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The Sacrificial Rituals of Greek Hero-Cults in the Archaic to the Early Hellenistic Period

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Gunnel Ekroth

Introduction

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1. The problem and previous research

  • 1 For the definition of sacrifice, see Hubert & Mauss 1964, 10-13; Vernant 1991, 290-291; cf. Leach (...)

1The central act in the worship of the ancient Greek heroes was sacrifice. Many other actions were also performed—processions, dances, music, singing, prayers, athletic contests, horse-races, festivals and the déposition of votive offerings—but they were ail, to some extent, connected with sacrifice. The sacrifice was of major importance, since this particular ritual was aimed at mediating between the worshipper and the hero by the consécration of an offering, which was destroyed in one way or another.1 This off ering could consist of an animal victim but could also be bloodless, such as cakes, bread, fruit and vegetables, or simply a libation.

2The purpose of this study is twofold. First of ail, I shall try to establish what kinds of sacrificial rituals were practised in the worship of ancient Greek heroes in the Archaic to the early Hellenistic periods (c. 700 to 300 BC) on the basis of a combination of epigraphical and literary sources. It should be made clear from the outset that the main focus lies on the animal sacrifices performed to the heroes: bloodless offerings and libations will be discussed only in passing. The second purpose of my study concerns how thèse rituals may be explained and interpreted, and what they can tell us of the place and function of the cuit of the heroes in Greek religion. The archaeological évidence for hero-cults will be considered only occasionally, since I intend to treat that material later in a separate study that will complement the written sources.

3The reason for investigating the sacrificial rituals of Greek hero-cults is relate d to the picture of thèse rituals présente d in modem scholarly literature, which in its turn dépends on which sources have been used and how. The major studies on Greek heroes, which also cover the sacrificial ritual, were written at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century and form part of the thorough, philological investigation of Greek religion, mainly by German scholars. The basis for the conclusions drawn then was mainly the literary sources, supplemented, to a lesser extent, by epigraphical evidence. Archaeological material was used sparingly, since, at that time, only little evidence of that kind was available.

  • 2 Deneken 1886-90, 2486-2487; Rohde 1925, 116; Pfister 1909-12, 466; Stengel 1920, 141; Farnell 1921 (...)

4Basically, heroes have been considered as receiving two kinds of sacrificial rituals, both of which have been regarded as being distinct from the sacrifices offered to gods, and in particular, the gods of the sky, and more closely connecte d with the cuit of the dead and the gods of the underworld.2 The rituals of hero-cults have been considered as ultimately deriving from the cuit of the dead, as it was practised in the distant past and is therefore said to préserve older traits that later had been abandoned in the cuit of the dead.

  • 3 Deneken 1886-90, 2506; Pfister 1909-12, 477; Foucart 1918, 41; Rohde 1925, 116 with n. 14; Stengel (...)

5According to modem scholarship, the first kind of ritual used in hero-cults consiste d of animal sacrifice, at which it was forbidden to eat the meat and at which the victim was totally destroyed, usually burnt in a holocaust.3 The bloodletting was emphasized by bending the animal's head towards the ground when slitting its throat, while the blood was led into the hero's tomb by a tu

  • 4 Deneken 1886-90, 2504-2505; Pfister 1909-12, 474-475; Stengel 1910, 151; Foucart 1918, 99; Stengel (...)
  • 5 Deneken 1886-90, 2497-2498; Pfister 1909-12, 475-476; Foucart 1918, 97; Stengel 1920, 15-16 and 14 (...)
  • 6 Deneken 1886-90, 2505-2506; Pfister 1909-12, 466-474; Foucart 1918, 98; Stengel 1920, 143; Farnell (...)

6be or poured into a hole in the ground called a βόθρος.4 The destruction of the victim, as well as the bloodletting, is considered to have been performed on a particular altar or hearth, an ἐσχάρα, which was low and hollow.5 The whole complex of rituals, which took place during the night, was mainly designated by the terms ἐναγίζειν, ἐνάγισμα or ἐναγισμός, terms never used for the sacrifices to the gods.6

  • 7 Deneken 1886-90, 2507-2509; Foucart 1918, 101; Nilsson 1967, 187; Meuli 1946, 194-195; Burkert 198 (...)
  • 8 Rohde 1925, 116; Nilsson 1967, 187.

