Callimachus Hymns to Zeus 1


At libations to Zeus what else should rather be sung than the god himself, mighty for ever, king for evermore, router of the Pelagonians, dealer of justice to the sons of Heaven? How shall we sing of him – as lord of Dicte or of Lycaeum? My soul is all in doubt, since debated is his birth. O Zeus, some say that thou wert born on the hills of Ida3; others, O Zeus, say in Arcadia; did these or those, O Father lie? “Cretans are ever liars.” Yea, a tomb, O Lord, for thee the Cretans builded; but thou didst not die, for thou art for ever. In Parrhasia it was that Rheia bare thee, where was a hill sheltered with thickest brush. Thence is the place holy, and no fourfooted thing that hath need of Eileithyia nor any woman approacheth thereto, but the Apidanians call it the primeval childbed of Rheia. There when thy mother had laid thee down from her mighty lap, straightway she sought a stream of water, wherewith she might purge her of the soilure of birth and wash thy body therein.

Titus 1:12

New Testament

10 For there are many rebellious people, idle talkers, and deceivers, especially those with Jewish connections, 11 who must be silenced because they mislead whole families by teaching for dishonest gain what ought not to be taught. 12 A certain one of them, in fact, one of their own prophets, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 Such testimony is true. For this reason rebuke them sharply that they may be healthy in the faith 14 and not pay attention to Jewish myths and commands of people who reject the truth.

 Notes and References

"... so prestigious were the Cretans that whereas normally a tribe preferred to be known as autochthonous, the Caunians (Herodotus 1.172) actually preferred to be known as originally from Crete rather than of native stock, as Herodotus believed them to be. Moreover, inasmuch as they wanted to impress Euhemerus, the priests in Panchaia, the imaginary island in the Indian Ocean that is presented as a kind of utopia, informed Euhemerus (Euhemerus 63, frag. 1, FGH, part 1) of their Cretan origin. The famous statement of the Cretan religious teacher and miracle worker Epimenides (fragment 1, quoted by Callimachus’s Hymn to Zeus 8 and the New Testament’s Epistle to Titus 1:12) of the sixth century B.C.E., that the Cretans are always liars would seem to indicate that the Cretan reputation was not unmixed. But aside from the logical puzzle this remark raises, because the author himself is a Cretan, we may note that at least among the Greeks lying was hardly a negative attribute but rather an indication of cleverness ..."

Feldman, Louis H. Jew and Gentile in the Ancient World: Attitudes and Interactions from Alexander to Justinian (p. 515) Princeton University Press, 1993

 User Comments

Do you have questions or comments about these texts? Please submit them here.