Convergences and Divergences Between God and Hero in the Mnesiepes Inscription of Paros
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CitationNagy, Gregory. 2008. Convergences and divergences between god and hero in the Mnesiepes Inscription of Paros. In Archilochus and his Age: Proceedings of the Second International Conference on the Archaeology of Paros and the Cyclades (Athens), ed. D. Katsonopoulou, I.Petropoulos, and S. Katsarou, 259-265. Athens: Archaeological Institute of Paros and Cyclades.
AbstractIn his pathfinding book, Archilochos Heros, Diskin Clay has questioned the applicability of a well-known formula for distinguishing between the cult of heroes and the cult of gods in archaic, classical, and postclassical Greek historical contexts. The formula is derived from the use of the words thuein / theos and enagizein / hērōs by Herodotus (2.44.5) in distinguishing between one cult of Herakles as a god and another cult of Herakles as a hero. Both thuein and enagizein mean ‘sacrifice’, but the first word is associated with the practice of sacrificing to a theos ‘god’ and the second, to a hērōs ‘hero’. Herodotus observes that both of these cults are attested on the island-state of Thasos, daughter-city of Paros. As Clay argues, this neat divergence, seemingly applicable in the case of Herakles as worshipped at Thasos, does not apply in the case of another figure, Theogenes, who was likewise worshipped at Thasos. The worship of Theogenes at Thasos was not bipartite as in the case of Herakles. Rather, the worship of Theogenes was expressed in convergent wording that collapses the distinction between god and hero.
I argue that such a convergence of wording with reference to the cult of figures like Theogenes is appropriate to cult heroes as traditionally worshipped in hero cults throughout the Greek speaking world in the archaic, classical, and even post-classical periods. For example, in the wording of Herodotus (9.120.3) concerning the hero cult of Protesilaos and in the wording of Pausanias (9.39.12) concerning the hero cult of Trophonios, there are references to the cult hero as a theos ‘god’ in the context of imagining him in an afterlife. In my previous work I argued that such convergent wording is in fact typical of hero cults: the given cult hero is envisioned as a mortal in the preliminary phase of the ritual program of worship and then as a god in the central phase, at a climactic moment marking the hero’s epiphany to his worshippers.
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