The Libyan Stories

  • Jeffrey S. Rusten
Part of the Papyrologica Coloniensia book series (ARAW, volume 10)


We have seen that the accounts of the Libyan Amazons, the Atlantioi and Dionysus, which Diodorus gives in three separate installments, were probably combined by Scytobrachion in a single work. Since the real title of this work is unknown, it is here called the Libyan Stories. 1 Like Dionysius’; Argonauts, these stories offer a radical re-interpretation of traditional myths, this time in conformity with Euhemerism—indeed, the method of the Libyan Stories is so similar to that of Euhemerus’; Sacred History that the latter work can be assumed to have influenced the former directly.2 Yet “Euhemerism” (except in a special sense, as we will see below) is older than Euhemerus himself, and in order to estimate properly the Libyan Stories we must sketch briefly this tradition as well, as far as it can still be recovered.3


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  1. 1.
    See pp. 11-12 and 78-80 above.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See p. 14 and 88 above.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    On the growth and influence of Euhemerism see especially G. Vallauri, Origine e diffusione dell’ Euemerismo and A. Henrichs, HSCP 79 (1975) 110 n. 65.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Henrichs (above n. 3) 109 n. 62. Prodicus was therefore included (with Euhemerus) in the later lists of atheists, on which see C. W. Müller, Hermes 95 (1967) 151 n. 4.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Philodemus De Pietate p. 75 Gomperz = VS 84 B 5. On the interpretation see Henrichs (above n. 3) 115ff and (for second thoughts on another fragment, p. 71 Gomperz) Cr. Erc. 6 (1976) 15-21. Schober’s supplement rov[ç Acoaxov2]ov[ç is however unlikely to be correct. The well known dPeri of the Dioscuri (e. g., Aristotle PMG 842.10) is of a different nature than that of Prodicus’ neciiTot evoszai.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    See Henrichs (above n. 3) 110 n. 64.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    FGrHist 70 F 31 b, F 34, cf. also Pseudo-Epicharmus, VS 23 B 8, B 53.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    See in general Jacoby, RE VII. 2750-2769, his Commentary on FGrHist 264, Fraser Ptolemaic Alexandria I 496-504, II 718-727, and the works cited in notes 9-13 below.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Precisely how much of Diodorus I is taken from Hecataeus is still a subject of dispute; see the recent discussions of Fraser (above n. 8) II 450 n. 815, 721 n. 19 and O.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    See Fraser (above n. 8) I 497.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Diod. 1.11-12 = FGrHist 264 F 25. This is of course an adaptation of Prodicus’ „first stage“ see Henrichs (above n. 3) 111 n. 65 and Nilsson, Opuscula III 31ff.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Diod. 1.13.1 = FGrHist 264 F 25: vnci avraç *11 Ovrlrovç, Sid Sé avveaiv mai xocvrjv etragd nwv eveeyeolav rerevxdraç rfig ciOavaaiaç. Against W. Spoerri (Späthellenistische Berichte über Welt, Kultur und Götter [Basel 1959] 189-194) I incline to the view that Diod. 1.11ff is derived from Hecataeus (although 1.15.6-8 and 1.17-20.5 probably are not, see Schwartz, RE V.671). The substance of the „second stage“ of this theory (the apotheosis of great inventors and benefactors) is repeated at Diod. 1.90.2-3 (cf. 1.15.4), which is certainly from Hecataeus (FGrHist 264 F 25).Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Diod. 1.13.2-5. Some of the variants here may be attributable to Diodorus himself, but see T. Cole, Democritus and the Origins of Greek Anthropology (Cleveland 1967 ) 159 - 160 n. 35.