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Article

Ate  

Herbert Jennings Rose and B. C. Dietrich

Mental aberration, infatuation causing irrational behaviour which leads to disaster; sometimes the disaster itself. A hero's atē is brought about through psychic intervention by a divine agency, usually *Zeus, but can also be physically inflicted (Il.16. 805). *Agamemnon blames Zeus, *Fate, and the *Erinyes for his delusion that made him take *Briseis and lead the Achaeans to the brink of defeat (Il.19. 87 f., cf. 2. 111, 8. 237, 11. 340; Od. 12. 371 f., etc. ). Ate is personified as the daughter of Zeus whom he expelled from Olympus to bring harm to men (Il. 19. 90–4, 126–31). A similarly pessimistic notion of divine punishment for guilt underlies *Homer's Parable of the Prayers. In this early allegory swift-footed Atē outruns the slow Prayers and forces men into error and punishment (Il. 9. 502–12). In another moralizing personification Ate becomes the daughter of *Eris (Strife) and sister of Dysnomia (Lawlessness) (Theog.

Article

Athamas  

Emily Kearns

A figure of Boeotian and Thessalian myth. In the best-known story, he was king of Boeotian *Orchomenus (1), husband of Ino (see ino-leucothea) and father of Phrixus, *Helle, *Melicertes and Learchus. The first two were the children of Nephele (‘Cloud’), Athamas' first wife; their stepmother Ino concocted a bogus oracle demanding their deaths in sacrifice in order to restore the fertility of the land, but they were borne away on a golden ram (see helle). Later, Ino and Athamas brought up the child *Dionysus, in revenge for which *Hera drove them mad. Athamas killed their son Learchus, and Ino ran from him carrying Melicertes and jumped into the sea, where mother and son were transformed into deities, Leucothea and Palaemon. In one version, Athamas was then exiled and settled in Thessaly, where he married Themisto. But another tradition places Athamas originally in Thessalian (H)alos, where he himself proposes to sacrifice Phrixus to Zeus Laphystius. The motif of human sacrifice is altogether clearer here, since in Herodotus' rather confusing account (7. 197) Athamas himself is later nearly sacrificed. Both stories probably have to do with the cult of Zeus Laphystius; the Thessalian one explained why a descendant of Athamas must be sacrificed if he set foot in the *prytaneion.

Article

atheism  

Robert Parker

The Greek for atheism is ‘not to recognize (νομίζειν) the gods’ or ‘deny that the gods exist’ or, later, ‘to remove (ἀναιρεῖν) the gods’. (The old doctrine that θεοὺς νομίζειν never means to ‘believe in’ but always to ‘pay cult to’ the gods is wrong; but it is true that borderline cases exist.) The Greek word ἄθεος can be applied to atheism (Pl. Ap. 26c), but in the earliest instances it means ‘impious, vicious’ or ‘hated, abandoned by the gods’, and these senses persist along with the other; so too with ἀθεότης. Thus Christians and pagans were to swap charges of ἀθεότης, by which they meant ‘impious views about the divine’ (A. von Harnack, Texte und Untersuchungen 28. 4 (1905), 3–16; A. D. Nock, Sallustius (1926), p. lxxxviii).The gods of popular polytheism were rejected or drastically reinterpreted by all philosophers from the 6th cent. bce onwards, but most preserved a divine principle of some kind (as in different ways *Plato (1), *Aristotle, and *Stoicism were to do).

Article

Athena  

Robert Parker

In Iliad 5. 733–7, *Homer describes how Athena took off the finely-wrought robe ‘which she herself had made and worked at with her own hands’ and ‘armed herself for grievous war’. This incident encapsulates the paradoxical nature of a goddess who is as skilled in the preparation of clothes as she is fearless in battle; who thus unites in her person the characteristic excellences of both sexes. At the greater *Panathenaea in Athens, she was presented with a robe, the work of maidens' hands (see arrēphoria), which traditionally portrayed that battle of the gods and giants in which she was the outstanding warrior on the side of the gods.Her patronage of crafts is expressed in cults such as that of Athena Erganē, Athena the Craftswoman or Maker; it extends beyond the ‘works’ of women to carpentry, metalworking, and technology of every kind, so that at Athens she shared a temple and a festival with *Hephaestus and can, for instance, be seen on vases seated (in full armour!) in a pottery.

