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Ancilla to the Pre-Socratic Philosophers, by Kathleen Freeman, [1948], at


Epimenides of Crete (Phaestos or Cnossus): date uncertain, but he probably lived in the late sixth and early fifth centuries B.C.

He was sometimes included in the list of the Seven Sages, in place of Periander. A number of epic poems were ascribed to him, giving an Orphic cosmogony; and a prose work on Cretan affairs, which was actually of later date, but was used by Diodorus.

1. (Paul, Epistle to Titus, 1. 12: One of the Cretans, their own prophet, said of them): The Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy stomachs. (Clement says that Paul means Epimenides, Jerome that it came from the Oracles of Epimenides).

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2. (From his Epic poems): I too am of the race of the fair-tressed moon, who with a dread shudder shook off the wild lion; and strangling him in Nemea because of revered Hera, (the divine strength of Heracles overcame him).

3. (Aristotle, Politics 12521): Epimenides calls members of the same household) sharers of the smoke.

4. (Aristotle, Rhetoric 1418a; Epimenides gave his oracles not about the future, but on things in the past which were obscure).

5. (Damascius: Epimenides gave the first elements as Air and Night, from which were created Tartarus, from which sprang two Titans; these having united produced the Egg, from which again another generation sprang).

6. (Pausanias: Epimenides also makes Styx the daughter of Ocean, and unites her not with Pallas but with an unknown Peiras, to whom she bore Echidna).

7. (Epimenides says that the Harpies are the children of Ocean, and were slain near (Rhegium?)).

8. (The story of Typho: in Epimenides’ version, Typho entered the palace while Zeus was asleep; and Zeus killed him with a thunderbolt).

9. (Epimenides agrees with certain others that the Harpies guard the apples, but says that they are the same as the Hesperdes).

10. (Plutarch: Epimenides said of Munychia that) the Athenians would eat it up with their own teeth, if they foresaw what harm it would do to the city.

11. (Plutarch: Epimenides refuted the story that eagles or swans setting out from the ends of the earth met in the middle at Delphi, the so-called Omphalos): There was no Omphalos, either in the centre of the earth or of the sea. If any there be, it is visible to the gods, not visible to mortals.

12. (Epimenides adds a fifth to the sons of Phrixus, Presbôn by name).

13. (Aiêtes was a Corinthian, and his mother was Ephyra).

14. (Endymion in heaven fell in love with Hera, and Zeus condemned him to eternal sleep).

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15. (Laius married Eurycleia daughter of Ecphas, and Oedipus was her son).

16. (The children of Zeus and Callistô were Pan and Areas, twins).

17. (Epimenides and Hesiod agree on the names of the thirteen suitors slain by Oenomaus).

18. (Rhodes is the daughter of Ocean).

19. (The Eumenides are the daughters of Cronos): From him were born fairhaired golden Aphrodite, the immortal Fates, and the Erinyes of changeful gifts.

20. (Diodorus: 'I have followed the most trustworthy authorities on Cretan affairs, Epimenides the Theologian, Dosiades, Sosicrates and Laosthenes').

21. (Aratus: 'Holy Goat, of whom the story goes that she suckled Zeus, and the priest-interpreters of Zeus call her Olenian').

22. (Aratus: The story that Cynosoura and Helicê were placed in the heavens because they looked after Zeus in the Idaean cave, when the Dictaean Kourêtês hid him from Cronos).

23. (Cretan story that Zeus when hiding from Cronos changed himself and his nurses into a serpent and bears respectively, and after he had taken over the kingship, placed these forms in the Arctic Circle).

24. (The story of Aigokerôs: honoured because he was a foster-brother of Zeus, being with him in Crete when he fought the Titans. Aigokerôs is believed to have discovered the horn, the sound of which put the Titans to flight. He and his mother the Goat were placed in the heavens by Zeus: because he found the horn in the sea, Aigokerôs has a fish-tail).

25. (The Crown was a gift of Dionysus to Ariadnê; later he placed it in the heavens).

Late forgery, drawn from Neo-Pythagoreanism.

26. (The Dioscuri were male and female, one called Time, as being a Monad, the other called Nature, as being a Dyad; for from the Monad and the Dyad, all numbers which produce life and soul have sprung).

Next: 4. Hêsiod of Ascra