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Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge

Marrying Hera: Incomplete Integration in the Making of the Pantheon

Neta Aloni-Ronen

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1The Olympic pantheon, as we know it from the Iliad, is depicted as an hierarchic family ruled by the physically strongest god, Zeus. This far from peaceful family is often beset by violent conflicts. In the Iliad, the main topics of these conflicts are the Trojan war and the fate of the Greek army, but close in the background are quarrels concerning the allocation of honor among the Olympic gods.

  • 1 Il., I, 535-610.

2Zeus and Hera were not an ideal couple. One of their most famous arguments is that described in the first song of the Iliad: Hera suspects that Zeus is planning to intervene in the war in favor of the Trojan army. Although all the gods fear him, Hera blames Zeus for excluding her from discussions about the fate of the war. Zeus tries to appease Hera: Don’t question me, he begs, no one, either mortal or immortal, knows more than you. But Hera is not convinced. She confronts Zeus directly, and relates that she saw Thetis with him, holding his knees, and that she is concerned that he might intervene in the war. Zeus is furious. You always suspect me, he retorts, You’d better sit and keep quiet because all the gods of Olympus will not help you if I should lay my mighty hands upon you. This threat ends the dispute. Hera is afraid and so are the other gods. Tranquility returns to Olympus only after Hephaistos convinces Hera that it is in her best interests to make peace with Zeus, since he is the most powerful god on Olympus.1

3This is not the only conflict between Zeus and Hera described in the Iliad. During their course, arguments are raised in favor of and against Zeus’ exclusive rule over the Olympic family. There is always a solution and the crises is always resolved, though no decisive ruling is ever made as to which of the arguments are correct and therefore binding.

4I shall not dwell further on literary traditions but turn directly to the crucial question: Can we take these conflicts to be anything more then a literary device, used in order to create the dramatic tension that will ensure the audience’s complete attention? Descriptions of discord create, no doubt, a good story but I propose that we should also acknowledge these conflicts as prima facie evidence for processes which integrated and modified different and conflicting local traditions concerning the world of the gods and its history.

5When studying Greek Archaic religion, one cannot overlook the significant difference between local cults, usually devoted to one divinity, and the literary descriptions of the Olympic pantheon, which delineate the relationships between the gods. The stories of the Olympic pantheon tell of interaction and negotiation, while the local cults are generally unconcerned about the divinity’s power vis-a-vis other characters.

  • 2 N. Aloni-Ronen, Hera and the Formation of Aristocratic Collective Identity: Evidence from the Argi (...)

6Hera’s prominent cult in the Argive plain suggests a good example of the significance of the gap between the role played by the gods’ individual character in regional ritual and their complicated depiction in the Homeric epos as members of an hierarchic family. In the following, I briefly summarize my recent study analyzing Hera’s role in Archaic Religion.2

  • 3 A. Schachter, Policy, Cult and the Placing of Sanctuaries, in Le sanctuaire grec, Vandœuvres-Genèv (...)
  • 4 One should note that de Polignac himself acknowledged in a recent paper that his thesis on territo (...)

7As opposed to other historians,3 I think that we can conclude, on the basis of archaeological and literary evidence, that the Heraion in the Archaic period was not a strategic weapon serving Argos’ expansionist policies but, rather, a site for encounter and cooperation between several neighbouring communities.4 If such an interpretation is accepted, Hera’s cult in the Heraion assumes a different purpose: Not a worship representing Argos’ exclusive claims for hegemony but a common cult center for several communities and a mechanism for integration, promoted by the region’s aristocracies.

  • 5 De Polignac, ibid.

8The specific site for Hera’s cult in the Argive plain seems to have- been chosen for two related reasons. First its location between Argos and Mycenae was well-suited for establishing what Francois de Polignac described as a “half way house”, a common cult for various communities of the region.5 Furthermore, the site’s surroundings were associated with Hera and the glorious Mycenaean past through the ancient cult of Hera practiced in Prosymna and the neighboring Mycenaean burial caves.