7The other kind of ritual has been considered to have taken the form of a meal or a feast, δαίς or δεῖπνον, usually called θεοξένια in modem literature.7 A table, τράπεζα, and a couch, κλίνη, were prepared for the hero, who was called upon to corne and participate in the meal.8 The food on the table was of the kind that could be eaten by humans, consisting mainly of bloodless offerings, such as cakes, bread, fruit and vegetables, but could also include cooked portions of the meat or the edible intestines, splanchna, of a sacrificed animal.

  • 9 Deneken 1886-90, 2506; Foucart 1918, 94-100; Pfister 1909-12, 478-489; Stengel 1920, 141-142; Méau (...)
  • 10 Foucart 1918, 101-106; Pfister 1909-12, 478-479; Rohde 1925, 140, n. 15; Meuli 1946, 197; Nilsson (...)
  • 11 Stengel 1920, 141-142; Pfister 1909-12, 480-489.
  • 12 Nock 1944, reprinted in Essays on religion, 575-602. Some of the évidence was collected and alread (...)
  • 13 For example, Habicht 1970, 203-204; van Straten 1974, 174; Slater 1989, 487-490; Kearns 1989, 3-4; (...)
  • 14 Annie Verbanck-Piérard has challenged the existence of the heroic cuits of Herakles and Asklepios (...)

8However, most previous work in this field has noted that there were also hero-cults which did not follow the scheme of rituals outlined above.9 At these sacrifices, the hero received his share of the animal victim burnt on an altar, while the rest of the meat was eaten by the worshippers at a festive meal. The terminology used for these sacrifices was thyein and thysia for the rituals and bomos for the altar, i.e., the same terminology as for the sacrifices to the gods. The occurrence of sacrifices of this kind has been considered as being unusual in hero-cults and has often been explained as the resuit of later deviations from the sacrificial norm, as influences from the cuit of the gods or as depending on terminological mistakes by the ancient sources.10 It has also been suggested that thysia sacrifices, including dining, were used only when the hero had not died a proper death or when he was to be considered more of a god than a hero.11 In 1944, Arthur Darby Nock showed that the number of cases of thysia sacrifices in hero-cults was far from insignificant and suggested that the choice of ritual depended on the purpose and atmosphère when the sacrifice took place, as well as the disposition and aspect impute d to the recipients, rather than their identity or supposed habitat.12 Later works, touching upon hero-cults or upon Greek sacrificial ritual, often state in passing that thysia sacrifices with dining were more common in hero-cults than was thought previously, but Sare still regarded as the major rituals used in hero-cults.13 At présent, the standard view of hero-cult rituals is beginning to be increasingly questioned, but the traditional notions have recently also been defended.14

9Thus, it is clear that three kinds of rituals were used in hero-cults: (1) animal sacrifice at which the blood was poured out, the meat was destroyed and no meal was included in the ritual, (2) the presentation of a table with food offerings, such as cakes, vegetables, fruit and cooked meat, and (3) animal sacrifice at which the hero's portion was burnt on an altar, while the rest of the meat was eaten by the worshippers. There are two questions of main interest here. First of ail, to what extent was each of these rituals practised in hero-cults and which ritual, if any, can be said to have been the most prominent in hero-cults? Secondly, why did heroes receive different kinds of rituals? Is the choice of ritual to be explained by the heroes being connected with the dead and the gods of the underworld or can the ritual pattern be better understood by being linked to the situation in which the sacrifices were performed?

10The problem with the earlier interpretation of the hero-cult rituals, i.e., as consisting mainly of destruction sacrifices, libations of blood and offerings of meals and more rarely of thysia sacrifices at which the worshippers ate, concerns both how the évidence has been treated and the theoretical approach to Greek sacrifices that has been chosen. First of ail, studies of hero-cults have almost exclu si vely been based on one category of material, the literary sources. The epigraphical and archaeological material has hardly been considered at ail in this context. Secondly, literary sources of different dates and characters have been mixed indiscriminately and information derived from later sources has been used to fill in gaps in the knowledge of the practices in earlier periods. This is indeed tempting, especially since the Archaic and Classical sources are in many cases less explicit than the sources of the Roman period. Taken as a whole, the post-Classical sources often use a more clear-cut terminology and provide définitions of the rituals considered typical of hero-cults. Finally, the theoretical approach to the heroes and their cuits has been dominated by the understanding of Greek religion as divided into an Olympian and a chthonian sphere, viewed as opposites. Accordingly, the heroes have been classified as chthonian and linked to the gods of the underworld and the dead. From this classification follows the assumption of certain sacrificial rituals.

