|King of Tyre|
|Reign||831 BC – 785 BC|
|Predecessor||Mattan I 840 – 832 BC|
|Born||841 or 843 BC|
|Dynasty||House of Ithobalus (Ithobaal I)|
During Pygmalion's reign, Tyre seems to have shifted the heart of its trading empire from the Middle East to the Merranean, as can be judged from the building of new colonies including Kition on Cyprus, Sardinia (see Nora Stone discussion below), and, according to tradition, Carthage. For the story surrounding the founding of Carthage, see Dido.
The English "Pygmalion" comes from the Ancient Greek "Πυγμαλίων" Pugmalíōn. The Greek lemma in turn mostly likely comes from the Phoenician "𐤐𐤏𐤌𐤉𐤕𐤍", transliterated as p‘mytn. Ancient Semitic languages contained a distinct voiced velar fricative (/ɣ/ sound) which was denoted by a letter called Ayin. However, that letter more commonly denoted another phoneme, the voiced pharyngeal fricative (/ʕ/), and over time, the latter pronunciation gradually absorbed /ɣ/ until it was no longer preserved. The only contemporaneous language in which the phoneme survives is Arabic, as the letter Ghayn. The Ancient Greek lemma was coined before the absorption was finalised and so the original pronunciation of Puġ‘mayyaton was preserved as Pugmalíōn. Pygmalion's name was also sometimes written without the Ayin at all, resulting in "𐤐𐤌𐤉𐤉𐤕𐤍" or Pumayyaton.
A possible reference to Pygmalion is an interpretation of the Nora Stone, found on Sardinia in 1773 and, though its precise finding place has been forgotten, dated by paleographic methods to the 9th century BC. Frank Moore Cross has interpreted the Phoenician inscription on this stone as follows:
[a. He fought (?)]
[b. with the Sardinians (?)]
1. at Tarshish
2. and he drove them out.
3. Among the Sardinians
4. he is [now] at peace,
5. (and) his army is at peace:
6. Milkaton son of
7. Shubna (Shebna), general
8. of (king) Pummay.
In this rendering, Cross has restored the missing top of the tablet (estimated at two lines) based on the content of the rest of the inscription, as referring to a battle that has been fought and won by general Milkaton, son of Shubna, against the Sardinians at the site of TRSS, surely Tarshish; Cross conjectures that Tarshish here "is most easily understood as the name of a refinery town in Sardinia, presumably Nora or an ancient site nearby." He presents evidence that the name PMY ("Pummay") in the last line is a shortened form (hypocoristicon) of the name of Shubna's king, containing only the divine name, a method of shortening “not rare in Phoenician and related Canaanite dialects.”. Since there was only one king of Tyre with this hypocoristicon in the 9th century BC, Cross restores the name to pmy(y)tn or p‘mytn, which is rendered in the Greek tradition as Pygmalion. This interpretation of the Nora Stone provides additional evidence that in the late 9th century BC, Tyre was involved in colonizing the western Merranean, lending credence to the establishment of a colony in Carthage in that time frame.
In 1951, Fuad Safar published a record of tribute from Baa‘li-maanzer, king of Tyre, to Shalmaneser III of Assyria in 841 BC. There followed several studies that attempted to relate this Baa‘li-maanzer to the list of kings given in Menander/Josephus. It was argued, based on philological considerations, that the name as given in the Assyrian text could be matched to a Phoenician Ba‘al-‘azor and the Greek Baal-Eser/Balazeros, a name corresponding to two kings in Menander’s list. The first Balazeros was a son of Hiram I, contemporary of David and Solomon, so this was too early, but the second name referred to the grandfather of Pygmalion and was therefore in the right date range.
Pygmalion’s dates, if this citation is to be trusted, are thus dependent on the date of the founding of Carthage. Here ancient classical sources given two possibilities: 825 BC or 814 BC. The 814 date is derived from the Greek historian Timaeus (c. 345-260 BC), and is the more commonly accepted year. The 825 date is taken from the writings of Pompeius Trogus (1st century BC), whose forty-four book Philippic History survives only in abridged form in the works of the Roman historian Justin. In a 1951 article, J. Liver argued that the 825 date has some credibility because, with it, the elapsed time between that date and the start of building of Solomon’s Temple, given as 143 years and 8 months in Menander/Josephus, agrees very closely with the date of approximately 967 BC for the start of Temple construction as derived from 1 Kings 6:1 (fourth year of Solomon) and the date given by most historians for the end of Solomon’s forty-year reign, i.e. 932 or 931 BC. If, however, the starting place is 814 BC, measuring back 143 or 144 years does not agree with this Biblical date.
Liver advanced a second reason to favor the 825 date, related to the inscription of Shalmaneser III, king of Assyria, mentioned above, where it was mentioned that philological studies have equated this Ba’li-manzer with Balazeros (Baal-Eser II), grandfather of Pygmalion. The best texts of Menander/Josephus give six years for Balazeros, followed by nine years for his son and successor Mattenos (Mattan I), making 22 years between the start of Balazeros’s reign and the seventh year of Pygmalion. If these 22 years are measured back from 814 BC, they fall short of the 841 date required for Balazeros’s tribute to Shalmaneser. With the 825 date, however, Balazeros’s last year would be approximately 841 BC, the time of the tribute to Shalmaneser.
These two agreements, one with an Assyrian inscription and the other with a Biblical datum, have proved quite convincing to scholars such as J. M. Peñuela, F. M. Cross., and William H. Barnes. Peñuela points out that the following consideration reconciles the two dates for Carthage derived from classical authors: 825 BC was the year that Dido fled Tyre, and she did not found Carthage until 11 years later, in 814 BC. Josephus, citing Menander, says that “in the seventh year of [Pygmalion’s] reign, his sister fled away from him, and built the city of Carthage in Libya” (Against Apion i:18). There are two events mentioned here: the flight from Tyre and the founding of Carthage. The language used would suggest that it was the first of these events, Dido’s flight, that took place in Pygmalion’s seventh year. Between the two events the following took place: Dido and her ships sailed to Cyprus, where about 80 of the men with her took wives. Eventually the Tyrians arrived on the north coast of Africa, where they received permission to build on an island in the harbor of the place where Carthage was eventually to be built. Peñuela quotes Strabo to show that some time then elapsed before the founding of Carthage: “Carthage was not founded immediately. Indeed, a small island having been captured previously in the Carthaginian harbor, Dido settled there. She fortified the place, which she used as a citadel of war against the Africans, who kept her from the shore.” Justin (18:5 10-17) also mentions the time on this island, which he names as Cothon, and says that Dido and her company built a circle of houses there. Eventually peace was made with the inhabitants on the mainland, and the Tyrians were given permission to build a city. Peñuela maintained that these various events between the departure from Tyre and the eventual rapprochement with the inhabitants on the mainland explain the eleven-year difference between Pompeius Trogus’s date of 825 BC and the 814 date derived from other classical authors for Carthage’s founding.
This understanding of the chronology related to Dido and her company resulted in the following dates for Pygmalion, Dido, and their immediate relations, as derived from F. M. Cross and Wm. H. Barnes: