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Kulte und Heiligtümer in Elis und Triphylien. Untersuchungen zur Sakraltopographie der westlichen Peloponnes

Ioannis Mylonopoulos
p. 348-353
Référence(s) :

Oliver Pilz, Kulte und Heiligtümer in Elis und Triphylien. Untersuchungen zur Sakraltopographie der westlichen Peloponnes, Tübingen, Berlin, 2020. 1 vol. 17 × 24,4 cm, 468 p. ISBN : 978-3-11-060832-8.

Texte intégral

1The present volume is the slightly updated version of the A.’s habilitation at the University of Mainz, submitted in 2017. The main body of the publication consists of three catalogue-like chapters that deal with sanctuaries and cults in Koile Elis, Pisatis, and Triphylia. They are framed by a rather brief introductory chapter and even less elaborate conclusions.

2In his introductory Chapter One (“Einleitung”, p. 1–25), the A. is right to emphasize that the understandably strong scholarly interest in the sanctuary of Olympia has hindered more general monographic studies on the sanctuaries and cults in Elis and Triphylia. The A. defines the frame of his work clearly: included are sanctuaries and cults from the Geometric to the Middle Imperial periods, although the A. rarely addresses the period of time after the first century BCE. Excluded are the various cults celebrated in the sanctuary of Olympia and all forms of the Roman Imperial cult. Nevertheless, the connections between Olympia and the city of Elis in particular do play a significant role in the study. With respect to the evidence used, the A. stresses that all available materials (epigraphic, literary, numismatic, archaeological) were considered. The A. insightfully notes that despite Pausanias and Strabo, the literary references to the religious life in these regions remain scarce and inscriptions with an explicitly religious or cultic character are rare outside Olympia. In addition to the problematic situation concerning the relevant written sources, excavations and surveys in this part of the Greek world are not that numerous either. In this context, the A. provides a helpful overview of the fieldwork conducted in Elis and Triphylia between the first half of the twentieth century and 2017, when his habilitation manuscript was completed. After a brief survey of the most important ancient authors for the study of sanctuaries and cults in these regions, the A. emphasizes that his main aim is to understand the functional aspects of the cults in this part of the ancient Greek world. After a geographical definition of Elis and Triphylia, the A. concludes his introductory chapter with a brief historical survey of the region between the eighth and the first century BCE.

  • 1 See, most recently, V. Pirenne-Delforge and G. Pironti, The Hera of Zeus. Intimate Enemy, Ultimat (...)
  • 2 C. Brøns, Gods and Garments. Textiles in Greek Sanctuaries in the 7th to the 1st Centuries BC (An (...)
  • 3 V. Mitsopoulos-Leon, “Tonstatuetten aus Elis. Zu Heiligtümern weiblicher Gottheiten: Funde aus ei (...)
  • 4 V. Pirenne-Delforge, L’Aphrodite grecque, Liège, 1994 (Kernos, suppl. 4), p. 231–236.
  • 5 In her ongoing—and much anticipated—habilitation, Soi Agelidis deals with the sanctuaries and cul (...)
  • 6 See, most recently, E. Boutsikas, The Cosmos in Ancient Greek Religious Experience. Sacred Space, (...)
  • 7 C. Jourdain-Annequin, Héraclès aux portes du soir. Mythe et histoire, Besançon, 1989 (Annales lit (...)
  • 8 The A. mentions only in passing the altars of Alpheios in the sanctuary of Olympia and fails to m (...)

