This is the full text of the
original publication. The page numbers of the original are indicated
between square brackets.
The open access policy of Brill allows
me to post a fairly recent article on this website. It is a
discussion of the stories in Philostratus' Life of Apollonius
(8.29-31) about the end of the earthly existence of the first-century
miracle-worker and Pythagorean philosopher Apollonius of
Tyana. The author presents his readers with three
diverging reports of Apollonius' death - if
he died, he adds. Two of these stories suggest or describe an
assumption into heaven, either from the temple of Athena at
or from the sanctuary of the Cretan goddess Dictynna. The article
discusses the purport of these stories, comparing Apollonius' ascension
with Heracles' apotheosis and Empedocles' farewell to mortality. It
also tries to answer the question why the stories about Apollonius’
miraculous departure from life are situated in sanctuaries of the
goddesses Athena and Dictynna on Rhodes and Crete respectively.
Photos of a red-figure krater from the Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam (APM02579) and of the Menies bay on the Rhodopou peninsula from the website www.west-crete.com
have been reproduced with permission of the copyright owners. The
helpfulness of Willem M. van Haarlem MA, curator of the museum, and of
Jean Bienvenu, webmaster of west-crete.com, is gratefully acknowledged.
As for recent bibliography, Apollonius' ascension
from the sanctuary
is preceded by a miraculous self-liberation; see for the Dionysian
overtones of the stories about Apollonius' self-liberations now K.
Demoen, D. Praet and W. Gyselinck, 'Domitian and Pentheus, Apollonius
and Dionysus. Echoes of Homer and Euripides' Bacchae in
70, 2011, 1058-1067. On (Athena's role in ) the apotheosis of Heracles see e.g. S. Deacy, Athena, London/New York 2008, 65-67; and E. Stafford, Herakles, London/New York 2012, 47, 164 and 172-174; Stafford also discusses Rhodian mythology and ritual (p. 185-187).
chapters of the Life of Apollonius
(VIII 29-31) deal with the end of the protagonist's earthly existence.
chapter 28 Apollonius, wishing to leave life unobserved, has sent Damis
to Rome, carrying with him a
letter for the emperor Nerva. With that piece of information, we are
chapter 29, Damis' memoirs ended. The dedicated disciple is no longer
to witness his master's departure from life nor to inform Philostratus
readers about the practicalities of Apollonius' passing away. The
that, in providing his account with "its proper ending" (tr. Jones), he
the mercy of conflicting sources. Of course, we might just as well say
is released from the limitations imposed by an allegedly reliable
record of the
hero's vicissitudes. He is free to
readers with diverging reports of Apollonius' death – "if
he died," he adds, thus paving the way for the story which in
his view apparently deserves most attention: Apollonius' ascension from
temple of Dictynna on Crete.
Cretan tale is preceded by
two other versions of Apollonius' demise;
all three of them are related in chapter 30. The first is that he died
in Ephesus, tended by two
female slaves. One of these he manumitted before he passed
he left at his death as the freedwoman's slave. As Apollonius
beforehand, this decision turned out to be to her advantage: in the
was bought by a businessman who fell in love with her, made her his
wife, and acknowledged his children with her. The second version
departure from life on the island of Rhodes. Here the sage
disappears after having entered the temple of the goddess Athena at
Lindus. The report of Apollonius' Rhodian
exit is immediately followed by the final and most elaborate version of
of his life as a mortal. While living on Crete,
Apollonius came, at an untimely hour,  to the temple
The fierce dogs guarding the sanctuary and its riches left him
the guardians of the temple were not so kind and put him in chains as a
and a robber. About midnight Apollonius threw off
his chains, ran
to the doors of the temple which miraculously opened as if to
receive him, and
entered. In the meantime, he had managed to call his jailors so as not
remain unnoticed: a piece of information that cannot but surprise the
who remembers that, according to chapter 28, it was his intention to
unobserved. The doors closed behind him, as inexplicably as they had
and from inside, a maidens' choir was heard, urging Apollonius to
heaven. In chapter 31, the scenery changes: in his native city, the
posthumously to a young man in order to confirm the immortality of the
well as to discourage idle curiosity about afterlife.
bibliography on the final
chapters of the Life is meagre.
Several scholars have pointed out that the version
located on Crete amounts to "a full-scale
assumption into heaven."
Discussions exceeding one paragraph are scarce, however,
and although a number of important observations can be found in
literature on Himmelfahrt,
a further exploration of the episode may repay the effort, if
directing scholarly attention to issues which until now have not been
their due. There are two topics relating to the end of the
earthly existence of
the protagonist of the Life that I
propose to discuss in this paper. The first of these is the claim of
itself, explicit in the Cretan version of the sage's demise but already
in the Lindian version. A comparison with other
accounts of assumptions into
heaven may serve to bring out the meaning of Apollonius' departure from
related by Philostratus as well as the significance of a number of
the stories contained in the final chapters of the Life. The
most promising cases for comparison are Heracles and
Heracles is the god who assists Apollonius in his endeavours. In the
allegedly prepared for the trial before Domitian, he is given at least
the credit for two of Apollonius' most notable feats, the liquidation
demon responsible for a plague in Ephesus
and the exposure of a female vampire in Corinth;
Apollonius claims that he chose the god as his ξυνεργός. Empedocles
is presented as
an exemplary follower of Pythagoras in the first chapter of the Life, where his claim to divinity is
explicitly mentioned as evidence for his affinity to Pythagoras and, by
implication, to Apollonius.
In addition, some material for comparison will be taken from
stories about the heavenly
ascent of Romulus,
which provided a mythic model for the deification of Roman emperors at
After all, in the final sentence of the Life
(VIII 31.3) Philostratus explicitly compares the sanctuary built for
at imperial expense with the honours received by emperors themselves.
second topic I will discuss
is the question why the stories about
Apollonius' miraculous departure from life are situated in sanctuaries
goddesses Athena and Dictynna on Rhodes and Crete respectively. Why
these goddesses and why these
locations? To the best of my knowledge, this question has
in scholarly literature on the Life.
Perhaps understandably so, because an acceptable answer is hard to
find, and I
will not pretend that I am fully satisfied with the suggestions that I
come up with myself. However, the 
question simply forces itself upon the reader,
and I cannot but raise the problem hoping that, in the future, others
suggest more satisfactory solutions.
of questions outlined in
this introduction implies that I will
not go into the problem of the extent to which Philostratus drew on
pre-existing traditions relating to the end of Apollonius' life – let
into the question of the historical Apollonius' death. The story
located in Ephesus is, of course,
the one most likely to succeed in persuading the reader to suspend
if alone because it is easier to credit Apollonius with employing his
for matchmaking than to
believe in his
assumption into heaven. Moreover, Ephesus
is one of the cities for which a good case can be made that they were
visited by Apollonius,
and it would not make an unlikely candidate or claimant for the
location of his
farewell to life. The focus of
will be on the stories of Apollonius' ascension as told by
and an attempt to understand their meaning is already enough of a
without drawing in the pre-Philostratean Apollonius. References to
should, therefore, be understood as relating to the protagonist of the Life.
