Heracles and Busiris

  Harrison, George W. M. 2023. “Heracles and Busiris.” In “Γέρα: Studies in honor of Professor Menelaos Christopoulos,” ed. Athina Papachrysostomou, Andreas P. Antonopoulos, Alexandros-Fotios Mitsis, Fay Papadimitriou, and Panagiota Taktikou, special issue, Classics@ 25. https://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HLNC.ESSAY:103900177.

Τοῖσι μέν νυν ὑπ᾽ Αἰγυπτίων λεγομένοισι χράσθω ὅτεῳ τὰ τοιαῦτα πιθανά ἐστι.
About those things being said about the Egyptians, leave it for someone for whom such things are believable.
Herodotus 2.123
Too many details of these traditions [Heracles and Busiris] have not yet been studied appropriately.
Höckmann (2010:26n57)

1. The Nature of the Historical and Archaeological Evidence (divine Heracles)

1.1 The historical and archaeological horizons

The excavations at Naucratis (Kom Geif) have been mainly under the auspices of the British Museum but in several spates. [1] First discovered, and identified, by Petrie (1884–1886), the site was excavated by Hogarth (1899–1903), and then more recently by the Americans Coulson and Leonard (1977–1978, 1980–1982). Since 2012 a team led by Alexandra Villing has been active on the site. Before the current investigations were started already more than 2800 sherds and pots scratched with dedications have been found in the area defined by the North-South line of temples and a Hellenion, whose temenos is roughly 100 m. by 150 m. [2] All inscriptions to Heracles on the site come from the Hellenion. [3] Vases depicting the deeds of Heracles have been found near to the Temples of Apollo, [4] Hera, and Aphrodite, most important of which is an aryballos in the shape of a head of Heracles wearing the head of the Nemean lion. [5] and there is also a temple to the Dioscuri, gods in different cult manifestations for mercenaries and for merchants. Per-Meryt as a name for an Egyptian community at Naucratis is fairly late, but is represented by a sanctuary to Amun-Re, Nut, and Khonsu [6] and is the name that appears in tax documents of Naucratis in the early fourth century BCE. [7] A temple to Amun-Re Baded is certainly earlier, but how much earlier is unclear. A surviving stele is lacking a cartouche and so, although it can go back to the reign of Apries (589–570 BCE), there is no reason that it cannot belong to the reign of Amasis. [8] A surmise favouring a 664–570 BCE foundation of an Egyptian settlement is the Temple of Neith, protecting deity of the XXVI Saite Dynasty, less likely to be founded later.
The earliest and main written source for the site is the much “maligned” Herodotus, [9] from his visit to Egypt in the 440s/430s BCE. To put his eye-witness account in perspective, [10] he was in Egypt at some point during the years of construction of the Parthenon and he set out from Halicarnassus, modern Bodrum, one of the twelve cities which pooled resources to found the mercenary colony. Herodotus set out from Naucratis (2.97) on his voyage upriver to the pyramids. He credits Ionian and Carian mercenaries for putting Psammetichus I on the throne in 664 BCE, starting the XXVI Dynasty, for which the Greeks were given land to colonize (χώρους ἐνοικῆσαι 2.154), at Pelusium on the Mediterranean coast. [11] Nearly a century later, Greek mercenaries formed the elite bodyguard of Amasis at Memphis, having helped him overthrow Apries. It is Amasis (reg. 570 BCE – 526 BCE), near the end of the same Dynasty, according to Herodotus (τοῖσι ἀπικνευμένοισι ἐς Αἴγυπτον ἔδωκε Ναύκρατιν πόλιν 2.178), who gave Naucratis to the Greeks. [12]
It is significant that Herodotus mentions only the Carian and Ionian cities in the coup of Psammetichus I (664 BCE); [13] the three cities on Cyprus, the three cities on Rhodes, and Aegina are not mentioned. Ialysos, Kameiros, and Lindos for Rhodes and Marion, Paphos, and Salamis for Cyprus are mentioned for the founding of the Hellenion (ca. 570 BCE), but not Caria. One solution to the inconsistency is that there were two separate grants of land and in two different places at two different times. Herodotus (2.141, 2.154) associates Pelusium (modern Tell Defenneh), at the mouth of the easternmost of the seven branches of the Nile in the Delta, with Psammetichus I. His mention of salt pans, not possible for Naucratis, seventy-four kilometers upriver on the westernmost Canopis branch from the Mediterranean at the port of Egyptian Thonis later twinned with a Greek settlement named for Heracles. [14] That Petrie in 1888 and 1896 found decorated Corinthian and Milesian sherds dating to the late 600s BCE, however, raises the possibility, supported by Villing, [15] that Naucratis had a Greek presence from the time around Psammetichus I. On that view, Amasis in granting a right to found temples added to the status of a Greek settlement, which from that time is known as an emporium, [16] and did not establish it. A passage in Strabo (17.1.18) indicates that the Greeks took the area of Naucratis during the reign of Psammetichus I by force. The archaic pottery sequence of Miletus (Mile1a–d), fortuitously, starts around 670 BCE, that is, at more or less the same moment Psammetichus I grabbed power. Its last phase embraces the decades before Amasis (Mile1d, ca. 610–580 BCE) and is the only one for which there is evidence of Milesian ceramics at Naucratis. [17] The ceramic dates suggest that a real, permanent Greek presence at the cite, if earlier than Amasis (570–526 BCE) belongs not to Psammetichus I (664–610 BCE), but to the reigns on one of his three relatives to succeed him. [18]
There would seem to be, at first glance, a disjunction among the sources. It was the instinct of Herodotus to regard Heracles both as a god and as a hero. [19] He wrote that while in Egypt he heard (ἤκουσα) that Heracles was revered as one of the twelve Olympic gods (2.43) and he approved of poleis that had two cults of Heracles, divine and heroic (2.44). [20] He accepts that both Amphitryon and Alcmene were descended from Aegyptus and that the cult of Heracles in Egypt was an ancient one (ἀλλά τις ἀρχαῖος ἐστὶ θεὸς Αἰγυπτίοισι Ἡρακλέης 2.44). [21]
Even Herodotus (2.145) was aware of the difficulties, for example, of the genealogy of Heracles in which he could not both belong to the generation before the Trojan war and the eighth century. Isocrates makes similar statements in his parody defense of Busiris (8.36–37). [22] Further, the aggressive identification of Heracles with Shu [23] and establishment of the cult of Zeus Ammon, would place him even earlier than the late Greek Bronze Age. Mercenaries, merchants, and pirates could be different aspects of the same profession. [24] In this, Greek presence at this period in the Egyptian military is distinctive for place but comparable to their service in the important victories of Nebuchadnezzar at Karkamish (605 BCE) and Ashkelon (601 BCE). [25] Greeks in the service of Gyges of Lydia were loaned to Psammetichus I in the 640s BCE, probably with the consent of Assurbanipal (669–631 BCE). [26] The myth of Heracles was not stable—as late as the reign of Septimius Severus (193–211 CE), Dio Cassius (4.27.2) could consider the Apples of the Hesperides to be the last of his labours. [27] How Heracles was venerated was a constant negotiation; in Egypt he was a patron of merchants and his syncretism with Syrian Melqart and with Egyptian Khonsu, added even more layers (Herodotus 2.43). [28]
“Busiris” in Herodotus is the city (2.59–61) not the mythological figure. “Busiris” in Egyptian means “home of Osiris” as local tradition claimed it was the place of his birth. Busiris is not named in Herodotus’ one mention of the myth which he views with suspicion (ἀνεπισκέπτως). Herodotus dismisses as entirely unsupportable (πάμπαν ἀπείρως) the human sacrifice (κῶς ἂν οὗτοι ἀνθρώπους θύοιεν; 2.45) that dominates the art. [29]