  • 6 C.W. Blegen, Prosymna, Remains of Post Mycenaean Date, in AJA, 43 (1939), p. 410-444, esp. p. 412- (...)
  • 7 J. Whitley, Early States and Hero Cult, a Re-Appraisal, in JHS, 108 (1988), p. 173-182, esp. p. 17 (...)
  • 8 F.R. Schröder, Hera, in Gymnasium, 63 (1956), p. 57-78; H. FRISK, Griechiscbes Etymologisches Wört (...)
  • 9 A. Foley, The Argolid 800-600 B.C.: an Archaeological Survey, Göteborg, 1988, p. 137-138.

9The building of the Heraion in this vicinity, where a cult for heroes had began to gain popularity in the 8th century, has to my mind important implications regarding the goddess’ image and her political role in the Argive plain. Hera’s sacred precinct in Prosymna shows that she had been worshipped there, not far from the burial caves, before the Heraion was built.6 An examination of the dedications from the Heraion and from Prosymna reveals a similarity between the cult of Hera and that of the heroes.7 This argument finds further support in the etymological associations of Hera’s name.8 In addition, references to heroes are found at the Heraion itself, in the form of representations of warriors, battle scenes painted on the jars and abundant images of mounted heroes painted on dedications.9 These indicate that in the Argive plain, Hera was perceived as a war-goddess, a protector of heroes.

  • 10 I.R. Arnold, The Shield of Argos, in AJA, 41 (1937), p. 436-440, esp. p. 438-439.
  • 11 Hdt., I, 31.
  • 12 Plut., Consol. ad Apoll, 14; Lucian., Charon, 10.
  • 13 Finkelberg points out that contrary to common assumptions, many important heroes in Greek traditio (...)
  • 14 O’Brien understands this story as part of Hera’s role in the Argolid as goddess of the seasons. He (...)

10The military and competitive aspects of Hera’s cult, focused on winning the bronze shield during the Heraea, the main festival celebrated in the Heraion, supports this contention.10 A few details of the festival, and perhaps also of Hera’s political role in the plain, can be adduced from Herodotos’ tale of Kleobis and Biton.11 One of the most primary components of this story is the aristocratic ethos: Kleobis and Biton were not ordinary men but sons of a wealthy, respectable Argive family, whose mother was the high priestess to Hera in the Heraion.12 Both brothers were blessed with exceptional physical strength, participated in many contests, perhaps including those conducted during the Heraia, and won numerous prizes. But their greatest prize was the privilege to die a beautiful and memorable death in Hera’s own shrine – a privilege granted by Hera for their virtue, resolution and firmness. Through this death – a heroic death that granted them eternal glory13 – Hera, according to Herodotos, made manifest that death transcends life. Kleobis and Biton thus represent the basic elements of the Greek aristocratic ethos – beauty, bravery, fame and an honorable death. The story, then, illustrates the linkage between the aristocratic ethos and Hera, for it is Hera herself who enables the ethos to manifest itself.14 The three elements – heroes, Hera and glorious death – which form the core of Herodotos’ tale, testify to Hera’s role as the heroes’ goddess.

  • 15 R.A. Tomlinson, Argos and the Argolid, Ithaca, 1972, p. 24, 215-216; Kelly, op. cit. (n. 3), p. 4- (...)

11As opposed to Hera’s central role in the plain, the rites of Zeus were of secondary importance. Zeus was not present at Hera’s ancient temple and the two cults were generally separate in the Archaic period.15 Therefore, it appears that Hera was primarily perceived in the Argive plain not as Zeus’ wife, but as a patroness of the heroes and a goddess of warriors. Hera possibly represented Mycenae’s glorious past; and as such she could mediate between her worshipers and their heroes.

  • 16 O’Brien, op. cit. (n. 8), p. 113-166.
  • 17 Ibid., p. 172.

12O’Brien, who deals extensively with Hera’s role in the Argolid,16 states that, ironically, while the Argives were building the Heraion, Hera’s status was actually in decline due to the penetration of the Homeric epic tradition, which represented Hera as part of the “Panhellenic family” and as a less than sovereign “wife and sister”.17 This conclusion partially converges with my conclusions, but, to my mind, the critical question that emerges from this fact is why should the Argives choose to build such a magnificent temple to a weak goddess whose status was in decline?

