1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Leleges

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LELEGES, the name applied by Greek writers to an early people or peoples of which traces were believed to remain in Greek lands.

1. In Asia Minor.—In Homer the Leleges are allies of the Trojans, but they do not occur in the formal catalogue in Iliad, bk. ii., and their habitat is not specified. They are distinguished from the Carians, with whom some later writers confused them; they have a king Altes, and a town Pedasus which was sacked by Achilles. The name Pedasus occurs (i.) near Cyzicus, (ii.) in the Troad on the Satnioeis river, (iii.) in Caria, as well as (iv.) in Messenia. Alcaeus (7th-6th centuries B.C.) calls Antandrus in the Troad Lelegian, but Herodotus (5th century) substitutes Pelasgian (q.v.). Gargara in the Troad also counted as Lelegian. Pherecydes (5th century) attributed to Leleges the coast land of Caria from Ephesus to Phocaea, with the islands of Samos and Chios, placing the “true Carians” farther south from Ephesus to Miletus. If this statement be from Pherecydes of Leros (c. 480) it has great weight. In the 4th century, however, Philippus of Theangela in south Caria describes Leleges still surviving as serfs of the true Carians, and Strabo, in the 1st century B.C., attributes to the Leleges a well-marked group of deserted forts, tombs and dwellings which ranged (and can still be traced) from the neighbourhood of Theangela and Halicarnassus as far north as Miletus, the southern limit of the “true Carians” of Pherecydes. Plutarch also implies the historic existence of Lelegian serfs at Tralles in the interior.

2. In Greece and the Aegean.—A single passage in the Hesiodic catalogue (fr. 136 Kinkel) places Leleges “in Deucalion’s time,” i.e. as a primitive people, in Locris in central Greece. Not until the 4th century B.C. does any other writer place them anywhere west of the Aegean. But the confusion of the Leleges with the Carians (immigrant conquerors akin to Lydians and Mysians, and probably to Phrygians) which first appears in a Cretan legend (quoted by Herodotus, but repudiated, as he says, by the Carians themselves) and is repeated by Callisthenes, Apollodorus and other later writers, led easily to the suggestion of Callisthenes, that Leleges joined the Carians in their (half legendary) raids on the coasts of Greece. Meanwhile other writers from the 4th century onwards claimed to discover them in Boeotia, west Acarnania (Leucas), and later again in Thessaly, Euboea, Megara, Lacedaemon and Messenia. In Messenia they were reputed immigrant founders of Pylos, and were connected with the seafaring Taphians and Teleboans of Homer, and distinguished from the Pelasgians; in Lacedaemon and in Leucas they were believed to be aboriginal. These European Leleges must be interpreted in connexion with the recurrence of place names like Pedasus, Physcus, Larymna and Abae, (a) in Caria, and (b) in the “Lelegian” parts of Greece; perhaps this is the result of some early migration; perhaps it is also the cause of these Lelegian theories.

Modern speculations (mainly corollaries of Indo-Germanic theory) add little of value to the Greek accounts quoted above. H. Kiepert (“Über den Volksstamm der Leleges,” in Monatsber. Berl. Akad., 1861, p. 114) makes the Leleges an aboriginal people akin to Albanians and Illyrians; K. W. Deimling, Die Leleger (Leipzig, 1862), starts them in south-west Asia Minor, and brings them thence to Greece (practically the Greek view); G. F. Unger, “Hellas in Thessalien,” in Philologus, Suppl. ii. (1863), makes them Phoenician, and derives their name from λαλάζειν (cf. the names βάρβαρος, Wälsche). E. Curtius (History of Greece, i.) distinguished a “Lelegian” phase of nascent Aegean culture. Most later writers follow Deimling. For Strabo’s “Lelegian” monuments, cf. Paton and Myres, Journal of Hellenic Studies, xvi. 188-270.  (J. L. M.)