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Mixanthrôpoi

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Emma Aston

Section Two : Movement, absence and loss

Chapter VI

The fallacy of Arcadia

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Introduction

  • 1 Jost (1985). See also her most recent treatment of Arkadian religion (Jost, 2007), in which she say (...)
  • 2 Nilsson, vol. 1 (1941), 214.
  • 3 Adshead (1986), 21-2.
  • 4 Nielsen (1999), 40.
  • 5 For example, Jost (1985), 558, says that the prevalence of various forms of religious theriomorphis (...)
  • 6 Nilsson, vol. 1 (1941), 214.

1The general premise which this chapter examines has already been described from various angles. With regard to the ancient material, it consists of an important general association between mixanthropic deities and Arkadia, expressed most of all through the figure of Pan; at the same time, both Arkadia and its mixanthropic denizens were perceived generally as belonging to the remote past. The modern counterpart to these ideas is the theory, discussed in the previous chapter, that mixanthropic gods are the victims of a growing scarcity. Arkadia’s allure to the exponents of such a theory lies in the fact that it appears to be the exception to this rule. Arkadia has acquired a reputation for having had more than the usual concentration of theriomorphic gods in general, and mixanthropic representations of gods specifically. This perception runs, for example, through Madeleine Jost’s monumental work on Arkadian cults,1 and is to be found in several less extensive discussions of the matter, such as that of Nilsson,2 Adshead3 and Nielsen.4 This relative abundance is interpreted as a case of survival and preservation; Arkadia is remote and conservative, and is therefore less prone to the kinds of religious changes which caused mixanthropic gods to become less widespread.5 This is the argument, summed up by Nilsson’s statement that such figures as Demeter Melaina preserve a ‘primitiven Wildheit’.6 Arkadia would therefore appear to offer instant corroboration for the notion that mixanthropic gods were once more common, because it acts as a kind of reservation or museum from which we may have a glimpse of what the rest of Greece, too, was once like. If this were so, we would expect to find an abundance of mixanthropic depictions of gods in Arkadian religious sites; and one would expect to find them occupying positions of importance. Is this the case? Does Arkadia live up to our expectations?

  • 7 Pausanias, his attitudes and his context have already been discussed in Chapter 4. The extensive us (...)
  • 8 The ensuing discussion partly reproduces material included in Aston (2009).

2This chapter falls into two related parts. The first examines the evidence for mixanthropic imagery in Arkadian cult, starting with the eighth book of Pausanias’s Periegesis,7 and going on to the archaeological material. The second examines the more general question of Arkadia as isolated repository of strange religious survivals. Should it really be given that persona and rôle?8

1. Mixanthropic imagery in Arkadian cult

3In Chapter 4 it was described how Demeter Melaina’s mare-headed xoanon is at the centre of a mythical topos concerning the goddess’s withdrawal and absence. It is clear that we cannot rely on this image, which appears a thing more of legend than of fact, in any search for mixanthropic representations of deities in Arkadia. Does Pausanias provide any more instances which might be more reliable?

4There are indeed other mixanthropic images in Book Eight, and these tend to be less weighted with myth than the Phigalian example, and in this respect less suspect. For example, not far from the cave of Demeter Melaina, where the Lymax and Neda rivers meet, Pausanias visited, he tells us, a sanctuary of Eurynome, regarded by local people either as a form of Artemis or a daughter of Okeanos akin to Thetis. About the cult statue of this goddess the Phigalians tell Pausanias:

  • 9 Paus. 8.41.6: χρυσαῖ τε τὸ ξόανον συνδέουσιν ἁλύσεις καὶ εἰκὼν γυναικὸς τὰ ἄχρι τῶν γλουτῶν, τὸ ἀπὸ(...)

Gold chains bind the xoanon, and it is in the likeness of a woman down to the buttocks, but below that is a fish.9

  • 10 Paus. 8.41.6. The sense of the image’s strangeness is, I believe, conveyed implicitly in Pausanias’ (...)

5This time the mixanthropic cult statue is in mermaid form. Far from being flagged up in myth, this effigy is treated with a certain reticence by the Periegete, especially when it comes to ascribing such an outlandish form to Artemis.10 It is hard to see how it would fit Pausanias’ authorial aims to invent an image like this if one did not exist, or to exaggerate its mixanthropic qualities. Again, we may assume that he is reporting what he was told at the scene.

6But here we come up against a now-familiar stumbling block. As at Phigalia, Pausanias does not himself see the statue, this time because the sanctuary is only open to the public one day a year and is shut when he visits. As at Phigalia, he merely tells us what he was told about the image and its form. Unlike before, the description is not couched in unrealistic and supernatural terms, and there is no good reason for arguing that a mermaid-form statue was not housed in the sanctuary. All the same, it is important to bear in mind that both the mixanthropic images so far discussed have been unseen, for one reason or another. They have been rendered invisible, one by mythical loss, the other by religious restrictions. So far we have the rumours of mixanthropic representations and no real sightings.

  • 11 Paus. 8.37.11
  • 12 Paus. 8.32.1.
  • 13 Parke (1967), 194-6.

7At the time of Pausanias’ visit, images of Pan in his mixanthropic form were in evidence in his several cult sites in Arkadia. These receive mention11 but not description; probably the form was simply too well-known by then to be thought to require it. Besides Pan, only one actual mixanthropic statue is to be found in Book Eight: in Megalopolis we are told of a house that was built for Alexander the Great, besides which stood an image of Ammon, with rams’ horns on its head.12 It would be hard, however, to take this as an instance of native Arkadian cult. Ammon’s non-Greek associations are indisputable,13 and it is also probable that his presence here owes something to the connection with Alexander, who had a special relationship with the god.

8So much for mixanthropic cult statues. There remains, before we leave the narrative of Pausanias, one further and rather different case of mixanthropic representation in a cult context. It occurs in the description of Stymphalos and the sanctuary there of Stymphalian Artemis. We are told that the temple is old; that the effigy in it is a xoanon; that images of the Stymphalian Birds decorate the temple near the roof. Pausanias then adds, rather cursorily:

  • 14 Paus. 8.22.7: εἰσὶ δὲ αὐτόθι καὶ παρθένοι λίθου λευκοῦ, σκέλη δέ σφισίν ἐστιν ὀρνίθων, ἑστᾶσι δὲ ὄπ (...)

