Johann Joachim Eschenburg.

Manual of classical literature : from the German of J.J. Eschenburg, with additions online

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More than one deity, however, were sometimes worshiped in the same temple ; they
were then called cvwaoi or cwoLKcrai ; and when they had a common altar, cC/j/Joj/ioi.
Different styles of architecture were used for different deities; Doric pillars, e. g. tor
Jupiter or Alars ; Ionic, for Bacchus, Apollo, Diana ; Corinthian, for Vesta the virgin.

The temple usually stood in a space inclosed by a fence or wall (e'pk-oj, rrcpiSoXoi), which
contained, besides the temple, often other sacred buildings and a grove ; the whole space
was called rtfizvog, a term sometimes restricted to the space set apart in the temple for
the image of the god.

In the temple, some say at the door, others near the o^vtov, was placed a vessel of
stone or brass {rtepij pavrnpiov) filled with holy water for the purpose of sprinkling those
admitted to the sacrifices. The part of the temple before the o-^wj was called irpolofic^ ;
that behind it d-maQoiojio;. The outer porch was termed -Kpo-nvXa or TrpoTrvXata. — There
also belonged to the temple a treasury {apxstov) for preserving its own property, or that
of others intrusted to it. — The statues and offerings to the gods found in the temples
have been spoken of (§ 21, 28). Statues called AtoTTETrj , fall e7i from Jupiter, were kept
in the most sacred part of the temple, and concealed from the sight of all but the

Per other particulars respecting the structure of the temples, see P. IV. § 234.

§ 65 b. The altars (/Sw^oc) were placed towards the east, and had various
forms, round, square, or oblong. They were ornamented with horns, partly
that the sacrificial victims might be bound to them, and partly that supplicants
might lay hold of them, when they fled to the altars for refuge. Perhaps also
ihey were considered as a symbol of dignity and power. The names of the
deities, to whom the altars were sacred, were usually inscribed upon them,
Altars, as well as temples, were consecrated to their proper use with solemn
reremonies, particularly by anointing.

PLATE X "\' 1 1 1 .






Different gods had altars also of different dimensions ; the altar of Jupiter Olympins
is said to have been twenty-two feet high. The ahars of the terrestrial gods were
lower than those of the celestial. To the infernal, sacrifices were made in pits or
trenches (^ 29) used instead of altars. The nymphs were worshiped in caves (avrpa).
Ahars were formed of various materials; often of earth, or of ashes, as that at Thebes
to Apollo 2::oAof ; sometimes of horn, as that at Delos; sometimes of brick; often of
stone ; some were overlaid with gold (cf $ 26). They were ehher square or round ;
and were often highly ornamented by sculpture.

Different forms of altars are given in the Sup. Plate 30, where are seen an altar of Jupiter,
one of Neptune, and one of Bacchus. Cf $ 205.

§ 66. The practice of appropriating sacred groves for the honor and service
of the gods was also retained in later times. Their agreeable shade, as well
as the stillness reigning in them, was favorable to pious meditation. Although
the use of groves was diminished by the multiplication of cities and villages,
yet a grove once dedicated to the gods remained forever sacred and inviolable.
As well as temples and altars, they were safe asylums for offenders, although
this privilege was conferred upon them only by a special consecration for the
purpose, and did not belong to all the places of religious worship as a matter
of course. The privilege of being such asylums or places of refuge was some-
times awarded to the statues and tombs of heroes. — Certain portions of land
and cultivated ground were also assigned to the gods, which were likewise
called tf[X£V7j, the fruit of which was employed in offerings, or fell to the share
of the priests.

A particular tract of land, situated between Athens and Megara, w^as consecrated
to Ceres and Proserpine, and called 'Opyuj. — Trees were also set apart and with cere-
mony consecrated to some god {Theoc. Id. xviii. 43).

The privileges of the sacred temples, as asyla, continued until the ^eign of Tibe-
rius Caesar, by whom they were chiefly abolished, or greatly abridged {Tac. Ann. iii.
60-63), on account of the abuse of them by worthless villains.

