Mait Kõiv (University of Tartu, Estonia) “The Genealogies of Ancient Argos: Between the Interests of the Present and the Traditions Concerning Epic Past”

Abstract:

Argolis in the Peloponnese (Southern Greece) was in many respects a crucial district for the Ancient Greek history. As a most developed region of the Bronze Age Mycenaean civilisation (ca 1600–1100 BC), the place of the monumental citadels of Mycenae and Tiryns, it became afterwards the focus of the heroic traditions to which the communities and elite families of the later periods sought to establish genealogical connections. In the Archaic and Classical periods (ca 800–330 BC), the district was dominated by the polis of Argos that occasionally competed with Sparta for hegemony in the whole Peloponnese, while Mycenae and Tiryns continued to function as the centres of secondary importance. This caused a competition for the past, as different communities forged genealogical connections with the heroic past, shaping the traditions in their own political interests. The situation was further complicated by the  circumstance that the royal dynasty of Macedonia claimed descent from Heracles and forged a genealogical link with the stemma of the Argive kings, the reputed descendants of the hero. The present paper considers how these legendary and half-legendary genealogies were manipulated in the often conflicting interests of different communities, and how this manipulation affected the development of the legendary and quasi-historical traditions.

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