2. Method and evidence

11In order to establish the sacrificial rituals used in hero-cults, I have invest-igated the information which can be deduced from the epigraphical and literary evidence. These two kinds of sources have been treated separately, since each category of evidence poses its own problems. By first separating the inscriptions from the literary texts and then comparing them, it is to be hoped that a fuller picture of the sacrifices in hero-cults can be obtained.

  • 15 See, for example, Gould 1994, 94-106, on the awareness of Herodotos concerning the details of sacr (...)

12My point of departure has been the rituals themselves: what was do ne and what terminology was used for these actions? The importance of concrete rituals in ancient religion has often been undervalued, since we subconsciously tend to judge the contents of a religion from the Christian point of view: a religion in which the internai experience is regarded as more significant than the actual rituals performed and in which the ritual killing of animais has no place.15

13Chapter I consists of a deeper study of some terms usually considered as being characteristic of hero-cults. The existence of a particular terminology to describe sacrifices to heroes has commonly been assumed, but it has also been noted that the use of the terms is not consistent. I have chose n to concentrate on the terms ἐσχάρα and ἐσχαρών, βόθρος and ἐναγίζειν and the related nouns ἐνάγισμα, ἐναγισμός and ἐναγιστήριον. To understand the full extent of the relation between these terms and hero-cults, it is necessary to look into ail contexts in which these terms occur, no matter what the recipient and the date. This is especially important, since the notion of a particular terminology and ritual for hero-cults is mainly based upon sources later than 300 BC. An extended investigation of these terms makes it possible to distinguish whether the meaning and use of these terms have changed and to what extent the later évidence can be used to throw light on the conditions of earlier periods.

  • 16 The beginning of the oikist cuits, which may have been a source of inspiration for the hero-cults (...)
  • 17 See, for example, Sourvinou-Inwood 1995, 199-216, on chaire not being used on funerary epitaphs be (...)
  • 18 See, for example Price 1984a, 35; Sourvinou-Inwood 1995, 205-206; Parker 1996, 276; Herrmann P. 19 (...)

14Chapter II deals exclusively with sources no later than 300 BC, in order to try to distinguish the sacrificial rituals of hero-cults strictly from the contemporaneous evidence. The chronological span of interest here is the Archaic to early Hellenistic periods (c. 700-300 BC). Though the period covered is 400 years, the bulk of the material dates to the 5th and the 4th centuries. The starting-point around 700 has been chosen, since it is at the beginning of the 7th century that the earliest traces of hero-cults have been documented definitely.16 The lower time limit of c. 300 BC has been set, since a new phase can be distinguished in Greek religion from that time on, even though tendencies towards this development can be found in previous periods as well, and there has been a trend in recent scholarship to underline the continuation of religious practices from the Classical into the Hellenistic periods.17 In any case, the concept of the hero underwent major changes in the Hellenistic period and the term heros was more widely used, since individuals were heroized more frequently and for less clear reasons than previously.18

  • 19 Cf. Kirk (1981, 62), who cautions against the mixing of Homeric and post-Homeric material, and Rud (...)

15Since some of the terms considered as particular to hero-cults are only, or predominantly, documented in connection with heroes in the post-Classical sources, a chronological restriction to 700-300 BC seems particularly useful. This approach is different from the one usually adoptedin studies of Greek religion, in which sources of various dates and characters have been mixed more or less indiscriminately, and it should be viewed as an experiment to find out, which conclusions concerning the ritual practices can be reached, on the basis of the Archaic to early Hellenistic material alone.19

  • 20 Tragedy often alludes to hero-cult, see Mikalson 1991, 29-45; cf. Harrison S. 1989, 173-175, on th (...)
  • 21 Many more heroes than those considered here are known from the written sources, but we have no kno (...)
  • 22 For a discussion on the problème relating to the character of the sources, see Kirk 1981, 61-62; P (...)