Simon, Les asyles, Mem. Acad. Inscr. iii. 35. — R. Mayo, Mythology, vol. i. p. 156.— S. Pegse, History of the ^iylum, &c in the
Archsologia (as cited P. IV. § 243. 3), vol. viii. p. 1.

§ 67. The three principal duties of the priesis (Upsl^, called also lepovpyoi,,
^fovpyot, ^rrat) were sacrifice, prayer, and instruction. With these were united
sometimes the declaration and interpretation of oracles. The requisite qualifi-
cations for the priesthood were a body free from all defects and blemishes
(oXoxV/^poj xai aq>f%Y-i), lawful birth (yvy-moi), and an irreproachable course of
life. Upon the rank of the god depended the number of the priests, who were
employed to attend upon him, and who shared each his part of the various
functions of the service. In every place there was one superior priest, if not
more {ap%ispni, tfpo8t5ai?xaXot, ii;po^dvtat), charged with the oversight of the
religious worship in general (dpx^s9^(!vv^)- — The office of the parasites (rtapa-
ffffot) was to collect the grain and fruits designed for sacrifices (rtpoioSto
IxsyaXa) into the storehouse appropriated therefor (TtapafftVtoi'). — The heralds
(xrjpt'zf?) were ranked among the sacred orders, and also the superintendents
lyfuixopoi) whose business was to cleanse and adorn the temples.

The clothing of the priests was usually a long white or purple robe, and their
head was ornamented, especially at sacrifices, with a fillet and a crown of the
leaf sacred to their particular god.

In our Plate XXVII. fig. C, is a view of a Grecian priest and priestess, in their robes ; each hag
a thyrsus in one hand, indicating that they are servants of Bacchus, and a vessel in the other.
The priestess is pouring a liquid upon the iflame of an altar. It is a monument given in Moses,
Antique Vases, Altars, &c.

1. Priests holding their office by inheritance ('^22) were called oi tKytvovg; those
who received it by lot, kXtiputoI ; those by election, nipsTol or tpirpKruEi/ot. Some of the
Athenian families, in which the priesthood descended by inheritance were the E'l^oX-
TTiSai, intrusted with the oversight of the Elusinian mysteries ; KiipvKc;, descendants
of Ceryx ; the ea'Aw^iVat, descendants of Thaulon. There was a sacred family at
Argos also, called ' AKecrroptiai. Priestesses (uptiai, dpfncipai, dpxif:pciai, kpoipavrih;) were
taken from noble families. Those of Ceres were termed M.i\icraai ; those of Bacchus,
Ba/fxai, Qva.6eg, 'Maivdkq. — Sometimes services connected with the worship of the gods
were performed by persons not properly belonging to the priesthood (/cf\a)p«7/.t»0£ rhi
ii:pa}(Tvi'rig) ; as e. g. sacrificers {Isp-oiol), of whom ten are said to have been appointed
annually at Athens, and who conducted all the usual sacrifices ; keepers of the tem-
ole and utensils {vaofvXaKc;) ; stewards or treasurers {rafdai nov kpuv xpw^'^^''')- — Priests


who were constantly in attendance on the gods to offer the prayers of the people at
sacrifices, were called ripfcoXot Srcojv. — All who served the gods were maintained out
of the sacrifices and offerings. — At Athens, those intrusted with the care of rehgion
were required to render an account of their doings to certain civil officers appointed
for the purpose. The 'lepofivfifioiv seems to have been charged with keeping the sacred
records. '1 he priests had attendants called itpocovXoi.

On the priesthood of the Greeks, see J.Kreuser, Der Hellenen Priesterstaat mil vorzQglich Racksicht auf die Hierodulen. Mainz.
—Class. Joum. xxxix. 350. — Bougainville, Des ministres des Dieux a Athenes, in the Man. Acad. hucr. xviii. 60; iLxiii. 51. —
Lttronne, Sur les foiictions des Hieromnemons, &c. in the Mem. de Vlnstitut, C 1 a s s e i'Hist. et Lit. Anc. vol. vi. 221.