3In Chapter Two (“Koile Elis”, p. 27–202), the A. discusses in separate subchapters the cults in the city of Elis, those in its chora and the areas populated by perioikoi, and finally all those cults that cannot be associated with certainty with a specific locality, but are known to be associated with Koile Elis. — After a brief summary of Elis’ history and an overview of its (religious) calendar, the A. dedicates a large part of the subchapter on the urban cults (p. 27–163) to the intriguing cult of Dionysos. The A. recapitulates the most significant particularities of the Dionysos cult, especially the collegium of the sixteen women, and addresses the possible identification of architectural remains in the vicinity of the theater of the city with the sanctuary of the god. The A. is probably right in challenging this identification. The A. is also right in dissociating three Bacchic gold tablets found in graves from the polis cult of Dionysos. After very brief references to the cults of Athena and Zeus, for which the main evidence are literary sources, the A. focuses on the cult of Hera1 and the dedication of a peplos to her, although the excursion into the dedication of garments to divinities—a well-researched topic2—is rather extensive. The presence of Poseidon in Elis is politically rather than religiously nuanced, since we only know of a bronze image that the Eleians brought to their city, after they had removed it from the Triphylian amphictyonic sanctuary at Samikon. I disagree with the A., when he assumes that Pausanias (6.25.5) saw the statue in a populous neighborhood of the city rather than in the agora, where such a declaration of political dominance would have found its “natural” place. I also have to disagree with the A.’s suggestion that the removal of the statue took place already in 220–217 and not after 146 BCE. The A.’s own comparison to the removal of the statue of Hera from Tiryns after the destruction of the city by the Argives points in my view to a date after 146 BCE, when for the first time in the long Eleian and Triphylian discord, the cities of Triphylia would have been definitively considered defeated, even if not destroyed like Tiryns. The number of pages the A. dedicates to Apollo as opposed to Artemis and Aphrodite is indicative of the importance of the two female cults in the city and the scarcity of evidence attesting to a significant cultic presence of Apollo in Elis. Since there is so little known, let alone certain about the topography of Elis, the A. offers some hypotheses on the localization of some of the sanctuaries mentioned by Pausanias. With respect to the sanctuary of Artemis Philomeirax, I do prefer Veronika Mitsopoulos-Leon’s cautious localization in or near the agora,3 which the A. challenges, but not with convincing arguments. The helpful synopsis of the cults of Aphrodite the A. offers points towards the richness and nuanced variety of cults for the goddess in the city of Elis that Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge had already observed.4 After noting the presence of an altar for Demeter and Kore in the Eleian gymnasion, the A. turns his attention to the fascinating cult and temple of Hades.5 The identification of a temple-like structure in the southern part of the agora with the temple of Hades solely on the basis of its western orientation does not appear convincing.6 For the cult of Herakles Parastates, the Idaean (= Cretan) Herakles, in the Eleian gymnasion, the A. argues against Colette Jourdain-Annequin’s hypothesis that it had homoerotic connotations.7 The A. suggests instead that the hero was primarily worshipped here as Helper and Healer. The idea that in a gymnasion healing and/or helping aspects of Herakles’ cult and not homoerotic ones would have been more prominent does not appear plausible. The A. concludes the part on divine cults within the city of Elis with brief overviews of the cults of Tyche and Sosipolis, Alpheios,8 Silenos, the Charites, Eros, and Anteros, before he moves onto so-called heroic cults such as those of Achilles, Aitolos, Augeias, Dios, and Oxylos. — In the second subchapter (p. 164–179), the A. focuses on cults and sanctuaries in the chora of Elis and the settlements of the perioikoi. Although the previous subchapter was initiated with a helpful introduction, this begins immediately with a catalogue-like presentation of sites and cults structured according to localities (ancient and modern). Our knowledge of the region around Elis remains extremely lacunose and our understanding of the local cults is heavily based on Pausanias and occasionally on small-scale excavations. The A. lists and briefly presents cults and sanctuaries near Tragano, at the village of Lanthi, in ancient Kyllene, in the area of ancient Letrinoi, and in ancient Pheia. Only with respect to Kyllene are we in the position to combine literary with archaeological evidence. I cannot see how Pausanias’ description of a statue of Hermes in the form of a phallus (6.26.5) can be seen as evidence for a cult of the god within the sanctuary of Aphrodite that the ancient traveler also mentions. — In the final subchapter (p. 179–200), the A. lists cults that cannot be associated with a specific locality. The order seems to be alphabetical, although the A. mentions Athena before Apollo and Artemis. Needless to say, the evidence used here is exclusively literary. The A. briefly addresses possible cults and cult places of Athena Meter, Apollo Opsophagos, Artemis Episkopos, Artemis Orthosia, the Dioskouroi, Hera Hoplosmia, Physkoa, and Zeus Ombrios. I do not think that the mention of two Eleian theoroi in an inscription from Samothrace (IG XII 8, 176) is strong enough evidence for the reconstruction of a cult of the Great Gods of Samothrace in Elis or its chora.

