Chapter 9, Theseus’ Later Exploits
Olympia BE 11a: bronze plaque with Kaineus and Centaurs
Illustration pp. 100-101 from G.E. Hatzi, The Archaeological Museum of Olympia (2008)
Florence, Museo Archeologico Nazionale 4209: Attic black-figure volute krater from Chiusi (François Krater) with Kaineus and Centaurs
A. Furtwaengler and K. Reichhold, Griechische Vasenmalerei: Auswahl hervorragender Vasenbilder (Serie I, Tafel 1-60, 1904), detail of pl. 11
♠ Homer, Iliad 1.263-64
…such as Peirithous and Dryas, shepherd of the people, and Kaineus and Eksadios and godlike Polyphemos… (Transl.Aaron J. Ivey) Greek Text
♠ Hesiod, Ehoiai (Catalogue of Women) fr 87 MW – Fragmenta Hesiodea, pp. 52-53, ed. R. Merkelbach and M. L. West. Oxford 1967.
(Hesiod observes this about Teiresios as do Dikaiarkhos, Klearkhos, Kallimakhos, and some others…) They themselves observe that in the land of the Lapiths, King Elatos had a daughter called Kainis. Poseidon, having slept with her, announced that he would do for her whatever she wanted, and she thought it worthy to change herself into a man and make herself invulnerable. After Poseidon acted according to what seemed right, she was called Kaineus. (Transl. Aaron J. Ivey).
♠ Ovid, Metamorphoses 12.201-03
Caenis says, “These injuries bring about a great request: that I may never suffer such a thing again! Grant that I not be a woman. May you preside over everything!” (Transl. Aaron J. Ivey) Latin Text
♠ Akousilaos 2F22 – Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker 1, p. 53, ed. F. Jacoby, 2d ed. Leiden 1957.
♠ A Scholia at Homer, Iliad 1.264 – Scholia Graeca in Homeri Iliadem I p. 40, ed. W. Dindorf and E. Maass. Oxford 1875.
♠ Scholia at Aplollonios of Rhodes, Argonautika 1.57
♠ Pindar fr. 128f – Pindarus 2, p. 109, ed. B. Snell and H. Maehler. Leipzig 1975.
…since he was smitten by the green forests, Kaineus lives [there], having split the land with a straight foot... (Transl. Aaron J. Ivey)
Athens, Hephaisteion, west frieze with wedding of Peirithoos, including Kaineus and Centaurs
Photo from flickr of west facade of Hephaisteion, showing interior west frieze over opisthodomos (back porch); figures of Kaineus and Centaurs are visible between third and fourth columns of exterior Doric peristyle (colonnade)
Perseus Art & Archaeology Artifact Browser (on design of Hephaisteion)
Photo by S.A. Watson showing frieze slab with Kaineus and Centaurs
Detail of slab 2 with Kaineus and Centaurs, from C.H. Morgan, “The Sculptures of the Hephaisteion II. The Friezes,” Hesperia vol. 31.3, 1962, pl. 80b
London, British Museum: interior frieze with wedding of Peirithoos, including Kaineus and Centaurs, from temple of Apollo, Bassai (for more information on this temple and frieze, see p. 280 above)
Laureion, Archaeological Museum 1219B: frieze block from pronaos of temple of Poseidon, Sounion with Kaineus and Centaurs
Fig. 11.4 from I. Leventi, “Interpretations of the Ionic Frieze of the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion,” in Structure, Image, Ornament: Architectural Sculpture in the Greek World (2009), p. 123
♠ Ovid Metamorphoses 12.189-535
The daughter of Elatus, Caenis, was
remarkable for charm—most beautiful
of all Thessalian maidens—many sighed
for her in vain through all the neighboring towns
and yours, Achilles, for that was her home.
But Peleus did not try to win her love,
for he was either married at that time
to your dear mother, or was pledged to her.
“Caenis never became the willing bride
of any suitor; but report declares,
while she was walking on a lonely shore,
the god of ocean saw and ravished her.
And in the joy of that love Neptune said,
‘Request of me whatever you desire,
and nothing shall deny your dearest wish!’—
the story tells us that he made this pledge.
And Caenis said to Neptune, ‘The great wrong,
which I have suffered from you justifies
the wonderful request that I must make;
I ask that I may never suffer such
an injury again. Grant I may be
no longer woman, and I’ll ask no more.’
while she was speaking to him, the last words
of her strange prayer were uttered in so deep,
in such a manly tone, it seemed indeed
they must be from a man.—That was a fact:
Neptune not only had allowed her prayer
but made the new man proof against all wounds
of spear or sword. Rejoicing in the gift
he went his way as Caeneus Atracides,
spent years in every manful exercise,
and roamed the plains of northern Thessaly. Continue Reading Latin Text
♠ Plutarch, Theseus 30.1
The friendship of Peirithous and Theseus is said to have come about in the following manner. Theseus had a very great reputation for strength and bravery, and Peirithous was desirous of making test and proof of it. Accordingly, he drove Theseus’s cattle away from Marathon, and when he learned that their owner was pursuing him in arms, he did not fly, but turned back and met him. Greek Text
Edited by Aaron J. Ivey, Graduate Teaching Assistant, Department of Classics, University of Georgia, June 2016; and by Frances Van Keuren, Prof. Emerita, Lamar Dodd School of Art, Univ. of Georgia, July 2016. Literary sources updated by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, April 2023.
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