There are also, here, maidens of white stone; they have the legs of birds, and they stand behind the temple.14

  • 15 Borgeaud (1988), 17-9; this contra the rather rationalist view of Pollard (1977), 98-99.
  • 16 Also, according to Diodoros (3.30) they directly damage crops, highlighting their opposition to the (...)

9So here the situation has shifted: the cult statue itself is, we may be certain, completely devoid of mixanthropic features. A motif of birds decorates the temple; and behind the temple we find a rank of anonymous bird-legged girls. The identity of the former is made clear: they are the man-eating Stymphalian birds which the hero Herakles either killed or chased from the local lake, and Pausanias recounts this myth to leave us in no doubt (just prior to the passage cited). The relationship between Artemis and the Stymphalian Birds is illuminated by Borgeaud,15 who argues that the latter represent the destructive waters of Lake Stymphalos, which was extremely prone to flooding. Flooding threatens agriculture and thus works against the mainstay of human development and civilisation. The birds, because they are man-slaying, represent a world both distorted and regressive, where animals hunt man rather than the other way round.16 They, together with the waters of the lake, stand for the forces that work against human progress and civilisation; Artemis, if properly treated, will keep such malign natural agencies at bay. The fact that the birds decorate her temple show that they are under her control. The bird-legged girls express through their mixanthropy the uneasy truce between man and destructive nature over which Stymphalian Artemis presided. For the purpose of the current discussion, however, perhaps the most important observation to make is that the mixanthropic beings are strongly connected with the central deity of the cult but are separate from her, forming a decorative element within her sanctuary.

10So, to sum up, Pausanias tells us of a number of mixanthropic cult statues. Those of Demeter and Eurynome are described but not seen. Those of Pan were seen but are not described. Ammon he both saw and described but sadly this example is less valuable because imported. Then there is the case of the mixanthropes who play some part in a sanctuary alongside a non-mixanthropic cult statue, and who are not themselves the object of worship. The mixanthropic being in one form or another pervades the book, most often through rumour and report; none the less, Arkadia does not emerge from the account of Pausanias as the clear and abundant source of mixanthropic deities that its reputation might have led us to expect.

  • 17 On the cult, especially the Mysteries associated with Despoina, see Loukas and Loukas (1988); Jost (...)
  • 18 The fullest and most recent discussion of this artist, his work and context is that of Themelis (19 (...)
  • 19 Reports of the excavation of the site and of the finds: see Kavvadias (1893), Kouroniotis (1911 and (...)

11Archaeology supplies some interesting cases. At Lykosoura, around eighteen kilometres from Phigalia, there was a large and important sanctuary in which a number of deities were represented but primarily Despoina, and in which Mystery rites were conducted.17 In the temple of Despoina there stood an ambitious statue group by Damophon of Messene,18 depicting Despoina herself, Demeter, Artemis and the Titan Anytos who brought up the infant Despoina.19 Phigalian echoes will immediately be felt, as Despoina was the daughter whom, according to myth, Demeter bore to Poseidon while both were in equine form. This myth is part of the Phigalian cult aitia. Given both geographical and religious proximity, we may assume some form of practical connection, at some stage, between the two sites. (The functional relationship which probably existed between the Phigalian cave and Lykosoura has been discussed in Section One.)

  • 20 See Wace (1934), Thallon (1906) and Lévy (1967); Pollitt (1986), 312 ch. 8 n. 2; Ridgway, vol. 2 (2 (...)

12Something must be said, however, on the subject of relative dating. This is a vital preliminary to any detailed discussion of the relationship between the Lykosoura sanctuary and Demeter’s Phigalian cult. The dating of the sanctuary, and especially the statue-group, has been a fraught issue; even knowing from Pausanias the name of the sculptor, Damophon of Messene, does not provide certainty. To summarise an extremely complex debate,20 three periods are possible: fourth to earlier third century BC, early second century BC, and second century AD, with the first two the strongest candidates. The key point is that whatever view one takes, it is safe to say that the statue-group was of far later date than either the xoanon of Demeter Melaina – if it existed – or the mermaid Eurynome. When Pausanias visited Arkadia, Damophon’s work was there to see; Demeter’s Phigalian xoanon was not. We are not dealing with two sets of imagery that existed at the same time. That said, it is clear that the memory of the xoanon, and the concept of mixanthropy generally, were very much ‘alive’ in Phigalian mythology. It is therefore licit to assume that a connection would have continued to be felt between the two sites and their different depictions of mixanthropy. But it must be born in mind that the Phigalian sculptures are the products of a later and very different age from that of the Archaic xoana. This very fact has led to some revealing assumptions, to which we shall return.

  • 21 Paus. 8.37.3-4. In addition to the surviving sculptural fragments, a coin was discovered depicting (...)

13Of the statue-group we have a description in Pausanias, but this is one occasion when we may corrobo­rate his testimony with material evidence, since sizeable fragments of the group have been discovered.21 On the whole, the overlap between the two is heartening. There is one detail of the statues that Pausanias does not, however, mention, but which is to the scholar one of their most interesting characteristics.

  • 22 An alternative interpretation of the carved drapery as coming from Despoina’s tunic and himation is (...)
  • 23 See Jost (1985), 328-9.

14The detail in question is a veil which, it is generally agreed,22 formed part of the drapery of the figure of Despoina in the group (fig. 30).23 It is closely carved with bands of figures, separated by repeat-patterning. On the top-most level are eagles, their wings extended. Below them is a parade of fabulous marine beings, Nereids and hippocamps and Tritons. The level below that bears winged female figures holding elaborate torches. Finally, on the lowest frieze, is a series of dancing people with the heads of animals, including a number of species: horse, ass, sheep, fox, and one or two others which defy certain identification.

  • 24 For a discussion of the various levels of decoration on the veil and their significance with regard (...)
  • 25 See Jost (1985), 90 and pl. 23, fig. 5.
  • 26 Why, given the clear echoes of Phigalian Demeter in Lykosoura, was the mixanthropic imagery conferr (...)