2. Purification has already been mentioned (§ 23) as a rite of great importance
among the Greeks. At some of their solemnities, the priests and priestesses were
obliged to take an oath, that they were duly purified. Every person attending the
solemn sacrifices was purified usually by being washed or sprinkled with the water in
the TrepififjauTfiptov (cf. § 65 a). This water was consecrated by putting into it a burning
torch from the altar, or a branch of laurel {6d(l>uri) or olive. Purification was also some-
times made by drawing round the person a sea-onion or squill (wtXXa), or a young
dog (CTCT.Xaf) ; sometimes eggs were used for the purpose ; sometimes the blood of a
pig. Some of the terms employed to designate purifying are Trcpippaiveiv, TTcpindrrtaSai^
Kc^aipsiv. ayvi^ew, IXcurfidg, ayviafidg, nXcrri, &c. — Sometimes in purifi.cations not only the
hands, but the leet and other parts of the body were washed.

§ 68. The sacrifices had different names according to the occasions of them.
The thank-nffering (;^apcc(r^p^a) was in recognition of some favor received,
often in fulfilment of some vow made; the sin-offering (J,7.a6tt.xd) was in order
to propitiate an offended deity ; the invocation-offering {a.itrj'tLxd) was presented
in case of seeking some particular favor. There were other particular sacri-
fices, which were offered in consequence of the specific command of some god.

The beginning of the sacrifice in later times was made by the libation
(a7fov8r^, § 24. 2) ; then followed the incense, the burning of something fragrant
{^vfiLaua) ; and at length the sacrifice itself, properly speaking, or the slaying
of the victim {Is^flov). The principal ceremonies have already been mentioned
(§ 27). — Persons who had the right of being present at a sacrifice were termed
dj3i,3r?.ot, and those who had not, ^t^r^•Kol. The latter were called upon by the
heralds to retire before the ceremonies commenced.

Different animals were offered in sacrifice to different gods, as has been mentioned
in treating of the ancient mythology. One of the principal victims, however, was the
ox ifiovq) ; hence the term jSovdnrsTi', to sacrifice oxen : those assistants who slew the
victims were called (3ov6vrai. Bulls {ravpoi), sheep (oiei), and goats (.diyeg) were often
offered. The bringing of the victims to the altar was expressed by such phrases as
vpocdytiv Tco /?w;(a), or TTapaaTiiaai ^vmav roig /?wuori ; they were often brought adorned with
garlands {aTi^na-a), and were always required to be free from blemishes (rfXcioi). After
the victim was slain and cut in pieces, an inspection of the entrails {onXayxvocKOTiia.)
was made by the soothsayer ((nrXayYi'dwoTroj), to ascertain the presages of the future.

Animals were not demanded as sacrifices from the poor, who were allowed to offer
cakes of coarse flour {-6::ava, ireXavoi, TriiipLara) ; these were sometimes made in the shape
of animals.

It does not appear to have been ever an approved custom among the Greeks to offer human
sacrifices, althoufrh it was repeatedly done; cf. P. II. $ 17. Themistncles is said to have sacri-
ficed to the gods several Persian captives. (Plutarch, Them.) Human victims were sacrificed
particularly lo the manes and infernal gods. — Cf. Lactantius, De Falsa Religione, c. 21. — Eusebius,
Prjep. Evang. iv. 16.

§ 69. It is pertinent to notice here the solemn oaths of the Greeks, in which
they called upon the gods to witness the truth or avenge falsehood or injury.
They distinguished between the solemn or great oath (w ^iyaj opxoj) and affir-
mations in ordinary cases. Jupiter was considered as especially the god and
guardian of oaths, and avenger of perjury, although oaths were taken in the
name of other gods also. It was common, e. g., to swear by the twelve great
superior gods {fia SwSjxa ^fovj). Sometimes they swore by the gods, indefi-
nitely and generally ; and sometimes by inanimate objects, vases, weapons, or
any article of which they made use. Not unfrequently the oath was in the
name of living or deceased men, such especially as had been highly esteemed
and loved. The oath was usually joined with a distinct imprecation of ven-
geance on the swearer himself in case of falsehood ; and was sometimes con-
firmed by a sacrifice, the flesh of which, however, could not be eaten. Severe
punishments were decreed against perjury (iTttopzta). Yet the Greeks, espe-


cially the Thessalians, were reproached for this crime by the ancients. At
least mutual distrust was characteristic of the corrupt Greeks of later times,
and among the Romans the phrase Graeca fides was synonymous with perfidy.