It is, of
course, indisputable that the Cretan version of Apollonius' departure
amounts to an assumption into heaven. Moreover, as far as miraculous
concerned, it is by far the most rewarding account of the Tyanean's
and in discussing what is supposed to have happened in Dictynna's
will turn out to be 
necessary to pay ample attention to the extraordinary
events preceding and accompanying the ascension itself. Nonetheless,
about his disappearance in the temple of Athena at Lindus also
suggests an assumption into heaven. 'To disappear', ἀφανίζεσθαι, is the
crucial word here. According to the thorough study
of Gerhard Lohfink, Die Himmelfahrt Jesu,
it was the classical term for assumption into heaven, and the absence
remains is a standard ingredient of ascension stories.
The cases of Heracles and Empedocles offer instructive material for
According to Diodorus of Sicily, the companions of Heracles came to the
conclusion that the hero had joined the gods when, in the ashes of his
bones could be found.
Empedocles disappeared during the night after a sacrificial feast, at
according to a dialogue by Heraclides of Pontus as paraphrased by
Laertius: "At daybreak all got up, and Empedocles was the only one
After initial confusion, Empedocles' pupil Pausanias, one of the
Heraclides' dialogue, concluded that "things beyond expectation had
him, and [that] it was their duty to sacrifice to him since he was now
What the stories about Heracles and Empedocles illustrate is the notion
from the face of the earth indicates that the missing person has left
the gods: disappearance amounts to apotheosis.
Philostratus' claim, in the final sentence of the Life
(VIII 31.3), that during his travels he has never found a tomb
or even a cenotaph of Apollonius, thus reproduces a standard ingredient
assumption stories. It must have been understood by his readers as  a cautious
confirmation of the credibility of Apollonius' bodily ascension. As
such, it is
singled out for quotation by the author of the Reply
to Hierocles, in his scathing comments on Philostratus'
account of the end of Apollonius' life.
The Rhodian and Cretan versions of the sage's demise both imply that he
has joined the illustrious company of
those who at the end of their mortal existence have been admitted among
absence of mortal remains is not the only feature which Apollonius'
has in common with other stories about assumptions into heaven. The
choir urging Apollonius to ascend to heaven in the Cretan version finds
parallel in the mighty voice calling Empedocles – a voice that,
Heraclides, was heard by a witness, who also saw a heavenly light.
While in Diogenes Laertius the content of the
message for Empedocles is only suggested, however, the girls calling or
off Apollonius are given a text: "Proceed from earth! Proceed to
As far as the identity of the choir is concerned, the reader is left in
Richard Holland has argued that a heavenly choir calling Apollonius
rather than a farewell performance is implied, but this suggestion,
result in an even closer resemblance to the story of Empedocles'
finds no support in the text. It is, moreover, at odds with the
the use of the verb στείχειν, in farewell scenes from tragedy, adduced
by Holland himself.
In discussing the myth and cult of Dictynna we shall return to the
choir. For the moment, it is more opportune to notice a further
between the Cretan version of Apollonius'
assumption into heaven and Empedocles' departure from life as told by
the presence of one or even more eyewitnesses. As ascension  stories
are consistently told from an earthly perspective, even a modest amount
elaboration requires the presence of bystanders, and narrative logic
way to explain why Philostratus has Apollonius abandon his intention of
ascension from Dictynna's
temple is preceded by no less than three miracles. At his arrival the
dogs of the sanctuary which, according to the Cretans, are a
match for bears
and other wild beasts, do not even bark, but greet him wagging their
midnight Apollonius, put in
chains by the officials of the sanctuary, throws off his fetters. Then,
human intervention, the temple doors open before and close behind him.
first miracle does not need to hold out attention for too long. Mastery
is one of the gifts shared by Apollonius with Pythagoras who, according
of the biographical traditions, even succeeded in converting a she-bear
vegetarianism. It is a gift
been demonstrated by Apollonius before,
and it surely comes in handy in the present context. We shall return to
dogs when discussing the myth and cult of Dictynna.
The second miracle is also a
manifestation of an ability displayed by
Apollonius on a previous occasion. The act of self-liberation
in Domitian's prison, where Apollonius demonstrated his freedom by
leg out of its shackle. The latter feat was the occasion of an
recognition by Damis of his master's divine nature,
and it does not seem too adventurous a reading of the present passage
Apollonius, by throwing off his fetters in the sanctuary of Dictynna,
manifests his superhuman status. But the episode in Domitian's
dungeon offers more
cues for the reading of the scene described in the penultimate chapter
of the Life. Apollonius'
demonstration in front
of Damis is preceded by a personal confrontation with the emperor (VII
who has the sage's beard and hair shorn off before having him chained
thrown into a dungeon on an accusation of sorcery. Domitian is clearly
the role of Pentheus, in the Bacchants,
imprisoning Dionysus as a sorcerer and an enchanter and cutting off  his hair.
In Euripides, Dionysus' subsequent self-liberation is the culmination
series of divine epiphanies.
Thus, the interpretation of Apollonius' demonstration of his miraculous
in Domitian's prison as a manifestation of the sage's divine nature,
by Damis, is simultaneously suggested by the Dionysian overtones of the
which, by a percipient reader, can again be heard in the account of his
imprisonment as a sorcerer by the guardians of Dictynna's temple and
subsequent escape. 
Domitian, Apollonius anticipated his act of
self-liberation by pointing out the inconsistency in the emperor's
it is just as impossible to fetter a sorcerer as it is absurd to accuse
sorcery someone whom one is having fettered. Domitian retorted that he
set free his detainee only when he would turn into water, an animal or
(VII 34): an unmistakable allusion to the problems experienced by
his companions in catching Proteus,
and at the same time a reference to a story told in one of the opening
of the Life: during her pregnancy,
Apollonius' mother had a vision of an Egyptian god, who revealed
Proteus and declared that he was the child to which she would give
Commenting on this story, Philostratus had pointed out how versatile
was, forever changing form and defying capture, and he had urged his
keep Proteus in mind, especially when his account would show Apollonius
of extracting himself from hopeless situations.
It is, therefore, with good reason that Apollonius' Protean  quality is
to in the Domitian episode: the allusion anticipates the hero's
As has been observed by several
scholars, however, the presentation of Apollonius as an incarnation of
considerably undermines the credibility of the professed apologetic
the Life as set out in the second
of Book I: clearing Apollonius from the charge of sorcery. After all,
was the archetypal sorcerer.
The allusion to Proteus put into Domitian's mouth therefore alerts the
to the possible interpretation of the sage's miraculous liberation as
an act of
sorcery, and the same effect is brought about by the fact that
his leg out off its shackle after having explained to Domitian that
cannot be fettered.
The dismissal of this interpretation as characteristic of simple-minded
such as athletes, merchants, and lovers, in an extended authorial
following the account of the miracle,
does not eliminate the seed of suspicion sown in the conversation with
Flavian emperor and budding since the preceding chapter. The story of
threw off his fetters in Dictynna's sanctuary is another manifestation
Protean elusiveness, and it is likely to have raised similar
make matters even worse, the breaking of bonds was a rather popular
among practicing magicians, witness the magical papyri. Especially
note in this connection is a recipe for acquiring an assistant demon
the magicians command, "frees from bonds a person chained in prison."
Interestingly, the assistant demon also "opens doors," and he "puts
sleep and renders them voiceless" as well.
On top of that, the timing of Apollonius' self-liberation is rather
from an apologetic point of view. Sorcerers were believed to have a
preference for the nocturnal hours, as Apollonius himself admitted in
speech for his defence allegedly prepared for the trial before Domitian.