13In answer, my working hypothesis is formulated in terms of the tension between aristocratic particularism and Panhellenic tendencies. The aristocrats in the Argive plain shaped Hera’s cult and temple as a response to the postulated Panhellenic wave that swept through many areas of Greece. For them, Hera was not only a mediator with the past but a symbol of their exclusive heroic past, and thereby of their identity. Devotion to Hera enabled them to mark their uniqueness in the face of the changes occurring in the Greek world. Based on this interpretation, there is nothing ‘ironic’ in the building of the Heraion: Rather, it was part of an effort to construct and preserve an aristocratic identity and ethos that would assist regional aristocrats in maintaining the distinction between themselves and the rest of their local society. Hera was given an important role in this campaign. Her cult was the local aristocratic alternative, the answer to an emerging Panhellenic tradition which centered around the idea of the powerful god, Zeus, who married his wife and sister, Hera.

14This interpretation, I believe, sheds light on Hera’s complicated role in the Iliad. The most important feature of this role is that Hera is always presented in interaction with another god, especially with Zeus. She is depicted as a strong goddess, the champion of the Greek army and its protector. I would suggest that behind Hera’s strong commitment to the Greek army stands traditions telling of her special role as the patroness of the Greek heroes. But in her every action, Hera takes Zeus’ authority into consideration. She fights him, she hates him, she is afraid of him; Zeus is a permanent feature in the background and Hera’s character is defined through her relationship with him. It is important to stress here that the Iliad depicts an on-going tension between Hera’s loyalty to her calling as the protectress of Greek heroes and her important role as Zeus’ wife. Given that, then what seems to be an unending conflict between Hera and Zeus actually represents a series of confrontations between Hera’s two major roles in Greek Archaic religion – as the patroness of heroes and as the spouse of the mightiest Olympic god. The conflicts between Hera and Zeus described in the Iliad therefore mirror the conflict between different traditions in Greek religion. Hera’s complex depiction in the Iliad and her troublesome relationship with Zeus seem then to result from the complicated process of incomplete integration of local traditions and cultic functions surrounding Hera within a set of beliefs concerning the world of the gods and the relationships between them.

15I want to stress that one may not necessarily infer from this that Hera’s role as the patroness of heroes predated her role as Zeus’ wife. Traditions relating the stories of the gods’ marriage were quite ancient and circulated in different areas in Greece. The variety of local traditions and the absence of a central authoritative religious power challenges every attempt to discern and thus to date even significant changes in the Greek world of belief.

16Who, then, were the people involved in this complicated cultural project of molding traditions concerning the world of the gods? Much has been said about the role of poetry in forming beliefs and attitudes. However, not enough attention has been paid to other figures, whose activities involved them in the realities of the Greek Archaic communities.

17We often short-circuit an analysis of cultural and religious processes by looking for a direct link between a social class or group, and the process under scrutiny. I propose that we first identify the specific individuals involved in the project of refashioning local religious traditions. Only after locating these characters and analyzing their tools for manipulating the traditions concerning the gods, we will be able to turn and look for larger social groups who adopted these refashioned beliefs.

18Who then are we looking for? What characterized the social and cultural collective profile of these suggested agents involved in transmitting and manipulating beliefs about the gods?

19For a start we are looking for people who have the necessary resources to do so, this implies searching for people having distinctive knowledge in religious matters as well as expertise in the art of the spoken word. For these people stories concerning the world of the gods are an important part of their “tool kits”, since they are involved in the initiation of ritual practices and religious reforms. They must also have sufficient social status to rule on religious questions and guarantee that their ruling be accepted. Since Archaic Greece lacked any authoritative central religious powers, we are looking for people who are itinerant and capable of creating supra-local tradition, not one bound to any exclusive local tradition.

20Methodologically, the difficulty does not exist in compiling a list of such characters grossly fitting this tentative profile, but in proving that they were actually involved in the construction of a supra-local religious view concerning the world of the gods. Here I will concentrate on only three of the characters on the list.

  • 18 Od., XV, 225-240; XI, 288-297.
  • 19 Hdt., IX, 34.
  • 20 Hes., Cat., 18.
  • 21 For a suggestion that there is a confusion in the mythografic tradition between two different stor (...)
  • 22 Apollod., II, 2, 2.
  • 23 Hdt., II, 49. For additional sources concerning Melampus, see A. Bouché-Leclercq, Histoire de la d (...)

