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Carme, or more correctly Karme ("shearer"), was a female Cretan spirit who assisted the grain harvest of Demeter's Cretan predecessor. According to the Olympian mythology, she was the mother, by Zeus, of the virginal huntress Britomartis, also called Diktynna,[1] whom she bore at Kaino.[2] Carme was the daughter of either Phoenix and Cassiopeia,[3] or of the divine ploughman Euboulos, son of Karmanor. The name Karmanor is simply "the man of Karme", an epithet with the masculine -or suffix[4] describing his role; Karmanor was a double of Iacchus, the consort of Demeter, and was the purifier of Apollo after he had slain the earth-dragon Pytho, that possessed Delphi. "The name does not appear to be Greek", observed Walter Burkert of Karmanor.[5]

The duplicates and parallel genealogies are symptoms of the uneasy fit between Minoan cult, to which Carme belonged, and the Mycenaean cult that superseded it.


  1. ^ Pausanias ii.30.2; nevertheless, Greeks like Herodotus were well aware that a hunt goddess, such as Britomartis, must have preceded a harvest goddess.
  2. ^ Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5.76.3. Kaino is the modern Chania in the Chania prefecture on the coast of northwestern Crete.
  3. ^ Following Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses, 30; this genealogy places her in the coastal plain that became Phoenicia, and makes her the sister of Europa
  4. ^ Compare Antenor etc.
  5. ^ Burkert, The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic Age Harvard University Press (1992:63); for the root krm as West Semitic "vineyard", see Stanislav Segert, A Basic Grammar of the Ugaritic Language, s.v. "krm", with comparisons in Hebrew, Syrian and Arabic.



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