Article

Atlas  

Richard Hunter

Atlas (Ἄτλας), probably ‘very enduring’ (τλᾶν), the *Titan son of *Iapetus and brother of *Prometheus. In the Odyssey he is the ‘deadly minded’ father of *Calypso, ‘who knows the depths of the whole sea, and holds the tall pillars which hold earth and heaven apart’ (1. 52–4, cf. S. West's comm.; Aesch. PV348–50). In *Hesiod he lives at the edge of the world beside the *Hesperides and holds up the heaven (Theog. 517–20). The ‘rationalizing’ identification of the Titan with the *Atlas mountains is first found in *Herodotus (4. 184. 3; cf. Verg. Aen. 4. 246–51 who strikingly combines the mythical and rationalizing versions); a story in which he was a shepherd turned to rock by *Perseus (1) with the *Gorgon's head (Ov. Met. 4. 627–62) may go back to the 5th cent. bce (cf.

Article

Atreus  

Jenny March

Atreus, in mythology, son of *Pelops and *Hippodamia and brother of Thyestes. In *Homer there is harmony between the brothers (Il. 2. 100–8), but from late epic on (Alcmaeonis in schol. Eur. Or. 995) they had shared an implacable feud. Atreus married *Aerope, but she committed adultery with Thyestes and secretly gave him the golden lamb which carried with it claim to the kingship. *Zeus, however, expressed disapproval by reversing the course of the sun (Eur. El. 699–746; Apollod. Epit. 2. 10–12). Atreus banished Thyestes; but later, when he learnt of Aerope's adultery, he pretended a reconciliation with his brother and at a feast served up to him the flesh of the latter's own sons. At the end of the meal Atreus showed his brother the heads and hands of his sons, then once more banished him (Aesch. Ag. 1590 ff.; Apollod. Epit.

Article

Robert Parker

Most Greek states honoured most Greek gods; the differences between them are of emphasis and degree. As characteristic Athenian emphases one might mention: the extraordinary prominence of *Athena, unusual even for a city-protecting goddess; the international standing of the Mysteries of *Demeter and Kore (*Persephone) at *Eleusis; the rich development of *deme religion, and the related abundance of *hero-cults; the honours acquired in the second half of the 5th cent. by *Hephaestus, usually a minor figure; the comparatively modest role of *Hera.According to one 5th-cent. observer (Respublica Atheniensium 3. 2, see old oligarch), Athens had more *festivals than any other Greek state; only a selection can be mentioned here. The great show-pieces, which attracted foreign visitors, were the *Panathenaea, the City *Dionysia (when tragedies and comedies were performed), and the Eleusinian *mysteries. Further major landmarks of the domestic year, each lasting several days, were the *Thesmophoria (Demeter and Kore), the most important women's festival; *Anthesteria, the new-wine festival; *Apaturia, the phratry festival.

Article

Aulis  

John Buckler

Small Greek city near *Tanagra, on a rocky peninsula between two bays. Its most famous monument is the temple of Artemis and its neighbouring buildings. The best harbour in northern *Boeotia, Aulis is most famous as the point of assembly for the Achaean expedition against Troy. Here *Iphigenia was sent to be sacrificed for a safe voyage of the fleet, a theme developed by *Euripides. *Hesiod (Op. 651 ff.) sailed thence to *Euboea. Strabo (9. 2. 3) states that an Aeolian fleet sailed from it to Asia. *Agesilaus attempted to sacrifice there in 396 bce, before his expedition to Asia (Xen. Hell. 3. 4. 4), but the Boeotians interrupted the ceremony. It was the principal base for *Epaminondas' unsuccessful naval ambitions in 364 bce. In 312 bce*Antigonus (1)'s admiral Ptolemaeus docked 150 ships there in the conflict with *Cassander (Diod.

Article

Emily Kearns

Autochthons (αὐτόχθονες), in myth, are figures born literally from the earth, with no human parents. While the idea of ‘mother’ Earth is influential here, autochthony is not normally presented as the origin of humanity in general (the story of *Deucalion and Pyrrha comes closest to this) but rather serves to make a statement about a particular group of people. True autochthons (as opposed to the merely earthborn, γηγενεῖς) remain in the land where they were born. Thus the autochthonous ancestor, like the founder-figure, expresses and forms the group's sense of its identity, making an implicit claim to superiority over non-autochthonous groups. The *Spartoi, the autochthonous ‘sown men’ of *Thebes (1), may at one time have represented a special class in the city, while the autochthon *Erichthonius expressed the claim of all Athenians to be the true original inhabitants of *Attica.