15Though the veil was attached to Despoina, rather than Demeter, it is generally realised that the figures of the animal-headed dancers in particular must have some connection with Demeter’s (rumoured) mare-headed xoanon at Phigalia and about her metamorphosis. Human figures with the heads of animals, especially in such a profusion of species, are not the norm when it comes to the anonymous mixanthropes common in Greek art: these latter tend to be the human-faced monsters of the orientalizing canon. And given the religious connections between Phigalia and Lykosoura one cannot dismiss the mixanthropes on the vestment as mere decorative motifs without any link to the goddess’s own animal-associations. Besides, other echoes of Phigalian Demeter can be detected in the design. The marine creatures, for example, remind us of the dolphin which her xoanon is described as having held, and of her connection with Poseidon.24 The winged figures, which have been vaguely branded Victories, may in fact have the closest ties of all to Demeter, who on Phigalian coins was herself represented with wings.25 But what was the relationship between the myth of the mixanthropic cult-statue and these multiple, anonymous figures on the robe of a different goddess,26 among which are represented many species of animals not discernible in the Phigalian cult at all? This question many have chosen to skate over, and one can see why. It is, however, one to which I shall return, for I would argue that it is central to our understanding of the rôle and position of the mixanthropic form in Greek cult.

  • 27 For these objects, see Kavvadias (1893), 28; Kourouniotis (1912), 155-9.
  • 28 This is the firm contention of Jost, who tries to reconstruct mystery rites using the figurines and (...)
  • 29 This line is taken by Perdrizet (1899).

16The sanctuary of Despoina at Lykosoura has also yielded numerous (one hundred and forty, in fact) terracottas in the form of women with the heads of cows or sheep (fig. 31).27 The same questions of identity hang over them as over the figures on the veil. Are they masked humans,28 or some form of divinity?29 There is no way of knowing. Here, it is important merely to note that the animal element of the figurines does not directly match that of any of the goddesses worshipped on the site, and therefore it would be hard to label them as direct representations of these.

  • 30 Perdrizet (1899).
  • 31 Perdrizet (1899), 635. Attempts have, however, been made to connect the effigies with a Hellenistic (...)
  • 32 Hejnic (1961), 28.

17The effigies are striking and unambiguously mixanthropic, and their discovery was remarked by Perdrizet30 with great excitement and with the claim that they shed new light on Arkadian cult’s most primitive and fundamental aspects. Only very cursorily is it acknowledged that the great majority of the terracottas date from the Roman era, centuries after Archaic xoana and infused with a completely different religious milieu from that of the Archaic and Classical periods.31 The general determination to see them as early is significant. Hejnic exclaims wistfully in his monograph on the Arkadian book of Pausanias that the terracottas are ‘so highly archaic-looking.’32 Somehow, early mixanthropes seem much more satisfactory than late ones. They accord with the Pausanian impression that mixanthropy is largely a feature of the oldest and most primitive religious sites and practices.

  • 33  The position of the figures within the goddess’s throne can be clearly seen from the reconstructio (...)

18Also found in the temple of Despoina at Lykosoura was a small number of small sculpted marble figures with fish tails in place of legs.33 Like the carved drapery, these objects clearly had some kind of rôle as decoration on a larger object: they have been conjectured to have been ornaments on the throne on which the statues of Demeter and Despoina were seated. They also seem to echo other iconographical elements in their vicinity, espe­cially the parade of marine creatures on the drapery, but are even further detached from the central figures of the deities. They are literally part of the furniture.

19There are many things to be noted in the archaeological material described. First, and most basically, it is all from Lykosoura. Of course, Lykosoura, unlike many other parts of Arkadia, has been excavated thoroughly; we cannot say what investigation elsewhere would turn up. But this factor would not account entirely for the concentration of mixan­thropic imagery at Lykosoura. Plainly the cult of Despoina required, or perhaps facilitated, a certain kind of repre­sentation, as did the cult of Pan, that did not occur so much, for whatever reasons, elsewhere.

  • 34 Predictably, this is the view of Cook (1894, esp. 162); but it has also found favour in more recent (...)
  • 35 Perdrizet (1899), 636.

20Secondly, few as they are, we may make some tentative observations about the nature of the finds. With the possible exception of the late terracotta votives, the mixanthropic figures are not themselves the divinities to whom the sanctuary was dedicated. The identity of the figures on the robe in particular (and to a lesser extent that of the terracottas) has been the subject of much disagreement, with theories polarized between those who see them as humans wearing animal masks34 and those who call them divinities,35 without saying which divinities or why they are so many and varied. Either way, we do not have any representation of Despoina or Demeter with integral animal characteristics. We find nothing at Lykosoura like the archaic mixanthropic xoana which Pausanias describes but did not see.

  • 36 Marine mixanthropes were popular in antiquity as decorative elements in furniture. Mermen occur on, (...)

21Thirdly, both the figures on the drapery and the mermaid throne attachments were used as decoration,36 however much they seem to echo vital religious themes, and their position has a certain marginality. They would have been visible, but easy to ignore; Pausanias ignored them, as must others have done. The eye of the visitor went straight for the central figures of Damophon’s creation; only a careful observer would have taken in the patterns on a goddess’s robe, let alone the mixanthropic figures adorning the edges of sacred furniture. The mixanthropic motifs are obscure compared with other features of the statue-group, for example the torch and the kiste, both common components of Eleusinian iconography and imagery.

  • 37 8.34.5.
  • 38 Pr. 2.28.3.

22This accords with the impression we have already begun to receive: that the mixanthropic form in Arkadian cult was by no means clearly visible. The cult statues mentioned by Pausanias tend to be unseen, consigned either to the cult’s past or to deep religious secrecy; whether or not we think they existed, they did not do so under the eyes of all. It is worth recalling the observation made about horned gods of the Peloponnese; Arkadia worships an Apollo Kereatas, according to one mention by Pausanias,37 and Clement claims the Arkadians have an Apollo Nomios whose father is Silenos.38 This connects Arkadia with a wider Peloponnesian phenomenon of the pastoral horned Apollo, which of course accords well with Pan, but it does not provide any clear mixanthropic depictions; rather, we have a horns-related epiklesis and a mixanthropic parent, both indirect manifestations of mixanthropy. The mixanthropic images brought to light by archaeology are not cult statues at all but either small votives (and these mainly from the Roman period) or decorative marginalia. Mixanthropic images, and even more than that the rumoured presence of hybrid images, certainly cluster in Arkadia; but if we expected the area to give us large, central and manifest hybrid images, our expectation has not been fulfilled. If one is looking for evidence of an earlier stage in Greek religious life at which deities were worshipped and repre­sented in overtly mixanthropic forms, we do not find it in Arkadia. In fact, the material from Arkadia accords strongly with some wider – and older – patterns of mixanthropic imagery, which will be discussed in Chapter 9. It is by no means as exceptional as it has sometimes been imagined to be. But then, the expectation that it, of all regions, should provide something unique in this regard is founded on a broader misconception of the nature of the region, which I shall now proceed to discuss.

