Appendix F. Theodontius: Another Cilician Kinyras?

One further and quite peculiar Cilician connection for Kinyras is found in Boccaccio’s Genealogy of the Pagan Gods. This massive and impressive synthesis, many years in the making (ca. 1350–1375), was undertaken at the behest of King Hugo IV of Cyprus (abdicated 1358). The work remained generally influential for centuries, [1] though its original Cypriot commission probably enhanced its impact on the island’s first ancient histories, by Florio Bustron and Étienne de Lusignan in the sixteenth century (see Appendix G). The relevant section derives—at second- or thirdhand via Boccaccio’s mentor Paul of Perugia, and probably a certain Barlaam, Paul’s own consultant on Greek matters [2] —from Theodontius, a mysterious mythographer whom Boccaccio cites some 200 times for “the debris of a curious and very mixed tradition.” [3] Here I shall identify the problems raised by Theodontius’ Cilician genealogy of ‘Cynara(s)’ and offer several suggestions about its genesis.
The essential material is as follows:
Theodontius says [that Cilix] … occupied territories not very far away, naming the region after himself, leaving behind two sons there, namely Lampsacius and Pygmalion … Lampsacius, as Theodontius says and Paul after him, was the son of Cilix and succeeded him as king. Other than this I could not find anything about him … When [Pygmalion] was young he was driven by the glory of his ancestors, whom he heard had advanced westward and occupied even the shores of Africa; so he assembled a Cilician army, mustered the Phoenicians, prepared a fleet, and brought his forces to your Cyprus, most serene king … Of course, as Ovid testifies, etc. [4]
From here Boccaccio pivots into a euhemerizing summary of Ovid’s Pygmalion and the statue, their son (sic) Paphos, and Cinyras, Myrrha, and Adonis. It is clear that Boccaccio was still following Theodontius in linking Cilix to Pygmalion and his descendants, since he reverts briefly to Pygmalion and Paul when discussing Paphos:
Paphos, as Theodontius says, was the son of Pygmalion by an ivory mother. When he succeeded Pygmalion as king, he named the island of Cyprus Paphos after himself. But Paul says that he constructed only a city named after himself. He wanted this city to be sacred to Venus, and after constructing a temple and an altar there, he sacrificed to her for a long time with only incense. [5]
Now Kilix/Cilix, son of Phoenician Agenor and brother of Kadmos, is well attested from Herodotos onwards as the eponymous settler of Cilicia. [6] But Lampsacius, whose name should make him eponymous founder of Lampsacus in the Troad, is otherwise unknown. Nor is there any ancient parallel for Pygmalion as son of Cilix. Where did these ideas come from?
M. Pade has recently confirmed the general view that Theodontius was active between the seventh and eleventh centuries; while she would still entertain an eighth or ninth century floruit during the ‘Campanian Renaissance’, she inclines to a rather later date. [7] Our understanding of Theodontius’ sources is fairly limited. He is thought to have known Hesiod, Pausanias, ps.-Apollodoros, Hyginus, ps.-Lactantius Placidus, the D-scholia to the Iliad, and the scholia to Pindar and Apollonius of Rhodes. [8] This dossier is sufficient to explain Boccaccio’s reference to “certain Greek codices” in which Theodontius found material, without positing further, lost sources. [9] Boccaccio also tells us outright that Theodontius used the Vergilian commentary of Servius (the augmented version of the seventh or eighth century, Servius Auctus). [10] One diagnostic passage shows that Theodontius exercised fairly free reign with this material, making deductions from and creatively combining discontiguous elements. [11] Some of Boccaccio’s cosmogonic scheme, including perhaps the notorious Demogorgon, came via Theodontius from ‘Pronapides’, a probably late antique or early Byzantine work published under the name of Homer’s legendary teacher. [12] Theodontius is probably also Boccaccio’s source for four of his five ‘fragments’ of the Atthidographer Philokhoros (ca. 340–263/2). [13] One is a mere paraphrase of St. Jerome’s translation of Eusebios’ Chronicle, [14] but Theodontius is once named as an intermediate source, and this is probably true of the remainder. Nevertheless, it is quite certain that Philokhoros himself had not been directly available for many centuries, and V. Costa has recently argued that here too, in many cases, Theodontius creatively manipulated citations of Philokhoros that are otherwise still known. [15] None of this inspires much confidence in the older idea that Theodontius preserved strands of ancient tradition now otherwise unrepresented.