1.2 Heracles and the site of Naucratis

Image 1. Map of Naucratis (left) and Pelusium (right). Image: ChrisO (CC BY-SA 3.0).
To date there are four main temples plus a public space with shrines discovered and excavated. [30] In addition to the Temple of the Dioscuri, Temple of Apollo (Didymaios), Temple of (Samian) Hera, and Temple of Aphrodite worshipped both as Aphrodite Pandemos and Aphrodite Ourania, there must have been a Temple of Zeus, attested by dedications but as yet undiscovered. [31] Heracles is unique among the deities observed in that vases depicting his labours are found in all of the temples at Naucratis. [32] One vase deserves special attention. [33] British Museum 1886.0401.1402 is an aryballos made in two pieces and is only 7.5 cm. high. Like much of the earliest material, its manufacture is Ionian, quite possibly Miletus, and it might predate the official permission by Amasis in 570 BCE to the Greek mercenary community to found cults on the site and build a Hellenion. The front of the vase is the face of Heracles and the lion skin helmet fills most of the top and the sides of the vase. The spout for the perfumed oil is missing. Heracles is beardless and traces of red paint remain.
The Hellenion was a space jointly administered by the poleis participating in the foundation of Naucratis. [34] Its temenos was roughly 100 m. by 150 m., and has at least four phases of construction and repairs. Inside the Hellenion on the north side was a shrine to Heracles [35] and another for “all the gods.” Few dedications to either exist outside of the Hellenion and the area immediately surrounding it.
The material that can be associated securely to Heracles is sparse. An Attic cup in the British Museum Naucratis collections of about 500 BCE has a graffiti to Heracles. [36] A black glaze Attic kylix was dedicated to Heracles by Artemon, [37] and just enough of the top of ΗΡΑΚΛΕ survives on another to make its identification secure. [38] Two sherds have post-firing graffiti to Heracles, the same number as sherds to “all of the gods.” [39] The inscription survives on the limestone base of a statue dedicated to Heracles by Aristion and signed by Sikon of Cyprus. [40] Other deities for whom there is not known space elsewhere, such as Poseidon, [41] are represented in the Hellenion. Even though Aphrodite has her own temple on the site, some dedications to her have been found in the Hellenion. [42]
The temples at Naucratis, since all had some vases depicting Heracles, should get some, if less full, discussion. [43] The most important of the temples at Naucratis to be discovered to date is the Temple of Apollo. The origins of most of the dedications in the Temple seem to be from Miletus and the overwhelming majority of dedications published to date are cups. A reasonable assumption would be that a delegation from Miletus secured the oracle and administered the Temple. [44] Numerous dedications survive, several, like the Nestor cup from Pithekousai, have the name of Apollo in the genitive followed by ΕΙΜΙ. [45] The graffiti are all scratched onto the surface post firing. A Milesian source has been suggested for all of these dedicated cups. A Laconian black-figure kylix is among the dedications found in the sanctuary which do not have graffiti. [46] Two fragments are worth special mention since they preserve Didymos. A rim of a cup of probable Milesian manufacture has ]ΙΔΙΔΥ with the last iota of the dative of Apollo and the beginning of Didymaios. [47] Three fragments of a black-figure oinochoe have a rooster on the left in the body sherd and the two neck sherds preserve the dedication to Apollo.
The Temple of the Dioscuri is another sign of a mercenary community, although the Dioscuri gave assistance to sailors as well. One dedicatory cup, inscribed on its bottom, was found in the area of the Hellenion and not the Temple of the Dioscuri. [48] Two fragments of another cup was found in the Temple of the Dioscuri. It is the shape seen in better preserved fragments for the Temple of Hera, and like most similar examples its graffito was on the everted rim above the black glaze. [49]
The Temple of Aphrodite has nearly half of all dedications in Athenian ceramics at Naucratis. The formula seen elsewhere on the site of the name in the genitive with ΕΙΜΙ also occurs in this sanctuary. [50] The formula ἀνέθεκεν is also found among dedications in this sanctuary. [51] Two eye cups survive almost intact from the sanctuary of Aphrodite, and date to the first decades on the sixth century BCE. The paint is a light brown wash and above the eyes on both cups the eyebrows sweep above the eyes joining above the nose. [52]
The hetairai at Naucratis were famous and so it is no surprise that fragments of dedicated cups preserve enough of the Pandemos, the cult name of the erotic Aphrodite. Among the dedications in the Temple of Aphrodite is a cup in the shape of a penis. [53] A vulva stand was added into which the penis could be inserted. A rim of a dinos, a shape often associated with weddings, has also been found inscribed. [54] Other sherds in different fabrics, indicating different places of origin and time were also discovered.
The Temple of Hera at Naucratis was founded and administered by the Samians. [55] Numerous of the dedications to Hera at Naucratis seem to have been made at Samos for dedication to her temple there but then brought to Naucratis. The shape is consistent with a black glaze on the bottom exterior with most of the rest of the cup surface reserved. Rather than graffiti, the cups in the sanctuary of Hera are dipinti, that is, painted at the place of origin (Samos) before firing and are restricted to her name, ΗΡΑ. [56]
What emerges, in conclusion of this section, is that the myth of Busiris is the Ur-myth of the merchants and mercenaries at Naucratis. It is not aetiological, explaining in mythic terms the circumstances under which Naucratis was founded, nor is there, strictly speaking, an oecist oracle. The oracle of Apollo at Didyma seems to have directed only a foundation of a Temple of Apollo at the site, although where there was to be a temple, there needed to be a settlement to revere the deity and administer the temenos. Significantly, the cult of Apollo at Didyma was protection of seafaring. [57] Heracles is under-represented compared to other deities at Naucratis; he is not the tutelary deity of the site. His myth as observed at Naucratis would seem to be one of three of mercenary deities, and specifically as one of infantry, not cavalry or archers. It will be seen that Athenian potters and painters do show him with his bow, but he never uses it. It is his club, but more so the strangling strength of his hands. As he is syncretized with Khonsu and Melqart, he seems equally to be principally a Greek stand-in for the pharaoh and specifically the victorious Saite pharaohs of the XXVI Dynasty who deposed the Nubian XXV Dynasty. [58] Heracles at Naucratis, in essence, is more about internal Egyptian politics and less about Greek rite and religion, which continues to be true into the Ptolemaic period. [59] As much as the Attic ceramic evidence spotlights Heracles as a civilizer, the early interest in Egypt was certainly as much profit from trade as from booty. [60]
Image 2. Cretan Hadra from Alexandria, dated 19 May 213 BCE for ashes of mercenary. Dipinto: Yr 9 Hyperberetaios 30 Pharmouth*; Timasitheos, son of Dionysios of Rhodes; Theodotos, agorastes (purchaser). New York Metropolitan Museum of Art 90.9.29. Open access.

2. The Nature of the Artistic Evidence (heroic Heracles)

2.1 Egyptian material

The third category of evidence are ceramics. [61] In addition to the more than 2800 ceramic fragments with graffiti. [62] The earliest material would seem to date all the way back to the coup of Psammetichus in 664 BCE and is represented by the fragment of a Corinthian aryballos [63] and a plate rim from Miletus. [64]
Some of the most revealing pottery belongs to the late archaic period (ca. 550–500 BCE). Although not from Naucratis, a body sherd from Pelusium/Tell Defenneh has a head looking to the right. [65] On top of his head is a cobra with its body twisted into two coils. The head of the cobra is flat. The pronounced nose and thick lips have encouraged an identification with Busiris, but it is more likely to represent the Saite XXVI Dynasty at the moment it was collapsing under Persian invasion from the north, which completed its conquest of Egypt under Cambyses in 525 BCE establishing the Persian XXVII Dynasty. To the south the Nubians were reorganizing and would eventually rule as the Nubian XXVIII Dynasty. More to the point, the cobra neith was the uraeus and as such the patron deity of Sais.
There are three vases with painted dipinti indicating the dedication of a tithe (ΔΕΚΑ). All come from the Temple of Apollo and by style are all dated to the second-quarter of the sixth century BCE, that is, the time of the coup of Amasis in which they assisted. All three are oinochoai in local coarse wares and the clays indicate different clay beds and so likely different atelier producing them. All three examples are nearly intact. Among the Romans, almost all tithes were military and without exception they were dedicated by triumphing generals to Hercules Invictus. [66] In these examples a suggestion might be offered that they are dedications to Apollo as patron of mercenaries, and one would guess archers. [67]

2.2 Non-Egyptian material [68]

Potters in Athens found the myth of Heracles and Busiris compelling and commercial from at least 560 BCE down to at least 380 BCE, spanning the time from the ascendancy of Peisistratus to the Spartan defeat at Leuctra. Almost without exception, the preferred shape is the krater, perhaps because it gives the largest “canvas” for fight scenes. For the Attic black- and red-figure vases, many are by well-known and highly regarded artists. Articles by Margaret Miller (2000) and Antonia Roumpi (2011) discuss in detail nineteen of these vases yielding a corpus large enough that it is possible to draw conclusions. [69]

