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mountain cults


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Mountains were places of special cult, to the point that Mt. Maenalus in Arcadia (central Peloponnese) was considered sacred to Pan in its entirety. The location of a sanctuary was rarely the exact summit of the mountain, but more often in the passes or on the slopes. The sanctuary could include a temple, as at Bassae, or might be more rustic and simple (see caves). Worshippers were mainly shepherds, depicted on their votives. The deities most often worshipped were Zeus, the weather‐god, Artemis, goddess of the animal world and of boundaries, Hermes, a country god and patron of shepherds, Apollo, another pastoral god, and Pan, the divine herdsman and hunter of small game. Certain types of myth have a connection with mountains, such as myths of the birth of gods. The mountain solitude and the presence of divinities of nature in the form of kourotrophos nymphs would give the young gods a secluded and suitable upbringing before their integration into divine society.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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