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Greece & Rome, Vol. 50, No.

2, October 2003

OF ALL SEAS'; 'THE MOST MARVELLOUS WITH THE EUXINE* THE GREEK ENCOUNTER
By STEPHANIE WEST

Herodotus tells us that Darius, having led his forces from Susa to Chalcedon, took ship and sailed up the Bosporus Emrrag Kvaveas
-ras KaAevtLEva,L, Owcuac'ibaros
Tpo'TEpOV

s TAayC7KT'

EAAqrvesbaut el'vat, E'0,evos

Se

c'r

pAcot eOrElrTOTOv I-oVTov,

yap eovTa aJtoOe0rov' reayeWv 7TEvKE ayravwv ('to the Cyanean (dark-blue) rocks, which the Greeks say

in former times were not fixed, and seated on a promontory he gazed at the Pontus, which is indeed well worth it; for it is the most marvellous of all seas).1 Darius' excursion provides a quasi-historical framework for some geographical information (just as on a grander scale his Scythian campaign provides a framework for what Herodotus knows about the peoples and places to the north of the Black Sea). But the series of measurements which follows may seem to us rather anticlimactic. 'It extends in length 11,100 stades, and in breadth, at its broadest part, 3,300. Its mouth is 4 stades in breadth, and the length of the strait leading into it, called the Bosporus, across which Darius' bridge had been thrown, is 120 stades, reaching from the Euxine to the Propontis. The Propontis, being 500 stades in breadth and 1400 in length, issues into the Hellespont, which is only seven stades wide and 400 long. The Hellespont flows into an open sea, which is called the Aegean.' We see from the last sentence that Herodotus does not think of the Mediterranean as a single sea, but as made up of several smaller units. His figures for the Black Sea convey a sense of an immense expanse of water which cannot be divided up. A stade may be conventionally understood as roughly an eighth of a mile (a furlong), but it completely undermines the Guinness Book of Records effect if we transform the Euxine's dimensions into 1387.5 and 412.5 miles. These figures are of course far too high, the error being much greater for the length
This essay originated as a contribution to a seminar on 'Seas' organized by Dr Matthew Leigh at Oxford University in Hilary Term 2002, and benefited considerably from the ensuing discussion. It is extensively indebted, as any study of this area must be, to two works, (Sir) Ellis Minns, Scythians and Greeks(Cambridge, 1913), and C. Danoff, Pontos Euxeinos (Stuttgart, 1962) (= RE Suppl. ix. 866-1920). 1 Herodotus 4.85.

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THE GREEK ENCOUNTER WITH THE EUXINE

(almost twice the correct figure) than for the breadth. Herodotus explains the basis for his calculations in the following chapter; they rest on the conversion into stades of the number of days and nights sailing which he believed to be required. This display of measurements and calculation gives an impression of scientific objectivity,2very much in keeping with contemporary intellectual trends.3 But the conversion is quite artificial, and ignores the fact that it would have been most extraordinary to sail directly from the Bosporus to the Phasis (the furthest point east); coastal voyages were the norm. Herodotus has evidently manipulated his data. He likes large numbers for their own sake. Apart from the notorious example of his estimate of the force which Xerxes led against Greece (7.184-7) we may compare his calculations of the days in seventy years (1.32.2) (betraying an insecure grip on the calendar) and of the years covered by the reigns of 341 Pharaohs (2.142.2), where a reign is quite unrealisticallyequated with a generation, thus setting the beginning of Egyptian history 11,340 years before his own time. We may find Herodotus' figures rather bleak, but he evidently felt that they spoke for themselves. It is interesting to compare a twentieth-century attempt to express what is essentially the same response:
There is perhaps only one word which describes a Greek's feelings on beholding the Black Sea: awe. Awe at the expanse of ocean which stretches before him, silent, dark and limitless, devoid of sun, of islands, without a single reference point visible on the horizon. Here size and distance, the laws of nature, the lie of the land, are totally alien to the light and airy world of Greece.4

This is not the place for a survey of the Greek penetration of the Black Sea. The difficulty of entering should not be underestimated. The surface current of the straits runs from the Black Sea to the Aegean; it is accelerated in summer, i.e. for a large part of the ancient sailing season, because the volume of fresh water entering the sea is greater than during the rest of the year. The prevailing winds come from the north and north-east and increase the speed of the current. South-west
2 CompareAdrienneMayor, The First FossilHunters(Princetonand Oxford, 2001), 120: 'Measurements . . . werepartof the tradition of reporting remains. The use of exact extraordinary measurements showsa desireto expressthe wonderof the physical (evenif spurious) evidenceand to recordfindswithprecisionfor posterity.' We observea similar effectin the immensely popular mediaeval see furtherlain Macleod travelogue passingunderthe name of Sir John Mandeville;

Higgins, WritingEast: the 'Travels'of Sir John Mandeville (Philadelphia, 1997), 135.
3

(Athens, 1991), 75.