2. Arkadia: a place of uncontaminated survivals?

23Of course, no part of Greece could be argued to preserve entirely unaltered religious beliefs and practices from an earlier age; even for Arkadia that claim has never been made. However, as has been noted, it is a common assumption that the isolated quality of Arkadia makes it religiously conservative to a high degree, and that divine theriomorphism in all its aspects is the single most notable result of this preserving tendency. This sub-chapter will question, first, the extent to which Arkadia was isolated from external influences, and second, the extent to which mixanthropy in cult is a product of isolation, simply a survival intact of earlier practices.

  • 39 Cf. Jost (1992b, 67): ‘La montagne a été en Arcadie un refuge de vieilles pratiques et de vieilles (...)
  • 40 On this, see esp. Roy (1999), 346-7: he ties in mercenary service with other factors at work in the (...)

24The chief cause of Arkadia’s isolation typically cited is geography: the region is mountainous39 and land-locked and the lives of its inhabitants are seen as having matched the requirements of such a terrain: they were small-time herdsmen and hunters, whose concerns extended only as far as their own pasturage. But it could also be argued that geographical factors were instrumental in the one discernible social phenomenon which serves to challenge most strongly the notion of Arkadia as uniformly isolated: what one might term the Arkadian mercenary-habit.40

  • 41 For the event, its date (disputed) and its context of growing Arkadian self-assertion, see Rhodes ( (...)

25In ancient treatments of any form of mercenary warfare, the frequency with which Arkadians feature in the roll-call of hired troops is striking. A telling passage on the subject occurs in Xenophon’s Hellenika, during a description of the activities of Lykomedes of Mantineia, the man who founded the Arkadian League in around 370/69 BC.41

  • 42 Xen. Hell. 7.1.23: οὗτος ἐνέπλησε φρονήματος τοὺς Ἀρκάδας, λέγων ὡς μόνοις μὲν αὐτοῖς πατρὶς Πελοπό (...)

This man filled the Arkadians with high spirits, saying that they alone could claim the Peloponnese as their homeland, for they alone were autochthonous inhabitants; and the Arkadian race was the greatest of the Greek races, and had the strongest bodies. He declared them also to be the bravest, presenting as proof the fact that whenever people needed mercenaries, there was no-one they would rather ask than the Arkadians.42

26The context of this passage is of course important: Lykomedes is trying to give his Arkadian hearers a sense of regional pride. But the terms in which he does so are interesting and revealing. Autochthony is teamed with courage; the Arkadians’ special close relationship with their own land gives them extraordinary qualities. But it does not restrict them to that land, or keep them within its boundaries. Rather, the qualities which it confers lead to them having a wider range of operation, employed by countless other states and groups and individuals.

  • 43 See Pind. Ol. 6.7, 74, 101-5; Paus. 5.27.1.
  • 44 Hdt. 8.26.1. As Griffith (1935, 237) puts it, in the fifth century the Arkadian hoplite ‘began to c (...)
  • 45 Trundle (2004), 75: ‘Spartan hegemony in the Peloponnese denied to most Peloponnesians the option t (...)
  • 46 The poverty-factor behind the Arkadian mercenary-habit is cited explicitly by Herodotos, 8.26.2. Fo (...)
  • 47 This point is made by Roy (1999), 346.

27A great deal of our evidence about Arkadian mercenaries is fourth-century in date, and can therefore be tied to a rise in confidence and ebullience which accompanied the burgeoning expression of Arkadian identity at that time. Before the foundation of the Arkadian League, it must be remembered, there was no such thing as Arkadia in any sense of political or functional unity. But there are also sources which reveal that, at much earlier dates also, Arkadians were being employed in wars beyond their own state. Gelon of Syracuse at the start of the fifth century forges ties with Arkadian nobles so as to facilitate a supply of hired fighters for his campaigns;43 Arkadians also fight for Xerxes after the battle of Thermopylai.44 Mercenary service is clearly not dependent on a sense of regional unity. Rather the opposite: Trundle argues convincingly that the suppression of local identity, such as Arkadia traditionally suffered at the hands of the Spartan super-power, is actually a factor behind high rates of mercenary service in a given community.45 So is geography: Arkadia is a relatively poor land, given to both flood and drought at different times, and too mountainous to have great crop-growing potential; this poverty, when combined with Greek patterns of inheritance, may well have encouraged many to seek a livelihood abroad.46 Mercenary service is a means of doing so for which we have a lot of evidence; plunder was an especially lucrative source of wealth. One can also imagine Arkadians leaving their home state to take part in other commercial activities, though, if this is so, these are not as clearly represented in our available evidence.47 So mercenary service is an especially valuable source of insight into Arkadians abroad.

28Even by itself, the prevalence of Arkadians among known mercenaries immediately threatens our picture of an exceptionally isolated region, though it does require more scrutiny. Can we be sure that Arkadian mercenaries typically came home again after their wars abroad? Only if they did may we see them as an important means by which two-way cultural traffic was sustained between Arkadia and other regions, Greek and non-Greek. Otherwise, one might argue for the diffusion of Arkadian culture outside the region, but not that Arkadia itself was open to influence in return. Trundle argues on this point that mercenaries did tend to return to their native states after service, citing two pieces of evidence: first, the fact that we know of many occasions on which mercenaries could settle abroad and positively declined to; and second, the possible interpretation of the cult and the title of Apollo Epikourios at Bassai. The latter has especially interesting implications for the Arkadian situation, particularly as it is very close to the sacred cave of Demeter Melaina.