2.2.1 Black-figure

There is a significant amount of archaic import Greek ceramics from Naucratis that are outside of the scope of this article but for which the British Museum Naucratis website should be consulted. Archaic Greek pottery in Egypt other than in Naucratis is documented and has attracted scholarship. Scenes, such as the grape harvest on a vase from Karnak, [70] seem nostalgic and so appropriate to a foreign resident community but are equally outside the scope of this study. A Siana cup, now in Palermo, [71] from around 560 BCE has attracted attention because of its early date, merely a decade within the reign of Amasis, and for the two opposed figures of which only the heads survive. Its findspot was in the sanctuary of Demeter Malophoros at Selinus. The figure on the lower left looks to the right and wears a neith crown. It resemblances to the Milesian Fikellura fragment from Tell Defenneh (discussed above) are immediate. But whereas the snake in the British Museum fragment (G.121.5 = NAU 110) has two coils, the hooded cobra on the example from Palermo is without coils and has its hood opened in display. The other figure is identified as Heracles. [72]
As the myth of Heracles changed over time to meet the times, it is not surprising that ancient perception of Busiris changed. Roumpi counts thirty-eight intact or nearly intact vases decorated with the scene of Heracles killing Busiris, plus seven substantial fragments. Twenty-three of these are Attic, seven (later) come from Greek production centres in southwest Italy. [73]
That Attic black-figure art correctly depicted Egyptian dress and red-figure art accurately depicted sub-Saharan physiognomy has long been observed by scholars. [74] Two vases round out what survives of the struggle between Busiris and Heracles in the black-figure repertoire. Pride of place goes to the Caeretan Hydria, dated to about 550 BCE, and the name vase of the Busiris Painter. [75] It is the earliest preserved vase depicting the scenes of Heracles killing Busiris. The scene is one of a mass melee. No two of the ten Egyptian figures, wearing white garments with head, arms, and legs in reserve black, are in similar poses. Heracles in heroic nudity and larger and more muscled than the Egyptian figures, occupies the centre of the vase, his curly hair bumping the line at the top of the composition and his left foot touching the base line. His left hand grabs one figure about to smash him on the altar and with his right hand he throttles another. One Egyptian hides behind the altar, [76] another crouches on top with his hands in supplication, and a third lies dead in front of it. Between the altar and Heracles, someone with his hands raised in fear turns to run away. Behind Heracles two Egyptians lie dead and the last figure grabs the right arm of Heracles in an attempt to restrain him.
The scene has an inverse echo in the band beneath it in which two dogs, one white and one black, savage a boar. [77] On the left is an Egyptian accurately in Egyptian military dress holding a spear with a dog at his feet. On the right side is a Greek accurately in Greek garb also with a spear and a dog. Found intact in a tomb in Caere, what this vase shares with the other black-figure vases is a find spot in Etruria. If these vases were not made specifically for the Etruscan market, something that is more readily apparent in the red-figure stamnos in the Ashmolean (discussed below), [78] the violence of the myth clearly appealed to Etruscan buyers.
An amphora now in the Cincinnati Art Museum, [79] attributed to the Swing Painter and dated around 540 BCE, simplifies the composition. Three figures on the right in costumes varied in colour and style move away from the action. On the left margin one figure flees to the left, another is upside down (but the garment modestly stays as if starched in place) about to be swung by Heracles onto the altar. Heracles this time is easily identified by the lion skin he wears. The centre of the vase is held by Busiris, slumped prone in his waning moments over the altar. [80] The altar is drawn with a series of hatched squares more often representative of turf altars. Portraits of Amasis survive, such as the fine one now in Berlin from around the middle of his reign. [81] To the extent that there is any attempt to suggest an “otherness” in Busiris and his attendants either in dress or physiognomy, it rests mainly on garments associated with different Egyptian priesthoods. [82]
The sub-text of Greek versus barbarian is also prominent in depictions of the Trojan War, [83] such as on an amphora shoulder now in Berlin from Vulci, attributed to Lydos. [84] To the left, Menelaos is reunited with Helen and Priam is seated on an altar very much as if on a throne, awaiting his death. In front of him Neoptolemos holds Astyanax by left leg about to swing him at Priam. The central scene has parallels in black-figure representations of Heracles about to kill Busiris. Parallels with black-figure representations of Heracles in myths other than Busiris also show him in hoplite armor. [85] For the story of Busiris, though, if not naked, he always has his lion skin, emphasizing its status as a parergon associated with his athla.

