So the Lane Fox book sent me to my copy of Roberto Calasso’s The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, which has been patiently waiting on my shelf for years; I’m almost finished with it, and while it’s too long and I could do without the navel-gazing sessions in which the author cogitates on the Meaning of It All (“Zeus has no character, he is the support beneath every character”), I have enjoyed his fresh take on the hoary old stories (particularly welcome after Graves’s slanted scholarship). The lack of an index is annoying, but thanks to the magic of the internet one can search in the Google Books text if need be.
But I’m not here to praise Calasso, I’m here to get off my chest one of those incredibly petty gripes nobody cares about but me. Tim Parks has done, as best I can tell without having read the original, a good job of translating a text full of recondite material, but he blew it in one case that cost me a good bit of googling to remedy. On page 382 of my paperback copy he says “Haematius, king of the city, welcomed Cadmus as a guest.” I looked up Haematius in Wikipedia, as is my wont (I often wind up adding the Greek name to articles, and sometimes doing more revising), but there was nothing there. I googled the name: nothing except a few false hits from A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects and Doctrines (the book has HARMATIUS, which was mis-scanned). Luckily, Google Books has the Italian edition; it’s only Snippet View, but I was able to determine that the original talks about “Ematio sovrano,” and some more detective work convinced me that the Greek name was Ἠμαθίων or Emathio(n), a name associated with the Macedonian region of Emathia: Pape-Benseler tells me that Nonnus mentions a king of Samothrace of that name, and the scene here is Samothrace. So in the unlikely event anyone else runs into the false name, the explanation is here to enlighten them.
One of Aeneas’s companions also bears that name, and Gawin Douglas in his The Æneid of Virgil Translated into Scottish Verse has “Nane mar expert than this Emathio.”