  • 48 For the changing meaning of the word (from ‘ally’ to ‘mercenary’) see Cooper, vol. 1 (1996), 75-9. (...)
  • 49 Jost (1985), 486-8.
  • 50 The following are instances of the word epikouroi used of Arkadian soldiers in Classical sources: T (...)
  • 51 A thought expressed by Cooper, vol. 1 (1996), 1: ‘The very presence of one of the most famous monum (...)

29It is the argument of Cooper that Arkadian mercenaries returned from fighting on the Athenian side during the earlier stages of the Peloponnesian War, and dedicated the Classical (the so-called ‘Iktinian’) temple to give thanks to Apollo for ensuring their survival of the Great Plague which afflicted Attica in 429 BC. Apollo Epikourios, however, was already a ‘god of mercenaries’ (epikouroi);48 this association was formed when Arkadian fighters were aiding the Messenians in the first and second Messenian wars between Messenia and Sparta. This would make the Bassai site consistently associated with relations between Arkadian soldiers and other states, sometimes beyond the Peloponnese. Cooper’s theory about the chief meaning of Epikourios as referring to mercenary service is not unassailable; opposition has come from Jost,49 for example, who argues that the specific word epikouroi is not used of Arkadian mercenaries as early as the Messenian wars (the first reference appears to be in Thucydides50). However, it remains attractive to suppose that wealth gained in foreign wars contributed to the building of the ‘Iktinian’ temple, even if more caution should be applied to the meaning of the god’s title. The lavish structure, far larger and more expensive than other sanctuaries in the region, has always been regarded as an anomaly among the crags of upland Phigalia.51 It may be taken as possible evidence that even the Phigalian chôra saw influxes of people, money and perhaps ideas from outside Arkadia. This would accord with the wider indisputable truth that Arkadian soldiers were leaving the region, spending time in far-flung lands, and returning home with plunder.

  • 52 For discussion and ancient sources regarding the Arkadia-Messenia relationship, especially mercenar (...)
  • 53 In addition to military support, one might cite the marriage between Aristomenes the famous Messeni (...)
  • 54 See e.g. Polyain. 6.27.2 (Spartan aggression against Arkadia around 418 BC).

30So we are starting to build up a picture of Arkadia as considerably less isolated than has often been supposed, and this is reinforced if one looks at its important participation in the struggles between Sparta and Messenia.52 Sporadic bids to assist or ally with Messenia53 accompany a series of Spartan attacks on Arkadia54 which only came to a firm end with the battle of Leuktra in 371 BC. To regard Arkadia as especially remote, always left to its own political and social – and religious – devices, overlooks its strategic position and rôle within a conflict-ridden Peloponnese. This can also be said of Phigalia in particular, despite the fact that it tends to be regarded as especially remote within Arkadia, and cut off from trends and events.

  • 55 On the cult, see Mylonopoulos (2003), 107-11.
  • 56 Xen. Hell. 6.5.2-5.
  • 57 This is the study by Pretzler (1999) in which (in addition to making some very valuable general poi (...)

31Phigalia is not the only site that should not be mistaken for a place of obscurity. In fact, if one looks at the places from which come significant quotas of either mixanthropic or theriomorphic cult imagery (both visual and via mytho­logical narratives) the opposite picture emerges. Phigalia and Lykosoura are both near to the borders with Messenia and Lakonia and, as we have seen, by no means cut off from inter-state relations. Megalopolis was in part a gestural creation with the Spartan adversary in mind, and as will be discussed below, mixanthropy and theriomorphism were important elements in the cults of that city. Mantineia, the centre of the worship of Poseidon Hippios,55 is fairly near the border with the Argolid; more importantly, in the period of maximum Arkadian political self-aggrandizement, it, like Phigalia, had definite ambitions. In 370, at roughly the time of the synoecism of Megalopolis, it too synoecised (undoing the fragmentation of its polis by the Spartans in 385), after which it joined the burgeoning Arkadian federation.56 Were space available, a very interesting study could be made of the relationship between such developments and the promotion of unusual (especially theriomorphic and mixanthropic) local deities: did the two go hand in hand? Did places like Mantineia after its synoecism flag up such deities as part of their self-definition, as Megalopolis certainly did (see below)? A study of this kind regarding a specific instance – Tegea and its mythology – has suggested an answer in the affirmative.57

32For my purposes here, however, it is important just to note two more general points. First, the sites in Arkadia which give us our main evidence for mixanthropic deities are by no means backwaters; and second, the nature of their external contacts might suggest that they were considering their image in the eyes of other Greeks, and cults would surely have contributed greatly to that image.

  • 58 That said, it has to be borne in mind that the significance of topography depends very much on one’ (...)

33So their position places many of the cults examined in this book within the range of contact with other, sometimes hostile, states. Also, while in many Greek states a position on the edge of the territory is also one in particularly rugged and impassable terrain, this is not really the case in Arkadia. Arkadia does not consist of a plain fringed by mountains, as do several central Greek states in particular, such as Attica, Boiotia and Megara. Rather, in Arkadia, the highest mountains are in the centre (Mount Mainalon) and in the very north-east corner (Mounts Kyllene and Aroania). Phigalia, Thelpousa and Lykosoura are in mountains of moderate height on the western side, as is Mantineia (home of the cult of theriomorphic Poseidon Hippios) on the east. Megalopolis, the new town-foundation of the fourth century BC, is down on relatively low land in the south-west. Overall, the sites in which we find mixanthropic and theriomorphic deities and imagery are by no means in the most inaccessible, or the wildest, parts of Arkadia.58

  • 59 Jost (1985), 184. Megalopolis is not of course the only Greek city to use cult doublets in this way (...)
  • 60 See esp. Jost (1994), 225-30.
  • 61 The latter will have remained in the background; as Jost observes, there was no question of the pec (...)

34A significant number of sites associated with divine mixanthropy and/or metamorphosis are located within the sphere of Megalopolis founded around 369 BC. As Jost has shown, the selection and distribution of deities and cults in the new settlement is by no means chaotic: rather, it shows us which aspects of their own religion the Arkadians (at that critical moment in their history) wanted to present to the view of other states. In effect, Megalopolis was a massive work of self-definition and the encapsulation of Arkadian identity.59 In particular, Jost has shown60 that doublets of rural sanctuaries were created in Megalopolis itself, to form functional connections between town and chôra, and to emphasise the unity of both. Most prominent in this technique was the Megalopolitan sanctuary of Zeus Lykaios and Pan Sinoeis, which explicitly re-creates the Zeus-Pan relationship on Mount Lykaion. So at the heart of the new settlement was a cult comprising elements of both mixanthropy and metamorphosis.61

  • 62 Paus. 8.2.3.
  • 63 On the particularly pan-Arkadian quality of Despoina, Pan and Zeus Lykaios, see Jost (2007), 264-9.