Apollonius' breaking of his
bonds may raise doubts about Philostratus'
seriousness (or competence) as an apologist, the third miracle lends
less easily to a hostile interpretation. The opening and closing of the
doors should be understood as an act of the goddess, indicating her
to admit the sage and her displeasure at the treatment meted out to him
Rather than a part of Apollonius' self-liberation it is a
by the goddess that Apollonius' presence in her sanctuary is pleasing
and it constitutes a parallel with the behaviour of a deity in a shrine
by Apollonius on a previous occasion: the oracle of Trophonius at
Here, the priests did not allow Apollonius to consult the oracle, and
was compelled to trespass in order to question Trophonius about his
philosophical preferences. The god appeared to his priests in a dream
them for their treatment of Apollonius. In addition, the consultation
extended to an unprecedented length of seven days.
The opening and closing of the doors of Dictynna's temple are on a par
rebuke to his priests and his preferential treatment of Apollonius. In
miracles preceding Apollonius' ascension from the temple of Dictynna
reaffirm the Tyanean's similarity to Pythagoras, his divine nature, and
esteem he is held in by the gods. Together, they serve to convey the
that he is worthy to receive the final honour of assumption into
In the final chapter of the Life
(VIII 31), a young student of philosophy at Tyana, who denies the
of the soul and of Apollonius, is healed from his errors by a
appearance of the sage.
An epiphany of the missing person can also be found in several versions
of Romulus' assumption into
heaven. In both Dionysius of Halicarnassus and Plutarch, Romulus
appears to a respected citizen in
order to declare that he has ascended to heaven.
In Lucian's On the Death of Peregrinus (40),
the self-cremation of the protagonist is followed by an epiphany as  well, reported
by an old man who goes on to demonstrate his reliability by swearing
has also seen with his own eyes how a vulture flew up from the pyre – a
of Lucian's own malicious imagination spread, he claims, by himself a
while before for the benefit of the dimwits! Lucian's parody shows that
epiphanies were, if not a standard ingredient, at least an element one
in stories about heavenly ascension.
comparison with Romulus'
epiphany as described by Dionysius and Plutarch, however, Apollonius'
posthumous manifestation is rather modest; in fact, it boils down to an
oracular dream. The content of Apollonius' posthumous message is,
nothing more than a corroboration of the immortality of the soul
a stern advice not to be too inquisitive about things that are beyond a
understanding; the deceased does not claim that he has ascended to
alone that he has become a god. Here, Philostratus may have tried to
cater for readers
sharing the sentiments of Plutarch and Cicero, who found the whole idea
bodily ascension a bit too crude and who preferred a spiritualized
interpretation of the traditional stories. Plutarch vociferously
against the notion that perishable bodies could have a share in
The immortal souls of virtuous men, on the other hand, may aspire to
status and ascend to the gods. Apollonius'
appearance and the content of his message fall short of the
by the stories about his assumption into heaven. Philostratus may have
to present his readers with a more palatable alternative as sketched by
Plutarch: the ascension of the sage's immortal soul.
Nevertheless, the Life
concludes with what certainly is again a standard ingredient of
stories: the assertion that the deceased has become the object of
The exhortation by Empedocles' pupil Pausanias after his master's
disappearance "to sacrifice to him since he was now a god"
exemplifies the phenomenon. In Diodorus' Library,
Heracles' assumption into heaven is immediately followed by an account
emergence and evolution of his cult.
It is, therefore, no 
surprise that the final sentence of the Life
refers to the temple at Tyana built
for Apollonius by Caracalla, a temple whose existence was already
one of the opening chapters of the first book, dealing with the birth
hero (I 5; cf. Cassius Dio 77.18.4). Philostratus adds that even
not denied Apollonius the honours of which they themselves were held
(VIII 31.3; tr. Conybeare). Where the
highest authorities have spoken, who is the author and who are his
readers to demur?
sanctuary at Tyana links the
ending of the Life to its opening
chapters. As we have noticed before, it is not
the only element of the stories surrounding the ascension doing so: the
nature of the protagonist, presented in the chapter dealing with the
by Apollonius' mother when she was pregnant (I 4), is revealed, not for
first time, in the penultimate chapter, when Apollonius releases
his fetters (VIII 30.3). Philostratus' treatment of the accounts of the
Apollonius' earthly existence can indeed be profitably compared with
of the stories preceding and surrounding Apollonius' birth.
These suggested that the sage was an incarnation of Proteus (I 4), that
akin to Apollo, and,
according to his
co-citizens, even a son of the local Zeus Asbamaios
Both at the beginning and at the end of the account of
Apollonius' life as a
mortal, Philostratus is prepared to introduce notions from traditional
and the language of mythology in order to convey the unique nature of
But it should also be pointed out that both at the beginning and at the
the Life, he seems unwilling fully
commit himself to such conceptions or to impose them on his readers.
about Proteus is given an allegorical interpretation by the author –
the fact that, as we observed, it left ample room for ambiguity. The
Apollonius being the son of Zeus is seemingly contradicted by the
As for the assumption into heaven, the reader is tactfully offered the
possibility of a spiritualized interpretation of Apollonius' ascension.
 Still, one of
accompanying Apollonius' birth seems to be directly
reflected in the stories about his assumption into heaven: a
appeared in the sky, but instead of striking it disappeared upwards (I
author interprets the sign as a divine indication of Apollonius'
above all worldly things and his nearness to the gods." It does not
far-fetched to understand the thunderbolt's disappearance into heaven
prefiguration of Apollonius' ascension. In spite of his unwillingness
full responsibility for the conceptions involved and in spite of the
of his apologetics, Philostratus can be said to have paved the way for
of Apollonius to be found in fourth-century sources: a being of divine
at the end of his "visit to mankind," returns to his heavenly abode.
The escort of
clearly distinguishes the accounts of Apollonius' assumption into
the stories about Heracles, Empedocles, and Romulus, is that they are
temples: the temple of Athena at Lindus, on
the island of Rhodes, and the sanctuary of Dictynna on
Crete. There is, of course, a famous precedent
for disappearance in a temple: the early fifth-century athlete
Astypalaea who, after having caused the death of sixty children, took
the temple of Athena, hid in a chest, and vanished
without leaving a trace. The stupefied Astypalaeans consulted Delphi;
the god called Cleomedes "last of the heroes" and ordered his
worship the athlete as being no longer a mortal.
But for obvious reasons Cleomedes does not seem to be a very attractive
and we should probably be not too surprised that the Philostratean
who, after all, made a habit of living in sanctuaries,
is also told to have left life from a temple.
This leaves us, however, with a tantalizing
question: why these temples of these goddesses? Part of the
answer is perhaps not too hard to find
in the case of Athena. The choice of the goddess may have drawn
from the myth of Heracles, according to which the hero had been
escorted to the
Olympus by Athena: a scene frequently
represented in art from the Archaic and Classical periods, witness for
Pausanias' description of the throne and altar of Apollo at Amyclae.
Thus the choice for a sanctuary
of Athena may point in the direction of influence
of the apotheosis of Heracles as a model. Obviously, the imitation of
could not be carried too far: having the Tyanean climb a pyre on Mount
would not do. Locating Apollonius' ascension in a well-known sanctuary
Athena such as Lindus had the advantage of suggesting the precedent
addition, Lindus was the scene
of an interesting aetiological myth
about Heracles that Philostratus knew quite well. In the version as
told in pseudo-Apollodorus'
Library (II 5.11), the hero
disembarks in Thermydrae, the harbour of Lindus. When meeting a
bullock-team driver, he looses one of the bullocks from the cart,
and wolfs it down, while the unfortunate team driver curses the hero
safe distance. The myth served to explain the Lindian custom
of sacrificing a
bull to Heracles while cursing him.
