Tropaion is a web-log / electronic journal and Carnival for the ancient Greek Religion and history. The main goal of the web-log is to present original peer-reviewed and well referred posts on theoretical and practical aspects of the ancient Greek religion, to add to a broader circulation of Humanities and Classics in the Internet as well as to rise awareness for the Hellenic Polytheism today and to explore its relation with its ancient past.

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Finally we reach at the end of the Epidaurian Sacred Poetry project (previous hymns: to all Gods, to Pan, to Athena Pallas, to Mother of All Gods, to Hygeia). The last of the survived hymns is for Asklepios (IG IV²,1 133). Unfortunately we have quite a missing area from both columns where the hymn was scribed. As it was stated by the IG editors the is the lower symbol ╒ which denoted a reiteration of the verse (in between the lines 14 and 15).

col I.11

[— — — — — — — — — — σκλ]απιι.

[— — — — — — — — — — —]ν ομον

[— — — — — — — — — — —]ου περιχευαμνα

[— — — — — — — — — — — χ]θονς

[— — — — — — — — — — — —]αντα

[— — — — — — — — — — — —]ς τας

inferior pars periit

col II.1

τ νιν ζομαι θεν μ̣ε[γ— — — — — — — —]

βροτν π̣σας γενες π̣[— — — — — — πολ]-

φορβον· σεο κεχρημνοις [— — — — — — —]

ντολαις π τρμασι τε[— — — — — — — —]


νας, ος ναργς νεκαι π̣αν̣[— — — — — — —]

σο δε Ι̣#⁷#⁷ Μοιρων σθνος θ̣[— — — — — —]

χοραγτας φιμρου καλλ[— — — — — — — —]

κριε χαρε γ μγας σωτρ [— — — — — — —]

οκουμνης σωτρ γ #⁹⁰⁰ [— — — — — — — —]


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We started to explore the meaning of sacred space and the importance to mark borders and significant geographical areas by placing small sacred peaks (read more here). A question can be rise: why not building a temple or erect an altar, instead of placing a pile of stones in a spiritually significant area. Greeks indeed erected altars in geographical spots that considered being important and divine representative. Today we will start talking on how the ancient Greeks constructed their temples and altars.

Starting up with the writing, it would be helpful to take an example as Jon Mikalson did in his latest material entitled, Ancient Greek Religion (2005), - an extensive review will be available in the forthcoming second volume of the Journal of Hellenic Religion. However, I will not follow ‘word by word’ that example and I will not use a history of known altar to presenting this Greek religious practice, as Mikalson did for the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion (read chapter here in pdf). On the contrary, I will try with plenty of imagination to recreate a lost cult of Zeus Parnethios (of the Mt. Parnes north-west of AtticaStrabo, IX, 2, 11).

First let us define the meaning of the sacred space. What is a sacred space and where we can find it.?

A sacred space according to Paul Wheatley (2001) on his review of the Sacred Space: Shrine, City, Land (ed. Kedar, B.Z., and Werblowsky, R.J.Z., 1998), “is perceived as such when it is linked directly to divinity, which means in effect when it is the, often awe-inspiring, locality where a deity, or something an adjuvant of a deity, is believed to reside, is reliably attested to have manifested himself or herself or is otherwise held to have intervened in terrestrial affairs.”

The above definition can introduce to us the main concept of a sacred space and also explains how a sacred area was selected. Normally, Gods and Goddesses (including heroes and minor deities) with temples and cults allocated outside of the city-state had positioned in Their sacred area. A sacred area which had records of supernatural elements close connected with a god. However, a sacred space was not only defined by terrestrial events, but also by the socio-economic element. We find always an altar and temples at the Agora (Forum) combined even within the public buildings. We can observe that every residence, regardless, of whether is new or old, had its own altar of Zeus Herkios. Polignac (1984) defines these non-rural sanctuaries as possessions of liminal / threshold Gods and Goddesses. Therefore, sacred space was also related with the ‘land’, the city and the people and not just with the ‘site’ or better articulated by Shiner’s terms “lived space” (1972).

Let us consider the case of been an ancient Greek farmer. We are leaving in a small agricultural settlement on the Mt. Parnes (of about 1480 meters). The need of our settlement’s religious praxis and the great atmosphere as well as the spatial importance of our area, force us to take the decision to erect an altar to Zeus Parmenios. Thus, the first question is where to place the altar, near or far from the settlement, at the top or low level of the mountain?

To be continue…

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We are now very close to the end – which is actually the end of beginning – for our small Epidaurian Hymns or the Sacred Poetry. Sacred Poetry is a ‘storage’ of hymns based in Epidauros – and believed that was constructed the third century. You can find the previously posted hymns, with their commentary, here in Tropaion (hymn: ‘to all the Gods’, ‘to Athena Pallas’, ‘to Pan’, ‘to Hygeia’). The current hymn is of the Mother of All Gods (IG IV²,1 131). There is no commentary because the hymn is available without intermissions to its text.

[Ματρ θεν].

[ Μναμοσνας κ]ρ̣αι | δερ’ λθ̣ε̣τ̣’ []|-

π’ ραν | κα μοι συναεσατε | τν

Ματρα τν θεν, | ς λθε πλανω̣μ̣[]-

να | κατ’ ρεα κα νπας, | σρουσ’ βρ̣[τ]α[ν]

κμαν, | κ̣α̣τωρημνα(!) φρνας. |

Ζες δ’ σιδν ναξ | τν Ματρα τν

θεν, | κεραυνν βαλλε #⁵⁶ κα | τ

τμπαν’ λμβανε #⁵⁶ | πτρας διρρησσε #⁵⁶


κα | τ τμπανλμβανε #⁵⁶. | "Μτηρ,

πιθες θεος, | κα μ κατρη π̣λ̣α̣ν̣[], |

μ σε(!) χαροπο λον|τες πολιο

λκοι" #⁵⁶ | "κα οκ πειμι(!) ες θεος, |

ν μ τ μρη λβω, | τ μν μισυ


οραν, | τ δ μισυ γαας, | v

πντω τ τρτον μρος· | χοτως

πελεσομαι." | χαρ’ μεγλα |

[ν]ασσα Μτερ λμπω.



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