Part I: About the so-called Dorian Invasion
Part II: About the so-called Aeolian Migration
Part III: About the so-called Ionian Migration
2023.09.04 | By Gregory Nagy
§0. This pre-edited standalone essay, Pamphlet 4 in a series of pamphlets published online and also in print (“on-demand”), is about three events that happened during the so-called Dark Age of ancient Greece: (I) a Dorian Invasion, (II) an Aeolian Migration, and (III) an Ionian Migration—the last of the three could be renamed as an Ionian Invasion. I argue that all three of these events are myths—but they have much to say about history and prehistory. Though I agree that attempts to “reconstruct history from myth” are inadequate, I offer here a more adequate approach, which is, to reconstruct the history of myths themselves as systems of thinking about history and prehistory. I attempt here such a reconstruction, applying comparative approaches that require a rethinking of various terms used by various experts today in referring, often all too generally, to a so-called Dark Age of early Greek civilization. Such an “age” is pictured negatively as an era that brought to an end the far brighter era of an earlier phase of Greek civilization. That earlier era, conventionally described today as Mycenaean, was dominated by the royal palaces of a ruling class who are in turn conventionally described today, in the most general terms, as Mycenaeans. In my own work, adding to this set of conventional terms, I have often referred to a Mycenaean era preceding the so-called Dark Age. The apogee of such an era was the civilization of a Mycenaean Empire, which can be dated back—roughly—to the second half of the second millennium BCE. And, in this regard, I have often made general reference to a Mycenaean standard dialect of the Greek language as spoken by the ruling class of such an empire. For purposes of what I will argue in this essay here, the terms that I have by now already highlighted—Mycenaean, Mycenaeans, Mycenaean era, Mycenaean Empire, Mycenaean standard dialect—will all need to be questioned in the course of my ongoing argumentation. In what follows, though I will no longer highlight these questioned terms in italics, the questioning will persist, in an effort to find more specific ways of understanding the civilization of the Mycenaeans from the standpoint of later myths, grounded in the so-called Dark Age, about various invasions or migrations of Dorian and Aeolian and Ionian populations.
Part I: About the so-called Dorian Invasion
I§0. Part I here is a radical rewriting of two brief essays originally published online in Classical Inquiries (Nagy 2019.11.08 and 2019.11.15). The arguments in those essays have now been merged into a single unified argument centering on myths about a Dorian Invasion of the Peloponnesus—an invasion led by kingly sons of the hero Hēraklēs. Pivotal for my argumentation is this question: was Hēraklēs a Dorian? The illustration that is featured here as an introduction, where we see a visual pairing of Hēraklēs with a Doric column, will be relevant to my question.
I§1. I start by focusing on a general point made in an article by John Chadwick (1976), titled “Who Were the Dorians?” In the course of his argumentation, the author expresses his overall reluctance to use the evidence of myth. As Chadwick says (p. 116), “I do not believe that one can reconstruct history from myth.” Well and good. But, right after saying this, he then goes on to say (again, p. 116): “for those who like to see the myths fully exploited, let me offer a crumb of comfort.” And here is the “crumb” (yet again, p. 116): “The Dorian hero par excellence is Herakles.”
I§2. As we will see, such a formulation is relevant to my own understanding of myths about a Dorian Invasion, which signals a decisive moment in the so-called Dark Age of Greece. But I resist, as we will also see, Chadwick’s understanding of Hēraklēs as “a Dorian hero.”
I§3. Why does Chadwick think of this hero as a Dorian? It is because, as he argues (pp. 116–117), a Dorian identity for Hēraklēs is what disqualified this hero as a king. In terms of Chadwick’s reasoning, such a disqualification supposedly shows that this hero belonged to a class of people who were seen as inferior in the eyes of a ruling class who claimed royalty in the Mycenaean era, especially around—roughly—the second half of the second millennium BCE. Such socially inferior folk, the author’s reasoning continues, would have been the Dorians. But the myths about Hēraklēs never say that the failure of this hero ever to become a king had anything to do with a Dorian identity. So, the problem here is that the relevant myths have not, I think, been accurately reconstructed.
I§4. As I have argued in a series of brief essays on Hēraklēs (there are 19 such essays listed in the Bibliography, but here I cite only one, Nagy 2022.08.08, ed. 2 of Nagy 2019.10.18), the very idea that this hero was never a king—though he was always a kingmaker—can be reconstructed all the way back to the mythological traditions of the Mycenaean era. To say this, however, is not the same thing as saying that history can be reconstructed from myth. Rather, it is a matter of reconstructing myth itself—and thereby reconstructing the history of mythmaking, that is, of thinking in terms of myth. Such reconstruction, I insist, has much to tell us about the history and the prehistory of the people who found these myths “good to think with.” The expression that I just quoted is relevant, I should add, to my argumentation. The wording itself, commonly used but all too seldom attributed to any published source, derives from the thinking of the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss in his book Le Totémisme aujourd’hui (1962; English translation 1963 by Rodney Needham, Totemism).
I§5. I will not pursue further my argument, developed fully in an essay already cited (Nagy 2022.08.08), that Hēraklēs was always a kingmaker but never a king—from the standpoint of mythmaking that dates back to the Mycenaean era. Instead, I will concentrate on mythmaking that dates from a post-Mycenaean era, starting—roughly—in the first millennium BCE. The rough dating matches the comparably rough terminology often applied to this early post-Mycenaean era, the so-called Dark Age. From the standpoint of the mythmaking that can be reconstructed for this “dark” stretch of time, as we will see, Hēraklēs could in fact be seen as a Dorian.
I§6. Myths dating from the so-called Dark Age in the first millennium BCE about a Dorian Hēraklēs can best be understood by considering first a set of related myths about male descendants of Hēraklēs who were known generically as Hērakleidai (Heracleidae), meaning ‘Sons of Hēraklēs’. In these myths, we see that such Sons—unlike Hēraklēs himself—are consistently destined to become kings.
I§7. Some myths about lineages of Hērakleidai tend to be more localized, while others are more regionalized, but the most regionalizing versions of all such myths about royal male descendants of Hēraklēs are centered on one son in particular. He is the hero Hyllos, married off to Iolē, the newest wife that Hēraklēs never had—in the sense that myth prevented Hēraklēs from ever marrying Iolē, as we see most clearly when we read the Trachinian Women of Sophocles. This hero Hyllos fathers three sons, brothers named (1) Tēmenos, (2) Aristodēmos, and (3) Kresphontēs, who become the prototypical ancestors of the three main royal dynasties ruling over the Peloponnesus in the first millennium BCE, namely, the kingdoms of (1) Argos, (2) Sparta, and (3) Messene. Which one of the three brothers became king over which one of these three kingdoms was determined, myth has it, by way of drawing lots, as represented in the illustration that I show here:
I§8. In the written evidence, we find two different surviving versions of the moment in myth where the Hērakleidai are drawing lots for their share of three kingdoms in the Peloponnesus.
I§8a. One of the two written versions is most clearly attested in a source dating from the second century CE, namely, the Library of “Apollodorus” (2.8.4 pp. 289–291 ed. Frazer 1921). According to this version, there are really four Hērakleidai involved in the action of drawing lots, not three, since the kingdom of Sparta is to be allotted to twin brothers named Proklēs and Eurysthenēs, while the kingdoms of Argos and of Messene are to be allotted to Tēmenos and to Kresphontēs respectively, who are the uncles of the twins; the father of the twins, Aristodēmos, is already dead, and so the twins will have to share the kingdom of Sparta in the form of a dual kingship—an arrangement that persists into the historical period.
I§8b. The second of the two different written versions corresponds more closely to the visual representation that I have just shown in the illustration above. This written version is attested in a source that is also dated, like the unknown author whom classicists hesitantly name as “Apollodorus,” to the second century CE: our source in this case is the traveler Pausanias. In the version reported by Pausanias (4.3.3–5), the myth concentrates on the allotment of Messene to Kresphontēs. This allotment, I must emphasize, is to be contrasted with the allotment of Sparta to the twin brothers Proklēs and Eurysthenēs. And the myth here concentrates on a primary question: why is Kresphontēs, the uncle of the twins, allotted the kingdom of Messene?
I§9. Before I offer an answer to the primary question, I must note that this version of the myth anticipates a secondary question: why is the other uncle of the twins, Tēmenos, not a contestant in the version of the myth about the lottery that we read in the narration of Pausanias? The answer to the second question is quite simple: in this version of the myth, the allotment of Argos to Tēmenos had already been made. So, the myth can in this case concentrate on the allotment of Sparta to the twins and, far more important for now, on the allotment of Messene to Kresphontēs.
I§10. That said, I can now return to the primary question: why does Kresphontēs, the uncle of the twins, win as his allotment the kingdom of Messene? In the myth as reported by Pausanias (again 4.3.3–5) and as visualized in the illustration above, the allotments take the form of two lots, each one of which is called a pálos. One of these two lots is made of an earth-derived substance, clay, which has been dried in the sun, while the other, though it is also made of clay, has been baked in a fire. And the two lots are look-alikes, seemingly identical on the surface. What happens next? Well, the pálos or ‘lot’ that had been baked in a fire is assigned to Kresphontēs, while the pálos or ‘lot’ that had been dried in the sun is assigned to the twins Proklēs and Eurysthenēs. These two look-alike páloi ‘lots’ are now to be thrown into a huge jar filled with water, and the winner of the lottery will be the one who succeeds in being the first to scoop out from the jar the lot that had been assigned to him. This lottery, then, is a trial-by-water, and whoever wins will get to choose which kingdom to rule, Sparta or Messene. But Kresphontēs had surreptitiously interfered with the lottery, since he desired to rule Messene as his allotment. He had persuaded Tēmenos, who presided over the lottery, to pre-arrange the assignment of the fire-baked pálos to himself and the assignment of the look-alike sun-dried pálos to the twins. When the lots are thrown into the jar of water, the sun-dried lot dissolves in the water—while the fire-baked lot is preserved. Thus Kresphontēs gets to be “first” in scooping out his lot from the water in the jar. In short, then, Kresphontēs gets what he wishes for, which is the kingdom of Messene.
I§11. By contrast, in the version of the myth as reported by “Apollodorus” (again, 2.8.4 pp. 289–291 ed. Frazer 1921), the lottery arranged by the Hērakleidai is more simple: using pre-assigned stones as lots, called psêphoi here, they throw them into the huge jar filled with water—except that Kresphontēs substitutes a look-alike stone that is really a bôlos or ‘clod of earth’—which can be, as I see it, a lump of clay. The ‘clod’ dissolves in the water, and so Kresphontēs gets to rule Messene by default, because the lottery has resulted in the winning of Argos by Tēmenos and the winning of Sparta by the twins. Nevertheless, in the logic of the myth in this version, the default is what Kresphontēs had wanted all along, and, once again, Kresphontēs gets what he wishes for, which is the kingdom of Messene.
I§12. These two versions of the myth about the tripartition of the Peloponnesus into three dominant kingdoms to be ruled by the Hērakleidai is combined, in both sources we have considered, with the idea that these Sons of Hēraklēs were leaders of Dorians, that is, of Greeks who spoke a Doric dialect and who invaded, from the outside, the innermost part of the Greek-speaking world known as the Peloponnesus, nucleus of the Mycenaean Empire. In the wording of both written sources that I have cited, the myth is all about the káthodos or ‘Return’ of the Hērakleidai, Sons of Hēraklēs who are Mycenaean natives of the Peloponnesus and who return to their homeland as military commanders of outsiders, supposedly non-native Dorians, in a massive invasion of a moribund Mycenaean Empire. This myth, then, centering on events that supposedly happened toward the end of the second millennium BCE, can be viewed as an aetiology of existing sociopolitical realities in the earlier centuries of the first millennium BCE, a so-called Dark Age, by which time the Peloponnesus is already the homeland for Doric-speaking populations—except for such non-Doric enclaves as Arcadia.
I§13. I propose that the version of the myth as reported by Pausanias (4.3.3–5), where Kresphontēs gets to possess the kingdom of Messene by way of being assigned a pálos ‘lot’ that is baked in fire, approximates the reality of a Mycenaean past that is superseded by what can best be called a Dorian present. And, of course, such a time in the present could become a reality only after the palaces of the Mycenaean era were destroyed by fires, toward the end of the second millennium BCE.
I§14. Relevant to those fires is a point I have made in a lecture I once presented at the Academy of Athens (Nagy 2011.04.06), cited hereafter in its latest rewritten form, which is a pre-edited essay published as Pamphlet 1 (Nagy 2023.08.19) in the same series of standalone pamphlets where the present Pamphlet 4 appears. The point is, the fires resulted in an unexpected consequence for experts in the study of Mycenaean civilization. The sun-dried clay tablets that had once served as temporary records for the bureaucracies of the Mycenaean civilization could now become—now that they had been accidentally baked in the fires—the permanent record for experts today who study that civilization. What we see here is thus an unintentional trial-by-fire, as it were.
I§15. The fire-baked pálos or ‘lot’ of Kresphontēs, I propose, is symbolic of such clay tablets—or, in this case, perhaps, of clay sealings that were attached to records kept by bureaucrats working for the Mycenaean Empire. The Dorian agenda that I see at work in the myth reported by Pausanias (4.3.3–5) about a pálos ‘lot’ made of clay that had been baked in fire can be connected, I think, with relevant linguistic evidence to be gleaned from the records written in Linear B script on sun-dried clay tablets that got to be accidentally preserved by the fires that burned down the palaces of the Mycenaean Empire toward the end of the second millennium BCE, at a time when such records were being written by bureaucrats working in these palaces. As I argue in Pamphlet 1 (Nagy 2023.08.19), already cited, some of the writers who were writing these records reveal unintentionally, by way of inconsistencies in their spelling, a set of dialectal variations that I will hereafter describe as non-standard or even substandard in comparison to the standard dialect. I see here a sociopolitical distinction between a ruling class that speaks a standard dialect on the one hand and, on the other hand, substrate populations whose dialect or dialects would be considered substandard by the ruling class. And here is where I find it essential to cite a most telling essay by Thomas Palaima (2002), where he points out that the traces of what I call substandard dialectal features written by some writers of Linear B texts actually correspond to the attested features of the Doric dialects that pervade the Peloponnesus in later times, that is, in the historical era of the first millennium BCE. The inference, then, is that Dorians were already very much present in the Peloponnesus before the collapse of the Mycenaean Empire.
I§16. But now I have a further inference to make, on the basis of the two surviving versions of the myth about the lots divided by the kingly Sons of Hēraklēs the kingmaker. We see here, I think, a myth about a division of spoils in the aftermath of the fires that destroyed the palaces of the Mycenaean Empire. Dividing these spoils were the substrate populations of such an empire, including Dorians, some of whom had once been part of the stratified bureaucracies working for the various royal palaces. A prime example of such palaces was the “Palace of Nestor” at Pylos in Messene.