16The written evidence investigated in chapters I and II includes only such inscriptions and texts as provide information on how the sacrifices were performed. Simple mentions of cult places and statues or graves of heroes have been excluded, as well as allusions to or hints of hero-cults, which offer no direct description of the ritual.20 The epigraphical material consists of sacrificial calendars, sacred laws and various kinds of decrees and generally has a more factual content than the literary sources. The large body of dedicatory inscriptions to heroes has not been considered, since they give no direct information on the ritual practices.21 Most of the literary texts reviewed here are prose texts, such as those by historians, orators and philosophers. However, poetry, tragedy and comedy also contain references to sacrifices made to heroes. It is not possible to establish any criteria as to which kinds of texts should be regarded as the more reliable, but it is commonly accepted that the information yielded by tragedies and comedies needs to be treated with a great deal more care than that derived from the historians.22 What needs to be done in each case is to establish whether the sacrifice described is of a kind that could have taken place in actually practised religion or whether it is supposed to be a mythic or epic ritual meant to differ from the daily reality of the Greeks.

17The geographical area that I have chiefly concentrated on covers the Greek mainland and the islands of the central Aegean, since most of the cuits documented in the sources are to be found in these regions. However, hero-cults are a phenomenon that occurs in ail territoires where the Greeks were present, and examples from outside my main area will be considered from time to time, since it is impossible, as well as unwise, to set too strict limits.

18Chapter III is focused in greater detail on each of the four ritual cat­egories—destruction sacrifices, blood rituals, theoxenia and thysia sacrifices followed by dining—the uses of which were established in chapters I and II, in order to better define the place and function of each kind of ritual in hero-cults. To do so, the sacrificial rituals have to be put into a wider context, by relating them to the occurrence of similar rituals both in the cuit of the gods and in the cuit of the dead. Of main concern here is the question to what extent the ritual variations are to be connected with the character of the recipient or with the situation in which the sacrifice was performed.

19Chapter IV, finally, deals with the ritual pattern of hero-cults, locating the heroes in the Greek religious System from a ritual point of view in relation to the gods and the dead.

  • 23 Of interest here are the divinities actually receiving a cuit. The theoretical view of Greek relig (...)
  • 24 In the folio wing pages, when I speak of the hero as “he”, it is a simplification meant to cover b (...)

20This study concerns heroes in ancient Greece, but the concept of the hero is not as clear-cut as it may seem at first. A hallmark of Greek religion is the multitude of recipients of religious attention: not only the pan-Hellenic gods but a variety of lesser gods, some of which were of foreign origin, while others were local divinities sometimes connected with physical features such as rivers or springs. To these can be added heroes, nymphs, Charités and a number of other divine beings.23 The ancient Greeks themselves do not seem to have had any clear-cut rules as to what distinguished ο ne group from another, nor does there seem to have existed any need for strict divisions. Nevertheless, heroes were distinguished both from the gods and from the dead, and a modem study dealing with heroes must make clear what is understood by the term "hero" in its own context. In this study, I have applied the foliowing definition.24

  • 25 Rudhardt 1958, 128. Some heroes, for example, Amphiaraos, did not die an ordinary death but simply (...)

21First of ail, a hero is a person who has lived and died, either in myth or real life, or as Rudhardt puts it, le héros naît, il vit, il meurt.25 This is the main distinction between a god and a hero. He is thus dead and may have a tomb at one or several locations. The tomb is sometimes the focus of a cult, but it is not necessary to have the hero's tomb to start a cult.

  • 26 A further distinction between a deceased person and a hero is that the latter was known to appear (...)

22The difference between a hero and an ordinary dead person depends on the relationship between the recipient and those who are concerned with the cult. A hero is a dead person who is released from the family. The ordinary dead have some kind of connection with those presenting the offerings and tending the tomb, either as a known member of the family or as an ancestor (even though an ancestor seems in many respects to have been more like a hero). The cult of the ordinary dead is a private matter, of concern only to the family. A hero, on the other hand, even though he is a historical person, is not connected with the family but belongs to the public sphere. Families and private persons worship heroes, but they are mainly of concern to the community or groups of the community and are worshipped on a more officiai level than the ordinary dead.26

  • 27 That Herakles was more of a god than a hero seems to be the opinion of many ancient sources (Xen. (...)

23Furthermore, I consider the hero to be a local phenomenon. Many heroes are known to have been worshipped at only one location, but several heroes received cult at a couple of sites. The important fact for my purpose here is that the cult is not spread over the entire Greek territory, like that of the gods. Herakles, the Dioskouroi and Asklepios are examples of heroes whose cuit became so widespread that they must be considered as belonging to a different category. The ancient view of these deities seems to have been that, even though they were once mortal men who died, they had officially been transformed into gods.27

  • 28 The athlete Theogenes from Thasos is often called theos in the sources (most of which are of Roman (...)
  • 29 Usener 1896, 252-273; Burkert 1985, 205-206.