  • 9 J. Roy, “The Pattern of Settlement in Pisatis. The ‘Eight Poleis’ ”, in T.H. Nielsen (ed.), Even (...)

4In the short Chapter Three (“Pisatis”, p. 203–225), the A. concentrates on sanctuaries and cults in Pisatis. In the same catalogue-like form of presentation, the A. discusses cults and sanctuaries in two of the known Pisatan cities, Herakleia and Harpina, based primarily on Strabo and Pausanias. In addition, the A. associates the remains of a temple to the south of the modern village of Salmoni first seen and described by Wilhelm Dörpfeld, a building with a possibly religious function excavated by Nikolaos Yalouris near the modern village of Flokas, and a cult (?) cave in Vlachospilies with the ancient city of Dyspontion, although James Roy has argued that this area of Pisatis should be identified with ancient Marganeis.9

  • 10 J. Mylonopoulos, “Von Helike nach Tainaron und von Kalaureia nach Samikon: Amphiktyonische Heilig (...)
  • 11 X. Arapojanni, “Der dorische Athena-Tempel zu Prasidaki in Elis”, in H. Frielinghaus and J. Stros (...)

5Chapter Four (“Triphylien”, p. 227–385) deals with cults and sanctuaries in Triphylia. The A. lists eight ancient cities or settlements and three temples whose association with an ancient urban center remains unclear or speculative. The A. does not introduce his catalogue with a historical and/or geographical overview and does not explain the order in which the various sites are listed. His catalogue is not alphabetically structured, but rather topographical moving roughly from north to south. — According to the A., for Epitalion, only a cult of Hera can be attested archaeologically, based on an incised inscription on the underside of a plate from the second century CE. I remain skeptical about this piece of evidence and whether or not it can be used as an argument for postulating a Hera cult in Epitalion. Sanctuaries of Artemis, Aphrodite, and the Nymphs are only known through Strabo. The A.’s assumption that the sanctuary of Artemis is identical with the one mentioned by Polybios (4.73.4–5) in the context of Philip V’s expedition is an interesting hypothesis that cannot be proven. — For Skillous, two bothroi with votive materials attest to the cult of a female deity (Kabuli) and to Zeus with an unknown female paredros (north of Makrisia). However, the most well-known cult in this region is the cult of Artemis Ephesia established by Xenophon and for which the A. offers a very helpful summary of previous research. — To the north of the modern village of Bambes, Nikolaos Yalouris excavated a small temple in antis, which thanks to a dedicatory inscription was associated with Zeus. Remains of a settlement in the vicinity of the temple have been tentatively identified with ancient Pyrgos. — The temple of Athena in Makiston that Athanasios Nakassis published almost two decades ago remains one of the largest known temple buildings in Elis and Triphylia. Not much else is known about Makistian cults and assumptions about cults of Zeus, Hera, or Artemis remain highly speculative. — Cults in Phrixa, especially that of Artemis Kydonia, are known exclusively thanks to Pausanias’ work. The ancient traveler also mentions sanctuaries of Asklepios and Dionysos. The A. is justifiably cautious in identifying the funerary monument of Koroibos mentioned by Pausanias (5.8.6) with the site explored already in 1845/46 near Aspra Spitia by Eduard Schaubert. However, I am not convinced either that there is enough evidence to associate this site with the mnema of Sauros instead that Pausanias saw in the vicinity of an abandoned Herakles sanctuary (6.21.3). — The foundations of a temple surveyed near Tripiti have been associated with ancient Epeion. It remains unclear which divinity was venerated here. — In Hypana, a small sub-urban shrine has been archaeologically explored, while Strabo mentions extra-urban sanctuaries of Hades and Demeter and Kore. — Like many scholars before him, the A. bases his overview of the sanctuaries and cults in and around ancient Samikon on Strabo. The area must have been religiously significant, since Strabo mentions the amphictyonic sanctuary of Poseidon,10 cult caves of the Nymphs Anigriades and the daughters of Atlas, sacred groves of Ion and Eurykyda, a temenos of Hades, a sacred grove of Demeter, and a sanctuary of Herakles Makistios. On the highest summit of the Minthi mountain, the Triphylia survey has identified the remains of a big altar (to Zeus?) probably controlled by Samikon. — Thanks to the thoroughly published votive materials from the sanctuary of Artemis Limnatis at Kombothekra, the cult site with its important temple is the only one in Elis and Triphylia (excl. Olympia) whose cultic development and (partially) religious life can be traced from the ninth to the second century BCE. I find the A.’s cautious hypothesis that the sanctuary should be understood as an extra-urban border sanctuary of Makiston convincing. — Two temples and one oikos-like sacred building have been explored archaeologically in the upper and lower acropolis of Lepreon. Two of them can be associated with the temples of Demeter and Zeus Leukaios mentioned by Pausanias (5.5.5–6). Three extra-urban oikos-like cult buildings were excavated by Freiderikos Versakis already in 1916, but they were never published. I do not see why we need to postulate a cult of Kydon at a site called Kydonasion between Lepreon and Alipheira mentioned in a fragmentary inscription from the early second century BCE (SEG 25, 449), as the A. suggests. — A Doric temple around 3 km NE of modern Prasidaki has been identified thanks to a dedicatory inscription on the rim of a bronze phiale (SEG 49, 489) and a bronze figurine depicting Athena as a cult building dedicated to this deity. The cult epitheton Agoraia is puzzling, since the temple is clearly not part of a settlement. The A. considers the temple part of an extra-urban sanctuary that belonged to Lepreon, while Xeni Arapojanni, the excavator, associated the temple with the small city of Pyrgoi or Pyrgos at the border between Triphylia and Messenia that belonged to the territory of Lepreon.11 — Chapter Four concludes with a brief reference to the sanctuary of Artemis Heleia (= of the swamps) near Alorion that Strabo, however, associates with Arcadia (8.3.25).

