The political uses of hero cult at Olympia and Delphi [Greece].
Downie, Susan Marjorie.
245 leaves.
Microform, Thesis
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Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 65-10, Section: A, page: 3941.
dissertation note
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Toronto, 2004.
general note
Adviser: Margaret C. Miller.
This dissertation examines how the mythology and cult of specific heroes was manipulated at Olympia and Delphi from the 6th to the 3rd century BC to achieve a variety of political purposes. The heroes examined include Pelops and Hippodamia at Olympia and Neoptolemus at Delphi. Their mythology, cult place, worship and local significance explain why they were employed in political propaganda concerning domestic and international affairs.Chapter Three enumerates various uses of the hero in inter-state affairs. Genealogy was the operative factor and alliances could be cemented through kinship diplomacy based on common ancestors. Such heroes could also be used in disputes about land ownership or hegemony.Chapters Four and Five examine the situation at Olympia and Delphi which, because of their international stature, needed to negotiate both domestic and international relations to ensure prosperity and security. Heroic propaganda allowed them to do this with great flexibility. Chapter Four examines the myth and cults of Pelops and Hippodamia at Olympia where the Eleans used them for numerous political purposes from the 6th to the 4 th century BC. Chapter Five provides a similar analysis of Neoptolemus at Delphi but illustrates that he held vastly different significance from Pelops and Hippodamia. While they were integral to the religious and political life of Olympia and Elis, Neoptolemus was never embraced locally. However, other Greek states used the hero to mediate their relations with Delphi.Public propaganda concerning heroes might persuade a group that a particular course of action was correct and defensible through tradition but, to be effective, had to be employed in conjunction with concrete measures that addressed pragmatic concerns. Access to a sanctuary such as Olympia or Delphi offered advantages in financial resources, religious authority and strategic location. Without such assets, propaganda based on heroes such as Pelops, Hippodamia and Neoptolemus would cease to be effective.Chapter Two explains the ways in which hero cult could be used in domestic affairs. The primary concern was security which included consolidation of territory and the establishment of borders. However, heroic propaganda could also be used to express factionalism, establish a new government or promote changes to a constitution.The first chapter provides a brief introduction to the qualities, powers and worship of heroes and analyzes factors that suited heroes to political manipulation. These included the hero's divine heritage, supernatural powers and multilocality yet close connection to his place of worship. Being an ancestor of the community connected to local aitiologies also contributed to his political potency.
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