo was taking over the Sun's prerogative, and was regarded as the local Providence or synonym for Deity, a character quite inconsistent with his position in the Olympian court and family. In xix. 86, Odysseus says that by the favour of Apollo his son has arrived at man's estate. Now this divine action in the rearing of Telemachos has no relation to any of the special or Olympian functions of Apollo. He appears here in the place of Zeus, or Theos, to whom the general care of men and their affairs is commonly assigned. How comes Apollo to hold such a place? It is only possible, so far as I can see, through his relation to the Sun, whose properties as the local god are made over to him for Olympian purposes. That is to say, the Homeric plan of absorbing the local cults in a central scheme requires him to make provision for the maintenance of the existing religious traditions without a serious breach of continuity. It is obviously Apollo that, in the Olympian scheme, becomes the representative of the Helios of the old Nature cult. But in that cult, or in many forms of it, Helios was supreme, while Apollo is of necessity subordinate in the Olympian Court. The very curious peculiarity of the Ithacan religion exhibited in the Odyssey is that we seem to see the process of transference actually at work. A certain degree of obscurity, and even of inconsistency, are the necessary result; for the Poet has to consider on the one hand the demands of his great Olympian invention, on the other the necessity of keeping terms with the popular religion. It is probably by a derivation from that religion that Apollo stands as the rearer of Telemachos.
Whether this Sun-worship in Ithaca was an indigenous cult, or a Phænician importation, I do not find material sufficient absolutely to decide. I will only say that the prevalence of Apollo-worship beyond that of any other deity, as testified by the number of temples and sacred places dedicated to each of them respectively in Pausanias,3 tends in some degree to instil the idea that this worship was indigenous. Not but that Phoenicians might bring with them a Solar tradition ; but that, if they did, it would then coincide with the religious system already established in the island.
So again with regard to the Nymphs. They were, in Ithaca, the objects of an habitual popular worship. Near the city was their grove and fountain, constructed by the eponymist Ithakos and his brothers: from hence the town was supplied with water; and here was their altar on which passers-by were wont to make their offerings (xvii. 304-11). There was, again, a cave sacred to the Nymphs near the landing-place where Odysseus had been deposited (xiii. 103, 347); and there the chieftain had in other days habitually worshipped them (349). As we shall presently see, this landing-place had evidently been named by the Phænicians (inf. p. 8). This tends to show that the worship had a Phænician character. Again, these Ithacan Nymphs are water nymphs, neïades (xiii. 104, et alibi) and krenaiai (xvii. 240). Now Kirkê is a personage altogether Phænician: and her four servants (x. 348–51) are born of the fountains, groves (the grove being, I conceive, a clump of trees with a fountain), and consecrated rivers. It is right also to observe that Nymphs were worshipped in Trinacriệ, the island of the Sun, which again gives them an Eastern or Phænician character.
They acquire that character yet more decidedly from association with Hermes. The hill of Hermes rises over the city (xvi. 470). In his banquet on the slaughtered pig, the pious Eumaios gives one of the seven portions, which he had cut up, to the Nymphs and Hermes (xiv. 435). Hermes is the son of Maias; and Maias or Maia, although Homer supplies no direct evidence as to ber extraction, is by all other Greek tradition placed within the Phænician circle. Further, in Scheriê Hermes is marked as the deity to whom the evening libation was offered before going to rest (vii. 136–8): and Scheriê, while it is the borderland between the two geographical zones, is clearly Phænician, and apparently has Poseidon for its presiding deity (vi. 266). It may be the Phænician character of Hermes which
Apollo, as I reckon, bas 106: Zeus has only 77.