RELIGIOUS CULTS ASSOCIATED WITH THE AMAZONS (6)


(BEING CONTINUED FROM  22/09/2013)

The only direct information so far given concerning the worship of Ares by the Amazons comes from Athens. 327 Therefore it is reasonable to lay stress on the legend of the Oriental Aphrodite in this state 328Yet we have no explicit statement that she was related to Ares in his capacity of patron of the Amazons. The nearest approach to a solution of the problem is possibly to be found in the ancient association between Ares and Enyo 329 Enyo was apparently identified with the armed goddess of Cappadocia who was known as Mâ, who, in turn, was identified with Cybele as Mother of the Gods. 330 Aphrodite-Ariadne and the Armed Aphrodite are in a measure forms of the Mother. Hence by an equation Aphrodite under these two types becomes identical with Enyo, the companion of Ares.

The evidence thus far gathered for a relation between Ares and the Amazons may be stated. (1) Aeschylus mentions their habitual worship of this god while they were besieging Athens; (2) Plutarch represents Theseus at this time sacrificing to Phobus, son of Ares; (3) Pausanias describes the temple of Ares at Troezen as a trophy of the victory of Theseus over the Amazons; (4) in the association between Ares and Aphrodite in several places, in similar association between Ares and Enyo, and in the identification both of this Aphrodite and of Enyo with the Mother whom the Amazons worshipped, there are obscure indications of his belonging to the rites of the Mother; (5) there are fairly good reasons for holding that Ares was an early, or pre-Hellenic god. According to this evidence it is presumable that the connection between Ares and the Amazons was indirect rather than direct. A striking

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fact should be added. Wherever there were memorials of the Amazons in Greece–at Athens, Troezen, Megara and Chaeronea in Boeotia, Chalcis in Euboea, 331 Thessaly 332–there are some indications in each canton that the cult of Ares was there in early times.

There are two other sets of records which belong to the discussion of the cult of Ares in its relation to the Amazons. Of these the first is a small group of ancient references to the Amazons as children of Ares. Euripides 333 terms them Ἀρείας κόρας, a phrase echoed in the Latin Mavortia applied to one of them. 334 The term is of no value toward establishing a theory of a cult relation with Ares, for it as colourless as are the familiar epic phrases, ὄζος Ἄρηος and θεράποντες Άρηος, applied to warriors. Elsewhere, however, the Amazons are conceived as actually daughters of the god. The stock genealogy assigned to the race made them the children of Ares and Harmonia 335 while Otrere is individually named as the child of these parents. 336 Harmonia’s name is easily associated with that of Ares, since in Theban legends she appears as his daughter. It is therefore tempting to see in the mother of the race the goddess Aphrodite. But it is impossible to follow out the clue. The relationship is manifestly a stereotyped one,

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manufactured by logographers. Furthermore, the mother is not consistently called Harmonia. At times she appears as Armenia 337 from which it may be inferred that the name of the mother of the Amazons came from the study of geography, and that Harmonia’s crept in as a corruption. Arctinus 338 called Penthesilea a Thracian and the daughter of Ares. Possibly the theory that the race in general were children of Ares may have originated thus, or in some other poem of the Cycle. If the Amazons had not been conspicuously warriors, and if it were not at first sight a figure of speech to term a band of women the children of the war-god, it would be easier to judge whether these statements are poetical or representations of the view of genealogists.

The reference to Thrace is more valuable. Herodotus 339 shows that the cult of Ares was important here, for he says that the Thracians worshipped three gods, Ares, Dionysus, and Artemis. As it has been said, the sacrifice of dogs in the Spartan ritual of Enyalius finds its only parallels in the rites of Thracian Hecate. 340Many modern authorities 341 believe that the cult of Ares was of Thracian origin. 342 The rites of Dionysus, to whom he was akin, 343 belong also to the orgiastic ceremonies of Phrygia. In general, as it has been noted, there is striking similarity between the cults of Phrygia and those of Thrace. This comes out strongly in the worship of the Mother. It is noteworthy that the custom of sacrificing dogs, a conspicuous and difficult feature in the rites of Ares and also

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of Hecate, belonged to the Carian worship of Ares. 344 It should be added that at Lagina in Caria the orgiastic worship of Hecate was established with the peculiar characteristic of the cult of Cybele at Pessinus and of Artemis at Ephesus. 345 Thus from all sides the theory finds support that the cult of Ares should be classed as Thracian-Phrygian and connected with that of the Mother. The inference is that the pre-Hellenic Ares of the Greek mainland was a god of the people who had a pre-historic culture allied to the “Minoan.”