21One of the most interesting figures for our study is that of Melampus the seer. His name appears in the Odyssey,18 but I will focus on Herodotus’ story about Melampus and the women of Argos. Melampus was summoned to Argos in order to heal the madness that had struck its women. After long negotiations as to the reward for his work, Melampus cured the women; he and his brother then received two-thirds of all Argive soil.19 Apollodros mentions the same story, noting that Melampus’ adventures in Argos were known already to Hesiod.20 He claims that there is no agreement as to the cause of the madness: According to Hesiod, it resulted from the women not accepting the cult of Dionysus; but according to Acusilaus it was due to their disparagement of Hera’s wooden image.21 The story relates that Melampus, being a seer and the first to devise a cure using drugs and purification, attended to the women only after Proteus the ruler yielded to his demands. The remedy was obtained with the help of the most powerful young Argive men. While shouting and dancing, they chased the mad women. One of the women died in consequence of the treatment, the rest were restored to health.22 Herodotus claims that Melampus, with knowledge derived from Egypt, also took part in initiating the cult of Dionysus, especially, the processions, into Greece. Herodotus adds that he believes that Melampus received this knowledge from Cadmus of Tyre.23

  • 24 Plut., Solon, 12, 4.
  • 25 Aristt., Ath. Pol., 1; Plut., Solon, 12.
  • 26 Aristt., Rhet., III, 17, 10.
  • 27 Paus., I, 14, 4. For additional sources concerning Epimenides, see Bouche-leclercq, op. cit. (n. 2 (...)

22Before discussing these stories, I would mention one more figure, who may have been part of a group of cultural agents involved in creating a supra-local set of beliefs concerning the gods. Epimenides was a seer and healer from Crete. He was invited to Athens at time of great trouble for the city: Megara attacked Athens, who had lost her holding in Salamis. Alarming signs were revealed to the local seers, who claimed that there was pollution in the city, which they connected to the murder of Kilon’s supporters. Epimenides’ reputation, according to Plutarch, was that of a man loved by the gods, who had acquired great knowledge, through inspiration, concerning the world of the gods.24 After coming to Athens, Epimenides became a close friend of Solon and was involved with the latter’s law-giving activities. He established new customs for mourning and transformed some of the rituals and cults in the city, particularly what Plutarch viewed as the women’s barbaric customs. Aristotle relates that Epimenides’ primary task was the purification of the city by establishing new holy places, new cults and purification rites.25 Two more literary sources dealing with Epimenides add important information concerning the understanding of this character: Aristotle writes that Epimenides’ role was not to predict of the future but to discuss and explain the past.26 Pausanias writes that Epimenides slept forty years in a cave and that after he woke up, he wrote poetry and purified cities.27

23This brief analysis of two characters who may have been involved in the long process of transforming and mediating different traditions concerning the world of the gods shows that in Archaic Greece, the people who were involved in the introduction of new cults, whose responsibility it was to explain the past, and who were perceived as possessing knowledge regarding the world of the gods, were described as seers and healers. Let us return to our tentative profile of the cultural agent:

