Arima, Couch of Typhoeus

Arima, couch of Typhoeus, the most deadly monster of Greek mythology, as Homer expresses it, is a hard-to-place site in Greek mythology, said to be where Zeus defeated Typhon and where Echidna dwells. Hylea is pointed to be where was the Echidna’s cave between people Arimi or Harimi, the Greeks on the Euxine believed that this was somewhere in Scythia.

The last son of Gaia, fathered by Tartarus, Typhoeus was known as the “Father of All Monsters”; his wife Echidna (“she viper”), who was half woman half snake, was likewise known as the “Mother of All Monsters” because most of the monsters in Greek myth were mothered by her.

Hesiod’s Theogony described her as: […] the goddess fierce Echidna who is half a nymph with glancing eyes and fair cheeks, and half again a huge snake, great and awful, with speckled skin, eating raw flesh beneath the secret parts of the holy earth. And there she has a cave deep down under a hollow rock far from the deathless gods and mortal men. There, then, did the gods appoint her a glorious house to dwell in: and she keeps guard in Arima beneath the earth, grim Echidna, a nymph who dies not nor grows old all her days.

According to Apollodorus, Echidna was the daughter of Tartarus and Gaia, while according to Hesiod, either Ceto and Phorcys or Chrysaor and the naiad Callirhoe were her parents.

Another account says her parents were Peiras and Styx (according to Pausanias, who did not know who Peiras was aside from her father). Echidna was a drakaina, with the face and torso of a beautiful woman (depicted as winged in archaic vase-paintings) and the body of a serpent, sometimes having two serpent’s tails.

She is also sometimes described, as Karl Kerenyi noted, in archaic vase-painting, with a pair of echidnas performing sacred rites in a vineyard, while on the opposite side of the vessel, goats were attacking the vines: thus chthonic Echidnae are presented as protectors of the vineyard.

The site of her cave Homer calls “Arima, couch of Typhoeus”. When she and her mate attacked the Olympians, Zeus beat them back and punished Typhon by sealing him under Mount Etna. However, Zeus allowed Echidna and her children to live as a challenge to future heroes.

Although to Hesiod, she was an immortal and ageless nymph, according to Apollodorus, Echidna used to “carry off passers-by”, until she was finally killed where she slept by Argus Panoptes, the hundred-eyed giant.

Echidna is also sometimes identified as the mother by Heracles, a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson (and half-brother) of Perseus, of Scythes, along with his brothers Agathyrsus and Gelonus, (or Geloni), also known as Helonians (or Heloni).

While Scythes is an eponymous king of the Scythians, Iranic equestrian tribes who were mentioned as inhabiting large areas in the central Eurasian steppes starting with the 7th century BC up until the 4th century AD, Agathyrsus is an eponymous king of the Agathyrsi, a people of Scythian, or mixed Dacian-Scythian origin, who in the time of Herodotus occupied the plain of the Maris (Mures), in the mountainous part of ancient Dacia now known as Transylvania, Romania.

Herodotus states that the Geloni, which are mentioned as a nation in northwestern Scythia, were originally Hellenes who settled among the Scythian tribe Budini, who according to some researchers were a Finnic tribe ruled by the Scythians, and that they are bilingual in Greek and the Scythian language.

Their capital was called Gelonos or Helonos, originally a Greek market town. In his account of Scythia, Herodotus writes that the Gelonii were formerly Greeks, having settled away from the coastal emporia among the Budini, where they “use a tongue partly Scythian and partly Greek”:

“The Budini for their part, being a large and numerous nation, is all mightily blue-eyed and ruddy. And a city among them has been built, a wooden city, and the name of the city is Gelonus. Of its wall then in size each side is of thirty stades and high and all wooden. And their homes are wooden and their shrines. For indeed there is in the very place Greek gods’ shrines adorned in the Greek way with statues, altars and wooden shrines and for triennial Dionysus festivals in honour of Dionysus…

Above the Sauromatae (Sarmatians), possessing the second region, dwell the Budini, whose territory is thickly wooded with trees of every kind. The Budini are a large and powerful nation: they have all deep blue eyes, and bright red hair.