A similar myth locates the story in the country of the Dryopians, near
and gives the name of the owner of the bullocks as Theiodamas.
In the Lindian myth the owner is mostly anonymous. Philostratus' Imagines (II 24 = LIMC Herakles 2808),
however, contains a description of the Lindian myth, in which Heracles'
(here a ploughman) is called Theiodamas. In the Life
(V 23) Apollonius' censure, during a previous visit to Rhodes, of a
young glutton who imagines himself the equal
of Heracles, may well allude to the same myth. It is also noteworthy
that a famous
painting of Heracles by Parrhasius, for which the hero himself was told
posed by appearing to the artist in his dreams, was under the Early
display at Lindus:
a piece of information that may well have appealed to the author of the
absent in the
information about the Rhodian mythology and cult
of Heracles reviewed so far is a link between the hero and the goddess
changes, however, when we turn to the entries of the so-called Lindian
chronicle detailing dedications presented to the sanctuary.
Of the two wicker shields allegedly dedicated by Heracles, one was
from Eurypylus, king of the Meropes, the inhabitants of Cos
(B23-26 Higbie). According to the entry under discussion, Heracles'
were amply attested in literary sources about the history of Rhodes
such as local chronicles and encomia (B29-36 Higbie). The inscription
mention the reason for the dedication of Eurypylus' shield. According
to a Coan
epos, however, the Meropis,
had experienced considerable difficulties in overcoming the Meropes,
succeeded when Athena had killed the giant Asterus.
As has been pointed out by the most recent editor of the Lindian
Chronicle, it is
a very attractive hypothesis that the legendary dedication was
the help received by Heracles from his divine patroness.
The place of Heracles in Rhodian
mythology is not
confined to a single
Heracles' son Tlepolemus settled on the island and became its king.
Moreover, the temple of Athena, according to
tradition built by Danaus, was rebuilt in the sixth century by the
tyrant Cleobulus, one of the Seven Sages, who traced his descent back
Of course, Rhodes was not unique in claiming
several links with myths surrounding the greatest of the Greek heroes.
was the location of a remarkable cult of Heracles, accounted for in an
aetiological myth that constitutes a clear parallel to a myth located
region of Mount Oeta. In addition, the mythology of the Dodecanese did
a story about Athena saving the
hero from dire straits. Heracles' presence in Rhodian mythology and
have sufficed to sustain the suggestion of the Heraclean precedent of
farewell to life implied in the choice of a temple of Athena.
Of course, the fact that the Lindian sanctuary was "outstanding in
antiquity and venerability" (A2-3 Higbie) did not detract from its
The kourotrophos of
is not in the same league as Athena, and although her temple near the
city of Cydonia was not a negligible quantity in the Greek world under
Early Empire, its selection as the scene of Apollonius most elaborate
to life poses an enigma of quite intimidating proportions. Perhaps that
there is a tendency among those who have written on the Life,
starting with the author of the Reply to
Hierocles (44.3), to keep silent about the identity of the
Cretan goddess from whose temple Apollonius allegedly ascended
to heaven. An exploration of the
myth and the cult of Dictynna may help us better to understand a couple
details of the story and even offer part of a solution to the riddle.
important sources for
the myth of Dictynna are Callimachus’ Hymn to
Artemis (189-205 Pfeiffer) and a
chapter from Antoninus Liberalis’ Metamorphoses
(40). Callimachus tells the story of a Cretan nymph, Britomartis, a
huntress, favourite of Artemis. Minos desired her and pursued her for
months. When he had almost caught her, she leapt into the sea from a
promontory. She was saved in the nets (δίκτυα) of fishermen, and was
called Dictynna and worshipped as a goddess. Callimachus adds a few
about her cult; he also tells that the Cretans call Artemis after her.
to Antoninus Liberalis, Britomartis was a daughter of Zeus and Carme.
peregrinations brought her from Phoenicia
to Argos and
from Argos to
Cephallenia, where she received divine honours under the name of Laphria. After that she came to Crete,
where she was pursued by Minos and found a refuge
in the nets of fishermen; henceforth, she  was worshipped
as Dictynna among the
Cretans. After having escaped Minos, she went to Aegina,
where she withstood the unwelcome attentions of her ferryman,
disappeared – became ἀφανής; hence, on Aegina she was revered as
Aphaia. The version of the myth
told by Callimachus is criticized by Diodorus Siculus (V 76.3-4), who
to believe the unedifying tale about the pursuit by Minos and who
Britomartis took her second name from the fact that she invented
The historiographer adds that some men think her identical with
Pausanias, in his description of Aegina (II 30.3),
holds that Britomartis/Dictynna is the same as Aphaia; the
we have also seen in Antoninus Liberalis.
A number of features common to the
tradition deserve to be
emphasized. In the first place, Britomartis and Dictynna are generally
be one and the same person. Secondly, she is explicitly called a
Zeus by Diodorus, Pausanias, and Antoninus Liberalis. In the third
according to the literary evidence she is revered as a goddess among
Cretans. In the fourth place, endangered virginity, escape by a leap
sea, and fishermen’s nets as a rescue or a refuge are recurrent themes
myth of Dictynna. Finally, the goddess is identified with other local
divinities – Laphria on Cephallenia, Aphaia on Aegina
– and with a Panhellenic goddess, Artemis.
of such identifications,
there is a modest amount of evidence
showing that Dictynna succeeded in maintaining a separate cultic
identity even in
some places outside Crete:
a votive inscription from Laconia, dated by the editor to the end of
or beginning of the third century BCE;
a votive inscription from Astypalaea, dated to the Hellenistic period;
two decrees of the citizens of Carian Amyzon, attesting the existence
city of a priesthood of Zeus Cretagenetas and Dictynna at the end of
century BCE; and a sanctuary in Sparta
mentioned by Pausanias (III 12.8). Nevertheless, it seems  that outside
Crete there was a trend in the direction of
identification of Dictynna with Artemis and of the development of her
an epiclesis of the Olympian huntress.
On Crete itself, however, Artemis and Dictynna
maintained separate identities in cultic contexts up to and including
imperial era. The same is
Dictynna and Britomartis, who in the literary tradition tend to be
while Britomartis was revered in the eastern and central part of the
evidence for the cult of Dictynna is limited to western Crete, where it
to cities such as Aptera, Cydonia, and Polyrrhenia in the north, and to
on the southern coast.
in the penultimate
chapter of the Life of Apollonius, the
sanctuary of Dictynna is mentioned, the term may be taken to refer to
temple of the goddess on the peninsula that is nowadays known as
that was called Mount Tityros in Antiquity.
The peninsula juts out about 15 kilometres from the northern coast of
western Crete. On its eastern side, on a promontory above a
few kilometres from its northernmost tip (Google Earth link), stood a
reached back into the Archaic age. The site was excavated in 1942 by a
German archaeologists; their findings were the point of departure of
attempt to reconstruct the cult in the Dictynnaion by Katja Sporn.
oldest finding on the site
pointing in the direction of a temple
dates from the late seventh or sixth century BCE. In the Late
or in the first century CE, a rebuilding of the complex was started. To
end, the promontory was levelled, but the planned temple was never
was only in the second century CE, probably during  the reign of
that a new temple arose.
