Mopsus

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Mopsus or Mopsos was the name of two famous seers in Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

. A historical/legendary Mopsus was the founder of a house in power at widespread sites in the coastal plains of Pamphylia
Pamphylia
In ancient geography, Pamphylia was the region in the south of Asia Minor, between Lycia and Cilicia, extending from the Mediterranean to Mount Taurus . It was bounded on the north by Pisidia and was therefore a country of small extent, having a coast-line of only about 75 miles with a breadth of...

 and Cilicia
Cilicia
In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor, south of the central Anatolian plateau. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Byzantine empire...

 (today's Turkey) during the early Iron Age.

Son of Manto and Rhacius or Apollo


Mopsus, a celebrated seer and diviner, was the son of Manto
Manto (mythology)
There are several distinct figures in Greek mythology named Manto, the most prominent being the daughter of Tiresias. The name Manto derives from Ancient Greek Mantis, "seer, prophet" .-Daughter of Tiresias:...

, daughter of the mythic seer Tiresias
Tiresias
In Greek mythology, Tiresias was a blind prophet of Thebes, famous for clairvoyance and for being transformed into a woman for seven years. He was the son of the shepherd Everes and the nymph Chariclo; Tiresias participated fully in seven generations at Thebes, beginning as advisor to Cadmus...

, and of Rhacius
Rhacius
In Greek mythology, Rhacius was the son of Lebes, and the leader of the first Greeks to settle in Caria, and became King of Caria. His court was located at Colophon in Ionia. With his wife Manto, daughter of the seer Teiresias, he was the father of Mopsus, a renowned seer....

 of Caria
Caria
Caria was a region of western Anatolia extending along the coast from mid-Ionia south to Lycia and east to Phrygia. The Ionian and Dorian Greeks colonized the west of it and joined the Carian population in forming Greek-dominated states there...

 or of Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

 himself, the oracular god. Greeks of the Classical age accepted Mopsus as a historical figure, though the anecdotes concerning him bridge legend
Legend
A legend is a narrative of human actions that are perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and to possess certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude...

 and myth.

Mopsus (and perhaps a tradition of his heirs, like the Melampodidae
Melampus
In Greek mythology, Melampus, or Melampous , was a legendary soothsayer and healer, originally of Pylos, who ruled at Argos. He was the introducer of the worship of Dionysus, according to Herodotus, who asserted that his powers as a seer were derived from the Egyptians and that he could understand...

, the Iamidae from Olympia
Olympia, Greece
Olympia , a sanctuary of ancient Greece in Elis, is known for having been the site of the Olympic Games in classical times, comparable in importance to the Pythian Games held in Delphi. Both games were held every Olympiad , the Olympic Games dating back possibly further than 776 BC...

 or the Eumolpidae
Eumolpidae
The Eumolpidae were a family of priests at Eleusis who maintained the Eleusinian Mysteries during the Hellenic era. As hierophants, they popularized the cult and allowed many more to be initiated into the secrets of Demeter and Persephone....

 at Eleusis) officiated at the altars of Apollo at Klaros
Clarus
Clarus in the territory of Colophon in the Ionian coast of Asia Minor was a much-revered, much-famed cult center described by Pausanias ....

, which he founded; at Klaros the tradition was that he had been the son of a daughter of the seer Teiresias named Manto
Manto (mythology)
There are several distinct figures in Greek mythology named Manto, the most prominent being the daughter of Tiresias. The name Manto derives from Ancient Greek Mantis, "seer, prophet" .-Daughter of Tiresias:...

, literally "seeress". His unerring wisdom and discernment gave rise to the ancient Greek proverb, "more certain than Mopsus". He distinguished himself at the siege of Thebes; but he was held in particular veneration at the court of Amphilochus
Amphilochus
Amphilochus or Amphílokhos may refer to:* In Greek mythology:** Amphilochus ** Amphilochus ** Husband of Alcinoe* Amphilochus , a genus of crustaceans...

 at Colophon on the Ionia
Ionia
Ionia is an ancient region of central coastal Anatolia in present-day Turkey, the region nearest İzmir, which was historically Smyrna. It consisted of the northernmost territories of the Ionian League of Greek settlements...

n coast of Asia Minor, adjacent to Caria.

The 12th century Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 mythographer John Tzetzes
John Tzetzes
John Tzetzes was a Byzantine poet and grammarian, known to have lived at Constantinople during the 12th century.Tzetzes was Georgian on his mother's side...

 reports anecdotes of the prowess of Mopsus. Having been consulted, on one occasion, by Amphilochus, who wished to know what success would attend his arms in a war which he was going to undertake, he predicted the greatest calamities; but Calchas
Calchas
In Greek mythology, Calchas , son of Thestor, was an Argive seer, with a gift for interpreting the flight of birds that he received of Apollo: "as an augur, Calchas had no rival in the camp"...