2.2.2 Red-figure

Attic red-figure depictions are generally balanced compositions. The interior of a skyphos, signed by Epiktetos and dated about 510 BCE in the Villa Giulia, [86] has a woman riding a bird shaped phallus with the inscription ΙΠΠΑΡΧΟΣ for which ΚΑΛΟΣ can reasonably be assumed. Side B of the exterior has the duel between Achilles and Memnon. The reverse has two servants of Busiris on each side running away. The interior servant on the left has the sacrificial knife in his hand and the interior servant on the right holds the two disjointed pipes of a double aulos. [87] It is the earliest depiction in Greek art of the death of Busiris with musicians in attendance; it will soon become a regular feature. Heracles throttles a servant behind him with his right hand and grabs Busiris, seated on an Ionic volute altar. By 518 BCE Cambyses, the Persian pharaoh, had secured his hold on Egypt, and turned his attention towards other conquests in the west. By the time of this vase, Hippias would have joined his court in Persepolis. [88]
Image 3. Herakles wrestling (?) Busiris. Kalpis, attributed to the Kleophrades Painter, ca. 490/480 BCE. Paris: Louvre G50 (Canino Collection, 1843). Photo: Bibi Saint-Pol (public domain).
Mayhem is replaced by wrestling on a kalpis attributed to Kleophrades, dated around 490/480 BCE, now in the Louvre G50, in contrast to another kalpis, attributed to the Troilos Painter, in Munich, Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek 2424, both belonging to the period of the Persian Wars. Paris, Louvre G50, has two musicians, one with a five string lyre and the other with a seven string lyre look on in horror as Heracles wrestles Busiris to the ground, while a third musician disappears to the right. The scene is more familiar to Heracles wresting Thanatos or Triton or Acheloos or the Nemean lion than more canonical depictions of the scene.
Image 4. Herakles killing Busiris over altar. Kalpis, attributed to the Troilos Painter, ca. 490 BCE. Munich, Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek 242. Photo: Carole Raddato (CC BY-SA 2.0).
Munich, Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek 2424 is in the tradition of Vienna AS IV.3576 and Villa Giulia 57912. All four Egyptians have their heads shaved except for a lock of hair grown long and off to the side. Although an accurate depiction of a known Egyptian practice, the Harpocrates lock was generally worn by children and not adults. The figures at the boundaries run away to the sides of the vase, the one on the left carries a tall handled amphora for which one side handle is visible. The figure on the right runs away holding a bundle of sticks. One Egyptian lays dead beneath the feet of Heracles and the fourth figure is bent backwards over the altar by Heracles holding his throat. He flails uselessly trying to hit Heracles with a piece of sacrificial equipment. Heracles is about to thrust home with a long handled sword with a short blade.
Epictetos revisited the subject of Heracles and Busiris later in his career in a cup now in the British Museum from Vulci (1843.1103.9/E38). [89] Dated to around 490 BCE, the interior has a double aulos player on the left and a hetaira on the right wearing a snood and cheetah skin. She dances and in both hands clacks the krotalos. Side B of the exterior has a symposium scene. Of more interest is how Epiktetos simplified. On the left two figures flee off to the left; the outermost holds a sacrificial knife. They are mirrored by two figures on the right; the outermost dropping a lyre in his haste. All four look back at Heracles, who throttles Busiris with his left hand and prepares to bash his head with his club in his right hand. Busiris is falling backwards, his arms raised in supplication. In this rendition he is not on the altar but in front of it. His face has platyrrhine, thickened lips, and prominent jaw of the Nubian Dynasty from Meroe. In the myth, as preserved in Hyginus 56 and pseudo-Apollodorus 2.116–117, a seer, Phasios from Cyprus, prophesied the end of a drought if Busiris sacrificed one foreigner per year. Busiris chose the Cypriot seer as the first sacrifice. Heracles, who is credited in myth with ending human sacrifice, made the Nubian pharaoh the last sacrifice, fulfilling the oracle.
A shift away from the moment of the impending death of Busiris towards an emphasis on movement and ritual objects is observable in two cups. [90] The interior of a cup attributed to the Painter of Louvre G456, now in Berlin [91] and dated to about 475–470 BCE has an exhausted, or perhaps pensive, Heracles sitting on a rock, holding a kantharos. The slender, slack, and aging satyr standing in front of him, and holding an oinochoe, has raised the possibility that it is meant to represent a satyr play. Euripides’ first production in Athens was 455 BCE [92] so this cannot depict a scene in that play and, in general, painted pots precede preserved plays. [93]
Side B preserves two figures entirely and one mainly, plus the lower half of a figure seated on a throne, presumably Busiris. They look towards one another engaged in conversation, holding a long object between them. Side B has two figures depicted almost exactly, and also on the left edge. The only substantial difference in detail is lack of any object between them. The figure on the right holds a vase, possibly a kados, associated most often with the worship of Isis. The handle is lost in the painting, but his right hand clearly gripped one. In between is Heracles walking in the direction of the throne and holding a lyre. Nothing seems amiss at this moment in the story.
A decade earlier (ca. 485 BCE) a cup from Ferrara Museo Nazionale 609 (T499), attributed to the Dokimasia Painter, captures the moment that Heracles breaks his bonds and begins to wreak havoc. [94] On Side A he has yet to choose his method of destruction. One hand holds his club and the other his bow. Behind Heracles and on the very left edge of the composition is the Ionic volute altar and a tree, presumably indicating an outdoor sacrifice outside of the city. Two Egyptian figures flee. One is dressed in priestly robes, and holds a stamnos in his left hand, his right arm draped with fillets. Behind him is a stele. While this figure looks back, the other, dressed in a tunic, and with a single fillet over his left arm, looks to safety. Side B has a figure whose body posture parallels closely that of Heracles on the other side of the vase. This is very much in the way that two figures in conversation are repeated more or less verbatim on the Berlin cup (see above). In this instance, standing in front of a stele, he wears a tunic, not a lion skin, and his arms are raised in supplication. The central figure runs between a stamnos falling to the ground and an amora in situ. The depiction of his arms and legs indicate he is running quickly. The figure on the right, looking away from the action seems not to have perceived yet what is happening. His posture is relaxed, particularly visible in how his right hand grasps a fillet.
Two things are extraordinary about this vase. The first is that the interior has a single figure, neither erotic nor comic as in other examples, but a male in a priestly garb who is running to the right. His long flowing robes are kirtled like the central figure in Side A. But they cannot be the same person since this figure has a beard and is balding. He has often been identified as Burisis, but it could be just a priest. [95] The second is the kalpis. It is repeated three times on this cup and all three times what looks like a flattened omega represents what would have been two strap handles on opposite sides of the vase. Since in each instance, the kalpis is carried by the handle on the neck, in real life (but not necessarily in art), it would have been empty. But differences in details of dress and of the age of the three figures in the depictions rule out that it is the same person with the same vase each time.
Miller notes [96] that enthroned figures and what appear to be processions on vases potentially owe their inspiration to art from the Near East. This would certainly seem to be the case for the volute krater from Spina, Ferrara Museo Nazionale 3031 (T579VT). [97] Like Berlin Antikensammlung F2534 (see above) it also depicts the moment at which Heracles begins to unleash his fury. Attributed to the Painter of Bologna 279, and dated to 460–450 BCE, the body of the vase has a full-pitched battle of the Seven against Thebes, but the neck depicts Heracles in the centre with both bow and club standing next to an altar. Behind him are three figures and in front of him there are four. Those closest to Heracles recognize the immediate peril. As one moves to both ends, the figures are less and less aware of the danger. The figures carry (from left to right) a lyre, staff and on the other side of Heracles a sacrificial knife, double aulos in two pieces. The two figures on the far right are lost in animated conversation. This vase, like the two preceding, depict musical instruments accurately, more of importance, or so it would appear, than depicting the figures accurately by race or costume. [98
Image 5. Herakles killing Busiris cowering behind altar; three Egyptian priests flee. Pelike, attributed to the Pan Painter, ca. 470 BCE. Athens National Museum 9683. Photos: Rita Willaert (left) and ArchaiOptix (right).
Three times the Pan Painter chose to explore the dynamics of the myth of Heracles and Busiris. The most often illustrated and discussed is Athens National Museum 9683, from Thespiae (Boeotia) dated to around 470 BCE. [99] Because of the rounding of the pelike, the figures on the two sides hunch forward towards the centre. After the end of the second Persian invasion of Greece but by no means the cessation of hostility, provocation and suspicions, the pharaoh of Egypt was Xerxes at the time of making of the vase, but five figures other than Heracles are decidedly Nubian in physical characterization. [100] On the reverse, the figure on the left has his body turned toward the centre but looks back. The other two are running towards him. They carry, or abandon, equipment of sacrifice. The figure in the centre is drawn with greater corpulence.
Side A has an Ionic volute altar in the lower centre of the vase against which the club of Heracles leans. Heracles has his left hand raised in a defensive gesture while his right hand prepares to thrust his sword. His lion skin protects only his back. An attendant of Busiris renders himself against Heracles since both his arms are behind him holding a double axe which he prepares to swing. The motion is shown by the swishing of his short tunic that exposes him frontally. Busiris cowers on the far side of the altar, his hands raised in supplication but also to protect his head. This action raised his short tunic. The comparison between the circumcised Busiris and the uncircumcised has attracted scholarly discussion. [101] In this the “otherness” of Busiris is emphasized in a way not practiced by the Persian rulers of Egypt at this time. It does, however, show not just an attention to detail but a knowledge of even intimate details of Egyptian life and society.
A decade after the pelike by the Pan Painter (above, Athens National Museum 9683) is a stamnos from Vulci attributed to a Follower of the Berlin Painter (Ashmolean Museum AN 1898–1908/G270). Part of what makes it intriguing is that the shape is a stamnos, a shape generally identified with an Etruscan export market, as earlier black-figure ribbon-handled table amphorae produced most prominently by Nikosthenes. The other two treatments by the Pan Painter are fragmentary, but both are possibly stamnoi as well. Leipzig Museum of Antiquities T651 [102] is broken at the shoulder. What remains are the upper torsos of three figures with decidedly sub-Saharan features. All are balding. The one in the centre carries a bundle of rods tied together, identified as spits for a grill, and the one on the left has a double aulos disjoined into its two pieces. That the Ashmolean fragment is possibly from Libya is problematic. [103]
The wider shape of a stamnos, like a krater in this regard, allows a less crowded composition for the three figures. The left hand of Heracles grabs the right shoulder of Busiris. Heracles is swinging down his club in his right hand. On the left a priest in a tunic runs away to the right, holding a stool in his left hand but also looks back towards the central scene with his right arm extended with palm upturned in supplication. Busiris with his left hand grabs a corner of the altar. His features are African including tightly curled hair and he is wearing a tainia. His right hand grabs the belt of Heracles’ quiver at which he looks. The front of the altar is festooned with two fillets and is gabled. At the two handles other attendants are shown in flight.
Two column kraters deserve to be discussed together because their date and details are similar. The column krater in the New York Metropolitan Museum 15.27 [104] is attributed to the Agrigento Painter and dates to 470 BCE. Of the three figures on the reverse, the figure in the centre holds an oinochoe and runs towards the figure on the right. Unaware of what is happening, he extends his left hand in a gesture of query. The figure on the left also has his left hand extended in a gesture of query but is beginning to move away. Heracles dominates the centre of the vase. In a gesture by now familiar, he throttles a figure seated on the altar with his left hand and prepares to crush him with his club in his right hand. The figure on the left runs to the left and holds an object associated with sacrifice, and the one on the right runs away, holding a stool over his head. What is remarkable is that all three have long garments no two of which are alike. The figure on the left has a kirtled garb that has a square-cut bib at the chest. The figure on the altar has a similar costume, but the bib has an “x” cut across the front resembling an hour glass on its side. The figure on the right has a gown where six folds radiate in curves from one central point just above his left hip. There is attention to detail but it also stresses variety.
Image 6. Athens: Herakles slays Busiris and his attendants. Attributed to the Cleveland Painter ca. 470–460 BCE. Athens, National Archaeological Museum 19568. Photo: Egisto Sani.
The other column krater is in Athens, National Museum 19568 and is best known from an article by Neils. [105] Attributed to the Cleveland Painter, it is dated to between 470 BCE and 460 BCE. What makes it stand out is what it does not have. There is not any sacrificial equipment, no musical instruments, nor an altar. One figure just to the right of centre has fallen down to his knees, arms raised in supplication as Heracles is about to club him to death. Other kraters of the Cleveland Painter have a foreshortened figure just to the right of centre, such as Caeneus being beaten into the earth by centaurs. [106] The blowing tunics with the square cut tops are most similar to the New York Metropolitan Museum krater (above). As tunic and not flowing robes they are less successful than the Agrigento Painter krater in New York. Other kraters of the Cleveland Painter show his drapery is not always successful such as the reverse on a vinting vase with a maenad on the reverse between two satyrs. The top of her chiton balloons out as if she were carrying an inflatable pool floaty in her hands. [107]
Image 7. Young Herakles, escaping bonds, slays Busiris. Calyx krater, ca. 400–350 BCE; close to the Dolon Painter. New York Metropolitan Museum of Art 58.13.1a-c. Open access.
Three last vases, two of which are closely contemporary with Ephippus’ Busiris. Two fragments of a kalyx krater in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art 58.13.1a–c, like the vase attributed to the Telos Painter in a private collection (see below) show a young, beardless Heracles. In one fragment a nude figure representing an Egyptian holds the bond from which Heracles has just broken free. Heracles has leapt into action swinging his club. In the lower fragment a corner of an altar is visible and a figure in a long garb is recoiling back. One assumes this is an attendant because a hand lies down from the altar, likely the dead (or soon to be dead) Busiris. In the upper right of the larger fragment is a figure wearing what could be a priestly garment or could be, because of the dots, a representation of the chiton mallotos. The chiton mallotos automatically represents a barbarian, but in late classical art [108] into the Romam Empire [109] is most often associated with satyrs.
A krater attributed to the Telos Painter in a private collection [110] is one of the most unusual representations of the scene. The figure on the left carries a tripod used by butchers and well attested in Apulian art, particularly comic ones. The figure in the middle carries what the main investigator [111] interprets as coals to light a fire on the altar on the assumption that what is on the altar represents twigs. The figure in front of Heracles plays the double flute. Busiris greets the unsuspecting Heracles with his right hand while his left hand secrets a sacrificial knife. The vase was manufactured during the reign of Artaxerxes and a possible link to contemporary politics could be suggested since the three attendants with Heracles are dressed in festive Greek himatia and Busiris is wearing the Persian anaxyrides. [112] The scene is festooned with floral swags indicating the attempt to deceive Heracles.
In this regard a dinos from Taranto is important and too often overlooked. Like the prior vase its origin is Apulian and not Attic. Attributed to the Darius Painter, it is dated to 340–320 BCE, that is, to the decades around the conquest of the Persian Empire, including Persian controlled Egypt, by Alexander when the Persian king–cum–Egyptian pharaoh was Darius III. The dinos survives intact and has the scene of preparations for the sacrifice of Heracles. Two figures, one naked, one clothed, carry a cushion and the other a basket on his right shoulder and a square oinochoe in his left hand. Next to him someone in a tunic carries an amphora, bringing it to the third figure who empties the contents of his amphora into a large cauldron. The central part of the action has two figures behind Heracles. The one further away is leaning back, but the other one has his left hand on Heracles’ right wrist and with his right hand is pointing to the altar. Behind Busiris his servant raises his right arm with index finger crooked as if to give advice or ask a question. The two central figures flank an altar. Heracles looks at Busiris with his club slung casually over his right shoulder. Busiris holds the sacrificial knife in his hand. The revealing detail is that his dress is Persian, especially and obviously the form of pileus favoured by Persians and familiar to Greeks from art of Paris, Mithras, and other figures representing eastern places and myths.