See furtherRosalind Thomas,Herodotus in Context 2000). (Cambridge, 4 M. Koromila,The Greeks in theBlackSeafrom theBronzeAge to the earlytwentieth century

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winds, which weaken the current and if sufficiently strong may reverse it, are much more frequent in winter. A counter-current of heavier salt water and lower velocity flows from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea along the bottom. This is sufficiently strong to drag a caique northward if fishing nets get in its way,5 but we do not know when it was discovered. Polybius, who was interested in the Black Sea's currents (4.39-42), was unaware of it, and it is first mentioned by Macrobius (Sat. 7.12.36f., cf. Procopius, Goth.4.6.27f.), though it is not suggested that it was exploited to counteract the surface current.6If Troy owed its wealth to its command of the entrance to the Dardanelles, it is likely that it served primarily as an entrepot, where traders who moored in the harbour at Besik Bay could do business with others who brought their goods overland, though a few merchant adventurersmay have thought it worth waiting for the rare south-west winds which would allow them to proceed into the Black Sea.7 We should not of course assume that Mycenaean ships came in significant numbers; the Greeks were not the only group sailing the Aegean in the second millennium. In a famous article Rhys Carpenter argued that the Black Sea was closed to Aegean shipping until the early seventh century, when advances in shipbuilding exploiting greater oar-power first allowed a speed sufficient to make headway against the current.8 Though his account of developments in ship design is not wholly convincing,9 nothing hitherto discovered refutes his view that Greek ships did not pass the Bosporus before 700. Notwithstanding an impressive catalogue of visitors from the heroic age Mycenaean finds are scanty, and no remains of Mycenaean settlement have been discovered.10Pottery from the sites of the earliest Greek colonies can hardly be dated before 630.11
5 Koromila (n.4), 69. A Timesleader (20 December 2002) on man's talent for improvization claimed that 'Ancient sailors, struggling against the strong downstream current to sail up the Bosphorus, were quick to copy the first man to discover that stone-filled baskets lowered 60 feet over the side will catch the deeper currents flowing in the opposite direction and pull them up to the Black Sea.' I have not been able to discover the basis for this claim. 7 See further M. Korfmann et al., 'Besik-Tepe. Vorbericht uiberdie Ergebnisse der Grabung von 1982', AA (1984), 165-95 (esp.165-76); J. Neumann, 'Wind and current conditions in the region of the "windy Ilion" (Troy)', AA (1986), 345-63; id. 'Number of days that Black Sea bound sailing ships were delayed by winds at the entrance to the Dardanelles near Troy's site', ST 1 (1991), 93-100; H.-G. Buchholz, Ugarit, Zypern und Agais: Kulturbeziehungenim zweiten Jahrtausendv.Chr. (Mtinster, 1999), 86-104. 8 R. Carpenter, 'The Greek Penetration of the Black Sea', AJA 52 (1948), 1-10. 9 See further A. J. Graham, 'The date of Greek penetration of the Black Sea', BICS 5 (1958), 25-42. lO I am indebted to Dr Susan Sherratt for guidance on this point. 1 See further G. R. Tsetskhladze, 'Greek penetration of the Black Sea' in Tsetskhladze and
6

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It would be rash to exclude the possibility that an occasional Greek vessel, lucky with the winds, might have passed the straits before the seventh century, but a prudent mariner would have been deterred by the inhospitable coasts to either side of the straits, which offer little shelter or safe anchorage; nor is the hinterland readily accessible. Once through the straits it was not always easy to leave; simply locating the mouth of the Bosporus could cause problems. Persistent fog dominates the gloomy description of Byzantium which Menander puts in the mouth of the elderly Niceratus (Sam. 106-9). The problems for navigation are well described in the formal prose appropriate to the nineteenth-century Admiralty's collective wisdom embodied in the Black Sea Pilot: 'The coast at the north-east entrance of the Bosporus is of moderate height, but the landmarks on it, which serve to guide the navigator, are often enveloped in thick fogs, which are the more dangerous in these parts, so wanting in places of refuge, that one mistake may cause inevitable shipwreck.'12 Still, despite these hazards, the North Pontic coast and its nomadic peoples came within the purview of the poet of the Iliad (though he has no word for the sea beyond the Hellespont). At the beginning of Book 13 Zeus turns his gaze from the battlefield (4-6):
voarqtv &' brTroFoT0Aov Op,YtLKWVKa0opopwtEVOS aLav MVOa)VT' a'XE/LcLXWV Kal dyavuv I7T,TrrT/oAyav
yAaKTro0ay(wv,

'AM([wv TE 8LKaCLorTrTv

dvOpW7Twv

looking out over the land of the Thracian horsemen and of the Mysians who fight at close quarters and the glorious Horsemilkers who feed on milk, and the Abioi, most just of men.

The people in whose diet mare's milk is a staple are the nomads of the Eurasian steppe.13 So at the beginning of extant Greek literature the northern coast of the Black Sea is evidently known. Like Egypt, it was there all the time, and the culture of its people long established, so that there was nothing anachronistic about the direction of Zeus' gaze. But,
F. De Angelis (eds.), The Archaeologyof GreekColonisation:Essays dedicatedto Sir John Boardman (Oxford, 1994), 111-35; id. 'Greek colonisation of the Black Sea area: stages, models, and native population' in Tsetskhladze (ed.), The Greek Colonisation of the Black Sea Area: Historical Interpretation of Archaeology(Historia Einzelschriften121, Stuttgart, 1998), 9-68; Sir John Boardman, 'Olbia and Berezan: the early pottery', ibid. 201-4, A. I. Ivantchik, 'Die Griindung von Sinope und die Probleme der Anfangsphase der griechischen Kolonisation des Schwarzmeergebietes', ibid. 297-330; Sir John Boardman, The GreeksOverseas4(London, 1999), 242, 254f., 282. 12 The Black Sea Pilot3 (London, 1884), 6. 13 See further S. West, 'Introducing the Scythians: Herodotus on koumiss (4.2)', MH56 (1999), 76-86.