I§16a. In the case of the myth as narrated by Pausanias (4.3.3–5), which is favorable, as we see clearly from the context of the narration, to the Dorians of Messene as opposed to the rival Dorians of Sparta, the pálos ‘lot’ of Kresphontēs that is made of fire-baked clay is symbolic, I think, of a connectivity claimed by Messene with its Mycenaean past. The fire-baked clay of the lot corresponds to the fire-baked clay of the Linear B tablets that were burned by the fires that destroyed such Mycenaean administrative centers as the “Palace of Nestor” at Pylos in Messene. These centers or palaces were destroyed by the fires, yes, but the administrative records could accidentally survive if the sun-dried clay tablets on which they were written were baked by the same fires. The survival of clay tablets that were accidentally baked by the destructive fires could then be symbolic of continuity, of a continuum in administrative knowledge. As we read in the narrative reported by Pausanias (4.3.5), it is even made explicit that the Dorians of Messene allied themselves with the survivors of the leadership that they had overthrown in the course of their supposed invasion from outside, and such an alliance can be seen as an active engagement with the administrative past of the palaces that had already been destroyed by fire.
I§16b. To be contrasted is the case of the myth as narrated by “Apollodorus” (2.8.4 pp. 289–291 ed. Frazer 1921), which is favorable to the Dorians of Sparta as opposed the rival Dorians of Messene—as we can see clearly once again from the context of the narration. In this case, the connectivity that was claimed by the new kingdom of Messene with its Mycenaean past is I think treated negatively rather than positively. Although the myth concedes that Kresphontēs really wished to win the kingdom of Messene in the lottery of the Hērakleidai, this wish is treated as insubstantial, since the king is allotted his kingdom only by default—and the default is guaranteed by the lot of Kresphontēs, which is made of a clod that dissolves in water, becoming insubstantial. Such negativity would be typical of myths favorable to Sparta in the so-called Dark Age of the earlier phases of the first millennium BCE, since the kingdom of Sparta dominated the Dorians of Messene during most of those phases—and even well beyond. Despite the negativity conveyed by the version of the myth that we are now considering, however, the symbolism of linking with the Mycenaean past is retained. In this case, the lot of Kresphontēs is made of a clod that loses its substance in water just as the sun-dried clay of Linear B tablets once written at Mycenaean palaces would lose its content when these tablets were lumped for seasonal recycling. As I argue in Pamphlet 1 (Nagy 2023.08.19), it was normal administrative procedure to recycle, fiscal year by fiscal year, the clay of sun-dried Linear B tablets. So, if the Dorians of Messene were to venerate their Mycenaean past as symbolized by the fire-baked Linear B tablets, then the Dorians of Sparta, in terms of their own version of the myth, could by contrast point to the ephemeral value of these tablets as they were actually used in the olden days of Mycenaean bureaucracies. Gone forever, in terms of such a reconstructed Spartan view of their own myths, were the elite overlords of such destroyed administrative centers as the “Palace of Nestor” at Pylos in Messene. The palatial records of such elite Mycenaeans, which were written on sun-dried clay tablets and destined for seasonal recycling, would never again be recycled. Instead, the clay on which the records were written would now remain forever insubstantial, as if they had been tossed into a jar of water. Or, to consider the alternative, such clay would be baked into a useless permanence by the fires that destroyed the palaces that had formerly given them any day-to-day meaning.
I§17. In Pamphlet 1 (Nagy 2023.08.19), I have specific things to say about the dialectal inconsistencies revealed in the Linear B texts, and I will epitomize here in Pamphlet 4 some of those specifics. Before I can start my epitome, however, I need to make seven general observations.
I§17.1. First of all, the dialectal inconsistencies we find in these texts are revealed only by accident—so, I find myself speaking about accidents again. In this case, the accidents are misspellings by some of the scribes who wrote some of the Linear B texts.
I§17.2. When I say “scribes” here, I use this word without reading into it any connotation of a lower social status. I am simply referring to writers of texts who may or may not be socially inferior writers of texts.
I§17.3. From what we see in the Linear B texts written by scribes—and most of the scribes can now be identified, thanks to recent studies of their handwriting—some of these identified scribes reveal unintentionally, by way of inconsistent spelling, that they were speakers of what I call substandard dialects. By contrast, the writing of other scribes reveal, by way of consistent spelling, that they spoke the standard Mycenaean dialect.
I§17.4. My describing some of the scribes as speakers of a substandard dialect does not imply a prejudgment, on my own part, of any personal inferiority. Any substandard social status attributed to the speaker of any dialect can simply be attributed to existing distinctions in class, where the language spoken by a ruling class stands in contrast with the language spoken by subordinates.
I§17.5. I must add some qualifications. I leave room for thinking that scribes could belong to a ruling class, not only to a subordinate class. Further, ruling classes could in theory change from one era to the next. Still further, the standard language of scribes in one era could become substandard or even extinct with the advent of any new ruling class in another era.
I§17.6. With these qualifications in place, I am ready to agree with the suggestion made in the essay by Thomas Palaima (2002), already cited, that Doric was once a substandard dialect spoken by substrate populations in the territory controlled by the palace at Pylos in the Mycenaean era—to take the most obvious example.
I§17.7. Such a Doric dialect would have been a prototype of the Doric dialect spoken as a living Greek language by Dorians in the historical period of the first millennium BCE and beyond. By contrast—and here I must put special emphasis on the point I will now be making—the standard dialect of the elite ruling class of the Mycenaean Empire, which linguists tend to describe by default simply as Mycenaean—no longer survived as a living language in the historical period of the first millennium BCE and beyond. Having made the point I just made, I now also need to add, again most emphatically, a related point: the dialectal inconsistencies revealed in the Linear B texts could have involved more than just one substandard dialect. Other dialects too could have been current—and they would likewise be deemed to be substandard by comparison with the standard Mycenaean dialect. In fact, if we reconstruct backward in time the various dialects that survived as living languages in the historical period of the first millennium BCE, reconstructing all the way back to the Mycenaean era in the second millennium BCE, what we discover is that there existed other dialects besides Doric, such as Aeolic, where we can see dialectal features that would likewise be deemed as substandard by speakers of the Mycenaean dialect. In the case of Aeolic, I refer to relevant argumentation in a work by Roger Woodard (2021.12.31). In Part II, I will have more to say, much more, about this work of Woodard.
I§18. Having argued in general for the presence of dialectal variants in Linear B texts, I now turn to specific examples as I study them in Pamphlet 1 (Nagy 2023.08.19), where I concentrate on the texts of the Linear B tablets found in the ruins of the palace at Pylos in the Peloponnesus; further examples, I should add, have been studied in a related essay by Woodard (1986), who concentrates there on Linear B tablets found in the Mycenaean strata of the palatial ruins at Knossos in the imperial island of Crete.
I§19. For illustration here in Pamphlet 4, I single out only one of the specific examples that I study. in Pamphlet 1 (again, Nagy 2023.08.19). But I will say more here in Pamphlet 4 about this single example, much more, than I do in Pamphlet 1.
I§19a. In the case of the single example I have chosen, we are dealing with a distinctive feature of the standard Mycenaean dialect where a linguistic innovation has taken place: in this dialect, the vowel e is phonologically “raised” to a “higher” vowel i wherever the original e is contiguous with a bilabial consonant. I describe this feature of the standard Mycenaean dialect as distinctive because such a process of changing (in this case, “raising”) one particular vowel in one particular phonological context is a linguistic innovation that fails to happen in other Greek dialects—at least, it does not happen in those dialects that survived as living languages into the historical period of the first millennium BCE. It follows, then, that any hesitant spelling, in the phonological context I have just described, of a syllable shaped Ce as non-standard <Ce> instead of standard <Ci> on the part of any given writer of Linear B (where my writing of <C-> stands for the consonantal part of the syllabic spelling) could in theory reveal a speaker of either Doric or, say, Aeolic. I say this because, to repeat, the linguistic process of raising e to i in the phonological context I described—something that regularly happened in the standard Mycenaean dialect—was a process that never happened in other dialects such as Doric or Aeolic. Thus we have here solid evidence, however inadvertently provided by scribes writing Linear B texts, that some of them were speakers of substandard dialects. I am referring here to those scribes who occasionally happened to write, in the phonological context that I have described, various substandard dialectal forms featuring <Ce> in free variation with corresponding standard forms featuring <Ci>. Such scribes—let me refer to any three of them, for the sake of the argument, as writers X Y Z— have inadvertently proved for us, in our own day, that they had been native speakers of dialects that were in their own day deemed to be substandard—thanks to the fact that such writers X Y Z have now been identified, by today’s experts in the study of Linear B handwriting, as ancient writers who reveal linguistic patterns in writing Greek that differ from the linguistic patterns revealed by of other ancient writers A B C. The linguistic patterns revealed by scribes X Y Z are an inconsistent mix featuring two different dialects of Greek whereas the linguistic patterns of scribes A B C are consistent in spelling the forms of a single dialect, which, in terms of my argument, is the standard dialect of the Mycenaean Empire. But a question remains about such scribes X Y Z whom I have randomly selected, for the sake of making an argument, as hypothetical representatives of all scribes who are native speakers of substandard dialects. Among such dialects—if we reconstruct them forward in time, all the way into the historical period of alphabetic writing in the first millennium BCE—would be Doric and Aeolic. So, the question is, these scribes would be speakers of which substandard dialect?
I§19b. The linguistic innovation that I have just described as a feature of the living Greek language as spoken by speakers of the standard or Mycenaean dialect in the era of the Mycenaean Empire toward the end of the second millennium BCE is relevant to what we find attested in all dialects in later phases of the living Greek language as recorded in alphabetic writing. In these later phases of the language, when the Mycenaean dialect is already extinct, we can still find lexical vestiges of the old standard Mycenaean dialect, where the prestige of an old Mycenaean word could still occasionally override the phonological or morphological rules that were operative in living dialects as attested in the historical post-Mycenaean era of the Greek language. My favorite example of such a Mycenaean lexical vestige that survived into the historical era of alphabetic writing is the noun διφθέρα/diphthérā in the sense of ‘parchment’: here the vowel i, in contiguity with the consonant ph, which is a bilabial phoneme, results from the innovative “raising” of the vowel e to the “higher” vowel i in terms of standard Mycenaean phonology as reconstructed on the basis of the Linear B texts. To be contrasted with the phonological prehistory of this noun is the phonological reality of the verb from which it derives, δέψω/dépsō, which means ‘to tan hide’. The phonology of this word, which is clearly attested in alphabetic writings that record historical phases of the Greek language in the first millennium BCE, shows a preservation of the non-innovative vowel e that had innovatively been “raised” to the “higher” vowel i—but only in the standard Mycenaean dialect. And this standard dialect, as I have already noted, did not survive as a living language into the historical era of the first millennium BCE. By contrast, in dialects that did survive into the historical era, we see the non-innovative e attested in the verb δέψω/dépsō. There is an irony to be flagged here: when the administrative centers of the Mycenaean era were destroyed by fires, the temporary records written in the Linear B script on sun-dried clay tablets were accidentally made permanent for archaeologists because these tablets were baked and thus preserved by the same fires that must have destroyed what I argue were permanent records recorded on parchment. In terms of this argument, the noun διφθέρα/diphthérā is a survival from the standard Mycenaean dialect, referring to the elite activity of writers writing on parchment, while the corresponding verb δέψω/dépsō is a reflex of substandard and thus non-Mycenaean dialects, referring to the non-elite activity of tanners tanning hides—whether or not these hides were ever used as parchment for the writing of texts.
I§20. That said, I return to the myths that I have studied here—myths that tell about an invasion of the Peloponnesus by Dorians led by the Hērakleidai. In the light of the suggestion made by Palaima (2002), that the bureaucrats of the Mycenaean Empire included speakers of a substandard dialect that survived as Doric, I see no need for positing a Dorian Invasion of the Peloponnesus near the end of the second millennium BCE, at which time Dorians, no longer confined to roaming around the environs of a northern mountain range known as Pindos, swooped down from the North to the South, not only stopping at the Peloponnesus, as some of them reportedly did under the leadership of the Hērakleidai, but also pushing ahead, others of them, in directions further south and southeast, even crossing the sea and occupying the vast island of Crete, once ruled by Mycenaeans at Knossos, and then, pushing ahead still further and reaching across the Aegean Sea to the East, succeeding in the occupation of islands outlying Asia Minor, especially Cos and Rhodes. This is not to say that some Dorians could not have come from the North to the Peloponnesus and to points further south, but my point is that there must have existed, in the era of the Mycenaean Empire, other Dorians who were already living in the Peloponnesus as also, I think, in lands and islands further south. Similarly, as we will see in Part II, some Aeolians were already inhabitants of the coastal mainland and outlying islands of Asia Minor in the Mycenaean era—even if other Aeolians were inhabitants, in the same era, of territories on the west side of the Aegean Sea. In any case, there is no archaeological evidence for any Dorian Invasion that supposedly happened soon after the Trojan War, putting an end to the Mycenaean Empire, just as there is no archaeological evidence, as we will see in Part II, for any Aeolian Migration from West to East across the Aegean Sea—an event that also happened, supposedly, after the Trojan War.
I§21. So, the simplest explanation for the existence of myths about invading Dorians is that such myths served to aetiologize the predominance, especially in the Peloponnesus, of Dorian populations in the first millennium BCE, replacing the earlier dominion of non-Dorian Mycenaean elites in the second millennium BCE. In terms of such an explanation, the Dorian “invaders” were in fact not at all newcomers to the Peloponnese. No, they were already “there” in the era dominated by the Mycenaean elites who had once controlled the palaces. But then, after the destruction of the palatial civilization that had been shaped by these Mycenaean elites, the predominantly Dorian populations could take over. In any case, the point is that such Dorians had already been part of Mycenaean civilization—even if they had once represented a substratum, as it were, of palatial society, speaking a notionally substandard dialect of their own.
I§22. In terms of my argumentation so far, then, the myths about Dorian invaders of the Peloponnesus originated by hindsight as an aetiological explanation for the pre-existence of Dorian populations there. But the question remains: in terms of such myths, was Hēraklēs himself a Dorian? My answer is twofold, from the standpoint of the first millennium BCE: (1) yes, he was a Dorian by then, according to Athenian mythmaking, and (2) no, he was not a Dorian but rather a Mycenaean—according to the mythmaking of Peloponnesian royalty who claimed descent from Hēraklēs as a way of legitimating Dorian rule over the Peloponnesus.
