Mykenai and the North Coast

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Lines: 2.569-2.580


Ships: 100

Syntactical Groups:

Verb 1 (purple): οἳ εἶχον (569)

          Mykenai, Corinth, Kleonai

Verb 2 (yellow): ἐνέμοντο (571)

          Orneai, Araithyrea, Sikyon

Verb 3 (green): οἳ εἶχον (574)

          Hyperesia, Gonoessa (unknown), Pellene

Verb 4 (orange): ἀμφενέμοντο (574)

          Aigion, Helike

Line by Line Groups

Mykenai (569); Korinth, Kleonai (570); Orneai, Araithyrea (571); Sikyon (572); Hyperesia, Gonoessa (unknown) (573); Pellene, Aigion (574); Helike (575).


The catalogue continues from Argos and Akte directly north-west, to Mykenai and the realm of Agamemnon, which comprises the Corinthia and the north coast of Achaea. 

The realm of the Mykenaians is divided into four syntactical groups, governed by four separate verbs. These syntactical groups also constitute distinct geographic regions. 

Mykenai, Korinth, and Kleonai make up the first syntactic-geographic cluster (purple), governed by the verb εχον (569). These sites are all located along the route north from Mykenai to Korinth via Kleonai (M2 in Lavery [1995] Map 2).

Now Homer proceeds west to the second syntactic-geographic cluster, Orneai, Araithyrea and Sikyon (yellow), all goverend by the verb νέμοντο (571). This group of sites falls along a corridor comprising two routes: Orneai-Araithyrea (Phleious) and Araithyrea (Phleious)-Sikyon. The Orneai-Araithyrea route forms part of an ancient road to Argos, "passing from the southwestern part of the Phleiasian [Araithyrean] plain into the valley of Leondion to Sterna in the upper valley of the Inachos river (Pritchett vol. 2 [1969] 99). The second road in this corridor, from Araithyrea north to Sikyon "was described by Pausanias (2.11.3) as the direct way" to the Gulf of Korinth (Pritchett vol. 2 [1969] 99).

Homer next continues west, listing sites along the northern coast of Achaea, all of which fall along a coastal route (Sikyon-Patras on the Peutinger Table. See Pritchett part 3 [1980] 270-273 and Fig. 11). Homer narrates in an out-and-back order, first naming a site to the west, and working back east (cf. the Aitolian contingent). Hyperesia comes first, in the very middle of the Achean coast, and then we head back east to Pellene (green). Although Gonoessa is unknown, Homer's out-and-back narrative style may allow us to speculate on its location: it presumably falls somewhere to the east of Hyperesia. The verb εχον (574) governs these three towns. 

The final syntactic-geographic cluster falls to the west of Hyperesia: Aigion, furthest to the west, and, finally Helike (orange). Both locations are governed by the verb μφενέμοντο (574). 

Just as Homer organized his description of the Argive contingent according to the geography of the Akte peninsula, so the geography of the Corinthia and Achaea play a clear role in the organization of the Mykenaian contingent. Whereas roads, however, appear unimportant to the description of the Argive realm (the narration does not follow the highway from Argos to Epidauros, for instance), land routes are of much more conspicuous importance in Agamemnon's kingdom. Each of the four syntactic-geographic clusters falls along the path of an ancient roadway. Homer names the four groups of towns in a logical, orderly fashion, proceeding east to west. 

Text (trans. Lattimore)

οἳ δὲ Μυκήνας εἶχον ἐϋκτίμενον πτολίεθρον (569)

But the men who held Mykenai, the strong-founded citadel,

ἀφνειόν τε Κόρινθον ἐϋκτιμένας τε Κλεωνάς, (570) 

Korinth the luxurious, and strong-founded Kleonai;

Ὀρνειάς τ' ἐνέμοντο Ἀραιθυρέην τ' ἐρατεινὴν

they who dwelt in Orneai and lovely Araithyrea,

καὶ Σικυῶν', ὅθ' ἄρ' Ἄδρηστος πρῶτ' ἐμβασίλευεν,

and Sikyon, where of old Adrestos had held the kingship;

οἵ θ' Ὑπερησίην τε καὶ αἰπεινὴν Γονόεσσαν

they who held Hyperesia and steep Gonoëssa,

Πελλήνην τ' εἶχον ἠδ' Αἴγιον ἀμφενέμοντο

they who held Pellene and they who dwelt about Aigion,

Αἰγιαλόν τ' ἀνὰ πάντα καὶ ἀμφ' Ἑλίκην εὐρεῖαν, (575) 

all about the sea-shore and about the wide headland of Helike, 

τῶν ἑκατὸν νηῶν ἦρχε κρείων Ἀγαμέμνων

of their hundred ships the leader was powerful Agamemnon,

Ἀτρεΐδης: ἅμα τῷ γε πολὺ πλεῖστοι καὶ ἄριστοι

Atreus' son, with whom followed far the best and bravest

λαοὶ ἕποντ': ἐν δ' αὐτὸς ἐδύσατο νώροπα χαλκὸν

people; and among them he himself stood armoured in shining

κυδιόων, ὅτι πᾶσι μετέπρεπεν ἡρώεσσιν

bronze, glorying, conspicuous among the great fighters,

οὕνεκ' ἄριστος ἔην πολὺ δὲ πλείστους ἄγε λαούς. (580)

since he was greatest among them all, and led the most people.