Mythos 69 – Perseus v. Cetus

 

Cecrops was a creature that matches the description of the Sumerian Anunna, the Indonesian Suphanna Matcha, the Egyptian Osiris, and the Aryan Apām Napāt. According to the ancient Greek historian and philosopher Strabo, the name Cecrops was not a Greek name,(1)Strabo (7 BC) Geographica, Book 7, 7.1 indicating that the legend was likely a Pelasgian story that had been adopted by the Greeks. In the legend the city of Athens was founded by Cecrops, a creature described as being half man and half fish or serpent. Athens has been occupied continuously since around 7,000 years ago,(2)S. Immerwahr (1971) The Athenian Agora XIII: the Neolithic and Bronze Ages meaning that the region was still in the hands of the Pelasgians at the time. As in the stories of Anunna Abgal and Osiris, Cecrops was described as an educator, who taught the ancient Athenians marriage, reading and writing, and ceremonial burial. The ancient Greek Geographer Pausanias reported that Cecrops forbade the sacrificing of any living creatures to the gods, allowing only cakes formed into the shape of an ox with horns. Cecrops was also said to have taught his subjects the art of navigation, and to have divided the people into the four tribes improve administration.

Traditional Depiction of Cecrops

Traditional Depiction of Cecrops

Another major flood myth in the Greek world was the Flood of Dardanus, which took place in the northern Aegean long before the Battle of Troy, circa 3,000 years ago. In the account of Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Dardanus left Pheneus in Arcadia to colonize a land in the North-East Aegean Sea. When Dardanus’ deluge occurred the land was flooded and the mountain that he and his family survived on became the island of Samothrace. Dardanus and his family then moved to the shores of Asia Minor, modern western Turkey, and settled on Mount Ida. Due to the fear of another flood, they chose not to building a city and lived in the open for fifty years. Dardanus’ grandson Tros eventually moved from the highlands down to a large plain and built the city of Troy.(3)Plato (circa 375 BC) Laws, Book III, 682 The oldest city excavated on the site of Troy (Ἴλιον) was founded around 5,000 years ago. During the Bronze Age, the site seems to have been a flourishing mercantile city, since its location allowed for complete control of the Dardanelles, through which every merchant ship from the Aegean Sea heading for the Black Sea had to pass. This indicates that Dardanus could have been either a Pelasgian or a Proto-Greek, as the Proto-Greeks began migrating into the area circa 6,000 years ago.(4)Russel D. Gray and Quentin D. Atkinson (2003) “Language-tree Divergence Times Support the Anatolian Theory of Indo-European Origin,” Nature, Page 426, Volume 6965, Pages 435–439

Another ancient Greek story that is likely to be Pelasgian in origin is the story of Perseus, the founder of the Perseid dynasty of the Danaan Tribe. The etymology of the name is unknown, although it has been proposed to have been a surviving relic Pelasgian name. In the Greek myth the King of Argos’ daughter was impregnated by Zeus,(5)Stephen Trzaskoma, et al. (2004) Anthology of classical myth: primary sources in translation and her father King Acrisius believing the child would grow up to kill him, cast the mother and child into the sea in a wooden chest. Perseus and his mother washed ashore on the island of Serifos, where they were taken in by the fisherman Dictys, who raised Perseus to manhood. Dictys’ bother was Polydectes was the king of the island.

Terracotta Depiction of Perseus Killing Medusa, From Circa 660 BC

Terracotta Depiction of Perseus Killing Medusa, From Circa 660 BC

When Perseus was grown, King Polydectes decided to marry Perseus’ mother Danaë. Polydectes demanded that for a wedding gift Perseus bring him the head of Gorgon leader Medusa,(6)Hesiod (circa 700 BC) Theogony, 277 whose eyes were said to turned people to stone. According to the ancient Roman historian, Diodorus Siculus the Gorgons were an ancient nation that once lived in West Africa,(7)Diodorus Siculus (circa 100 AD) Bibliotheca Historica, Book 2, 54:7 while others believed they lived in southern Iberia (Spain and Portugal).(8)Strabo (circa 10 AD) Geographika, Volume III Perseus was able to defeat Medusa using a variety of magical items the gods had given him, including Hades’ helm of darkness, which rendered him invisible, Hermes’ flying sandals, and Athena’s shield. Zeus gave his son an adamantine harpe, which was a mythical unbreakable Greek weapon somewhere in between a sword and a scythe. The name Gorgon derives from the ancient Greek word gorgós, which means “dreadful”, and appears to come from the same root as the Sanskrit word ‘garğ.'(9)Thalia Feldman (1965) “Gorgo and the Origins of Fear,” Arion 4.3, Pages 484–494 The archeologist Marija Gimbutas documented the belief in the Gorgons as existing as early as 8,000 years ago based on a ceramic mask from the Sesklo culture of central Greece,(10)Marija Gimbutas (1989) The Language of the Goddess: Unearthing the Hidden Symbols of Western Civilization meaning that whatever the Pelasgians called the Gorgons, stories about Gorgons predate the Proto-Greeks arrival in Greece. One of the earliest surviving representations of the Gorgons was in the writing of Hesiod around 2,700 years ago, who described the Gorgons as sea daemons and children of Ceto a sea monster.(11)Hesiod (circa 700 BC) Theogony, 277 Throughout Greek and Pelasgian art, Gorgons have always been portrayed as a hybrid between Snake and Human, like the Nagas of India, Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia.