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as in Achilles' reference to Egyptian Thebes as the richest city in the world (II. 9.381ff.),14 we see here updating and topicality, important for the success even of traditional poetry, as the poet of the Odyssey (1.35 1f.) knew. Encounters with the steppe nomads were still a novelty for the Iliad's first audience; early impressions were evidently very favourable. My concern is primarily with the archaic and classical periods, but retrojection from later evidence is sometimes appropriate. As an antidote to a tendency to take for granted the familiarity of the region once a network of Greek colonies was well established we should note that Polybius regarded even Byzantium as lying somewhat outside those parts of the world generally visited (4.38.11). This may surprise us, but we tend to be over-influenced by the city's later status as a world power and its centrality in Hellenic culture, a centrality symbolized by the continued location of the Greek patriarch there. If Byzantium in the mid-second century seemed remote, I need not spell out the implications for what lay beyond the Bosporus at an earlier date. Certainly Xenophon's account (An. 4.8ff.) of the march westward along the south coast of the Black Sea from Trapezus suggests that his 'army of condottieri' knew little about the region. Once in, conditions were very different from the Aegean and the Propontis. Herodotus singles out the rivers of the North Pontic region as avr'7 OVK E'XEL, its only remarkablefeature (4.82): Owtuaata8e -qXcopr Xcopl 'oTt r7ToTacLovS re troAAdtt Leyt'aTrovs Kat aptfOlpov7rAeaUTovs('This region lacks remarkable features apart from its rivers which are by far the greatest and most numerous').15 Large, navigable rivers are not to be found in mainland Greece or Ionia. In the north six great rivers flow into the Black Sea, the Danube (Istros), the Dniester (Tyras), the Bug (Hypanis), the Dnieper (Borysthenes), the Don (Tanais16), and the Kuban (also Hypanis17), and their contribution is of the utmost importance for the sea's general character. The accumulation of their waters largely accounts for its complicated currents. The mouths of the
14 Almost certainly reflecting the city's sack by the Assyrians in 663, when the booty laden caravans travellinghome to Nineveh must have widely advertized its wealth; see further W. Burkert, 'Das hunderttorige Theben u. die Datierung der Ilias', WSt NF10 (1976), 5-21 (= Kleine Schriften i: Homerica (G6ttingen, 2001), 59-71). 15 Lydia is also short of remarkable features in Herodotus' view (1.93.1). 16 Almost certainly early references to the Phasis (e.g. Hes. F 241) should be understood to mean the Don, not the relatively unimportant Georgian Rioni: see further U. von WilamowitzMoellendorff, Aischylos. Interpretationen (Berlin, 1914), 152f.; J. W. P. Bolton, Aristeas of Proconnesus(Oxford, 1962), 55-8. 17 Ancient references to the Hypanis are usually to the Bug, but confusion was all too easy.

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Dniester, the Dnieper, and sometimes the Danube, the port of Odessa, and the straits of Kerch, where the water is almost fresh, are frozen practically every winter.18This goes far to explain the classical tendency to emphasise the cold of Scythia (on which see Strabo 7.3.18).19 The lack of any tide to carry away the deposits of the great rivers increases the difficulty of approaching the shoreline; there are marshy, foggy tracts at their mouths, and on the west and north-west coasts the boundary between sea and land is often rather ill-defined and shifting. A further important difference from the Aegean is the lack of islands. Away from the river estuaries there is only one, c.45 km. east of the most northerly mouth of the Danube, and now Ukrainian territory, Ostrov Zmiinyj, the Island of Serpents.20Its ancient name was Leuke, the White Island, probably with reference to its white cliffs; I shall have more to say about its importance for the cult of Achilles later.21But undoubtedly the absence of the island network which in the Aegean was basic to navigation and communication22 was an important element in the Greek view of the Black Sea as inhospitable. Its dangers gave a peculiar aptness to the image of the Scythian bow, often used to describe its shape (and certainly more appealing than the modern comparison to the human kidneys); as Strabo explains (2.5.22), the bow-string corresponds to the southern coast, the rest to the horn of the bow with its double curve. It would be interesting to know who first thought of the comparison, which certainly reflects the realisation that the waters beyond the Bosporus belonged to a closed sea, not a gulf of the allencircling waters of Ocean. Whoever originated it must have been looking at a map, not simply reflecting on routes for coastal voyages (periploi).It is not a reassuring image. In antiquity every schoolboy seems to have known that the earlier designation axeinos (inhospitable) had been changed euphemistically to
18 Russia's craving for a warm water port is of course a familiar leit-motif of nineteenth-century European history. 19 The near Arctic conditions which classical writers ascribe to the area (e.g. Vergil, G. 3.34983) would of course have prevented the keeping of herds of cattle and horses on which the Scythian lifestyle depended, as well as the cultivation of grain important for Greek trade. See further W. Backhaus, 'Der Hellene-Barbaren Gegensatz u. die Hippokratische Schrift IIpt aEpwv varwov v T7rcov', Historia 25 (1976), 170-85. 20 Omitted from Bartholomew's World Travel Map (30 miles to the inch) of the area and from the map in Neal Ascherson's Black Sea (London, 1995). 21 The recently published monograph by S. B. Okhotnikov and A. S. Ostroverkhov, Svyatilishche Akhilla na OstroveLevke (Zmeinom)(Kiev, 1993, Russian with brief English summary) includes photos and a plan of the island. 22 See further Sea (Oxford, 2000), esp. Peregrine Horden and Nicholas Purcell, The Corrupting 224-30.