Let us next consider the relevant material on internal evidence. Lampsacius is certainly baffling. Boccaccio noted that he could discover nothing else about him, and probably Paul had extracted everything he found in the Theodontian passage. If he truly is the eponymous figure his name suggests, why was Cilicia tied to Lampsacus of all possible places? If this were somehow to reflect fifth-century Athenian strategic interests in both regions, one might then think again of Philokhoros, two of whose alleged fragments do treat Anatolian matters in mythological terms; but as these come, one each, from Boccaccio and Natale Conti, they are doubtful parallels. [16] Or is Lampsacius a single vestige of a more systematic treatment of Anatolia via further unparalleled sons of Cilix? This is surely multiplying complications beyond necessity. And Lampsacius is most suspicious for lacking the essential quality of an eponymous hero. For rather than migrate from Cilicia to found Lampsacus, he remains in Cilicia and inherits his father’s throne!
We must seriously consider, therefore, whether the form ‘Lampsacius’ has been correctly transmitted. That this is a corruption of Sandokos (> SANDOCUS > SANDACUS > LAMPSACIUS), who we saw was indeed a king of Cilicia, seems not especially likely on paleographic grounds. [17] Rather more attractive, I suggest, is a corruption of *Sampsuchus or *Sampsachus. Some such form may have been devised by Theodontius as the putative ‘true’ name for Amaracus, the perfumer who was metamorphosed into marjoram—Gk. amárakos, which was originally known, according to Servius who tells the tale, as sámpsoukhon. [18] That Servius describes Amaracus as a ‘royal prince’ (regius puer) without naming his father would naturally create a genealogical opportunity for inventive mythographers; Pomponius Sabinus, we saw, called him a son of Kinyras—not implausibly, but evidently without ancient authority. [19] Theodontius, a creative genealogist who was prepared to manipulate Servian material (see above), could well have came up with his own solution. Cilix may seem an odd choice of father, but he has another culture-hero son in Pyrodes who, Pliny says, discovered starting fires with flint. [20] The error of LAMPSACIUS, paleographically simple, [21] would then be due to Boccaccio himself. Boccaccio confessed that it had been many years since as a youth (iuvenculus) he had taken his Theodontius material from Paul “with more greed than comprehension”; moreover, his notes were no longer always legible. [22] This hypothesis would also explain why Amaracus is otherwise absent from Boccaccio, who elsewhere relied on Theodontius for Servian material. [23]
Several potential objections may be met. First, while it is not clear that Theodontius himself joined Pyrodes to ‘Lampsacius’ and Pygmalion as sons of Cilix—Boccaccio cites only Pliny here—Theodontius’ engagement with Pliny is elsewhere indicated. [24] Note especially that Boccaccio added Pyrodes in a revision to the section that first cites Theodontius for Lampsacius and Pygmalion. [25] Second, Boccaccio found no trace of the original Amaracus story attached to ‘Lampsacius’; but Paul may have seen a passage in which Theodontius simply noted the genealogical connection he proposed, while recounting the actual tale elsewhere. Third, while the metamorphosis of Amaracus would seem incompatible with an accession to the throne, this could have been managed with the euhemerism to which Theodontius was prone. Finally, ancient sources offer no special connection between amárakos/sámpsoukhon and Cilicia; the best varieties of the plant, according to Pliny, were found in Mytiline and especially Cyprus. [26] But this may not have bothered a Theodontius, more concerned with tying up loose ends.
The foregoing scenario has the further attraction of avoiding an otherwise unknown tradition to which Theodontius somehow had access. But of course this is not inconceivable, especially given the great variety of mythographic handbooks, now all but lost, that circulated until late in the Roman period. [27] And if one believes that ‘Lampsacius’ has indeed been correctly transmitted, he is surely too geographically specific and abstruse not to be an ancient relic. The question remains open.
