Pelops Joins the Party

Gunnel Ekroth

in Greek and Roman Festivals

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199696093
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745744 | DOI:
Pelops Joins the Party

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This chapter explores, within the festival of Zeus at Olympia, the role and function of the hero Pelops in a diachronic perspective, using archaeology to throw light on the written sources. The changes in the cult of Pelops, both in form and function, can be connected with the developments of the sanctuary, the festival and the games, but also with the role of heroes within Greek religion. Thus Pelops, being the principal hero of the festival in Archaic times, in the Classical period became the national hero of the city of Elis. In Roman times funerary traits of the Pelops cult became more pronounced, as also observed in other contemporary Greek hero cults. Participation in his cult caused pollution and Pelops must now have become more separated from Zeus. This ritual antagonism between Pelops and Zeus, often claimed as an original feature of the festival, is rather a Roman elaboration.

Keywords: archaeology; diachrony; form; function; funerary traits; games; hero cult; national hero; Olympia; pelops; pollution; ritual antagonism; written sources

Chapter.  16568 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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