  1. I suggested to focus on people who were itinerant. As Professor Burkert emphasized, healers and seers were considered in the Odyssey with singers and builders as the foreigners that each community was required to welcome.28 Melampus and Epimenides were foreigners, coming to the rescue at times of crisis. Their invitations, which were extended during times of great distress, indicate that these characters had a supra-local reputation. That they were strangers was emphasized: Melampus came to Argos from Pylos, and eventually became the founder of a great family in his adopted city. Epimenides came to Athens from Crete for a specific mission and, having completed that mission, left the city. These characters’ foreign origins was closely connected to their assumed source of knowledge: Melampus’ knowledge of the rites in honor of Dionysus was attributed to relationship with Cadmus of Tyre. Hence, when describing the introduction of the rites of Dionysus into Greece, Herodotus sketches the path of the transformation of knowledge to Greece through Melampus’ relationships abroad.
  2. Close relationships with local leaders were required. Melampus helped the king of Argos and became the owner of a large share of Argive soil. Epimenides was Solon’s ally and a central figure in Solon’s legislative activities. It is important to notice that these seers worked closely with local leaders and are described, in the case of Melampus, as part of the elite. These ties can explain the seers’ authority and their power to enforce their religious ideas and rulings.
  3. Religious reforms were attributed to the seers. Melampus initiated the processions to Dionysus and Epimenides instituted large-scale religious reforms in Athens. Thus, religious reforms and the initiations of new cults were not perceived as the outcome of slow endogenous growth but as a rapid process, a break with the local past. The initiator was an outsider with a supra-local name and the reform was described as activated especially against women who pursued ancient traditions.
  4. As mentioned above, I suggested to focus on people who were masters of the spoken word. The main difficulty lies in proving that the seers actually told stories about the gods and were involved in the transformation of local traditions concerning the gods. Unfortunately we lack clear evidence indicating that Melampus composed poetry and stories about the gods. Our only evidence comes from Melampus’ technique for healing the women. To repeat, Apollodorus, perhaps relying on Hesiod, claims that Melampus and the men from Argos chased the women while shouting and screaming. I believe we can learn from this description that the processes of healing involved the repetition of certain texts, which were accompanied by dances. Though we have no knowledge as to the nature of these texts and dances, I suggest the magic created by them was a critical part of the healing process and that therefore these texts were an essential component of the healer’s tool kit.
  • 29 Paus., I,14, 4.
  • 30 Diog. Laer., I, 111.
  • 31 Diod. Sic, V, 80, 4.
  • 32 Epimen., 68 B 19 Diels-Kranz6; see also H. Diels, Über Epimenides von Kreta, in Berl. Sitzb. (1891 (...)
  • 33 Epimen., 68 B 5 Diels-Kranz6.
  • 34 Epimen., 68 B 2 Diels-Kranz6.
  • 35 Epimen., 68 B 16 Diels-Kranz6.
  • 36 Il, I, 92-100.

24Evidence concerning Epimenides is more decisive: Pausanias writes that Epimenides from Knossos composed poetry and purified cities.29 According to Diogenes Laertius, he wrote a poem on the birth of the Curetes and the Corybantes, a Theogony, a poem about Jason and the Argo, and a prose work on sacrifices and the Cretan constitution.30 Diodorus Siculus states that his source for writing the history of Crete was Epimenides from Crete, who wrote about the gods.31 Fragments attributed to Epimenides tell about Aphrodite,32 about Nux,33 about Selene34 and about Pan and Arkas, the twin sons of Zeus and Kallisto.35 We do not know exactly what these poems contained, but it is clear that composing stories about the gods and explaining the past are an important features of Epimenides’ portrait. Moreover it seems that telling stories about the gods was closely connected to the act of purification. Epimenides practiced purification and composed stories about the gods; it is possible that these stories are used in order to explain the causes of the plague and the cure administered. Just like Calchas, who identified the cause of the plague that inflicted the Greek army in Troy and told of the reasons for Apollon’s anger,36 it is plausible that Epimenides tells a story to account for pestilence in Athens and Melampus communicates a tale in order to interpret the madness striking the women of Argos. Stories about the gods appear, then, to have been part of the seers’ tool kit, shaped to provide answers and explanations as well as to strengthen the seer’s authority.

  • 37 Plut., Lyc, 4, 1-2 (transi, by B. Perrin, Loeb Classical Library).

25I believe one more example from Greek literature will clarify the points I have attempted to make: Thales of Crete was invited to Sparta by Lycurgus, Sparta’s legendary legislator. Lycurgus visited Crete and, having met Thales, he encouraged him to travel to Sparta. Plutarch, who recorded Lycurgus’ journey to Crete, writes that although Thales appeared to be a lyric poet and essentially shielded himself behind this art, in reality he was one of the mightiest lawgivers. Thus Plutarch writes and I quote: “Thales’ odes were so many exhortations to obedience and harmony and their measured rythms were permeated with ordered tranquillity, so that those who listened to them were insensibly softened in their dispositions, insomuch that they renounced the mutual hatreds which were so dominant at that time, and dwelt together in a common pursuit of what was high and noble.” Plutarch concludes that Thales paved the way to Lycurgus and his disciplines.37

26Thales, then, is depicted as a poet who paved the way to Lycurgus’ reform by his comforting songs which encouraged the cooperation among the citizens of Sparta. This is not a simple story. Plutarch distinguishes between the figures of the poet and the legislator but states that Thales only looked like a poet but actually used his skills for promoting harmony and Lycurgus’ legislation in the city. Thus, it seems that Plutarch’ and his sources’ distinctions between the different areas of activity are far from simple or straightforward.

