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Zeus notes continued

November 9, 2011

My continuing notes on the article “The Propitation of Zeus by Joseph Willam Hewitt

  • it is deities of springs and fountains who cause rain.
    • There were rites to dispel drought such as when a priest of Zeus Lycaeus charmed up rain by stirring the surface of the god’s pool with a branch of oak causing mist to rise which from which issued rain.  Disturbing the spring is meant to disturb the deity in his subterranean abode.
    • Sacrifices thrown into springs were thought to be given straight to the deity of that spring.
  • while sky gods were usually worshiped on mountain tops, khthonic gods were worshiped in valleys or in caves which sometimes happened to be on mountains.
  • Zeus Aktaios (of the point) received rites to protect crops, probably for rain
  • Zeus Ikmaios (of moisture) was appeased during times of great heat, more of a moist wind than a rain god.
    • winds under the sway of Zeus
    • received melikraton (honey and milk) a form of nethalion (sober worship)
  • Zeus Ombrios (rain giver) shared an alter with Zeus Apemios (damage averter)
    • After the flood, Deucalion built a shrine to Zeus Ombrios Apemios (averter of rain damage?) and a goddess Soteria Ethysen (savior from death?) though another source says it was to Zeus Phyxios (of Refuge)
  • Zeus Yetios (Raingiver?) received offerings to secure rain sometimes with Hera
    • in the a grove with Zeus Yetios was a temple to Trophonius, a statue resembling Aesculapius and a sanctuary of Demeter Europe
  • Zeus Panellenios (God of all the Greeks, and no that is NOT a typo)
    • received sacrifice when all of Greece was affected by a drought as prescribed by the Pythian Oracle.
  • “Zeus is to be classed with the apotropaic deities.  He belongs to the older stratum of Greek religion, and with the other gods of that stratum receives offerings of aversion rather than of worship.”
  • Zeus Polieus
    • Dipolia festival in Skipophorion (June/July)
      • one of thanksgiving
      • element of placation
      • originally instituted to appease divine anger.
      • Originally fruit was the sacrifice but when an ox, just returned from work in the field, stumbled across the sacrifice the owner killed the ox in anger.  Then in panic buried the ox (not a sacred animal but a work beast) and fled the country.  This caused a drought.  The Pythian oracle ordered the Athenians to allow him to return and then they had to partake in the “impious sacrifice”.  He agreed to reenact his desecration if they gave him citizenship and share in the murder so the blame for the death was laid on the axe.
      • This rite probably is the transition from bloodless to bloody sacrifices and from an inedible offering of pelanos (porridge) to the eating of an animal sacrifice.
      • “The fusion and reconciliation of two opposing rituals were brought about by pretending the animal had not been slain at all.  Its stuffed hide was made to play the part of the living ox.” Which was then sacrificed and the meat could be eaten because it was no longer considered to be part of the slain ox.
      • Mixed wine was offered before the ox along with thick porridge or cakes (fruits of the field), honey, holocaust of swine, melikraton, etc.
    • Zeus Polieus and Zeus Melikios played the same part in agriculture, received the same sacrificial animals.
  • Honey was offered to khthonic gods because it was popularly supposed to be effective in soothing angry deities and was a symbol of death.


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