The Mother of the Gods and Persian Sovereignty

Mark Munn

in The Mother of the Gods, Athens, and the Tyranny of Asia

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780520243491
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520931589 | DOI:
The Mother of the Gods and Persian Sovereignty

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This chapter reviews the evidence for the Persian appropriation of symbols of Lydian sovereignty, beginning with earth and water. These elemental symbols of the basis of life prove to be part of the complex of symbols related to the ideology of Asiatic sovereignty centered at Sardis. Earth and water were abstractions of the Lydo-Ionian cosmogony that also found expression in divinity, most directly in Kybebe, Herodotus' “local deity” of the Sardians. She was the Asiatic Mother of the Gods, and the same emissaries from Darius who demanded earth and water of the Athenians in 491 also demanded recognition for this deity among the Athenians. The rejection of both by the Athenians was a decisive moment, arguably the single most decisive moment in determining the course of political, intellectual, and religious history in classical antiquity.

Keywords: Persian empire; maternal deities; Kybebe; mythology; Athens; Greece; classical era

Chapter.  22061 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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