The Alleged Homeric Evidence
from G. Sergi, The Mediterranean Race: a study of the origin of European peoples, London (Scott), 1901, pp. 18-20

Achilles Educated by the Centaur Chiron. Roman copy from Pompeii of a Greek original.

These brief considerations seem to me to be sufficient to show that since it is difficult to find the Germans in their own home we cannot expect to find them as an Aryan stock in Greece and Italy, subjugating the dark populations and creating the two great Mediterranean civilisations, Hellenic and Latin, also called Aryan; still less can we connect them with the more ancient Mycenaean or Aegean civilisation, as it is to-day called. The disappearance of the Germanic type among the Mediterranean populations, assumed by Penka, is a necessity imposed by the fact that this type is sought in vain where it is supposed to have dominated, except as a sporadic element easy to explain through the cource of ages by the immigration of races or families or individuals.

But I cannot pass in silence the supposed testimony to the presence of the fair type in Greece, and to its superiority over the darker population, furnished by the Homeric poems, in which, it is affirmed, the heroes and gods are described as of the fair type with blue eyes. I have made a special investigation into this point and here present the results.

In Homer Athena is glaukopis; glaukos means blue, like the sea and the unclouded sky; it is also equivalent to phoberos, terrible (of the eyes); the olive is glaukos also, and Athena is the guardian of the olive; it also means shining, and is said of the dawn and the stars. In Athena's case glaukopis means that her eyes are brilliant and terrible. Empedocles uses glaukopis of the moon, and it is even doubtful if in Homer it ever means blue.

Apollo in Homer is chrysaoros, that is to say bearing a golden sword; the title of "fair" is later; xanthos is never used of Apollo in Homer, and if he were fair it would be like the sun. Apollo with golden hair, chrysokoman is found in Euripides and Athenaeus as "fair Dionysus" is found also in Euripides, that is to say at a much later time. Xanthos means a reddish fairness, and also brown. Artemis eustephanos; there is nothing as to being fair.

Aphrodite is chryse, golden, that is to say, brilliant, splendid, not fair.

Demeter is xanthe, fair, it is true, but we must remember that Demeter (Ceres) is the symbol of harvest, fair like the spike of corn as of Poseidon (Nepture) who is kyanochaites, that is to say with bluish, blackish, even black hair, like the dark and deep waves of ocean; kyanos is black, blue-black, violet, in Homer sometimes blacker than melas. In Demeter, therefore the title of fair is only a symbol for the colour of harvest.

Eos, the dawn, is chrysothronos, rhododaktylos, krokopeplos, because the colour of dawn is golden, rosy, and red.

Thetis, on the other hand, is argyropesa, i.e., with silver feet, the foaming wavelets of the sea.

Hera (Juno) is chrysothronos, leukolenos, eukomos and Kalypso is only eukomos; neither is fair.

Achilles, however, is xanthos like Rhadamanthys; but xanthos means not only fair, but also chestnut brown, and bees are xanthai.

It results from this analysis that in Homer none of the divinities are fair in the ethnographic sense of the word; only Achilles and Rhadamanthus might be considered fair if we accept the word xanthos in its later sense. No other hero is described as fair.

In regard to the Homeric expressions in heroic narratives relating to the men of a previous age confronted with contemporaries no one can fail to recognise that it is always usual to magnify past times and celebrated heroes.

The Romans had also their Flavi, which indicates that fair persons were uncommon, and required a special name but does not indicate that the Germanic type was considered aristocratic or dominant.

It could bring forward a wealth of facts to show that what I have just stated regarding the antrhopological characters of the Homeric gods and heroes may also be said, and with more reason of the types of Greek and Roman statuary which, though in the case of divinities they may be conventionalised, do not in the slightest degree recall the features of a northern race; in the delicacy of the cranial and facial forms, in smoothness of surface, in the absence of exaggerated frontal bosses and supra-orbital arches, in the harmony of the curves, in the facial oval, in the rather low foreheads, they recall the beautiful and harmoneous heads of the brown Mediterranean race.

Winkelmann noted the correspondance between the types of Italian art and the population, and wrote that in the finest districts of Italy one met few of these roughly outlined faces of uncertain or defective expression such as are met so often on the other side of the Alps; on the contrary, the features are distinct and vivacious, and the forms of the face large and full, with all the features in harmony.

Thus we are not able to see any sound evidence in the Greek and Latin peoples to indicate that a northern race dominated the two peninsulas in primitive times; the idea is an illusion of Indo-Germanism.