Turning to Pygmalion and his progeny, the simplest explanation is that Theodontius expatiated on the sequence he found in Ovid. But several issues must be noted. First, the link between Pygmalion and Cilix. A Cilician crossing for Pygmalion has been inferred from a fragment of Hellanikos’ Kypriaka, who credits him with founding Karpasia, just opposite Cilicia. [28] This might imply a father Kilix/Cilix. Ovid himself did not integrate Pygmalion into any genealogical system; his tale is free-floating within the song of Orpheus. Is this because Ovid himself found no father for him in the handbooks he often consulted? Or was he simply concerned here, as often, to juxtapose thematically similar material, since the tales of Pygmalion and Kinyras shared a Cypriot setting and centered on abnormal erotic passions? [29] Ovid’s treatment, in either case, will have encouraged later scholars to divine Pygmalion’s ancestry. Such attempts will certainly have been made long before Theodontius. As it happens, the question “Who was Pygmalion?” is found in a satirical epigram by Philip of Thessalonica (first century CE), where it typifies the pedantic pursuits of ‘thorn-gatherers’. [30] Even so, Theodontius may still have devised his own solution in support of his own grand design, which gave Boccaccio his infrastructure for the early history of Egypt, the Levant, Cilicia, and Cyprus; this included, it should be noted, an account of a ‘second Pygmalion’, brother of Dido. [31]
While Theodontius’ direct dependence on Ovid is probably betrayed by his making Paphos the son of Pygmalion—reflecting Ovidian textual corruption—one must recall that the more general tradition did in fact make Paphos male. [32] The idea that Paphos gave his/her name to the whole island reflects Roman-era administrative usage, and is already found in Ovid himself. [33] The idea that Paphos practiced only incense offerings, however, seems to go against Ovid, who has Pygmalion already offering blood-sacrifice to Venus. [34] Perhaps Theodontius took the idea from Tacitus’ description of the Paphian sanctuary’s bloodless altar, drawing a contrast with the extispicy of the Kinyradai. [35] If the sanctuary was founded by Paphos, as Theodontius held, the customs of Ovid’s Pygmalion could be disregarded.
One final issue must be contemplated. If Theodontius did indeed have recourse to some ancient source, no longer extant, which gave Kinyras a Cilician genealogy akin to those considered in Chapter 21, could he have found there the form ‘Cynaras’—that is, *Kin(n)áras—whence it passed into Boccaccio, Florio Bustron, and Étienne de Lusignan (see Appendix G)? In principle, it is perfectly possible that, while Kinyras himself was alive in the popular imagination of antiquity, a parallel dialectal form like *Kin(n)áras maintained some currency in North Syria and/or Cilicia. [36] But this derives little support from Theodontius himself. Apart from the source-critical issues already raised, there was considerable orthographical fluidity in the medieval treatment of classical names. Almost every conceivable variation—Cyniras, Cynras, Ciniras, Cinera, Cynera, Cynara, and Cinaras—is found in the manuscript tradition of Ovid. [37] A revealing parallel is the form ‘Phyllara’—that is, Philyra, mother of the centaur Kheiron—which Boccaccio gives when again drawing on Theodontius. Because Kheiron invented irrigation, according to Theodontius, he was called the ‘son of Philyra.’ This presupposes an etymology of the traditional Gk. Phillyrídēs (‘son of Philyra’) as phílydros (‘water-loving’). [38] In other words, though Philyra has come to us as Phyllara, the whole discussion depends upon the original Gk. form—a quite exact parallel to Cinyras/Cynaras.
To conclude, Theodontius’ Cilician Kinyras must be treated with great reserve. He is probably a mere artifact of the mythographer’s secondary elaboration of Ovid. Still, not every detail in his account, so far as we can reconstruct it from Boccaccio, can be so easily explained. It remains possible, if unlikely, that some elements—notably ‘Lampsacius’ and the link between Cilix and Pygmalion—did drift across Theodontius’ transom from the ancient mythographic tradition.


[ back ] 1. Pade 1997:149; Solomon 2011:x–xiii.
[ back ] 2. Boccaccio gives a forthright description of his sources at Genealogy of the Pagan Gods 15.6. For Paul’s own work, and his relationship with Boccaccio, see with further references Pade 1997:150–153; Carlucci 2009:401–403. But note that Theodontius was probably still available in some form after Boccaccio: Pade 1997:160–162.
[ back ] 3. The Theodontius fragments were collected by Landi 1930; for a balanced recent assessment, see Pade 1997. Quotation: Seznec 1953:222.
[ back ] 4. Boccaccio Genealogy of the Pagan Gods 2.47–49 (trans. after Solomon).
[ back ] 5. Boccaccio Genealogy of the Pagan Gods 2.50 (trans. Solomon). Solomon 2013:242 and 442n24 thus errs in suggesting that it was Boccaccio himself who incorporated the Ovidian sequence, with Theodontius’ Cilix > Pygmalion merely a useful launching point.
[ back ] 6. For sources and variants, see Edwards 1979:23–29.
[ back ] 7. Pade 1997, refining Landi 1930:18–20; Seznec 1953:220–222.
[ back ] 8. Pade 1997:155.
[ back ] 9. Boccaccio Genealogy of the Pagan Gods 13.1.
[ back ] 10. But note the possible complication that Theodontius himself may be cited in Servius Auctus on Vergil Aeneid 1.28: Theodotius, qui Iliacas res perscripsit. Costa 2004:118 accepts this testimony as a terminus ante quem, though he would date the compilation of Servius Auctus somewhat later than usual (see e.g. OCD s.v.), i.e. the ninth or tenth century.