35What is striking about mixanthropy and theriomorphism in Arkadian religion is how coherent it is. The sites with which it is chiefly connected are all in some form of relationship with each other, either of mythology or of cult practice. Phigalia has its most obvious ties with Lykosoura; but the theme of cannibalism at the heart of Demeter’s cult there also recalls the sanctuary of Lykaion and Lykaon’s crime. Lykaion too is connected with Lykosoura, which according to myth was founded by Lykaon himself.62 Both cults – those of Zeus and of Demeter Melaina – are echoed in the religious arrangements in Megalopolis. Pan is a hugely important linking factor, appearing, in myth and/or cult, at all three key sites. There is a level of interrelation not found in any other part of Greece.63 I believe that it is the consistency of the religious theme that has drawn scholars’ attention to Arkadia, but not perhaps to its full complexity.

The fallacy of Arkadia: conclusion

36So we need drastically to re-consider what it is that Arkadia gives us. On the one hand, mixanthropic images from the region were sometimes of great antiquity. Although Pausanias places undue emphasis on the xoanon as mixanthropic artefact par excellence, this does not detract from the fact that mixanthropic xoana did actually exist. More significantly, perhaps, it will be argued in the next section that even when the form of Arkadian mixanthropic effigies is not that of the xoanon – even when it is rather an object like the veil of Despoina at Lykosoura – some important long-standing trends of representation are to be discerned. So it is not the case that Arkadia is a place purely of innovation.

  • 64 Adshead (1986), 22.

37On the other hand, the mixanthropes of Arkadia are not preserved in a cultural vacuum as has often been supposed. This is revealed by the cases of Lykosoura and Megalopolis. In these sites we find cults of great antiquity echoed in a newer setting: re-presented and re-framed in a way which reflects the changing concerns of the times. The prevalence of mixanthropic imagery in these contexts is interesting. Why are mixanthropes so useful for self-definition? Their very peculiarity makes them suitable for a process of setting-apart, of one state distinguishing itself from others; after all, it is the mare-metamorphosis of Demeter and her mixanthropic statue which, above all else, really set her Phigalian manifestation apart from the Eleusinian persona which dominated on a pan-Hellenic scale. Adshead takes the matter further: taking a particular animal species as emblematic within its religion allows a state to use it as a quasi-totemistic figurehead. ‘For this is the fons et origo of theriomorphism, to mark off who do and who do not belong in a given society.’64 But there is more, I think. Mixanthropes allow for a negotiation between past and present, between old and new. Their association with the remote past of Arkadia and with its founder-figures (discussed above) makes them the perfect bridging device between primordial mythology and new aims. And yet at the same time they are not so mired in the past that they lose their symbolic valency. Rather they are flexible, adaptable, constantly available for re-invention. The complexity of their continued rôle is belied by any attempt by scholars to fit them neatly into an obsolete bracket of time; and Arkadia is similarly Protean.

Notes

1 Jost (1985). See also her most recent treatment of Arkadian religion (Jost, 2007), in which she says of Pan that he ‘presented the hybrid form typical of Arcadia [my italics].’

2 Nilsson, vol. 1 (1941), 214.

3 Adshead (1986), 21-2.

4 Nielsen (1999), 40.

5 For example, Jost (1985), 558, says that the prevalence of various forms of religious theriomorphism in Arkadia reveals ‘une mentalité religieuse étonnament conservatrice.’ Similar is the claim by Loukas and Loukas (1988, 31), with regard to Lykosoura, its rites and iconography, that divine theriomorphism is ‘the most primitive substratum of Greek religious ideas and beliefs.’

6 Nilsson, vol. 1 (1941), 214.

7 Pausanias, his attitudes and his context have already been discussed in Chapter 4. The extensive use of his work in this chapter, however, necessitates further brief comment on its value and limitations. To simplify extremely, the Arkadian book undeniably conveys both Arkadian mythology and the details of material structures, such as temples and effigies, which existed there at the time of Pausanias’ visit. This element of reportage is, however, combined with an equally undeniable tendency to order and employ material according to certain authorial aims. This latter characteristic is of course the subject of numerous scholarly discussions, particularly pronounced in Elsner (2001). Pritchett’s (1999) work is distinguished by its full appraisal of religious issues; see also Ellinger (2005) for a recent treatment of certain complex themes in Pausanias’ narrative which focus significantly on the Phigalian section of Book 8. For the purposes of the current discussion, reliance on Pausanias is a matter of necessity more than of choice, given the paucity of alternative evidence; but it is felt that such use is on the whole justifiable as well as unavoidable (this basic belief in the accuracy of Pausanias’ narrative underpins the still-important work of Habicht [1985]). In any case, Pausanias is not simply functioning as a source of information but also as the possessor of a point of view, and as the vehicle of more widely held attitudes; and archaeological evidence will be brought in to highlight this rôle and restore the balance of our judgment.

8 The ensuing discussion partly reproduces material included in Aston (2009).

9 Paus. 8.41.6: χρυσαῖ τε τὸ ξόανον συνδέουσιν ἁλύσεις καὶ εἰκὼν γυναικὸς τὰ ἄχρι τῶν γλουτῶν, τὸ ἀπὸ τούτου δέ ἐστιν ἰχθύς.

10 Paus. 8.41.6. The sense of the image’s strangeness is, I believe, conveyed implicitly in Pausanias’ remark that Artemis could not reasonable be connected with toioutou schêmatos, ‘a form of that kind’.