I§22a. For a most telling example of the Athenian version of the myth, that is, where Hēraklēs is imagined as a Dorian, I point back to the image I showed at the beginning of this essay. We saw there what was painted on one side of an Athenian vase dated toward the end of the sixth century BCE. Pictured there are the hero Hēraklēs and the goddess Athena standing next to Doric and Ionic columns respectively. The Ionic style of one column befits Athena’s role as representative of the dominantly Ionian culture of the Athenians, while the Doric style of the other column marks Hēraklēs as a Dorian. The appropriation, by Ionian Athens, of such a Dorian Hēraklēs is aetiologized in an Athenian myth, attested in the Library of “Apollodorus” (2.8.1–3 pp. 277–289 ed. Frazer 1921), telling how the Hērakleidai, the ‘Sons’ of Hēraklēs, were fleeing their persecutor Eurystheus, over-king of Mycenae, and how they found refuge in territory belonging to Athens before they embarked on their expedition into the Peloponnesus as leaders of a Dorian Invasion. In terms of the sociopolitical agenda involved in the Athenian mythmaking here, it seems as if the Peloponnesian kings who claimed to be descended from Hēraklēs were just as Dorian as the invaders whom they were leading. The best-known attestation of such an Athenian version of the myth is the drama of Euripides that is named after the Hērakleidai; the title is often spelled in its Latinized form, Heracleidae.
I§22b. On the other hand, the myths about a káthodos or ‘return’ to the Peloponnesus by the Hērakleidai or ‘Sons of Hēraklēs’ (as narrated in the Library of “Apollodorus” (2.8.2 p. 283 ed. Frazer 1921) could become a model for defining the Dorians themselves: they could be described in a way that seems as if they, too, under the leadership of the ‘returning’ Hērakleidai, were likewise ‘returning’ to the Peloponnesus. A particularly revealing source for such Dorian self-definition is the reportage of Pausanias about a Dorian Invasion (the passages highlighted in italics make explicit the idea of a Dorian ‘return’: 2.12.3, 2.26.1, 2.30.10, 2.37.3, 2.38.1, 3.1.6, 3.2.6, 3.12.9, 3.19.6, 3.20.6, 3.22.6, 4.3.3, 4.3.6, 4.30.1, 4.31.11, 5.1.1, 5.1.2, 5.3.5–7, 5.4.1–4, 7.1.5, 7.1.7, 7.1.9, 7.3.9, 7.20.8, 8.5.1, 8.5.6, 10.38.1).
I§23. In sum, whether they are returning to the Peloponnesus or entering this territory as newcomers, the Dorians in these Athenian myths are perceived as invaders from the outside, and the perception of these outsiders as Dorians can extend to their leaders, the Hērakleidai—or even to the heroic ancestor of the Hērakleidai, Hēraklēs himself.
I§24. To be contrasted is the standpoint of the Hērakleidai themselves as founders of the dynasties of kings ruling over Argos, Sparta, and Messene. Their original claim to kingship was based on the idea that they were descended from Hēraklēs as a Mycenaean, not as a Dorian. A striking example is the moment in the narrative of Herodotus (5.72) when Kleomenes, king of Dorian Sparta, approaches the temple of Athena on the acropolis of Athens and is challenged by the priestess of the goddess, who tells this man who claims to be a descendant of Hēraklēs that no Dorians are allowed to enter the sacred space of Athena. To which the king of Sparta responds: Ὦ γύναι, ἀλλ’ οὐ Δωριεύς εἰμι ἀλλ’ Ἀχαιός. I translate: ‘But madam, I’m not a Dorian; I’m an Achaean.’ By saying Akhaiós ‘Achaean’ here, this king is saying Mycenaean. And, as I argue in Pamphlet 2 (Nagy 2023.08.20)—as also more briefly here when I reach Part II—the ancient elites whom we now call Mycenaeans were calling themselves Achaeans already in the second millennium BCE. That said, as I near the end of Part I, I will allow myself here to anticipate the point I will make in Part II: to say Achaean was the ancient equivalent of our saying Mycenaean.
I§25. Before I begin Part II, however, I will conclude Part I here by summarizing my argumentation so far. Basically, I have argued that the Peloponnesus was a homeland for Dorians, native speakers of the Doric dialect, already in the Mycenaean era. For the dating of that era, though, I have up till now made only a general formulation, estimating that Dorians were already present in the Peloponnesus during the heyday of the Mycenaean Empire, around the second half of the second millennium BCE. And it was not only my dating of this Dorian presence that has been kept general. So too my use of relevant terminology has been most general till now—in three different ways:
- To say Doric has been a way for me to use a most general term in referring to a dialect of the ancient Greek language as it must have already existed in the second millennium BCE, but I need to add, more specifically, that we can find many sub-divisions of Doric dialects when we look ahead in time to the post-Mycenaean era of the first millennium BCE. So, further comment will be needed, in Part II, on the history as well as the prehistory of the Doric dialect.
- Likewise, for me to say Mycenaean Empire has been a generalization—to the extreme, in this case—since the sociopolitical realities of an empire as it may have existed in the second half of the second millennium BCE will need further comment.
- Further comment is also needed on what I said a moment ago when I referred to the word Akhaiós ‘Achaean’ as the ancient equivalent of what archaeologists today call Mycenaean.
In what follows, then, I will offer more specific comments on all three of these generalizations,
Part II: About the so-called Aeolian Migration
II§1. My point of departure here in Part II is an argument concerning Aeolians, native speakers of Aeolic dialects. The argumentation centers on the general idea of an Aeolian Migration that moves out of an old geographical space that we now know as Europe and moves into a newer geographical space that we now know as Asia Minor. Such an idea, as we will see, is comparable in some ways with the idea of a Dorian Invasion. The story of an Aeolian Migration, as I will argue, is basically a myth, just as the story of a Dorian Invasion is a myth. And such a myth about an Aeolian Migration is “good to think with”—so long as we try to reconstruct the history and the prehistory of the myth itself, which as we will see is comparable to the Dorian myth about a Dorian Invasion.
II§2. My argumentation here in Part II about a so-called Aeolian Migration aligns in many ways with a superbly detailed work by Roger Woodard (2021.12.31), already cited in Part I. In that work, which is focused on the Aeolic dialect, spoken by the Aeolian people, the author argues that the Aeolians were inhabitants, already in the second millennium BCE, of coastal lands and outlying islands in Asia Minor. That is to say, they lived already then in territories situated on the east side of the Aegean Sea, not only in territories situated on the west side, which is the so-called European side. And the presence of Aeolians on the Asian side of the Aegean would contradict the myth about an Aeolian Migration. In terms of this myth, as we will see, the original homeland of the Aeolians was supposedly on the European side, as it were, and they migrated from there to their new homeland on the Asian side only sometime after the Trojan War. The contradiction here can be formulated as a question: If the Aeolians had really migrated from East to West only after the Trojan War, which is what the myth claims, then how can it be that the Aeolians were already inhabitants of Asia Minor in an era before the Trojan War?
II§3. The era before the Trojan War is of course what is known to archaeologists today as the Mycenaean era. So, to restate the argument of Woodard in archaeological terms, the Aeolians were inhabitants of Asia Minor already in the Mycenaean era. But the fact is, the Aeolians were also, already then, inhabitants of Europe as well. In his work, Woodard tracks in detail the evidence for an Aeolian presence on both the European and the Asian sides of the Aegean already in the Mycenaean era, and I will be considering this evidence in the course of my own argumentation here in Part II. But first I will need to make some general comments on Aeolians and the Aeolic dialect from the standpoint of the post-Mycenaean era of the first millennium, starting with the so-called Dark Age and followed by the historical era.
II§4. I find it essential to emphasize here, from the very start, that speakers of the Aeolic dialect were Aeolians not just linguistically, that is, from the standpoint of dialect only. As we are about to see, speakers of Aeolic actually defined themselves sociopolitically as Aeolian people. My use here of the word people is not precise enough, but we find a far more precise word in the original Greek. That word is lāós, translatable as ‘people’ but meaning more precisely, in view of its etymology, ‘people on the move’. This etymology, which I have studied in a separate essay (Nagy 2022.08.08, ed. 2 of Nagy 2019.10.18), is relevant to the very idea of an Aeolian Migration.
II§5. What I just said about the sociopolitical as well as dialectological self-identification of the Aeolians is comparable to the self-identification of the Dorians, who, as I have already argued in Part I, defined themselves by way of myths about a Dorian Invasion. Such a self-definition, as I will now argue here in Part II, aligns with the self-definition of the Aeolians by way of their myths about an Aeolian Migration.
II§6. The mythmaking here is driven by a rhetoric of asserted prestige. In terms of myth, Aeolians migrated from their prestigious old homeland by crossing the Aegean Sea, sailing from West to East in their quest for a new homeland, an apoikíā or ‘home away from home’ that was situated on the coastland and outlying islands of Asia Minor. Since the old homeland, again in terms of myth, was situated on the east side of the Aegean, in a geographical space that had once been part of what I have been calling the Mycenaean Empire, the prestige of the Aeolians would be linked to their claimed place of origin. And this prestigious place of origin, once again in terms of myth, would be a territory ruled by the Achaeans or, to say their name in Greek, the Akhaioí. As I have already started to argue at the end of Part I, these Achaeans were the equivalent of the Mycenaeans, as archaeologists today would call them. And, conversely, the same territory that was claimed as a prestigious place of origin for the Aeolians could also be claimed as the prestigious place of destination for the Dorians—in terms of their own myth about the Return of the Hērakleidai or ‘Sons’ of Hēraklēs. In terms of Dorian myths, these royal Hērakleidai were Achaean heroes who had led the supposedly invasive Dorians to their new homeland—or, in some alternative versions, to their renewed homeland. In any case, the Dorian myths about a Dorian Invasion are a self-definition of Dorian identity, just as the myths about the Aeolian Migration are a self-definition, I argue, of Aeolian identity. And the myths of both the Dorians and the Aeolians link their origins with a prestigious civilization described in their myths as Achaean—which is the equivalent of our saying, in archaeological terms, Mycenaean.
II§7. From the standpoint of both Dorian and Aeolian mythmaking, as attested in the historical era that followed the so-called Dark Age, there was one single event that separated the era of the Achaeans from the era of the Dorians and Aeolians themselves in the later era of their own historical reality. That single event was the Trojan War, which was then followed by the so-called Dark Age. And, by the time of the historical period that in turn followed such a Dark Age, there had already existed a wide variety of divergent myths about a Trojan War that had led to the destruction of Troy—and these destroyers were the so-called Achaeans.
II§8. Myths about the Trojan War will need to be analyzed for their relevance to the identity of the Achaeans who figure in these myths as the destroyers of Troy. Before I can turn to such an analysis, however, I must first concentrate on one detail in myths about the war itself. That one single detail, as we will now see, is a singular point of agreement in all myths about the Trojan War: all myths agree that the Trojan War was a primal event that preceded both the Return of the Hērakleidai and the Aeolian Migration. And the mythologized memory of this primal event is I think a screen memory that screens out an alternative event or set of events that really did happen in prehistory—as we know from the empirical evidence of archaeology. That alternative event was the collapse of the Mycenaean Empire, marked by the burning of its administrative centers, that is, of its palaces.
II§9. Even though the collapse of the Mycenaean Empire cannot be precisely dated, it is essential to add that this collapse happened at roughly the same time when another empire collapsed. That other empire was the Hittite Empire, a “superpower” that dominated most of Asia Minor around the second half of the second millennium BCE. So, the era of the Hittite Empire corresponds closely to the era of the Mycenaean Empire, as I call it, and the time of Hittite collapse, as we can see clearly from the detailed study of Woodard (2021.12.31), likewise corresponds to the time of the Mycenaean collapse.
II§10. Although the precise date for the collapses of the Hittite Empire and the Mycenaean Empire cannot be determined, at least the political structure of one of these two empires can be described with some precision, as we are about to see. That empire is the Hittite Empire. By contrast, the political structure of the Mycenaean Empire eludes any precise description, since this empire—I will persist in calling it that—must have been far more loosely structured than its Hittite counterpart. What I call the Mycenaean Empire can best be described, I think, as a federation of kingdoms, made most visible by palaces built for kings who ruled their own kingdoms. But at least there is evidence for thinking that these various kingdoms, ruled by various kings, were dominated by one over-kingdom ruled by one over-king who presided over the citadel of Mycenae.
II§11. At this point, it could be expected that I should turn immediately to the testimony of myths encoded in epics attributed to Homer—especially in the mythmaking of the Homeric Iliad. After all, it is in the Iliad that we find a master narrative about an eventual destruction of Troy by warriors called Achaeans, many of whom were kings ruling over kingdoms dominated by an over-king, Agamemnon, ruler of Mycenae. But I cannot treat this Homeric narrative as primary evidence about the existence of a Mycenaean Empire. It is no accident that I have so far avoided ever even mentioning Homeric poetry—despite the fact that I have already reached a half-point in my lengthy three-part essay. It is because, although I do think of the myths encoded in Homeric poetry as evidence, I need to stay true to the point I had made at the very beginning of my entire essay, where I said that I view myth primarily as evidence for the history of myth, not for history itself. Here I qualify my formulation: since a history of myth is a history of thinking with myth, such a special kind of history can in fact be viewed as secondary evidence about history writ large or even about prehistory. With this qualification in place, I can say that Homeric mythmaking can in fact be used as secondary evidence for understanding the sociopolitics of mythmaking about invasions and migrations, and I plan to use such evidence when we reach Part III, where I will argue that Homeric mythmaking is directly relevant to myths about a so-called Ionian Migration. But for now I decline the opportunity of using Homeric myth as secondary evidence for confirming a reality in prehistory—which in this case is the prehistory of a Mycenaean Empire. Instead, I will use primary evidence here in arguing for such a prehistory. So, the evidence here comes not from myth but from ancient documents, and these documents were not even composed in Greek, since they are attested as texts surviving from the archives of the Hittite Empire.