The dating is based on the fact that a Roman road, which started at the
sanctuary and which, for the first time in history, opened up the
was built during Hadrian’s reign, witness a milestone found in the
village of Rhodopou. It seems a reasonable
assumption that the new temple was built in the same period as this
was financed from the pecunia sacra
of the goddess. During the
Antonine era, the
imperial authorities also channelled the apparently rather abundant
means of the sanctuary to public projects on other parts of the island.
This attests to the wealth of the Dictynnaion, that is explicitly
Philostratus. From an early first-century inscription regarding the
and expenditure of the sanctuary, it can be inferred that it was at
partly based on the exploitation of herds of cattle and sheep.
As for the cultic functions of the
has put forward the attractive
suggestion that Dictynna was not just a patroness of hunters and
but also of marriageable girls: together with Pan she probably presided
over rites de passage.
Of course, the maiden’s choir urging Apollonius to ascend to heaven
very well with this reconstruction. In addition, Dictynna may have been
healing goddess, especially assisting women at childbirth.
Sporn conjectures that the 
Dictynnaion was also the scene of an orgiastic cult.
Whatever one may think of this part of her reconstruction, adducing
assumption into heaven as an extra argument fails to carry conviction.
Distinguishing Dictynna’s cultic
those of Artemis is not
an easy task, to put it mildly, and Sporn’s skilful reconstruction has
it any easier. Similar problems apply to the iconography of the
identification of a representation is guaranteed only where textual
the location of a find offer confirmation. The
latter is the case with the relief crowning an inscription with the
a treaty between Phalasarna and Polyrrhenia, dating to the early third
BCE and found on the site of the Dictynnaion.
Dictynna here symbolizes the city of Polyrrhenia. She is
dressed in a short tunic and has a bow and a quiver across her
shoulders. The only element that in this relief distinguishes her from
is that she accompanied by a wild goat –
a species that is to this very day emblematic of western Crete
– rather than by a stag.
Worth noting are, in addition, the two dogs above the pediment of the
they symbolize, of course, Dictynna’s function as a goddess of hunting,
they may also indicate that the presence of dogs in her sanctuary was
just a security device. We shall return to the dogs presently.
Textual evidence for the identification
representations of the
goddess is available in the case of a couple of coins, for example a
the provincial koinon from the
of Domitian, showing on the reverse a huntress accompanied by a dog;
reads ΔΙΚΤΥΝΝΑ ΣΕΒΑΣΤΗ.
On a provincial coin from the reign of Trajan the goddess is
represented with a
small child on her left arm, flanked by two shield-bearing
warriors; the legend
reads ΔΙΚΤΥΝΝΑ – ΚΡΗΤ(ΩΝ).
This is Crete, and it is generally accepted
that the warriors are Couretes and 
that, consequently, the child must be Zeus.
In other words, this coin attests a myth for which there is only
evidence from Western Crete: Dictynna’s role
as kourotrophos of Zeus. Although
coin is unique in claiming this position for the goddess, the
Dictynna and Crete-born Zeus is also epigraphically attested, both on
Crete itself and in Caria.
larger part of its
existence, the Dictynnaion came under the
city of Cydonia.
In the coinage of Cydonia, a curious reverse type is frequently
from the second century BCE up to and including the reign of Trajan. It
displays a child suckled by a dog; the
legend reads ΚΥΔΩΝ or ΚΥΔΩΝΙΑΤΑΝ/ ΚΥΔΩΝΙΑΤΩΝ.
is a specimen of the breed called kynosouris,
which is also on view on the relief and on the Domitianic coin, both
There are basically two diverging interpretations of this reverse
first is that the child is Kydon, the eponymous founder of Kydonia. The
interpretation takes the infant to be Zeus, and the scene as a pointer
local myth from western Crete in which Zeus
was brought up by a bitch.
There is another interesting piece of evidence, pointing in the same
a tradition according to which a nymph called Kynosoura
(‘Dog’s Tail’) was one of the nurses of Zeus and was
afterwards placed among the stars as the constellation Arktos
Mikra, ‘Lesser Bear.’
Although the sources for this story put Kynosoura
among the Idaean 
nymphs, Hesychius connects her name to Cydonia.
Sporn has taken this line of reasoning one step further and has argued
Dictynna herself may originally have been a theriomorphic nymph.
Whatever one may think of this hypothesis, there seems to be sufficient
to suggest that the dogs kept in the sanctuary on Mount Tityros
had a significance which exceeded their practical value as watch dogs.
moreover, tempting to surmise that the comparison of these dogs with
ascribed by Philostratus to the Cretans,
is a reflection – admittedly a pale one – of a story about a canine kourotrophos of Zeus who was raised to
the stars to become the Lesser Bear.
reconnaissance of Dictynna’s
myth and cult has revealed that
Philostratus’ account of Apollonius’ ascension from the Dictynnaion
fair amount of local colour. The story refers to the considerable
wealth of the
sanctuary for which there is ample evidence from the early-imperial
presence of dogs is apparently a credible detail, and the comparison of
animals with bears may be more than coincidental. In addition, the fact
Apollonius is given a send-off by a maiden’s choir fits in very well
with a plausible
reconstruction of one of the sanctuary’s cultic functions.
we have not yet found an
answer to the question why the most
elaborate version of
Apollonius demise is situated in the Dictynnaion. As I have
pointed out in the
introduction, I don’t have an answer to that question that I myself
satisfactory. Still, there is a couple of elements
in Dictynna’s myth which
make the choice of Philostratus’ Apollonius less curious than, at first
it seems. In the first place, a link with Zeus is a recurrent element
Dictynna’s myth and cult. According to part of the literary evidence,
she is a
daughter of Zeus; numismatic evidence makes her a kourotrophos
of Zeus. Both on Crete
and in Caria, cults of Dictynna and Crete-born
Zeus are attested. Apollonius himself was, according to a Tyanean story
reported by Philostratus (VA 1.6),
considered a son of Zeus Asbamaios,
whose cult was central to the identity of his native city. Thus,
a link with Zeus joins Apollonius to Dictynna, and one might argue that
the sanctuary 
of a maiden goddess who could combine the roles of daughter and
foster mother of Zeus, was not the most unlikely place for Apollonius
to his divine father. In the
second place, Dictynna is a goddess who
has started her career on a lower ontological echelon and who has
an apotheosis. This is emphasized by Pausanias (VIII 2.4), who puts
in the same category as, for example, Heracles. Thus, the
goddess is a predecessor
of Apollonius, and to a certain extent this makes her temple an
location for the admittance of a man among the immortals. It should be
that Philostratus does not explicitly refer to the myth of
However, readers asking themselves why her temple was chosen as the
for Apollonius’ ascension may have remembered her connection with Zeus
and her apotheosis.
the story of the
posthumous epiphany of Apollonius may contain
a significant allusion to the pursuit of Britomartis/Dictynna by Minos.
According to Callimachus (Dian.
193-194), Minos chased the nymph for nine months until at last, when he
almost caught her, she escaped by leaping into the sea. In the final
the Life (VIII 31.1), the student
philosophy visiting Tyana pressurizes Apollonius  with his
prayers for nine
months, and only then he is favoured with a personal communication
idle curiosity. Forced to acknowledge that he has chased a being that
his grasp, the young man finds himself in the same position as Minos.
perhaps, does the inquisitive reader of Philostratus’ Cretan tale. The
epiphany of Apollonius once again reveals his Protean nature: even in
himself he defies capture.
