Theseus’ Journey around the Isthmos (page 251 with art)

Chapter 7: The Royal House of Athens

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Bak 18.19-22 – Bakchylides Odes

That man killed overweening Sinis, who was the greatest of mortals in strength; he is the son of Lytaeus the Earthshaker, son of Cronus.  Greek Text

London, British Museum E48: Attic red-figure kylix by Douris with Theseus and Sinis (on right)


The British Museum Collection on line

Munich, Antikensammlung, 8771: Attic red-figure cup by Apollodoros or Elpinikos, Theseus and Sinis


Drawing of cup’s interior by J.D. Beazley, Beazley Archive Pottery Database

DS 4.59.3 – Diodorus Siculus, Library of History

Sinis, it should be explained, used to bend over two pines, fasten one arm to each of them, and then suddenly release the pines, the result being that bodies were pulled asunder by the force of the pines and the unfortunate victims met a death of great vengeance.  Greek Text

Paus 2.1.4 – Pausanias, Description of Greece

At the beginning of the Isthmus is the place where the brigand Sinis used to take hold of pine trees and draw them down. All those whom he overcame in fight he used to tie to the trees, and then allow them to swing up again. Thereupon each of the pines used to drag to itself the bound man, and as the bond gave way in neither direction but was stretched equally in both, he was torn in two. This was the way in which Sinis himself was slain by Theseus. For Theseus rid of evildoers the road from Troezen to Athens, killing those whom I have enumerated and, in sacred Epidaurus, Periphetes, thought to be the son of Hephaestus, who used to fight with a bronze club.  Greek Text

ApB 3.16.2 – Apollodoros, Bibliotheke (Library)

Second, he killed Sinis, son of Polypemon and Sylea, daughter of Corinthus. This Sinis was surnamed the Pine-bender; for inhabiting the Isthmus of Corinth he used to force the passersby to keep bending pine trees; but they were too weak to do so, and being tossed up by the trees they perished miserably. In that way also Theseus killed Sinis.  Greek Text

Fab 38 – Hyginus, Fabulae

He killed Pityocamptes, who forced travellers to help him bend a pine tree to the ground. When they had taken hold of it with him, he let it rebound suddenly with force. Thus they were dashed violently to the ground and died.  Latin Text

Met 7.440-442 – Ovid, Metamorphoses

And Sinis, a monstrosity of strength,
who bent the trunks of trees, and used his might

Against the world for everything that’s wrong.
For evil, he would force down to the earth,

Pine tops to shoot men’s bodies through the airLatin Text

Thes 8.2 – Plutarch, Theseus

On the Isthmus, too, he slew Sinis the Pine-bender in the very manner in which many men had been destroyed by himself, and he did this without practice or even acquaintance with the monster’s device, but showing that valor is superior to all device and practice.  Greek Text

♠ Kratinos fr 328 – Poetae Comici Graeci, ed. R. Kassel and C. Austin. Berlin.

Oxford, Ashmolean Museum 1937.983: Attic red-figure calyx krater by Dinos Painter with Theseus and Sinis


J. D. Beazley, “Prometheus Fire-Lighter,” American Journal of Archaeology, vol. 43 (1939), pl. 11

Beazley Archive Pottery Database

Thes 8.2-3 – Plutarch, Theseus

 Now Sinis had a very beautiful and stately daughter, named Perigune. This daughter took to flight when her father was killed, and Theseus went about in search of her. But she had gone off into a place which abounded greatly in shrubs and rushes and wild asparagus, and with exceeding innocence and childish simplicity was supplicating these plants, as if they understood her, and vowing that if they would hide and save her, she would never trample them down nor burn them. [3] When, however, Theseus called upon her and gave her a pledge that he would treat her honorably and do her no wrong, she came forth, and after consorting with Theseus, bore him Melanippus, and afterwards lived with Deioneus, son of Eurytus the Oechalian, to whom Theseus gave her.  Greek Text

Paus 10.25.7 – Pausanias, Description of Greece

The Argives say that Theseus had also a son Melanippus by the daughter of Sinis, and that Melanippus won a running-race when the Epigoni, as they are called, held the second celebration of the Nemean games, that of Adrastus being the first.  Greek Text

Bak 18.23-24 – Bakchylides Odes

And he has slain the man-killing boar in the valleys of Cremmyon.  Greek Text

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Artistic sources edited by R. Ross Holloway, Elisha Benjamin Andrews Professor Emeritus, Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, Brown Univ., and by Frances Van Keuren, Prof. Emerita, Lamar Dodd School of Art, Univ. of Georgia, July 2016.

Literary sources edited by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, March 2023

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