6In the all too brief concluding Chapter Five (“Elis – Olympia – Triphylien”, p. 387–401), the A. explores first the religious interconnections between the cults in the city of Elis and those at the sanctuary of Olympia. The A. insightfully emphasizes the presence of Zeus, Hera, Dionysos, Artemis, Aphrodite, and Herakles both in Elis and in Olympia. However, the A. sees this as part of a process to bind Elis to the Olympian sanctuary (“kultische Anbindung der Stadt Elis an das Heiligtum von Olympia”, p. 394). I think that the process went both ways, with Olympian cults (Zeus and Hera) finding their way into the city of Elis and local Eleian versions of the cults of Artemis, Aphrodite, or Dionysos becoming established in the sanctuary of Olympia. With respect to Triphylia, the A. points out the strong presence of Artemis and Athena especially in the northern parts of the region, while Zeus and Poseidon, the latter almost exclusively because of his amphictyonic sanctuary, had a Pan-Triphylian appeal.

7The volume concludes with a list of bibliographical and copyright references for the figures (p. 403–404) and very detailed and exceptionally helpful indices for inscriptions, literary sources, places, names of persons, gods, and heroes, and finally things (p. 405–420). At the end of the volume, one finds black-and-white figures including photographs of sites and finds, topographical maps, and architectural plans. Unfortunately, the figures are problematic: many of the photographs are too dark, the maps do not include all the places listed in the publication, and the inscriptions in fig. 19 and 34 are impossible to read because of the quality of the photographs. Typos are extremely rare, but the A.’s choice to turn the ancient term τὸ ἄστυ, a neuter noun, into a word in feminine, “die asty”, in the German text is incomprehensible to say the least.

  • 12 M. Jost, Sanctuaires et cultes d’Arcadie, Paris, 1985 (Études Péloponnésiennes, 9); M. Osanna, Sa (...)

8The present volume closes a significant gap in our knowledge of Peloponnesian cults and sanctuaries and together with the studies of Madeleine Jost, Massimo Osanna, and Maddalena Zunino on Arcadia, Achaia, and Messenia respectively12 places the central and northern regions of the Peloponnese among the most well-researched religious landscapes of the ancient Greek world. While the individual entries on sanctuaries and/or cults are very helpful and bibliographically well-informed, one cannot but wish that the A. would have offered a more analytical synthesis beyond the catalogue-like listing of sites and cults. Chapters on priesthoods, sacrificial rituals, types of sacred architecture/spaces found in Elis and Triphylia, or the various cult epitheta attested in these regions would have made this volume a truly indispensable study of sanctuaries and cults in the western Peloponnese and in Greece in general. As it is, the publication remains a useful starting point for further research, for which, nevertheless, anyone interested in Greek sanctuaries and cults will be very grateful.