Cf. Whitmarsh 2004: 427: "… the source limitations are turned to an
This is not the first time that Apollonius is treated like a γόης by temple personnel; see VA IV 18 and VIII 19, and cf. Petzke
1970: 140n3; Flinterman 1995: 61n16;
Dickie 2001: 159-161.
The phrase is Jaś Elsner's (1997: 28); cf. Schirren 2005: 308:
stirbt nicht, sondern wird in seiner ganzen Leiblichkeit entrückt."
 Holland 1925: 207-209;
Lévy 1927: 73f.; Weinreich 1929: 295-298; Petzke 1970: 183-187;
And not Pythagoras, about whom ascension stories are lacking, as is
pointed out by Schirren 2005: 308. Lévy 1926: 130-137, esp. 137, and
61-78, esp. 72-75, has argued that the Life
of Apollonius is a pastiche of the Life
of Pythagoras by the Apollonius – in his view Apollonius of
frequently referred to by Porphyry and Iamblichus in their respective
Pythagoras. According to Lévy, this Apollonian Life
of Pythagoras contained a story located in Metapontum about
an assumption into heaven of
Pythagoras which, in Lévy's view, can be reconstructed on the basis of
story about Apollonius' ascension from the Dictynna temple on Crete.
His arguments are subtle rather than convincing, and it is hard to
the hypothetical story about the ascension of Pythagoras would have
noticeable trace in the literary tradition. For recent discussions of
Apollonian Life of Pythagoras see
Staab 2002: 228-237; and Radicke's introduction to FGH 1064, 150f.; on
traditions concerning the death of Pythagoras see Bollansée's
commentary on FGH
1026 F 25, esp. 276f.
Philostratus VA VIII 7.28f.; the
stories can be found in IV 10 and 25 respectively, where the
himself earns full credit for his achievements. According to Lactantius
Inst. V 3, Apollonius received
veneration in Ephesus
under the name of Heracles Alexikakos;
1687 with n. 138 convincingly argues that Lactantius did not draw on
Philostratus for this piece of information.
 Philostratus VA I 1.3, quoting Empedocles DK 31 B 112 =
Heraclides of Pontus fr. 77 Wehrli = Diogenes Laertius VIII 62:
δ’ ὔμμιν θεὸς ἄμβροτος, οὐκέτι θνητός; cf. the paraphrase of this line
in VA VIII 7.18 (= DK 31 A 18).
observation by Rohde 1925 II: 377-378n3 on Apollonius' ascension: "Die
Nachahmung der Erzählung vom Verschwinden des Empedokles liegt auf der
 See Bickermann 1929:
26-28; Price 1987: 73f.
Not for the first time, if we are to believe Philostratus: cf. the
in VA 6.39.
Bowie 1978: 1687; Dzielska 1986: 78f.
Cf. Lévy 1927: 73n1: "[La version] reproduit suivant toute apparence,
en ce qui concerne le lieu, l’histoire réelle."
The explicit introduction of the story of Apollonius' heavenly
Dictynna's temple as a Cretan tale (οἱ δ’ ἐν
Κρήτῃ φασὶ θαυμασιώτερον ἢ οἱ ἐν Λίνδῳ) is, as Ewen Bowie pointed out
the discussion following my paper at the Brussels conference, a fairly
way of saying that this is not a true story. What I have tried to
is that the story, in spite of the admission of its fictional nature,
to be understood as an attempt to reaffirm several aspects of the image
Apollonius constructed in the Life.
Cf. Weinreich 1929: 297: "Dieser letzte Bericht ist am stärksten
Lohfink 1971: 38 and 41; see also Bickermann 1929: 13f.
Diodorus of Sicily
IV 38.5; cf. Lohfink 1971: 39f.
fr. 83 Wehrli = Diogenes Laertius VIII 68 (tr. Hicks). On the dialogue,
τῆς ἄπνου, 'The case of the woman whose breathing had stopped,' see
1980: 13-36. Heraclides had Pausanias contradict the
slanderous story that Empedocles had
leapt into the crater of the Etna in order to create, by his very
the illusion that he had become an immortal; see Heraclides fr. 85
Hippobotus fr. 16 Gigante = Diogenes Laertius VIII 69. Kingsley 1995:
esp. 253-256 has convincingly argued that the scurrilous rumour about
Empedocles' attempt to vanish from the earth was a hostile distortion
older story according to which Empedocles had quite literally
himself by leaping into the Etna, and that the version presented by
is the result of his 'reworking and bowdlerizing' (Kingsley 1995: 235)
older story; cf. Bollansée's comments on FGH 1026 F 62.
The same notion lies behind stories told about Alexander the Great
(Arrian An. VII 27.3) and Julian
(Gregorius of Nazianzus Or. V 14).
Both were credited by their detractors with a plan to throw themselves
river when they felt their end approaching, in the hope that their
would be taken to mean that they had departed to the gods; cf. Rohde
Eusebius Reply to Hierocles 44.3.
the significance of Philostratus' claim see also Petzke 1970: 186f.
Heraclides of Pontus
fr. 83 Wehrli = Diogenes Laertius VIII 68. A further parallel can be
the divine voice calling Oedipus at the end of his earthly existence:
OC 1623-1629; cf. Lohfink 1971: 45,
and see also W. Speyer, "Himmelsstimme," RAC 15: 286-303, at
VIII 30.3: στεῖχε γᾶς, στεῖχε ἐς οὐρανόν, στεῖχε
(tr. Jones). Holland
1925: 208 has pointed out that reading στεῖχε
γᾶς, στεῖχε <δ'> εἰς οὐρανόν, στεῖχε results in a
tetrameter, a metre perfectly fitting the geographical setting.
Lévy 1927: 74f. conjectures that in Apollonius' hypothetical account of
ascension of Pythagoras, in his view the model of the story in
Philostratus' Life of Apollonius
(above, n. 5), the
maidens were the Muses.
 Holland 1925: 208.
Lohfink 1971: 38. Schirren 2005: 308n282 is right, however, in pointing
that Philostratus makes the inconsistency between the sentiment voiced
Apollonius in VIII 28 and his behaviour in VIII 30.3 more explicit than
required by the narrative.
Porphyry VP 23; Iamblichus VP 60; cf. Burkert 1972: 142n124.
VI 43; cf. Petzke 1970: 140n2.
See VA VII 34, with Euripides Ba. 234 (γόης
ἐπῳδός) and 493. My awareness of the extent of the parallel between the
treatment of Apollonius by Domitian and of Dionysus by Pentheus has
from a discussion with Kristoffel Demoen.
Euripides Ba. 575-659. On the
'liberating epiphany' of Dionysus see most recently Weaver 2004: 44-49;
Weinreich 1929: 282-290; Versnel 1990, 165-167.
See Weinreich 1929: 295-298. Weaver 2004, esp. 281-283 has argued that
such as these we should, rather than assuming direct literary
with the effect of a more widespread narrative pattern, which he labels
the 'Dionysian resistance myth'. In the Life
of Apollonius, he detects the
most outspoken analogy with this myth in the account in Book IV of
stay in Rome
during the reign of Nero, see Weaver 2004: 61n114. For the present
is not necessary to discuss whether what we are dealing with in the
and VIII amounts to conscious imitation of a scene from Euripides or
from familiarity with a widely known plotline evidenced by a broader
texts, the more so since Weaver does not question what I have called
Dionysian overtones of liberation scenes such as these; see esp. Weaver
49: "… to conceptualize a miraculous prison-escape in the Greco-Roman
to invoke its appertaining myth-story concerning Dionysus and his cult."
iv 456-458; cf. Weinreich 1929:
296n16; Schirren 2005: 236.