, who had been the soothsayer of the Greeks during the Trojan War
Trojan War
In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad...

, promised the greatest successes. Amphilochus followed the opinion of Calchas, but the prediction of Mopsus was fully verified. This had such an effect upon Calchas that he died soon after. His death is attributed by sources used by John Tzetzes
John Tzetzes
John Tzetzes was a Byzantine poet and grammarian, known to have lived at Constantinople during the 12th century.Tzetzes was Georgian on his mother's side...

 to another mortification of the same nature: in this case, the two soothsayers, jealous of each other's fame, came to a different trial of their skill in divination. Calchas first asked his antagonist how many figs a neighboring tree bore; ten thousand and one, replied Mopsus. The figs were gathered, and his answer was found to be true. Mopsus now, to try his adversary, asked him how many young ones a certain pregnant sow would bring forth, and at what time. Calchas confessed his inability to answer, whereupon Mopsus declared that she would be delivered on the morrow, and would bring forth ten young ones, of which only one would be a male. The morrow proved the veracity of his prediction, and Calchas died through the grief which his defeat produced. Amphilochus subsequently having occasion to visit Argos
Argos
Argos is a city and a former municipality in Argolis, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Argos-Mykines, of which it is a municipal unit. It is 11 kilometres from Nafplion, which was its historic harbour...

, entrusted the sovereign power to Mopsus, to keep it for him during the space of a year. On his return, however, Mopsus refused to restore to him the kingdom, whereupon, having quarreled, they engaged and slew each other. According to another legend reported by Tzetzes, he was slain by Herakles.

Mopsus was venerated as founder in several cities of Pamphylia
Pamphylia
In ancient geography, Pamphylia was the region in the south of Asia Minor, between Lycia and Cilicia, extending from the Mediterranean to Mount Taurus . It was bounded on the north by Pisidia and was therefore a country of small extent, having a coast-line of only about 75 miles with a breadth of...

 and the Cilicia
Cilicia
In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor, south of the central Anatolian plateau. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Byzantine empire...

n plain, among them Mopsuestia
Mopsuestia
Mopsuestia , later Mamistra, is the ancient city of Cilicia Campestris on the Pyramus river located approximately 20 km east of ancient Antiochia in Cilicia .The founding of this city is attributed in legend to the soothsayer, Mopsus, who lived before the Trojan war, although...

, "the house (hestia
Hestia
In Greek mythology Hestia , first daughter of Cronus and Rhea , is the virgin goddess of the hearth, architecture, and of the right ordering of domesticity and the family. She received the first offering at every sacrifice in the household. In the public domain, the hearth of the prytaneum...

) of Mopsus" in Cilicia, and Mallos, where he quarreled with his co-founder Amphilochus and both were buried in tumuli
Tumulus
A tumulus is a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves. Tumuli are also known as barrows, burial mounds, Hügelgrab or kurgans, and can be found throughout much of the world. A tumulus composed largely or entirely of stones is usually referred to as a cairn...

, from which neither could see that of the other. At Mopsoukrene, the "spring of Mopsus", he had an oracular site.

Argonaut


Mopsus, son of Ampyx
Ampyx
Ampyx has several meanings; in hair care, an ampyx is a headband, often made of metal. In Greek mythology, there were a number of figures with the name Ampyx, Amycus or Ampycus ....

 and a nymph
Nymph
A nymph in Greek mythology is a female minor nature deity typically associated with a particular location or landform. Different from gods, nymphs are generally regarded as divine spirits who animate nature, and are usually depicted as beautiful, young nubile maidens who love to dance and sing;...

 (sometimes named as Chloris
Chloris
thumb|250px|right| "As she talks, her lips breathe spring roses:I was Chloris, who am now called Flora." [[Ovid]]There are many stories in Greek mythology about figures named Chloris...

), born at Titaressa in Thessaly
Thessaly
Thessaly is a traditional geographical region and an administrative region of Greece, comprising most of the ancient region of the same name. Before the Greek Dark Ages, Thessaly was known as Aeolia, and appears thus in Homer's Odyssey....

, was also a seer and augur
Augur
The augur was a priest and official in the classical world, especially ancient Rome and Etruria. His main role was to interpret the will of the gods by studying the flight of birds: whether they are flying in groups/alone, what noises they make as they fly, direction of flight and what kind of...