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Notes

1 See, most recently, V. Pirenne-Delforge and G. Pironti, The Hera of Zeus. Intimate Enemy, Ultimate Spouse, Cambridge, 2022, p. 148–173 (from a rather Olympian perspective).

2 C. Brøns, Gods and Garments. Textiles in Greek Sanctuaries in the 7th to the 1st Centuries BC (Ancient Textiles Series, 28), Oxford/Philadelphia, 2017.

3 V. Mitsopoulos-Leon, “Tonstatuetten aus Elis. Zu Heiligtümern weiblicher Gottheiten: Funde aus einem Bothros im Bereich der Agora”, JöAI 70 (2001), p. 81, 87–88.

4 V. Pirenne-Delforge, L’Aphrodite grecque, Liège, 1994 (Kernos, suppl. 4), p. 231–236.

5 In her ongoing—and much anticipated—habilitation, Soi Agelidis deals with the sanctuaries and cults of Hades in Greece: Verhasst und unversöhnlich? Hades in der religiösen Praxis und den religiösen Vorstellungen der Griechen von der Archaik bis in die Kaiserzeit.

6 See, most recently, E. Boutsikas, The Cosmos in Ancient Greek Religious Experience. Sacred Space, Memory, and Cognition, Cambridge, 2020, p. 62–69, who successfully deconstructs any a priori chthonic connotations for sacred buildings with western orientation.

7 C. Jourdain-Annequin, Héraclès aux portes du soir. Mythe et histoire, Besançon, 1989 (Annales littéraires de l’université de Besançon, 402), p. 363–371.

8 The A. mentions only in passing the altars of Alpheios in the sanctuary of Olympia and fails to mention that one of them was a double altar the deified river shared with Artemis—part of the famous and venerated group of double altars at Olympia. The unusual divine pairings of the six double altars are probably reflections of local Eleian mythological and cultic traditions and have little to do with the panhellenic nature of the sanctuary of Olympia.

9 J. Roy, “The Pattern of Settlement in Pisatis. The ‘Eight Poleis’ ”, in T.H. Nielsen (ed.), Even More Studies in the Ancient Greek Polis, Stuttgart, 2002 (Papers from the Copenhagen Polis Centre, 6; Historia Einzelschriften, 162), p. 230.

10 J. Mylonopoulos, “Von Helike nach Tainaron und von Kalaureia nach Samikon: Amphiktyonische Heiligtümer des Poseidon auf der Peloponnes”, in K. Freitag et al. (eds.), Kult – Politik – Ethnos. Überregionale Heiligtümer im Spannungsfeld von Kult und Politik, Kolloquium Münster, 23.-24. November 2001, Stuttgart, 2006 (Historia Einzelschriften, 189), p. 137–140.

11 X. Arapojanni, “Der dorische Athena-Tempel zu Prasidaki in Elis”, in H. Frielinghaus and J. Stroszeck (eds), Neue Forschungen zu griechischen Städten und Heiligtümern. Festschrift für Burkhardt Wesenberg zum 65. Geburtstag, Möhnesee, 2010 (Beiträge zur Archäologie Griechenlands, 1), p. 10.

12 M. Jost, Sanctuaires et cultes d’Arcadie, Paris, 1985 (Études Péloponnésiennes, 9); M. Osanna, Santuari e culti dell’Acaia antica, Naples, 1996 (Aucnus. Collana di studi di antichistica dell’istituto di studi comparati sulle società antiche, 5); M.L. Zunino, Hiera Messeniaka. La storia religiosa della Messenia dall’età micenea all’età ellenistica, Udine, 1997.

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Ioannis Mylonopoulos, « Kulte und Heiligtümer in Elis und Triphylien. Untersuchungen zur Sakraltopographie der westlichen Peloponnes »Kernos, 35 | 2022, 348-353.

Référence électronique

Ioannis Mylonopoulos, « Kulte und Heiligtümer in Elis und Triphylien. Untersuchungen zur Sakraltopographie der westlichen Peloponnes »Kernos [En ligne], 35 | 2022, mis en ligne le 31 décembre 2022, consulté le 25 février 2024. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/kernos/4320 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/kernos.4320

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Ioannis Mylonopoulos

Columbia University

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