Chapter 2: The Olympians
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♠ Homer, Iliad 24.602-09
For even the fair-haired Niobe bethought her of meat, albeit twelve children perished in her halls, six daughters and six lusty sons. The sons Apollo slew with shafts from his silver bow, being wroth against Niobe, and the daughters the archer Artemis, for that Niobe had matched her with fair-cheeked Leto, saying that the goddess had borne but twain, while herself was mother to many; wherefore they, for all they were but twain, destroyed them all. Greek Text
♠ Telesilla 721 PMG – Poetae Melici Graeci, p. 373, ed. D. L. Page. Oxford 1962.
♠ Hyginus, Fabulae 9
Amphion took in marriage Niobe, daughter of Tantalus and Dione, by whom he had seven sons and as many daughters. These children Niobe placed above those of Latona, and spoke rather contemptuously against Apollo and Diana because Diana was girt in man’s attire, and Apollo wore long hair and a woman’s gown. She said, too, that she surpassed Latona in number of children. Because of this Apollo slew her sons with arrows as they were hunting in the woods, and Diana shot and killed the daughters in the palace, all except Chloris. But the mother, bereft if her children, is said to have been turned into stone by weeping on Mount Sipylus, and her tears today are said to trickle down. Amphion, however, tried to storm the temple of Apollo, and was slain by the arrows of Apollo. Latin Text
♠ Homer, Odyssey 11.318-20
And this they [Otos and Ephialtes] would have accomplished, if they had reached the measure of manhood; but the son of Zeus, whom fair-haired Leto bore, slew them both before the down blossomed beneath their temples and covered their chins with a full growth of beard. Greek Text
♦ New York, Metropolitan Museum 12.235.4: Lucanian red-figure skyphos fragment by the Palermo Painter, Marsyas with knife
♠ Herodotus 7.26
The skin of Marsyas the Silenus also hangs there [in the market-place of Celaenae]; the Phrygian story tells that it was flayed off him and hung up by Apollo. Greek Text
♠ Xenophon, Anabasis 1.2.8
There is likewise a palace of the Great King in Celaenae, strongly fortified and situated at the foot of the Acropolis over the sources of the Marsyas river; the Marsyas also flows through the city, and empties into the Maeander, and its width is twenty-five feet. It was here, according to the story, that Apollo flayed Marsyas, after having defeated him in a contest of musical skill; he hung up his skin in the cave from which the sources issue, and it is for this reason that the river is called Marsyas. Greek Text
♠ Diodoros Siculus 3.59
And crying aloud and beating upon a kettledrum she [Cybele] visited every country alone, with hair hanging free, and Marsyas, out of pity for her plight, voluntarily followed her and accompanied her in her wanderings because of the love which he had formerly borne her. When they came to Dionysus in the city of Nysa they found there Apollo, who was being accorded high favour because of the lyre, which, they say, Hermes invented, though Apollo was the first to play it fittingly; and when Marsyas strove with Apollo in a contest of skill and the Nysaeans had been appointed judges, the first time Apollo played upon the lyre without accompanying it with his voice, while Marsyas, striking up upon his pipes, amazed the ears of his hearers by their strange music and in their opinion far excelled, by reason of his melody, the first contestant. But since they had agreed to take turn about in displaying their skill to the judges, Apollo, they say, added, this second time, his voice in harmony with the music of the lyre, whereby he gained greater approval than that which had formerly been accorded to the pipes. Marsyas, however, was enraged and tried to prove to the hearers that he was losing the contest in defiance of every principle of justice; for, he argued, it should be a comparison of skill and not of voice, and only by such a test was it possible to judge between the harmony and music of the lyre and of the pipes; and furthermore, it was unjust that two skills should be compared in combination against but one. Apollo, however, as the myth relates, replied that he was in no sense taking any unfair advantage of the other; in fact, when Marsyas blew into his pipes he was doing almost the same thing as himself; consequently the rule should be made either that they should both be accorded this equal privilege of combining their skills, or that neither of them should use his mouth in the contest but should display his special skill by the use only of his hands. When the hearers decided that Apollo presented the more just argument, their skills were again compared; Marsyas was defeated, and Apollo, who had become somewhat embittered by the quarrel, flayed the defeated man alive. Greek Text
♠ Ovid, Metamorphoses 11.146-93
Abhorring riches he inhabited
the woods and fields, and followed Pan who dwells
always in mountain-caves: but still obtuse
remained, from which his foolish mind again,
by an absurd decision, harmed his life.
