How to run a state cult: The organization of the cult of Apollo Delphinios at Miletos

TitleHow to run a state cult: The organization of the cult of Apollo Delphinios at Miletos
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsHerda A
Conference NameCurrent approaches to religion in ancient Greece, An internafional symposium
KeywordsMiletus
Abstract

The cult of Apollo Delphinios was the main state cult of Ionian Miletos, from the seventh century BC until Late Antiquity. His cult association, the so-called Molpoi, controlled access to citizenship. Their executive board formed the governing body of the prytaneis and supplied the aisymnetes-stephanephoros, the eponymous magistrate. At the beginning of every new year, the rituals of the city’s most important festival of Apollo Delphinios, including officers’ oaths, sacrifices, dining,
competitions, and citizen initiations were performed. The sanctuary of Apollo, the Delphinion, incorporated the prytaneion of Miletos. It thus functioned not only as a religious, but also as a political centre of the polis, a role that is emphasized by its position in the agora. The ritualization of public space, signifying the firm bond between religion and politics, manifests itself in
the New Year procession to the extra-urban sanctuary of Apollo in Didyma. This “bipolarity” of the Milesian Apollo cult can also be detected in Miletos’ colonial enterprises, sanctioned by the oracle of Apollo Didymeus Milesios.