The Budini, however, do not speak the same language as the Geloni, nor is their mode of life the same. They are the aboriginal people of the country, and are nomads; unlike any of the neighbouring races, they eat lice.

Their country is thickly planted with trees of all manner of kinds. In the very woodiest part is a broad deep lake, surrounded by marshy ground with reeds growing on it. Here otters are caught, and beavers, with another sort of animal which has a square face.

With the skins of this last the natives border their capotes: and they also get from them a remedy, which is of virtue in diseases of the womb… Beyond the Budini, as one goes northward, first there is a desert, seven days’ journey across…

The fortified settlement of Gelonus was reached by the Persian army of Darius in his assault on Scythia during the 5th century BC, and burned to the ground, the Budini having abandoned it in their flight before the Persian advance.

The Scythians sent a message to Darius: “We are free as wind and what you can catch in our land is only the wind”. By employing a scorched earth strategy, they avoided battles, leaving “earth without grass” by burning the steppe in front of the advancing Persians (Herodotus). The Persian army returned without a single battle or any significant success.

Recent digs in Bilsk, Ukraine have uncovered a vast city identified by the Kharkov archaeologist Boris Shramko as the Scythian capital Gelonus.

The name according to Herodotus, who took his mythology from “the Greeks who dwell about the Pontos”, derives from their eponymous mythical founder, Gelonus brother of Scythes, sons of Heracles, an expression of observed cultural links in genealogical terms. Herodotus also mentions that the Greeks apply the ethnonym both to the actual Gelonians of Greek origin and by extension to the Budinoi.

At the end of the fourth century AD, Claudian in his Against Rufinus (book 1) polemically portrays the tribes of Scythia as prototypical barbarians: There march against us a mixed horde of Sarmatians and Dacians, the Massagetes who cruelly wound their horses that they may drink their blood, the Alans who break the ice and drink the waters of Maeotis’ lake, and the Geloni who tattoo their limbs: these form Rufinus’ army.

Sidonius Apollinaris, the cultured Gallo-Roman poet of the sixth century, includes Geloni, “milkers of mares” (equimulgae) among tribal allies participating in the Battle of Chalons against Attila in 451 AD.

E.A. Thompson expresses his suspicions about some of these names: The Bastarnae, Bructeri, Geloni and Neuri had disappeared hundreds of years before the times of the Huns, while the Bellonoti had never existed at all: presumably the learned poet was thinking of the Balloniti, a people invented by Valerius Flaccus nearly four centuries earlier.

Later located eastward probably on the middle course of the Volga about Samara, the Budini are described as fair-eyed and red-haired, and lived by hunting in the dense forests.

The 1911 Britannica surmises that they were Fenno-Ugric, of the branch now represented by the Udmurts and Komis (this branch is now called “Permic”), forced northwards by later immigrants. In their country was a wooden city called Gelonos, inhabited with a “distinct race”, the Geloni, who according to Herodotus were Greeks that became assimilated to the Scythians.

Later writers add nothing to our knowledge of the Budini, and are more interested in the tarandus, an animal that dwelt in the woods of the Budini, possibly the reindeer (Aristotle ap. Aelian, Hist. Anim. xv. 33).

The Udmurts are a people who speak the Udmurt language of the Uralic family. Through history they have been known in Russian as Chud Otyatskaya, Otyaks, or Votyaks (most known name), and in Tatar as Ar.

The name Udmurt probably comes from *odo-mort ‘meadow people,’ where the first part represents the Permic root *od(o) ‘meadow, glade, turf, greenery’ (related to Finnish itää ‘to germinate, sprout’) and the second part (Udmurt murt ‘person’; cf. Komi mort, Mari mari) is an early borrowing from Indo-Iranian *mertā or *martiya ‘person, man’ (cf. Urdu/Persian mard). This is supported by a document dated Feb. 25, 1557, in which alongside the traditional Russian name otyaki the Udmurts are referred to as lugovye lyudi ‘meadow people’.