II§12. Attested are texts documenting interactions between the Hittite Empire and what I call the Mycenaean Empire, starting already around the middle of the second millennium BCE. I study these Hittite-Mycenaean interactions in Pamphlet 2, which is an essay titled “East of the Achaeans” (Nagy 2023.08.20). In what follows, I epitomize relevant parts of that essay, highlighting the textual evidence of selected documents that had been recorded by administrators of the Hittite Empire—documents written in cuneiform script on clay tablets that were stored in imperial archives maintained at administrative centers, especially at Hattusa, the capital city of the Hittite Empire, located in central Asia Minor (the Turkish name of the site is Boğazköy). These documents, written on clay tablets that were sun-dried and then accidentally preserved for archaeological study—in most cases because they got to be fire-baked in the same conflagrations that burned down the structures housing these tablets—contain archived information about a vast variety of matters involving the administration and the administrative practices of the Hittite Empire. And among these archived documents was a set of texts, known today as the Ahhiyawa Texts (edited by Beckman, Bryce, and Cline 2011), which recorded correspondences sent by successive kings of the Hittite Empire to kings of what seems to be a corresponding empire, designated as the ‘land’ of the Ahhiyawa or Ahhiya. That is how the ‘land’ was named in the Hittite language—as also in a substrate language of the Hittite Empire, known as Luvian, spoken in the western reaches of that empire. In terms of my argument, as we will now see, the Hittite/Luvian expression that means ‘land of the Ahhiyawa’ in the archived texts of the Hittite Empire was a generalized way of referring to the Mycenaean Empire—or, in some contexts, to territory that was claimed by that empire. And the Greek equivalent of the Hittite expression would be ‘land of the Akhaioí’, that is, ‘land of the Achaeans’. Here, then, is an epitomized version of my overall argument (Nagy 2023.08.12 §§10–14).
II§12a = §10. In the Ahhiyawa Texts, references to the king of Ahhiyawa are parallel, as we will see, to the self-references, made in the same texts, to the king of the Hittite Empire, who resided in the capital city of Hattusa.
II§12b = §11. The Ahhiyawa Texts (citations will be formatted this way: AhT, followed by the text-number and then followed, wherever necessary, by the section-number, prefixed by the symbol ¶), with three exceptions (AhT 27A-B, 28), come from the archives of the Hittite administrative center at Hattusa, which as I already noted was the headquarters of the Hittite Empire, and most of these texts were written in the speaking persona of the LUGAL ‘Great King’ of the KUR ‘land’ of Hatti, that is, of the Hittites (capitalized forms like KUR and LUGAL are conventional transcriptions of Sumerian words used as “Sumerograms” in the cuneiform script of the Hittites). In such situations, the ‘Great King’ of the land as centralized at Hattusa is referring to himself as an over-king presiding over a whole empire, which is the Hittite Empire. And, similarly, the kings with whom the ‘Great King’ corresponds by way of written letters are diplomatically treated as his peers—as if they too were over-kings presiding over comparable empires.
II§12c = §12. Such a mode of diplomatic communication in texts of the Hittite Empire follows in many ways the protocols of Akkadian texts as used in other major administrative centers of the ancient Near East, though the language used in the Ahhiyawa Texts is not Akkadian but Hittite. Of special interest, in this connection, are the protocols of correspondences written in Akkadian as well as in Hittite where the speaker of the written text is supposedly the pharaoh of Egypt himself, who is notionally speaking in the Hittite language to the king of the Hittites by way of official letters written to the king, which are then stored in the royal archives of Hattusa, the capital of the Hittite Empire; and, conversely, the king of the Hittites speaks in the Hittite language to the pharaoh of Egypt by way of official letters notionally written by him to the pharaoh (evidence collected and analyzed by Edel 1994; further analysis by Melchert 2020.05.06, updated 2020.05.15).
II§12d = §13. Similarly in the case of the Ahhiyawa Texts, the king of the Hittites is notionally speaking in the Hittite language to the king of the land named Ahhiyawa, as for example in AhT 4, dating from the 13th century BCE; and, conversely, in AhT 6, likewise dating from the 13th century BCE, it is the king of Ahhiyawa who is notionally speaking, by way of a letter written in Hittite, to the king of the Hittites.
II§12e = §14. In the Ahhiyawa Texts, then, we see diplomatic expressions of notional parity between the kings of the KUR or ‘land’ of the Hittites on the one hand and, on the other, the kings of the KUR or ‘land’ that is Ahhiyawa or Ahhiya. In this connection, I note with special interest a reference in Ahhiyawa Text 2, dating from the 13th century BCE, to the kings of other empires whom the Great King of the Hittites considers to be his peers (¶13): these personages include the rulers of Egypt, Babylonia, and Assyria. Also included in the text (again, ¶13) is the king of the Ahhiyawa, though this reference is subsequently erased by the scribe, as if by way of some kind of afterthought (commentary by Beckman, Bryce, and Cline 2011:67, 132). To be contrasted are other situations where we see more overt expressions of parity between the Great King of Hatti and the king of the Ahhiyawa (commentary by Beckman, Bryce, and Cline 2011:122).
II§13. In terms of my argument, I must emphasize, the Hittite/Luvian forms Ahhiya and Ahhiyawa were linguistic borrowings from Greek forms. I epitomize here my followup argument (Nagy 2023.08.12 §§15–16):
II§13a = §15. With reference to the KUR or ‘land’ that is Ahhiyawa, I highlight the fact that a shorter form of this place-name Ahhiyawa is attested in the older Ahhiyawa Texts, that is, in AhT 3, dating from 14th century BCE, and in AhT 22, dating from the 15th–14th century BCE. The shorter form in these older texts is spelled a-ah-hi-ya-a, transliterated as Ahhiya, to be contrasted with the longer form ah-hi-ya-wa-a of the later texts, transliterated as Ahhiyawa. The optional suffixation of –wa in Hittite/Luvian renditions of place-names is attested elsewhere as well. Parallel to the doublet Ahhiya / Ahhiyawa are such further doublets as Zalpa / Zalpawa (Melchert 2007:512, with further comments on the innovative use of the Hittite suffix –wa as a formant of place-names). The older form Ahhiya, as pronounced in Hittite/Luvian, is most significant: it corresponds—more closely, I think, than the later form Ahhiyawa—to a Greek form that was used, I argue, as a name for the realm of the Achaeans in an era that is roughly contemporaneous with the era of the texts featuring the form Ahhiya.
II§13b = §16. Focusing on a Greek era that is roughly contemporaneous with the Hittite era of the Ahhiyawa Texts, I reconstruct for this shared era a Greek form *ákhayya (/*akhayyâs) from *ákhaiwya (/ *akhaiwyâs) from *akhai-wi-a (/*akhai-wi-âs). An earlier phase of the form, *ákhaiwya (/ *akhaiwyâs), is attested, I think, already in the second millennium BCE: as we see in a Linear B tablet from Knossos (C 914), the form is spelled there as a-ka-wi-ja-de, to be transliterated as Akhaiwian-de and possibly to be translated as ‘to Achaea’—though this particular attestation of the place-name cannot be identified as a marker for the realm of the Achaeans writ large (further analysis in my book, The Best of the Achaeans, Nagy 1979/1999:88).
II§14. The work of Woodard (2011.12.30) offers further analysis of the Ahhiyawa Texts, interpreting occasional references made in these texts to various political and even military conflicts that involved, on one side, the ‘land’ of the Hittites and, on the other side, the ‘land’ called Ahhiya / Ahhiyawa by the Hittites. Also involved—and squeezed into what I would describe as a buffer zone between a loosely-structured Mycenaean Empire in the West and a far more tightly-structured Hittite Empire in the East—were the populations of territories in western Asia Minor, some of whom were speakers of substrate Anatolian languages, especially Luvian, while others were speakers of Greek. And these speakers of Greek, in terms of Woodard’s argument, were Aeolians, speakers of the Aeolic dialect of Greek.
II§15. So, already in the later half of the second millennium BCE, as Woodard argues, there were Aeolians inhabiting the western coastland and outlying islands of Asia Minor. In terms of Woodard’s argument about this territory inhabited by Aeolians, it belonged to the ‘land’ called Ahhiyawa in to the Ahhiyawa Texts, which as we have seen date from the later half of the second millennium BCE. Or, to restate in Greek terms what was written by scribes of the Ahhiyawa Texts on behalf of successive over-kings of the Hittite Empire in their communications, over time, with successive over-kings of Ahhiyawa, there were Aeolians inhabiting a territory claimed by the ‘Achaeans’ as belonging to their realm, that is, to what I am calling the Mycenaean Empire. But the successive kings of the Hittites, in their ongoing communications with successive kings of Ahhiyawa, evidently had claims of their own in dealing with the populations of this territory.
II§16. Having considered the historical realia in my analysis of what was written in the Hittite Ahhiyawa Texts about the ‘land’ of Ahhiyawa, which I have just now equated, in ancient Greek terms, with the realm of the Achaeans or, to say it in modified archaeological terms, with a loosely-structured Mycenaean Empire, I will now proceed to contrast what we know really happened to such a Mycenaean Empire with what supposedly happened, according to post-Mycenaean myths.
II§17. In reality, as I already observed on the basis of archaeological evidence, the Mycenaean Empire collapsed, and a most visible sign of this collapse was the fiery destruction of all the palaces of all the kingdoms of the realm. In myth, by contrast, there is no trace, as we have seen, of such a fiery destruction. Instead, as we have also seen, there is simply a sequencing of events: Once upon a time, there was a Trojan War, and then there was a Dorian Invasion, and then there was an Aeolian Migration. So, in terms of myth, the Dorian Invasion and the Aeolian Migration, in that chronological order, happened after the Trojan War. By contrast, in terms of the real prehistory, the idea of a Dorian Invasion and the idea of a subsequent Aeolian Migration can be viewed as resulting not from the idea of a Trojan War but rather, from the reality of a Mycenaean collapse. Or, to put it another way, the most significant reality marking the end of the Mycenaean Empire—I continue to call it that, an “empire”—was not the Trojan War but the Big Collapse. And another most significant reality, as I emphasized already at II§9, was the nearly simultaneous collapse of the rival Hittite Empire.
II§18. I will now proceed to argue that the consequences of these two real events—the twin collapse of the Mycenaean and the Hittite empires—shaped later mythmaking about a Dorian Invasion and an Aeolian Migration.
II§18a. I start with myths about a Dorian Invasion. As I will now argue, the collapse of the Mycenaean Empire, which can be viewed as an archaeological fact, was directly relevant to such myths. The evidence of texts written in Linear B is a reality that tells its own story about the collapse, as we have already seen in Part I. These Linear B texts, written on sun-dried clay tablets that were accidentally fire-baked in the conflagrations that burned down the administrative centers of the doomed empire, provide primary evidence that contradicts what we read in post-Mycenaean myths about a Dorian Invasion—if I have succeeded in arguing that at least some of the administrators writing on Linear B tablets were Dorians, that is, speakers of Doric. So, reality contradicts myth if in fact the Dorians were already an old presence in the Peloponnesus, which was the hub of the Mycenaean Empire, whereas myth speaks of these Peloponnesian Dorians as non-Peloponnesian newcomers.
II§18b. Next I turn to myths about an Aeolian Migration. In this case, the collapse of the Hittite Empire—which was a reality parallel to the reality of a Mycenaean collapse—is directly relevant to myths that tell about a crossing of the Aegean Sea, some years after the Trojan War, by Aeolians who left behind their old homeland on the European side of the sea and sailed off to the Asian side, where they achieved dominion over territories that they colonized on the coastland and outlying islands of Asia Minor. By contrast, the evidence of the Hittite Ahhiyawa Texts tells a different story. These texts indicate, as we have seen, that there had been an Aeolian presence in Asia Minor already in the second millennium BCE, and that the Aeolians who inhabited territories there were at times threatened by the dominant superpower of the adjacent Hittite Empire. Thus any true dominion by the Aeolians themselves over their territories in Asia Minor could be achieved only after the collapse of the Hittite Empire. Once again, then, reality contradicts myth—if in fact the Aeolians were already an old presence in Asia Minor, whereas myth speaks of these Asian Aeolians as non-Asian newcomers.
II§19. In terms of my overall argument, the Aeolians in the East, whose old homeland was Asia Minor, were faced with two new realities after the twin collapse of the Hittite Empire and the Mycenaean Empire. On the one hand, their dominion over the territory of Asia Minor that they populated could now be consolidated, given the collapse of the Hittite Empire. On the other hand, however, their prestige as ‘Achaeans’ could now be diminished, given the collapse of the Mycenaean Empire. Before the collapse of this loosely-structured that was known to the Hittites as the land of Ahhiyawa but known to the Aeolians themselves as the land of the Achaeans, these Aeolians would have had no need to mythologize themselves as prestigious newcomers to Asia from Europe. No, such a need would arise only after the Mycenaean collapse. Once the collapse did take place, however, the prestige of Mycenae as the hub of an empire would have been endangered. Now there would no longer exist an Achaean superpower, centered at Mycenae, for Aeolians to claim as the source of their own power over their territories in Asia Minor. So, the old Aeolian homeland in Asia Minor could now be rethought as a new homeland, still grounded in the old prestige of Mycenae, though the proud old citadel had lost all its power as a former superpower. This way, the Aeolians of Asia Minor could still be ‘Achaeans’, even though the proud old empire of the Achaeans had already collapsed.
II§20. But what about the Aeolians who inhabited the other side of the Aegean Sea, the European side, like the Thessalians and the Boeotians? These European Aeolians, like their Asian counterparts, would likewise have needed to face the threat of losing Achaean identity, once the imperial power of Mycenae had collapsed. But here again, the Mycenaean prestige could still be sustained and even treasured by way of claiming, in myth, that the territory of Thessaly—and of Boeotia and beyond—was the original homeland of the Aeolians. So, by way of myth, there could remain a sociopolitical bonding between East and West Aeolians, without any thought about collapsing empires. East and West Aeolians could become enemies in reality, but they could remain bonded as ‘Achaeans’ in myth.
II§21. I should note, however, that the prehistory of the West Aeolians on the European side of the Aegean, especially in the regions of Thessaly and Boeotia, is dauntingly complex and cannot be adequately treated in the present essay. Instead, I simply cite here in general the work of Woodard (2021.12.31), who offers a thoroughgoing analysis of the complexities we find in traditions about a mythologized Aeolian homeland, conventionally centered in Thessaly but also including Boeotia, immediately to the south of Thessaly. There is one particular aspect of Woodard’s overall work, however, that I need to highlight here in the context of my present argument. As I noted already in Part I§19a of my essay, Woodard argues that some of the scribes working for the palaces at Pylos, Knossos, and elsewhere were speakers of Aeolic. In other words, Woodard holds that there is linguistic evidence for the presence of Aeolians in the inner workings of the Mycenaean Empire.
II§22. Such linguistic evidence, of and by itself, is limited, since it cannot be invoked if we try to narrow down the possibilities any further than saying, as I already said in Part I, that there must have existed in the Mycenaean era not only the standard Mycenaean dialect but also such substandard dialects as Doric and Aeolic. But Woodard meets such limitations head-on by deepening his argument, applying what can best be described as sociolinguistic approaches that supplement admirably any purely linguistic approaches. So, by way of such deepened argumentation, Woodard succeeds, I think, in making a case for the involvement of Aeolic speakers in the writing of Linear B texts. And such involvement is relevant, as we will now see, to what I have been arguing here about constructions of Aeolian identity by way of myths—such as the myth about an Aeolian Migration.
