Menander Rhetor, Treatise 1

LCL 539: 44-45




3381. Ἑξῆς ἂν εἴη περὶ τῶν μυθικῶν εἰπεῖν, οὓς ἔνιοι μὲν τοὺς αὐτοὺς εἶναι νομίζουσι τοῖς γενεαλογικοῖς, ἔνιοι δὲ οὐχ οὕτως [εἶναι νομίζουσι τοῖς γενεαλογικοῖς].1 οἱ μέν γε νομίζοντες οὐδὲν διαφέρειν καὶ τὰς γενεαλογίας μύθους εἶναί φασιν, οἷον εἰ βούλει, ὅσα γε Ἀκουσίλεως καὶ Ἡσίοδος καὶ Ὀρφεὺς ἐν ταῖς θεογονίαις εἰρήκασιν· εἰσὶ μὲν γὰρ γενεαλογικαὶ αἵδε, οὐδὲν δὲ ἧττον μυθικαί. 2. τάδε δὲ αὖ φασιν οἱ διαφέρειν νομίζοντες, ὅτι καὶ χωρὶς τῶν γενεαλογικῶν εἴησαν ἄν τινες μυθικοὶ ὕμνοι, οἷον ὅτι Διόνυσος Ἰκαρίῳ ἐπεξενώθη, ἢ ὅτι ἐν Ζωστῆρι τὴν ζώνην ἐλύσατο ἡ Λητώ, ἢ ὅτι ἡ Δημήτηρ παρὰ Κελεῷ ἐπεξενώθη, ἢ ὅσα ἕτερα τοιαῦτα. ταῦτα γὰρ [καὶ]2 γενεαλογίαν μὲν οὐδεμίαν εἴληφε, μυθικὴν δέ τινα ἄλλην ἱστορίαν.

3. Ἃ μέντοι ἀμφότεροι λέγοντες τὰ σφῶν αὐτῶν ἑκάτεροι νικᾶν ἀξιοῦσι, σχεδὸν ἀκήκοας, ἐμοὶ δὲ δοκεῖ κάλλιον ἐν ὅρῳ εἶναι ἀκριβῶς διελέσθαι. πάσας μὲν γὰρ γενεαλογίας καὶ πάντας ὕμνους τοὺς διὰ γενεαλογικῶν διὰ μυθικῶν περιστάσεων προάγεσθαι νομίζω, οὐ μὴν πάντας γε τοὺς μυθικοὺς διὰ γενεαλογίας,

  • 1secl. RW
  • 2secl. Bursian, RW



1. Next comes a discussion of mythical hymns (mythikoi), which some consider to be the same as genealogical hymns, whereas others do not. Those who think that there is no difference say that genealogies are myths. Examples might include what Acusilaus,1 Hesiod, and Orpheus recount in their theogonies, for while these are genealogical, they are no less mythical. 2. On the other hand, those who consider them different say that certain mythical hymns can exist without being genealogical, as for example Dionysus being hosted by Icarius,2 Leto loosening her girdle at Zoster,3 Demeter being hosted by Celeus,4 and other narratives of this nature. These contain no genealogy, but rather a different type of mythical narrative.

3. You have now heard, more or less, what each side claims as conclusive for its position, but when it comes to definitions, I believe it preferable to make accurate distinctions. I think that all genealogies and all hymns containing genealogies employ mythical elements, but that not all mythical hymns employ genealogies. Consequently,

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.menander_rhetor-treatise_1.2019