I 4; see on this chapter most
recently Schirren 2005: 47-49.
See Weinreich 1929: 296n16; R. Herter, ‘Proteus (1)’, RE XXIII:
967; cf. Flinterman 1995: 52; Schirren 2005: 48.
VII 34 and 38.2; cf. Koskeniemi 1991:
13n51; Whitmarsh 2001: 228. Eusebius Reply
to Hierocles 39.2-3 seizes the opportunity with both hands.
VII 39; cf. on this passage
Flinterman 1995: 64f.
PGM I 101 and 116f. (tr. O’Neil). I owe this reference to Annelies
cf. Graf 1997: 108. Weinreich 1929: 343-348 discusses miraculous
the magical papyri.
VIII 7.7; cf. Apuleius Ap. 47.3,
with the evidence collected by
Abt 1908: 268-270.
Weinreich 1929: 297 maintained that both in Dionysian liberation
in the Life the opening of the
is directly linked to the breaking of the bonds. He was overlooking the
that while in e.g. Ba. 447-448 the
spontaneous opening of the doors of the prison
is part and parcel of the miraculous liberation, in VA
VIII 30.3 the liberation has been completed before the opening
of the doors of the temple.
VIII 19.2; cf. on this episode Betz
For discussion of this chapter and especially of Apollonius' oracular
pronouncement see Schirren 2005: 309-312.
Dionysius of Halicarnassus AR II
63.3-4; Plutarch Rom. 28.1-3; see
also Livy I 16.5-8; cf. Lohfink 1971: 45. On the apotheosis of Romulus
see P. Habermehl, "Jenseitsreise I
(Himmelfahrt) B III: Griechenland/Rom," RAC 17: 415-432, at
Plutarch Rom. 28.7-10; Cicero Rep. III (100,30-101,4 Ziegler) =
Augustine CD XXII 4.
Cf. Lohfink 1971: 49 with n. 136.
See Lohfink 1971: 46-49.
Diogenes Laertius VIII 68 = Heraclides fr. 83 Wehrli (tr. Hicks).
Diodorus IV 39.1.
Cf. Hanus 1998: 215: "Ce dernier coup d'éclat est en réalité
logique du premier ensemble consacré à la venue au monde d'un être
I 5. The story of the swans
surrounding Apollonius' mother and provoking delivery by their call
Apollonian birth; see Callimachus Del.
249-254; cf. Billault 2000, 113.
Reading in VA I 6 παῖδα
<τούτου> τοῦ Διὸς
τὸν Ἀπολλώνιον γεγονέναι. See Gerard Boter's contribution in this
volume, pp. 55-56.
Eunapius VS 454; cf. the well-known
Apollonius epigram: IdC 88 = FGH 1064 T 6, now conveniently reprinted
testimonium 41 in volume III of C.P. Jones' Loeb Life
 Plutarchus, Rom.
28.5-6; Pausanias 6.9.6-8; Oenomaus of Gadara
fr. 2 Hammerstaedt = Eusebius PE
The passages on Apollonius' visits to sanctuaries have been assembled
by Bowie 1978: 1688n143. A somewhat longer stay seems to be implied in VA I 8.2 (... ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ ἔζη); IV 40.4
(ᾤκει μὲν δὴ ἐν τοῖς
ἱεροῖς); V 20.1 (Χειμάσας δ’ ὁ Ἀπολλώνιος ἐν τοῖς Ἑλληνικοῖς ἱεροῖς
VIII 15.1 (διῃτῶντο ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ τοῦ Διός). In the case last mentioned
Apollonius' appeal to the god's hospitality even involves a request for
financial assistance from the sacred funds (VIII 17)!
Pausanias 3.18.11 and 3.19.5 = LIMC Herakles 2863.
Note that Strabo XIV 2.11 (655 C) calls the temple at Lindus ἐπιφανές.
The full evidence for the Lindian version of the myth is collected and
discussed by Croon 1953: 283-288, esp. 284n2.
See e.g. "Apollodorus" II 7.7; cf. Croon 1953: 288n1.
Athenaeus XII 543f-544a ; Pliny the Elder XXXV 71; cf. Van
have consulted the Lindian Chronicle in the edition, with translation,
commentary, and interpretative essays by Higbie 2003.
Koenen and Merkelbach 1976 is a publication of papyrus Köln Inv. 5604,
according to the editors a fragment from Περὶ
θεῶν by Apollodorus of Athens, dealing with epithets of Athena. The
author paraphrases and quotes passages from the Meropis
dealing with Athena's assistance to Heracles against the
Meropes, see esp. lines 17-38 and 55-75;
on the Meropis see the editors'
comments on p. 22-26.
Higbie 2003: 77, at B25-26. Note that another entry in the Chronicle
a dedication to Athena and Heracles by the Lindians who participated in
foundation of Cyrene: "Pallas and a lion being strangled by Heracles,
made from lotus wood" (B109-117
For a survey of the evidence see Higbie 2003: 247f.
See for the evidence (i.a. Diodorus V 59.5-6) Higbie 2003: 80, at
Diogenes Laertius I 89; cf. Higbie 2003: 103, at C1-5.
some cases, there is confusion rather than silence. Petzke 1970: 198
lists VA VIII 30 as one of the
chapters in the
Life mentioning Artemis; Talbert
1978: 1635 has Apollonius enter "the temple of Athene
[my italics], whereupon a chorus of maidens was heard singing from
evidence for cults of Dictynna outside Crete
see Guarducci 1935: 198 and 200-202; Willets 1962: 184; Chr. Boulotis,
"Diktynna," LIMC III 1: 391-394, at 392; Steinhauer 1993: 78n6. The
evidence for a cult of Dictynna in Massilia mentioned by these scholars
above all suspicion, see SEG XXXV 1065; XXXIX 1082; L 1076.
Steinhauer 1993: 76f. = SEG XLIV 343.
XII 3.189; on the date see most recently Steinhauer 1993: 78n6.
no. 14, line 3; no. 15, line 3;
cf. SEG XXXIII 851. See also SEG XLIII 707, a decree of the citizens of
Euromos, where in line 18f. the same priesthood has been plausibly
Identification can already be found in Euripides, IT
126f. For 'Dictynna' as an epiclesis of Artemis see e.g. IG II2
4688 (votive inscription for Artemis Dictynna from Athens); Pausanias
(a temple of Artemis Dictynna near Laconian Las); IG IX 1.5 (a
Artemis Dictynna in Phocian Anticyra; cf. Pausanias X 36.5); SEG XXVI
line 6f. (dedication of a temenos
Apollo epêkoos and Artemis Dictynna
by Antiochus I of Commagene); Plutarch, Mor.
984a; Apuleius, Met. XI 5.
Callimachus, Dian. 204f. Pfeiffer:
… καὶ δέ σε κείνης/Κρηταέες
καλέουσιν ἐπωνυμίην ἀπὸ νύμφης. See Guarducci 1935: 200;
Sporn 2001: 225; Sporn 2002: 325.
