I am currently sat on the patio of an air B&B in Karemas, southern Crete, overlooking the Libyan Sea. It is morning. In the foreview to my left are the double rocks of the Paximadian Islands – in which according to the Cretans Apollo was born – & to my right is Gavdos, the most southerly point of Europe. There is a high wind blowing fiercely – as it has been for 4 days now we are told. We drove here yesterday, first calling in at the many-peopled ‘funfair’ that Knossos has become, then entering & crossing the Cretan hinterland, a mixture of beautiful hills dotted with olive trees as if they were woven into some starlet’s hair, & rather desolate villages. After stopping in at the oasis watering hole that are the Goanesque beaches of Agia Galini, we then took a serendipitous wrong turn which took us into the quite breathtaking Kedros range, via the villages of Apodolou, Nithavris, Agios Ioannis & Agia Pareskevi. Another wrong turn later we were high up in the idyllic hilltop village of Vrisses, where, quickly swapping our tourist map or a more detailed in a 1995 book on Crete in my portable library, we finally came to Kerames.
On arrival we were met at the mini-market by the stylish Kleopatra, a teacher of ancient Greek & Latin in Athens, who returns to her home village to rent out the house she bought. 16 century, it was once the home of two saints & Cretan governor, & also played host to village dances, A beautiful building, made from a mixture of searocks & quarried, a geologist’s dream – it is ours for last night & the next two. Kleopatra delighted in showing us around the house, its history, & also walking us through the village so the locals knew we were with her. The encounter with her plump mother was funny, as the mother was mocking Kleopatra’s slight firm & saying she was far too thin, that she was like a little girl, & she need to eat more, much to the agreement of the other plump women of a certain age sat in vicinity
Roll on 3 days & I am finishing this off in the pinkening sunrise on the lazy morning on the 10th of July. On the day after arrival, on a visit to the amazing Preveli Beach – reached only by footpath as in Gokarna; via a rough & twisting Himalayanesque mountain road; after swimming in a lagoon, I suddenly found my foot pierced by a palmleaf spine &, well, ouch. The next dawn me & Emily left the girls sleeping & drove to nearby Spili & its free health centre. Cue to female doctors writhing at my poor wound, trying to get the thorn out. At one point one of the nurses tured her head & looking at me quite solemnly, said ‘pain?’ Through my acute grimacing I could only nod.
The thorn was buried too deep & see with prescription in hand we returned to Agia Galini for another day at the beach & to buy antibiotics. During this sunkissed day at the beach I ordered my notes for this essay, which I am finally polished off now. Last night was also wonderful , with us all getting dressed up & hitting the village square for a wonderful meal which coast only 22 euros – our hostess refusing a tip & joining us in the complimentary ouzo shots!
Kerames village is a white-washed, narrow-streeted affair in the Italian style, & rather a perfect place to get to work on one of my thornier essays – that of the character of Menaleus who appears in the Homeric epics. After my researches into the matter, I believe he was not around in the thirteenth century BC to fight the traditionally dated Trojan War, but was instead active three centuries earlier, & it was his deeds at that time which were superimposed upon the story of the Trojan War by Thales, that his story was one of the ‘Homeric fragments’ & that the Trojan War in which Achilles fought was a different fragment altogether, & that Thales spliced them together into a single story. Once we detach in our minds the two threads of the Trojan story – the kidnapping of Helen & the siege of Troy – then it is much easier to dissect the narrative. In this essay I shall just focus on Menaleus & his family background, an easy place to shine a spotlight upon, after which the interminable strands of interwoven mythos can give the best of brains a major headache.
We begin with a figure in Greek mythology called Phineus, son of Bellus & brother to Aegyptus & Danaus. According to Diodorus Siculus, Bellus had established a colony on the banks of the Euphrates & appointed the Chaldean priesthood as it overseers. This gives us an immediate & wider geographical scope for Phineus, which allows a spot of comparative study to take place. Analyzing his contextus, we discover a certain tale – as given by Ovid – in which Phineus brandishes a spear against Perseus, squabbling over the daughter of Casseiopeia, who had been declared by her mother to be more beautiful than the Nereids. A spot of comparative theology later & we are brought to a Biblical figure called Phinehas, in whose tales we see an incident with remarkable echoes to that of Phineas. For Casseiopia we have a certain idolatrous Cozbi, & we also have Phinehas brandishing a spear. The ‘most beautiful woman motif’ was also confirmed by Flavius Josephus, who asserts that the enemies of the Israelites sent their most beautiful women to seduce them to idolatry. The result was Phinehas slaying Cozbi & God rewarding him & his posterity with divine recognition for all time with the covenant of an everlasting hereditary priesthood.
