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date: 31 January 2023



  • Richard Gordon


Men (Μήνalso Μείς), one of the most important gods of west Anatolia (see Anatolian deities). Etymology uncertain, but the name must derive from a native language. From its home territory of Mysia Abbaitis and west *Phrygia, the cult spread south and east to *Pisidia and *Lycaonia, and down the *Hermus valley. The earliest iconography was formed in *Attica, where a few dedications by *metics (4th–3rd cent. bce) survive. Almost all the other evidence is Anatolian, from the Principate (no significant literary evidence). The c.370 surviving inscriptions suggest a high god (Τύραννος, Οὐράνιος, Μέγας) invoked to obtain healing, safety, and prosperity, confirmed by the iconography of Men riding a horse, or carrying spear or sceptre. His most characteristic sign is the crescent moon, either alone or behind his shoulders; as moon-god, Men was linked with the Underworld, agricultural fertility, and the protection of tombs. The cult was highly local: Men almost always bears a native local epithet, and sometimes the name of the local cult-founder too. Different aspects of the god seem to be stressed in each area. There were several large temple-estates with tied villages (Strabo 12. 3. 31; 8. 14, 20).


  • Roman Myth and Religion

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