II§23. Agreeing with Woodard’s application of sociolinguistic approaches to the realities of the Mycenaean Empire, I now add one further point about dialectal variations in Linear B texts. My point is, simply, that Greek dialects other than the standard Greek dialect of the empire would not really even qualify as “Mycenaean” dialects—from the standpoint of the “Mycenaeans” who were rulers of the “Mycenaean Empire” in the second millennium BCE. I deliberately use “scare quotes” here in referring to “the Mycenaeans,” since we have by now seen, especially on the basis of the Ahhiyawa Texts, that these rulers thought of themselves not as “Mycenaeans” but as Achaeans. The “scare quotes” I have assigned here to the term “Mycenaeans” are to be contrasted with the italics I have assigned to the term Achaeans, which reflects more accurately the realities of the Mycenaean Empire. These realities, in terms of my argument, allowed for everyone belonging to that empire to think of themselves as Achaeans, no matter what dialect they spoke. In the era of the Mycenaean Empire, again in terms of my argument, you would qualify as an Achaean even if you were not a native speaker of the “standard Mycenaean” dialect. I shining example are the Aeolians of Asia Minor in the second millennium BCE.
II§24. So, once again in terms of my argument, I can say that any and all dialects other than “standard Mycenaean” can be viewed sociopolitically as substandard for the simple reason that they were not the “standard Mycenaean” dialect. To be contrasted, however, with the standpoint of the “Mycenaeans” in the second millennium BCE would be the standpoint of the “post-Mycenaeans” of the so-called Dark Age in the first millennium BCE. Speakers of substandard dialects who had belonged, in a remote past, to the loosely-structured empire of the “Mycenaeans”—and the Aeolians of Asia Minor would be a prime example—could continue to think of themselves as Achaeans. But what about the speakers of the “standard Mycenaean” dialect, who had been rulers of that empire? I have already offered in this essay a stark response to such a question: the “standard Mycenaean” dialect did not survive beyond the Dark Age. By the time we reach the historical period of the Greek language as attested in alphabetic writing, the “standard Mycenaean” dialect was no longer a living language. As we have seen in Part I of my essay, only traces of that dialect survived—preserved in the vocabulary of dialects that did survive into the historical period. And, as we have also seen, such dialects included Doric and Aeolic.
II§25. From a sociolinguistic point of view, then, my use of the terms standard and substandard in referring to traces of dialectal variation in the Linear B texts is different from a purely linguistic terminology where normal Mycenaean is contrasted with special Mycenaean. Such terminology is still widely used in published research on Linear B, but the relevant bibliography would be pointless for me to document here in light of the fact that Woodard (2021.12.30) has been conscientiously keeping track of all such published research, providing a critical overview that admirably synthesizes what is currently known and not known about the existence of Greek dialects in the Mycenaean era. But now I will add, as a proposed addendum to Woodard’s overview, an argument for expanding the possibilities of finding traces of dialectal variation in the Mycenaean era.
II§26. In proposing my addendum, I face a problem—a most general problem that I introduce here in the form of a question that still remains. The question is whether we can say for sure that some of the administrators of the Mycenaean Empire who were not speakers of the standard Mycenaean dialect were actually speakers of dialects that we can prove to be prototypes of Aeolic or Doric as we know those dialects from the historical period. From what we have seen so far, and I include here the relevant observations I have cited not only from Woodard in my Part II but also, earlier, from Palaima in my Part I, the answer to my own question is positive. But my answer should still leave room for other possibilities as well, since substandard dialects that existed in the Mycenaean era probably also included prototypes of dialects that later evolved into the living languages of the Arcadians, of the Cypriotes, and of the Pamphylians. The Greek dialects of all three of these relatively more marginalized societies are attested in the historical era—just like centralized Greek dialects of that era such as Aeolic and Doric. Moreover, the three more marginalized dialects I have just mentioned are actually closer to standard Mycenaean in their linguistic features than are the dialects of the Aeolians or the Dorians.
II§27. In Pamphlet 1 (Nagy 2023.08.21 §§14–15), I make relevant comments about the dialects of the Arcadians and the Cypriotes as attested in the historical period of the first millennium BCE. On the basis of these two dialects, linguists had reconstructed, before the decipherment of Linear B by Michael Ventris in 1952, a dialectal prototype that is still known today as “Arcado-Cypriote.” I epitomize here my comments about “Arcado-Cypriote” in Pamphlet 1 (§§14–16):
II§27a [§14]. What linguists reconstruct as a dialectal “prototype,” Arcado-Cypriote, must have extended all the way back in time into the Mycenaean period in the second millennium BCE. And the reconstruction is based on the living Arcadian and the living Cypriote dialects as they existed in the first millennium BCE. The actual term Arcado-Cypriote, as a unified heading, is apt. In a succinct description, John Chadwick (1963:9) says that the Arcadian and the Cypriote dialects “display an astonishing similarity, for at the time they are recorded (fifth to fourth centuries [BCE]) they had certainly been out of touch for at least five centuries.” And what would be the most apt term for the prototypical Arcado-Cypriote that existed five or more centuries earlier? Arguably, that term would be Achaean (as already suggested by Ruijgh 1957). Such a term, which would include standard Mycenaean as well as some prototypical form of Arcado-Cypriote, implies some degree of unified social self-identification in the second millennium, when speakers of “Mycenaean” could in general have called themselves Achaeans. Unity was followed, however, by fragmentation in the first millennium. By that time, Arcadian was an enclave-dialect, the only significant non-Doric dialect in the Peloponnesus, while Cypriote was a frontier-dialect, studiously archaizing and ostentatiously self-conscious of its Achaean legacy. I note here with great interest the fact that the elites of this insular culture of the Cypriotes still retained the custom of chariot-fighting and the practice of syllabic writing, using a scribal system that is evidently cognate with the Linear B system (and even with the earlier Linear A system).
II§27b [§15]. On the basis of the mutual similarities between Arcadian and Cypriote, Chadwick (again, 1963:9) formulates this conclusion: “Historically these facts are only explicable if these two dialects are the remnants of a widespread dialect which was elsewhere displaced by West Greek; this implies that Mycenaean Greek should also belong to the same group, and the decipherment of the Linear В script has shown this to be true, though Mycenaean does not show all the features shared by Arcadian and Cypriot.” I have highlighted in italics what I consider to be an essential aspect of Chadwick’s formulation.
II§27c [§16]. I must follow up with two critiques: the first has to do with Chadwick’s terminology and the second, with his methodology. With reference to the term West Greek, as Chadwick uses it here, I think that the less vague term Doric is preferable. With reference to methodology, my critique in this case has to do with the fact that Chadwick, in studying the “mutual similarities” of Arcado-Cypriote, does not separate cases of shared innovation from cases of shared retention. As I note in Pamphlet 1 (Nagy 2023.08.21 §1n1), the criterion of shared innovation needs to be foregrounded in developing more effective methodologies for analyzing the Greek dialects. On the probative value of shared innovation as distinct from shared retention, I recommend the pioneering work of Adrados (1952).
II§28. Keeping my two critiques in mind, I find it relevant to reiterate that I consider “Arcado-Cypriote” to be a purely linguistic reconstruction of a proto-dialect, as it were. This dialect would have co-existed with linguistically reconstructed forms of “proto-Doric” and “proto-Aeolic” as dialects that had already existed in the Mycenaean era of the second millennium BCE. So, we now have not only two but at least three possibilities for identifying “substandard” dialects that would have been living languages spoken by scribes of Linear B texts—and here we are considering only those scribes who were inadvertently mixing into their written texts various dialectal forms that we know to be substandard in comparison to the standard Mycenaean dialect spoken by other scribes whose handwriting shows that they were consistent in not mixing, inadvertently, any dialectal variations into their writing. Or we could even think of four possibilities by now—if pre-existing phases of what eventually became the Arcadian and the Cypriote dialects that we see attested in the first millennium BCE had existed already in the Mycenaean era. But, so far, I have no direct evidence at hand to indicate that Arcadian and Cypriote were already distinct in that era, and so I am reduced to dealing, for now, with the indirect evidence of an indistinct proto-dialect reconstructed by linguists as “Arcado-Cypriote.” Accordingly, I continue for the moment to think of three substandard dialects, not four, in my ongoing effort to account for traces of dialectal variation. And I must even add, at least for now, one further caution about looking for traces of substandard dialects in the Mycenaean era: there is even the possibility that there had existed other non-standard dialects, current in the Mycenaean era, that eventually became extinct, like the standard Mycenaean dialect, already in the so-called Dark Age.
II§29. Pursuing this train of thought, before I can proceed with further reconstructions, I need to address a relevant question that still awaits an answer: how can we really know for sure that substandard dialects, as I reconstruct them, were distinct from the standard Mycenaean dialect? Built into this question is a lingering doubt that can best be expressed by way of a second question: what if a given distinctive feature of the standard Mycenaean dialect was already shared, back in the Mycenaean era, by the prototype of what I call a substandard dialect? This second question can be restated in terms of dialectology: what is the probative value of finding a pattern of common retention? In using this term common retention, I have in mind here a situation where a distinctive linguistic feature is shared by two different linguistic groups. Accordingly, I rephrase the question: what about cases where the standard Mycenaean dialect and a reconstructed prototype of what I call I substandard dialect share a distinctive feature that is not shared by other dialects? In formulating an answer to this question, I turn back to my critique of Chadwick’s definition of “Arcado-Cypriote,” where I emphasized the probative value of common innovation by contrast with common retention. And I also turn back to what I said in Part I§19ab about relevant work where I emphasized the need to apply a negative linguistic criterion. In terms of such a negative criterion, the question we really should be asking is not what I asked at the beginning of this paragraph. Instead, we should be asking how we can really know for sure that the standard Mycenaean dialect was not like any other dialect known to us. To apply such a negative criterion, what needs to be done in confronting this question is to isolate distinctive features of the standard dialect where we see linguistic innovations that are never attested in any phase of any other known dialect. For inventories of such linguistic innovations, I refer to work done not only by myself (Nagy 2015.03.01) but also by Woodard (2018).
II§30. In my ongoing work as summarized in Part I§19ab, the distinctive features to be chosen for defining the standard Mycenaean dialect need to be narrowed down to a set of verified linguistic innovations that stand in contrast with linguistic non-innovations attested in such dialects as Doric or Aeolic. In Parts I and II of my essay so far, I have concentrated on these two dialects, both of which show clearly that they never underwent the innovations we see already attested in the standard Mycenaean dialect of the Linear B texts. These substandard dialects clearly lived on, as living languages, out-living the standard dialect, which by contrast became extinct as a living language already in the Dark Age, after the collapse of the Mycenaean Empire.
II§31. Here in Part II, I have also included in my inventory of substandard dialects the proto-dialect reconstructed by linguists as Arcado-Cypriote. From a purely linguistic point of view, this dialect too, like the prototypical Doric and Aeolic that can be reconstructed on the basis of dialectal inconsistencies in the Linear B texts, could have figured as a substandard dialect spoken by inhabitants of the Mycenaean Empire—along with the standard Mycenaean dialect spoken by the ruling class .
II§32. Again from a purely linguistic point of view, I should add, we may speak about a special Mycenaean dialect or dialects as opposed to a normal Mycenaean dialect. But such wording could imply, unintentionally perhaps, that “special Mycenaean” is just as “Mycenaean” as is “normal Mycenaean.” Accordingly, I advocate the wording that I have used instead, up until now, where I speak of a standard Mycenaean dialect that stands in contrast with another dialects that could have been indirectly attested already in the Mycenaean era—dialects that would have been sociopolitically substandard in comparison with the standard dialect spoken by the ruling class of the Mycenaean Empire. Although any substandard dialects, in terms of my argument, could or could not have survived as living languages into the post-Mycenaean era, I have already dealt with three such dialects that really did survive—and survive all the way into the historical era. Or, to say it better, I have dealt primarily with two such dialects, Doric and Aeolic, but also secondarily with a third dialect, Arcado-Cypriote.
II§33. And now, as I make my transition into Part III of this essay, I add still another dialect. In this case, the dialect is Ionic, spoken by Ionians. In the first millennium BCE, as we are about to see in Part III, the Ionians as speakers of the Ionic dialect mythologized themselves in ways that corresponded to the self-mythologizing of Dorians and Aeolians as speakers of the Doric and the Aeolic dialects. And, as we will also see, the speakers of all three dialects—Dorians, Aeolians, and Ionians—identified themselves, by way of their myths, as heirs of the Achaeans. I have already analyzed such myths of self-identification in two cases: in Part I, there were the Dorian myths about a Dorian Invasion, and then, here in Part II, there were the Aeolian myths about an Aeolic Migration. Now in Part III, we are about to see Ionian myths about an Ionian Migration.
Part III: About the so-called Ionian Migration
III§1. As we have seen in Part II, ancient Greek mythmaking elided any direct reference to a basic archaeological event that signaled the end of the Mycenaean era and the beginning of the so-called Dark Age. That event was the collapse of what I have been describing as the Mycenaean Empire, and a most visible sign of this collapse was the fiery destruction of all the citadels or “palaces” of all the kingdoms of such an empire. In the attested mythmaking of the Dorians and the Aeolians, as we have also seen, a narrative was substituted for the burning of the Mycenaean citadels. It was a narrative about the burning of the citadel of Troy in the Trojan War. And the narrative about this substituted event involving a destructive conflagration was regulated by a sequencing of supposedly subsequent events: Once upon a time, there was a Trojan War, and then there was a Dorian Invasion, and then there was an Aeolian Migration. So, in terms of myth, the Dorian Invasion and the Aeolian Migration, in that chronological order, must have happened after the Trojan War. And now we are about to see a continuation of such a regulated sequencing of narrated events. In the attested mythmaking of the Ionians, the sequence was extended: now there was yet another event that was subsequent to the narrative sequence as I have so far been retelling it. Here is the extended sequence according to Ionian mythmaking: Once upon a time, there was a Trojan War, and then there was a Dorian Invasion, and then there was an Aeolian Migration, and then there was an Ionian Migration. So, again in terms of myth, the Dorian Invasion and the Aeolian Migration and the Ionian Migration, in that chronological order, must have happened after the Trojan War. Also again, in terms of myth, there is no trace of any fiery destruction that overwhelmed the citadels of the Mycenaean Empire. And, surely, Greek traditions will not tell about the burning of the citadel of Hattusa, capital of the Hittite Empire. Instead, the narrative of a fiery destruction overwhelming the citadel of Troy becomes a placeholder—a “screen memory,” as I referred to it earlier, where a single catastrophe becomes a poetic substitution for multiple conflagrations that genuinely signaled the collapse of empires.