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    On Alexander himself see L. Edmunds, GRBS 12 (1971) 363-91, J. Seibert, Alexander der Große (Darmstadt, 1972) 192 and on ruler cult in general L. Cerfaux—J. Tondriau, Le culte des souverains dans la civilisation greco-romaine (Paris 1957), F. Taeger, Charisma, Studien zur Geschichte des antiken Herrscherkultes I (Stuttgart 1957), C. Habicht, Gottmenschentum und griechische Städte (Zetemata 14, second ed. Munich 1970 ).Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Diod. 1.13.3, 1.15.4. The preoccupation with inventions is continued in the Isisaretalogies, see A. J. Festugière, HThR 42 (1949) 228-229 = Etudes de religion grecque et hellenistique (Paris 1972) 157-158, and in general Kleingünther, „necoroç et er4ç“, Philol. Supplbd. 26.1 (1933) 26ff, 109ff.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Diod. 1.13.1 (quoted above n. 12), 1.13.5, 1.90.3. The change in vocabulary, which corresponds to the general shift in emphasis away from cultural benefactors to political ones, is unlikely to be due solely to Diodorus. On evseyérriç in cult (the title does not necessarily imply deification) see Hepding, Klio 20 (1926) 490ff, Habicht (above n. 14) 156 n. 77, Murray JEA 56 (1970) 160 n. 1.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Diod. 1.13.1: wv e’viovç xai ßaasAeig yeyovévat xarà r9iv Aïyv2rrov.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Euhemerus’ date is roughly fixed by his claim (Diod. 6.1 ap. Euseb. P.E. 2.2.59 = FGrHist 63 T I) to have been a plloç of Cassander, who died in 298/7; he is also called a yiewv in a fragment of Callimachus’ Iambi (fr. 191.9-11 Pf.) which cannot however be dated precisely. On the Sacred History in general see Jacoby RE VI.952972, Fraser (above n. 8) I 289-295, II 447-457. I cite the fragments after FGrHist 63, but they have also been collected by G. Vallauri (Turin 1956 ).Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    On the tradition of fabulous ethnography and utopianism in which Euhemerus therefore stands see Appendix 1 (pp. 113ff below), Jacoby RE VI. 957, J. Ferguson, Utopias of the Ancient World (Ithaca, N.Y. 1975) 102ff.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Cf. Diodorus’ description of the Panchaean priests (5.46.2 = FGrHist 63 F 3): per’ wc5iis ràç necc ecç avrwv (se. rc5v t ccï5v) xal rag eiiç dvOewnovç eveeyealaç Seanoeevdµevot. The priests of Egypt had been claimed by Hecataeus of Abdera as a major source also (see Jacoby RE V II. 2760 ).Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Diod. 6.1 (Euseb. P.E. 2.2.59) = FGrHist 63 F 2 repeats from Hecataeus (see above n. 12) the distinction between aecivcoc and srtiyetot tool, but notes that Euhemerus describes only the latter group (see Fraser [above n. 8] II 450 n. 815).Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    See Jacoby, RE VI.964. According to Euhemerus (FGrHist 63 F 20) inventors showed their work to the king.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    E.g. the addition of Cronus’ daughter Glauca and his brother Titan (FGrHist 63 F 14).Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    The references to the Cretan tomb of Zeus by Callimachus (Hymn I.8, fr. 202.15-16) are not necessarily to be viewed as testimonia to Euhemerus’ account (Fraser [above n. 8] II.456 n. 840). On Zeus in Euhemerus see also n. 57 below.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    For the influence of Euhemerus on authors other than Dionysius see the works cited above, n. 3, and Taeger (above n. 14) I.385.Google Scholar
  26. 23.
