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Research Centre for Religious Studies Research Centres CRASIS

Ancient World Seminar: Jenny Wallensten (Swedish Institute at Athens) 'Divine epithets and anthroponyms. The case of Pausanias'

When:Tu 13-06-2023 16:15 - 17:30
Where:Faculty of Theology and Religous Studies (Oude Boteringestraat 38), Court Room


In a narrative context, the Greek gods were often presented with a single name, Aphrodite, Hermes, or Zeus, for example. But in cult contexts, they were invoked too by their name in combination with an epithet, in a formula often referred to as the cultic double name. This double denomination gave more information about the god in question, in broad terms either linking the god to a place, usually a cult place, such as Hera of Argos, or Zeus of Ithome, or to a function, as in the case of Hera Teleia, a marriage goddess, or Zeus Ourios, Zeus of favourable winds. But even if the cult titles belonged to the gods and were attached to their names, simultaneously they were tools for the worshipper. The addition of an epithet allowed him or her to reach not only the god, but also the right aspect of the god and so make communication efficient. In a sense the cult title thereby also belongs to the worshipper, as an instrument, whereas the function described by the epithet of course remains with the god. This is visible in interesting ways among the myriad of epithets attested. In this seminar, I wish to discuss a specific category of epithets, which entangles the world of mortals with that of the immortals in an interesting way: a group of bynames that directly alludes to, or includes the name of the worshipper. Special attention will be given to cases attested in the narrative of Pausanias.

About the speaker

Jenny Wallensten is currently the Director at Swedish Institute at Athens. Her research is focused on Ancient history, Classical Archaeology and especially epigraphy, epithets and Greek religion.