Friday, May 27, 2022

Palaephatus on the "Impossible" Myth of Caeneus, Peri Apiston XI

 It is important to note that Palaephatus does not challenge Caeneus' gender, only his invulnerability.

Caenea invulnerabilem omnino fuisse aiunt. Quicumque, autem hoc ad credendum suscipit, quod homo quispiam ferro invulnerabilis existat, amens hic reputandus est. Veritas itaque; sic se habet: Caeneus genere Thessalus, vir erat bellicis in rebus strenuus ac potens, pugnandique scientia praeditus, qui cum multis in bellis olim fuisset, nullo tamen unquam tempore vulneratus fuerat. Atque adeo cum Lapithis simul quandoque pugnans, a Centauris interfici nullo modo potuit, sed ab illis solii comprehensus cum fuisset, multitudine ullorum obrutus est, sicque consumptus fuit. Eius itaque defuncti Lapithae cadaver suscipientes, nullisque confossum vulneribus corpus invenientes, dicere consueverant. Caeneus cum alias toto suae vitae tempore invulnerabilis fuerit, itidem sine ullis nunc quoque vulneribus mortuus est.

Καινέα φασίν ότι άτρωτος ήν. όστις  δ υπολαμβάνει άτρωτον από σιδήρε άνθρωπον, ευήθης εςιν. η δε αλήθεια έχει έτως. Καινεύς ήν ανής Θετταλος τω γένει, αγαθός τα πολεμικά  και επισήμων τα μάχεσθαι . γενόμενος δε εν πολλαϊς μάχαις, έδέποτε ετρώθη, έτε Λαπίθαις συμμαχών πρός των Κενταυρων απέθανεν, αλλα συλλαβόντες αυτόν μόνον κατέχωσαν και ωτως έτε λέυτησεν.  έλεγον ων οι Λαπίθαι ανελόμενοι τον νεκρόν αυτέ, και ευρόντες μη τετρωμένον το σώμα, Καινεύς τόν γε άλλον βίον άτρωτος ήν, και απέθανεν άτρωτος.

--Palaephatus, Peri Apiston X, Translated into Latin by Phillip Phasiannus (1542)

They say that Caeneus was invulnerable. However, you’re an idiot if you think he couldn’t get wounded by iron. Here’s the truth: Caeneus was a Thessalian man who was mighty and skilled in the art of war. Although he fought in many battles, he was never wounded.  Even when he died battling the Centaurs on behalf of the Lapiths, he was crushed to death by rocks, not iron. When the Lapiths recovered his body, they found no wounds on him, and so they said that “he was invulnerable in life, as well as in death.”



Name:  Palaephatus

Date:  4th century BCE

Works:  On Unbelievable Tales



Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans



 Little is known about the life and time period of Palaephatus, but his book, On Unbelievable Tales, was a popular text in the ancient world. In this work, Palaephatus attempts to find logical explanations for popular Greek myths. Due to the high level of interest in the topic and the relatively straightforward grammar and syntax, Palaephatus’ work is a popular text for intermediate Ancient Greek classrooms.


ARCHAIC: (through 6th c. BCE); GOLDEN AGE: (5th - 4th c. BCE); HELLENISTIC: (4th c. BCE - 1st c. BCE); ROMAN: (1st c. BCE - 4th c. CE); POST CONSTANTINOPLE: (4th c. CE - 8th c. CE); BYZANTINE: (post 8th c CE)

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