Phinehas was said to have assisted Moses in the Exodus – even being in charge of the Ark of the Covenant – which would have made him active during the mid-16th century BC. Also active in that time – in 1510 BC to be precise – was a certain Goidal Glas, whose name contains part of the Hebrew moniker for High Priest – the ‘Kohen Godal.’ According to the Irish sources, the father of Goidal Glas was a certain Fenius Farsaid. This man rrather does feel like he had the same High Priest status as Phinehas, for he set up seminaries in order to formalise & teach several languages, including Hebrew, & we may acknowledge the same figure turning up in three traditions; the Irish, the Greek & the Hebrew.
We have now come to the crux of the matter, for between Fenius Farsaid & Gaythelos comes a ‘certain king of the countries of Greece, Neolus, or Heolaus, by name.’ Geoffrey Keating actually gives Fenius two sons, Nenual & Niul, which seem a genflation of the same person. From Nenual we may make the following babel-chain.
Could this be the same King Menaleus, whose wife Helen initiated the Trojan War? I would say yes, for some Greek sources state that Menaleus had a son called Aithiolas, which transchispers rather easily into Gaythelos. This means only one thing, that the same Menaleus who appears in the Homeric Trojan story could not have fought in the war of 1270 BC. He was said to be the brother of Agamemnon, the king of Mycynea who lead the Greeks to Troy. Mycynea was an ancient city sited in the northwest corner of the Plain of Argos on the Peloponnese in which place Pausanius, the Greek travel writer of the 2nd century AD, recorded, ‘the underground chambers of Atreus & his children, in which were stored their treasure. There is the grave of Atreus, along with the graves of such as returned with Agamemnon from Troy.’ In the late 19th century, a renegade amateur archeologist from Germany called Albert Schliemann excavated the site, discovering fabulous grave treasures which included the ‘Mask of Agamemnon’ which proved that the ancient epithet, ‘Mycynae, rich in gold,’ was no exaggeration. Dated to 1550 BC, scholars have suggested that the treasures cannot be connected to the Mycynean leadership of the 13th Century BC as given by Homer. But if we were to unravel the factochisp & move Menaleus & Agamemnon back three centuries, then when Schilemann telegraphed the King of Greece that he had, ‘gazed on the face of Agamenon,’ his proud & swoony statement is bearing out to be true, although not in the way standard Homeric scholarship has imagined. What is happening in reality is that the Mycyenean leadership of the 16th Century BC has been poetically superimposed onto the basic narrative infrastructure of the Trojan War.
Martin Bernal, in his deeply-thought opus Black Athena, identified that a certain ancient race called the Hykos were the founders of Mycynae. His evidence comes from the prsence of a Ugarit toponym, either mhnt – camp – or mhnm- 2 camps. The Ugaritian ‘h’ is pronounced ‘kh,’ giving us a Mycynae like pronunciation of mkhn. This is our new starting point, from which we are to hyperchisp (a hypothetical chisper) that Menaleus & his father, Fineus/Phinehas/Phineas were Hyksos. The Hyksos were originally a Scythian tribe, called the Saka by the Persians, who fanned east & west in the creation of a Bronze Age Empire. Indeed, according to the Irish sources Fenius Farsaid was a Scythian. The empire seems to have been ruled very much in the fashion of the British Empire, where handfuls of elite Hyksos noblemen lorded over conquered peoples – & at some places, like at Mycnae were assimilated so much by the local culture they became like the natives. Elsewhere, like in Egypt, they were thrown out. The name of one of the Egyptian Hyksos, Seuserenre Khyan, is rather similar to the Hebrew Kohen – ie priest – & his reign seems to be the highwater mark of the Hyksos in Egypt. A few decades later & they were tossed out of Africa, leading to the Exodus as recorded in the Bible – for one branch of the Hyksos would go on to form the Biblical Israelites.
The Hyksos were also known as the Habiru, from which the word Hebrew is drawn, & were connected to ‘the children of Israel,’ by the Jewish historian Josephus. Quoting Manetho, he declared them to be ‘a people of ignoble race who had confidence to invade our country, which they subdued easily without having to fight a battle. They set our towns on fire; they destroyed the temples of the gods, and caused the people to suffer every kind of barbarity. During the entire period of their dynasty they waged war against the people of Egypt, desiring to exterminate the whole race. . . . The foreigners were called Hyksos, which signifies ‘Shepherd Kings’.”
I would like to suggest how as the Hyksos fanned west from their Scythian homeland, so too did they surge east into India, instigating transmigration known to historians as the Aryan Invasion. This is when about the year 1500, a whiter-skinned elite race swarmed into India, bringing with it ancient Eurasian culture & the ancient caste system.The Abhira tribe of northern India were described by Vedic texts describe as pastoral cowherders just as the Hyksos were ‘shepheard-kings.’ Their homelands lay on the western coast of India from Tapti to Devagarh & stretched up to the regions east of the Indus where many Hebrewesque names were identified by Godfrey Higgins (1772-1833) in his book, Anacalypsis. Among their number is Seuna-Desa (Zion Land) in Maharashtra, the many towns ending with the appendage gaon – which means in Hebrew, ‘genius; great rabbinical scholar’ –Nashik is the exact Hebrew name for ‘Royal Prince.’