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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:
THEOPHILUS: Chapter VII.—Fabulous Heathen Genealogies.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter VII.—Fabulous Heathen Genealogies.

Why need I recount the Greek fables,—of Pluto, king of darkness, of Neptune descending beneath the sea, and embracing Melanippe and begetting a cannibal son,—or the many tales your writers have woven into their tragedies concerning the sons of Jupiter, and whose pedigree they register because they were born men, and not gods? And the comic poet Aristophanes, in the play called “The Birds,” having taken upon him to handle the subject of the Creation, said that in the beginning the world was produced from an egg, saying: 558

“A windy egg was laid by black-winged night
At first.”

But Satyrus, also giving a history of the Alexandrine families, beginning from Philopator, who was also named Ptolemy, gives out that Bacchus was his progenitor; wherefore also Ptolemy was the founder of this 559 family. Satyrus then speaks thus: That Dejanira was born of Bacchus and Althea, the daughter of Thestius; and from her and Hercules the son of Jupiter there sprang, as I suppose, Hyllus; and from him Cleodemus, and from him Aristomachus, and from him Temenus, and from him Ceisus, and from him Maron, and from him Thestrus, and from him Acous, and from him Aristomidas, and from him Caranus, and from him Cœnus, and from him Tyrimmas, and from him Perdiccas, and from him Philip, and from him Æropus, and from him Alcetas, and from him Amyntas, and from him Bocrus, and from him Meleager, and from him Arsinoë and from her and Lagus Ptolemy Soter, and from him and Arsinoe Ptolemy Euergetes, and from him and Berenicé, daughter of Maga, king of Cyrene, Ptolemy Philopator. Thus, then, stands the relationship of the Alexandrine kings to Bacchus. And therefore in the Dionysian tribe there are distinct families: the Althean from Althea, who was the wife of Dionysus and daughter of Thestius; the family of Dejanira also, from her who was the daughter of Dionysus and Althea, and wife of Hercules;—whence, too, the families have their names: the family of Ariadne, from Ariadne, daughter of Minos and wife of Dionysus, a dutiful daughter, who had intercourse with Dionysus in another form; the Thestian, from Thestius, the father of Althea; the Thoantian, from Thoas, son of Dionysus; the Staphylian, from Staphylus, son of Dionysus; the Euænian, from Eunous, son of Dionysus; the Maronian, from Maron, son of Ariadne and Dionysus;—for all these are sons of Dionysus. And, indeed, many other names were thus originated, and exist to this day; as the Heraclidæ from Hercules, and the Apollonidæ from Apollo, and the Poseidonii from Poseidon, and from Zeus the Dii and Diogenæ.

p. 97

Footnotes

96:558

Aristoph., Av., 694. A wind-egg being one produced without impregnation, and coming to nothing.

96:559

The Dionysian family taking its name from Dionysus or Bacchus.


Next: Chapter VIII.— Opinions Concerning Providence.

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