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Hermodike I has been attributed with inventing the Greek written script, i.e. the transfer of earlier technical knowledge from Phrygia into ancient Greek society through Aeolis. She is referred to by Aristotle[1]. The same name was translated as Demodike by Pollux.[2] Academics state that Aristotle and Pollux, though ancient commentators, were not historians and so their unsubstantiated opinions may be misleading. Other historians have translated the name as Hermodice or Damodice.

Hermodike I was the daughter of a dynastic Agamemnon of Cyme and became the wife of the 8th century King Midas (or Mita of popular legend) of Phrygia who came to the throne in 738BC. She is described as "a woman distinguished by beauty and wisdom."[3] She is the ancestor of Hermodike II who has been attributed with inventing Greek coinage.

Linguistic HistoryEdit

Most specialists believe that the Phoenician alphabet was adopted for Greek during the early 8th century BC, perhaps in Euboea.[4] The earliest known fragmentary Greek inscriptions date from this time, 770-750 BC, and they match Phoenician letter forms of c. 800-750 BC.[5] The oldest substantial text known to date is the Dipylon inscription.

Hermodike I was the royal link between Phrygia and Aeolia and the conduit of knowledge that influenced the Greeks into adopting the Phrygian invention of letters.

From Aeolic Cyme a king Agamemnon married his daughter Hermodice to a Midas ruler of Phrygia… some sort of Phrygia-Aeolia-Euboea link from an early period seems almost certain.[6]

Evidence of a link between Phrygia and Greece has been attributed by Y. Tzifopoulos to the similarities of their alphabets. The Greek alphabet is thought to be derived from the Phrygian alphabet.

Tradition recounts that a daughter of a certain Agamemnon, king of Aeolian Cyme, married a Phrygian king called Midas.[7] This link may have facilitated the Greeks "borrowing" their alphabet from the Phrygians because the Phrygian letter shapes are closest to the inscriptions from Aeolis.[8]

The role of Hermodike I was to communicate that technical information into Greek society as per D. Macpherson's observation, is more likely, that what the Greeks called invention, was rather the introduction of the knowledge… from countries more advanced in civilization.[9]

Hermodike I was the conduit of the phonetic alphabet into the roots of all western culture. Ancient Greek written language subsequently influenced the rest of the western world.


  1. ^ Aristotle, fr.611,37 ed. V.Rose
  2. ^ Pollux, Onamastikon IX.83
  3. ^ The History of Antiquity, Volumes I, V. and VI of VI, Max Duncker, Library of Alexandria
  4. ^ The date of the earliest inscribed objects; A.W. Johnston, "The alphabet", in N. Stampolidis and V. Karageorghis, eds, Sea Routes from Sidon to Huelva: Interconnections in the Mediterranean 2003:263-76, summarizes the present scholarship on the dating.
  5. ^ Pierre Swiggers, Transmission of the Phoenician Script to the West, in Daniels and Bright, The World's Writing Systems, 1996
  6. ^ The Cambridge Ancient History, edited by John Boederman, Cambridge University Press, 1997, pg 832
  7. ^ Panhellenes at Methone: Graphê in Late Geometric and Protoarchaic Methone, edited by Jenny Strauss Clay, Irad Malkin, Yannis Z. Tzifopoulos, Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG, 2017, pg154
  8. ^ ibid
  9. ^ Annals of Commerce, Manufactures, Fisheries, and Navigation, with Brief Notices of the Arts and Sciences Connected with Them. Containing the Commercial Transactions of the British Empire and Other Countries ... with a Large Appendix ... with a General Chronological Index ... 1805 ... by David Macpherson. In Four Volumes. Vol. 1.(-4.), Volume 1, pg 16