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Old 11-29-2005, 08:05 AM
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Ship Names in Greek Mythology

Yesterday one of the R&D head honchos came up to me and asked me the name of Odysseus's ship. (I work on optics and lasers at a high tech company. This sort of thing comes up all the time.) He couldn't think of it.


Neither can I. I'm a big fan of mythology. I've lost count of how many times I've been through The Odyssey. But I can't recall odysseus' ship ever being named. Nor can I recall any other ships having names, aside from the obvious case of The Argo.


Isn't that strange? I'd never thought about it before. You'd think with that famous example of The Argo sitting out there in plain sight that naming ships would be a common thing, yet I can't think of any other cases.


Anybody know of any other ship's names from classical mythology or history? The only cases I can think of come from much later. Why should that be?
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Old 11-29-2005, 08:23 AM
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http://cs.indiana.edu/~hfoundal/...eaco_name.html

This page, in which the author proposes Phaeaco for the name of a program, says "if only he had given the Phaeacian ship a name! Well, unfortunately, he did not." All the reader knows about Odysseus's ship is that it was Phaeacian. Is it possible that the Argo was not named "The Argo", but called "an Argo" because it was fundamentally different from existing designs for triremes or cargo ships?
#3
Old 11-29-2005, 10:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jurph
Is it possible that the Argo was not named "The Argo", but called "an Argo" because it was fundamentally different from existing designs for triremes or cargo ships?
The Argo was named for Argos, its builder. It was the largest ship ever built (in the context of the myth) which probably explains the special treatment it receives in being named.

-rainy
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Old 11-29-2005, 11:01 AM
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Which leads to the spin-off question: What was the earliest named ship in history that we know about? Myths and legends don't count.
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Old 11-29-2005, 01:12 PM
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(warning - somewhat WAG ahead)

For the most part, I don't think it was the actual ship that was important. For one, warriors (who are generally the ones who are still remembered) travelled in fleets. Odysseus had more than one boat, I believe. Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter to be able to launch his fleet, not a single boat. The importance, I'd say, was much more on the commander of the ships: Those are Odysseus' ships, that man served in Achilleus' fleet.

Further tangental speculation: the early Greeks (ie, in Homer's time and before) didn't really have commerce as we'd consider it today. There's an intriguing word in ancient Greek that's often translated as 'stranger', but really means "guest-friend". If someone showed up as a guest-friend (ie, pretty much everyone who didn't come and immediately start raping and pillaging), there was almost always an exchange of gifts. It was just assumed that the host would provide the traveller with a place to sleep, meals, etc., and often, provide sustinence for a continuing journey. Trade between the different regions, in the form of two kings sitting down to negotiate how much money to pay for how much, say, oil, was fairly rare.

Again: not an expect, just a student who's studied a crapload of Greek and Greek literature, most of the above is just rambling, this product is not covered under any manufacturer warranty.
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Old 11-29-2005, 01:25 PM
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Quote:
Which leads to the spin-off question: What was the earliest named ship in history that we know about? Myths and legends don't count.
As poster of the OP, I'll open that up further -- myths and legends count. They'd imply that the practice of naming ships was going on.

I'd find it hard to believe, myself, that people haven't been naming their ships since the first boat, but there's little evidence of it. The earliest ones I can think of are from the time of the Renaissance, or, arguably, slightly before.


But even if the Greeks were more concerned with their warriors and didn't have trade (I'll dispute that), they certainly had ships, and I'm very surprised that there aren't any names on record. Heck, if one guy had two ships he'd start cal;ling one by a different designation (they can't both just be "my ship") that would eventually wear into a de facto name ("The Big One").
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#7
Old 11-29-2005, 01:28 PM
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Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter to be able to launch his fleet, not a single boat.
I don't seem to recall this from the Iliad; could you give more information?
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#8
Old 11-29-2005, 01:32 PM
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Quote:
Quote:
Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter to be able to launch his fleet, not a single boat.

I don't seem to recall this from the Iliad; could you give more information?
His daughter was Iphigenia, and there are a couple of plays about her.


Agamemnon's fleet was bottled up by a wind, and an oracle told him that the only way to remove the wind was to sacrifice his daughter. In the existing works, a deus ex machina occurs -- very literally. A god appears and calls off the sacrifice, and Iphigenia is saved. But I don't doubt that in the original she got sacrificed. A similar story is told about Idomeneus, the king of Crete -- only without the deus ex macina.

I think it's referred to in The Iliad, but not actually related. Look in Graves' book Greek Mtyths, or Kerenyi's Heroes of the Greeks or (best of all ) Timothy Ganz' Ancient Greek Myth for sources of the story.
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#9
Old 11-29-2005, 01:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ninja
For the most part, I don't think it was the actual ship that was important. For one, warriors (who are generally the ones who are still remembered) travelled in fleets.
You'd think that this would make named ships more likely, rather then less. After all, if you only have one ship, in conversation you can just call it "the ship". If you have a fleet, on the other hand, you need to distinguish between different ships in conversation, and having named ships would make this easier.