On the other hand, in the Russian tradition, the name ‘meadow people’ refers to the inhabitants of the left bank of river general. Recently, the most relevant is the version of V. V. Napolskikh and S. K. Belykh. They suppose that ethnonym was borrowed from the Iranian entirely: *anta-marta ‘resident of outskirts, border zone’ (cf. Antes) → Proto-Permic *odə-mort → Udmurt udmurt.

Most Udmurt people live in Udmurtia. Small groups live in the neighboring areas: Kirov Oblast and Perm Krai of Russia, Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, and Mari El.

Anthropologists relate Udmurts to the Urals branch of Europeans. Most of them are of the middle size, often have blue or gray eyes, high cheek-bones and wide face. The Udmurt people are not of an athletic build but they are very hardy and there have been claims that they are the “most red-headed” people in the world. Additionally, the ancient Budini tribe, which is speculated to be an ancestor of the modern Udmurts, were described by Herodotus as being predominantly red-headed.

Typhon was described in pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke, as the largest and most fearsome of all creatures. His human upper half reached as high as the stars, and his hands reached east and west. Instead of a human head, a hundred dragon heads erupted from his neck and shoulders (some, however, depict him as having a human head, with the dragon heads replacing the fingers on his hands).

His bottom half consisted of gigantic viper coils that could reach the top of his head when stretched out and constantly made a hissing noise. His whole body was covered in wings, and fire flashed from his eyes, striking fear even into the Olympians.

Typhon attempts to destroy Zeus at the will of Gaia, because Zeus had imprisoned the Titans. Typhon overcomes Zeus in their first battle, and tears out Zeus’ sinews. However, Hermes recovers the sinews and restores them to Zeus. Typhon is finally defeated by Zeus, who traps him underneath Mount Etna.

Typhon may be derived from the Greek (typhein), to smoke, hence it is considered to be a possible etymology for the word typhoon, supposedly borrowed by the Persians (as Tufân) and Arabs to describe the cyclonic storms of the Indian Ocean.

The Greeks also frequently represented him as a storm-demon, especially in the version where he stole Zeus’s thunderbolts and wrecked the earth with storms (cf. Hesiod, Theogony; Nonnus, Dionysiaca).

Typhon was known to be a large humanoid beast. Typhon was the last child of Gaia. After the defeat of his brothers, the Gigantes, Gaia urged him to avenge them, as well as his other brothers, the Titans.

In the alternative account of the origin of Typhon (Typhoeus), the Homeric Hymn to Apollo makes the monster Typhaon at Delphi a son of archaic Hera in her Minoan form, produced out of herself, like a monstrous version of Hephaestus or Mars, and whelped in a cave in Cilicia and confined there in the enigmatic Arima, or land of the Arimoi, en Arimois (Iliad, ii. 781–783).

It was in Cilicia that Zeus battled with the ancient monster and overcame him, in a more complicated story: It was not an easy battle, and Typhon temporarily overcame Zeus, cut the “sinews” from him and left him in the “leather sack”, the korukos that is the etymological origin of the korukion andron, the Korykian or Corycian Cave located on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, in Greece in which Zeus suffers temporary eclipse as if in the Land of the Dead.

The region of Cilicia in southeastern Anatolia had many opportunities for coastal Hellenes’ connection with the Hittites to the north. From its first reappearance, the Hittite myth of Illuyankas has been seen as a prototype of the battle of Zeus and Typhon.

Walter Burkert and Calvert Watkins each note the close agreements. Watkins’ How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics (Oxford University Press) 1995, reconstructs in disciplined detail the flexible Indo-European poetic formula that underlies myth, epic and magical charm texts of the lashing and binding of Typhon.

Since Herodotus, Typhon has been identified by some scholars with the Egyptian Set. In the Orphic tradition, Typhon leads the Titans when they attack and kill Dionysus, just as Set is responsible for the murder of Osiris. Furthermore, the slaying of Typhon by Zeus bears similarities to the killing of Vritra by Indra (a deity also associated with lightning and storms), and possibly the two stories are ultimately derived from a common Indo-European source.