III§2. Here at long last my focus shifts to Homeric poetry—a focus that is now needed for viewing in Part III the realities of mythmaking—Ionian mythmaking—about the Trojan War. This mythmaking, as we will see, is at variance with Aeolian mythmaking about this same mythologically prototypical war.
III§3. In terms of my overall essay, I must explain why I need to analyze the relevant evidence of Homeric poetry about the Trojan War only now, here in Part III, in such a late phase of my argumentation. My reason for postponing such an analysis till now is quite simple. The evidence to be drawn from Homeric poetry about variations on the mythological theme of the Trojan War is not “history” in and of itself, since this poetry cannot answer such well-meaning questions as the one I hear all too often: did the Trojan War really happen? Instead, I view this poetry as evidence about mythmaking that needs to be studied in its historical contexts. Such study leads to the finding of historical realities that can in fact be reconstructed on the basis of the relevant mythmaking. And the history of such mythmaking requires an understanding of the linguistic archaeology, as it were, of the textual tradition that preserved the underlying oral tradition that went into the making of Homeric poetry.
III§4. A linguistic archaeology, unlike material archaeology, requires discovery procedures where the aim is to analyze phases of the past, not physical layers. I make this point in a standalone essay (Nagy 2023.08.22), which is Pamphlet 3 in the same series that houses the present standalone essay. As I argue in Pamphlet 3, following a model built by Milman Parry (1932), we can reconstruct three successive phases in the evolution of Homeric diction—like Parry, I use the term diction in referring to Homeric language as a system of formulas operating in an oral tradition. The three Homeric phases were “Mycenaean” followed by Aeolic followed by Ionic. In the case of the first phase, “Mycenaean,” I should note that Parry had actually used the term “Arcado-Cypriote,” since he was writing well before 1952, which was the year, as already noted, when Linear B was deciphered by Michael Ventris—and proven to be a script developed for writing “Mycenaean” Greek.
III§5. Following up on Parry’s model in my Pamphlet 3, I modify there the idea of a direct succession of three dialects in three phases, arguing that the Ionic dialect of the third phase was not only a continuation from the Aeolic dialect of the second phase. More than that, the language of Homeric poetry as sung by Ionian singers was convergent with the older Homeric language as sung by Aeolian singers. In terms of such an argument, these two dialectal phases were not only sequential but also convergent—because they overlapped. Unlike archaeological layers, linguistic phases can coexist. In other words, although the Ionic phase was preceded by an Aeolic phase in continuation from a still earlier “Mycenaean” phase, there existed a historical context where the poetic language of Homeric song could be shared by singers who were either Ionian or Aeolian, that is, who were practitioners of either the older Aeolic version of Homeric diction or the newer Ionic version.
III§6. Before we look at the historical context to which I am referring, I must comment on theories about a relevant phenomenon that is generally described in linguistics as a Sprachbund. In terms of linguistic theories about Sprachbund, whatever changes take place in any given language that makes contact with any other given language need to be viewed within the framework of the overall structures of both languages. And this formulation applies not only to languages in contact but also to dialects in contact. Moreover, as I argue, the methods that linguists use for the study of languages in contact can also be used for studying poetic languages in contact—and even for studying the myths that are conveyed by these poetic languages (Nagy 2006 §6). Such myths, as we will see, include the Ionian myth about an Ionian Migration, which interacts with an older Aeolian myth about an Aeolian Migration.
III§7. In terms of Sprachbund, then, I argue for a social as well as a linguistic bonding where the mutual “borrowing” that takes place between two languages that are being “shared” is regulated by the grammatical structures of the two given languages. And such sharing, as sociolinguistic studies have shown, can take place not only between the languages of allies but also between the languages of rivals or even of deadly enemies. Extending this model of a Sprachbund, I argue that such “bonding”—whether amicable or inimical—can take place not only between languages pure and simple but also between poetic languages—in this case, between the older poetic language of an Aeolic “Homer,” as it were, and the newer poetic language of an Ionic “Homer.”
III§8. But where do we find a historical context for such a Sprachbund or linguistic bonding between an Aeolian “Homer” and an Ionian “Homer”? And the question extends from where to when. What is the era for such a historical context? With regard to the second question, my general answer is that the era can be dated back roughly to the late eighth and early seventh centuries BCE. As for the first question, my answer can be slightly more specific: where this was happening can be located in territories lining the northern and the central coastland of Asia Minor, together with the outlying islands—territories inhabited respectively by Aeolians and Ionians.
III§9. Positing a Sprachbund or linguistic bonding between the older Aeolian and the newer Ionian phases of the Homeric language as performed by singers who sang for the Asian Greek populations of Aeolian and Ionian states in what I will now call the “Preclassical” era of the late eighth and early seventh centuries BCE, I have built a model for describing the history and prehistory of Homeric transmission in a book titled Homer the Preclassic (Nagy 2010|2009). I now epitomize what I say in “Part II” of that book—so, in II §278 pages 148–149 (in future cross-references to the book, I will cite only the part-number and the paragraph-numbers in the online version of 2009, not the page-numbers in the printed version of 2010):
The language of Homeric poetry is a system that integrates and thus preserves the following dialects: dominant Ionic integrated with recessive Aeolic integrated with residual Mycenaean. I emphasize the integration of dominant / recessive / residual dialectal components because, following Parry (1932), I view Homeric language synchronically as a working system, not as an inert layering of dialectal components matching the Ionic / Aeolic dialects.
In this formulation, the recessiveness of the Aeolic component of Homeric diction corresponds to what I describe as the Aeolic default.
III§10. Besides Mycenaean and Aeolic and Ionic as respectively residual and recessive and dominant dialectal components of Homeric diction, there is also a fourth component, which is clearly the most recent of all the Homeric dialectal components. This fourth component is Attic, the dialect of the Athenians, which needs to be viewed here in the context of seasonally recurring performances of Homeric poetry at the festival of the Panathenaia in the city-state of Athens during the second half of the sixth century BCE and thereafter (Nagy 2010|2009 II §279). In this newest era, the old language of Homeric diction was now being spoken and heard in the new context of performances intended primarily for Attic-speaking audiences (Nagy 2004:124; for similar arguments, I cite also Cassio 2002:117, 126, 131). It is most significant, as we will see later, that this institutionalized reception of Homeric poetry in Athens was initiated by a lineage of dynasts named the Peisistratidai. These dynasts, retrospectively known as tyrants, held power in Athens during most of the second half of the sixth century BCE. As we will also see later, we know from Herodotus (5.63.3) that there was an ongoing alliance between these dynasts of Athens and the dynasts who ruled Thessaly during that same era.
III§11. The relatively later reception of Homeric poetry in the city-state of Athens, during the era of the Peisistratidai, is an essential link for understanding the earlier reception of Homeric poetry by Ionians and the even earlier reception of this poetry by Aeolians. Before I can deal further with Homeric reception in Athens, however, I need first to show that myths about an Ionian Migration are linked with myths about Homer as a native Ionian, born in the Ionian city of Smyrna, while myths about an Aeolian Migration are linked with earlier myths about Homer as a native Aeolian, born in the Aeolian city of Smyrna—before Smyrna had been captured by Ionians and converted into an Ionian city.
III§12. I analyze the relevant mythological links in the book Homer the Preclassic (Nagy 2010|2009 II §§6–10), and I epitomize here the results of my analysis:
III§12a [II§6]. In the Life of Homer textual traditions (I use here the edition of Allen 1912), we find myths that make references to the dating of Homer, linked directly to the dating of the Trojan War. In Vita 3a (25–44), which draws upon Book 3 of Aristotle’s Poetics as its source (F 76 ed. Rose), it is said that Homer was conceived on the island of Ios but was born in the city of Smyrna, and that all this was happening in the era of the so-called Ionian Migration, led by one Nēleus, son of King Kodros of Athens (3a.25–27). In Vita 3b (17–22), we are told that Aristarchus and his followers at the Library of Alexandria likewise assigned Homer’s birth to the time of the Ionian Migration, which Aristarchus dated as happening sixty years after the Return of the Hērakleidai, which in turn he dated as happening eighty years after the Capture of Troy. In the same source, Vita 3b (21–23), we are also told that Crates of Mallos and his followers at the Library of Pergamon dated Homer’s birth as happening before the Return, only some eighty years after the Capture of Troy. Such variations in the dating of Homer turn out to be variations in the mythologized identity of Homer.
III§12b [II§7]. In the two versions I have just cited from the Life of Homer traditions, the ultimate point of reference for dating the birth of Homer is the Return of the Hērakleidai. The Return is also a point of reference for dating the so-called Dark Age, as we saw in Part I of my essay here. Following the ultimate “big bang” of the Trojan War, signaling the end of the Mycenaean Empire, the Return is a second “big bang,” signaling the sociopolitical presence of Doric-speaking Greeks in the Helladic mainland and in islands like Crete. This second “big bang” is chronologically linked with a third “big bang,” the Aeolian Migration, signaling the notional relocation of Aeolic-speaking Greeks from the mainland of Hellas to the mainland of northern Asia Minor and to the outlying islands of Lesbos and Tenedos. In the reportage of Strabo (13.1.3 C582; cf. 14.1.3 C632) and in other sources, the Greek word conventionally translated as ‘migration’ is apoikíā, which can also be understood as ‘colonization’. According to Strabo, as cited, along with other sources, the Aeolian Migration happened four generations before yet another migration happened—the Ionian Migration. But I interpret this fourth migration as an alternative to the third “big bang,” rivaling the Aeolian Migration. As we will see, the narrative about an Ionian Migration rivals the narrative of the Aeolian Migration. And this rival narrative signals the notional relocation of Ionic-speaking Greeks from the mainland of Hellas to the mainland of central Asia Minor and to outlying islands like Chios and Samos.
III§12c [II§8]. In some versions, then, of the Life of Homer—as we have seen in Vita 3b (21–23), for example—the immediate point of reference for dating the birth of Homer is the apoikíā ‘migration’ or ‘colonization’ initiated by the Ionians. In the version reported by Aristarchus, Homer was born at the time of this apoikíā. In the version reported by Crates, by contrast, Homer was born well before this time.
III§12d [II§9]. By implication, the version of Aristarchus pictures Homer as an Ionian. The same goes for other sources that date the birth of Homer after the Ionian apoikíā ‘migration’ or ‘colonization’, notably Eratosthenes, who dates it one hundred years later (Vita 6.39–40) and Apollodorus, who dates it eighty years later (Vita 6.40). To be contrasted is the version of Crates, who dates the birth of Homer well before the Ionian apoikíā ‘migration’ or ‘colonization’. By implication, that version pictures Homer not as an Ionian but as an Aeolian.
III§12e [II§10]. The differences between the Ionian Homer of Aristarchus and the Aeolian Homer of Crates reflect salient differences in the Life of Homer traditions. I will now focus on the narratives of two such Lives, Vita 1 and Vita 2. As I emphasize in Homer the Preclassic (Nagy 2010|2009 chapter 2), Vita 2 shows a distinctly Athenocentric outlook. That is, this narrative traces the unified sociopolitical interests of the Athenian Empire as it evolved in the fifth century BCE. By contrast, Vita 1 shows a pre-Athenocentric outlook. That other narrative traces the competing sociopolitical agenda of Aeolian and Ionian states in Asia Minor and outlying islands. As I argue at length in Homer the Preclassic (again, chapter 2) the pre-Athenocentric version of Vita 1 allows for an Aeolian Homer, while the Athenocentric version of Vita 2 requires an Ionian Homer.
III§13. The Athenocentrism of myths that claim an Ionian Homer born in Ionian Smyrna is a topic that now leads me back to what I started to argue at III§11 about the relatively late reception of Homeric poetry in the city-state of Athens. This later Athenian reception, as I now continue to argue, is an essential link for understanding the earlier reception of Homeric poetry by Ionians and the even earlier reception of this poetry by Aeolians.
III§14. When we view the Aeolian reception of Homer as aetiologized in the myth about an Aeolian Migration and the conflicting Ionian reception as aetiologized in the myth about an Ionian Migration, we need to keep in mind that the myth about the Ionian Migration did not aetiologize all Ionians. The myth was owned, as it were, exclusively by the Ionians who populated the Ionian Dodecapolis, a federation of twelve Ionians states situated in Asia Minor—ten of them along the coastland and two of them on the outlying islands of Chios and Samos. In the paragraph that follows, I summarize, all too briefly, what is said about the Ionian Dodecapolis in an expansively detailed book by Douglas Frame (2011):
III§15. The populations of the Ionian Dodecapolis in Asia Minor, who were identifiable as East Ionians by way of their East Ionic dialect, were linguistically distinct from the West Ionians, such as the populations of Euboea, a major island situated across the sea in the West, on the other side of the Aegean, who were speakers of West Ionic, not East Ionic. Even further to the West, separated by a narrow strait from the island of Euboea, was the mainland territory of Attica, likewise populated by speakers of a West Ionic dialect—in this case, a variety known as Attic. Here the spotlight turns, all too brightly, on the principal city of Attica, Athens, which had already in historical times politically absorbed the entire region of Attica, so that the city had become an overarching city-state incorporating all of Attica, homeland of the Attic dialect. In historical times, Athens had already replaced Chalkis and Eretria, the principal cities of the island of Euboea, as the primary representative of West Ionia. And Athens, as the pre-eminent city of the Ionian West, on the European side of the Aegean Sea, possessed a special sociopolitical relationship with the Ionian East, on the Asian side of the Aegean, as represented by the Ionian Dodecapolis. Even though the dialect of Athens, Attic, was a variety of West Ionic, the city itself, as a pólis, claimed to be the metropolis or ‘mother city’ of Miletus, a most pre-eminent city in Asia Minor, which was inhabited by speakers of East Ionic—not West Ionic—and which was in fact the most dominant of the cities boasting of membership in the federation of twelve East Ionian states known as the Ionian Dodecapolis. As the book of Frame (2009) has clearly shown, what is most significant about the mythologized claim of Athens, that it was the mother city of Miletus, is that the pólis of Miletus itself claimed to be the daughter city of Athens. Thus the myth about the Ionian Migration, as Frame’s book has also shown, aetiologizes not only the Ionian Dodecapolis but also Athens as the mother city of the Ionians who founded the Ionian Dodecapolis in the distant past, when they had reportedly sailed across the Aegean Sea—from Athens—to colonize central Asia Minor and its outlying islands at the time of the Ionian Migration.
