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SANCTUARY OF ZEUS POLIEUS Zeus “Of the City” Humanities 302: Golden Age of GreeceBy: Sarah Billy.

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Presentation on theme: "SANCTUARY OF ZEUS POLIEUS Zeus “Of the City” Humanities 302: Golden Age of GreeceBy: Sarah Billy."— Presentation transcript:

1 SANCTUARY OF ZEUS POLIEUS Zeus “Of the City” Humanities 302: Golden Age of GreeceBy: Sarah Billy

2 Ancient Acropolis Sanctuary of Zeus Polieus Source: http://plato-dialogues.org/tools/acropol.htm

3 Sanctuary of Zeus Polieus  The Sanctuary of Zeus Polieus was built around 500 B.C, and was dedicated to Zeus as protector of the polis – hence the name. It was located east of the Erechtheion on the Acropolis in Athens, and is thought to have consisted of two main parts: (1) an open-air precinct on the west which contained an altar, and (2) a more polygonal precinct to the northeast. Source: http://www.ancient-greece.org/images/maps/plans/acropolis-plan.swf 1 2 3 The southwest corner (3) of the west area was probably a barn like building to contain the sacred oxen dedicated to Zeus.

4 Reconstruction Sanctuary of Zeus Polieus http://www.mlahanas.de/Greeks/Arts/Parthenon/Parthenon1.jpg

5 Modern Acropolis Remains of Sanctuary of Zeus Polieus Source: http://www.artlex.com/ArtLex/a/images/acropolis_aerial.lg.jpg

6 What’s left of it Unfortunately, the Sanctuary no longer exists except for parts of its foundation. 

7 Buphonia (“ox-slaying”) ox Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b6/Holy_cow!.jpg/250px-Holy_cow!.jpg The buphonia was an ancient sacrificial ceremony performed during the midsummer festival of Dipolieia for Zeus. During the ceremony, oxen were brought to the Sanctuary of Zeus Polieus, along with a procession of priests and young girls carrying water for sharpening the axe and sacrificial knife. The oxen were led to the altar, where a sacrificial meal to Zeus was previously placed. The first ox to eat from the meal would then be sacrificed in place of the meal. After slaying the ox, the murderer would then flee the scene of the crime, leaving behind the murder weapon.

8 The Bizarre Trial Minoan bronze double-axe http://pagesperso-orange.fr/miltiade/double-hache-cretoise.jpg  After the slaying, a trial was held in a special court in Athens. Since the ox-slayer himself had fled, the girls who brought the water for sharpening the knife and axe were charged with the 'murder.' They then accused those who actually sharpened the axe and knife, who then accused the man who gave them the axe and knife, who in turn accused the butcher. The butcher then said the axe and knife themselves were most responsible, and since they could not defend themselves they were found guilty and thrown into the sea! Furthermore, back at the Sanctuary the skin of the ox was stuffed and harnessed to a plow at an attempt to restore it.  This bizarre trial is a way of absolving the whole community of the guilt of killing a domestic animal, and the attempted ‘restoration’ expresses this guilt and regret.

9 Origin of the Buphonia One source is Pausanias (2 nd century A.D) who claims that the ritual began during the kingship of Erectheus, when sacrifices to Zeus Polieus were usually vegetable products. During one sacrifice, however, an ox wandered up to Zeus' altar and ate a sacrificial meal by accident, causing a man named Thaulon to kill the ox in anger. He fled the city in shame, leaving the axe behind. The Athenians then received an oracle instructing them to repeat this sacrifice every year. Another source is in a work by Porphyry (3 rd century A.D) which advocates vegetarianism. In this work, it is claimed that the buphonia was initiated when during the festival of Zeus, an ox came and tasted the sacrificial meal in honeyed oil, and then had to be sacrificed by the priest Diomos and his helpers. By the fifth century, the Athenians found the ritual primitive and bizarre, yet they continued to practice it well into the second century B.C ! Even though the ritual was little understood and probably only attended by members of the Cult of Zeus, the fact that it was part of the celebration of the Dipolieia indicates its significance.

10 Thucydides’ History “ Cylon went to Delphi to consult the god, and the reply he received was that he was to seize the Acropolis of Athens during the great festival of Zeus... In fact, the Athenians have a festival, the Diasia, which is called the great festival of Zeus the Gracious. This takes place outside the city, and the whole people make a number of sacrifices not including blood sacrifices, but traditional offerings of the country. ” - Thucydides, I. 126 What about the festival of Dipolieia?

11 Aristophanes’ Clouds “ How thoroughly quaint! How redolent of cicada brooches, oxslaughter trials and Cedeides! ” - Aristophanes’ Clouds, line 985 By the time of Aristophanes, the buphonia and Dipolieia were considered an old antiquated custom. This is seen here, when the young man “WRONG” makes fun of the older “RIGHT” man, by relating his life to three out of date things.


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