    Attempts to show that Dionysius or his „sources“ can be relied on for the geography of Libya (Albert Hermann, Rh.Mus. 86 [1937] 87, RE XVII.1659) have not been successful. A more factual account of Libya which precedes in Diodorus (3.49-51) is perhaps from Agatharchides of Cnidus, see E. Schwartz, RE V.673.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Diod. 3.67.4-5, see p. 15 above.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Herodotus 4.178-180. See in general Windberg RE VII A. 305-323, who is however too much inclined to admit the possibility that Diodorus’ (i.e. Scytobrachion’s) Lake Tritonis actually existed (col. 320, cf. n. 26 above).Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Ethiopia“ is used here in general terms to denote the extreme west, cf. Homer, Od. 1.23-24, Herodotus 7.70, and Lesky Gesammelte Schriften (Bern, 1966) 417-418.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Diodorus’ introduction to the Libyan Amazons is somewhat confusing, since he first claims (3.52.2) that they are hardly known, then (3.52.3) that many writers, both old and new, have referred to them before. The inconsistency is probably due to his speaking in the first case for himself, but in the second reproducing what Scytobrachion wrote about his “sources„ (see Bethe, Quaestiones 8). Diodorus offers a more conventional account of the Asiatic Amazons at 2.44.3-46 (the source is unknown).Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    In addition to the many geographical and individual names found in Diodorus’ narrative (and to some extent confirmed by other sources, viz. Paus. 2.21.6 [see above p. 86], Anthol. Lat. 860 [quoted on F 2]) note the numbers of infantry and cavalry (Diod. 3.54.2 = F 3), of prisoners taken (3.54.7), and the description of the Amazons’ weapons (3.54.3), all of which contrasts sharply with the vagueness of Diod. 2.44.3ff, where even the first queens of the Amazons remain unnamed.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Diod. 3.53.6 = F 3. On the „Ethiopian Ichthyophagi“ who are said to have lived there, see Jacoby’s Commentary ad loc. (p. 512.7ff) and Tkac, RE IX.2530. I see no reason (pace Pape-Benseler s.v. and Der kleine Pauly s. Meninx) to suppose that Mene here is equivalent to Meninx. It might just as well have been a complete invention (perhaps based on the „old name“ of the moon [Diod. 3.57.5 = F 6]).Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Diod. 3.54.1-6. At what point in their history (as described later) the „Atlantioi“ were thus conquered is not said, but it was certainly before the career of Dionysus (Diod. 3.71.3, on which see p. 119 below).Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Myrina herself is derived from the woman named at Il. 2.814 and assumed to have been an Amazon (schol. ad loc., Strabo 12.8.6 [p. 573]) and to have founded cities (FGrHist 1 [Hecataeus of Miletus] F 138c, Dionysius of Chalcis fr. 2 [FHG IV p. 393]).Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Diod. 3.54.7-55.7 = F 3, 4. On the foundation of cities by the Amazons see Toepffer RE I 1756-1758 and n. 34 above.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Diod. 3.55.8-9 = F 4 = N. Lewis, Samothrace I (New York 1958) text no. 31; cf. p. 95-96 above on the role of Samothrace in the Argonauts.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Diod. 3.55.10-11 = F 4. The final defeat and extinction of the Libyan Amazons was accomplished later by Heracles (Diod. 3.55.3 = F 5).Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Diod. 3.56ff = F 6. For the uncertainties regarding Diodorus’ arrangement see p. 78-79 above. The Atlantioi are presumably derived partly from the inhabitants of Plato’s Atlantis, but partly also from the ArAavreç (or ’Ard avreç), a less remarkable people who are said to have lived in the same area (Herodotus 4.184, Rhianus of Bene fr. 12 Powell, FGrHist 90 [Nicolaus of Damascus] F 103u with Jacoby’s Commentary).Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Diod. 6.6 = FGrHist 63 F 2.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    In Euhemerus’ story the deification of Uranus and the transfer of his name to the sky were acts of Zeus (FGrHist 63 F 21).Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Diod. 3.57.1-2 = F 6. For the name Titaea cf. Diod. 5. 66. 2.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    See above pp. 89-90.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Rhea is also called Pandora (Diod. 3.57.2 = F 6), an alteration for the equation of Pandora with Ge; see the passages listed by West on Hesiod, Works and Days 81 (from which however Diodorus should be deleted).Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    The same situation is the basis of Callimachus’ epigram 20 Pf. (= 32 Gow-Page); it is perhaps based on an historical incident, but see Fraser, Ptol. Alex. II.824 n. 203.