III§16. So also, in a more distant past, as we see from the reportage of Strabo (9.2.3 C401) about the Aeolian Migration, as I analyze it in Pamphlet 3 3 (Nagy 2023.08.22 §104), the Aeolians had reportedly sailed across the Aegean Sea from West to East, in this case from Thessaly by way of Aulis in Boeotia, to colonize northern Asia Minor and its outlying islands.
III§17. Just as the identity of the Aeolians was defined by way of an Aeolian Migration, an event that reportedly took place before the birth of Homer, so also the identity of the Ionians—though only those Ionians who populated the Ionian Dodecapolis—was defined by way of an Ionian Migration—an event that reportedly took place later than the Aeolian Migration but still earlier than the birth of Homer. By the time Homer was born, a proud old federation of twelve Aeolian cities, the Aeolian Dodecapolis, had already been reduced to an anomalous grouping of eleven, since one of the twelve Aeolian cities, which was Smyrna, the birthplace of Homer, had been captured by Ionian allies of the Ionian Dodecapolis and converted into an Ionian city.
III§18. I have analyzed in Pamphlet 3 (Nagy 2023.08.22 §§65–70) the details about the loss of Smyrna, this catastrophe that befell the Aeolians of Asia Minor, and I repeat here the essentials, by way of epitome, about an ongoing conflict between the Ionian Dodecapolis and an Aeolian Dodecapolis:
III§18a [§65]. The Ionian Dodecapolis was a federation of twelve Ionian states situated on the mainland of Asia Minor and on two offshore islands. All twelve are listed by Herodotus (1.142.3): on the mainland were the city-states of Miletus, Myous, Priene, Ephesus, Colophon, Lebedos, Teos, Klazomenai, Phocaea, Erythrai, while the island-states were Samos and Chios. This Ionian Dodecapolis was enaged in direct political and cultural conflict with the Aeolian Dodecapolis, a rival federation of twelve Aeolian cities, all situated on the mainland of Asia Minor. The twelve city-states of this Aeolian federation are listed by Herodotus (1.149.1) as as Cyme, Lērisai, Neon Teikhos, Tēmnos, Killa, Notion, Aigiroessa, Pitanē, Aigaiai, Myrina, Gryneia, and Smyrna. Herodotus (1.151.1) says that the Aeolian cities on the mainland of Asia Minor in the region of Mount Ida were grouped separately from the Aeolian Dodecapolis, and he does not list those cities by name. As for the island of Lesbos, offshore from Asia Minor, Herodotus (1.151.2) says that it was politically organized as a federation of five Aeolian cities. This old federation is described by Strabo (13.2.1 C616) as a single unified state that claimed to be the metropolis or ‘mother city’ of the Aeolian cities on the Asian mainland.
III§18b [§66]. A focal point of the political and cultural conflict between the Ionian Dodecapolis and the Aeolian Dodecapolis was the ownership of Homeric poetry, and such ownership was expressed by way of appropriating Homer himself. As I have argued extensively in Homer the Preclassic (Nagy 2010|2009 chapter 6), both federations claimed Homer as their prototypical poet and culture hero, and these claims were expressed primarily in the form of myths about the prehistoric life and times of Homer in Asia Minor. According to the Ionian version of the myth, Homer was an Ionian and a spokesman for all Ionians; according to the rival Aeolian version, by contrast, Homer was an Aeolian.
III§18c [§67]. There are traces of these two conflicting versions attested in Life of Homer traditions, already mentioned. I highlight here Vita 1 (in the edition of Allen 1912), better known as the “pseudo-Herodotean” Life of Homer (dated to the fifth or fourth century BCE), and Vita 2 (in the same edition), an accretive text that stems from the Mouseion of Alcidamas (who flourished in the fourth century BCE). In terms of the Aeolian version as represented by Vita 1 (p. 194 lines 27–31 ed. Allen), Homer was born an Aeolian in the Aeolian city of Smyrna. In terms of the non-Aeolian version as represented by Vita 2 (p. 226 lines 7–12 ed. Allen), on the other hand, Homer was born an Ionian in the Ionian city of Smyrna, reportedly during the era of the Ionian Migration (Nagy 2010|2009 II §§24–27).
III§18d [§68]. But how could the city of Smyrna switch from Aeolian to Ionian status as we switch from our reading of Vita 1 of Homer to our reading of Vita 2? We find an answer by considering the early history of Smyrna. I have already cited a passage of Herodotus (1.149.1) where he lists all twelve cities of the Aeolian Dodecapolis, and, in that list, which I repeated in citing the passage, we can see that Smyrna was one of those twelve cities. But now I add what we also see in that same passage of Herodotus (1.149.1): he says that Smyrna was ‘detached’ (verb para-lúein) from the Aeolian federation of twelve cities by the Ionian federation of twelve cities. Thus, as we learn from Herodotus, the Aeolian Dodecapolis was no longer a federation of twelve cities, since one city was now ‘detached’, and that city was Smyrna. To quote Herodotus (again, 1.149.1): μία γάρ σφεων παρελύθη Σμύρνη ὑπὸ Ἰώνων ‘one of them [= the twelve cities], Smyrna, was detached [verb para-lúein] by the Ionians’. As Herodotus goes on to report in detail, Aeolian Smyrna was captured by the Ionians and converted by them into an Ionian city.
III§18e [§69]. The capture of Aeolian Smyrna by the Ionians, which happened probably as early as 800 BCE or before, and definitely before 688 BCE (Frame 2009:526n21), was a major historical event that destabilized the Aeolian Dodecapolis culturally as well as politically, since it deprived the Aeolians of their native son and culture hero, Homer. In terms of Ionian mythmaking, the status of Homer himself could now switch from Aeolian to Ionian. And even his language could now switch from the Aeolic to the Ionic dialect.
III§18f [§70]. The historical fact of this major conflict between Ionic-speaking and Aeolic-speaking communities of Asia Minor is relevant to the Sprachbund of Homeric diction that bonds these two competing communities with each other. The relevance is evident if we focus on the point of contention we have just considered, which is, the ownership of Homeric poetry. Just as the Ionians became culturally dominant over the Aeolians by way of appropriating Homer as their native son, so also the Ionic dialect of Homeric diction became linguistically dominant over the Aeolic dialect.
III§18g [epitome from Nagy 2010|2009 II §§214–220]. As we read in Herodotus (1.143.3), the state of Smyrna, even after it had been converted from an Aeolian into an Ionian city, was nevertheless excluded from the federation of the twelve states that constituted the Ionian Dodecapolis. The politics of this exclusion are complex, and I see some retrospective thinking at work here, since Ionian Smyrna was destroyed around 600 BCE by the inland empire of the Lydians (Frame 2009:525n19). As I note in Homer the Preclassic (Nagy 2010|2009 II§217), the city of Smyrna from that time onward ceased to exist, and it became known as one of the three proverbial extinct cities of archaic Greek poetry, along with Colophon and Magnesia-at-Sipylus (documentation in Nagy 1990:263–266 = 9§§20–23). Writing many years later, in the overlapping first century BCE/CE, Strabo (14.1.37 C646) reports that Smyrna remained a non-city for hundreds of years (he estimates four hundred, though an estimate of three hundred is more likely)—but then, toward the end of the fourth century BCE, the city was refounded in the era of Alexander the Great. And this new Smyrna was not only admitted into a revived federation of the Ionian Dodecapolis: it also became the dominant Greek city of Asia Minor in the Hellenistic and Roman eras of Greek civilization—and well beyond, until the Catastrophe of 1922 put an end to the city’s Greek identity, in the wake of the Great Burning (comments by Nagy 2018.10.18).
III§19. So, since Smyrna had been a non-city for three or more centuries, any mythmaking that promoted the glories of the Ionian Dodecapolis during that lengthy period could best safeguard those glories by occluding, retrospectively, any addition of a thirteenth state that would soon thereafter be destroyed by the Lydian Empire. But there was also a more immediate motivation for the exclusion of Ionian Smyrna from the Ionian Dodecapolis: this federation of twelve states, as an organization, needed to retain its organic integrity as a political body of twelve states, exactly twelve, since that canonical number had been predestined by myth—especially by the myths about an Ionian Migration that emanated from Athens as the mother city. To be contrasted is the catastrophe that befell the Aeolians of Asia Minor, whose identity as Aeolians was irreparably damaged by way of their losing the integrity of their own Aeolian Dodecapolis. By losing the city of Smyrna, the Aeolians also lost the integrity of their myths about an Aeolian Migration that predestined the founding of an Asian Aeolian federation of twelve states, again exactly twelve. And with the loss of Smyrna, the Asian Aeolians lost not only their sociopolitical identity as shaped by the myth of the Aeolian Migration. They lost also their native son, Homer, whose epic poetry would have glorified the identity of the Asian Aeolians by telling their own Aeolian version of the Trojan War, not the Ionian version that was now destined to become the permanent possession of the Ionians. As I show in the book Homer the Preclassic (Nagy 2010|2009 II§193), the Asian Aeolian epic narratives about the overwhelming of Troy by the Achaeans differed significantly from the Ionian narratives, and we can still find traces of the differences as reported by Aeolian sources such as Hellanicus of Lesbos (FGH 4 F 31); according to these Aeolian narratives, Hector fathered a son called Skamandrios whose mother was not Andromache and who survived the destruction of Troy, which was not even a complete destruction, so that Skamandrios not only survived but also founded a dynasty as king of a New Ilion, which was a rebuilt old Troy that had escaped, as I just said, its otherwise complete destruction by burning. As I also show in the same book (II§195), a rival Ionian version is what we see in the Homeric Iliad as we have it. According to this rival version, Skamandrios also had another name, Astyanax, and this Skamandrios / Astyanax failed to escape the total destruction of Troy: he was destined to be brutally killed. In this version, the identity of Skamandrios is merged with the identity of Astyanax as the legitimate son of Hector and Andromache (as we read in “our” Iliad, VI 402), and so there is no trace of an Aeolian son of Hector, since he gets killed off in the Ionian version that prevailed in the final phases of the evolving narrative of Homeric poetry.
III§20. This example, where we see the loss of an Aeolian epic version that tells how the Aeolians continued to inhabit Troy, which was destined to be reconstructed as a New Ilion, shows the consequences of their losing Homer as their native son after the Ionian takeover of the formerly Aeolian city of Smyrna, which figured as the relevant birthplace of Homer in the myths that I have highlighted here (other cities too claimed Homer as their native son, but that is another story—or, rather, those are other stories—which I also track in Homer the Preclassic). For now, I focus on the fact that the loss of Smyrna by the Aeolians—which was a historical fact—triggered a chain reaction of further losses: the Aeolians lost Homer as their favorite son, which was a mythologized way of losing control over the final Homeric version of the Trojan War. And the historical facts of these losses were matched by the linguistic facts of Homeric diction, which shows only a recessive Aeolic phase in its dialectal mix as compared to a dominant Ionic phase. But at least in this case the loss of the Aeolian heritage in epic songmaking was not complete, since the Aeolic dialect remained an integral component of Homeric diction—albeit recessively, not dominantly as in the case of the Ionic dialect.
III§21. To make matters worse, the catastrophe that befell the Aeolians in losing the city of Smyrna in the southern zone of Aeolian territory was matched, about a hundred years later, around the late seventh and early sixth centuries BCE, by their also losing the city of Sigeion in the northern zone of their territory. In Pamphlet 3 (Nagy 2023.08.22 §§68–71), I analyze in detail the ancient narratives about this loss, and I emphasize there that the Aeolians, by losing possession of this other proud city of theirs, thereby also lost Achilles himself as their primary Aeolian hero. There were two reasons: (1) Achilles now became the poetic possession of the Athenians, who claimed leadership of the Asian Ionians on the grounds that Athens was the mother city of Miletus, and (2) Athens had entered, around the time when Sigeion was converted into an Ionian city, into a political alliance with the European Aeolians of Thessaly, so that Achilles could now be reconfigured as an enemy of the Asian Aeolians and could even be credited with having captured the entire island of Lesbos singlehandedly, as we read in the Homeric Iliad. A summary of the relevant facts is presented in my book Homer the Preclassic (Nagy 2010|2009 chapter 7), where I argue that Achilles was a premier epic hero of the European Aeolians of Thessaly just as he was a premier cult hero of the Asian Aeolians inhabiting the region of Troy during the era when this epic real estate, as it were, was still being controlled by the Aeolian city of Mytilene as leader of a federation of five Aeolian cities of Lesbos. I have made an epitome of my argumentation in Pamphlet 3 (Nagy 2023.08.22 §127abc), and I epitomize even further in what follows:
III§21a [§127a]. As we learn from a stylized account by Philostratus in his Heroikos (52.3–54.1), the tomb of Achilles in the region of Troy was the site of seasonally recurring sacrifices offered to the hero by Aeolians. But these Aeolians were Europeans. That is, they were Thessalians, whose sacrifice was performed as an act of ritualized stealth because they were notionally the enemies—according to myth—of Asian Aeolians. Relevant is the fact that the Thessalians were not only enemies of the Asian Aeolians in terms of myth but also allies of Athens in terms of early historical realities in an era when Athens was dominated by dynasts called the Peisistratidai, already mentioned at III§11, who held power in Athens during most of the second half of the sixth century BCE. Herodotus (5.63.3) highlights an ongoing alliance between these dynasts of Athens and the dynasts who ruled Thessaly during that era.
III§21b [§127b]. In terms of Thessalian myth, the homeland of Aiolos, a prototypical king who was the notional ancestor of all the Aioleîs ‘Aeolians’, was Thessaly, as we read in the Library of “Apollodorus” (1.7.3 p. 57 ed. Frazer 1921). In other words, myth claims that the royal ancestor of all Aeolians was a prototypical Thessalian. By extension, the Thessalians claimed to be prototypes of the Aeolians on the island of Lesbos and, by further extension, of the Aeolians on the Asian mainland. By even further extension, Thessaly could be viewed as a point of origin for the Aeolian Migration, that is, for the colonization of the Aeolian cities on the island of Lesbos and, by the furthest extension, of the Aeolian cities on the Asian mainland. So also, as we have already seen here in Part III of my essay, the Athenians figured themselves as prototypes of the Ionians of Asia Minor and of its outlying islands in the context of myths about an Ionian Migration, just as the Thessalians figured themselves as prototypes of the Aeolians of Asia Minor and of its outlying islands, especially of Lesbos, in the context of myths about an Aeolian Migration.