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euxeinos;compare Ovid, Tristia4.4.55f.: frigida me cohibentEuxini litora Ponti:! dictus ab antiquisAxenus ille fuit ('the cold shores of the Pontus Euxinus hold me; by the men of old it was called Axenus'). Strabo (7.3.6) connects the old name with the savagery of the natives along the coasts, and the change with the foundation of colonies. Pindar, our oldest witness, uses, or appears to use, both designations: N. 4.49f. yEt baEvvav 'AXtAevsvaaov (sc. EXet) ('In the (473?): v 8' EveElvWt 7rTAa Euxine Sea Achilles (has) a radiant island'); P. 4.203 (462): aov N6rov 8' the breezes of the south wind they came to the mouth of the Axine'). Of course it would be easy to produce consistency by conjecture. In general we may say that "A~ewvos is used where the sea's dangers are relevant or
to call attention to the change,23 E EtEvos is the unmarked expression, a'pas ?7r'' `Aee'ivov (Evevov t ('Conveyed by C) aTroJLa 7T?L7orLEVOl 'Avov

the default setting. Its designation as the Black Sea (in various languages) could not be traced back further than the Turks until 1920, when the philologist Max Vasmer saw that behind Greek axeinoslurked an Iranian word, axsaena, meaning 'dark, sombre'.24We might expect a single origin for the pair Black Sea/Red Sea, and it seems most likely that the Greeks got this not from the Iranian-speaking Scythians, as Vasmer supposed, but from the Persians.25Among many Greek borrowings from Persia, this has proved outstandingly durable.26 came to be used to mean specifically the Black Sea is How rO'VTOs obscure. The question is discussed by Strabo (1.2.10):
Quite simply, the men of Homer's time regarded the Pontic Sea as a kind of second ocean, and they thought that those who sailed there took themselves beyond the limits of the inhabited world just as much as those who went any distance beyond the pillars of Heracles. Indeed, it was thought to be the largest of our seas and that is why this just as Homer was called 'the Poet'. particular sea was called 'the Pontus' par excellence, Perhaps then it was on that account that Homer transferred to the ocean features belonging to the Pontus, thinking that such a change would prove acceptable in view of current ideas.
23

of the Bosporus he in a letterto the Archbishop Photiusoffersa nice example; The Patriarch

expresses his gratification at the thought that the Black Sea, formerly so inhospitable, was now (quoted by D. Obolensky, TheByzantine becoming not merely hospitable, but also pious (E3aEar,is) Commonwealth(London, 1974), 234). 24 'Osteuropaische Ortsnamen: i. Das Schwarze Meer', Acta Universitatis Dorpatensis I, 1, 3 u. Namenskundei (Berlin, 1971), 103-5. (1921), 3-6 (= Schriftenzur slavischenAltertumskunde
25

See furtherRiidigerSchmitt,'Namenkundlicher Streifzugums SchwarzeMeer' in H. M.

Forschungen: Festschriftf.Johann Knobloch (Innsbruck, Olburg et al. (eds.), Sprachwissenschaftliche 1985), 409-15; EncyclopaediaIranica 4 (London and New York, 1990), 310ff., s.v. Black Sea. 26 The name of the Bosporus too must represent Greek etymologizing of a non-Greek word, most likely Thracian.

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This can hardly be the whole story, but Strabo's approach is interesting, in particular his appreciation of the assimilation of the Black Sea to the world-encircling stream of Oceanus. Lexicographically r6vrTos is classified as principally poetic, but we should bear in mind the gaps in our knowledge of ordinary Ionic usage. To a Milesian (and Miletus was the mother-city of most of the Pontic colonies) rTOV-ro might not have so strongly suggested an epic reminiscence. Its cognates in other Indo-European languages mean 'path, way', even (pons) 'bridge'. It reflects the seafarer's focalization, and its application without further qualification to the Black Sea surely comes from the usage of the colonies and those who traded with them. It is mysterious how the word came to be used for the tract of land to the south of the Black Sea, a usage found already in Xenophon (An. 5.2.2; 6.15), though familiaritywith this name for the Roman province makes us insensitive to the oddity. Presumably it comes from the abbreviation of a longer phrase, like ev ro7t rrpos T0)L IovrTt (in the parts by the Pontus). The lands fringing the Black Sea provided abundant material for travellers' tales; griffins and Amazons held a particular appeal. But two bodies of legend are associated with the sea itself, the region's great highway, one with the south-east, the other with the north-west; both go back to a period before it was realized that the Black Sea was not a gulf of the earth-encircling Ocean, an idea which proved surprisingly
durable.27

The first, and the more important, is the story of the Argo, the prototypical quest story, hovering on the boundaries of the unreal and the unknown and generating a frisson of the excitement of unresolved adventure. There is a serious danger of constructing a synthetic narrative by combining scattered references from heterogeneous sources. Pindar's version, in Pythian 4 (462), his longest epinician, comes as it were at the cusp between older and younger versions, and a very helpful acccount of the legend's early development is given by Braswell in the introduction to his commentary.28 The poet of the Iliad could clearly assume in his audience a basic
27 It is implied by the term 'the Great(er) Sea' used of the Black Sea by Marco Polo and in Sir John Mandeville's travelogue; the Don was supposed to run into the Ocean at its northern end. 28 B. K. Braswell, A Commentaryon the Fourth Pythian Ode of Pindar (Berlin, 1988), 6-23; see also David Braund, Georgiain Antiquity:a historyof Colchisand Transcaucasian Iberia 550 BC-AD 562 (Oxford, 1994), ch. 1, esp. 8-16. (The chalcenteric treatment of Paul Drdger, Argo Pasimelousa (Stuttgart, 1993) is largely concerned with the motive for the quest, which is ratherperipheral to my purposes.)

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familiaritywith the story. This is implied by his reference to Euneus, son of Jason and Hypsipyle, who sent from Lemnos generous supplies of wine (7.467-71; cf. 21.40f., 23.747). These allusions to Jason may seem somewhat contrived; they should be considered in relation to other passages serving to link the Matter of Troy with other sagas. But at any rate Jason's stop at Lemnos is still within the familiar, realistic Aegean world. Euneus' name, like many Homeric names, commemorates something distinctive about the bearer's father,29in this case, the good ship
Argo.30

The Iliad's allusion would allow us to suppose that Jason went no further than Lemnos, but the Odysseyclearly presupposes further travel, with its allusion to the Argo's passage through the Clashing Rocks on its homeward journey (12.69-72):
OIt7 8 KEtVtL

yE 7TapE-TrAo

TovTToropos

vqV0

'Apyc 7ractf.E'Aovaa, 7ap' At-lrao vrAeovaa' Ka[ VV KE TeVyaAa [V' CUKa VtorL fdAev rerpas, T)V
aAA' "Hp-7 7TapE7T?reJ0ev, Er7TELt tAos r)ev 'IacwTv.

