Appendix B. Ptolemy Khennos as a Source for the Contest of Kinyras and Apollo

The Novel History (Kainḕ Historía) by the early imperial wondermonger Ptolemy ‘The Quail’ Khennos is known mainly from a terse epitome by Photios, but was equally available to Eustathios, who reproduces a dozen episodes in fuller detail without naming his source (n.b.). [1] That Eustathios could have seen further material not mentioned by Photios is made possible by Tzetzes, who knew an episode absent from the epitome. [2]
In keeping with its title, the Novel History collected unorthodox myth-­variants, especially tangential Homeric back-stories and parallel realities. While some of these were pure invention complete with bogus source citations, [3] others were genuinely rooted in and/or inspired by epichoric traditions. [4] Several episodes involving Apollo and Aphrodite—including an androgynous Adonis beloved of both—point clearly to Cyprus, where in the late Classical and Hellenistic periods these gods were the go-to Olympians for calquing a wide variety of local figures. [5] Ptolemy also reveled in etymologies—including a wordplay on háls, halós, ‘salt/sea’, as I have also proposed for Kinyras’ halcyon-daughters—and etymology-driven aetiology, for instance the object-hero Korythos, inventor of the helmet (kórythos). [6] And he had a decided interest in local music trivia: the invention of the obscure skindapsós (lute? lyre?) by a legendary Skindapsos, another object-hero; accounts of musical conflicts and contests—Apollo and Marsyas, the Pythian citharodic event, Odysseus winning an aulós competition in Etruria (recently discussed by T. Power); and a whole section “On who composed songs for which cities.” [7]
The contest of Kinyras and Apollo would fit perfectly into this portfolio. Following the hypothesis we would then suppose that Eustathios fleshed out the notice in the Homeric scholia by restoring further details from direct consultation of Ptolemy, notably the derivation from kinýra of Kinyras and kinȳ´resthai (in connection with the hero’s daughters mourning his death?).


[ back ] 1. Photios Library 146a40–153b29. See van der Valk 1971–1987:CIX § 111–112; Chatzis 1914 (with the versions of Photios and Eustathios in parallel); Cameron 2004:135.
[ back ] 2. Ptolemy Khennos fr. 1 (Chatzis 1914:46, cf. XLI) = John Tzetzes Khiliades 8.195, lines 368–380.
[ back ] 3. For a clear case, see Cameron 2004:137–142.
[ back ] 4. This view is often taken by Tomberg 1968, e.g. on the Adonis material (see next note) and on the ‘piping Odysseus’ (193–194, with the further observations of Power 2012).
[ back ] 5. Photios Library 146b41–147a2, 151b5–7, 153a11–23, with comments of Tomberg 1968:194–195n144, 197n150, 150–151n5, respectively.
[ back ] 6. Photios Library 150a12–19 (goofing on Homer Odyssey 11.134, Odysseus’ death ἐξ ἁλóς), 147b34–36. See further Tomberg 1968:94–99.
[ back ] 7. Skindapsos: Photios Library 152b20–25 (for the instrument, SIAG:185–186; AGM:60); Marsyas: 149a5–8; Pythian contest: 153a1–5; piping Odysseus: 152b32–36, with Power 2012; songs/cities: 148a410–411.