24Finally, the denomination. It is clear from the ancient evidence that often no sharp line was drawn between the divinities called heroes and those called theoi and a hero could sometimes be called a god (theos) or become a god permanently.28 It has been suggested that some heroes started out as gods originally, but that process is less clearly defined in the ancient sources.29

  • 30 Furthermore, the use of the term heros itself is not always helpful, since its meaning varied grea (...)

25Some characters classified as heroes according to my definition are called theos, as well as theos and heros, in the epigraphical and literary sources. These heroes are still included here, if the worship is not pan-Hellenic and they are considered as dead.30

26To sum up, my definition of a hero is that he is dead and receives worship locally on a more officiai level than the ordinary dead. A hero can be called theos occasionally but still be a hero. From this définition, it follows that the heroes, as I see them, are a mixed lot, which includes mythological and epic characters, famous historical persons, the more anonymous war dead and characters known only from cult contexts. The sacrificial ritual, and the terminology used to describe it, do not have any direct bearing on whether a recipient of cult should be classified as a hero or not.

Notes

1 For the definition of sacrifice, see Hubert & Mauss 1964, 10-13; Vernant 1991, 290-291; cf. Leach 1976, 83-84.

2 Deneken 1886-90, 2486-2487; Rohde 1925, 116; Pfister 1909-12, 466; Stengel 1920, 141; Farnell 1921, 95 and 370; Meuli 1946, 192-197 and 209; Nilsson 1967, 186-187; Rudhardt 1958, 251-253; Burkert 1985, 205. This view of the sacrifices to heroes is présent from the beginning of the study of Greek religion in the middle of the l9th century, for example, in the studies by Creuzer 1842, 763-769; Hermann 1846, 66-67; Schoemann 1859, 173, 212-213 and 218-219; Wassner 1883, 5-25. The 19th century scholarship will be further discussed below, pp. 296-298.

3 Deneken 1886-90, 2506; Pfister 1909-12, 477; Foucart 1918, 41; Rohde 1925, 116 with n. 14; Stengel 1920, 16 and 142; Farnell 1921, 95; Meuli 1946, 193 and 209; Rudhardt 1958, 238-239; Brelich 1958, 9.

4 Deneken 1886-90, 2504-2505; Pfister 1909-12, 474-475; Stengel 1910, 151; Foucart 1918, 99; Stengel 1920, 16-17; Farnell 1921, 95; Rohde 1925, 116; Meuli 1946, 194; Rudhardt 1958, 129; Brelich 1958, 9; Nilsson 1967, 78 and 186; Burkert 1983, 9, n. 41; Burkert 1985, 199.

5 Deneken 1886-90, 2497-2498; Pfister 1909-12, 475-476; Foucart 1918, 97; Stengel 1920, 15-16 and 141; Farnell 1921, 95-96; Rohde 1925, 116 with n. 10; Rudhardt 1958, 129 and 250-251; Brelich 1958, 9; Nilsson 1967, 78; Burkert 1983, 9, n. 41; Burkert 1985, 199.

6 Deneken 1886-90, 2505-2506; Pfister 1909-12, 466-474; Foucart 1918, 98; Stengel 1920, 143; Farnell 1921, 95; Rohde 1925, 116 with n. 15; Méautis 1940, 16; Rudhardt 1958, 238; Brelich 1958, 9; Nilsson 1967, 186; Burkert 1983, 9, n. 41; Burkeit 1985, 194 and 205.

7 Deneken 1886-90, 2507-2509; Foucart 1918, 101; Nilsson 1967, 187; Meuli 1946, 194-195; Burkert 1983, 9, n. 41; Burkert 1985, 205.

8 Rohde 1925, 116; Nilsson 1967, 187.

9 Deneken 1886-90, 2506; Foucart 1918, 94-100; Pfister 1909-12, 478-489; Stengel 1920, 141-142; Méautis 1940, 16; Meuli 1946, 195-197; Rudhardt 1958, 264; Brelich 1958, 16-19; Nilsson 1967, 186.

