Chapter

Aetiology Overseas: From Epic to Ethnic Identity in Megale Hellas

Barbara Kowalzig

in Singing for the Gods

Published in print December 2007 | ISBN: 9780199219964
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191712968 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199219964.003.0007

Series: Oxford Classical Monographs

Aetiology Overseas: From Epic to Ethnic Identity in Megale Hellas

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This chapter discusses that the cult of Artemis of Metapontion is caught up in the complicated processes of self-definition, involving changing populations all referring to this deity. It explains that while the nature of a divinity does not easily change, the arrival of new settlers causes the associated mythical traditions to supersede each other. It adds that the problem in dealing with the gods abroad, then, is not that they have no pasts, but that they have too many of them. It discusses that the performance of the code, and the interaction between myth and ritual therein, plays upon a variety of existing mythical pasts for Artemis, for the Metapontians, and for the ‘Akhaians’ of Italy, activating and exploiting them for a powerful evocation of an Akhaian identity in the complex and volatile social milieu of fifth century Italy.

Keywords: Artemis; Akhaian; Metapontion; Megale Hellas; Italy; fifth century; gods

Chapter.  30967 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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