The Pelasgians-direct ancestors of the Hellenes. Mar 21, 2012 0:43:49 GMT -5
Post by Hellenas on Mar 21, 2012 0:43:49 GMT -5
THE PELASGIANS-DIRECT ANCESTORS OF THE HELLENES.
Based on a number of classical quotes, that the Pelasgians were Hellenes (Greeks), and the direct ancestors of later Greek tribes. Some of the components of these theories are as follows:
That the term "barbarian" had a dual meaning. Aside from meaning "non-Hellenic," the term "barbarian" has been used by Greek tribes/city-states to deride other Greek tribes/city-states that were deemed unsophisticated in their use of the Hellenic language/culture (Foreigners and Barbarians). When Demosthenes of Athens attacked Philip II of Macedon, in the Third Philippic, Demosthenes deemed the Macedonians as non-Hellenic, unrelated to the Hellenes, and not even worthy of being deemed as "barbarians." The utilization of the term in many ancient Greek accounts is representative of the competition that existed among various Greek city-states, tribes, and civilizations.
From the dual meaning of the term "barbarian", some propose that when Herodotus deemed the Pelasgians as "barbaric", he did not imply that they were non-Hellenes. In support of this interpretation, these theorists point to the passage where Herodotus deems the Hellenes a branch of the Pelasgians (Herodotus on the Pelasgians and the Early Hellenes). Herodotus 1.57 concludes that the Athenians "changed language" when they "joined the Hellenic body"; but this may be open to different interpretations. Herodotus also tells of a war in which the Athenians expelled the Pelasgians from Attica to Lemnos. Yet, Herodotus is known for not distinguishing the difference between dialects and languages that are completely separate (Herodotus' Conception of Foreign Languages). As a result of the ambiguity of Herodotus in distinguishing languages from dialects, one can propose that the language of the Pelasgians was a "barbaric" (or unsophisticated) form of Hellenic as opposed to it being non-Hellenic.
That the autochthonous nature of the Athenians — an ancient belief to which Herodotus, Isocrates, Plutarch and others attest — implies they are descended from the autochthonous Pelasgians. The Athenians deemed themselves "true Hellenes" due to their well-developed society.
Contrary to modern understanding, Herodotus was convinced that the Hellenes were not invaders, but descendents of Pelasgians:
"The Hellenic race has never, since its first origin, changed its speech. This at least seems evident to me. It was a branch of the Pelasgic, which separated from the main body, and at first was scanty in numbers and of little power; but it gradually spread and increased to a multitude of nations, chiefly by the voluntary entrance into its ranks of numerous tribes of barbarians. The Pelasgi, on the other hand, were, as I think, a barbarian race which never greatly multiplied."
That the Athenians were autochthonous Hellenes was expressed mythically in the stories of Erechtheus and Erichthonius and was emphatically stated by Isocrates in Panegyric 23-5:
"For we did not win the country we dwell in by expelling others from it, or by seizing it when uninhabited, nor are we a mixed race collected together from many nations, but so noble and genuine is our descent, that we have continued for all time in possession of the land from which we sprang, being children of our native soil, and able to address our city by the same titles that we give to our nearest relations, for we alone of all the Hellenes have the right to call our city at once nurse and fatherland and mother."
Pelasgians, the oldest known inhabitants of Greece, are supposed to take their name from Pelasgus, youngest son of Niobe, and are traditionally represented as a wandering people who left traces of their presence in every part of Hellas (Pelasgiotis, a district of Thessaly; the Pelasgicum or oldest parts of the Acropolis of Athens, built by them etc.). Regarding their origin and ethnical relations to the Greeks proper much diversity of opinion prevails; but although Herodotus distinguishes between them and the "true" Hellenes, and speaks of Pelasgian dialects still surviving in his time at Creston, in Thrace, and at Placia, in the Hellespont, Dionysius is probably right in regarding the Pelasgians as essentially Greeks. It may, in fact, be inferred from Thucydides that they represent the first waves of Hellenic migration into Greece and the islands, where they continued to lead wandering lives as pirates and rovers on the sea and marauders on the mainland before forming settled communities. According to this view, which seems most in accord with the national traditions, the Pelasgian dialects mentioned by Herodotus would represent an archaic form of Greek before it became differentiated into the later Aeolic, Doric, and Ionic dialects.
Quotes from ancient writings:
1. "The Hellenic race has never, since its first origin, changed its speech. This at least seems evident to me. It was a branch of the Pelasgic, which separated from the main body, and at first was scanty in numbers and of little power; but it gradually spread and increased to a multitude of nations, chiefly by the voluntary entrance into its ranks of numerous tribes of barbarians." (Herodotus, Histories 1.58)
2."PELASGIANS, was the unitary name which represented the Greek nation as a whole, before the cataclysm of Deukalion & the following division into the known Greek tribes of Danaans, Achaeans, Dorians, Aeolians, Ionians, etc. Pelasgos was the son of Zeus & Niobis, native grandfather of Thessalos, progenitor of the Pelasgians."
(Apollodoros M. 11.2,3)
3. "Before the time of Hellen, son of Deucalion ... the country went by the names of the different tribes, in particular of the Pelasgian. It was not till Hellen and his sons grew strong in Phthiotis, and were invited as allies into the other cities, that one by one they gradually acquired from the connection the name of Hellenes; though a long time elapsed before that name could fasten itself upon all."
(Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War 1.1.3)
4. "... Pelasgians, a Greek nation which did not came from elsewhere but we were born autochthonous." (Plutarch, Peri fyges 604D-E,13)
5. "... for the Pelasgians, too, were a Greek nation originally from the Peloponnesus."
(Dionysius of Halicarnassus. Roman Antiquities 1.17)
6. "This was the next Greek nation after the Pelasgians to come into Italy and to take up a common residence with the Aborigines, establishing itself in the best part of Rome."
(Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 1.33)
7. "As for the Pelasgi, almost all agree, in the first place, that some ancient tribe of that name spread throughout the whole of Greece, and particularly among the Aeolians of Thessaly." (Strabo, Geography V.2)
8. "And I think that it was the fame of this city [Argos] that prepared the way, not only for the Pelasgians and the Danaans, as well as the Argives, to be named after it, but also for the rest of the Greeks" (Strabo, Geography VIII.6)
9. "Paris was absent. But soon afterwards, he brought into that land a ravished wife, Helen, the cause of a disastrous war, together with a thousand ships, and all the great Pelasgian nation." (Ovid, The Metamorphoses XII)
10. "ZEUS PELASGIAN GOD OF DODONE!!!"(invocation of Achilles, Homer's Iliad, lyrics: 233.)