[ back ] 11. See Pade 1997:153–154, cf. 160.
[ back ] 12. Pade 1997:158–159.
[ back ] 13. Optimistic assessments by Landi 1930 and Lenchantin 1932; Jacoby included them doubtfully in FGH; gravely undermined by Costa 2004.
[ back ] 14. Pade 1997:156–158.
[ back ] 15. Costa 2004:117–132. The same is true, Costa argues (133–147), of the Philokhoros ‘fragments’ in the Mythologiae of Natale Conti (1568), also reluctantly included by Jacoby.
[ back ] 16. Philokhoros FGH 328 F 226 (Boccaccio Genealogy of the Pagan Gods 4.20), war between Rhodians and Lycians and metamorphosis into frogs. Costa 2004:126–127 points out that the episode cannot be confidently linked to any known title of Philokhoros; but this objection is hardly conclusive. F 228 (from Natale Conti) concerned the sons of Phineus, who was variously brother or uncle of Kilix/Cilix: Edwards 1979:26–27.
[ back ] 17. Ps.-Apollodoros, to whom Theodontius perhaps had access (Pade 1997:155), makes Sandokos a migrant to Cilicia from Syria, and not a son of Cilix. The textual variant Sándakos is found, but only as a late corruption: see p504n60.
[ back ] 18. Servius Auctus on Vergil Aeneid 1.693 (sampsucum . . . quam nunc etiam amaracum dicunt). See further above, p331–332. By way of illustration, Thilo’s ap. crit. to Servius records these textual variants: sampsucum, samsucum, sampsuchum, and samsacum.
[ back ] 19. See p332.
[ back ] 20. Pliny Natural History 7.198: ignem e silice Pyrodes Cilicis filius.
[ back ] 21. Many medieval bookhands would permit confusion of ‘l’ for (elongated) ‘s,’ and (open) ‘a’ for ‘u’: Thompson 1893 Chapter XVIII.
[ back ] 22. Boccaccio Genealogy of the Pagan Gods 15.6: ex illo multa avidus potius quam intelligens sumpsi, et potissime ea quae sub nomine Theodontii apposita sunt. This clear account of his reliance on Paul makes it fairly certain that the reference to illegibility (Genealogy of the Pagan Gods 10.7: quaedam alia referat [sc. Theodontius] litteris a lituris deletis legisse non potui) applies to his own (or Paul’s) notes, and need not imply that Boccaccio himself had seen Theodontius at first hand, as sometimes thought: see Pade 1997:151. For some other consequences of Boccaccio’s youthful haste, see Carlucci 2009:309–405.
[ back ] 23. Boccaccio Genealogy of the Pagan Gods 2.14 and 10.11 with Pade 1997:154 and 164n45.
[ back ] 24. Boccaccio Genealogy of the Pagan Gods 2.54 (Pliny cited), Genealogy of the Pagan Gods 3.19 (Theodontius and Pliny).
[ back ] 25. Boccaccio Genealogy of the Pagan Gods 2.47. See Solomon 2011:784n16, with explanation of textual history at 775–777.
[ back ] 26. Pliny Natural History 13.10, 21.163.
[ back ] 27. See generally Cameron 2004.
[ back ] 28. Hellanikos FGH 4 F 57 = Stephanos of Byzantium s.v. Καρπασία. See further above, p113n356, 545n3.
[ back ] 29. For this compositional principle in the Metamorphoses, see Cameron 2004:285.
[ back ] 30. Greek Anthology 11.347.4: τίνος ἦν Πρωτεὺς καὶ τίς ὁ Πυγμαλίων. Cameron 2004:305 and n6 understands the latter phrase as ‘Who is Pygmalion [sc. the son of]?’
[ back ] 31. Boccaccio Genealogy of the Pagan Gods 2.2–59 passim (‘second Pygmalion’ at 59).
[ back ] 32. See p499.
[ back ] 33. Ovid Metamorphoses 10.295: illa Paphon genuit, de qua [v.l. quo] tenet insula nomen. A male Paphos in such a role is certainly attested in the third century CE: see p499–500.
[ back ] 34. Ovid Metamorphoses 10.270–273.
[ back ] 35. See p413–414.
[ back ] 36. See p198–199.
[ back ] 37. See the ap. crit. of Magnus’ 1914 edition.
[ back ] 38. Boccaccio Genealogy of the Pagan Gods 8.8 (Phyllare dictus est filius, quasi Phyllidros) with Pade 1997:155–156.