On the other hand, I can't think of a single named ship from antiquity, with the exception of The Argos. Anyone remember one being mentioned in another myth, the bible, a play, etc. You'd think one of the literate, seafearing cultures (Romans, Greek, Phonecians, Egyptians) would've recorded at least one ship name, if they didn in fact name their ships. Looking at Wikipedia's listing of ships doesn't revel any ancient ships with the exception of the Argo.
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Old 11-29-2005, 01:39 PM
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Found one here, which participated in a battle at the end of the 5th century BC. So the Athenians, at least, were naming their flagships during the Greek golden age.
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Old 11-29-2005, 01:48 PM
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Congratulations! Presumably that's in Thucydides' The Peloponnesian Watr. Maybe he has others.


Here's Wikipedia on Iphigenia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iphigenia
#12
Old 11-29-2005, 01:51 PM
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Nope -- it's in Xenophon, apparently:

http://enlightenweb.net/p/pa/paralus.html
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Old 11-29-2005, 01:52 PM
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Nope -- it's in Xenophon, apparently:

http://enlightenweb.net/p/pa/paralus.html


Here's another -- the Salaminia:


http://ancientlibrary.com/smith-dgra/0872.html
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#14
Old 11-29-2005, 02:00 PM
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Hah! Right the first time -- they are in Thucydides:

http://classicpersuasion.org/pw/thuc...aseget=3.32-36
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Old 11-29-2005, 05:43 PM
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Noah's Ark


...


what?

*ducks*
#16
Old 11-29-2005, 05:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham
His daughter was Iphigenia, and there are a couple of plays about her.


Agamemnon's fleet was bottled up by a wind, and an oracle told him that the only way to remove the wind was to sacrifice his daughter. In the existing works, a deus ex machina occurs -- very literally. A god appears and calls off the sacrifice, and Iphigenia is saved. But I don't doubt that in the original she got sacrificed. A similar story is told about Idomeneus, the king of Crete -- only without the deus ex macina.

I think it's referred to in The Iliad, but not actually related. Look in Graves' book Greek Mtyths, or Kerenyi's Heroes of the Greeks or (best of all ) Timothy Ganz' Ancient Greek Myth for sources of the story.
True. Iphigenia at Aulis, by Euripides, is about those occurances. I do believe it's briefly mentioned a number of times in The Iliad, but don't have the time to go through and find where right now. It's also a fairly important plot point in Aeschylus' Oresteia trilogy (Agammemnon, the Libation Bearers, and The Eumenides).

<hijack>
In Agamemnon, Agamemnon's wife Clytemnestra murders him when he gets back from the Trojan war. She's got a couple motives (including a hot new boy who is younger and much better in bed than Aggy), but part of it is revenge. In Aeschylus' version, Agamemnon did kill Iphigenia (which may or may not disagree with Euripedes' version, in which Iphigenia just vanishes off the alter). Aeschylus mostly does this so that, eventually, the curse on the house of Atreus can be done away with, after lots more familial slaughtering.
</hijack>
#17
Old 11-29-2005, 06:34 PM
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too. In looking through Année Philologique, these references come up:

Quote:
Hardie Philip. - Ships and ship-names in the Aeneid. Classical essays for J. Bramble : 163-171.
This may or may not have any relevance, and the book is unfortunately not in my library.

Quote:
Murray, William M. - A trireme named Isis : the sgraffito from Nymphaion. IJNA 2001 30 (2) : 250-256 ill. • A large and detailed image of a Hellenistic galley with the name « Isis » inscribed on its bow was found at Nymphaion. Given the likelihood that warships received written names on their hulls as early as 480 B.C., the vessel is surely named Isis and is of Ptolemaic origin. When compared to evidence from actual Ptolemaic rams, the Isis ram is clearly for a small class of warship, probably a trireme.
Aha!

Apparently there's some discussion as to how ship-names were labelled, as seamen were largely illiterate, he says. Morrison argues that ship names were only indicated by figural bow-plaques, but he disagrees. He dates the practice of physically writing the ships name to the 4th century, as early as 480 BCE due to 'Themistocles' Decree', in which it is explicitly stated that the crews were listed under names of ships. He lists four ship names he argues couldn't have been represented figuratively: Kouphotate, Hikane, Naukratis and Naukratousa, referring to inscriptions in his notes.

Interestingly as regards the Argo, apparently Apollonius of Rhodes was the first to coin a word for the specific place where the ship was named, the ptychis. I can't recall - were the Argonauts or the Argo specifically referred to by name in Homer?

He also gives us two more possibly useful references: L. Casson. Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World (1995); J. S. Morrison. Greek and Roman Oared Warships (1996).

My only conclusion is that maybe ship names just weren't that important, in general. They existed in historical times but weren't listed in the histories, so perhaps that's why they don't (usually) appear in myth.
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Old 11-29-2005, 06:35 PM
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Heh, looks like in my eagerness to copy over the intelligent part, I missed my into paragraph. It should read:

I'm baffled. I consulted with a collegue, and he's baffled too. In looking through Année Philologique, these references come up:
#19
Old 11-30-2005, 06:52 AM
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Many thanks, all. I'll have to try and look these up.
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#20
Old 12-01-2005, 01:34 PM
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Someone sent me this listing of ancient ship names:


http://users.globalnet.co.uk/~lo...iremenames.htm
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