Eryx

Aelian, On Animals 10.50
I have heard it said that in Eryx, where of course the famous temple of Aphrodite is (the pigeons there and their peculiarities I mentioned earlier on), there is a store of gold, and immense store of silver, necklaces, and finger-rings of great price; and that dread of the goddess renders them safe from robbers and untouched; and that men in ancient times always regarded the aforesaid goddess and her treasures with veneration and awe. But I learn that Hamilkar the Carthaginian looted these objects, melted down the silver and gold, and then distributed an infamous largesse to his troops. And for these deeds he suffered the most painful and grievous torments and was punished with crucifixion, while all his accomplices and partners in that unholy sacrilege died violent and terrible deaths. And his native land which till then was so prosperous and which was reputed enviable above most lands, after these sacred objects had been imported, was reduced to slavery … On every day throughout the whole year the people of Eryx and strangers too sacrifice to the goddess. And the largest of the altars is in the open air, and upon it many sacrifices are offered, and all day long and into the night the fire is kept burning. The dawn begins to brighten, and still the altar shows no trace of embers, no ashes, no fragments of half-burnt logs, but is covered with dew and fresh grass which comes up again every night. And the sacrificial victims from every herd come up and stand beside the altar of their own accord; it is the goddess in the first place who leads them on, and in the second place it is the ability to pay, and the wish, on the part of the sacrificer. At any rate should you desire to sacrifice a sheep, lo and behold, there is a sheep standing at the altar, and you must begin the ceremonial washing. But if you are a man of substance and wish to sacrifice one cow or even more than one, then the herdsman will not mulct you by charging too much, nor will you disappoint him, for the goddess sees that the sale-prices are just, and if you pay fairly you will win her favour. If however you want to buy at a cheaper rate than is proper, you will pay down your money in vain – the animal departs and you are unable to sacrifice. So much then for this peculiarity of animals at Eryx in addition to those which I have mentioned earlier on.

Apollodoros, Bibliotheca 2.5.10
At Rhegion a bull broke away and hastily plunging into the sea swam across to Sicily, and having passed through the neighboring country since called Italy after it, for the Tyrrhenians called the bull italus, came to the plain of Eryx, who reigned over the Elymoi. Now Eryx was a son of Poseidon, and he mingled the bull with his own herds. So Herakles entrusted the kine to Hephaistos and hurried away in search of the bull. He found it in the herds of Eryx, and when the king refused to surrender it unless Herakles should beat him in a wrestling bout, Herakles beat him thrice, killed him in the wrestling, and taking the bull drove it with the rest of the herd to the Ionian Sea.

Apollonios Rhodios, Argonautica 4. 892 ff
Before long the Argonauts sighted the beautiful island of Anthemoessa, where the clear-voiced Seirenes Achelous’ daughters, used to bewitch with their seductive melodies whatever sailors anchored there. Lovely Terpsichore, one of the Mousai, had borne them to Acheloios, and at one time they had been handmaids to Demeter’s gallant Daughter, before she was married, and sung to her in chorus. But now, half human and half bird in form, they spent their time watching for ships from a height that overlooked their excellent harbour; and many a traveller, reduced by them to skin and bones, had forfeited the happiness of reaching home. The Seirenes, hoping to add the Argonauts to these, made haste to greet them with a liquid melody; and the young men would soon have cast their hawsers on the beach if Thracian Orpheus had not intervened. Raising his Bistonian lyre, he drew from it the lively tune of a fast-moving song, so as to din their ears with a medley of competing sounds. The girlish voices were defeated by the lure; and the set wind, aided by the sounding backwash from the shore, carried the ship off. The Seirenes’ song grew indistinct; yet even so there was one man, Boutes the noble son of Teleon, who was so enchanted by their sweet voices that before he could be stopped he leapt into the sea from his polished bench. The poor man swam through the dark swell making for the shore, and had he landed, they would soon have robbed him of all hope of reaching home. But Aphrodite, Queen of Eryx, had pity on him. She snatched him up while he was still battling with the surf; and having saved his life, she took him to her heart and found a home for him on the heights of Lilybaion.

Diodoros Sikeleiotes, Library of History 4.22.6-22.3
When Herakles arrived at the strait of Messina where the sea is narrowest, he had the cattle taken over into Sicily, but as for himself, he took hold of the horn of a bull and swam across the passage, the distance between the shores being thirteen stades, as Timaios says. Upon his arrival in Sicily Herakles desired to make the circuit of the entire island and so set out from Pelorias in the direction of Eryx. While passing along the coast of the island, the myths relate, the Nymphai caused warm baths to gush forth so that he might refresh himself after the toil sustained in journeying. There are two of these, called respectively Himeraia and Egestaia, each of them having its name from the place where the baths are. As Herakles approached the region of Eryx, who was the son of Aphrodite and Butas, who was then king of that country. The contest of the rivals carried with it a penalty, whereby Eryx was to surrender his land and Herakles the cattle. Now at first Eryx was displeased at such terms, maintaining that the cattle were of far less value as compared to the land; but when Herakles in answer to his arguments showed that if he lost the cattle he would likewise lose his immortality, Eryx agreed to the terms, and wrestling with him was defeated and lost his land. Herakles turned the land over to the natives of the region, agreeing with them that they should gather the fruits of it until one of his descendants should appear among them and demand it back; and this actually came to pass. For in fact many generations later Dorieus the Lakedaimonian came to Sicily, and taking back the land founded the city of Herakleia.

Diodoros Sikeleiotes, Library of History 4.83.4-7
Aeneas, the son of Aphrodite, when at a later time he was on his way to Italy and came to anchor off the island, embellished the sanctuary with many votive offerings since it was that of his own mother; after him the Sicanians paid honour to the goddess for many generations and kept continually embellishing it with both magnificent sacrifices and votive offerings; and after that time the Carthaginians, when they had become the masters of a part of Sicily, never failed to hold the goddess in special honour. And last of all the Romans, when they had subdued all Sicily, surpassed all people who had preceded them in the honours they paid to her. And it was with good reason that they did so, for since they traced back their ancestry to her and for this reason were successful in their undertakings, they were but requiting her who was the cause of their aggrandisement with such expressions of gratitude and honours as they owed to her. The consuls and praetors, for instance, who visit the island and all Romans who sojourn there clothed with any authority, whenever they come to Eryx, embellish the sanctuary with magnificent sacrifices and honours, and laying aside the austerity of their authority, they enter into sports and have conversation with women in a spirit of great gaiety, believing that only in this way will they make their presence there pleasing to the goddess. Indeed the Roman senate has so zealously concerned itself with the honours of the goddess that it has decreed that the seventeen cities of Sicily which are most faithful to Rome shall pay a tax in gold to Aphrodite, and that two hundred soldiers shall serve as a guard of her shrine.

Pausanias, Description of Greece 3.16.4
Dorieos the son of Anaxandrides and his men set out for Sicily. The reason for the Spartans’ setting out was that they held that the Erykine district belonged to the descendants of Herakles and not to the foreigners who held it. The story is that Herakles wrestled with Eryx on these terms: if Herakles won, the land of Eryx was to belong to him but if he were beaten, Eryx was to depart with the cows of Geryon; for Herakles at the time was driving these away, and when they swam across to Sicily he too crossed over in search of them near the bent olive-tree.

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