2.2.3 Applied decoration

With the decline of Attic red-figure, Apulian red-figure does not seem, on current evidence, to have embraced the myth. The passing of Heracles-Busiris from art has its analogy in what is also observable in literature. Naevius’ Apella (Circumcised) indicates that the myth did not disappear entirely from the comic stage. A lekythos with applied decoration now in Naples [113] on one side has Heracles bound being led to a seated Busiris. The posture of Heracles is Lysippan, leaning his weight back on one leg. Frontal and naked, he contrasts with the fully clothed attendants of Busiris. They have their heads covered in a style familiar from depictions of Paris in Hellenistic art and later in Roman fresco and mosaic. It is unclear whether the spits indicate an implication of cannibalism, absent from the accounts in both Hyginus and pseudo-Apollodorus.

3. The Nature of the Literary Evidence (comic Heracles)

Busiris in literature belonged to the comic Heracles. [114] The two earliest known plays on Busiris were comedies by Epicharmus (ca. 550–ca. 460 BCE) and Cratinus (519–422 BCE), about which nothing further is known. A satyr drama by Euripides on Busiris is known, [115] not surprising given that almost twenty-five per cent of known satyr dramas in one way or another touch on Heracles. Two lines only survive (fr. 313 Collard and Cropp):

δούλῳ γὰρ οὐχ οἷόν τε τἀληθῆ λέγειν,
εἰ δεσπόταισι μὴ πρέποντα τυγχάνοι.
It is not for a slave to speak the truth,
if it happens not to be pleasing to his masters.

It is enough, on the basis of the final line of Euripides’ Cyclops in which the satyr chorus wishes for the rest of time to be slaves of Dionysos, [116] to establish that fragment 313 of Euripides’ Busiris was spoken by a satyr chorus which would have been (comically incompetent) attendants of Busiris. [117] The tondo of one red-figure cup shows an exhausted and dispirited Heracles sitting on a rock, holding his club. To his left is a balding satyr looking on in sympathy. There is no reason to relate this vase to Euripides’ satyr drama but it is enough to suggest that comic Heracles and satyrs thrive side-by-side in more than one genre, and at the same historical moment.

Papachrysostomou has recently wrung from Ephippus’ meagre remains what can be known of his comedy on Busiris. [118] The joke is doubly funny since the myth of the drinking contest between Dionysos and Heracles increased in popularity during the Hellenistic period and became a favourite of sculptors and mosaic artists during the Roman Empire. [119]

(Ἡρ.) οὐκ οἶσθά μ᾿ ὄντα, πρὸς θεῶν, Τιρύνθιον
Ἀργεῖον; οἳ μεθύοντες αἰεὶ τὰς μάχας
πάσας μάχονται. (B.) τοιγαροῦν φεύγουσ᾿ ἀεί
(Her.) Don’t you know, by the gods, that I’m a Tirynthian
Argive? These people always fight all their
battles drunk. (B.) It is exactly for that very reason that they always run away. [120]

Euripides’ Cyclops has a chorus of (useless) satyrs and also a mute chorus of the crew of Odysseus who do the stage action of blinding Polyphemus. On the assumption that Heracles is slurring his speech in his drunkenness, a sign of which is the pleonasm of forms of the word for fighting (“m” sounds in general with aspirates and “s” sounds) and the alliteration in the first line, a mute chorus of also drunk Argive soldiers melting away seems likely and is supported by remarks of Papachrysostomou on Ephippus’ Πελταστής (fragment 17 K-Α). [121] A chorus of Egyptian priests would seem essential for Heracles to pummel and scatter in the final scene and so they cannot be to whom speaker B (possibly Busiris) refers. As all red-figure vases are prior to the likely date of production of Ephippus’ and as almost all were made in Athens, it is possible that Ephippus might have seen one or more of the vases (see above) of Egyptian priests and musicians fleeing Heracles, or, at a minimum some ceramic painted with a similar scene. His audience would have, too. [122]

Isocrates (9) claims that his oration Busiris [123] is not serious because he is arguing an unpopular position, an ἀπολογία of Busiris. [124] The irony is that the conceit of the mock defence is that he is going to show Polycrates, who had published a Prosecution of Socrates, how he could have made his own defence of Busiris better (4). Isocrates starts that Polycrates’ conceding cannibalism by Busiris is perhaps not helpful (5), [125] something of which Isocrates would absolve Busiris. Human sacrifice (6) is not for the defence to mention. Isocrates gives Busiris the status of law giver (15) and credits him with the organization of Egyptians into three taxeis, those concerned with religion, those concerned with business and commerce, and those in the military. His reforms preserve social order and enable philosophers (16). His system allows his people to live free from greed (19). Isocrates’ sustained comparison is between Egypt and Sparta (20). Everything right in Sparta is where they follow Egyptian practices; everything wrong is where they fail to do so. Sophrosyne and phronesis are made possible by the leisure (schole) allowed by freedom from war (21). Egyptians live the longest because Egyptian medicine is the best, for which Busiris gets credit (22), as he does for putting government in the hands of elders and inspiring young men to follow astronomy, maths, and geometry (23).
Isocrates (24–25) repeats the trope that the Egyptians are the most religious people. Busiris’ laws promoted respect to animals, even ones normally despised (26). [126] The reason for these laws was get people to obey laws. Isocrates recaps (32) that Busiris was a nomothetes and made good laws that made men good. Whether one is inclined to believe Isocrates, or not, it is clear that Busiris was the most powerful man of his time and, as a result, memory of him survives (35). Comparative chronology (36–37) argues against the story of Heracles killing Busiris. Human sacrifice by Busiris has no basis in credible (pistis 37) information. The people who defame Busiris also accuse others of murder, mayhem, incest, cannibalism, and all sorts of other unspeakable acts (38–40). Four-fifths through the speech, Isocrates makes a programmatic statement, embracing not just Busiris but by implication Heracles (40): [127]

Ἐγὼ μὲν οὖν οὐχ ὅπως τοὺς θεούς, ἀλλ᾿ οὐδὲ τοὺς ἐξ ἐκείνων γεγονότας οὐδεμιᾶς ἡγοῦμαι κακίας μετασχεῖν, ἀλλ᾿ αὐτούς τε πάσας ἔχοντας τὰς ἀρετὰς φῦναι καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις τῶν καλλίστων ἐπιτηδευμάτων ἡγεμόνας καὶ διδασκάλους γεγενῆσθαι.
I do not believe that the gods, and those born from the gods, ever turn to evil, but encompassing all virtues and everything of what is best they become leaders and teachers.

