Herodotus on Attis?

In Herodotus, book 1, 34-45, there is a rambling story about Atys, son of Croesus, accidentally killed by a spear while hunting.  In his Cybele and Attis, M. J. Vermaseren considers whether this is part of the myth of Attis.  This link asserts that it is.

But on looking at the text, the account is very dissimilar from any other account.  Does anything but the similarity of name tie the two together?


4 thoughts on “Herodotus on Attis?

  1. I agree; all these posts would be better in the form of a web-page, containing the lot, and perhaps with some inscriptions and images as well. I’ll do that, I think.

  2. The connection is through Pausanias, who reports about the famine-causing boar sent by the Gods, and how the boar killed Attis and the Lydians. The fact that here Attis is killed by a spear in the boar hunt is a mere variant detail. Blur your eyes and the report is substantially the same. Remember, we are dealing with folklore here, in which we would expect to find the story told slightly differently from locale to locale. As Pausanias’ travels attest, myths were retold locally. Note also the account in one of the Church Fathers (which slips my mind right at the moment) where there was a famine and the priests were told they needed to give Attis a proper ritual burial in order for the famine to subside. This becomes an annual mourning rite in which an effigy of Attis is buried. Here there is a connection drawn between famine and Attis’ death, just as the boar of famine kills Attis, or Attis is killed in the process of trying to overcome the boar of famine. Cf. Enkidu’s death in the pursuit of the bull of famine in Gilgamesh.

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