Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Diomedes in Italy

The figure of Diomedes (Meta. 14.445 ff) is complex and rich in incident and fortune, both good and not so good. The story of his early life and exploits at Troy is of interest, but so are the stories of his peculiar odyssey after the fall of Troy, and his eventual divinization in Italy.

There might be a clue as to the identity of those "swan-like" birds that Acmon and his friends metamorphose into in the tale of his death. See below.

From Wikipedia:
Diomedes then migrated to Aetolia, and thence to Daunia (Apulia) in Italy. He went to the court of King Daunus, King of the Daunians. The king was honored to accept the great warrior. He begged Diomedes for help in warring against the Messapians, for a share of the land and marriage to his daughter. Diomedes agreed the proposal, drew up his men and routed the Messapians. He took his land which he assigned to the Dorians, his followers.

Diomedes later married Daunus's daughter Euippe and had two sons named Diomedes and Amphinomus.

He founded about ten Italian cities (in the eastern part of Italy) including Argyrippa (Arpi/Arpus Hippium/Argos Hippion), Aequum Tuticum, Beneventum and Brundusium. Also Canusium, Venafrum, Salapia, Spina, Garganum, Sipus (near Santa Maria di Siponto) were said to have been founded by him.[12]

Some say that he named a city as "Venusia" (or Aphrodisia) after Venus (Aphrodite) as a peace-offering. When war broke out between Aeneas and Turnus, Turnus tried to persuade Diomedes to aid them in the war against the Trojans. Diomedes told them he had fought enough Trojans in his lifetime, and urged Turnus that it was best to make peace with Aeneas than to fight the Trojans. He also said that his purpose in Italy is to live in peace.[13] Virgil's Aeneid describes the beauty and prosperity of Diomedes' kingdom.

The worship and service of gods and heroes was spread by Diomedes far and wide : in and near Argos he caused temples of Athena to be built.[14] His armour was preserved in a temple of Athena at Luceria in Apulia, and a gold chain of his was shown in a temple of Artemis in Peucetia. At Troezene he had founded a temple of Apollo Epibaterius, and instituted the Pythian games there.[15]

Other sources claim that Diomedes had one more meeting with his old enemy Aeneas where he gave the Palladium back to the Trojans.

He lived a long life but there is no clear record as to how he died. Some claim that he was buried or mysteriously disappeared on one of the islands in the Adriatic called after him (Diomedeae). Others say that he did not have to face a mortal death.

Legend has it that, on his death, the albatrosses got together and sang a song (their normal call). This is where the family name for albatrosses comes from (Diomedeae).

According to the post Homeric stories, Diomedes was given immortality by Athena, which she had not given to his father. Pindar says that Diomedes became a minor god in southern Italy or the Adriatic. He was worshipped as a divine being under various names in Italy where Statues of him existed at Argyripa, Metapontum, Thurii, and other places.

There are traces in Greece also of the worship of Diomedes. Greek sources say that he was placed among the gods together with the Dioscuri.

Diomedes was worshipped as a hero not only in Greece, but on the coast of the Adriatic, as at Thurii and Metapontum. At Argos, his native place, during the festival of Athena, his shield was carried through the streets as a relic, together with the Palladium, and his statue was washed in the river Inachus.

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