The rest of the speech (42–50) follows this train of thought. What Isocrates has managed to do is to have a speech about Busiris which mentions Heracles only once, as Herodotus found a way to avoid mentioning Busiris by name entirely. Having to make his arguments on what lay beyond common sense (doxa), the paradox achieves parody, a comic Busiris. [128]

4. Conclusions

It is possible to reconcile the three classes of evidence. Psammetichus I used Greek mercenaries to bring himself to power in 664 BCE. He was a direct descendant of the short XXIV Saite Dynasty (727–712 BCE) which maintained itself through pro-Assyrian links. A mercenary outpost in the easternmost branch of the Nile at Pelusium (Tell Defenneh) makes sense as closest to supporters of the earlier regime. As Assyrian power waned in the period around 625 BCE, Egypt stepped into the vacuum on the southern half of the eastern shore of the Mediterranean until eclipsed by the arrival of the armies of the Second Babylonian empire. This period, roughly 625–600 BCE correlates with the last phase of early Milesian pottery (Mile1d) and its appearance in Palestine and the Sinai. The end of the reign of Psammetichus I and that of his son Necho II (610–595 BCE) makes sense for a mercenary garrison in Naucratis, as seems implied in Strabo and the ceramics also belong to the short period of dominance in Palestine and the Sinai. [129] As they were inland, they could be controlled more closely by officials. This makes sense of both the appearance of east Greek ceramics but also their comparative rarity. [130] The ceramics increase greatly in number from the grant of a right by Amasis (ca. 570 BCE) to found temples at Naucratis. As there were at least four temples [131] and at least a shrine to Heracles [132] and, reasonably, dedications to Poseidon, [133] it also infers a settlement. Apollo at Didyma was a protector of seafaring and so the oecist oracle would seem more appropriate to merchants than mercenaries. [134] The temple to Apollo is close to the area of the Hellenion making the oracle more likely during the reign of Amasis than earlier.
As some point between Psammetichus I and Amasis, the Greeks must have looked upstream and seen the nome capitol, birthplace (“home”/bu-, i.e., birthplace of Osiris) [135] and from its name made a myth in which the local Busiris is overpowered by Heracles, [136] patron of mercenaries, as Apollo was of archers. [137] The sub-Saharan features are convenient as they could have been read by the succeeding Saite XXVI Dynasty as Greeks overpowering the previous XXV Nubian Dynasty. [138] The myth of Busiris was, thus, a foundation myth but not an aetiological one and so Herodotus was right to regard the story (μῦθος 2.45) with suspicion. The foundation of Naucratis has much in common with other settlements, both east and west, of the great age of Greek colonization. Its differences in details from other settlements make it interesting and important.
It should not surprise that Heracles and Busiris should be metaphors for the two Nubian and then two Persian dynasties. Zardino [139] has commented a propos of Kyknos in black-figure Athenian art that it reflected Athenian relations with Delphi under the Peisistratids. Late Attic black-figure and then red-figure art used the Trojan War [140] as a shorthand for a conflict with Persia that started with the ouster of the Peisistratids and did not resolve until Alexander. Heracles and Busiris belong to this tradition. In fact, they reflect several traditions of Heracles as substitute for the pharaoh, Busiris as enemy whoever that enemy was at that point in time. The enemies did change; the art did change; the message did not.