Article

In mythology, maternal grandfather of *Odysseus. He ‘surpassed all men in thievery and (ambiguous) swearing’, by favour of *Hermes (whose son he is in later accounts), Od. 19. 394 ff. with R. B. Rutherford’s comm.; one of his thefts, Il. 10. 267.

Article

Automedon, in mythology, *Achilles' charioteer, son of Diores (Il. 17. 429 and often); hence by metonymy, any charioteer, as Juvenal 1. 61.

Article

Bacis  

Fritz Graf

Bacis, a Boeotian chresmologue (oracle-collector) ‘maddened by the *nymphs’ (Paus. 4. 27. 4) whose *oracles were known from the 5th cent. bce onwards (e.g. Hdt. 8. 20. 77 and 9. 43, referring to the invasion of *Xerxes, and Pausanias 4. 27. 4 to the rebuilding of *Messene); collections are still known in the 2nd cent. ce (Lucian De mort. Peregr. 30). To cope with the mass of oracles from manifestly different dates, later authors assumed several Bacides (ps.-Arist.Pr. 954a36; Plut.De Pyth. or. 10. 399a). Bacis shares both *possession (religious) by the nymphs and wavering between singular and plural with the *Sibyl, with whom he is sometimes combined; both belong to the world of rather shadowy, non-official ecstatic prophecy known since the late Archaic age. See prophecies.

Article

Basile  

Emily Kearns

A cult figure worshipped in Athens and elsewhere in Attica. Her city shrine was held in common with *Neleus and (probably later) *Codrus, and as her name suggests one of her ‘meanings’ may have been that of sovereignty, especially perhaps in connection with the claim of Athens to Ionian primacy. Nothing is known of her mythology.

Article

Bassae  

Richard Allan Tomlinson

Bassae, in SW Arcadia, near Phigaleia, the site of one of the best-preserved Greek temples. This was dedicated to *Apollo the Helper (Epikourios). *Pausanias (3) says it was the work of *Ictinus, possible (with some local influence) but unprovable. It dates to the latter part of the 5th cent. bce with an interruption due to Spartan occupation of the area during the *Peloponnesian War. The greater part of the temple is in the local limestone, with carved decoration applied in marble. The *orientation, followed also by its predecessor, was towards the north instead of the east, and the early sunlight, instead of entering through the main doorway, was admitted to the adytum through an opening in the eastern side-wall. Ten engaged Ionic columns decorated the side walls of the cella internally, with a single central Corinthian column—one of the earliest of its kind, and one of the most beautiful (see orders)—between the cella and the adytum.

Article

Baubo  

Nicholas J. Richardson

Baubo belongs to the main Orphic version of the Rape of *Persephone (Asclepiades of Tragilus, FGrH 12. 4; Orph. frs. 49–52 O. Kern; see orphism). She resembles *Iambe in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. She and her husband Dysaules receive *Demeter at Eleusis during her search for Persephone, and their children *Eubouleus and *Triptolemus give her information about the rape. Like Iambe Baubo gives Demeter a refreshing drink (the kykeōn), and when she refuses it Baubo by an indecent exposure makes her laugh and accept it. (Her name can be used of the female sexual organs.) The story may be an aition for a ritual at the *Thesmophoria. Her cult is found on *Naxos in the 4th cent. bce (SEG 16. 478) and *Paros in the 1st cent. bce (IG 12. 5. 227).

Article

Baucis  

Alan H. Griffiths

Baucis and her husband Philemon were a pair of elderly peasants who entertained *Zeus and *Hermes with the resources of their meagre larder when the gods paid an incognito visit to *Phrygia (compare the story of *Orion's birth); for their piety they were spared, like Lot and his wife in Genesis ch. 19, from the flood which drowned their less hospitable neighbours. They lived out the rest of their lives as priests of the temple into which their humble shack was transformed, and were themselves finally transfigured into an oak and a linden-tree springing from the same trunk. The tale, which has genuine roots in ancient Anatolian tree-cult (see trees, sacred), has its first and canonical telling in Ovid, Metamorphoses 8. 618–724, though a Hellenistic Greek treatment along the lines of *Theseus' stay in the hut of *Hecale or the entertainment of *Heracles by Molorcus (both recounted by *Callimachus (3)) probably lies behind it.