III§21c [§127c]. What I have just formulated here can be reconciled with two references in the Iliad to the capture of Lesbos, the whole island, by a single hero, Achilles of Thessaly (IX 128–131, 270–273). I argue that the story of this capture was an old charter myth that accounted for an early claim on Lesbos made by the Thessalians and for a much later claim made in the specific historical context of an alliance between dynasts of Thessaly and the dynasts of Athens, the Peisistratidai, in the second half of the sixth century BCE. In later interpretations of the charter myth, after Athens had already taken possession of Sigeion, the tomb of Achilles could be linked not only with a site called the Akhílleion, located at the southern end of the “Sigeion Ridge,” which had already been a site that was owned and operated by the city of Mytilene from across the strait in Lesbos, but also with the city of Sigeion, located at the northern end of the “Sigeion Ridge,” which was now a site that was owned and operated by the city of Athens. As I show in Homer the Preclassic, Homeric poetry was cited as testimony to validate either of these two rival sites.
III§22. But the point is, as I argue in Pamphlet 3 (§128), the sharing of myths about Achilles by Asian and European Aeolians meant that each of the two sides accepted the Aeolian identity of the other side, despite their mutual hostility.
III§23. Further comment is needed on the parallelism we have just seen between the old claim of the Thessalians, that they were the originators of the Aeolian Migration, and the far newer claim of the Athenians, that they were the originators of the Ionian Migration. In the case of the Athenian claim, it can be dated to the relatively late era of the Peisistratidai, those dynasts who dominated Athens in the second half of the sixth century. And I find it most significant that those same dynasts of Athens had allied themselves with dynasts who ruled Thessaly during that same relatively late era. Also during that same era, public performances of Homeric poetry were being institutionalized by the Peisistratidai at the festival of the Panathenaia in Athens, as we have already seen at III§§11–13. Accordingly, I argue for a convergence in the dating of Homeric reception in Athens and the dating of mythologized Athenian claims about their leadership, back in mythical times, of the Ionian Migration. The claim of the Thessalians about their leadership of the Aeolian Migration would have evolved far earlier, but even that old claim could later be appropriated by the Athenians as parallel to their own claim about an Ionian Migration. Such an Athenian appropriation can be dated, again, to the second half of the sixth century BCE.
III§24. The lateness of the Athenian claim about the Ionian Migration supports, I think, the argument made by Woodard (2021.12.31) concerning the relative lateness of an Ionian presence in Asia Minor. Unlike the myths about the Aeolian Migration, which ignore an Aeolian presence in Asia Minor despite all the evidence indicating that the Aeolians were already there as early as the second millennium BCE, the later myths about the Ionian Migration point to a different historical reality. As Woodard shows, an old Ionian city like Miletus—very old, from the standpoint of the historical period of the first millennium BCE—was still an Aeolian city back when, in the second millennium BCE, and it must have turned Ionian only in the so-called Dark Age—just as Aeolian cities like Smyrna and Sigeion turned Ionian in later years, that is, in the earlier phases of the historical period that followed such a Dark Age.
III§25. But the Ionians, imitating the Aeolians, nevertheless held on to the old Aeolian patterns of self-mythologization. In terms of their own mythmaking, Ionians too, like the Aeolians, would have been, long ago, adventurous “Achaeans” who left Europe once upon a time and sailed across the Aegeam Sea to Asia. That is what is claimed in Ionian myth, as filtered by Athenian myth. While the Aeolians left behind Achaean homelands like Thessaly by way of Aulis in Boeotia, Ionians would have left behind homelands like Messene by way of Athens in Attica. I see here patterns of mythmaking that stem from the Peisistratidai of Athens, and such patterns are actually attested in fragments of Hesiodic poetry that claim Achaean ancestry for Ionians by way of Athens. As I have argued in other work (Nagy 2011b:43–44), such Hesiodic poetry was performed in Athens during the era of the Peisistratidai and promoted Athenian agenda by way of Athenian mythmaking.
III§26. A case in point is a set of fragments where Hesiodic poetry is aetiologizing Dorians, Aeolians, and Ionians as notional descendants of heroic prototypes who were supposedly proto-Dorians, proto-Aeolians, and proto-Ionians. I summarize here the relevant contents (F 9 and F 10 [a] ed. Merkelbach / West). According to this poetry, there was once upon a time a proto-Greek—or, better, a ‘proto-Hellene’—whose name was Hellēn and who fathered three sons, Dōros, Aiolos, and Xouthos, who were in turn ancestors of the Dorians, the Aeolians, and the Ionians (F 9 lines 1–2).In the case of Xouthos, he was King in Athens and married Kreousa the ‘Queen’, daughter of Erekhtheus, proto-king of Athens. This couple, Xouthos the King and Kreousa the Queen, were the parents of Ion and Akhaios, who were ancestors of both the Ionians and the ‘Achaeans’ (F 10 [a] lines 20–24).
III§27. So, in terms of such mythmaking, it must have really happened, this Ionian Migration, and it happened in the Dark Age. But the migration was more like an invasion, since the Ionians kept crowding out the Aeolians from their old homelands in Asia. Aeolians kept losing their cities to Ionians. As we go backward in time, there was Sigeion, and, further back, Smyrna, and, even further back, Miletus. There was a time, then, a remote time, when even Miletus was not yet an Ionian city, let alone a daughter city of Athens. It was an Aeolian city, thriving in the glory days of empires, looking for some middle way in a world of ongoing conflict between Mycenaeans and Hittites.
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Nagy, G. 2009|2008. Homer the Classic. Printed | Online version. Hellenic Studies 36. Cambridge MA and Washington DC. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Nagy.Homer_the_Classic.2008.
Nagy, G. 2010|2009. Homer the Preclassic. Printed | Online version. Berkeley and Los Angeles. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Nagy.Homer_the_Preclassic.2009.
Nagy, G. 2011. “The Aeolic Component of Homeric Diction.” Proceedings of the 22nd Annual UCLA Indo-European Conference, ed. S. W. Jamison, H. C. Melchert, and B. Vine, 133–179. Bremen. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay:Nagy.The_Aeolic_Component_of_Homeric_Diction.2011.
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Nagy, G. 2011.04.06. “Observations on Greek dialects in the late second millennium BCE.” Proceedings of the Academy of Athens. Volume 86 Second Issue (2011) 81–96. Online version, http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay:Nagy.Observations_on_Greek_Dialects.2011.
Nagy, G. 2015.03.01. “A second look at a possible Mycenaean reflex in Homer: phorēnai.” http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay:Nagy.A_Second_Look_at_a_Possible_Mycenaean_Reflex_in_Homer.2015.
Nagy, G. 2015.07.22. “East of the Achaeans: Making up for a missed opportunity while reading Hittite texts.” Classical Inquiries. https://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/east-of-the-achaeans-making-up-for-a-missed-opportunity-while-reading-hittite-texts/.
Nagy, G. 2017. “Things Said and Not Said in a Ritual Text: Iguvine Tables Ib 10–16 / VIb 48–53.” Miscellanea Indogermanica: Festschrift für José Luis García Ramón zum 65. Geburtstag, ed. I. Hajnal, D. Kölligan, and K. Zipser, 509–549. Innsbruck. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hlnc.essay:Nagy.Things_Said_and_Not_Said_in_a_Ritual_Text.2016.
Nagy, G. 2018.10.18. “‘I’m burning up in flames and I’m drowning’: On the poetry of Nikos Gatsos, inside the music of Stavros Xarhakos, inside the film Rebetiko.” Classical Inquiries. https://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/im-burning-up-in-flames-and-im-drowning-on-the-poetry-of-nikos-gatsos-inside-the-music-of-stavros-xarhakos-inside-the-film-rebetiko/.
Nagy, G. 2019.07.26. “Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology I, Hēraklēs as athlete.” Classical Inquiries. https://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/thinking-comparatively-about-greek-mythology-i-herakles-as-athlete/.
Nagy, G. 2019.08.02. “Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology II, Hēraklēs as an ‘Indo-European’ hero.” Classical Inquiries. https://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/thinking-comparatively-about-greek-mythology-ii-herakles-as-an-indo-european-hero/.
Nagy, G. 2019.08.08. “Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology III, Hēraklēs compared to a hero of the Mahābhārata.” Classical Inquiries. https://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/thinking-comparatively-about-greek-mythology-iii-herakles-compared-to-a-hero-of-the-mahabharata/.
Nagy, G. 2019.08.15. “Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology IV, Reconstructing Hēraklēs backward in time.” Classical Inquiries. https://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/thinking-comparatively-about-greek-mythology-iv-reconstructing-herakles-backward-in-time/.
Nagy, G. 2019.08.22. “Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology V, Reconstructing Hēraklēs forward in time.” Classical Inquiries. https://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/thinking-comparatively-about-greek-mythology-v-reconstructing-herakles-forward-in-time/.
Nagy, G. 2019.08.30. “Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology VI, A Mycenaean phase in the reception of myths about Hēraklēs.” Classical Inquiries. https://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/thinking-comparatively-about-greek-mythology-vi-a-mycenaean-phase-in-the-reception-of-myths-about-herakles/.
Nagy, G. 2019.09.06. “Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology VII, Greek mythological models for prototyping Hēraklēs.” Classical Inquiries. https://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/thinking-comparatively-about-greek-mythology-vii-greek-mythological-models-for-prototyping-herakles/.
Nagy, G. 2019.09.13. “Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology VIII, Some rough patches along the way toward a prototyping of Hēraklēs.” Classical Inquiries. https://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/thinking-comparatively-about-greek-mythology-viii-some-rough-patches-along-the-way-toward-a-prototyping-of-herakles/.
Nagy, G. 2019.09.20. “Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology IX, Further rough patches for Hēraklēs.” Classical Inquiries. https://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/thinking-comparatively-about-greek-mythology-ix-further-rough-patches-for-herakles/.
Nagy, G. 2019.09.27. “Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology X, A Homeric lens for viewing Hēraklēs.” Classical Inquiries. https://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/thinking-comparatively-about-greek-mythology-x-a-homeric-lens-for-viewing-herakles/.
Nagy, G. 2019.10.04. “Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology XI, Homeric marginalizations of Hēraklēs as an epic hero.” Classical Inquiries. https://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/thinking-comparatively-about-greek-mythology-xi-homeric-marginalizations-of-herakles-as-an-epic-hero/.
Nagy, G. 2019.10.11. “Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology XII, Hēraklēs at his station in Mycenaean Tiryns.” Classical Inquiries. https://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/thinking-comparatively-about-greek-mythology-xii-herakles-at-his-station-in-mycenaean-tiryns/.
Nagy, G. 2019.10.18. “Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology XIII, with a focus on the role of Hēraklēs as kingmaker.” Classical Inquiries. https://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/thinking-comparatively-about-greek-mythology-xiii-with-a-focus-on-the-role-of-herakles-as-kingmaker/.
Nagy, G. 2019.10.25. “Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology XIV, with a focus on the role of Hēraklēs as a leader of fighting men.” Classical Inquiries. https://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/thinking-comparatively-about-greek-mythology-xiv/.
Nagy, G. 2019.10.31. “Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology XV, with a focus on Hēraklēs of Tiryns as military leader of the Mycenaean Empire.” Classical Inquiries. https://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/thinking-comparatively-about-greek-mythology-xv/.
Nagy, G. 2019.11.08. “Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology XVI, with a focus on Dorians led by kingly ‘sons’ of Hēraklēs the kingmaker.” Classical Inquiries. https://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/thinking-comparatively-about-greek-mythology-xvi-with-a-focus-on-dorians-led-by-kingly-sons-of-herakles-the-kingmaker/.
Nagy, G. 2019.11.15. “Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology XVII, with placeholders that stem from a conversation with Tom Palaima, starting with this question: was Hēraklēs a Dorian?” Classical Inquiries. https://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/thinking-comparatively-about-greek-mythology-xvii-with-placeholders-that-stem-from-a-conversation-with-tom-palaima-starting-with-this-question-was-herakles-a-dorian/.
Nagy, G. 2019.11.27. “Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology XVIII, a post-Mycenaean view of Hēraklēs as founder of the Olympics.” Classical Inquiries. https://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/thinking-comparatively-about-greek-mythology-xviii-a-post-mycenaean-view-of-herakles-as-founder-of-the-olympics/.
Nagy, G. 2019.12.20. “Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology XIX, a post-Mycenaean view of Hēraklēs as a performer of his Labors.” Classical Inquiries. https://classical-inquiries.chs.harvard.edu/thinking-comparatively-about-greek-mythology-xix-a-post-mycenaean-view-of-herakles-as-a-performer-of-his-labors/.
Nagy, G. 2022.08.08. “Twelve Olympian Essays – Essay 8: A Mycenaean Hēraklēs, always a kingmaker and never a king.” Classical Continuum. https://continuum.fas.harvard.edu/part-i-twelve-olympian-essays-essay-8-a-mycenaean-herakles-always-a-kingmaker-and-never-a-king/. Second edition of Nagy 2019.10.18.
Nagy, G. 2023.08.19, new version of an archived essay dating from 2020.11.03. “Greek dialects in the late second millennium BCE.” Classical Continuum. https://continuum.fas.harvard.edu/observations-on-greek-dialects-in-the-late-second-millennium-bce-2/. Pamphlet 1 in the series “Pamphlets from the New Alexandria Foundation.”
Nagy, G. 2023.08.20, new version of an archived essay dating from 2015.07.22. “East of the Achaeans: Making up for a missed opportunity while reading Hittite texts.” Classical Continuum. https://continuum.fas.harvard.edu/east-of-the-achaeans-making-up-for-a-missed-opportunity-while-reading-hittite-texts-2/. Pamphlet 2 in the series “Pamphlets from the New Alexandria Foundation.”
Nagy, G. 2023.08.21, new version of Greek: An Updating of a Survey of Recent Work, second edition. Classical Continuum. https://continuum.fas.harvard.edu/greek-an-updating-of-a-survey-of-recent-work-second-edition/.
Nagy, G. 2023.08.22, new version of an archived essay, originally published as Nagy, G. 2011. “The Aeolic Component of Homeric Diction.” Proceedings of the 22nd Annual UCLA Indo-European Conference, ed. S. W. Jamison, H. C. Melchert, and B. Vine, 133–179. Bremen. Classical Continuum. https://continuum.fas.harvard.edu/the-aeolic-component-of-homeric-diction/. Pamphlet 3 in the series “Pamphlets from the New Alexandria Foundation.”
Nagy, G. 2023.09.04, present version. “Greek myths about invasions and migrations during the so-called Dark Age.” Classical Continuum. https://continuum.fas.harvard.edu/greek-myths-about-invasions-and-migrations-during-the-so-called-dark-age/. Pamphlet 4 in the series “Pamphlets from the New Alexandria Foundation.”
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