In this chapter I have surveyed the Greek provinces; I have briefly called attention to their Mycenaean monuments and to their relative importance in the Mycenaean age; I have recapitulated the myths and discussed their probable references to that age. The following summary may be made:
Argolis is the province which far excels all others both in the number and greatness of its Mycenaean sites and monuments and in the copious richness of the finds from this age. It is also the only province of the Peloponnese in which extensive and famous cycles of myths are found; these, moreover, are attached to the Mycenaean sites, especially to the two most famous sites, which by the beginning of the historical age had become extremely unimportant. The cycles of the Perseidae and of the Atreidae belong to Mycenae; the Heracles who performed his Labors is localized at Tiryns as the vassal of the king of Mycenae, and the fable which is the introduction to the adventures of Bellerophon is enacted at the court of Tiryns--not to speak of minor myths. Other sites are far inferior to these two, and the myths attached to them are correspondingly less important. The myth of Io is connected with the Heraeum, once a Mycenaean city, and that of the culture hero Palamedes with Nauplia. The myths of Argos, the capital of the province in historical times, are also unimportant, but the tendency is marked to enhance its mythical glory by appropriating and inventing myths.
One site remains which is conspicuous for important monuments and brilliant finds but from which myths are almost absent. It is the third of the Mycenaean fortresses in Argolis, Midea, whose walls enclose a larger area than that of any other site in Argolis and whose king was buried together with a wealth of precious objects in the bee-hive tomb at Dendra near by. This is a striking exception, but it finds its natural explanation. The area within the walls is not yet excavated but the sherds picked up on the surface are Middle Helladic and Mycenaean only; later sherds are wanting. Unlike the sites of Mycenae and Tiryns, Midea was not inhabited during the Geometric period. Through the cessation of the occupation of the site the tradition was interrupted or weakened. Midea was almost forgotten in myth and in the life of the age. With this exception, there is a close correspondence between the mythical importance of the Argive towns and their importance in the Mycenaean age.
The same correspondence is evident in the other parts of the Peloponnese. None of the other provinces can in any wise be compared with Argolis in respect either to its myths or to its Mycenaean remains. But two districts have yielded more numerous and remarkable finds than others; namely, the Laconian plain and the western coast of the peninsula. In both these districts there are hardly any great mythological cycles to mention, but several myths with Mycenaean connections are localized there. In Laconia, Helen and the Dioscuri are at home and were probably pre-Greek gods metamorphosed into heroes and received into heroic mythology.
The Mycenaean settlements on the western coast of the Peloponnese are comprehended in Pylos, the Homeric dominion of Nestor. Here we may perhaps speak of a cycle of myths, that of the Neleidae; and fragments of an epos, the chief hero of which was Nestor, celebrating the struggles of the Pylians with their foes in the north and in the east, were incorporated into Homer. But this cycle is not very important and has a special character, being more, so to speak, historical than mythical, a fact which may be understood in view of its late origin.
In the remaining parts of the Peloponnese, Mycenaean remains are scarce and poor. Mythology shows the same scarcity and poverty of heroic myths. Arcadia has some myths, mostly cult myths; its heroic mythology is of late make. The same is the case with Elis. The attempts to create a mythical story of the founding of the Olympic games are evidently post-Mycenaean, nor has anything Mycenaean been discovered at Olympia. Achaea is almost devoid of myths. The close correspondence between the occurrence of heroic mythology and of Mycenaean remains is obvious.
The parts of Greece farthest toward the west are the Ionian islands. The search for the palace of Odysseus both on Ithaca and on Leucas failed, for the plot of the Odyssey is no real myth but a romance; it is not a reminiscence from Mycenaean times in mythical disguise. Mycenaean traces proving a regular occupation are found on Cephallenia only, and the tradition of the kingdom of the Cephallenes may perhaps be connected with this late and unimportant settlement, but that must be regarded as rather hypothetical.