10 Foucart 1918, 101-106; Pfister 1909-12, 478-479; Rohde 1925, 140, n. 15; Meuli 1946, 197; Nilsson 1967, 186-187.

11 Stengel 1920, 141-142; Pfister 1909-12, 480-489.

12 Nock 1944, reprinted in Essays on religion, 575-602. Some of the évidence was collected and already discussed by Ada Thomsen in 1909 (Thomsen 1909).

13 For example, Habicht 1970, 203-204; van Straten 1974, 174; Slater 1989, 487-490; Kearns 1989, 3-4; Kearns 1992, 67-68; Seaford 1994, 114; Scullion 1994, 115; Bruit Zaidman & Schmitt Pantel 1992, 37 and 179; van Straten 1995, 157-159 Sacrifices to heroes have, in general, received little attention in the recent work dealing with Greek sacrifices. There is, for example, no study dealing with hero-cults in any of the three comprehensive collections on Greek ritual, La cuisine du sacrifice en pays grec (1979, translated into English as The cuisine of sacrifice among the Greeks, 1989), Le sacrifice dans l'antiquité (1981) and Sacrificio e società nel mondo antico (Grottanelli & Parise 1988).

14 Annie Verbanck-Piérard has challenged the existence of the heroic cuits of Herakles and Asklepios (1989, 1992, 2000), as well as demonstrated the closeness of gods and heroes in the Attic deme calendars (1998). For critique of other aspects of the common notions concerning hero-cults, see also Ekroth 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001. At a seminar on the Olympian-chthonian distinction, in Gothenburg in April 1997, Robert Parker (forthcoming) proposed a modification of what constitutes heroic rituals, though still arguing for a distinction between the sacrificial practices of heroes and of gods.
The validity of the Olympian-chthonian division and its applicability to hero-cults has been defended by Scullion (1994 1998, 2000). See also Riethmüller (1996, 1999), maintaining the importance of holocausts, blood libations and bothroi in the cult of Asklepios.

15 See, for example, Gould 1994, 94-106, on the awareness of Herodotos concerning the details of sacrificial rituals and the difficulties for anyone brought up in the Christian (and especially in the Protestant) tradition to grasp the importance of ritual; Durand 1989a, 87-88, who has studied the killing and butchering of animais in Tunisia in order better to understand ancient animal sacrifice; on the importance of the practical details of sacrifices, see Vernant 1991, 280-281; cf. Détienne 1989a, 18. On the Christian, especially Protestant, concept of religion affecting the study of ancient rituals, see Graf 1995, esp. 114; Parker 1996, 79; Sourvinou-Inwood 1990, 302.

16 The beginning of the oikist cuits, which may have been a source of inspiration for the hero-cults in the Greek motherland, can be dated to c. 750-680 (see Malkin 1987, 261). In Greece, the earliest inscribed dedication at the Menelaion (to Helen) is dated to the 7th century (Catling & Cavanagh 1976, 147-152, c. 675-650; Jefferey 1990, 446 and 448, no. 3a, c. 600 for the inscription), but the activity at the site began already during the 8th century, see Catling 1976-77, 35-36. The tripod dedications in the Polis cave on Ithaka, which begin in the middle of the 9th century, may be another case of an early hero-cult (see Malkin 1998, 94-199, for discussion and references). Some of the Iron Age activity at Bronze Age tombs stretches back to the 9th and even the lOth century, but since there are no written sources to help to clarify thèse remains, it is not clear whether they should be considered as being traces of hero-cults or of tomb-cults (or of an activity of some other kind), see Antonaccio 1995 a, passim; Antonaccio 1993, 46-70.

17 See, for example, Sourvinou-Inwood 1995, 199-216, on chaire not being used on funerary epitaphs before the 4th century BC, since it implied a degree of heroization, deification or immortality, a concept which gradually spread to the regular dead in the Hellenistic period. For deifications before Alexander, see Fredricksmeyer 1981, 145-156; Sanders 1991, 275-287; Habicht 1970, 3-16. On private cuit foundations, see Wittenburg 1990; Laum 1914. On euergetism: Gauthier 1985. On ruler cuits : Cerfaux & Tondriau 1957; Taeger 1957; Habicht 1970; Price 1984a. On the continuation of the polis religion into Hellenistic times, see Graf 1995; Mikalson 1998, passim, esp. 315-323; cf. Parker 1996, 280.