Leagues and covenants were confirmed by making oaths and slaying sacrifices ;
hence opKia rifivziv signifies to enter into covenant. Notwithstanding the great perfi-
diousness of the Greeks, they considered one who kept his oath {evopKog) as of course
a pious person {eme/Srn). 'ArnKfi ntang signifies ho7iest faith.

Massieu, Sur les Serments des Anciens, \n the Hist, de V.icad. des Imcr. vol. i. p. 191 ; vol. iv. p. 1. — Smith, Diet, of Antiq,
p. 649.

§ 70. The opinion was very early entertained, that the gods honored certain
men, especially the priests, with a particular intimacy. There were supposed
to be two modes of revelation; one immediate, by direct inspiration; and the
other mediate or artificial, which was considered as the fruit of great knowledge,
experience, and observation. Oracles (;^p>7(5T')jpia, ixavtaa) were of the first
kind ; and the second kind was divination (navtiXTj). — From oracles, the Greeks
were accustomed to seek, in important circumstances and undertakings, predic-
tions of the result (;^p>;cy^ot, Xoyta, ixavtEv/xafa). It is obvious that they could
be turned greatly to the advantage of the priests, to whose artifice their exist-
ence and support are in great measure to be ascribed. The oracular answers
were not given in any one uniform manner, hut sometimes immediately, as was
pretended, from the gods {xprja/xol avto^utvov), sometimes through an interpreter,
(%r]Sixoi vTio^yjtLxoi,), or by a pretended dream, or by lot.

Persons who consuUed the oracles were termed Srso-rrpoiroi, ^ewpol, xpwfiocpdpot ; the in-
terpreters, xprfapioXoyoi. Presents and sacrifices were always requisite before consulting
an oracle, w^hich could be done only on appointed days.

The question has been agitated, whether the responses uttered from the ancient oracles were
the mere imposture of priests, or proceeded from the agency of Satan making use of their delu-
sions. Van Dale in a learned treatise urged the former view. Funtenelle advocated the same
side. Baltiis with much learning maintained the latter view, in agreement with some of the
Christian Fathers.

Dr. Chirke (Travels, P. ii. sect. 2. ch. xvi.) describes a contrivance, which he supposes was
designed by the artifice of the priests to sustain the system of oracles. " We found at the foot
of the hill of the Acropolis, one of the most curious telltale remains yet discovered an'ong the
vestiges of pagan priestcraft; it was nothing less than one of the oracular shrines of .Argos,
alluded to by Pausanias, laid open to inspection, like the toy a child has broken in order that he
may see Ihe contrivance whereby it was made to speak. A more interesting sight for n)odern
curiosity can hardly be conceived to exist ainong the ruins of any Grecian city. In its original
state, ithad been a temple; the farther part from the entrance, where the altar was, being an
excavation of the rock, and the front and roof constructed with baked tiles. The altar yet remains,
and part of the fictile superstructure ; but the most remarkable part of the whole is a secret sub-
terraneous passage, terminating behind the altar ; its entrance being at a considerable distance
toward the right of a person facing the altar; and so cunningly contrived as to have a small
aperture, easily concealed and level with the surface of the rock. This was barely large enough
to admit the entrance of a single person ; who, having descended into the narrow passage, might
creep along until he arrived immediately behind the center of the altar; where, being hid by
some colossal statue or other screen, the sound of his voice would produce a most imposing
effect among the humble votaries, prostrate beneath, who were listening in silence upon the
floor of the sanctuary. We amused ourselves for a few minutes by endeavoring to mimic the
solemn farce acted upon these occasions ; and as we delivered a mock oracle, ore rotuvdo, from
the cavernous throne of the altar, a reverberation, caused by the sides of the rock, afforded a
tolerable specimen of the '■will of the gods,' as it was formerly made known to the credulous
votaries of this now forgotten shrine. There were not fewer than twenty-five of these juggling
places in Peloponnesus, and as many in the single province of Bmotia ' and surely it will never
again become a question among learned men, whether the answers in them were given by the
inspiration of evil spirits, or whether they proceeded from the imposture of priests ; neither can
it be urged that they ceased at the death of Christ: because Pansanias (CorintL c. 24, p. 165, ed
Kuhnii) bears testimony to their existence at .^rgos in the second century."

