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10.3.7

There [Note]

are others more remote from the subject of this

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work, which have been erroneously placed by historians under one head on account of the sameness of name: for instance, accounts relating to Curetic affairs and concerning the Curetes have been considered as identical with accounts concerning the people (of the same name) who inhabited ætolia and Acarnania. But the former differ from the latter, and resemble rather the accounts which we have of Satyri and Silenes, Bacchæ and Tityri; for the Curetes are represented as certain dæmons, or ministers of the gods, by those who have handed down the traditions respecting Cretan and Phrygian affairs, and which involve certain religious rites, some mystical, others the contrary, relative to the nurture of Jupiter in Crete; the celebration of orgies in honour of the mother of the gods, in Phrygia, and in the neighbourhood of the Trojan Ida. There is however a very great variety [Note] in these accounts. According to some, the Corybantes, Cabeiri, Idæan Dactyli, and Telchines are repre- sented as the same persons as the Curetes; according to others, they are related to, yet distinguished from, each other by some slight differences; but to describe them in general terms and more at length, they are inspired with an enthusiastic and Bacchic frenzy, which is exhibited by them as ministers at the celebration of the sacred rites, by inspiring terror with armed dances, accompanied with the tumult and noise of cymbals, drums, and armour, and with the sound of pipes and shouting; so that these sacred ceremonies are nearly the same as those that are performed among the Samothracians in Lemnus, and in many other places; since the ministers of the god are said to be the same. [Note] The whole of this kind of

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discussion is of a theological nature, and is not alien to the contemplation of the philosopher. 10.3.8

But since even the historians, through the similarity of the name Curetes, have collected into one body a mass of dissimilar facts, I myself do not hesitate to speak of them at length by way of digression, adding the physical considerations which belong to the history. [Note] Some writers however endeavour to reconcile one account with the other, and perhaps they have some degree of probability in their favour. They say, for instance, that the people about ætolia have the name of Curetes from wearing long dresses like girls, (κόραι,) and that there was, among the Greeks, a fondness for some such fashion. The Ionians also were called tunic-trailers, [Note] and the soldiers of Leonidas, [Note] who went out to battle with their hair dressed, were despised by the Persians, but subjects of their admiration in the contest. In short, the application of art to the hair consists in attending to its growth, and the manner of cutting it, [Note] and both these are the peculiar care of girls and youths; [Note] whence in several ways it is easy to find a derivation of the name Curetes. It is also probable, that the practice of armed dances, first introduced by persons who paid so much attention to their hair and their dress, and who were called Curetes, afforded a pretence for men more warlike than others, and who passed their lives in arms, to be themselves called by the same name of Curetes, I mean those in Eubœa, ætolia, and Acarnania. Homer also gives this name to the young soldiers; selecting Curetes, the bravest of the Ach$eans, to carry from the swift ship, presents, which, yesterday, we promised to Achilles. [Note]

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And again; Curetes Acheei carried the presents. [Note]
Il. xvi. 617.
So much then on the subject of the etymology of the name Curetes. [The dance in armour is a military dance; this is shown by the Pyrrhic dance and by Pyrrichus, who, it is said, invented this kind of exercise for youths, to prepare them for military service.] [Note] 10.3.9

We are now to consider how the names of these people agree together, and the theology, which is contained in their history.

Now this is common both to the Greeks and the Barbarians, to perform their religious ceremonies with the observance of a festival, and a relaxation from labour; some are performed with enthusiasm, others without any emotion; some accompanied with music, others without music; some in mysterious privacy, others publicly; and these are the dictates of nature. [Note] For relaxation from labour withdraws the thoughts from human occupations, and directs the reflecting mind to the divinity: enthusiasm seems to be attended with a certain divine inspiration, and to approach the prophetic character; the mystical concealment of the sacred rites excites veneration for the divinity, and imitates his nature, which shuns human senses and perception; music also, accompanied with the dance, rhythm, and song, for the same reason brings us near the deity by the pleasure which it excites, and by the charms of art. For it has been justly said, that men resemble the gods chiefly in doing good, but it may be said more properly, when they are happy; and this happiness consists in rejoicing, in festivals, in philosophy, and in music. [Note] For let not the art be blamed, if it should sometimes be abused by the musician employing it to excite voluptuousness in convivial

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meetings at banquets, on the stage, or under other circum stances, but let the nature of the institutions which are founded on it be examined. [Note]



Strabo, Geography (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Str.].
<<Str. 10.3.5 Str. 10.3.8 (Greek English(2)) >>Str. 10.3.12

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