Your browser does not support JavaScript! The Phoenicians - A kidnapping

Funerary Stele of Robia
Funerary Stele of Robia : Representation of a Sidonian woman.
Sidon, Hellenistic Period

A kidnapping


The Odyssey(1) presents the Phoenicians as a skillful sailors, but devious traders. In his writings, Homer narrates a kidnapping story. Eumaeus, son of Syros King in the Cyclades islands, has been kidnaped by Phoenician sailors assisted by a countrywoman from Sidon who was in the service of the royal family.



"Now to this place there came some cunning traders from Phoenicia (for the Phoenicians are great mariners) in a ship which they had freighted with gewgaws of all kinds. There happened to be a Phoenician woman in my father's house, very tall and comely, and an excellent servant; these scoundrels got hold of her one day when she was washing near their ship, seduced her, and cajoled her in ways that no woman can resist, no matter how good she may be by nature. The man who had seduced her asked her who she was and where she came from, and on this she told him her father's name.


Sidonian woman - I come from Sidon, and am daughter to Arybas, a man rolling in wealth. One day as I was coming into the town from the country some Taphian pirates seized me and took me here over the sea, where they sold me to the man who owns this house, and he gave them their price for me.

The man who had seduced her then said:

Phoenician man - Would you like to come along with us to see the house of your parents and your parents themselves? They are both alive and are said to be well off.

She answered :

Sidonian woman - Will do so gladly, if you men will first swear me a solemn oath that you will do me no harm by the way.

They all swore as she told them, and when they had completed their oath the woman said:

Sidonian woman - Hush; and if any of your men meets me in the street or at the well, do not let him speak to me, for fear some one should go and tell my master, in which case he would suspect something. He would put me in prison, and would have all of you murdered; keep your own counsel therefore; buy your merchandise as fast as you can, and send me word when you have done loading. I will bring as much gold as I can lay my hands on, and there is something else also that I can do towards paying my fare. I am nurse to the son of the good man of the house, a funny little fellow just able to run about. I will carry him off in your ship, and you will get a great deal of money for him if you take him and sell him in foreign parts.

On this she went back to the house. The Phoenicians stayed a whole year till they had loaded their ship with much precious merchandise, and then, when they had got freight enough, they sent to tell the woman. Their messenger, a very cunning fellow, came to my father's house bringing a necklace of gold with amber beads strung among it; and while my mother and the servants had it in their hands admiring it and bargaining about it, he made a sign quietly to the woman and then went back to the ship, whereon she took me by the hand and led me out of the house. In the fore part of the house she saw the tables set with the cups of guests who had been feasting with my father, as being in attendance on him; these were now all gone to a meeting of the public assembly, so she snatched up three cups and carried them off in the bosom of her dress, while I followed her, for I knew no better.

The sun was now set, and darkness was over all the land, so we hurried on as fast as we could till we reached the harbour, where the Phoenician ship was lying."






(1) L'Odyssée,Chant XV, V.405, Eumée raconte son enfance dans l'ile de Syros, son éducation par une gouvernante phénicienne et son enlèvement. Retour texte

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