The only ship to sail past that way was the sea-going Argo of which all have heard, sailing from Aeetes. The waves would swiftly have cast it on the great rocks there had not Hera sent it past, since Jason was dear to her.

The internal rhyme in 70, not a common Homeric device, highlights which recalls Odysseus' self-introduction (9.19f.): el'' 7raoLtLAAovra,
'OSvaevs AaepTLar)7S,
r 7rdat

8o'AolLtv /

avOpI7TroLatL ftEAwo,Kat tLev KAEOg

('I am Odysseus, Laertes' son, known to all mankind for my ruses, and my fame goes up to heaven'). Everyone has heard about the Argo. But Circe, the speaker here, knows more than most, being the sister of the crafty king Aeetes (10.137), and thus a link between the two legends. More or less contemporary with the composition of the Odyssey the elegiac poet Mimnermus alluded rather more explicitly to Jason's quest, indicating its background and purpose (Fl 1) and the location of Aeetes' city (Flla): ovpavov L'KE
29 Thus Telemachus' name records Odysseus' skill at archery, Pisistratus' Nestor's eloquence,

Megapenthes' the grief occasioned to Menelaus by Helen's departure; cf. Eurysaces (Ajax's son), Astyanax (Hector's), Iphianassa, Chrysothemis, and Laodice (Agamemnon's daughters). The story of how Odysseus was named by his grandfather (19. 407-9) involves a similar principle. See Personennamen further H. von Kamptz, Homerische (G6ttingen, 1982), 3 1f.; J.Svenbro, Phrasikleia: an anthropology of readingin ancient Greece(translated by Janet Lloyd, Ithaca and London, 1993), 68-79. 30 Kirk's comment on the name, 'apt for a dispatcher of ships to Troy', misses the point.

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av-ro 'Ijawv

OV8E KOT av [leya

Kwas avc7yayev

a'Ayivo'Eoav 0806v, ;( Aitrs TEAccrasg Vf plgTr7t HTEAiqtLTEAEC)v XaAEV71pEg acEAov, ov8' av r' 'QQKcavov KaAOV'KOVTO povov. Ahrfao TroAtv,T06t T WKE1OSHeAolto aKTrevs XpvaE'ct Ket'Laat ev OaAa4txc
'QKEavov

tV' LtXErTO 0ELos TTapa XECAOS, 'Iucrwv.

Jason himself would not have brought the great fleece home from Aea at the end of a hard journey, completing the difficult task imposed by the arrogant Pelias; nor would they have reached the fair stream of Ocean.... Aeetes' city, where the swift sun's rays lie in a golden storeroom by the edge of Ocean, where godlike Jason went.

The sun's storeroom might in principle be located in either east or west, and some scholars have in fact argued that originally Jason headed westward. But Strabo (1.2.40), to whom we owe these lines, evidently supposed Jason's goal to lie in the east (the sun's rays being kept handy for an early morning start), and this is the direction implied by Jason's stop at Lemnos. It looks as if the terminus of his quest was set in the utmost east before the waters beyond the Hellespont were known; the Clashing Rocks were not originally located at the Bosporus. In view of the well-rooted assumption that the Iliad is more truly heroic poetry than the Odyssey, it is interesting that this earliest heroic exploit had much more in common with the latter. The Odyssey'sdebt to Argonautic saga is discussed by Strabo (1.2.10; 39), and was illuminatingly investigated in Karl Meuli's famous monograph, Odyssee In Circe's reference to the Argo we may see the poet undArgonautica.31 acknowledging his obligation to a source on which he drew heavily; we ought to envisage a body of oral poetry on this theme, rather than a single text.32This is generally recognized so far as Books 10 and 12 are concerned; I suspect that the debt was more extensive and that the strangely ambiguous Phaeacian episode owes something to Jason's reception in Aeetes' kingdom. From here, I suggest, the poet drew the wonderful gardens, the atmosphere of luxury, the disconcerting hints of menace which at times break the surface, the indispensable assistance offered by the king's daughter who has clearly fallen for the handsome If Alcinous appears improbably easygoing, we might suppose stranger.33
31 K. Meuli, Odysseeund Argonautica (Berlin, 1921) (= GesammelteSchriften2 (Basel, 1975), 593-676); see also A. Lesky, 'Aia', WSt 63 (1948), 22-68 (= GesammelteSchriften (Bern and Munich, 1966), 26-62). 32 Meuli's 'altes und beriuhmtesGedicht von der Argonautenfahrt'. 33 The Phaeacian ships are intelligent (Od. 8.556ff.); once the speaking timber became part of

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that the need for contrast with the formidable Aeetes has contributed significantly to the portrayal of a character who looks like a recent invention. Odysseus has something in common with Jason; as Charles Segal puts it, 'Like Odysseus, Jason has the ambiguity of a hero who uses metisrather than bia, craft rather than open force. Like Odysseus, he is a hero of the sea and its shifting movement rather than a hero of the land and face-to-face martial combat.'34 The contradictory geography of Odysseus' wanderings surely results in part from the displacement to unfamiliar western seas of adventures originally associated with Jason when eastern waters were unexplored. For the poet of the OdysseyAeetes' kingdom simply lay in the far east; it was located at Colchis and the Phasis identified as the Rioni when Milesian colonists had penetrated to the most easterly corner of the Black Sea. We first find it given a definite location in some lines of the Corinthian epic cycle ascribed (almost certainly pseudepigraphically) to Eumelus (F 3 Bernabe = F2 Davies, 7-9),35 which related how Aeetes orginated from Corinth, but migrated to Colchis, leaving the city to Bounus to guard until he himself, or a child or grandchild, should return: there is no good reason to suppose that Aeetes' kingdom was thus pinned down around the river now called the Rioni before Greek settlement there, which appears to date only from the mid-sixth century.36