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    For the setting-up of a cult as a result of dçvavevudç see F. Pfister, Der Reliquienkult im Altertum (RGVV 5, Giessen, 1909-1912) 480-489 (cf. the disappearance of Hesperus, Diod. 3.60.3 = F 7).Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Diod. 3.57.2-8 = F 6. In this novel account of the Great Mother Dionysius was perhaps influenced by other combinations of Demeter’s search for Persephone with Kybele’s worship (Eur. Helen 1301ff, F. Graf, Eleusis and die orphische Dichtung Athens in vorhellenistischer Zeit [RGVV 33, Berlin 1974] 155 n. 24, 157 n. 30).Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    See above pp. 89-90. We need not of course expect all the details of Scytobrachion’s story to correspond precisely with the life of Philadelphus and Arsinoe, any more than that his account of Dionysus and Ammon should resemble precisely Alexander; nor does it cause any difficulty that the story does not especially flatter Philadelphus. The evidence which places Scytobrachion in Egypt is very uncertain (see p. 90 above; Nock, Essays I, 143 n. 43 misrepresents Suet. De Gram. 7) and to assume that he was a "court-writer" is unjustified.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    See D. B. Thompson, Ptolemaic Oinochoai and Portraits in Faience (Oxford 1973 ) 65.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Diod. 3.60.1-2 = F 7. On Atlas as an astronomer see Jacoby’s Commentary ad loc. (FGrHist 32 F 7) and Wernicke RE 11. 2125.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Diod. 3.60.4 = F 7. Their identification with the Pleiades (3.60.5) is as old as Hesiod (Works and Days 383).Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    J. Dorig, Der Kampf der Götter and Titanen (Olten 1961) 50 has not recognized the nature of Diodorus’ source. Scytobrachion mentions a Gigantomachy also, which is also very different from the traditional one (Diod. 3.70.3-6 = F 9), on which see F. Vian, La guerre des géants [Paris 1952 ] 199 ).Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Other accounts of Dionysus (whose sources are all uncertain) are offered by Diod.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    15.6ff, 2.38.3-39.1, 3.62-66.3, 3.74.1-3, 4.1.6-5, 5.75.4-5.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    See A. D. Nock, JHS 48 (1928) 21-30 = Essays I 134-144, Seibert, Alexander (above n. 14 ) 204.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Ammon was evidently included in Euhemerus’ Sacred History as well (Diod. 5.44.6 = FGrHist 63 F 3).Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Scytobrachion’s rhetorical description of Nysa (3.68.4-69 = F 8) is preserved by Diodorus at even greater length than his accounts of Hespera (3.53.4-5 = F 2) and Mene (3.53.6 = F 3, cf. Euhemerus’ descriptions in Diod. 5.41.5 ff, 42.7ff = FGrHist 63 F 3), and must have been a major feature of the original. An unnoticed reference to Scytobrachion’s Nysa by Apollodorus of Athens is discussed pp. 113ff below.Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    For Aristaeus as guardian of Dionysus cf. Oppian Cyneg. 4.273. Athena’s epithet Tritogeneia was commonly explained as „born at Lake Tritonis“ (see Henrichs, Cr. Erc. 5 [1975] 24ff). Diod. 3.70.2 = F 9 calls her Tritonis. On Athena’s killing of the Aegis according to Scytobrachion (Diod. 3.70.3-5 = F 9), see Henrichs 32-33, Vian loc. cit. (above n. 51).Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Diod. 3.61.1-2 = F 11 states that Uranus had a brother named Zeus, distinct from the later, more famous Zeus. Zeus I ruled Crete, named it Idaea after his wife, and fathered the Curetes. Jacoby (Commentary to FGrHist 32 F 7, p. 513.23ff) argued that this passage was an insertion by Diodorus, but in the present case (Diod. 3.71.2 = F 10) Ammon flees to the same island, marries Creta, the daughter of one of the Curetes, and takes over the throne, naming the island (formerly called Idaea) after his wife. This corresponds perfectly with 3.61.1-2, since Zeus I would by then have died. There is therefore no reason to deny the earlier section to Scytobrachion. The career of this first Zeus is very similar to that of Euhemerus’ ZeusGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Diod. 3.71.3 = F 10, on which see p. 119 below.Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    Diod. 3.72.3 = F 10. The Kampe has been borrowed from Zeus’ labors in the Titanomachy (see Jacoby’s Commentary on FGrHist 32 F 8, p. 514.30ff).Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    See Nock (above n. 53) 142 (to which add Hyg. Fab. 133) and p. 89 above.Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    On the visit of Alexander to the oracle of Ammon and its treatment by contemporaryhistorians see J. R. Hamilton, Plutarch’s Alexander: A Commentary (Oxford 1969) pp. 68ff.Google Scholar

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© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 1982

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  • Jeffrey S. Rusten

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