11 Paus. 8.37.11

12 Paus. 8.32.1.

13 Parke (1967), 194-6.

14 Paus. 8.22.7: εἰσὶ δὲ αὐτόθι καὶ παρθένοι λίθου λευκοῦ, σκέλη δέ σφισίν ἐστιν ὀρνίθων, ἑστᾶσι δὲ ὄπισθε τοῦ ναοῦ.

15 Borgeaud (1988), 17-9; this contra the rather rationalist view of Pollard (1977), 98-99.

16 Also, according to Diodoros (3.30) they directly damage crops, highlighting their opposition to the agrarian world.

17 On the cult, especially the Mysteries associated with Despoina, see Loukas and Loukas (1988); Jost (2003); Pirenne-Delforge (2008a), 312-5; Guimier-Sorbets, Jost and Morizot edd. (2008).

18 The fullest and most recent discussion of this artist, his work and context is that of Themelis (1996).

19 Reports of the excavation of the site and of the finds: see Kavvadias (1893), Kouroniotis (1911 and 1912), and Leonardos (1896). For the style and characteristics of the Damophon group as a whole, see Pollitt (1986), 165-7; Stewart (1990), 94-6.

20 See Wace (1934), Thallon (1906) and Lévy (1967); Pollitt (1986), 312 ch. 8 n. 2; Ridgway, vol. 2 (2000), 237 and 258 n. 19; Macardé (2008); Sève (2008).

21 Paus. 8.37.3-4. In addition to the surviving sculptural fragments, a coin was discovered depicting the group. This coin ratifies to a striking degree the reconstruction of the group created by Dickins on the basis of the fragments, and reassures us that we are not working on the basis of a fiction. See Dickins (1906-7 and 1910-11); Jost (1985), 327 and pl. 44, fig. 2. A useful reconstruction of the statue-group is given in Stewart, vol. 2 (1990), 788.

22 An alternative interpretation of the carved drapery as coming from Despoina’s tunic and himation is laid out by Morizot (2008).

23 See Jost (1985), 328-9.

24 For a discussion of the various levels of decoration on the veil and their significance with regard to the persona and powers of Despoina, see Ridgway, vol. 2 (2000), 236-7 and 258, n. 17.

25 See Jost (1985), 90 and pl. 23, fig. 5.

26 Why, given the clear echoes of Phigalian Demeter in Lykosoura, was the mixanthropic imagery conferred not on her but on her daughter? This question seems unanswerable, though some observations may be made. The first is that, according to Dickins’ (1906-7) reconstruction of the statue-group, the sculpted veil, though part of Despoina’s raiment, is not actually placed on the person of the goddess herself, but is draped at some distance from her over the back of the throne on which she and Demeter sit; this renders less exclusive its connection with Despoina. The reconstruction given by Stewart, however, places the drapery rather differently, descending sideways from Despoina’s lap. We must admit the uncertainty. The second important point to make, however, is that in Lykosoura, Despoina has gained undoubted precedence over her mother as cult figure (see Jost [2003], 145; Stewart [1990], 95), and therefore may have attracted to herself significant attributes which were once the preserve of Demeter. Thirdly and most basically, however, Demeter and Despoina share almost equally the animal associations which pervade the Phigalian aitia, and we should not be surprised when those attributes move from one goddess to another.

27 For these objects, see Kavvadias (1893), 28; Kourouniotis (1912), 155-9.

28 This is the firm contention of Jost, who tries to reconstruct mystery rites using the figurines and the veil: see esp. Jost (2003). They are interpreted as masked human worshippers by Loukas and Loukas (1988).

29 This line is taken by Perdrizet (1899).

30 Perdrizet (1899).

31 Perdrizet (1899), 635. Attempts have, however, been made to connect the effigies with a Hellenistic context of dedication by suggesting that they are the agalma[ta] stipulated in the third-century sacred law, IG V² 514. For discussion of this possibility, see Jost (2008), 100-101.

32 Hejnic (1961), 28.

33  The position of the figures within the goddess’s throne can be clearly seen from the reconstruction in Stewart, vol. 2 (1990), 788.

34 Predictably, this is the view of Cook (1894, esp. 162); but it has also found favour in more recent scholarship which has sought to find in the veil’s figures a reflection of a ritual involving animal masks which was actually performed in the sanctuary at Lykosoura. (E.g. Jost [1985], 332-3; [2003], 157-61; Loucas [1989], 101). While it seems extremely likely that such a ritual did take place, the attempt to use the veil as evidence for it has led to some clumsy interpretation of the dancing figures. For example, Jost [2003], 160 argues that ‘their arms and their legs are covered or prolonged by animal limb additions.’ I can see no sign of such ‘accessorizing’ in the carvings themselves. If they do represent masked humans, it is interesting how little the artist has tried to make this apparent.

35 Perdrizet (1899), 636.

36 Marine mixanthropes were popular in antiquity as decorative elements in furniture. Mermen occur on, for example, a throne carved in relief on the Harpy Tomb in Lycia (clearly among other mixanthropic forms) – see Shepard (1940), 22-3; also on the throne of Apollo Hyakinthos at Amyklai (see Paus. 3.18.9). It would be interesting, in another context, to investigate this relationship between mermen/-maids and seating.

37 8.34.5.

38 Pr. 2.28.3.

39 Cf. Jost (1992b, 67): ‘La montagne a été en Arcadie un refuge de vieilles pratiques et de vieilles croyances.’

40 On this, see esp. Roy (1999), 346-7: he ties in mercenary service with other factors at work in the Arkadian economy, and argues cogently for its huge economic significance.

41 For the event, its date (disputed) and its context of growing Arkadian self-assertion, see Rhodes (2006), 217-8.

42 Xen. Hell. 7.1.23: οὗτος ἐνέπλησε φρονήματος τοὺς Ἀρκάδας, λέγων ὡς μόνοις μὲν αὐτοῖς πατρὶς Πελοπόννησος εἴη, μόνοι γὰρ αὐτόχθονες ἐν αὐτῇ οἰκοῖεν, πλεῖστον δὲ τῶν Ἑλληνικῶν φύλων τὸ Ἀρκαδικὸν εἴη καὶ σώματα ἐγκρατέστατα ἔχοι. καὶ ἀλκιμωτάτους δὲ αὐτοὺς ἀπεδείκνυε, τεκμήρια παρεχόμενος ὡς ἐπικούρων ὁπότε δεηθεῖέν τινες, οὐδένας ᾑροῦντο ἀντἈρκάδων.