  • 38 In fact Pausanias cautions his readers not to confuse Epimenides with Thales, both of whom were fr (...)

27I would further note that the cooperation between Lycurgus and Thales is very much like that of Solon and Epimenides.38 Thales similar to Epimenides, fights a plague whose symptoms are great anxiety and tension, he purifies the city and works to promote harmony. It is possible that what we have here is a conventional model for the description of the institution of social and legal reforms, according to which a stranger, usually described as a seer or a poet, is invited by local figures to create the right “environment” for comprehensive reform. According to this model, there is a clear allocation of tasks between the foreign seer and the local legislator, who actually initiates of the reform.

  • 39 Plut., De Mus., 1146b-c; Paus., I, 14, 4.
  • 40 Apoll. Rhod., I, 494-518.

28Plutarch and Pausanias claim that Thales cured the plague that attacked Sparta.39 His main tools were his songs, but unfortunately we have no evidence as to their content. According to Plutarch, Thales’ music worked magic in creating concord and harmony. I would like to suggest that we may learn about the nature of Thales’ music from Greek stories about another very famous poet, Orpheus. Orpheus was believed to be one of the Argonauts and Apollonius Rhodius describes his special contribution to the well-known voyage. While at sea, the Argonauts became engaged in a great conflict among themselves which threatened the continuation of the mission. In the crucial moment, Orpheus lifted his lyre and started to sing. He sang how the earth, the heaven and the sea once mingled together in one form, how after a deadly battle they were separated and how the stars and the moon and the paths of the sun were created. He sang how mountains rose and how the rivers with their nymphs came into being. He sang how first of all Ophion and Eurynome dominated the Olympus and how through strength of arms, one gave up his prerogative to Cronos and the other to Rhea, who ruled over the Titans, while Zeus was still a child. When Orpheus ended, according to the story, the Argonauts still bent forward with eagerness, intent on hearing the enchanting music. Not long afterwards, they mixed libations in honor of Zeus according to the customary.40 Tranquility thus returned to the “Argo”.

29Special magical and healing powers are attributed to Orpheus’ music. His singing relaxes its listeners and reminds them of their communal goal. Orpheus sings a Theogonia, a poem on the genealogy of the gods. He sings about the history of the gods, their conflicts and their relationships. Apart from Orpheus’ voice and his playing, I would suggest that the Theogonia itself was believed to have healing and relaxing powers. Stories about the world of the gods, their discords, and the renewal of harmony are depicted as creating order. It is possible therefore, that Thales’ pacifying music was also Theogonia. Undoubtedly this was a different Theogonia from the one Apollonius Rhodius relates in the name of Orpheus, but despite the different names and emphasis, they were probably very much alike; a tale about the gods, their relationships, their conflicts and there solutions.

30I believe that this analysis may lead to conclusions concerning one of the functions of stories about the gods in Archaic Greek society. It seems to me these stories had an important role in coping with social distress and in hammering out solutions for crises. Stories about the gods were one of the most important components of the seers “tool kit”. As we all know the stories about the Greek gods are usually attributed to poets like Homer and Hesiod. However, we should remember that whether a figure is known to us as a ‘poet’ or a ‘seer’ or even a ‘legislator’ depends on the vagaries of later literary traditions. In order to avoid this difficulty, we should focus on the cultural skills, powers and deeds ascribed to these figures and not on their “professional” titles alone. Such an analysis reveals that figures who functioned as what I would call “seers cum healers cum poets”, like Thales and Epimenides, shaped and transformed traditions about the world of the gods.

