Acoetes

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Sailors being transformed by Baccus aboard Acoetes's ship.

Acoetes (from Greek Ἀκοίτης, via Latin Ăcoetēs) was the name of three men in Greek and Roman mythology.

Acoetes, the Fisherman[edit]

The first Acoetes is known for helping the god Bacchus.[1]

Bacchic myth[edit]

This Acoetes was, according to Ovid,[2] the son of a poor fisherman in Maeonia, who served as pilot in a ship. After landing at the island of Naxos, some of the sailors brought a beautiful sleeping boy on board with them. They had found him on the island and wished to take him with them. Acoetes, who recognized in the boy the god Bacchus, was unable to dissuade them from it. When the ship had reached the open sea, the boy awoke, and desired to be carried back to Naxos. The sailors promised to do so but did not keep their word. Hereupon the god showed himself to them in his own majesty: Vines began to twine round the vessel, and Bacchus stood crowned with grapes, holding his thyrsus (a staff with a pine cone on top, wrapped with vines and ivy leaves) and surrounded by panthers and tigers. The sailors, seized with madness, jumped into the sea and were turned into dolphins. Acoetes alone was saved and continued on his journey with Bacchus,[3] returning to Naxos, where he was initiated in the Bacchic mysteries and became a priest of the god.

In Ovid's Pentheus and Bacchus, Acoetes was brought before the King to determine if Bacchus was truly a god. After listening to Acoetes tale of being on the ship with Bacchus, Pentheus ordered him jailed and tortured. However, in trying to imprison Acoetes "[l]ocks exploded...[d]oors flew open untouched. And untouched shackles fell off."

Hyginus, whose story on the whole agrees with that of Ovid,[4] and all the other writers who mention this adventure of Bacchus, call the crew of the ship Tyrrhenian pirates and derive the name of the Tyrrhenian Sea from them.[5][6][7]

Acoetes, father of Laocoon[edit]

Another, lesser-known Acoetes was father to Laocoon, who warned about the Trojan Horse.[8]

"Laocoon, son of Acoetes, brother of Anchises, and priest of Apollo" (Hyginus, Fables 135)

Acoetes, squire of Evander[edit]

Lastly, Acoetes was also the name of Evander's former squire in Arcadia, before the latter emigrated to Italy.[9]

"Weeping he spoke, and slowly backward drew to the tent-door, where by the breathless clay of Pallas stood Acoetes, aged man, once bearer of Evander's arms, but now under less happy omens set to guard his darling child." (Virgil, Aeneid Book 11.30)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Smith, William (1867), "Acoetes", in Smith, William, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1, Boston, MA, p. 13 
  2. ^ Ovid. Metamorphoses, iii. 582 ff. Translated by More, Brookes. Boston, Cornhill Publishing Co. 1922.
  3. ^ Howe and Harrer. A Handbook of Classical Mythology. Oracle, 1996 (Originally published in 1931).
  4. ^ Hyginus. Fabulae 134. Translated and edited by Mary Grant. University of Kansas Publications in Humanistic Studies, no. 34. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1960.
  5. ^ Comp. Hom. Hymn. in Bacch.  Translated by Evelyn-White, H G. Loeb Classical Library Volume 57. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1914.
  6. ^ Apollodorus, Bibliotheca Book 3.5.3 with an English Translation by Sir James George Frazer, F.B.A., F.R.S. in 2 Volumes. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1921.
  7. ^ Seneca the Younger. Oedipus, 449. Translated by Miller, Frank Justus. Loeb Classical Library Volumes. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1917.
  8. ^ Hyginus. Fabulae 135. Translated and edited by Mary Grant. University of Kansas Publications in Humanistic Studies, no. 34. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1960.
  9. ^ Virgil. Aeneid Book 11.30. Translated by Theodore C. Williams, Ed. Boston. Houghton Mifflin Co. 1910.

Sources[edit]

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