Apollonius Rhodius 346 represents the Amazons engaged in a ritual as strange as the sacrifice of dogs which suggests Thrace and Caria. He relates that on “Ares island” in Pontus they sacrificed horses in the temple of Ares. An obscure record of this is apparently preserved by the Scholiast on a line in the Lysistrata of Aristophanes. 347 The scholium mentions no deity by name; it merely comments on the legend that Amazons sacrificed horses. Ares is not elsewhere than in the passage from Apollonius named as a god thus worshipped, and possibly here, even in the temple of Ares, the ritual is to be referred rather to the worship of Cybele under baetylic form than to that of Ares. The victim was a rare one among the Greeks, belonging to Apollo, Helios, the wind-gods, and especially to Poseidon. It may be that the words of Apollonius imply a connection between the cult of Ares and that of Poseidon Hippius. At Troezen the temple of Ares gave access to the Genethlium, probably a shrine of Poseidon; 348 at Athens there was the story of the murder of Halirrhothius, son of Poseidon; 349 at Olympia the altar of Ares was dedicated to

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Ares Hippius. 350 The cult of Poseidon Hippius at Athens seems to have been in some way connected with that of the pre-Ionic Semnae, or Eumenides, both at Colonus Hippius and on the Areopagus. 351Possibly the Troezenian legend of the death of Hippolytus suggests jealousy between Ares, a divinity of the Amazons, and Poseidon, the reputed father of Theseus. The ritual of horse sacrifice among the Amazons may be the basis of the tradition that they were skilful horsewomen.

The sacrifice of horses to Ares is recorded as a custom of the Scythians, 352 a people who apparently associated the horse with funerary oblations. 353

The best example of this sacrifice in the rites of the war-god comes from Rome, 354 where on October fifteenth there was an annual race of bigae in the Campus Martius, after which the near horse of the winning pair was sacrificed to Mars, and his blood was allowed to drip on the hearth of the Regia. Probably the blood of this sacrifice was afterwards mixed with the ingredients of the sacred cakes. The rite evidently was in honour of Mars as a deity of fertility. He was undoubtedly worshipped by the primitive Romans in this capacity as well as in that of warrior. 355

Apparently then the poetic legend of the Amazons’ offering horses to Ares presents him in a very primitive aspect with the suggestion that he was a chthonic deity of fertility. As warrior and giver of increase he resembles Apollo Carneüs. A scholium 356 furnishes information which strengthens the supposition that he was in his primitive form a nature god. This tells of an obsolete custom in time of war, by which the

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signal for attack was given by priests of Ares called πυρφόροι, who hurled lighted torches between the two armies. This suggests the orgiastic cults of Thrace and Phrygia, in which the torch was a prominent feature. It belonged also to the ceremonies of fire in honour of Mars in primitive Rome. 357

Even in ancient times there were conflicting theories concerning the provenience of the cult of Ares. Arnobius 358 says: “Quis Spartanum fuisse Martem (prodidit)? Non Epicharmus auctor vester? Quis is Thraciae finibus procreatum? Non Sophocles Atticus cunctis consentientibus theatris? Quis mensibus in Arcadia tribus et decem vinctum? Quis ei canes ab Caribus, quis ab Scythibus asinos immolari? Nonne principaliter cum ceteris Apollodorus?” The general tendency of the evidence is in the direction of the theory that Ares was an ancient god of the Thracians, of the pre-Hellenic peoples of Greece, and of the races who worshipped the Mother in Asia Minor and Crete.

