Burying a sage: the heroon of Thales in the agora of Miletos

TitleBurying a sage: the heroon of Thales in the agora of Miletos
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsHerda A
Conference Name2èmes Rencontres d'archéologie de l'IFEA: Le Mort dans la ville Pratiques, contextes et impacts des inhumations intra-muros en Anatolie, du début de l'Age du Bronze à l'époque romaine.
PublisherIFEA-Ege yayınları

This article adresses the heroon of Thales in the agora of Miletos, so far only literarily attested (§§ IV, VII). The sage was worshiped as secondary founder, having the status of a ‘cultural hero’, an age-old Indo-European concept. Graves of founders are typically placed on the agora (§ V), but not those of the mythical founders of Miletos, Asterios, Miletos and Kelados or Ionian Neileos (§ VI). Of the intramural heroa excavated in Miletos none can claim to be that of Thales: Neither ‘Heroon I (the grave of the Macedonian general Dokimos?), II and III’ (§ I), nor the ‘Ehrengrab’
in the courtyard of the Hellenistic bouleuterion, which is most likely an altar (§ II). Instead, a thesauros in the assembly hall may have served as a heroon (§ III), and the philosopher Anaximander may also have recieved cult in the bouleuterion (§ VIII). Finally, a chamber tomb slightly west of the bouleuterion is discussed (§ IX). At the end some general remarks on Greek hero cults are added, stressing the common concept of the immortal divine soul, again an Indo-European heritage, manifest for example in the apotheosis of the Hittite kings as well as that of the Roman emperors (§ X).