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[ back ] 1. To record my thanks, and congratulations, to Menelaos is to state the obvious. I remain in awe of how gentle (πρᾶος) and effective he was on each and every occasion on which we met. I would be negligent not to record also my thanks, and φιλία, to Athina Papachrysostomou, Andreas Antonopoulos, and Marion Meyer, as also to Lucia Nixon and Jenny Moody, who facilitated research in Oxford and writing in Crete, and, as always, to Jane Francis.
All translations, unless otherwise specified, are those of the author.
[ back ] 2. Höckmann 2013:367. For the British Museum website, see https://www.britishmuseum.org/research/projects/Naucratis-greeks-egypt.
[ back ] 3. Höckmann 2010:26–27. About half of all dedications from Athens are to all the gods in the Hellenion; the other half are in the precinct of the Temple of Aphrodite.
[ back ] 4. Heroa to Heracles in association with Apollo are known elsewhere, such as Gortyna in Crete.
[ back ] 5. British Museum 1886.0401.1402, found by Petrie and dated to the sixth century BCE; Höckmann 2010:26.
[ back ] 6. The syncretism was imperfect since Khonsu was a moon deity; Höckmann 2010:25. So, too, Höckmann 2010:28 is right to suggest caution. Melqart protected merchants at sea but evidence for a cult of Heracles as a rescuer at sea cannot be demonstrated in Egypt earlier than the second century CE.
[ back ] 7. Villing 2019:4. Phoenicians also docked in Herakleion/Thonis and turn up in records of portoria of the XXVI Saite Dynasty; Höckmann 2010:26.
[ back ] 8. Villing 2014:12–14.
[ back ] 9. See Plutarch On the Malice of Herodotus.
[ back ] 10. It is worth noting that for the Greeks from Thucydides through to Polybius all the way to Plutarch, eye-witness testimony was usually the first standard applied to judging veracity of any historical account.
[ back ] 11. Herodotus 2.141 and 2.154; Luraghi 2006:25, 35. Villing and Dyrfi 2006:47–48 associate a fragment of a krater (BM GR 1886.6–1.653) and a painted body sherd of an amphora (BM GR 1924.12–1.37) with the Carian and Ionian mercenaries. A mid-seventh century dating is based on analogy with material from Kaunos.
[ back ] 12. This section names the twelve cities that participated in the foundation. The importance of this port cannot be overlooked. It was at one time the only port allowed to operate on the Nile. The Greeks, thus, benefitted from a monopoly granted by the pharaoh; Herodotus 2.179. Port duties collected by the pharaoh from Naucratis are attested ca. 475 BCE in the Ahiqar scroll (Xerxes XXVII Dynasty) and in the 380s BCE by Nektanebo (XXXa Dynasty); Höckmann 2010:26.
[ back ] 13. For Carian ceramics in the seventh century Naucratis, see Williams and Villing 2006. Table 1 (pages 54–55) in Schlotzhauer and Villing 2006 list up to thirty-eight sherds that could be pre-664 BCE, although some, such as figure 11 (BM GR 1886.4–1.671 = 1886.0401.671) must post-date 570 BCE as it is dedicated to Aphrodite.
[ back ] 14. Villing 2019:3 presumes a canal connected Naucratis to Amasis’ capitol at Sais.
[ back ] 15. Villing 2019:8–9 citing scholars for and against a pre-Amasis date of foundation.
[ back ] 16. Villing 2019 citing Fantalkin 2014. Villing is inclined to downplay Strabo’s assertion of force as his attempt to flatter Milesian intervention. Stabo’s number of the Milesian task force of thirty ships is otherwise unattested.
[ back ] 17. Schlotzhauer 2006:135.
[ back ] 18. Necho II (610–595 BCE), Psammetichus II (595–589 BCE), and Apries (589–570 BCE). The ceramic sequence of Chian pottery in Naucratis aligns with the Milesian material; Williams 2006:127–132.
[ back ] 19. Six centuries later, it was still the default response of Cassius Dio 72.16.1. On the conflict with the early Christian church as a result, see Nasrallah 2010, esp. 171–212.
[ back ] 20. He gives Tyre, as his main example but also mentions Thasos. IG XII Supplementum 414/LSS 63 gives the norms of sacrifice to Heracles; Parker 2017:196–197. At Kleonai, there was a temple to the deified Heracles, but the decoration emphasized his role as a hero; Mattern 2015. Himmelmann 2009 gives evidence of worship of deified Heracles in Tegea, Rhamnous, Andros, Amphipolis, and Eleusis.
[ back ] 21. This, apparently, was the Temple of Heracles that gave sanctuaries to escaped slaves (2.113) and perhaps was the one that gave oracles (2.83).
[ back ] 22. Isocrates’ genealogy of Busiris (9) is as torturous.
[ back ] 23. Llyod 1976:194 prefers identification with Khonsu as part of a trinitarian worship which connects as well, ultimately, with Shu; also Villing 2019:4.
[ back ] 24. See Luraghi 2006:33. The names Achilles and Odysseus are derived from words for “piracy” and “sell”; see De Cristofari 2021 on Achilles (pp. 102–105) and Odysseys (p. 97).
[ back ] 25. Luraghi 2006:23, 25 n. 17.
[ back ] 26. Gyges was a vassal of Assurbanipal and Psammetichus I, and followed a pro-Assyrian policy of the XXIV Saite Dynasty of which he was an heir. Greek ceramics have been identified at cities, such as Al Minah, under direct rule of Assurbanipal; Luraghi 2006:23, 28, 35. A Greek, Pedon, can be placed in Egypt at a time in the 640s BCE when Assurbanipal may have had direct rule in Egypt and 75 Greek mercenaries are on the ration tablets from Arad 597 BCE; Luraghi 23, 25 and Smith 1991:101–109.
[ back ] 27. This is the athlon where traditionally Heracles slew Antaeus and Busiris. In Greek temples and treasuries, even individual labours varied according to local histories and pride.
[ back ] 28. His further syncretism with the Syriac Melqart (Herodotus 2.44) as the process by which Heracles came to be revered as a protector of sailors in Egypt; Malkin 2011, esp. 1919–141. For the western Mediterranean, see Bonnet 2005 who lists ruling elites claiming descent from Heracles or Melqart. There were also oracles of Heracles in Egypt (Herodotus 2.83). One might identify this with the Temple of Heracles at the mouth of the Canopic branch of the Nile, the dual polis of Thonis-Heracleion (Herodotus 2.113; Höckmann 2010:25). The temple, so Herodotus 2.113–117, plays a role in the real Helen detained in Egypt, Paris sailing away with an eidolon; so How and Wells (1912:223 on section 113) attributing Stesichorus as the source; see also Höckmann 2010:25. For votives in Satule, see Perrei 2005 and more generally Daniels 2021.
[ back ] 29. Here I regret that I was not able to read in proper detail Vasunia’s book on “Hellenizing Egypt,” two chapters of which (2 and 3) examine Herodotus’ account.
[ back ] 30. For the ceramics, I follow the dates in Villing 2012 (rev. 2019) and her collaborators whose contributions are part of the British Museum website or linked to the website.
[ back ] 31. The cult was established by the community at Naucratis from Aegina; Villing 2012:2.
The layout of the sacred precincts along the river mirror closely the plan of Egyptian sanctuaries. The northernmost is the Temple of the Dioscuri with the Hellenion next to it, then moving south the Temple of Apollo, the Temple of Hera, and the Temple of Aphrodite. Superb maps are on the British Museum website (above note 2).
[ back ] 32. All inscribed dedications to Heracles, though, are known only from the Hellenion; Höckmann 2010:26.
[ back ] 33. Since the vase was found in the first season of excavations its precise find spot is not recorded. For more information, see Höckmann 2010:26 and https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/G_1886-0401-1402.
[ back ] 34. On the Hellenion, see, esp., Villing and Schlotzhauer 2006:11–22. Two different lists survive for the twelve. Ionian — Ephesos, Miletos, Samos, Halicarnassos, Knidos, Phaselis; Cyprus — Paphos, Marion, Salamis; Rhodes – Ialysos, Lindos, Kameiros. In another list they are Samos, Miletos, Chios, Teos, Phokaia, Klazomenai, Rhodes, Knidos, Halicarnassos, Phaselos, Mitylene, and Aegina.
[ back ] 35. Höckmann 2010:27.
[ back ] 36. Image not available; Höckmann 2010:27. Parallels in Athens are adduced by Höckmann 2010:28 note 38 (lebes in the National Museum NAMA 607) and note 39 (kantharos fragment in the Acropolis Museum 2134).
[ back ] 37. BM GR 1900.2–14.16; Höckmann, U. and A. Möller 2006:15 with figure 12.
[ back ] 38. BM G141,58; Höckmann, U. and A. Möller 2006:15.
[ back ] 39. For Heracles, BM G141.58 and BM GR 1900.2–14.16 (AshmLoan 858); for All of the Gods, BM 1911.0606.23 and AshmLoan 71.
[ back ] 40. BM GR 1900.2–14.22; Villing and Schlotzhauer 2006:13.
[ back ] 41. ΠΟΣΕ[, dated to 550–540 BCE, AshmLoan 810.
[ back ] 42. ΗΠΗΚ[.]ΕΤΟΣ ΑΦ[ (Herakleitos to Aphrodite), dated to 480–450 BCE, AshmLoan 500, and Α ΡΟΔΙΤ[ dated to 525–500 BCE, AshmLoan 268.
[ back ] 43. As a practical matter, to facilitate those who might be interested in pursuing this material further, sherds cited are by preference those for which fuller discussion and illustrations exist in one or more publications by Villing, and her collaborators, or Höckmann, and her collaborators, in their numerous publications and the British Museum Naucratis website with its linked publications. The earliest dedications on the site may predate the grant by Amasis in 570 BCE (Herodotus 2.178.1) indicating that he gave assent to a process already underway. The majority of the dedications of ceramics in the Hellenion belong to the fifth century BCE; Villing and Schlotzhauer 2006:15.
[ back ] 44. Höckmann 2010:27.
[ back ] 45. BM 1886.0401.103; BM 1886.0401.623; BM 1886.0401.593; BM 1886.0401.103; BM 1886.0401.385; BM 1886.0401.393; BM 1886.0401.345; 1886.0401.633; 1886.0401.327; all in Villing 2012 online and have different states of preservation. See also BM 1886.0401.890 where ΑΙ is the likely reading and BM 1886.0401.303 ΩΠΟΛΛΩΝΟΣ where the nu is on its side and looks like a reversed tri-bar sigma; both Höckmann and Möller 2006:16.
[ back ] 46. BM 1886.0401.1063; Villing 2012:9.
[ back ] 47. BM 1886.0401.262; see also BM 1886.0401.425.
[ back ] 48. AshmLoan 825, dated by the archaic koppa, ca. 570–540 BCE.
[ back ] 49. BM 1886.0401.934, dated also by an archaic koppa, ca. 570–540 BCE.
[ back ] 50. BM 1888.0601.286, dated to ca. 570–540 BCE, Α]ΦΡΩΔ[ΙΤΗΣ ΕΙΜΙ.
[ back ] 51. BM 1888.0601.241, dated to ca. 560–540 BCE, ]ΟΔΩΡΟΣ ΜΕ ΑΝΕΘ[.
[ back ] 52. NM 1888.0601.392. The two eye cups are so similar that it cannot be doubted that they were made at the same time in the same shop.
[ back ] 53. BM GR 1888.6–1.49a–c; Williams 2006:127 with figure 1.
