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THE Arcadian divine or heroic pedigree begins with Pelasgus, whom both Hesiod and Asius considered as an indigenous man, though Akusilaus the Argeian represented him as brother of Argos and son of Zeus by Niobe, daughter of Phoroneus. Akusilaus wished to establish a community of origin between the Argeians and the Arcadians.

Lykaon, son of Pelasgus and king of Arcadia, had, by different wives, fifty sons, the most savage, impious and wicked of mankind: Maenalus was the eldest of them. Zeus, in order that he might himself become a witness of their misdeeds, presented himself to them in disguise. They killed a child and served it up to him for a meal; but the god overturned the table and struck dead with thunder Lykaon and all his fifty sons, with the single exception of Nyktimus, the youngest, whom he spared at the earnest intercession of the goddess Gaea (the Earth). The town near which the table was overturned received the name of Trapezus (Tabletown).

This singular legend (framed on the same etymological type as that of the ants in Aegina, recounted elsewhere) seems ancient, and may probably belong to the Hesiodic Catalogue. But Pausanias tells us a story in many respects different, which was represented to him in Arcadia as the primitive local account, and which becomes the more interesting, as he tells us that he himself fully believes it. Both tales indeed go to illustrate the same point—the ferocity of Lykaon’s character, as well as the cruel rites which he practiced. The latter was the first who established the worship and solemn games of Zeus Lykaeus: he offered up a child to Zeus, and made libations with the blood upon the altar. Immediately after having perpetrated this act, he was changed into a wolf.

“Of the truth of this narrative (observes Pausanias) I feel persuaded: it has been repeated by the Arcadians from old times, and it carries probability along with it. For the men of that day, from their justice and piety, were guests and companions at table with the gods, who manifested towards them approbation when they were good, and anger if they behaved ill, in a palpable manner: indeed at that time there were some, who having once been men, became gods, and who yet retain their privileges as such Aristaeus, the Cretan Britomartis, Heracles son of Alkmena, Amphiaraus the son of Oikles, and Pollux and Castor besides. We may therefore believe that Lykaon became a wild beast, and that Niobe, the daughter of Tantalus, became a stone. But in my time, wickedness having enormously increased, so as to overrun the whole earth and all the cities in it, there are no farther examples of men exalted into gods, except by mere title and from adulation towards the powerful: moreover the anger of the gods falls tardily upon the wicked, and is reserved for them after their departure from hence”.

Pausanias then proceeds to censure those who, by multiplying false miracles in more recent times, tended to rob the old and genuine miracles of their legitimate credit and esteem. The passage illustrates forcibly the views which a religious and instructed pagan took of his past time—how inseparably he blended together in it gods and men, and how little he either recognized or expected to find in it the naked phenomena and historical laws of connection which belonged to the world before him. He treats the past as the province of legend, the present as that of history; and in doing this he is more skeptical than the persons with whom he conversed, who believed not only in the ancient, but even in the recent and falsely reported miracles. It is true that Pausanias does not always proceed consistently with this position: he often rationalizes the stories of the past, as if he expected to find historical threads of connection; and sometimes, though more rarely, accepts the miracles of the present. But in the present instance he draws a broad line of distinction between present and past, or rather between what is recent and what is ancient: his criticism is, in the main, analogous to that of Arrian in regard to the Amazons —denying their existence during times of recorded history, but admitting it during the early and unrecorded ages.

In the narrative of Pausanias, the sons of Lykaon, instead of perishing by thunder from Zeus, become the founders of the various towns in Arcadia. And as that region was subdivided into a great number of small and independent townships, each having its own eponym, so the Arcadian heroic genealogy appears broken up and subdivided. Pallas, Orestheus, Phigalus, Trapezeus, Maenalus, Mantineus, and Tegeates, are all numbered among the sons of Lykaon, and are all eponyms of various. Arcadian towns.