Similarities can be found in the battle between Thor and Jormungand from Norse myths, as well as (perhaps) an incident in the Irish Metrical Dindsenchas in which the Dagda fights a giant octopus. Mythologist Joseph Campbell also makes parallels to the slaying of Leviathan by YHWH, about which YHWH boasts to Job.

Comparisons can also be drawn with the Mesopotamian monster Tiamat and its slaying by Babylonian chief god Marduk. The similarities between the Greek myth and its earlier Mesopotamian counterpart do not seem to be merely accidental. A number of west Semitic (Ras Shamra) and Hittite sources appear to corroborate the theory of a genetic relationship between the two myths.

In the Iliad, following the catalogue of ships, Homer returns to describing the tramp of the huge Achaean army; it is like the resounding earth beneath the “anger of Zeus who delights in thunder, whenever he lashes the ground around Typhoeus in Arima (en Arimois), where they say is Typhoeus’ bed”. “Even the ancients were uncertain,” Robin Lane Fox observes, in preface to offering an identification of “Arima”.

Some readers have assumed that an unattested people, the Arimoi, were intended. Homer’s interjection “they say” seems to place Arima at a certain remove from his experience and those of his hearers. “It is clear that ancient critics did not know which region this signified,” comments G.S. Kirk concerning this passage.

Hesiod remarks that “Arima” is where Echidna, the chthonic mate of Typhon, dwells, “there in earth’s secret places. For there she has her cave on the underside of a hollow rock, far from the immortal gods, and far from all mortals. There the gods ordained her a fabulous home to live in which she keeps underground among the Arimoi, grisly Ekhidna.”

A fragment from a lost poem of Pindar notes that in the “highly celebrated Corycian cave”, “once, among the Arimoi” Zeus had battered Thyphoeus, with “fifty” heads.

Strabo gives a brief list of the places where “Arima” had been sited by previous writers: Lydia, Syria, Cilicia, and even Sicily and the west.

Fox notes that in north Syria, where the early Greek trading post of Al Mina lay, the presence, from the ninth century onwards, the presence of “Aramaeans”, speaking and writing Aramaic. Even earlier, royal Assyrian texts of c. 1060 refers to a land A-ri-me, A-ri-mi or A-ra-me eastwards in Mesopotamia; its people recur in a text of Sargon c. 710 BCE A-ra-me.

The truth is more subtle than a simple identification with such a “distant hint”, as Fox demonstrates, linking myth, surviving inscriptions and other documentation to identify “Arima” with the territory surrounding the Corycian cave, an identification first made by Alexander’s historical advisor, Callisthenes: “the Arimoi are located by the Corycian cave near Calycadnus and the promontory of Sarpedon; the neighboring mountains are called ‘Arima'”.

Fox confirms Callisthenes with an inscription in the temple built at the cave’s entrance that records a visitor’s propitiation of Pan and Hermes, at this “broad recess in the earth at Arima”; Hermes and goat-Pan (Aigipan) rescued Zeus, deprived of his “sinews” from his first defeat at the hands of Typhon.

Fox notes that “in inscriptions found at the nearby settlement of Corycos, Zeus is specifically entitled the ‘Zeus of Victory,’ referring to his victory, therefore, in the war with Typhon”; he also notes in passing the earlier Hittite place name Erimma in Cilicia.

Corycus was an ancient city in Cilicia Trachaea, Anatolia, located at the mouth of the river called Şeytan deresi; the site is now occupied by the town of Kızkalesi (formerly Ghorgos), Mersin Province, Turkey.

In the Corycian Cave (now Cennet ve Cehennem), 20 stadia inland, says Strabo, the best crocus (saffron) grows. He describes this cave as a great hollow, of a circular form, surrounded by a margin of rock, on all sides of a considerable height; on descending into this cavity, the ground is found to be uneven and generally rocky, and it is filled with shrubs, both evergreen and cultivated; in some parts the saffron is cultivated: there is also a cave here which contains a large source, which pours forth a river of pure, pellucid water, but it immediately sinks into the earth, and flowing underground enters the sea: they call it the Bitter Water.

Pomponius Mela (i.13) has a long description of the same place apparently from the same authority that Strabo followed, but more embellished. This place is probably on the top of the mountain above Corycus.

