Loading...

December 11, 2007

Heroon

A heroon (plural heroa, also called a heroum) was a shrine dedicated to an ancient Greek or Roman hero and was used for the commemoration or worship of the hero. It was often erected over his supposed tomb or cenotaph.

The Romans and the Greeks practised an extensive and widespread cult of heroes. Heroes played a central role in the life of a polis, giving the city a shared focus for its identity. The cult typically centred around the heroon in which the hero's bones were usually believed to be contained. In a sense, the hero was considered to still be alive; he was offered meals and was imagined to be sharing feasts. His allegiance was seen as vitally important to the continued well-being of the city. This led to struggles between Greek cities for control of heroic remains.

Greek literature records how Cimon of Athens avenged the death of the legendary hero Theseus in 469 BC, finding a set of bones allegedly belonging to the hero and returning with them in triumph to Athens. Similarly, Herodotus records in his Histories that the Spartans raided the heroon of the city of Tegea, stealing the bones of Orestes. This was regarded as changing the hero's allegiance from Tegea to Sparta, ensuring that the Spartans could defeat the Tegeans as foretold by the Oracle of Delphi.[1]

The erroneously-named Tomb of Theron, a heroon at Agrigento, Sicily
The erroneously-named Tomb of Theron, a heroon at Agrigento, Sicily



The northwest heroon at Sagalassos, Turkey
The northwest heroon at Sagalassos, Turkey

No comments: