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Headword: *ke/rkwpes
Adler number: kappa,1405
Translated headword: Kerkopes, Cercopes, Monkey-men
Vetting Status: high
There were two brothers on [the] earth, who displayed every sort of wickedness, and they were called Kerkopes, taking this name from the terrible nature of their deeds. For one of them was called Passalos and the other Akmon.[1] Their mother Memnonis, seeing these things, told [them] not to meet "Black-bottom", that is, Heracles.[2]
Xenagoras says that they were changed into apes [piqh/kous] on account of their wicked behaviour and that the Pithecusae islands were named after them. [But he says that] their names were Kandoulos and Atlas.[3]
These Kerkopes [were the sons] of Theia and Ocean; they say that they were turned to stone because they tried to deceive Zeus.[4] [There is] the proverbial saying "to play the ape" [kerkwpi/zein] which Chrysippus says is metaphorical from animals fawning with their tails [ke/rkos].[5]
Greek Original:
*ke/rkwpes: du/o a)delfoi\ h)=san e)pi\ gh=s, pa=san a)diki/an e)pideiknu/menoi, kai\ e)le/gonto *ke/rkwpes, e)k th=s tw=n e)/rgwn deino/thtos ou(/tws e)ponomazo/menoi. o( me\n ga\r au)tw=n *pa/ssalos e)le/geto, o( de\ *)/akmwn. h( de\ mh/thr *memnoni\s tau=ta o(rw=sa e)/lege, mh\ perituxei=n *melampu/gw|, toute/sti tw=| *(hraklei=. fhsi\ de\ au)tou\s o( *cenago/ras ei)s piqh/kous metamorfwqh=nai dia\ th\n kakoh/qeian, kai\ ta\s *piqhkou/sas a)p' au)tw=n o)nomasqh=nai nh/sous. ta\ de\ o)no/mata au)tw=n *ka/ndoulos kai\ *)/atlas. ou(=toi oi( *ke/rkwpes *qei/as kai\ *)wkeanou=: ou(/s fasin a)poliqwqh=nai dia\ to\ e)gxeirei=n a)path=sai to\n *di/a. h( de\ paroimi/a, *kerkwpi/zein: h(\n o( *xru/sippos a)po\ tw=n saino/ntwn th=| ke/rkw| zw/|wn fhsi\ metenhne/xqai.
The name derives from ke/rkos "tail" (kappa 1402, kappa 1403) and the Kerkopes were mythological dwarvish and simian beings, associated with Thermopylae and Euboea, who feature in myths of Heracles and Omphale. See Lucian, Alexander, or The False Prophet, ps.-Apollonius, Bibliotheca 2.6.3. See also alpha 301, epsilon 3718, and kappa 1406.
[1] That is "Stick" and "Anvil".
[2] For "Black-bottom" [*Mela/mpuc] see mu 449, where the name seems to be identified not with Heracles, but with the Kerkopes (or a similar race of mythological mischief-makers). cf. ps.-Nonnus, Scholia mythologica 4.9 (on Gregory of Nazianzus PG 36.1005c-d).
[3] Xenagoras FGrH 240 F28. A similar account appears in Harpokration and Photius. See also the scholia to Lucian, Alexander, or The False Prophet 6-8.
[4] Zenobius 1.5 and 5.10.
[5] Zenobius. 4.50. See also kappa 1407.
Keywords: aetiology; biography; Christianity; daily life; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; ethics; geography; historiography; mythology; proverbs; women; zoology
Translated by: Jennifer Benedict on 11 April 2008@01:21:21.
Vetted by:
William Hutton (tweaks and cosmetics, raised status) on 11 April 2008@03:33:22.
David Whitehead (updated ref in n.3; more keywords; tweaks and cosmetics) on 11 April 2008@04:02:19.
David Whitehead (tweaking) on 19 February 2013@05:02:21.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 21 December 2014@00:31:51.


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