UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Archegetes oikistes, and new-oikistes : the cults of founders in Greek southern Italy and Sicily Lane, Christine Sharon


This study examines the archaeological, epigraphical, literary, and numismatic evidence for the cults of the founders in the Greek colonies of southern Italy and Sicily. A variety of gods and goddesses were considered to have played a role in the process of colonization; however, Apollo came to be considered the primary god of colonization. The colonists of these overseas settlements were led by the oikistes, who was believed to have been sanctioned by Apollo. Apollo of Delphi's involvement in colonization may have been a later phenomenon, since the ancient sources that refer to him as a god of colonization date to a later period, and the majority of colonization oracles appear to have been 'after the fact.' Regardless, many of the colonies of southern Italy and Sicily were considered to have been founded with Apollo's guidance. While this study found a clear relationship between the religious traditions of the metropolis/metropoleis and the cults of Apollo in the colonies of southern Italy and Sicily, Delphi's influence on the establishment and nature of these cults is more ambiguous. The available evidence indicates that Apollo was not commonly worshipped as a founding god, but rather he was viewed as a symbolic founder of the colony. However, there is evidence that the dead founder-hero, the oikistes, was worshipped in the agora. While the founder cult may have been established early in the history of the colony, the 'burial' of this figure in the agora appears to have been a later phenomenon, perhaps established around 600 BCE. Various rulers, including the Deinomenid tyrants, Dionysius II, and Timoleon, utilized the cult of the founder for political gain, and even projected themselves as new-oikistai.

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