He followed Pan up to the lofty mount
Tmolus, which from its great height looks far
across the sea. Steep and erect it stands
between great Sardis and the small Hypaepa.
While Pan was boasting there to mountain nymphs
of his great skill in music, and while he
was warbling a gay tune upon the reeds,
cemented with soft wax, in his conceit
he dared to boast to them how he despised
Apollo’s music when compared with his—.
At last to prove it, he agreed to stand
against Apollo in a contest which
it was agreed should be decided by
Tmolus as their umpire.
This old god
sat down on his own mountain, and first eased
his ears of many mountain growing trees,
oak leaves were wreathed upon his azure hair
and acorns from his hollow temples hung.
First to the Shepherd-god Tmolus spoke:
“My judgment shall be yours with no delay.
Pan made some rustic sounds on his rough reeds,
delighting Midas with his uncouth notes;
for Midas chanced to be there when he played. Continue Reading. Latin Text
♠ Hyginus, Fabulae 191
Midas, Mygdonian king, son of the Mother goddess from Timolus . . . was taken [as judge] at the time when Apollo contested with Marsyas, or Pan, on the pipes. When Timolus gave the victory to Apollo, Midas said it should rather have been given to Marsyas. Then Apollo angrily said to Midas: You will have ears to match the mind you have in judging, and with these words he caused him to have ass’s ears. Latin Text
♦ London British Museum E447: Attic red-figure stamnos by the Midas Painter, Silenos and Midas
J.D. Beazley’s drawing of Midas with asses’ ears, from Beazley Archive Pottery Database
♠ Aristophanes, Ploutos 286-87
Leader of the Chorus
What! we shall really all become rich?
Aye, certainly; you will then be Midases, provided you grow ass’s ears. Greek Text
♦ Olympia Museum B1730: bronze tripod leg, dispute over tripod, possibly between Herakles and Apollo
♦ Paestum Museum: metope from the Heraion I temple at Foce del Sele, struggle between Herakles and Apollo for the Delphic tripod
♠ ApB 2.6.2 – Apollodoros, Bibliotheke (Library)
But being afflicted with a dire disease on account of the murder of Iphitus he went to Delphi and inquired how he might be rid of the disease. As the Pythian priestess answered him not by oracles, he was fain to plunder the temple, and, carrying off the tripod, to institute an oracle of his own. But Apollo fought him, and Zeus threw a thunderbolt between them. When they had thus been parted, Hercules received an oracle, which declared that the remedy for his disease was for him to be sold, and to serve for three years, and to pay compensation for the murder to Eurytus. Greek Text
♠ Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3.42
for they who have searched into those histories, which are but little known, tell us of several. The most ancient is he who fought with Apollo about the Tripos of Delphi, and is son of Jupiter and Lisyto. Latin Text
♠ Hyginus, Fabulae 32
Later, when madness was sent upon him by Juno, he killed Megara and his sons Therimachus and Ophites. When he came to his right mind, he begged Apollo to give him an oracular reply on how to expiate his crime. Because Apollo was unwilling, Hercules wrathfully carried off the tripod from his shrine. Later, at the command of Jove, he returned it, and bade him give the reply, though unwilling. Hercules because of this offence was given in servitude to Queen Omphale by Mercury. Latin Text
♠ Pindar, Olympian 9.29-35
For how could Heracles have wielded his club against the trident, when Poseidon took his stand to guard Pylos, and pressed him hard, and Phoebus pressed him hard, attacking with his silver bow; nor did Hades keep his staff unmoved, with which he leads mortal bodies down to the hollow path of the dead. Greek Text
♠ Scholion at Pindar, Olympian 9.29 (9.43) – Scholia vetera in Pindari carmina, Vol. 1, pp. 276-77, ed. A.B Drachman. Leipzig 1903.
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#Apollo, #Delphic+tripod, #Herakles, #Marsyas, #Midas, #Silenos
Artistic sources edited by R. Ross Holloway, Elisha Benjamin Andrews Professor Emeritus, Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, Brown Univ., and Frances Van Keuren, Prof. Emerita, Lamar Dodd School of Art, Univ. of Georgia, June 2019.
Literary sources edited by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, February 2021
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