The prototypical quest tale was undergoing a transformation. A journey to the eastern coast of the Black Sea could not be regarded as the ultimate challenge in exploration, 'proverbially the furthermost run for ships' (Strabo 11.2.16); the region was being tied into the mythological network of Hellenic origins. As with the Greek encounter with Egyptian civilization, the impressively sophisticated culture of ancient Georgia37inspired the claim that really its origins were Hellenic: we may compare the myth of Io and Epaphus. Yet Pindar must still have retained the old idea that Aeetes' people were located near to the sun's rising, and hence exposed to its fierce rays in the early morning before it gained height above the flat earth, since he describes the Colchians as black-skinned (P. 4.212).38 We should not try to reduce
the Argo's construction, some degree of intelligence is presumably imputed to the ship. But this detail is not attested before Aeschylus (F20, 20A Radt). 34 C. Segal, Pindar's Mythmaking: the Fourth Pythian Ode, (Princeton, 1986), 16. 35 See further M. L. West, "'Eumelos": a Corinthian Epic Cycle?', JHS 122 (2002), 109-33. 36 See further Braund (n.28), ch. 3. 37 See further Andrei Miron and Winfried Orthmann (eds.), Unterwegszum goldenen Vlies: Funde aus Georgien(Saarbrticken, 1995). archdologische 38 Herodotus builds on this conception when he claims them for a remnant of an Egyptian army

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all our data to a single coherent story, or attempt to extract history from demythologized Argonautic legend. This tale of the earliest heroic exploit retained immense potential; if the waters of the Black Sea were losing their aura of mystery and romance, poetic hydrography allowed the development of western adventures, as we see in Pindar. More or less at the opposite end of the Black Sea, centred on the island of Leuke, legend and cult bestowed on Achilles an extraordinary post mortemexistence. Achilles' mortality is crucial to the Iliad, and the Odyssey (1 1.467ff., cf. 24. 15ff.) leaves no doubt that he is in Hades and hates it. But the Cyclic epic in which his death was related, the Aethiopis of Arctinus of Miletus39 as summarized by Proclus, told a different story, of the hero's miraculous transportationby Thetis from the pyre to Leuke.40 Presumably, if Arctinus gave the matter any thought, he regarded as a cenotaph the tumulus associated with Achilles on the Hellespont (cf. Od. 24.80ff.).41 It is not certain that he specified the Black Sea island later known as Leuke, or whether he had in mind a mythical place in the north, comparable with Elysium and the Isles of the Blessed; nor is it clear whether Achilles' northern afterlife was his own invention. But it is surely significant that Arctinus came from Miletus, the mother city of most of the Black Sea colonies. The next reference to Achilles on Leuke comes from Pindar, Nemean 4.49f. (quoted above as the first occurrence of E16etvoS (hospitable) as the sea's designation). By now there is no doubt that the actual island is meant, not a northern equivalent to the Isles of the Blessed. Then we have two allusions in Euripides, first (c.425) Andr. 1260-2 (Thetis is
speaking to Peleus): rov iraraTov aot 7ratS' Etoot r' 'AxLAAEa / o'0ibt S4oovs
vatovTa VaUCWortKOVg A/EVK 4V KaT'aKTr'V

EVTO EvetVOv

rTOpov

('You

will see

your beloved son and mine, Achilles, dwelling in his island home on
which had once subdued Scythia under the leadership of the all-conquering Pharaoh Sesostris (2.104). 39 See furtherJonathan S. Burgess, The Traditionof the Trojan War in Homerand the Epic Cycle (Baltimore, 2001), 160-6; B. Bravo, 'Un frammento della Piccola Iliade (P.Oxy. 2510), lo stile narrativo tardo-arcaico, i racconti su Achille immortale', QUCC 67 (2001), 49-114. A strong case for dating the Aethiopisearlierthan the Iliad is made by Ken Dowden, 'Homer's sense of text', JHS 116 (1996), 47-61; but see M. L. West, 'Iliad and Aethiopis', CQ 53 (2003), 1-14. 40 A problematic Athenian Black-Figure amphora, dated c.540, now in the British Museum (London B240; LIMC i.2 s.v. Achilleus, plate 901; reproduced in J. Pollard, Birds in GreekLife and Myth (London, 1977), Plate 2), depicting a winged warrior flying across the sea (there is a ship below), watched by a raven (Apollo's bird), has been thought by some to represent Achilles' translation northwards, but it might be better connected with his role as helper to those in peril on the sea (see below). 41 Pace Burgess (n.39), 164, and Malcolm Davies, TheEpic Cycle (Bristol, 1989), 59, who hold that it was his immortal part (bvXO,) which Thetis removed to the northern island paradise. But his should not have been hanging round the pyre. hvxO

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Leuke's strand in the hospitable sea'). Then, some ten years later, in
ETr' Iphigenia among the Taurians (435-8): rav TroAvo'pvt6ov at/av, AevKav Kara 7rvTov ('. . . for the aKcrav,'AXtA^/osSpo'LovN KaAAloaUtovs,/ caELVOV bird-thronged shore, Leuke's strand, where Achilles has his lovely racing course by the inhospitable sea'). The island's abundant bird-life is an important feature in the romantic descriptions elaborated during the Hellenistic and Roman periods by, among others, Scymnus (790-6), Arrian (Periplus 21-3), Maximus of Tyre (Or. 9.7), Dionysius Periegetes (541-8), Philostratus (Heroicus 19.16), and Avienus (3.720-9); unfortunately, the value of their accounts is somewhat undermined by confusion of Leuke with Berezan near Olbia and with the long swordlike stretch of sand south-east of Olbia known as Achilles' Racecourse