31At this point, I wish to summarize the conclusions of this paper and to mark the paths for future inquiry: The gap between Hera’s role in her local cult in the Argive plain and the complicated depiction of her role in the Iliad, as Zeus’ wife and part of a hierarchic family reflects, to my mind, the inherent nature of the Olympic pantheon. The integration of the gods into a pantheon does not disregard or abrogate various local traditions. It transforms traditions, molds them and adapts them to a new framework, one concentrating on the relationships between the gods. The story of the Olympic pantheon is a story about the allocation of honor, family, conflicts, struggles, and appeasement. Thus, the Olympic pantheon as described in the Iliad emerges as something more then a set of literary traditions: the pantheon offers a network of arrangements and understandings established between local traditions. This network bridges and mediates the contradictory local traditions without ever transforming them completely.

32This paper also focused on the cultural agents and the ‘“cultural tools” involved in shaping and transforming stories about the gods and suggested that these stories functioned as explanations for misfortune or for prosperity, and as justifications for the introduction of new cults or unprecedented religious norms. I have suggested it is best to view those individuals who were involved in the great cultural project of transforming traditions concerning the world of the gods as “seers cum healers cum poets”. They heal, they foretell the future and explain the past, and they shape and transform traditions about the gods. These individuals are depicted as foreigners, coming to the rescue at times of great distress. Stories which accompanies them, tell of their wanderings and their encounters with famous individuals. They cooperate and establish firm relationships with the Greek aristocracy. They are experts in the art of the spoken word, are perceived as having distinctive knowledge in religious reforms and unique relationships with the gods. As this a collective profile we can certainly find figures who told stories about the gods and were probably not poets. Therefore this collective profile does not perfectly fit many of those cultural agents, but it does describe a group of figures and a complex of skills which composed the cultural profiles of the men who transformed traditions about the gods.

33The question left open is that of the function of the pantheon in Greek Archaic society. Who were the social groups which adopted and used these supra-local traditions? I suggest looking for the answer to this question among those groups engaged in supra-local activities, such as the Panhellenic festivals, colonization projects and joint economic ventures. A network of understandings that bridges separate and contradictory traditions could ease communication between people gathered from various areas of Greece and offer a common idiom for a supra-local cooperation.

Notes

1 Il., I, 535-610.

2 N. Aloni-Ronen, Hera and the Formation of Aristocratic Collective Identity: Evidence from the Argive Plain, in Scripta Classica Israelica, 16 (1997), p. 9-19.

3 A. Schachter, Policy, Cult and the Placing of Sanctuaries, in Le sanctuaire grec, Vandœuvres-Genève, 1990 (Entretiens sur l’Antiquité classique, 37), p. 1-57, esp. p. 12-13; C. Morgan, T. Whitelaw, Pots and Politics: Ceramic Evidence for the Rise of Argive State, in AJA, 95 (1991), p. 79-108, esp. p. 79, 83-84; T. Kelly, History of Argos to 500 B.C. Minneapolis, 1976, p. 107. A different view is held by J.M. Hall, How Argive was the “Argive” Heraion The Political and Cultic Geography of the Argive Plain, 900-400 B.C., in AJA, 99 (1995), p. 575-613.

4 One should note that de Polignac himself acknowledged in a recent paper that his thesis on territorial claims, represented by the building rural sanctuaries does not apply to the ancient Argive Heraion. De Polignac describes the Heraion at this period as a “half way house”: F. De Polignac, Mediation, Competition and Sovereignty: The Evolution of Rural Sanctuaries in Geometric Greece, in S.E. Alcock, R.G. Osborne (eds.), Placing the Gods: Sanctuaries and Sacred Space in Ancient Greece, Oxford, 1994, p. 3-18, esp. p. 4-5.

5 De Polignac, ibid.

6 C.W. Blegen, Prosymna, Remains of Post Mycenaean Date, in AJA, 43 (1939), p. 410-444, esp. p. 412-420.

7 J. Whitley, Early States and Hero Cult, a Re-Appraisal, in JHS, 108 (1988), p. 173-182, esp. p. 179.

8 F.R. Schröder, Hera, in Gymnasium, 63 (1956), p. 57-78; H. FRISK, Griechiscbes Etymologisches Wörterbuch, Band 1, Heidelberg, 1960; W. Pötscher, Hera und Heros, in RTTM (1961), p. 303-355, esp. p. 304; A.B. Cook, Who was the Wife of Zeus?, in CR, 20 (1906), p. 365-378, 416-419, esp. p. 365-369; J.V. O’Brien, The Transformation of Hera, Boston, 1993, p. 113-118.

