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Monday, November 09, 2015

Tantalos Shrugged

I was spending a hour yesterday reading about the allies of Troy in the Trojan War. In particular, I read about the Thracians and the Phrygians. I think I became interested as I had yesterday put up a post with a picture of Helen and Paris in which Paris was wearing a Phrygian cap:

Helen on the left, Paris on the right

Phrygia was a land approximately in the middle of Asia Minor. In the Trojan War, we have the Greeks (Argives, Achaeans, Danaans, etc.) in the West, the Trojans and the Phrygians and the other Trojan allies in the East and Northeast, and the Aegean Sea in the middle.
This same area was to be the setting for the war between the Greeks and the Persians centuries later.

I referred to Wikipedia for some quick references to Phrygia, Lydia, Caria, and other allies of Troy in Asia Minor:
Phrygians. (2015, October 18). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:35, November 9, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Phrygians&oldid=686383740
[...]

Mythological Accounts
The name of the earliest known mythical king was Nannacus (aka Annacus).[4] This king resided at Iconium, the most eastern city of the kingdom of Phrygia at that time, and after his death, at the age of 300 years, a great flood overwhelmed the country, as had been foretold by an ancient oracle. The next king mentioned in extant classical sources was called Manis or Masdes. According to Plutarch, because of his splendid exploits, great things were called "manic" in Phrygia.[5] Thereafter the kingdom of Phrygia seems to have become fragmented among various kings. One of the kings was Tantalus who ruled over the north western region of Phrygia around Mount Sipylus. Tantalus was endlessly punished in Tartarus, because he allegedly killed his son Pelops and sacrificially offered him to the Olympians, a reference to the suppression of human sacrifice. Tantalus was also falsely accused of stealing from the lotteries he had invented...

(emphasis mine)

I came to an abrupt halt. What lotteries were these? I do not think I have ever heard of the lotteries of Tantalus. So I began to look around for some starting points where I could commence my search.

Interestingly enough, the Wikipedia entry for "Tantalus" does not mention it.
Tantalus. (2015, November 8). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:42, November 9, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Tantalus&oldid=689697146

but there is more information by which you may recall Tantalus:
...Tantalus's punishment for his act, now a proverbial term for temptation without satisfaction (the source of the English word tantalise[19]), was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised his intended meal from his grasp. Whenever he bent down to get a drink, the water receded before he could get any. Over his head towers a threatening stone like the one that Sisyphus is punished to roll up a hill.[20] This fate has cursed him with eternal deprivation of nourishment...

Tantalus was reputed to be rich. Another king of Phrygia was Midas of the golden touch, and Croesus - "rich as Croesus" - was a Lydian king whose realm included Phrygia. Tantalus' father was Zeus and his mother was the nymph Plouto, and "plouto" meaning "rich, wealthy" can refer to absolute riches or it can be a euphemism for the gods of the underworld.

From the Suidas, Porus and Kuster, 1705 edition:





which in Greek and Latin describes the saying applied to someone very rich, that is, "he gathers the talents of Tantalus", where "talent" is a Greek word for a large sum of money.

The word outlined in red is a declensional form of "plouto", meaning wealth and also being the name of the nymph who was Tantalus' mother.

But there is no mention of "lotteries"

However, it seems that subsequently people using Wikipedia may have mentioned "lotteries" to a very great degree. Searching on Google using "Tantalus was also falsely accused of stealing from the lotteries he had invented" :

1)LiquiSearch
 Phrygia- The Mythic Past
http://www.liquisearch.com/phrygia/mythic_past
...he allegedly killed his son Pelops and sacrificially offered him to the Olympians, a reference to the suppression of human sacrifice. Tantalus was also falsely accused of stealing from the lotteries he had invented...
no citation to any source

2) Atlantipedia
Turkey, Phrygia
http://atlantipedia.com/doku.php?id=turkey_phrygia
...because he allegedly killed his son Pelops and sacrificially offered him to the Olympians, a reference to the suppression of human sacrifice. Tantalus was also falsely accused of stealing from the lotteries he had invented...
no citation to any source

3) Hurdan Answers
Tantalus
http://www.hurdan.com/q/tantalus
Tantalus » was also falsely accused of stealing from the lotteries Tantalus had invented »
no citation to any source

4)Omics International
Phrygians
http://research.omicsgroup.org/index.php/Phrygians

...One of the kings was Tantalus who ruled over the north western region of Phrygia around Mount Sipylus. Tantalus was endlessly punished in Tartarus, because he allegedly killed his son Pelops and sacrificially offered him to the Olympians, a reference to the suppression of human sacrifice. Tantalus was also falsely accused of stealing from the lotteries he had invented...
no citation

This goes on for a while.
There is no reference to the lotteries of Tantalus anywhere I can find in the ancient literature, nor in the philological work up to the present, until the mentions made at present, and all of these quotes are exactly the same, indicating that they were copied whole from some basic source.

The only thing I can possibly think of is that possibly someone has seen klērourgia which is a word based upon klēros, meaning "lot", as in "casting or drawing lots". The word klēros may also meant a "lot (of land)", "an estate", and klērourgia means "inheritance (of estates)".
There could be an accusation of theft of inheritances, but I cannot find it anywhere else.

Case in point:
Today on Facebook a friend posted an excerpt from a book of something wherein there was a list of some things that Mr. Obama once asserted to be true and turned out to be false.
This seems to be some sort of support for Ben Carson's fast-and-loose... with-the-truth.
(Sort of a Brian Williams and Bill O'Reilly Syndrome, possibly stemming from the trauma Mr. Carson experienced when he stabbed his best friend.)
The trouble is, where do the assertions come from? With Carson, we have the documents in the case in front of us. With Mr. Obama's past, we have nothing but our faith in the goofiness of politics and what someone says on Facebook. And as far as whether Mr. Obama's assertions listed were true of not, that is too much dependent upon our predetermined world view.


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1 comment:

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