only talking about the God of this name here, not the Lydian King about whom
operas and the like have been written.)
Hermes dog-strangler –
Kandaulas in Lydian – Companion of thieves, come here and help me out!
-Hipponax, fragment, trans. Degani.
A God from Asia Minor who is mostly unknown today. One
Byzantine source says the name means “puppy-choker.” However, this is late
speculation and may not be reflective of any actual meaning.
Hipponax tells us that Kandaulas is an epithet for Hermes
along with a mostly unknown term kynanches, which also may have to do with
strangulation and dogs, and connects Kandaulas to Asia Minor as well.
In many Indo-European societies, one finds the heroic and
divine dog-slayer, who is often a warrior god that prefers offerings of dog.
A gloss of Hesychius seems to have thought that Kandaulas was
either Hermes or Herakles. In Western Asia Minor the name Kandaules was a royal
name. Even the connection with dogs is purely speculation.
What little survives suggests that Kandaulas might be some
sort of Chthonic god or a Hero with a story of overwhelming a hound with his
strength. Others suspect that he was a wolf-god.
In spite of Hesychius, we cannot even firmly connect him
with Hermes and Herakles, except to say that there were similarities, and
speculate that Kandaulas is associated with thievery based upon Hipponax’s
He seems to have received ritual dinners akin to Hekate’s
deipna. But unlike her new moon repas, Kandaulas’ feast included the devotees
in eating and seems to have involved some sort of puppies killed and buried in
jugs. For the devotees, there was moussaka or gouvetsi to eat, most likely made
with puppies as well.
I have a feeling that these rites would not go over well in
the current world. I know that I couldn’t do it. Could you?
Colvin, Stephen. A
Historical Greek Reader: Mycenaean to the Koine, Oxford, 2007.
Gamkrelidze, Thomas V. and Vjaceslav V. Ivanov. Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans: A
Reconstruction and Historical Analysis of a Proto-Language and Proto-Culture. De
Greenewalt, Crawford Hallock, and Sebastian Payne. Ritual Dinners in Early Historic Sardis,
Univ. Cali, 1978.
Petrosyan, Armen. The
Indo-european and Ancient Near Eastern Sources of the Armenian Epic: Myth and
History, Institute for the Study of Man, 2002.
Simoons, Frederick J. Eat
Not this Flesh: Food Avoidances from Prehistory to the Present, Univ. WI,
The Gymnasium at Sardis in Sart, Manisa, Turkey. Photo by
Kpisimon, 1991. Via wikicommons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SardesGymnasion.jpg