18 See, for example Price 1984a, 35; Sourvinou-Inwood 1995, 205-206; Parker 1996, 276; Herrmann P. 1995, 195-197. On the term héros on gravestones, see Craik 1980, 175-176; Lattimore 1962, 97-99·Not ail these new heroes may have received some form of cuit, see Fraser 1977, 76-81; Foucart 1918, 145-151; for evidence of cuit, see Graf 1985, 127-135.

19 Cf. Kirk (1981, 62), who cautions against the mixing of Homeric and post-Homeric material, and Rudhardt (1958, 5-8) who advocates an “internai method”, meaning that ancient Greek religion is to be understood and explained according to its own concepts and beliefs, i.e., on the basis of material from a limited period of time. At a later stage, in a separate study, this investigation of the written evidence will be combined with archaeological material from the same periods.

20 Tragedy often alludes to hero-cult, see Mikalson 1991, 29-45; cf. Harrison S. 1989, 173-175, on the particular case of Sophokles and a hero-cult of Philoktetes.

21 Many more heroes than those considered here are known from the written sources, but we have no knowledge of their cuits; see, for example, Kearns (1989, Appendix 1, 139-207), who lists 298 heroes of Attica, for whom a cuit can be attested in only 168 cases.

22 For a discussion on the problème relating to the character of the sources, see Kirk 1981, 61-62; Parker 1983, 15-16; Mikalson 1991, passim; van Straten 1995, 5-9; Johnston 1999, xii and 7.

23 Of interest here are the divinities actually receiving a cuit. The theoretical view of Greek religion, as represented in the philosophical writings, offers other categories, for example daimones (see further, p. 193, n. 278) which, although not being worshipped, can be taken as another sign of the variability of the Greek concept of the divine.

24 In the folio wing pages, when I speak of the hero as “he”, it is a simplification meant to cover both male heroes and female heroines.

25 Rudhardt 1958, 128. Some heroes, for example, Amphiaraos, did not die an ordinary death but simply disappeared and they have thus been classified by modem scholars as not being true heroes (Vicaire 1979, 2-45); on the disappearance of heroes in general, see Lacroix 1988, 183-198; Pfister 1909-12, 480-489· However, in my view, the way in which a person ended his life does not affect whether he should be classified as a hero or not.

26 A further distinction between a deceased person and a hero is that the latter was known to appear on earth and to interfere with the living, mainly in a beneficent mariner (see Hdt. 6.117; Hdt. 8.37-39; Paus. 1.15.3). On the ghosts of the dead interfering with the living, see Johnston 1999, 36-81.

27 That Herakles was more of a god than a hero seems to be the opinion of many ancient sources (Xen. An. 6.2.15; Isoc. Philip 33). The latest modem work on the nature of Herakles considers him more as a god than as a hero (see Verbanck-Piérard 1989, 43-64; Verbanck-Piérard 1992, 85-106; Woodford 1971, 212-213). Dioskouroi: Farnell 1921, 193-228; Burkert 1985, 212-213; Hermary 1986, 591· Asklepios: Edelstein & Edelstein 1945, 1-138; Aleshire 1989, 26 withn. 7; Burkert 1985, 214-215; Verbanck-Piérard 2000, 301-332.

28 The athlete Theogenes from Thasos is often called theos in the sources (most of which are of Roman date); see, for example, Paus. 6.11.2-9; Bernard & Salviat 1962, 594, no. 15; Bernard & Salviat 1967, 579, no. 26; cf. Pouilloux 1994. The Heros Iatros from Athens is designated as theos in IG II2 839 (221/0 BC): heros in this case seems to have functioned more as a name or a title. Cf. the cases of the theos Hypodektes (IG II2 2501) and the heros Egretes (G II2 2499) discussed below, pp. 148-149.

29 Usener 1896, 252-273; Burkert 1985, 205-206.

30 Furthermore, the use of the term heros itself is not always helpful, since its meaning varied greatly between different contexts and periods. In Homer and Hesiod, heros is used for a warrior, prince or nobleman, but never for a recipient of cult (see West 1978, 190 and 370-373; for a different opinion, see van Wees 1992, 6-8; cf. Hadzisteliou-Price 1973, 129-144; Hadzisteliou-Price 1979, 219-228; Antonaccio 1994, 389-410). In the Hellenistic and Roman periods, heros used on gravestones seems to have been an equivalent to "the departed" or "the deceased" (see above, p. 18, n. 18).

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