The temenos of Artemidoros
on Thera

Marie-Claire A. Beaulieu

University of Texas, Austin

Early Hellenistic Thera was home to a site which we now know as the temenos of Artemidoros of Perge. The site is a sanctuary adorned with no less than sixteen dedicatory verse-inscriptions. Most of these inscriptions are in hexameters, but one of them is in elegiacs and another in trimeters. This site is peculiar because of its form, a series of altars to various gods, some statues (not preserved), and a great number of inscriptions placed in a rock-cut sanctuary at the bottom of a hill near the entrance of the ancient city of Thera. The temenos displays much advertisement for the sponsor of the sanctuary, Artemidoros: his name appears in the majority of the dedications, sometimes twice in the same inscription. Also, from a religious point of view, the sanctuary is eclectic: the gods Zeus, Apollo, Poseidon, Hekate, Priapus, Artemis, the Dioscuri, the Cabiri, the Heroissai (local agrarian divinities), as well as the personifications Tyche and Homonoia, are all honored in it, some with statues and altars, others simply in inscriptions. Thus, we are left to wonder what goal Artemidoros was pursuing in setting it up: self-promotion or religious devotion, or a mix of both?

            We know very little about Artemidoros, except what he himself reveals in the inscriptions of his sanctuary. He was a native of Perge, an important city of Pamphylia, and the son of Apollonios, who is otherwise unknown. Artemidoros' status in Thera is also unknown, although some inscriptions found in his temenos and elsewhere on Thera suggest that he was granted citizenship for having sponsored the restoration and maintenance of certain local monuments and temples. He is also said, in an inscription found in the exedra of the temenos (IG XII 3, 1350), to have lived ninety-three years – a longevity that was granted as a favor by Artemis Pergaia and Tyche. According to Olga Palagia (1992: 171-177), Artemidoros was an official in the army of Ptolemy III Euergetes (246-221 B.C.) who may have come to Thera in his later years. However, despite the representation of an eagle (symbol of the Ptolemies) found at the sanctuary and a dedication by Artemidoros in the town of Thera which mentions the Ptolemies, the connection between these Hellenistic rulers of Egypt and Artemidoros is not clear at all. Perhaps Artemidoros was a new citizen of some importance in Thera who simply desired to flatter the Ptolemies, or their local representatives, by mentioning them in a dedication. Such demonstrations of allegiance to a ruler are well attested at other sites during this period.

            In an effort to understand as much as possible of the social and religious significance of the sanctuary, in this paper I will present the temenos in its entirety, including all of its inscriptions. Since few scholars have studied the temenos and since there is no consensus about its import, I will review the debate in order to gain a better perspective both on what is already known about the sanctuary and on what research remains to be done.


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