. In Thessaly the place name Mopsion recalled his own. The earliest evidence of him is inscribed on the strap of a soldier's shield, found at Olympia and dated c.600-575 BC. According to Pindar
Pindar
Pindar , was an Ancient Greek lyric poet. Of the canonical nine lyric poets of ancient Greece, his work is the best preserved. Quintilian described him as "by far the greatest of the nine lyric poets, in virtue of his inspired magnificence, the beauty of his thoughts and figures, the rich...

, Mopsus was the king of Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

 during an invasion of Amazons
Amazons
The Amazons are a nation of all-female warriors in Greek mythology and Classical antiquity. Herodotus placed them in a region bordering Scythia in Sarmatia...

, and killed their queen, Myrine, in single combat, defeating the invaders with the help of Sipylus the Scythian.

This Mopsus was one of two seers among the Argonauts
Argonauts
The Argonauts ) were a band of heroes in Greek mythology who, in the years before the Trojan War, accompanied Jason to Colchis in his quest to find the Golden Fleece. Their name comes from their ship, the Argo, which was named after its builder, Argus. "Argonauts", therefore, literally means...

, and was said to have understood the language of birds, having learned augury from Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

. He had competed at the funeral-games for Jason's father and was among the Lapiths who fought the Centaurs. While fleeing across the Libyan desert from angry sisters of the slain Gorgon
Gorgon
In Greek mythology, the Gorgon was a terrifying female creature. The name derives from the Greek word gorgós, which means "dreadful." While descriptions of Gorgons vary across Greek literature, the term commonly refers to any of three sisters who had hair of living, venomous snakes, and a...

 Medusa
Medusa
In Greek mythology Medusa , " guardian, protectress") was a Gorgon, a chthonic monster, and a daughter of Phorcys and Ceto. The author Hyginus, interposes a generation and gives Medusa another chthonic pair as parents. Gazing directly upon her would turn onlookers to stone...

, Mopsus died from the bite of a viper
Viperidae
The Viperidae are a family of venomous snakes found all over the world, except in Antarctica, Australia, Ireland, Madagascar, Hawaii, various other isolated islands, and above the Arctic Circle. All have relatively long, hinged fangs that permit deep penetration and injection of venom. Four...

 that had grown from a drop of Medusa's blood. Medea
Medea
Medea is a woman in Greek mythology. She was the daughter of King Aeëtes of Colchis, niece of Circe, granddaughter of the sun god Helios, and later wife to the hero Jason, with whom she had two children, Mermeros and Pheres. In Euripides's play Medea, Jason leaves Medea when Creon, king of...

 was unable to save him, even by magical means. The Argonauts buried him with a monument by the sea, and a temple was later erected on the site.

Ovid
Ovid
Publius Ovidius Naso , known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who is best known as the author of the three major collections of erotic poetry: Heroides, Amores, and Ars Amatoria...

 places him also at the hunt of the Calydonian Boar
Calydonian Boar
The Calydonian Boar is one of the monsters of Greek mythology that had to be overcome by heroes of the Olympian age. Sent by Artemis to ravage the region of Calydon in Aetolia because its king failed to honor her in his rites to the gods, it was killed in the Calydonian Hunt, in which many male...

, although the hunt occurred after the Argonauts' return.

Historical person


The Christian chronicler Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea also called Eusebius Pamphili, was a Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist. He became the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine about the year 314. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon...

 was as convinced of Mopsus' historicity as his pagan predecessors and contemporaries: in his parallel chronologies he entered under the year corresponding to 1184/83 Mopsus reigned in Cilicia. The name Mopsos, whether Greek or Anatolian, is also attested in Near Eastern languages. Since the discovery of a bilingual Luwian
Hieroglyphic Luwian
Hieroglyphic Luwian is a variant of the Luwian language, recorded in official and royal seals and a small number of monumental inscriptions. It is written in a hieroglyphic script known as Anatolian hieroglyphs...

-Phoenician inscription in Karatepe
Karatepe
Karatepe is a late Hittite fortress and open air museum in Osmaniye Province in southern Turkey lying at a distance of about 23 km from the district center of Kadirli. It is sited in the Taurus Mountains, on the right bank of the Ceyhan River...

 (in Cilicia
Cilicia
In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor, south of the central Anatolian plateau. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Byzantine empire...

) in 1946-7, it is assumed that Mopsos was an historical person. The inscription is dated to c. 700 BC, and the person speaking in it, ’-z-t-w-d (Phoenician) / Azatiwataš (Luwian), professes to be king of the d-n-n-y-m / Hiyawa and describes his dynasty as "the house of M-p-š / Mukšuš". Apparently, he is a descendant of Mopsus. The Phoenician name of the people recalls one of the Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

ic names of the Greeks, Danaoi with the -m plural, whereas the Luwian name Hiyawa probably goes back to Hittite Ahhiyā(wa), which is, according to most interpretations, the "Achaean", or Mycenaean Greek
Mycenaean Greece
Mycenaean Greece was a cultural period of Bronze Age Greece taking its name from the archaeological site of Mycenae in northeastern Argolis, in the Peloponnese of southern Greece. Athens, Pylos, Thebes, and Tiryns are also important Mycenaean sites...