(Dromos). The enduring appeal of Achilles' northern immortality, notwithstanding the authority of the Odyssey, may surprise us. But excavation has revealed the extraordinary importance of the cult of Achilles centred on the island, and Euripides' allusions imply that it was reasonably familiar at Athens in the late fifth century (though it seems not to have come to Herodotus' notice42). Arrian describes the practice in his time in the account of the Black Sea coasts which he wrote for Hadrian after a tour of inspection undertaken in 131 or 132 (Periplus 21-3) :43
(21) It is said that Thetis assigned Leuke to her son, and that Achilles dwells there. There is a temple of Achilles there, and a statue of ancient workmanship. The island has no human inhabitants, but provides grazing for a few goats. It is said that those who land here sacrifice them to Achilles. Many other offerings are displayed in the temple, cups, rings, and precious stones; all these are thank-offerings to Achilles. Inscriptions also are dedicated there, some in Latin, some in Greek, in various metres, in praise of Achilles, some honouring Patroclus too. And indeed those who wish to please Achilles honour Patroclus along with him. Many birds nest on the island, seagulls and shearwaters,44 their numbers beyond counting. These birds look after Achilles' temple. Daily, at dawn, they fly out to sea; then with their feathers drenched from the sea they quickly fly back into the temple and sprinkle it with water.45When this has been done thoroughly, they sweep the floor with their wings.
42 44

43 I haveused AlainSilberman's Bude text (Paris,1995).

He gives a barementionto Achilles'Racecourse (4.55; 76.4).

and Kop3vVthe GreatShearwater, Arrian liststwo kindsof shearwaters, atOvta, 6aAdaatos), (40 Birds (Oxford, D'A. W. Thompson,A Glossary see further the Littleor ManxShearwater: of Greek 1936), 27-9, 172f. 45 Thompson (n. 44), 173: 'In this passageof Arrian'swe have a manifestallusionto the in their characteristic habit of showeringthe water from their drippingwings.' shearwaters, of the Islandof Diomedes Discussingthe similarbehaviourof the birds (likewiseshearwaters) he explains (90): 'It is a curioushabit of these birds to dive with wings (probablyPalagruza) and, on risingagain,to shakethe waterfrom theirdrippingwings.This is the simple outspread, originof the legendthatthey aspergethe Hero'stomb and temple.'

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(22) Some relate the following too. Of those who put into the island those who sail there intentionally bring victims on board, some of which they sacrifice while some they release for Achilles. But others being compelled to put in by stormy weather request a victim from the god himself, seeking oracular advice over the victims, whether it is better and more advantageous for them to sacrifice whatever they decide to select as it grazes, at the same time depositing whatever seems to them the fair price. But if the oracle does not consent - for there are oracles in the temple - they add to the price; and if it still does not consent, they add yet more. When it has agreed, they understand that the sum is sufficient. The victim at this point presents itself of its own accord, and no longer tries to escape.46 Thus a great deal of silver is offered to the hero, being the price of victims. (23) They say that Achilles appears in a dream to those who put in to the island, and to some even while they are still at sea, when they are not far away, and that he tells them the best place to bring their ship to land and the best anchorage on the island. Some say that Achilles has even appeared to them while they are awake, on the mast or at the end of the yard-arm, like the Dioscuri.47 The only respect, they say, in which Achilles is inferior to the Dioscuri is that they are manifested to sailors everywhere, and by appearing they bring safety, whereas Achilles appears only to those who are already approaching the island. Some say that Patroclus too has been seen by them in dreams. What I have recorded about Achilles' island I heard from those who had themselves landed there or owed their information to others;48and these reports do not seem to me untrustworthy. For I am convinced that Achilles is a hero par excellence.49

Alcaeus referred to Achilles as 'lord of Scythia' (F 354); the cult was evidently already well established among the Greek colonists in his day. Not only from Leuke itself but also from Olbia and the associated peninsula of Berezan there is abundant epigraphic evidence for his cult, going back to the sixth century. It is unfortunate that what survived of Achilles' temple on Leuke was recycled in the construction of a lighthouse on the site before any archaeological study had been undertaken. Arrian speaks of him both as a god and as a hero. The burden of proof must lie with those who would argue that already in archaic and classical times divine honours were paid to Achilles, but the popularity and persistence of his worship in this area, apparently primarily as a patron of seafarers, is indisputable.50His post mortem status must derive from his sea-goddess mother.
46 Similarly in pre-revolutionary Russia beasts were said to come to country churches of their own accord to provide a meal for the congregation at the patronal festival: see further E. Diehl, Gnomon3 (1927), 639. 47 48 i.e. Arrian does not 49 St Elmo's fire. depend on a written source. It is interesting to compare Roberto Calasso's synthesis of ancient desciptions, TheMarriageof Cadmus and Harmony (translated by Tim Parks, London, 1993), 121. 50 See further Hildebrecht Hommel, Der GottAchilleus(Heidelberg, 1980) (Plate 1 reproduces a selection of early graffiti with dedications to Achilles); J. Hooker, 'The cults of Achilles', RhM 131 (1988), 1-7; B. Bravo, 'Luoghi di culto nella Chora di Olbia Pontica' in Problemidella 'Chora' Coloniale dall' Occidenteal Mar Nero (Taranto, 2001), 221-64. Achilles' title Pontarchesis not attested before the Roman period.