See i.a. I.Cret. II iii 1 (Aptera); Herodotus III 59; Strabo X 4.12
I.Cret. II xi 1, with LIMC Diktynna 1 (Polyrrhenia); I.Cret. II xvii 1
cf. Guarducci 1935: 189f.; Willetts 1962: 184; Steinhauer 1993: 79n8;
2002: 263f., 277-280, 285f., 311f., 324f. and 384.
Strabo X 4.12.
Excavation report: Welter/Jantzen 1951; Sporn 2001; full bibliography
the building history of the site see Welter/Jantzen 1951: 116f.;
288-290; Sporn 2001: 226-228; Sporn 2002: 277f.; Prent 2005: 311f.
I.Cret. II xi 6; cf. Welter/Jantzen 1951: 117; Sporn 2001: 228.
IV 333 and 334; cf. Guarducci’s commentary on I.Cret. II xi 6; Sporn
Cret. II xi 3; cf. Sanders 1982: 39.
Sporn 2001: 228.
For Dictynna's cultic association with Pan see Guarducci's introduction
inscriptions from the Dictynnaion, I.Cret. II: 130f.; Sporn 2001: 230f.
evidence consists of a representation of Pan on the fragmentary base of
column of the cella of the Hadrianic temple in combination with Anthologia Graeca XVI (= Appendix
Planudea) 258. The hypothesis
about rites de passage for
girls is based on the analogous case of the association of Pan with
the cave of Pan at Eleusis in Attica,
where there is evidence for marriage rites, see Sporn 2001: 232.
Sporn 2001: 233, referring to Apollodorus, FGH 244 F 128 (= Scholia in Euripidem, Hipp.
73 [15,3-7 Schwartz]), who
mentions that on Crete the wreaths of Artemis are made of mastic and
(Cretan) dittany (δίκταμ[ν]ον), adding that dittany is
used to ease childbirth; see on the medicinal use of Cretan dittany
evidence collected by M.C.P. Schmidt, "Diktamnon 2," RE V: 582f. As the
is mentioned by Callimachus in connection with Dictynna's cult (Dian. 201), it seems reasonable to
as Sporn does, that Apollodorus "der allgegenwärtigen Verwechslung der
mit Artemis erlegen war."
Sporn 2001: 231f. observes that representations of grapes can be seen
architectural fragments at the site of the Dictynnaion, and she
Bacchic nymph crowned with vines and/or grapes on coins from Cydonia
Svoronos 1890: 100 no. 3 and 104 no. 36) as Dictynna.
Contra Sporn 2001: 232: "Einen orgiastischen Kult am Diktynnaion legt
auch die Nachricht nahe, daß Apollonius von Tyana bei einem Besuch im
Diktynnaion im 1. Jh. v. Chr. (sic)
Boulotis, "Diktynna," LIMC III 1: 393: "Ikonographisch ist D. mit
identisch (…); selbst die Kretenser besaßen anscheinend keine eigene
LIMC Diktynna 1.
Boulotis, "Diktynna," LIMC III 1: 393.
LIMC Diktynna 3 = Svoronos 1890: 343 no. 55.
LIMC Diktynna 4 = Svoronos 1890: 123-124 no. 4.
See Guarducci 1935: 193f.; Willets 1962: 191f.; Sporn 2001: 229.
evidence: I.Cret. II xvii 1 (Lisos); Amyzon
no. 14, line 3; no. 15, line 3; cf. n. 67, above. An interesting
be found in Carian Lagina, where on the frieze of her temple Hecate
is represented as kourotrophos of
Zeus, see Simon 1993: 279f.; I owe this reference to my student Monica
This is a myth for which there is no textual evidence either: in Hesiod
Th. 450-452, Hecate is made kourotrophos by Zeus, which is not
easily reconcilable with a role as foster mother of
Zeus. Note that Hecate is one of the goddesses with whom
Dictynna was sometimes identified, see Scholia
in Euripidem, Hipp. 146
For discussion of the intricate political history of the sanctuary see
Svoronos 1890: 104 no. 36-42; 107 no. 61; 111-113 no. 92 and 94-107;
119; 115f. no. 131-136; 118 no. 148-149; 119 no. 153; cf. Stefanakis
and 81 with n. 15; Sporn 2001: 229.
Stefanakis 2000: 81f.
The second interpretation was originally proposed by Svoronos and has
recently championed by Sporn 2001: 229f. Stefanakis 2000: 83f.
is impossible to prove one of the proposed identifications. Although he
the first, he does admit that Svoronos' interpretation "may point
towards the reconstruction
of a lost myth of Zeus Cretagenes."
Aglaosthenes FGH 499 F 1 = Eratosthenes, Cat.
2; see also Aratus 30-37; Hyginus Astr.
II 2; cf. Sporn 2001: 230 with n. 23; Stefanakis 2000: 84.
 Hesychius s.v. Κυνόσουρα. Cf. Sporn
2001: 230 with n. 24.
Sporn 2001: 230.
8.30.2: ... καὶ ἀξιοῦσιν αὐτοὺς οἱ Κρῆτες μήτε τῶν
ἄρκτων μήτε τῶν ὧδε ἀγρίων λείπεσθαι.
the cult of Zeus Asbamaios see
and Nollé 2000: 317-319.
For a former visit of Apollonius to Crete, "which we consider the nurse
of Zeus" (tr. Jones), and to the sacred sites on Mount Ida in
particular see VA IV 34.
we have seen, in Callimachus' Hymn to
Artemis (195-200) the transition of Britomartis/Dictynna to
divine status coincides
with a leap into the sea. On the concept of divinization by a leap into
see A. Hermann, "Ertrinken," RAC 6:
370-409, at 393f. Carcopino 1926 has tried to demonstrate that the
representation of Sappho's leap from the Leucadian rock, in the apse of
subterranean basilica near the Porta Maggiore in Rome, is informed by
see for a lengthy restatement of this thesis Carcopino 1956: 9-81.
main literary evidence adduced by Carcopino (1926: 382f.; 1956: 14-23)
Pythagorean character of the hypogaeum and for a Pythagorean
Sappho's 'Meeressprung' (Pliny the Elder XXII 20) does not suffice to
weight of his conclusions, as has been demonstrated by Hubaux 1928; cf.
1930: 187-194; André 1958; Bastet 1958: 73 with n. 3. According to
it was Pliny's contention that magicians and Pythagoreans speculated
Sappho's love for Phaon (resulting in her leap into the sea). However,
passage under discussion may just as well, if not better, be understood
implying nothing more than that these gentlemen were fascinated by the
aphrodisiacal properties of the root of the white variant of the erynge. The attempt by Sauron (1994:
604-630) to resuscitate Carcopino's hypothesis fails to answer Hubaux'
well-founded objections to Carcopino's interpretation of the
supplied by Pliny; see especially Sauron 1994: 606 and 609, where XXII
should be read for XXXII 20. To the best of my knowledge, there is no
the assumption that apotheosis by a leap into the sea was a notion
dear to Pythagoreans, and I don't think it advisable to look for an
for the choice of the Dictynnaion in this direction.
am much indebted to Gerard Boter for his incisive comments on the
version of this paper. Of course, he is not responsible for the views
in it or for any remaining errors. I also would like to express my
the colleagues of the Universiteit Gent who organized the conference at
Brussels, for a memorable
occasion, as pleasurable as it was instructive.
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