, settlement in Asia Minor. Ancient Greek authors ascribe a central role to Mopsus in the colonization of Pamphylia
Pamphylia
In ancient geography, Pamphylia was the region in the south of Asia Minor, between Lycia and Cilicia, extending from the Mediterranean to Mount Taurus . It was bounded on the north by Pisidia and was therefore a country of small extent, having a coast-line of only about 75 miles with a breadth of...

.

A 13th-century date for the historical Mopsus is confirmed by a Hittite
Hittite language
Hittite is the extinct language once spoken by the Hittites, a people who created an empire centred on Hattusa in north-central Anatolia...

 tablet from Boğazkale
Bogazkale
Boğazkale is a district of Çorum Province in the Black Sea region of Turkey. It is located at 87 km from the city of Çorum. Population of the town is about 1,500. The mayor is Ali Rıza Soysat ....

 which mentions a person called Mukšuš in connection with Madduwattaš of Arzawa
Arzawa
Arzawa in the second half of the second millennium BC was the name of a region and a political entity in Western Anatolia, the core area of which was centered on the Hermos and Maeander river valleys, corresponding with the Late Bronze Age kingdoms of the...

 and Attaršiyaš of Ahhiyā. This text is dated to the reign of Arnuwandaš III
Arnuwanda III
Arnuwanda III was the penultimate king of the Hittite empire Arnuwanda III was the penultimate king of the Hittite empire (New kingdom) Arnuwanda III was the penultimate king of the Hittite empire (New kingdom) (ca. 1209–1207 BC (short chronology).- Family :Arnuwanda was a son of Tudhaliya IV and...

. Therefore, some scholars associate Mopsus' activities along the coast of Asia Minor and the Levant with the famous Sea Peoples
Sea Peoples
The Sea Peoples were a confederacy of seafaring raiders of the second millennium BC who sailed into the eastern Mediterranean, caused political unrest, and attempted to enter or control Egyptian territory during the late 19th dynasty and especially during year 8 of Ramesses III of the 20th Dynasty...

' attacking Egypt in the beginning of the 12th century BC, one of those peoples being the Denyen
Denyen
The Denyen are one of the groups constituting the Sea Peoples, who were of Indo-European origin.-Origin:Archeologists have described them as being of Indo-European origin....

— comparable to the d-n-n-y-m of the Karatepe inscription. The Sea People identification is, however, questioned by other scholars.

The name of the king erecting the Karatepe inscription, Azatiwad, is probably related to the toponym Aspendos, the name of a city in Pamphylia
Pamphylia
In ancient geography, Pamphylia was the region in the south of Asia Minor, between Lycia and Cilicia, extending from the Mediterranean to Mount Taurus . It was bounded on the north by Pisidia and was therefore a country of small extent, having a coast-line of only about 75 miles with a breadth of...

 founded by the Argives according to Strabo
Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

 (14.4.2). The name of the city is written (Estwediius) on coins of the 5th century BC. Presumably, it was an earlier Azatiwad, the ancestor of our king, that gave his name to the city. The name does not appear to be Greek of origin (= Luwian "Lover of the Sun God [Wa(n)da]"?). The ethnicity of Mopsus himself is not clear: The fragmentary Lydian historiographer Xanthus
Xanthus (historian)
Xanthus of Lydia was a native Lydian historian and logographer who, during the mid-fifth century BC, wrote texts on the history of Lydia known as Lydiaca . Xanthus also wrote occasionally about geology. It is believed that Xanthus was the earliest historian to have written a significant amount on...

 made him a Lydian campaigning in Phoenicia. If we may believe the transmission of Nicolaus of Damascus
Nicolaus of Damascus
Nicolaus of Damascus was a Greek historian and philosopher who lived during the Augustan age of the Roman Empire. His name is derived from that of his birthplace, Damascus. He was born around 64 BC....

 who quotes him, Xanthus wrote the name with -ks- like in the Hittite and Luwian texts; given that Lydian
Lydian language
Lydian was an Indo-European language spoken in the region of Lydia in western Anatolia . It belongs to the Anatolian group of the Indo-European language family....

 also belongs to the Anatolian language family
Anatolian languages
The Anatolian languages comprise a group of extinct Indo-European languages that were spoken in Asia Minor, the best attested of them being the Hittite language.-Origins:...

, it is possible that Xanthus relied on a local non-Greek tradition according to which Mukšuš was a Luwian.