A discovery

Excited noises and flailing of limbs

I just found a complete list of the month-names for the polis of Olbia – and unsurprisingly there’s a strong Dionysian presence:

To Apollo Delphinios, Ietros, Thargilios, Lykeios
Andokides made offerings through the months
Taureon, Thargelion, Kalamaion, Panemos, Metageitnion,
Boedromion, Kuanepsion, Apatourion, Poseideon,
Leneon, Anthesterion, Artemision. (SEG 30.977)

Even if you’re not a calendar nerd like I am there’s a lot of interesting stuff to unpack here. Many of these are familiar from my study of calendars from different Greek city-states, but a couple of the names are new to me and I’ll need to parse out their meanings.  And why there seems to be a blend of Ionian, Doric and Makedonian month-names when these tend not to mix. I wonder if this is because Olbia was an emporion, and also what its ethnic make-up was, especially after it outgrew its status as a colony of … Miletos, I think? I’ll need to check and confirm that, so don’t quote me. I also wonder how closely these synch up to their correlates in other calendars; if they do that means Anthesterion (generally around February/March) came towards the end of their year, rather than its beginning. And a month devoted to Artemis immediately following it has some intriguing implications, especially considering the relationship between Ariadne and Apollo’s sister. Speaking of which, did you catch the final epiklesis Andokides addresses him by? Lykeios – the Wolf God.

7 thoughts on “A discovery

  1. I noticed the Lykeios as well…

    I have always suspected that Artemis and Her bear-girls, and some of the other things associated with Her, are the “female” equivalent of the werewolf groups in Greece…and then one brings in the Dionysian stuff amidst all of that, plus all the rest, and you’ve got quite the diversification of such groups in the Hellenic cultural sphere generally!


    1. Same here. There’s just too much similarity to lycanthropy and related phenomena in other cultures for reductionist explanations to hold any weight.


  2. Well, Anthesterion didn’t come toward the beginning of the Athenian year, either, which started after the summer solstice with Hekatombaion. And in Athens, Anthesterion was also followed by a month named for Artemis: Elaphebolion. Now, this calendar doesn’t seem far off from Athens, if we assume that he simply starts naming the months partway through, or that their year started around April for whatever reason. Like this:

    Kuanepsion=Puanepsion (typo? same origin?)


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