See Van Dale, De Oraculis veterum Elhnicoium. Amst. 1700. 4.—B. Fontmdle, Histoire des Oracles. La Haye, 1728. 12.-
/ F. BalliLs, Answer to Fontenelle's History of Oracles ; transl. from the French. Lond. 1710. 2 vols. 8.— Cf. Rollin, bk. X. ch.
(p. 391. vol. I ed. ciled § 13) Blackwood's Ma;az. vol. xiv. p. 277.

§ 71. It may be proper to mention some of the most distinguished of the
ancient oracles. The most ancient was that of Jupiter at Dodona, a city of the
Molossi, said to have been built by Deucalion. Before this time, however, this
oracle, of Pelasgic origin (cf. P. IV. § 41), seems to have existed in that place.
There was a grove of oaks, sacred to Jupiter, and superstition ascribed the
fictual exercise of the gift of speech and prophecy to the trees themselves,
which were thence called /xav-tLxal Spu??. The priests, called aTto^rjtav and
S^xxot, concealed themselves upon and in the trees, when they announced the
pretended declaration of the gods. The sound of a brazen vase, placed near
tlie temple, was also imagined to be supernatural. A fountain in the place was


likewise celebrated as possessing the wonderful power, not only of extinguish-
ing a torch, but of kindling it again.

1. The oracles in the grove of Dodona were also said to be deUvered by doves,
which arose from the circumstance that the priestesses, who sometimes announced
them, were called in the Thessalian language m-Xeiat, and TrtXsidctj. 1 here were also
priests called TOjxo'poi, whose business was to interpret the sounds of the vessel on cer-
tain occasions. Two columns stood by the temple ; to one of which the vessel was
attached ; on the other was a boy with a scourge in his hand ; the ends of the scourge
consisted of little bones, which being moved by the wind knocked against the metaUic
• vessel attached to the other column. — From the use of the brazen vessel arose the phrase
Aco:o)vaioi> xaX/caoi/, applied to talkative persons. — The temple is said to have stood upon
an eminence near a fountain. — In the Sup. plate 28 is a view of Dodona, in which
many of the allusions to the oracle are represented.

Saltier, and De Srosses, L'OracIe de Dodona, in the Mem. Jicad. Inscr. vol. v. p. 35. xxxv. p. 89.— Corda, De oraculo Dodonaeo.
Grdnitig. 1826. 8 —J. jinieth, Ueber das Tauben-orakel von Dodona. Wien, 1840. 8.—La3saulx, Das Felasgische Orakel des Zeus
2U Dodona. Warlzb 1S40. 8.

On the site of ibe temple, cf. Pouquemlle, as cited P. I. § 87.

2 u. Less celebrated was the oracle of Jupiter Ammon, in a desert and almost inac-
cessible region of Africa, chiefly known by the visit to h made by Alexander the

3. The site of the temple and oracle of Jupiter Ammon was discovered by the English traveler
Browne in 1792, in the Oasis of 8ivva. (Cf. RennelVs Geog. Syst. of Ilerod. sect. 21.) Near it
was the famous fmintain of the sun. The spot was visited by Belzoni in 1816. (Cf P. I. $ 179.)
The ruins of the temple indicate an Egyptian origin.— When this oracle was consulted, a splen-
did statue of the god whs carried in procession by numerous priests (cf. P. II. $ 24). A view of
it is given in the Sup. Plate 29.

