In his book Deipnosophists, Athenaeum imagines the titan Sykeus (Athenaeus 221, § 3.78a; FrGrHist 325 F *76), who, pursued by Zeus, resorts to his mother Gaia, who arouses a fig plant from the earth, to console and protect her son. In that prodigy's place stands Sykea, Sykai (Ethnica, § 590.12), a city in Cilicia (TIB5 421-423, s.v. Sykē). The Titans are sons of Uranus and Gaia, while Zeus is the son of Uranus, one of the Titans. Struggling with Zeus for supremacy over earth and men, they lose confrontation, because they do not possess the most exclusive and terrible weapon, lightning, which the Cyclops instead provided to Zeus, who will use it to defeat his rivals, who end up confined underground. Genesis refers to Japheth, one of Noah's three sons, whose name is a sibling of Iapetus, father of Anchiale, mother of the Dactyls, a titaness, but also a city in Cilicia (TIB5 185-186; Strabo 7.6.1, 14.5.9; Pliny 5.22.1; Athenaeus 1320-1321, § 12.39; Ethnica 23, § A23.21; Polt 2013 ). Dactyls (Daktyloi) are a group of demigods born in the same way as Adam, that is, from the earth, that their mother, Rea or Anchiale, clenched between her fingers at the time of birth: "The Idaean Dactyls of Crete, whom once the nymph Anchiale, as she grasped with both hands the land of Oaxus, bare in the Dictaean cave" (Apollodorus 1, 1103). Native to Mount Ida in the Troad or to the island of Crete (Blakely 2006 : 1, 14), from various ancient sources they are considered the first men (Edmonds 2010: 110ff.) arisen out of the earth, by a divine woman. Instead, in Genesis, only Adam is born strictly from the soil shaped by God, while the Cainites are "seed of the woman", that is, they are born from the living flesh of Eve, they derive from the rib extracted from the body of Adam. Anchiale's creative act is quite similar to that performed by the Biblical God: "Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Gn 2:7). In the ancient Mesopotamian written culture, first with Sumerians, and then with Assyrians and Babylonians, knowledge is plotted through cuneiform signs, in which an equivalence between the arrow and the rib is established.
Borger 1978 : 114
From this equivalence, an important consequence may descend for the Lycians, whom I have compared with the "seed of the woman" (Gn 3:15), taking advantage of Herodotus's report about their matrilineal kinship system. The endonym of this people, according to Herodotus, is Termilai (1.137; DL 30), and may correspond to the Greek Daktyloi once we add a few remarks. The first: daktyloi means "fingers", but also "claws", referring to birds (Aristotle, Partes animalium, 695a 22). Besides, daktyloi, "fingers", is "a term used in the poliorcetic treatises to refer to the rotating iron bolt with a claw at each end, attached to the pulley-mechanism of a bow-ballista, which drew the string back, and was released by the trigger" (Haldon 2000 : 275). The confirmation we need about this meaning of the term daktylos comes from Pliny who tells about a species of bivalves called dactyli because they look like nails (9.184). The Hittite tarma- (EDHIL 844-845) means the same, therefore we can assume with Laroche (1976 ; Eichner 1983 : 48-66) that the Greek Termilai or the epichoric Lycian Trm̃mili both derive from tarma-, plus the adjectiving suffix -ili, in the manner of parnalli- "of the house", by parna- in the sense of "domestic", "court man". Why would they give themselves a name that evokes the glorious memory of civilizing heroes, helpers of the mother goddess (Berndt-Ersöz 2006 : 167–169)? The Hittite tarma- means "bird claws" too (Haas 2006 : 203) and from this we may infer that the Lycians represented themselves as "birds of prey", that is, "endowed with claws". This self-representation would sound awkward were the second remark not added. Sarpedon's honour from Zeus is to be transported by Hypnos and Thanatos to the homeland of the Lycians, which to Homer is the city of Xanthos. Zeus' two helpers act in the same way as the so-called "harpies", sculpted on the famous friezes of the same city, now preserved in the British Museum. The monument, dating back to the beginning of the 5th century (480-470 B.C.), is also called "Tomb of Kybernis" (Zahle 1975 ). Those "harpies" now viewed more correctly as sirens (Draycott 2008 ; Keen 1992 ), are enigmatic characters, half birds and half women, who "kidnap" people, hold them in their arms and grab them within their claws. They do not make violence to anyone in appearance: their gesture seems to represent what is read in the so-called Journey of theSoul (CTH 457.7.1), a Hittite document on the destiny of the soul after death: as its origin is from heaven, it deserves to be taken back there by the eagle. This theme of a peaceful abduction or rescue by a divine agent, typically the eagle, is developed in the Myth of the Sun God, cow and fisherman (CTH 363; Rieken 2009 ), in which an eagle with its claws carries a child to safety (Alaura 2019 ). The akkadogram GAG used in the text about eagle's claws corresponds to the Hittite tarma- and this linguistic detail gives way to a third remark: the name the Lycians used for themselves would correspond to the KAK (or GAG) logogram used in Mesopotamia to compose that of "rib", the material from which Eve was created in Genesis:
Borger 2004 : 323, 586
In the Hittite language, tarma– (KAK) is literally the "peg", also used for magical rites (Haas & Wilhelm 1974 ), cathartic, often iron and in number of seven:
Rüster & Neu 1989 : 128
The importance and the continuity of this symbolical complex until the Classical age is confirmed by the story of Ganymede, the young shepherd of Mt. Ida, the son of Tros, king of the Dardanians, who is taken from Zeus disguised as an eagle. Here, too, the positive meaning of the divine abduction still survives, because Ganymede corresponds to whom is named "favorite" (ilalianza; (Watkins 1995 : 286; Archi 2007 : 185; Francia 2013 : 146) in the Hittite Journey of the Soul, hopefully taken by the divine claws. Another proof of the survival of this ancient Hittite myth in the Lycian iconography may come from the observation that the first dynast to match his portrait with the triskeles is probably Kuprlli, whose name means "beloved" (DLL 97). The "arms" of the triskeles would be nothing but claws, the symbol of a divine benevolence. Finally, a fourth remark. If the first woman is taken from the rib, from KAK.TI, Eve's "rib", then her seed should be called correspondently with a synonym of KAK "peg", such as tarma-, from which the true name of the Lycians: Trm̃mili- (Quadrio 2012 : 365-366).
Originally Published: April 24, 2021
Last Updated: June 22, 2021