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date: 02 October 2022



  • Irad Malkin


Temenos in classical usage means frequently a demarcated sacred land, subject to rules of purity, reserved as a sanctuary (hieron) and containing an altar (bōmos; see *altars) and optional edifices, such as temples, treasuries, and priests' houses, but can also indicate revenue-producing land belonging to a god or hero, not necessarily contiguous with the deity's sanctuary. In fact, temenos kept its original meaning of an estate, the result of the community ‘cutting off’ (temnein) and allocating choice lands to prominent men: the Lawagetas and Wanax in Mycenaean Greek (te-me-no; see mycenaean language), Homeric kings and heroes, and exceptional kings in the Classical period (the Battiads at *Cyrene). In *Homer, the verb of possession, nemein, preserves the sense of allocation, and beginning with Homer we also find the ritual ‘temenos and fragrant altar’, giving the impression of rather small sites compared with the revenue-bearing estate-temenē.


  • Greek Myth and Religion

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