Ancient Greek Depiction of Perseus fighting Ceto

Ancient Greek Depiction of Perseus fighting Ceto

After beheading Medusa in the Greek legend Perseus headed to Aethiopia (Αἰθίοψ), a land known sice at least the time of Homer, around 2,850 years ago, to mean land of the dark-skinned peoples.(12)John A. Fage (1978) History of Africa, Pages 25–26 The Greek geographer Strabo placed it in both the equatorial regions of East Africa and Southern Asia, while the Roman historian Eusebius claimed that the Aethiopians had colonized East Africa and Egypt from the Indus River region.(13)Sharon Turner (1834) The Sacred History of the World, as Displayed in the Creation and Subsequent Events to the Deluge: Attempted to be Philosophically Considered, in a Series of Letters to a Son, Volume 2, Pages 480–482 Perseus headed to Aethiopia, whether in Africa or Asia, because a sea-monster named Ceto was attacking the land, and the oracle of Ammon in Egypt had decreed that the attack would continue until the Aethiopian King Cepheus sacrificed his daughter Andromeda to the sea-monster. King Cepheus had his daughter Andromeda tied naked to a rock on the shore, where Perseus found her, and then slew Ceto. After Perseus married Andromeda the two flew back the Island of Seriphos to attend Perseus’ mother’s wedding. Given the early belief that the Gorgons were the children of Cetus, it is likely that the stories have lost some of their original depth over the millennia.

Ruins of Mycenae in Greece

Ruins of Mycenae in Greece

After flying back to Greece, Perseus returned the weapons he’d been loaned by the gods, and then Perseus and Andromeda settled in Mycenae, founding the megalithic city.(14)Pausanias (circa 150 AD) Description of Greece, Book 2, 15.4 Mycenae is an ancient fortified city near Athens, that was ancient even in the earliest times of ancient Greece. It is unclear when the city of Mycenae was founded, but the name is believed not to be Greek but rather one of the many pre-Greek place names inherited by the Proto-Greeks,(15)Robert Stephen Paul Beekes (2009) Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Page 29 as they migrated into the Aegean around 6,000 years ago.(16)Russel D. Gray and Quentin D. Atkinson (2003) “Language-tree Divergence Times Support the Anatolian Theory of Indo-European Origin,” Nature 426, Number 6965, Pages 435–439 Excavations in the nearby Franchthi cave have shown that the region has been in inhabited for at least 40,000 years.(17)K. Douka, et al. (2011) “Franchthi Cave revisited: the age of the Aurignacian in south-eastern Europe,” Antiquity, Volume 85, Page 1146 Pottery dating back the Early Neolithic has been found in excavations in Mycenae,(18)Kim S. Shelton (2010) “Living and Dying in and Around Middle Helladic Mycenae,” in Philippa-Touchais, et al. “Mesohelladika: The Greek Mainland in the Middle Bronze Age,” Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique, Supplément, Volume 52, Page 58 indicating a settlement has been there at least 7,000 years. If Perseus and Andromeda did found the settlement more than 7,000 years ago, then the battle against the Reptilian Gorgons and Sea-Monster Cetus would have happened around the same time, as would the foundation of Athens by the amphibian teacher Cecrops. As Perseus was a child of Zeus, the personification of the sky, the story seems to be indicating that he was likely an artificially engineered human, implanted into a human woman by a creature or creatures from the sky. While this is an odd story, stories of creatures from the sky interbreeding with humans is common throughout human mythology, and was reported well into historic times.

References   [ + ]

1. Strabo (7 BC) Geographica, Book 7, 7.1
2. S. Immerwahr (1971) The Athenian Agora XIII: the Neolithic and Bronze Ages
3. Plato (circa 375 BC) Laws, Book III, 682
4. Russel D. Gray and Quentin D. Atkinson (2003) “Language-tree Divergence Times Support the Anatolian Theory of Indo-European Origin,” Nature, Page 426, Volume 6965, Pages 435–439
5. Stephen Trzaskoma, et al. (2004) Anthology of classical myth: primary sources in translation
6, 11. Hesiod (circa 700 BC) Theogony, 277
7. Diodorus Siculus (circa 100 AD) Bibliotheca Historica, Book 2, 54:7
8. Strabo (circa 10 AD) Geographika, Volume III
9. Thalia Feldman (1965) “Gorgo and the Origins of Fear,” Arion 4.3, Pages 484–494
10. Marija Gimbutas (1989) The Language of the Goddess: Unearthing the Hidden Symbols of Western Civilization
12. John A. Fage (1978) History of Africa, Pages 25–26
13. Sharon Turner (1834) The Sacred History of the World, as Displayed in the Creation and Subsequent Events to the Deluge: Attempted to be Philosophically Considered, in a Series of Letters to a Son, Volume 2, Pages 480–482
14. Pausanias (circa 150 AD) Description of Greece, Book 2, 15.4
15. Robert Stephen Paul Beekes (2009) Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Page 29
16. Russel D. Gray and Quentin D. Atkinson (2003) “Language-tree Divergence Times Support the Anatolian Theory of Indo-European Origin,” Nature 426, Number 6965, Pages 435–439
17. K. Douka, et al. (2011) “Franchthi Cave revisited: the age of the Aurignacian in south-eastern Europe,” Antiquity, Volume 85, Page 1146
18. Kim S. Shelton (2010) “Living and Dying in and Around Middle Helladic Mycenae,” in Philippa-Touchais, et al. “Mesohelladika: The Greek Mainland in the Middle Bronze Age,” Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique, Supplément, Volume 52, Page 58