4. Several other oracles of .lupiter are mentioned. Herodotus speaks of four : at Egyptian
Thebes ; at Libyan Amnion ; at Dodona ; and at Meroe in Ethiopia ; andsays the one at Thebes
was the original. Besides these, there was an oracle of Jupiter in Boeotia; also in Elis at Olym-
pian and one in Crete, in a cave of Mount Ida.

§ 73. Apollo, the god to whom inspiration and prophecy were considered to
belong properly, had numerous oracles. The most renowned was that at
Delphi, a city of Phocis, where he had also a temple illustrious beyond all
others on account of its treasures, the abundance and costliness of the gifts
bestowed there. The spot where the answer was given, was called Pythium
(nr^toj^), and the priestess, who uttered it, Pythia (Ilr^ta), from the surname
which Apollo received in consequence of killing the serpent Python (riv^cov).
This spot, or the site of Delphi, was regarded as the centre of the inhabited
earth (oit^axo^ y?;?). According to common tradition this oracle was first dis-
closed by a flock of goats, w^hich, on approaching an orifice on Mt. Parnassus,
were seized with singular paroxysms of shivering and jumping. The same
happened to men, who approached this opening. This oracle was very ancient,
being celebrated more than a hundred years before the Trojan war.

1. Some derive the names applied to this oracle and the priestess from the word
TTvBicrdat, to inquire, or learn; but IXtj^oj appears to have been originally the name of the
city of Delphi. — The temple was adorned with statues and other splendid works of
art. Its walls were inscribed with salutary moral precepts ; among them the cele-
brated one TvioQL csavTov. (P. V. § 169.) Costly tripods were among the gifts conse-
crated to Apollo here. One of the most famous was the golden one presented by the
Greeks after the defeat of Xerxes. This was removed by Constantine and placed in
the Hippodrome of Constantinople, upon the " triple heads" of the three brazen ser-
pents twisted into one pillar.

The pillar still remains {Gibbon, ch. 17. p 80. vol. ii. N. York, 1822).— The three heads are said to have been in good preserva-
tion when Constantinople was taken by the Turks ; Mahomet II. then rode into the Hippodrome and shattered one of them with his
battle ax ; two were remaining in 1700 ; but they were stolen about that time by some unknown depredator. (Cf. Lotid. Quart.
Eev. \x. 169.) On the origin of the Delphic oracle, cf. MitforcVs Greece, ch. 3. sect. 2.

2. The great wealth accumulated at Delphi (cf ^ 28), and the celebrity of the ora-
cle, and consequent influence possessed by the state which had the chief authority
over it, occasioned much jealousy among the Grecian states ; in two instances par-
ticulariy they were involved thereby in actual hostihties, in the wars commonly called

Mufa-d's Hist, of Greece, ch. xiivii-xlii.— Zte Valois, Guerres Sacrees, in the Mem. Scad. Inter, vii. 201. ix. 97. xii. 177.

§ 73. The tripod (r'ptTtoi'f ;i^p>;(7rrp(,05), upon which the priestess sat in utter-
ing the answers, must be mentioned among the remarkable things pertaining to
the oracle. _ It was dedicated to Apollo by the seven wise men of Greece, and
has been viewed as having a threefold reference, to the past, the present, and


the future. The ITv^ta herself was esteemed as a priestess of peculiar dignity
and was obliged to prepare for the functions of her office by many ceremonies.
In delivering the oracles, she appeared to be in the most violent ecstasy and
convulsion. In early times, the oracular response was commonly clothed in
the form of hexameter verse ; often by a poet employed for the purpose. Ori-
ginally the oracle was consulted but on a single day in the year, in a month of
the spring, called Bvaio^ or Jlvaio^; afterwards inquiry could be made on a
certain day of every month. Whoever wished to consult the oracle was re-
quired to make large presents and offerings, to put on a wreath or crown, and

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