Phineus and the Harpuiai (page 351)

Chapter 12: Iason and the Argo

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AR 2.178-93 – Apollonios of Rhodes, Argonautika

There Phineus, son of Agenor, had his home by the sea, Phineus who above all men endured most bitter woes because of the gift of prophecy which Leto’s son had granted him aforetime. And he reverenced not a whit even Zeus himself, for he foretold unerringly to men his sacred will. Wherefore Zeus sent upon him a lingering old age, and took from his eyes the pleasant light, and suffered him not to have joy of the dainties untold that the dwellers around ever brought to his house, when they came to enquire the will of heaven. But on a sudden, swooping through the clouds, the Harpies with their crooked beaks incessantly snatched the food away from his mouth and hands. And at times not a morsel of food was left, at others but a little, in order that he might live and be tormented. And they poured forth over all a loathsome stench; and no one dared not merely to carry food to his mouth but even to stand at a distance; so foully reeked the remnants of the meal.  Greek Text

Eum 50-51 – Aischylos, Eumenides

Once before I saw some creatures in a painting,2 [50] carrying off the feast of Phineus.  Greek Text

Soph fr 704 R – Sophokles, Phineus – Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta 4, p. 485, ed. S.L. Radt. Göttingen 1977.

(N., Trag. Dict. Ind. XIII)

They say that Phineus was blinded by Helios, because he chose to be very long-lived rather than to keep his sight.  Some say it is not credible that he could have lived so many generations, and that there were more of them, and that another Phineus was the seventh generation descendant from Phoinix … and he was blinded because he plotted against Perseus.  But Sophocles says that he blinded the sons of Kleopatra – Parthenios and Karambis – when he was tricked by the slanders of Idaia their step-mother  (Transl. Mary Emerson)

Ant 966-87 – Sophokles, Antigone

And by the waters of the Dark Rocks, the waters of the twofold sea, are the shores of Bosporus and the Thracian city Salmydessus, [970] where Ares, neighbor of that city, saw the accursed, blinding wound inflicted on the two sons of Phineus by his savage wife. It was a wound that brought darkness to the hollows, making them crave vengeance [975] for the eyes she crushed with her bloody hands and with her shuttle for a dagger. [977] Wasting away in their misery, they bewailed their miserable suffering [980] and their birth from their mother stripped of her marriage. But she traced her descent from the ancient line of the Erechtheids, and in far-distant caves she was raised amidst her father’s gusts. She was the child of Boreas, [985] running swift as horses over the steep hills, a daughter of gods. Yet she, too, was assailed by the long-lived Fates, my child.  Greek Text

Soph fr 636 R – Sophokles, Tympanistai – Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta 4, p. 459, ed. S.L. Radt. Göttingen 1977.

Alas, alas, what joy is in store for you greater than this: a light sojourn upon earth, and then buried in the tomb to listen to the heavy rain with quiet mind?  (Transl. Mary Emerson)

Soph fr 637 R – Sophokles, Tympanistai – Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta vol. 4, p. 459, ed. S.L. Radt. Göttingen 1977.

We in the cave where Sarpedon …  (Transl. Mary Emerson)

Soph fr 638 R – Sophokles, Tympanistai – Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta vol. 4, p. 460, ed. S.L. Radt. Göttingen 1977.

Cholchian and Chaldaian and the race of Syrians  (Transl. Mary Emerson)

Soph fr 645 R – Sophokles, Tympanistai – Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta vol. 4, p. 461, ed. S.L. Radt. Göttingen 1977.

Boreas was related by marriage to the Athenians, following his rape of Oreithyia, daughter of Erechtheus;  from her he got Zetes and Kalais and Kleopatra.  This was the girl Phineus  married and she bore him two boys, Plexippos and Pandion, (though according to some, they were called Terymbas and Aspondos).  After the death of Kleopatra, Phineus married Idaia, the daughter of Dardanos, (according to some it was Idothea, sister of Kadmos, whom Sophocles himself mentions in his Tympanists).  She treacherously blinded and imprisoned the sons of Kleopatra in a tomb; as some say she falsely accused them of assaulting her; by this slander Phineus was tricked and he blinded them both.  Apollodorus recounts this in his Library (3,15,3).  Some recount that Phineus married Idaia having cast out the living Kleopatra who then, in anger, blinded her own sons.  (Transl. Mary Emerson)

Soph fr 705 R – Sophokles, Phineus – Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta vol. 4, p. 486, ed. S.L. Radt. Göttingen 1977.

N., Trag. Dict. Ind. XIII

There were two Phineus’s.  The first Phineus had two sons, Thunos and Mariandunos, after whom the tribes were named *** but he became blind when the gods offered him a choice, either to have the gift of prophecy and to be blind or to live a short life and to have health and no prophecy; he chose the gift of prophecy.   Because of this Apollo was violently angry and blinded him.  But Sophocles says in his Phineus that he was blinded, because he destroyed his own children  (Transl. Mary Emerson)

Soph fr 710 R – Sophokles, Phineus – Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta vol. 4, p. 487, ed. S.L. Radt. Göttingen 1977.

(Instead of being blind?), his eyes were opened and his pupils became brilliant, when he met with the kindly Asklepios …

710 note 2

The researchers … say that Asklepios was blasted by a thunderbolt …  Stesichoros (PMG 194)  on one hand saying that he restored some of those attacking Thebes … but Philarchos  (81F18) [says that it was] because in the ninth year he restored the blinded sons of Phineus, as a favour for Kleopatra the daughter of Erechtheus.  (Transl. Mary E,erson)

Philarkos 81F18 FGrH Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker 1, pt. 2, sect. A, p. 166, ed. F. Jacoby, 2d ed. Leiden 1957.

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Edited by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, March 2022.

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