As a god whom the Amazons worshipped he does not appear to have been as important as the Mother. The records of his association with them are few and confused. The best evidence is doubtless that furnished by the extant accounts of the saga of Theseus and the Amazons, to which Ares belongs, although it is not possible to define his position. The saga is of special importance in being analogous to the Ephesian tales of Heracles and Dionysus.

(TO BE CONTINUED)

BY

FLORENCE MARY BENNETT
New York, Columbia University Press  [1912]

Footnotes

67:327 Aeschyl. l. c. (Eum. 685-690).

67:328 Tümpel (op. cit.) finds traces of the Theban cult of Ares and Aphrodite in Attica. He does not take into consideration the connections of the legend of Ariadne.

67:329 Iliad, 5. 592.

67:330 V. supra, ch. II, p. 27, n. .

68:331 The early folk of Chalcis in Euboea seem to have been akin to the Leleges and Abantes of Boeotia. There were connections also with Chalcis of the Curetes in Aetolia. Cf. Iliad, 2. 536 ff.; Paus. 5. 22, 3-4; 9. 5, 1; 10. 35, 5. The most important connection here is that with Boeotia, where the worship of Ares certainly belonged. It is a curious fact that Chalcodon, the great Homeric hero of Euboea (Iliad, 2. 541), had an heroüm at Athens in the plain where there were many memorials of the Amazons (Plut. Thes. 27, 3).

68:332 The genealogies of Thessaly are worth considering, because they show the persistent tradition of relationship between the primitive folk of this canton and Boeotia. V. n. .

68:333 Eur. Herc. Fur. Fr. 413.

68:334 Val. Flacc. 5. 90.

68:335 For references v. n. .

68:336 Ap. Rh. 2. 389; Schol. Tzetz. Post-Hom. 8. 189; Schol. Ap. Rh. 2. 1032; Hyg. Fab. 30, 112, 163, 223, 225.

69:337 The word appears in Pherecydes, but, because the corruption may be a scribe’s error, no argument can be based on this.

69:338 V. ch. I, p. 3.

69:339 Herod. 5. 7.

69:340 V. supra, pp. 26, 63.

69:341 Among them are Miss Harrison (Proleg. pp. 375-379); Tümpel (op. cit. p. 662); Farnell (op. cit. ch. on Ares), who states the theory tentatively.

69:342 Sophocles held this view (ap. Arnob. Adv. Nat. l. c.). Cf. St. Basil, who gives Ἀρεία as the old name of Thrace (s.v. Ἀρεία).

69:343 J. E. Harrison, Proleg. l. c.

70:344 Arnob. l. c. (Adv. Nat. 4. 25).

70:345 V. supra, n. .

70:346 Ap. Rh. 2. 1179; cf. 2. 387. V. supra, n. .

70:347 Aristoph. Lys. 191. Undue importance has been given to the scholium by Preller-Robert (p. 343, n. 5), but, on the other hand, Farnell, in bringing forward this criticism, fails to give due weight to the quotation from Apollonius.

70:348 V. supra, nn. , .

70:349 Paus. 1. 21, 4; 1. 28, 5.

71:350 Paus. 5. 15, 6.

71:351 Harrison and Verrall, Myth. and Mons. p. 601.

71:352 Arnob. Adv. Nat. 4. 25. On Scythian Ares cf. Herod. 4. 62.

71:353 Cf. sacrifice of horses in Scythian tumuli, Arch. Anz. 1910, 195-244.

71:354 Warde Fowler, Lustratio, pp. 186 ff.

71:355 Warde Fowler, op. cit. and J. E. Harrison, Btsh. Sch. Annual, 1908-09, pp. 331 ff.

71:356 Schol. Eur. Phoen. 1186.

72:357 J. E. Harrison, Btsh. Sch. Ann. l. c. On chthonic Ares cf. Artemid. Oneirocr. 2. 34.

72:358 Arnobius, l. c. (Adv. Nat. 4. 25).

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