The legend respecting Kalliste and Arkas, the eponym of Arcadia generally, seems to have been originally quite independent of and distinct from that of Lykaon. Eumelus, indeed, and some other poets made Kallisto daughter of Lykaon; but neither Hesiod, nor Asius, nor Pherekydes, acknowledged any relationship between them. The beautiful Kallisto, companion of Artemis in the chase, had bound herself by a vow of chastity. Zeus, either by persuasion or by force, obtained a violation of the vow, to the grievous displeasure both of Here and Artemis. The former changed Kallisto into a bear, the latter when she was in that shape killed her with an arrow. Zeus gave to the unfortunate Kallisto a place among the stars, as the constellation of the Bear: he also preserved the child Arkas, of which she was pregnant by him, and gave it to the Atlantid nymph Maia to bring up.

Arkas, when he became king, obtained from Triptolemus and communicated to his people the first rudiments of agriculture; he also taught them to make bread, to spin, and to weave. He had three sons—Azan, Apheidas, and Elatus: the first was the eponym of Azania, the northern region of Arcadia; the second was one of the heroes of Tegea; the third was father of Ischys (rival of Apollo for the affections of Koronis), as well as of Epytus and Kyllen: the name of Epytus among the heroes of Arcadia is as old as the Catalogue in the Iliad.

Aleus, son of Apheidas and king of Tegea, was the founder of the celebrated temple and worship of Athena Alea in that town. Lycurgus and Kepheus were his sons, Auge his daughter, who was seduced by Heracles, and secretly bore to him a child: the father, discovering what had happened, sent Auge to Nauplius to be sold into slavery: Teuthras, king of Mysia in Asia Minor, purchased her and made her his wife: her tomb was shown at Pergamum on the river Kaikus even in the time of Pausanias.

From Lykurgus, the son of Aleus and brother of Auge, we pass to his son Ankaeus, numbered among the Argonauts, finally killed in the chase of the Kalydonian boar, and father of Agapenor, who leads the Arcadian contingent against Troy,—(the adventurers of his niece, the Tegeatic huntress Atalanta, have already been touched upon),—then to Echemus, son of Aöropus and grandson of the brother of Lycurgus, Kepheus. Echemus is the chief heroic ornament of Tegea. When Hyllus, the son of Herakles, conducted the Herakleids on their first expedition against Peloponnesus, Echemus commanded the Tegean troops who assembled along with the other Peloponnesians at the isthmus of Corinth to repel the invasion: it was agreed that the dispute should be determined by single combat, and Echemus, as the champion of Peloponnesus, encountered and killed Hyllus.

Pursuant to the stipulation by which they had bound themselves, the Herakleids retired, and abstained for three generations from pressing their claim upon Peloponnesus. This valorous exploit of their great martial hero was cited and appealed to by the Tegeates before the battle of Plataea, as the principal evidence of their claim to the second post in the combined army, next in point of honor to that of the Lacedaemonians, and superior to that of the Athenians: the latter replied to them by producing as counter-evidence the splendid heroic deeds of Athens,—the protection of the Herakleids against Eurystheus, the victory over the Kadmeians of Thebes, and the complete defeat of the Amazons in Attica. Nor can there be any doubt that these legendary glories were both recited by the speakers, and heard by the listeners, with profound and undoubting faith, as well as with heart-stirring admiration.

One other person there is—Ischys, son of Elatus and grandson of Arkas—in the fabulous genealogy of Arcadia whom it would be improper to pass over, inasmuch as his name and adventures are connected with the genesis of the memorable god or hero Esculapius, or Asklepius. Koronis, daughter of Phlegyas, and resident near the lake Boebeis in Thessaly, was beloved by Apollo and became pregnant by him: unfaithful to the god, she listened to the propositions of Ischys son of Elatus, and consented to wed him: a raven brought to Apollo the fatal news, which so incensed him that he changed the color of the bird from white, as it previously had been, into black. Artemis, to Avenge the wounded dignity of her brother, put Koronis to death; but Apollo preserved the male child of which she was about to be delivered, and consigned it to the Centaur Cheiron to be brought up. The child was named Asklepius or Aesculapius, and acquired, partly from the teaching of the beneficent leech Cheiron, partly from inborn and superhuman aptitude, a knowledge of the virtues of herbs and a mastery of medicine and surgery, such as had never before been witnessed. He not only cured the sick, the wounded, and the dying, but even restored the dead to life. Kapaneus, Eriphyle, Hippolytus, Tyndareus and Glaukus were all affirmed by different poets and logographers to have been endued by him with a new life. But Zeus now found himself under the necessity of taking precautions lest mankind, thus unexpectedly protected against sickness and death, should no longer stand in need of the immortal gods: he smote Asclepius with thunder and killed him. Apollo was so exasperated by this slaughter of his highly-gifted son, that he killed the Cyclopes who had fabricated the thunder, and Zeus was about to condemn him to Tartarus for doing so; but on the intercession of Latona he relented, and was satisfied with imposing upon him a temporary servitude in the house of Admetus at Pherae.