9 A. Foley, The Argolid 800-600 B.C.: an Archaeological Survey, Göteborg, 1988, p. 137-138.

10 I.R. Arnold, The Shield of Argos, in AJA, 41 (1937), p. 436-440, esp. p. 438-439.

11 Hdt., I, 31.

12 Plut., Consol. ad Apoll, 14; Lucian., Charon, 10.

13 Finkelberg points out that contrary to common assumptions, many important heroes in Greek tradition did not die on the battlefield and won the title “hero” on account of the suffering they went through; M. Finkelberg, Odysseus and the Genus ‘hero’, in G & R, 42 (1995), p. 1-14, esp. p. 5, 9.

14 O’Brien understands this story as part of Hera’s role in the Argolid as goddess of the seasons. Her claim is that this death was the ultimate gift the goddess of the seasons grants her worshipers (op. cit. [n. 8], p. 148).

15 R.A. Tomlinson, Argos and the Argolid, Ithaca, 1972, p. 24, 215-216; Kelly, op. cit. (n. 3), p. 4-5; Foley, op. cit. (n. 7), p. 145-147. For the suggestion, based on the analysis of the tablets from Pylos, that Hera was known already in the Mycenaean period as Zeus’ wife, see W. Burkert, Greek Religion, Cambridge, 1985, p. 44. For the view that the tablets from Pylos do not provide any clear conclusion concerning the view of Hera and Zeus’ relationship and for a discussion of the evidences from Pylos, see O’Brien, op. cit. (n. 8), p. 114-115, n. 2-3; 121.

16 O’Brien, op. cit. (n. 8), p. 113-166.

17 Ibid., p. 172.

18 Od., XV, 225-240; XI, 288-297.

19 Hdt., IX, 34.

20 Hes., Cat., 18.

21 For a suggestion that there is a confusion in the mythografic tradition between two different stories, one telling of the madness that Hera inflicted on the daughters of Proteus and the second telling of the women of Argos during the reign of king Anaxagoras, who went mad because they refused to accept the cult of Dionysos, see M.L. West, The Hesiodic Catalogue of Women: Its Nature, Structure and Origins, Oxford, 1985, p. 78-79.

22 Apollod., II, 2, 2.

23 Hdt., II, 49. For additional sources concerning Melampus, see A. Bouché-Leclercq, Histoire de la divination dans l’antiquité, 1963, vol. 2, p. 13-18.

24 Plut., Solon, 12, 4.

25 Aristt., Ath. Pol., 1; Plut., Solon, 12.

26 Aristt., Rhet., III, 17, 10.

27 Paus., I, 14, 4. For additional sources concerning Epimenides, see Bouche-leclercq, op. cit. (n. 23), p. 99-102.

28 Od., XVII, 382-387; W. Burkert, The Orientalizing Revolution. Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in Early Arcaic Age, London, 1992, p. 241.

29 Paus., I,14, 4.

30 Diog. Laer., I, 111.

31 Diod. Sic, V, 80, 4.

32 Epimen., 68 B 19 Diels-Kranz6; see also H. Diels, Über Epimenides von Kreta, in Berl. Sitzb. (1891), p. 387ff; E.R. Dodds, The Greeks and the Irrational, Berkeley – Los Angeles, 1951, p. 141-142; GL. Huxley, Greek Epic Poetry, London, 1969, p. 80-84.

33 Epimen., 68 B 5 Diels-Kranz6.

34 Epimen., 68 B 2 Diels-Kranz6.

35 Epimen., 68 B 16 Diels-Kranz6.

36 Il, I, 92-100.

37 Plut., Lyc, 4, 1-2 (transi, by B. Perrin, Loeb Classical Library).

38 In fact Pausanias cautions his readers not to confuse Epimenides with Thales, both of whom were from Crete: Paus., I, 14, 4. Plutarchus also mentions Thales’ name in relation to Epimenides: Plut., Solon, 12, 6.

39 Plut., De Mus., 1146b-c; Paus., I, 14, 4.

40 Apoll. Rhod., I, 494-518.

Auteur

Dept. of History
Tel-Aviv University
Ramat-Aviv 69978
Tel Aviv Israel

© Presses universitaires de Liège, 1998

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