The Ancient Library
 

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Eumenides

EUMENIDES/

but he had the good-fortune or dexterity to avoid coining.to an open rupture either with Rome or his brother Attalus. (Polyb. xxxi. 9, xxxii. 5 ; Diod. xxxi. Exc. Vales, p. 582.) His death, which is not mentioned by any ancient writer, must have taken place in b. c. 159, after a reign of 39 years. (Strab. xiii. p. 624; Clinton, F. H. iii. pp. 403, 406.)

According to Polybius (xxxii. 23), Eumenes was a man of a feeble bodily constitution, but of great vigour and power of mind, which is indeed sufficiently evinced by the history of his reign: his policy was indeed crafty and temporizing, but indicative of much sagacity; and he raised his kingdom from a petty state to one of the highest consideration. All the arts of peace were assidu­ously protected by him: Pergamus itself became under his rule a great and flourishing city, which he adorned with splendid buildings, and in which he founded that celebrated library which rose to be a rival even to that of Alexandria. (Strab. xiii. p. 624.) It would be unjust to Eumenes not to add the circumstance mentioned by P'olybius in his praise, that he continued throughout his life on the best terms with all his three brothers, who cheer­fully lent their services to support him in his power. One of these, Attalus, was his immediate successor, his son Attalus being yet an infant. (Polyb. xxxii. 23 ; Strab. xiii. p. 624.) A de­tailed account of the reign of Eumenes will be found in Van Cappelle, Commentatio de Regibus et Antiquitatibus Pergamenis, Amstel.1842. [E.H.B.]

EUMENIDES (Ei^Ses), also called eri­nyes, and by the Romans furiae or dirae, were originally nothing but a personification of curses pronounced upon a guilty criminal. The name Erinnys, which is the more ancient one, was de­rived by the Greeks from the verb epivw or epevz/aw, I hunt up or persecute, or from the Arca­dian word eptvfa, I am angry; so that the Erinnyes were either the angry goddesses, or the goddesses who hunt up or search after the criminal. (Aes-chyl. Eum. 499 ; Pind. Ol. ii. 45; Cic. de Nat. i>eor. iii. 18.) The name Eumenides, which sig­nifies "the well-meaning," or " soothed goddesses," is a mere euphemism, because people dreaded to call these fearful goddesses by their real name, and it was said to have been first given them after the acquittal of Orestes by the court of the Areiopagus, when the anger of the Erinnyes had become sooth­ed. (Soph. Oed. Col. 128; Schol. ad Oed. Col. 42; Suid. s. v. Etijj.evio'cs.) It was by a similar euphe­mism that at Athens the Erinnyes were called crefjivai freal, or the venerable goddesses. (Paus. i. 28. § 6.) Servius (ad Aen. iv. 609) makes a dis­tinction, according to which they bore the name Dirae, when they were conceived as being in hea­ven by the throne of Zeus, Furiae, when conceived as being on earth, and Eumenides, as beings of the lower world;. but this seems to be a purely arbi­trary distinction.

In the sense of curse or curses, the word Erinnys or Erinnyes is often used in the Homeric poems (/£ ix. 454, xxi. 412, Od. xi. 280), and Aeschylus (CJioeph. 406) calls the Eumenides 'Apai, that is, curses. According to the Homeric notion, the Erinnyes, whom the poet conceives as distinct beings, are reckoned among those who inhabit Erebos, where they rest until some curse pro­nounced upon a criminal calls them to life and ac­tivity. (II. ix. 571, Od. xv. 234.) The crimes

EUMENIDES. 91

which they punish are disobedience towards pa­rent^, violation of the respect due to old age, per­jury, murder, violation of the law of hospitality, and improper conduct towards suppliants. (Horn. II. ix. 454, xv. 204, xix. 259, Od. ii. 136, xvii. 475.) The notion which is the foundation of the belief in the Eumenides seems to be, that a parent's curse takes from him upon whom it is pronounced all peace of mind^ destroys the happiness of his family, and prevents his being blessed with chil­dren. (Herod, iv. 149; Aeschyl. Eum. 835.) As the Eumenides not only punished crimes after death, but during life on earth, they were conceived also as goddesses of fate, who, together with Zeus and the Moerae or Parcae, led such men as were doomed to suffer into misery and misfortunes. (Horn. //. xix. 87, Od. xv. 234.) In the same capacity they also prevented man from obtaining too much knowledge of the future. (//. xix. 418.) Homer does not mention any particular names of the Erinnyes, nor does he seem to know of any definite number. Hesiod, who is likewise silent upon these points, calls the Erinnyes the daughters of Ge, who conceived them in the drops of blood that fell upon- her from the body of Uranus. (TJieog. 185; comp. Apollod. i. 1. § 4.) Epimenides called them the daughters of Cronos and Euonyme, and sisters of the Moerae (Tzetz. ad LycopTi. 406 ; Schol. ad Soph. Oed. Col. 42); Aeschylus (Eum. 321) calls them the daughters of Night; and Sophocles (Oed. Col. 40,106) of Scotos (Darkness) and Ge. (Comp. some other genealogies in Hygin. Fab. p. 1 ; Serv. ad Aen. vii. 327; Orph. Hymn. 69. 2.) The Greek tragedians, with whom, as in the Eumenides of Aeschylus, the number of these goddesses is not limited to a few (Dyer, in the Class. Museum^ vol. i. pp. 281-298 ; comp. Eurip. Iphig. Taur. 970; Virg. Aen. iv. 469), no particular name of any one Erinnys is yet mentioned, but they appear in the same capacity, and as the avengers of the same crimes, as before. They are sometimes identified with the Poenae, though their sphere of action is wider than that of the Poenae. From their hunting up and persecuting the cursed criminal, Aeschylus (Eum. 231, ChoepJi. 1055) calls them kvvcs or KwyyeTio'es. No prayer, no sacrifice, and no tears can move them, or protect the object of their persecution (Aesch. Agam. 69, Eum. 384) ; and when they fear lest the criminal should escape them, they call in the assistance of Dice, with whom they are closely connected, the maintenance of strict justice being their only ob­ject. (Aesch. Eum. 511, 786 ; Orph. Argon. 350; Plut. de Eodl. 11.) The Erinnyes were more an­cient divinities than the Olympian gods, and were therefore not under the rule of Zeus, though they honoured and esteemed him (Eum. 918, 1002) j and they dwelt in the deep darkness of Tartarus, dreaded by gods and men. Their appearance is described by Aeschylus as Gorgo-like, their bodies covered with black, serpents twined in their hair, and blood dripping from their eyes; Euripides and other later poets describe them as winged beings. (Orest. 317, IpUg. Taur. 290; Virg. Aen. xii. 848 ; Orph. Hymn. 68. 5.) The appearance they have in Aeschylus was more or less retained by the poets of later times; but they gradually assumed the character of goddesses who punished crimes after death, and seldom appeared on earth. On the stage, however, and in works of art, their fear­ful appearance was greatly softened down, for they

Pages
About | First

90

91

92
letter/word  
volume
page #  
Search this site
Google


ancientlibrary.com
WWW
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of Isidore-of-Seville.com.