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Legend had, it seems, associated Achilles with the northern coast already at an earlier point in the war. Lycophron (186-201) provides a weird sequel to the Iphigenia at Aulis when (through Cassandra's mouth) he describes Achilles, cheated of the girl who was lured to Aulis to be his bride (as she supposed), searching for five years with Leuke as his base, while she fulfils her murderous vocation (as in Euripides' Iphigenia among the Taurians) in the service of the Taurian goddess in the southern Crimea:
For her, the butcher of Hellas, her husband shall seek beside the Salmydessian Sea, where she cuts the throats of Greeks, and shall dwell for a long space on a whitecrested rock by the outflowing of the marshy waters of the Celtic stream, yearning for the wife whom at her execution a hind shall rescue from the knives, offering its own throat instead. And the deep solitary track among the pebbles on the beach shall be called the bridegroom's race course, as he mourns his infatuation and his empty seafaring and her that vanished and was transformed to an old crone beside the sacrificial vesels and the lustral waters and the bowl of Hades bubbling from the depths in flame, on which the dark lady will blow, casseroling the flesh of the dead in her cuisine. And he shall pace the Scythian land lamenting for some five years, longing for his marriage bed.

It is not Lycophron's way to invent stories; he can achieve sufficiently startling effects by ingenious selection and combination. Like much else in the Alexandrathis tale of the love-lorn Achilles' Ukrainian wanderings warns us of the gaps in our knowledge of Greek legend . Artemis' rescue of Iphigenia from the sacrifice at Aulis was, according to Proclus' summary of the Cyclic epics, related in the Cypria;but it is doubtful whether the Crimea was specified as her new home. Perhaps her transportation northwards was modelled on that of Achilles in the Aethiopis.Herodotus (4.103.2) is the earliest witness to the identification of Iphigenia with the virgin goddess in whose honour strangers were (allegedly) sacrificed. He reports that the Taurians themselves say that the goddess is Agamemnon's daughter Iphigenia. This is hardly credible, though they may have been prepared to accept an identification made by Greek traders; Iphigenia's curious relationship with Artemis and the latter's titles tauropolosand tauro underlie the theological equation. Divine status among savages supposedly gives Iphigenia the chance to exact revenge for Agamemnon's intended sacrifice. But though thanks to its treatment by Herodotus, Euripides, and Lycophron, Iphigenia's horrific Crimean avatar makes an unforgettable impression, this strange mythological hybrid lacked the substance and

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durability which we observe in Achilles' association with Leuke and the neighbouring coast. Olbia, though not Leuke's nearest neighbour among the Greek colonies, evidently regarded the desert island as its responsibility. Dio Chrysostom, in his Borystheniticus,bears witness to the extraordinary honour paid to Achilles in that beleaguered outpost of Hellenism;51 though the dislocated grammar of their inscriptions confirms his judgement (36.9) that the citizens no longer spoke Greek properly, their passionate enthusiasm for Homer52was evidently stimulated by the ever-present dangers from hostile natives. To offset the atmosphere of romantic mystery conjured up by descriptions from the Imperial age we may compare an inscription from the late fourth or early third century (IPE i2 325) recording the honours conferred by his city on a publicspirited Olbian who had cleared the island of pirates; its suitability as a pirate base, ideally situated for assaults on shipping leaving or approaching the Danube, is obvious.53 The Black Sea remained dangerous and unpredictable even when its waters had lost their mystery and Greek colonies were established round the greater part of its coasts. There was undoubtedly plenty of scope for Achilles in his post mortem role as the patron of seafarers. 'Think four times, and if ever you sail the sea, be in no hurry to navigate the Euxine' begins Posidippus' funerary epigram for Dorus of Parium.5s4 Byron adverts to its hazards in less conventional terms: 'There's not a sea the passenger e'er pukes in/ Throws up more dangerous breakers than the Euxine' (Don Juan, Canto 5.5). Herodotus found sufficient cause for wonder in the sea's surface area. No one in antiquity had any idea of its depth which, at its maximum, reaches 2244 m. Moreover, since 1890 it has been known that below 200 m. it is a dead sea, the world's biggest reservoir of sulphuretted hydrogen, one of the deadliest substances in the natural world, here created by the inrush of organic matter from the great rivers, which exceeds the powers of the bacteria in sea-water which would normally decompose it. Because much of the Black Sea is very
51 It is interesting that Dio does not call the city Olbia, but uses the older name Borysthenes; what he has to say about its decline and contemporary condition might have made 'Olbia' seem rather cruelly ironic. 52 There is a an odd poignancy in the fifth-century Olbian ostrakon giving the first line of the Little Iliad, the earliest extant quotation from the Epic cycle; see further J. G. Vinogradov, 'Kyklische Dichtung in Olbia', PontischeStudien (Mainz, 1997), 384-96. 53 See further L. Robert, Hellenica xi-xii (Paris, 1960), 274. 54 C. Austin and G. Bastianini, Posidippi Pellaei quae supersuntomnia (Milan, 2002), 92.

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deep, some 90% of its volume is sterile. This should mean that ships sunk in those depths have been marvellously well preserved, only the metal being consumed, while their timbers and the bodies of their crews survive. Advances in marine archaeology might thus lead (at great expense) to some sensational discoveries. Herodotus' superlative takes on a new lease of life.

EDITORIAL

NOTE

The editors would like to express their sincere gratitude to Hans van Wees, whose other commitments are bringing to an end a long and greatly valued role as Greek History reviewer for this journal. In almost a decade of service, Hans has reviewed a vast array of almost 150 books with learning and wit. At the same time as thanking Hans for his contributions, we are delighted to announce that Tom Harrison of the University of St Andrews will be his successor as Greek History reviewer.