43 See Pind. Ol. 6.7, 74, 101-5; Paus. 5.27.1.

44 Hdt. 8.26.1. As Griffith (1935, 237) puts it, in the fifth century the Arkadian hoplite ‘began to come into his own.’ (Which was, largely, to fight for other people!)

45 Trundle (2004), 75: ‘Spartan hegemony in the Peloponnese denied to most Peloponnesians the option to fight for their own states’ causes.’ He goes on, moreover, to note that once the Arkadian League is formed, there is a sharp drop in Arkadian mercenary activity as represented in the sources; this certainly lends support to his theory. At 59 he makes the more general assertion that a tribal society allows for fighting abroad by its members because it weakens their identification with the wider ethnos as a whole: small groups of men follow petty local leaders on campaign, and serve these leaders’ interests and their own, rather than those of a unified state.

46 The poverty-factor behind the Arkadian mercenary-habit is cited explicitly by Herodotos, 8.26.2. For domestic pressures in the motivation of mercenaries, see Miller (1984); Trundle (2004), 54-63 on the factors behind, especially, the so-called ‘mercenary explosion’ of the fifth century.

47 This point is made by Roy (1999), 346.

48 For the changing meaning of the word (from ‘ally’ to ‘mercenary’) see Cooper, vol. 1 (1996), 75-9. On the ancient terminology involved, and what constituted a mercenary, see Trundle (2004), 12-24.

49 Jost (1985), 486-8.

50 The following are instances of the word epikouroi used of Arkadian soldiers in Classical sources: Thuc. 3.34.2, 6.43.1, 7.57.9, 7.19.4, 7.58.3; Xen. Anab. 1.1.2, 6.2.10.

51 A thought expressed by Cooper, vol. 1 (1996), 1: ‘The very presence of one of the most famous monuments in the ancient world at such a remote site prompts the visitor to ask “Why here?”.’

52 For discussion and ancient sources regarding the Arkadia-Messenia relationship, especially mercenary assistance from one to the other, see Cooper, vol. 1 (1996), 46-59.

53 In addition to military support, one might cite the marriage between Aristomenes the famous Messenian freedom-fighter and the sister of a Phigalian ruler: see Paus. 4.24.1. Phigalia itself appears to have had a not inconsiderable rôle in the conflicts, even if we do not go so far as to believe Cooper’s claim (vol. 1 [1996], 58-9) that the Apollo sanctuary at Bassai was attended by and sacred to both Arkadians and Messenians, a sort of religious interface between the two cultures which expressed their shared opposition to Sparta. That Arkadians and Messenians actually met in the sanctuary is perhaps hard to prove; but it is certainly the case that many Messenians, under Spartan oppression, settled in Arkadia; and the Bassai sanctuary was right on the border between the two states.

54 See e.g. Polyain. 6.27.2 (Spartan aggression against Arkadia around 418 BC).

55 On the cult, see Mylonopoulos (2003), 107-11.

56 Xen. Hell. 6.5.2-5.

57 This is the study by Pretzler (1999) in which (in addition to making some very valuable general points about the creation of group identity: see esp. 99-105) she plots the relationship between aggression from, and defiance of, Sparta, and the Tegeans’ use of local religious and mythological institutions to emphasise their identity and worth. Here neither mixanthropy nor theriomorphism really feature. These elements are not the only harnessable source of local uniqueness. Some places made use of them (Lykaion, Lykosoura, Phigalia, Megalopolis and Mantineia); others found a formula of their own. It should be said that archaeology has yielded one curious mixanthropic figure from Tegea (see Jost [1985], 374; Voyatzis [1990], pl. 58; Dugas [1924], 354-5 and pl. 17). But this element does not feature in mythology and certainly contributes nothing to the self-definition of the place.

58 That said, it has to be borne in mind that the significance of topography depends very much on one’s perspective. To take the case of Phigalia again, we – with the broad perspective offered by an accurate map – may say, rightly, that the sanctuary of Demeter Melaina is not in the wildest or remote part of Arkadia. However, this is not the perspective of an inhabitant of the town of Phigalia. For him, the sacred cave would have been outside the centre of settlement, up in the hills which span the northern and eastern sides of the Phigalian chôra. Processions from the town to Demeter’s shrine would have taken him out of the lowland zone and into the domain of shepherds and hunters; this aspect of the cave’s location has already been touched on, and remains valid. We have to imagine two simultaneous perspectives, the local – in which Demeter’s shrine is remote, away from the main area of habitation – and the pan-Arkadian, in which Phigalia as a whole, and the shrine within it, is in fact close to the border of the state and certainly not out of all contact with the rest of the Peloponnese. Doubtless much of the time it was the local perspective which was dominant in the lives and minds of those concerned with Demeter’s worship. But from the fourth century BC in particular, the pan-Arkadian dimension does enter the frame, and must be taken into account.

59 Jost (1985), 184. Megalopolis is not of course the only Greek city to use cult doublets in this way; Richer (2007, 243-6) shows, for example, that Sparta had within the city itself versions of the extraurban shrines of Orthia and Poseidon of Tainaron. Megalopolis is unusual in the sheer concentration and complexity of the refences made, in the city, to the surrounding countryside and its shrines. But what is really important is the contrast between what Megalopolis reveals and what we expect from Arkadian religious practice – the primitive, the ‘natural’, even the chaotic. All this Megalopolis helps to refute. Other regions do not carry quite such expectations.

60 See esp. Jost (1994), 225-30.

61 The latter will have remained in the background; as Jost observes, there was no question of the peculiar werewolf-rite which seems to have taken place on Lykaion being staged within the urban setting of the Megalopolitan sanctuary. But that and the mythical figure would have been implicitly echoed in the new cult. On the importance of Zeus Lykaios as a peculiarly Arkadian figure – and used as such – see Adshead (1986), 21-2. Perhaps the clearest indication that Zeus and Pan emerge as the key figures of Arkadian religious self-definition is their appearance together on the coinage of the Arkadian League. A very clear example is to be found in Jost (1985), pl. 63, no. 4. See also Caspari (1917), 170-71.

62 Paus. 8.2.3.

63 On the particularly pan-Arkadian quality of Despoina, Pan and Zeus Lykaios, see Jost (2007), 264-9.

64 Adshead (1986), 22.

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