Focus of Study: Religion, Death and Burial

Focus of Study: Religion, Death and Burial

Option G: Focus of Study- Religion, death and burial, including:


Bust of Lycurgus


Gods and Goddesses:

Literary

  • Aristophanes, Lysistrata 1296-1320: In this part of the play, several references are made to the Doric variation of the Olympian pantheon.
  • Xeno., Const. Lac. 2.9; Paus., 3.16.7, 9-11: on the rites of passage undertaken in the temple of Artemis Orthia.  Plutarch (Lykurgus 17.1) claimed that he personally witnessed this spectacle in the late first century C.E.
  • Pausanias, 3.16.7-11: on the origins and practices of the cult of Artemis Orthia.

Modern Scholarship

  • Dimakis, N., ‘God and Hero: The Iconography and Cult of Apollo at the Amyklaion’, in Cavanagh, H, W. Cavanagh, and J. Roy (eds.), Honouring the Dead in the Peloponnese – Proceedings of the Conference held at Sparta 23-25 April 2009, Centre for Spartan and Peloponnesian Studies Online Publication 2, [Online Publication], pp. 25-32.

Myths and Legends (Lycurgus and the Dioscuri [Dioskouroi]):

Literary

  • Aristotle, F534, in Plut., Lykurgus 31.3; Pausanias, 3.16.6: mentions that a temple and divine honours were paid to Lykurgus in Sparta as a hero.
  • Alkman, Frag. 2; Pindar, Pythian Ode 11.4; Nemean Ode 10.3-5; [Hyginus], Fabulae 80; Astronomica 2.22: on the death and apotheosis of Castor and Pollux, the Dioskouroi.
  • On the role of the Dioskouroi as protectors of sailors, see Homeric Hymn 27 to the Dioskouroi; D.S. 4.43.1.; guests, see Callimachus, Lyric Frag. 227; and as deities of horsemanship, see Alkman, Frag. 2.
  • Pausanias, 3.16.2-3: on the Spartan traditions concerning the Dioskouroi.
  • Epigraphic
  • IG V, 1.130, 311, 312, and 683; SEG 44 361 – this all refers to Lykurgus as a deity.  However, it must be noted that this epigraphic data all comes from the Roman period, many centuries after Lykurgus and his alleged reform were said to have been implemented.

Modern Scholarship


Festivals:

Literary

  • Paus. 3.13.4-5: on the mythical origins of the Karneia.
  • Hesychius, s.v. Καρνος; Καρνεαται; and σταφυλοδομοι: in these three passages, Hesychius gives details concerning the deity, and describes how five unmarried men, called the Karneatai, were each selected from the Spartan tribes by the priest presiding over the festival, and were henceforth forbidden to marry for four years.  Moreover, one of these men were adorned with garlands, and told to flee, with the others pursuing him.  The successful capture of this man was viewed as an omen foretelling of good tidings for the coming season.
  • Athen., Deip. 4.141f: a brief description of the Karneia festival, which was said to last nine days and had tents erected to mimic the conditions of a Spartan war camp.
  • Hdt., 6.106; 7.206; Thuc., 5.54: instances of when the sacrosanct nature of the Karneia, during which it the Spartans were prohibited from taking to the field for war.
  • Pausanias, 3.19.3. - on the offerings paid to Hyacinthus during the Hyakinthia festival.
  • Athen., Deip. 138e-139f: on the rituals observed before and during the Hyakinthia festival, known as the kopis.
  • On the story behind the death of Hyacinthus, see Ovid, Metamorph. 10.164-6.
  • Pausanias, 3.11.9: according to Pausanias, the Spartan youth performed dances and choruses around the statues of Apollo, Artemis, and Leto in the Spartan agora in honour of Apollo.
  • Xeno., Hell. 6.4.16; Plut., Agesilaus 29: despite suffering a catastrophic defeat at Leuktra, such events were not allowed to dampen the festive spirits of the religious proceedings.
  • Epigraphic
  • IG V, 1. 511 (= SEG XI 790): a devotion offered to the sanctuary of Amyklaion.
  • IG V, 1.222: an offering to the Karneian Apollo.

Modern Scholarship


Religious Role of the Kings:

Literary

  • Xeno., Const. Lac. 13.1-5: on the religious roles of the Kings. According to this account, the most important religious function of the Kings was their position as chief priest in the Spartan custom of diabateria - namely where sacrifices are offered by the Spartan forces before crossing Sparta`s borders on their way to war.

Modern Scholarship

  • Powell, A., ‘Divination, Royalty and Insecurity in Classical Sparta’, Kernos, Vol. 22 (2009), pp. 35-82.

Funerary Customs and Rituals:

Literary

  • Tyrtaeus, Poem 12: mentions that those who died in war were honoured with a tomb.
  • Hdt., 6.58.3: on the funerary rites following the death of a king.
  • Hdt., 9.85.1-2: Herodotus describes how the Spartans buried their war-dead at Plataea in three different graves, one for the Spartan males aged between 20-30 (eiren), the Spartiates, and the helots.
  • Plut., Lykurgus 27.1-2.; Moralia 238d: Plutarch states that Lykurgus removed superstitious concerns regarding the treatment of the dead.  These changes included permitting the Spartans to inter the dead within their city bounds and touch a corpse without fearing ‘pollution’. Lykurgus was also said to have set up the Spartan customs around burying and mourning the deceased, including not allowing the name of a deceased individual to be inscribed unless they perished in war or childbirth.  Care should be exercised with these passages, since Plutarch`s depiction of the funerary rites may not be an exact representation, but rather, likely drew upon a blend of practices from different periods of Spartan history.
  • Plut., Moralia 241: In this passage, Plutarch claimed that the mothers of sons departing to war would say ‘with it or on it’, in reference to the son`s shield.  This statement would seem to contradict both Herodotus and another reference made by Plutarch (Agesilaus, 40.4), where he alludes to the tradition of burying slain Spartans on the site of the battlefield.
  • Epigraphic
  • IG II2 11678: a casualty list with the names of the Spartan generals (polemarchoi), Khairon and Thibrakos, inscribed with Lakonian characters written in retrograde (left to right).
  • Archaeological
  • The Tomb of the Lakedaimonians: This burial complex, composed of several tombs joined together, was set up in the late fifth century B.C.E.  Despite being situated in the Athenian Kerameikos, there are indications that the individuals interred were indeed Spartans, such as the mention of Spartans in the abovementioned inscription, IGII2 11678, which belonged to this site; the inclusion of Laconian ceramic ware in the graves; and the apparent differentiation of groups of individuals into separate tombs, an arrangement which echoes Herodotus` mention of Spartan burials in 9.85.1-2.

Modern Scholarship

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