Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Heroes were prominent fixtures of both town and country. Their cult was moreover both civic and funerary in nature, being celebrated in public, and being centered around the hero's bones. However, this state of affairs led to an anomaly in light ofthe c.700BC Greek ban on intramural burial: the remains of the hero should not have been suitable to remain in the city. There has been some recognition of this contradiction (by Morris, Antonaccio, etc.) but no fuller treatment. This thesis will examine intramural hero cult through the lens of this anomaly, which will hopefully shed additional light on: the hero's status (as either dead or alive, mortal or immortal etc.); his place in the city and cosmos of the Greeks; his relationship to his worshipper and to the broader Greek polis (as both physical city and socio-cultural system). Chapter One presents the primary archaeological evidence, plotting the relationship between graves and settlement from SM to the Classical period. Chapter Two then examines nature of the hero and his cult, as seen in myth and in archaeological evidence. Chapter Three then synthesizes the first two, discussing (useful) pollution, the hero's powers and their connection to bones and to the Greek polis. In the end, this thesis will argue that the original anomaly-the acceptance of intramural hero cult in defiance of cathartic laws after c.700BC-was a crucial aspect of intramural hero cult, and indicative of the hero cult's wider role in the Greek polis. In transferring the symbolism of familial grave cult to public hero cult, citizens of the polis effected a link between the private sphere of the family and the public sphere of civic life through a language of pseudo-kinship which was instrumental in building imagined links between unrelated citizens.
Pyzyk, Mark, "BURIAL, HERO CULT AND LANDSCAPE IN THE POLIS" (2008). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 5276.
McMaster University Library