Lelegians and Carians: Philip of Theangela on civilized Carians and savage Lelegians (third century BCE)

Citation with stable link: Philip A. Harland, 'Lelegians and Carians: Philip of Theangela on civilized Carians and savage Lelegians (third century BCE),' Ethnic Relations and Migration in the Ancient World, last modified May 23, 2024, https://philipharland.com/Blog/?p=20911.

Ancient authors: Philip of Theangela, Carians Matters = FGrHist 741 F1-3 (link to FGrHist), as cited by Strabo (early first century CE), Geography 14.2.28 (link); Athenaios, Sophists at Dinner 271b; Scholia on Euripides, Rhesos 509.

Comments: The few ethnographic comments preserved from Philip of Theangela’s third century BCE work on Carian Matters (or perhaps titled On Carians and Lelegians) seem to show an ongoing concern to depict Carians positively (Philip himself seems to have been a native Carian) as a civilized people and the supposed earlier indigenous populations of Lelegians as savage and worthy of enslavement. For more on the legendary Lelegians, see the brief mention by Herodotos (link), the more detailed discussion by Strabo (link) and the episode of ethnic relations outlined by Plutarch (link).

Works consulted: A. Paradiso, “Philip of Theangela (741)” In Jacoby Online. Brill’s New Jacoby, Part III, edited by Ian Worthington. Brill: Leiden, 2010.


[Carian language not uncivilized]

(F1 = Strabo, Geography 14.2.28) Neither is Apollodoros correct when he says that the language of the Carians is very harsh. It is not, but even has very many Greek words mixed in with it, according to the Philippos [of Theangela], who wrote Carian Matters.


[Indigenous Lelegians enslaved by Carians]

(F2 = Athenaios, Sophists at Dinner 271b) In Philip of Theangela’s work On the Carians and Lelegians, after giving an account of the Lakedaimonian [Spartan] helots and the Thessalian labourers (penestai), Philip says that the Carians have used the Lelegians as household-slaves (oiketai) both in previous times and still today.


[Lelegians as savage sea-bandits]

(F3 = Scholia on Euripides, Rhesos 509) “Mermerian evil” may be a corruption from “Termerian,” as in the proverb “Termerian evils” Concering this, in his work On Carians, Philip says “Termeros and Lykos were Lelegians, who are savage (thēriōdeis) by nature (physis). (This Termeros established a city which he named “Termeron” after himself). They say Lelegians were the first to engage in sea-banditry (lēsteusai) and not only around Caria. But they also sailed to the island of Kos, having made rafts from wicker.”

(F3a = Suda) “Termerian evils”: A place in Caria is called Termerion, which the tyrants [or perhaps an error for: Tyrrhenians] used to use as a prison. This deserted place lies between Melos and Halikarnassos. This was said about the elusive bandits who happened to operate from this place. Therefore, great evils are called “Termerian evils.”


Source of translations: H.L. Jones, Strabo, 8 volumes, LCL (Cambridge, MA: HUP, 1917-28), public domain (passed away in 1932); B. Gulick, Athenaeus: The Deipnosophists, 7 volumes, LCL (Cambridge, MA: HUP, 1927-41), public domain (passed away in 1962 and copyright expired), adapted by Harland; Scholia on Euripides translated by Harland;

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