Asclepius was worshipped with very great solemnity at Trikka, at Kos, at Cnidus, and in many different parts of Greece, but especially at Epidaurus, so that more than one legend had grown up respecting the details of his birth and adventures: in particular, his mother was by some called Arsinoe. But a formal application had been made on this subject (so the Epidaurians told Pausanias) to the oracle of Delphi, and the god in reply acknowledged that Asclepius was his son by Koronis. The tale above recounted seems to have been both the oldest and the most current. It is adorned by Pindar in a noble ode, wherein however he omits all mention of the raven as messenger —not specifying who or what the spy was from whom Apollo learnt the infidelity of Koronis. By many this was considered as an improvement in respect of poetical effect, but it illustrates the mode in which the characteristic details and simplicity of the old fables came to be exchanged for dignified generalities, adapted to the altered taste of society.

Machaon and Podaleirius, the two sons of Asclepius, command the contingent from Trikka, in the north-west region of Thessaly, at the siege of Troy by Agamemnon. They are the leeches of the Grecian army, highly prized and consulted by all the wounded chiefs. Their medical renown was further prolonged in the subsequent poem of Arktinus, the Iliu-Persis, wherein the one was represented as unrivalled in surgical operations, the other as sagacious in detecting and appreciating morbid symptoms. It was Podaleirius who first noticed the glaring eyes and disturbed deportment which preceded the suicide of Ajax.

Galen appears uncertain whether Asclepius (as well as Dionysus) was originally a god, or whether he was first a man and then became afterwards a god; but Apollodorus professed to fix the exact date of his apotheosis. Throughout all the historical ages the descendants of Asclepius were numerous and widely diffused. The many families or gentes called Asklepiads, who devoted themselves to the study and practice of medicine, and who principally dwelt near the temples of Asclepius, whither sick and suffering men came to obtain relief—all recognized the god not merely as the object of their common worship, but also as their actual progenitor. Like Solon, who reckoned Neleus and Poseidon as his ancestors, or the Milesian Hekataeus, who traced his origin through fifteen successive links to a god—like the privileged gens at Pelion in Thessaly, who considered the wise Centaur Cheiron as their progenitor, and who inherited from him their precious secrets respecting the medicinal herbs of which their neighborhood was full,—Asklepiads, even of the later times, numbered and specified all the intermediate links which separated them from their primitive divine parent. One of these genealogies has been preserved to us, and we may be sure that there were many such, as the Asklepiads were found in many different places. Among them were enrolled highly instructed and accomplished men, such as the great Hippocrates and the historian Ktesias, who prided themselves on the divine origin of themselves and their gens—so much did the legendary element pervade even the most philosophical and positive minds of historical Greece. Nor can there be any doubt that their means of medical observation must have been largely extended by their vicinity to a temple so much frequented by the sick, who came in confident hopes of divine relief, and who, whilst they offered up sacrifice and prayer to Aesculapius, and slept in his temple in order to be favored with healing suggestions in their dreams, might, in case the god withheld his supernatural aid, consult his living descendants. The sick visitors at Kos, or Trikka, or Epidaurus, were numerous and constant, and the tablets usually hung up to record the particulars of their maladies, the remedies resorted to, and the cures operated by the god, formed both an interesting decoration of the sacred ground and an instructive memorial to the Asklepiads.

The genealogical descent of Hippocrates and the other Asklepiads from the god Asclepius is not only analogous to that of Hekataeus and Solon from their respective ancestral gods, but also to that of the Lacedaemonians kings from Heracles, upon the basis of which the whole supposed chronology of the ante-historical times has been built, from Eratosthenes and Apollodorus down to the chronologers of the present century. I shall revert to this hereafter.