This place is famed in Greek mythology. It is the Cilician cave of Pindar (Pythian Ode i. 31), and of Aeschylus (Prom. Vinct. 350), and as Arima, couch of Typhoeus, it is the lair of Zeus’ fiercest opponent, the giant Typhon or Typhoeus.

Cennet and Cehennem (English: heaven and hell) are the names of two big sinkholes on the Taurus Mountains, in Mersin Province, Turkey. They are situated next to each other in the rural area of Silifke district which in turn is a part of Mersin Province.

Top opening of Cennet is 250 x 110 m2 ( 820 x 360 ft2 ) and its average dept is 70 metres (230 ft). It is possible to reach the bottom of Cennet by a primitive staircase composed of 300 steps. At the bottom towards south, there is a smaller and 150 steps deeper cave. In this cave are the ruins of a monastery built in the 5th century by a certain Paulus and dedicated to Virgin Mary. In this monastery one can hear the sound of a small underground stream from the monastery to the gulf of Narlıkuyu.

Cehennem is a deeper sinkhole with a depth of 128 metres (420 ft). But its top opening is smaller with dimensions 70 x 50 m2 ( 210 x 150 ft2 ) . More over, the upper edge of the opening is concave. So, it is impossible to reach the bottom of Cehennem.

In antiquity this coast was part of Cilicia, named for a Phoenician or Assyrian prince that had settled here. Trade from Syria and Mesopotamia over the mountains to central Anatolia passed through here, through the Cilician Gates. The geographer Strabo, described the region as being divided into “Rugged Cilicia” and “Flat Cilicia”. The capital of both sections of Cilicia was Tarsus and Mersin was its seaport.

The Cilician Gates or Gülek Pass is a pass through the Taurus Mountains connecting the low plains of Cilicia to the Anatolian Plateau, by way of the narrow gorge of the Gökoluk River. Its highest elevation is about 1000m.

The Cilician Gates have been a major commercial and military artery for millennia. In the early 20th century, a narrow-gauge railway was built through them, and today, the Tarsus-Ankara Highway (E90, O-21) passes through them.

The southern end of the Cilician gates is about 44 km north of Tarsus and the northern end leads to Cappadocia.

Yumuktepe (modern Mersin), which guards the Adana side of the gateway, with 23 layers of occupation, is at 4,500 BCE, one of the oldest fortified settlements in the world. The ancient pathway was a track for mule caravans, not wheeled vehicles. In ancient history the Hittites, Greeks, Alexander the Great, the Romans, Mongols, and the Crusaders have all traveled this route during their campaigns. The Bible testifies that Saint Paul of Tarsus and Silas went this way as they went through Syria and Cilicia. The Book of Galatians speaks of the cities of Derbe, Lystra, and Iconium – cities visited by Paul on his first journey (Acts 14; Gal. 1:2), with the purpose of strengthening their churches, at the beginning of the second preaching journey (Acts 15:40-41).

The distance from the Anatolian plateau to the Cilician plain is about 110 kilometres (68 mi). In ancient times this was a journey of nearly five days. Saint Paul spoke, according to the Bible, about being in “dangers from rivers” and “dangers from robbers” (2 Cor. 11:26). This may explain why at 4.500 BCE, at the South Eastern end of the Cilician Gates was one of the world’s first existing fortresses (later Mersin). The Army of the Ten Thousand, Alexander the Great before the Battle of Issus, Paul of Tarsus on his way to the Galatians, and part of the army of the First Crusade all passed through the Cilician Gates, the site of the medieval fortress of Baberon (or Barbaron), then a stronghold of the medieval Armenian Principality of Cilicia.

When German engineers were working on the railroad link between Haydarpaşa Terminal in Istanbul, at the shore of the Sea of Marmara and Baghdad, they were unable to follow the steep-pitched, narrow, and tightly winding ancient track through the pass. The series of viaducts and tunnels they built are among the marvels of railroad engineering. The route was opened in 1918; the narrow-gauge working line moved Ottoman troops and war material to the Mesopotamian front in the closing months of World War I.

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