We turn to Central Greece. Boeotia comes next to Argolis in the importance both of its Mycenaean remains and of its myths. There were two great centers of Mycenaean civilization, Thebes and Orchomenus. They are too little known, because fate destroyed the remains thoroughly and hindered their exploration, but enough is left of their past splendor and greatness to allow us to discern their importance. A third site, the fortress of Gla on an island in the lake of Copais, has an extensive palace, but almost no finds have been made there. The fortress was evidently abandoned very early and forgotten so thoroughly that not even its ancient name is known. Thus its failure to play a part in mythology is explained.
To Thebes two cycles of myths are attached which are hardly less famous than those of Mycenae, the Cadmus-Oedipus cycle and the War of the Seven against Thebes. This latter myth contains a reminiscence of a war waged by an Argive prince and his allies against Thebes in the Mycenaean age.
The situation is very different in regard to the second great site, Orchomenus. No mythical cycle is immediately attached to this city, but the celebrated tribe of the Minyans is bound up with it, and in the Homeric poems it was famous for its wealth. The Minyans are, however, related to southern Thessaly also, and this relation is proved to be old by myths and cults common to the district of Orchomenus and to southern Thessaly. The northernmost important Mycenaean site is Iolcus on the Gulf of Pagasae, whence the Argonauts started on their famous expedition. Here myths and Mycenaean remains correspond
closely. The connections of the Minyans include the dominion of Pylos also. We found reasons to think that the Minyans were more a trading than a warring people. Thus they did not attain to the same mythological fame as others in heroic mythology and epics, but their wide connections and great wealth were not forgotten.
There remains another province penetrated by the Mycenaean civilization, Attica. It has numerous Mycenaean remains and finds, but none of first-rate importance. Attic heroic mythology is correspondingly poor with one exception, the Theseus cycle, the elaboration of which belongs to a great extent to historical times. But this cycle includes also famous myths of certain Mycenaean origin, the slaying of the Minotaur, the rape of Ariadne and the rape of Helen, and probably also the capturing of the bull of Marathon. It is most interesting that the first-mentioned myth goes back to the time before the final sack of Cnossus, when the palace was still standing and the Minoan culture and power still flourished. We found reasons to assume that the rape of Ariadne and the rape of Helen are secularized forms of a Minoan hieratic myth, the carrying off of the vegetation goddess, and are identical in origin with the carrying off of Kore by Pluto.
Only one important myth is left, that of the Calydonian hunt, and this may be thought to be an exception to the rule stating the correspondence of mythical fame with Mycenaean remains. There is hardly any subject of which we have such a vivid picture from Mycenaean art as the boar-hunt; I mean the well-known wall paintings from the palace
of Tiryns which depict hunters and dogs charging a boar, and even ladies driving in a chariot to the hunt. As was pointed out long ago, 1 we have in these pictures, if not the actual myth, its prototype from human life. It is interesting to note also that a woman, Atalanta, plays the foremost part in this myth of the hunt of the Calydonian boar. The myth of the Calydonian hunt ought, if any, to go back to the Mycenaean age; the only objection is that Calydon was not a center of Mycenaean civilization. But probably it was. Numerous Mycenaean sherds were picked up on the surface of the acropolis and there are walls of Mycenaean date; 2 yet the excavations carried out by Dr. Poulsen and Dr. Rhomaios in the last few years uncovered only remains from historical times. There are, however, two hills at Calydon, and on the higher hill, the acropolis of Calydon, Mycenaean remains are found. They include a Mycenaean wall for fortification, and remains of two houses of which one is apsidal; also Mycenaean sherds are found in the earth. 3 This acropolis is still left unexplored. The cursory observations which as yet are at our disposal show that Calydon was inhabited in the Mycenaean age. As there was a walled city with houses this settlement cannot have been unimportant. It would be worth while to explore this Mycenaean town in order to get an idea of its importance and to see whether the regular connection between myths and Mycenaean civilization is not to be found even here.
186:1 H. R. Hall, Aegean Archaeology (1915), p. 190.
186:2 Praktika (1908), p. 9 et seq.
186:3 Kindly communicated by letter by Dr. Poulsen.