[ back ] 54. BM GR 1886.4–1.671; Villing and Schlotzhauer 2006:58 with figure 11.
[ back ] 55. Höckmann 2010:27.
[ back ] 56. Villing and Schlotzhauer 2006:61 with figure 29.
[ back ] 57. Höckmann 2013:369.
[ back ] 58. Höckmann 2010:27.
[ back ] 59. The obvious parallel are (the later) hadra vases for the ashes of mercenaries based in Alexandria. New York Metropolitan Museum 90.9.18 is a fine example but 90.9.29 is inscribed in both the Greek and Egyptian calendar: Yr 9 Hyperberetaios 30 Pharmouth (i.e., 19 May 213 BCE) / Timastheos, son of Dionysios of Rhodes / Theodoros, purchaser. See Callaghan 1980:33–47.
[ back ] 60. On trade and Naucratis, see Möller 2000.
[ back ] 61. Local production of ceramics is not considered here since it does not yield representations of Heracles. That there was a vibrant local market is indicated by the naming of one of the gates of the city Keramike (Athenaeus 11.480d–e). For coarse ware mortaria, see Villing and Schlotzhauer 2006:31–46.
[ back ] 62. Höckmann 2013:367.
[ back ] 63. Ashm 1896–1908.G.120.30; Villing 2019:8 with figure 7.
[ back ] 64. BM 1888.0601.544.f. On this and prior vase, see Villing 2019:8 with figure 6.
[ back ] 65. Ashm G121.5 (NAU 110), now BM AshmLoan 693, from Tell Defenneh (TD 290); Schlotzhaur 2012:142–143 with plate 24b and on cover.
[ back ] 66. Harrison 2023.
[ back ] 67. BM 1910.2–22.23b (NAU 141), BM 1886.4–1.1380 (NAU 140; NAU 139; Villing and Williams 2006:63 with figure 35.
[ back ] 68. Dating varies for many of the vases discussed. On the whole, I follow the dating of Roumpi 2010 and of Miller 2000 who are largely in agreement with one another.
[ back ] 69. See also, Vollkommer 1988 on Heracles in Classical Greek art. Busiris is absent in Roman art, for which see Ritter 1995.
[ back ] 70. Ashmolean Museum AN 1924.264; dated by Boardman (1958:4–12) ca. 550–540 BCE.
[ back ] 71. Palermo Museo archeologica nazionale reggio Calabria, inv. 1986 (Beazley ARV 64.11), attributed to the Heidelberg Painter.
[ back ] 72. Roumpi 2011:25–26; Shapiro 1990:125 K. The Busiris Story.
[ back ] 73. Roumpi 2011:23.
[ back ] 74. Hicks 1962 on clothing (105–106) and on physical features (106–107). What kinds of contact and how significant or important that contact was is less certain.
[ back ] 75. Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum AS IV.3576.
[ back ] 76. The top of the altar has two cushions, shown in black, beneath which are three superimposed tiers of Ionic volutes.
[ back ] 77. See, esp., Miller 2000:413–442 and Hemelrijk 1984:50–54.
[ back ] 78. Ashmolean AN 1896–1908. G.270.
[ back ] 79. Cincinnati Art Museum 1959.1; Roumpi 2011:26.
[ back ] 80. His toes push hard against the ground and his right arm is extended rather than droops.
[ back ] 81. Berlin, Neues Museum ÄM 11864.
[ back ] 82. Roumpi 2011:26.
[ back ] 83. So Woodford 1993.
[ back ] 84. Berlin, Pergamonmuseum 1685, ca. 575–525 BCE; Beazley ABV 310170. In general, see Shapiro 1994:164 with figure 164 and Giuliani 2013:174 figure 42. On Heracles and hoplite armour, see Roumpi 2011:27–28; Höckmann 2010:28 with figure 3.2, who cites black-figure comparanda, including Berlin Staatliche Antikensammlungen SMPK 1732, an oinochoe by Lydos, an oinochoe in Copenhagen Thorvaldsen Museum of Heracles fighting Amazons, and Louvre F385, Heracles and Cycnus. Pseudo-Hesiod Aspis on the combat of Heracles and Cycnus would have been closely contemporary to the first evidence of Greek mercenaries in Egypt.
[ back ] 85. Such as, e.g., Copenhagen 542. It has long been observed (see Höckmann 2010:26) that the posture of Heracles on black-figure vases where he is in hoplite armour parallels depictions of the pharaoh on a chariot in numerous reliefs on propylaia of the New Kingdom.
[ back ] 86. Villa Giulia 57912, Beazley ARV 72.24; Roumpi 2011:28–29. Found at Ceveteri.
[ back ] 87. On the double aulos in Greek and Etruscan art, see Sutkowska 2010:79–92, esp. the interior of British Museum 1843.1103.9/E38, described in more detail below.
[ back ] 88. Ruzicka 2012:26–34.
[ back ] 89. Beazley ARV 2.72.16. See also Miller 2000:223 with figure 8.10, Roumpi 2011:33 who compares it with Turin Museo delle Antichità C3035 in Egyptianizing details (33 note 39) and Rouet pl. 16 with discussion.
[ back ] 90. Roumpi 2011:36 note 53 on its “comic flavour.”
[ back ] 91. Berlin Antikensammlung F2534; ARV 210242. A colour image of the interior is available on the museum site; photos of the exterior are in the CVA for Berlin 2.41 with plates 100.1–3.
[ back ] 92. Roumpi 37 note 60.
[ back ] 93. On this point, see, esp., Krumeich 2021:587–636.
[ back ] 94. ARV 415.2; Miller 2000:432–434.
[ back ] 95. Roumpi 2011:36 with figure 17 and note 52.
[ back ] 96. Miller 2000:432.
[ back ] 97. ARV 612.1; Roumpi 2011:37. The photo of the entire vase in Beazley is the same as Ferrara CVA pl. 10. For a colour detail of the neck, Side A, see Roumpi 2011:37 figure 18. For a black-white photo of the neck, Side B, anodos of (?) Persephone, see Voelke 2021:81–99.
[ back ] 98. Roumpi 2011:38.
[ back ] 99. Beazley ARV 554.82. Roumpi 2011:34–35; Miller 429–430. On the development of the style of the Pan Painter see Smith 2006:435–451.
[ back ] 100. A relief of Xerxes survives in Persepolis.
[ back ] 101. McNiven 1995. The first half of his article is on Geras (10-12), and the second half of the article on this vase by the Pan Painter (12-14).
[ back ] 102. Miller 2000:426–427; Smith 2006:445 with table 2; Roumpi 2011:35 with figure 16.
[ back ] 103. ARV 552.24; Roumpi 2011:34 note 47. I have not seen this fragment and so leave it out of this discussion.
[ back ] 104. My thanks to Alexis Belis for photographs and information; also see Miller 2000: plates 16.5 and 16.6.
[ back ] 105. Neils 1996:17–18 with figure 7.
[ back ] 106. Harrow School Museum 50; Neils 1996:18 figure 8.
[ back ] 107. New York Metropoplitan Museum 41.162.10; Neils 1996:17 with figures 5 and 6.
[ back ] 108. Carpenter 2021:735–748.
[ back ] 109. Particularly in the Hadrianic reconstruction of the Theatre of Dionysos at Athens; Harrison 2021:765–797.
[ back ] 110. McPhee 2006:43–56.
[ back ] 111. This, in turn, raises the issue of cannibalism; McPhee 2006:56.
[ back ] 112. McPhee 2006:50.
[ back ] 113. Naples Museo nazionale Stg. 343, Beazley 902599; Miller 2000.
[ back ] 114. For early historians, see Pherecydes FGH3 F17; Roumpi 2011. Whether Busiris was in the epic, Heracles, by Panyassis is unknown.
[ back ] 115. Most prominently in the Villa Albani statue of Euripides in which it is among the titles of plays. The sketch by Winckelmann, a guest of Cardinal Albani, survives (Ferreri and Ossanna 2017:273 figure 168) and more recently Meccariello 2021. As Hyginus’ summaries of myths so, too, pseudo-Apollodorus’, are often taken from plays, it is not unlikely that Hyginus 56 and pseudo-Apollodorus 2.5 reflect the plot of Euripides’ play; Harrison 2023.
[ back ] 116. τὸ λοιπὸν Βακχίῳ δουλεύσομεν (709); OCT text of Diggle 1984. The fullest treatment of Euripides’ Busiris is that of Krumeich, Pechstein, and Seidensticker 1999:123–140 and 413–419.
[ back ] 117. Both Cyclops and Busiris (Fr 312b Collard and Cropp) open with a vocative, raising the possibility that the prologue to the Busiris might also have been spoken by Silenos.
[ back ] 118. Papachrysostomou 2021, esp. 32–42 and 178–83.
[ back ] 119. Only three fragments of Naevius’ Apella (Circumcised; Warmington fragments 18–20) but enough to suggest a Greek model. Naevius’ preference for middle and new comedy makes Ephippus a more likely source than Euripides; Harrison 2023.
[ back ] 120. Translation by Papachrysostomou 2021:34.
[ back ] 121. Papachrysostomou 2021:16–17 and 178–183 on an Argive general’s presumption of equating himself with Heracles.
[ back ] 122. Two contemporaries of Ephippus, Antiphanes and Mnesimachus, also wrote comedies on Busiris. Cratinus and Epicharmus in the fifth century wrote on the same subject, which does not seem to have interested writers of New Comedy.
[ back ] 123. Dated sometime between 391 BCE and 385 BCE. The show piece has a tripartite structure: attacking other teachers of rhetoric (1–14); defense of Busiris (15–29); anticipating attacks on this speech (30–50); see Blank 2013:13–29.
[ back ] 124. Isocrates had also done a defense of Clytemnestra and one of Helen; see Mirhady and Too 2000:49. Ovid’s Metamorphoses 9.182–183 takes a light touch and even in pseudo-Seneca, Hercules on Oeta, Alcmene’s mention of Busiris (1785–1789) is part of her hysterical overstatement of life after the death of Heracles, matching the bathos of the prologue spoke by Heracles in which Antaeus and Busiris are mentioned together (24–26).
[ back ] 125. Cannibalism did, however, occur as late as the famine in Egypt mentioned by Juvenal; Harrison 2011.
[ back ] 126. Isocrates strains to make veneration of snakes and crocodiles a virtue.
[ back ] 127. Text from Norlin 1980.
[ back ] 128. Blank 2013 citing Vasunia (page 1 note 2, with page 3).
[ back ] 129. Schlotzhauer 2006:135.
[ back ] 130. Much in this section follows Fantalkin 2006:202–204.
[ back ] 131. A temple to Zeus is attested but not yet discovered, nor has any space sacred specifically to Heracles come to light.
[ back ] 132. Attic black glaze kylix dedication to Heracles by Artemon (BritMus GR 1900.2–14.16) and Milesian kylix (BritMus GR 141.58) dedicated to ΗΡΑΚΛΕ; Höckmann and Möller 2006:15 figures 10 and 12, and Höckmann 2010:27 n. 48 and Höckmann 2013:372. See also Höckmann and Möller 2006:15 on BritMus AN 1890.672, a similar dedication from Marion (Cyprus) Site A tomb 15.
[ back ] 133. Trident graffiti on base of Ionian cup; BritMus 1886.0401.704.
[ back ] 134. Hockmann 2013:369.
[ back ] 135. The town of Busiris remained important. It was the scene of a revolt against the first Roman governor under Egypt and was involved in the revolts of 293 (or 294) CE and 297/298 CE suppressed in person by Galerius; Bowman 1984: 33–36.
[ back ] 136. Höckmann and Möller 2006:16; Höckmann 2010:26.
[ back ] 137. For dedications of statues of Heracles in sanctuaries of Apollo and for Apollo and Heracles venerated (sometimes jointly) as mercenary deities, see Höckmann 2013:373, particularly in association with lions.
[ back ] 138. Prominently, for example, Ashm G121.5/Nau110; Schlotzhauer 2010:142–143; Höckmann 2013:371.
[ back ] 139. Zardino 2009: esp. 27 and 241.
[ back ] 140. See, esp., Woodford 1993.