Article

Charles Stewart and John North

Currently ‘belief’ has at least three different meanings in the context of religion: (1) an inner psychological state of pious commitment; (2) the acceptance of received ideas; and (3) the doctrines held by others, contrasted with ‘our’ knowledge. Granted this polysemy, the use of the term ‘belief’ in the study of other societies has often introduced confusion. Furthermore, a particular western history beginning with the rise of Christianity (see below) has fundamentally shaped contemporary understandings of ‘belief’, rendering it inapplicable to pre-Christian antiquity. This history includes the advent of Protestant sects emphasizing the individualistic interiority of faith, and the Enlightenment propagation of a scientific rationality that displaced belief in God amongst a significant portion of the population. Belief has today become, implicitly, if not always explicitly, an affirmation of religious conviction in the face of surrounding scepticism. The peculiarity of modern belief is this propositional and assertive quality.The embrace of the gods throughout Greek and Roman antiquity was, by contrast, dispositional—a fact of socialization only infrequently subjected to sceptical reflection. Belief in the gods was normally a matter of unchallenged acceptance, not of debate: the jurisdiction of the Olympian gods is so pervasively assumed in *Homer's Iliad that even the Trojans perform rituals for the Olympians and enjoy their protection.

Article

Jenny March

In *Homer's account (Il. 6. 152–202) he is son of *Glaucus (2) (or, according to *Hesiod, *Poseidon: fr. 43. 81 f. R. Merkelbach and M. L. West) and grandson of *Sisyphus, and a native of Ephyre (generally identified with *Corinth). *Proetus, king of Tiryns, had a wife Anteia (Stheneboea in later versions) who fell in love with Bellerophon and tried to seduce him. When he rejected her advances she falsely accused him of trying to rape her. So Proetus sent him to Iobates, king of Lycia and Anteia's father, with a sealed letter containing instructions to kill the bearer. Iobates set Bellerophon tasks likely to bring about his death, sending him to kill the *Chimaera, and to fight the Solymi and the *Amazons. When Bellerophon returned triumphant from all these tasks, and survived an ambush laid for him by Iobates, the king married him to his daughter and gave him half his kingdom. In versions after Homer, Bellerophon accomplished his tasks with the help of the winged horse *Pegasus, which *Athena helped him to catch (Pind.

Article

Bendis  

Robert Parker

A Thracian goddess. Little is known of the character of her cult; Strabo says—but does he know?—that it was orgiastic (10. 3. 16). Greek artists represented her as a booted huntress, rather like Artemis; she is sometimes described as δίλογχος, twin-speared. Her cult was introduced to Athens in two stages: by 430/29 bce she shared with the Phrygian Adrasteia a small treasury under the control of the Treasurers of the Other Gods; and a decree of (probably) 413/2 (Inscriptiones Graecae 13. 136) assigned her a priestess and founded the great festival in the *Piraeus known from the opening of *Plato (1)'s Republic, at which twin processions, of native Thracians and of Athenians, were followed by a torch-race on horseback and an ‘all-night celebration’ (παννυχίς). The role played by Thracians in the Athenian public cult is confirmed by decrees issued by a body of Thracian ‘*orgeōnes of Bendis’ in the 3rd cent.

Article

Bion (2), of Smyrna, listed in the Suda as the third bucolic poet in succession to *Theocritus and *Moschus; probably late 2nd cent. bce. A lament for him composed by a disciple from Italy, the Epitaphios Bionos—traditionally if wrongly edited as ‘Moschus III’—claims, perhaps only rhetorically, that his death was brought about by poison (109 ff.). The reference in the same piece to *Aphrodite's last kiss for her lover *Adonis (68 f.) makes it likely that the ‘Lament for Adonis’ transmitted in the bucolic MSS was a composition by Bion himself; this 98-line hexameter poem (‘Bion I’) describes in extravagantly emotional fashion the distress of the goddess, and of the whole natural world, as news of the gory death of the Assyrian hunter is spread abroad. The debt to Theocritus' account of the death of Daphnis (Theoc. 1. 66 ff.; cf. 15. 100 ff.), including the elaborately varied refrains, is clear; but there is a new sentimentality and what Webster (Hellenistic Poetry and Art (1964), 203) called a ‘luxury of lamentation’.