Tuesday, March 29, 2022

A Temple and A Constellation: The Worship of the Asexual Prince Hippolytus, Pausanias II.32.1

Ἱππολύτῳ δὲ τῷ Θησέως τέμενός τε ἐπιφανέστατον ἀνεῖται καὶ ναὸς ἐν αὐτῷ καὶ ἄγαλμά ἐστιν ἀρχαῖον. ταῦτα μὲν Διομήδην λέγουσι ποιῆσαι καὶ προσέτι θῦσαι τῷ Ἱππολύτῳ πρῶτον: Τροιζηνίοις δὲ ἱερεὺς μέν ἐστιν Ἱππολύτου τὸν χρόνον τοῦ βίου πάντα ἱερώμενος καὶ θυσίαι καθεστήκασιν ἐπέτειοι, δρῶσι δὲ καὶ ἄλλο τοιόνδε: ἑκάστη παρθένος πλόκαμον ἀποκείρεταί οἱ πρὸ γάμου, κειραμένη δὲ ἀνέθηκεν ἐς τὸν ναὸν φέρουσα. ἀποθανεῖν δὲ αὐτὸν οὐκ ἐθέλουσι συρέντα ὑπὸ τῶν ἵππων οὐδὲ τὸν τάφον ἀποφαίνουσιν εἰδότες: τὸν δὲ ἐν οὐρανῷ καλούμενον ἡνίοχον, τοῦτον εἶναι νομίζουσιν ἐκεῖνον Ἱππόλυτον τιμὴν παρὰ θεῶν ταύτην ἔχοντα.


Hippolyto etiam Thesei filio lucus eximia pulchritudine dedicatus est, cum templo & prisci operis simulacro: quae omnia Diomedem tradunt faciunda curasse, eundemque Hippolyto primum omnium rem divinam fecisse. Hippolyti apud Troezenios sacerdos eo honore, quamdiu vivit, fungitur. Sacra ipsa anniversaria sunt. Praeter ceteros sacrorum ritus, virgines ante nuptias succisum sibi capillum in Hippolyti templo consecrant. Neque vero iis assentiuntur Troezenii, qui distractum ab equis marinis Hippolytum memoriae prodiderunt, nec omnino quo loco sepultus fuerit monstrant: verum eum esse illi a Dis habitum honorem affirmant, ut in siderum numerum relatus, idem ipse sit qui Auriga coelestis dicitur.


--Pausanias Descriptio Graeciae II.32.1;  Translated into Latin by Romulus Amaseus (1696)


There is a remarkable sacred space dedicated to Theseus’ son Hippolytus, which contains a temple and ancient statue inside. They say that Diomedes built it, and was the first person to worship him. Among the Troezenians, there is a priest of Hippolytus who holds the position for life; he performs sacred rituals on an annual basis. Before they get married, brides will cut off a lock of hair, bring it to the temple, and dedicate it to Hippolytus. The Troezenians do not claim that Hippolytus died by being dragged by his own horses, nor do they show his grave (though they do know where it is). Instead, they consider him to be the constellation Auriga [Charioteer], and that he was honored this way by the gods.



Name:  Pausanias

Date:  110 – 180 CE

Works:  Description of Greece



Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans



 Pausanias was a Greek writer who lived during the era of the “Five Good Emperors.” His work, the Description of Greece, is an important source for geographical, historical, archaeological, and cultural information about ancient Greece.


ARCHAIC: (through 6th c. BCE); GOLDEN AGE: (5th - 4th c. BCE); HELLENISTIC: (4th c. BCE - 1st c. BCE); ROMAN: (1st c. BCE - 4th c. CE); POST CONSTANTINOPLE: (4th c. CE - 8th c. CE); BYZANTINE: (post 8th c CE)

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