Didyma

Didyma

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Didyma'
Start a new discussion about 'Didyma'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Didyma was an ancient Ionia
Ionia
Ionia is an ancient region of central coastal Anatolia in present-day Turkey, the region nearest İzmir, which was historically Smyrna. It consisted of the northernmost territories of the Ionian League of Greek settlements...

n sanctuary, the modern Didim
Didim
Didim, home of the antique city of Didyma with its ruined Temple of Apollo, is a small town, popular seaside holiday resort and district of Aydın Province on the Aegean coast of western Turkey, from the city of Aydın.-Geography:...

, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, containing a temple and oracle
Oracle
In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination....

 of Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

, the Didymaion. In Greek didyma means "twin", but the Greeks who sought a "twin" at Didyma ignored the Caria
Caria
Caria was a region of western Anatolia extending along the coast from mid-Ionia south to Lycia and east to Phrygia. The Ionian and Dorian Greeks colonized the west of it and joined the Carian population in forming Greek-dominated states there...

n origin of the name. Next to Delphi
Delphi
Delphi is both an archaeological site and a modern town in Greece on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis.In Greek mythology, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the worship of the god...

, Didyma was the most renowned oracle of the Hellenic world, first mentioned among the Greeks in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, but an establishment preceding literacy and even the Hellenic colonization of Ionia
Ionia
Ionia is an ancient region of central coastal Anatolia in present-day Turkey, the region nearest İzmir, which was historically Smyrna. It consisted of the northernmost territories of the Ionian League of Greek settlements...

. Mythic genealogies of the origins of the Branchidae line of priests, designed to capture the origins of Didyma as a Hellenic tradition, date to the Hellenistic period.

Didyma was the largest and most significant sanctuary on the territory of the great classical city Miletus
Miletus
Miletus was an ancient Greek city on the western coast of Anatolia , near the mouth of the Maeander River in ancient Caria...

. To approach it, visitors would follow the Sacred Way to Didyma, about 17 km long. Along the way, were ritual waystations, and statues of members of the Branchidae family, male and female, as well as animal figures. Some of these statues, dating to the 6th century BC are now in the British Museum, taken by Charles Newton in the 19th century.

Greek and Roman authors laboured to refer the name Didyma to "twin" temples — not a feature of the site — or to temples of the twins, Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

 and Artemis
Artemis
Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name and indeed the goddess herself was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: "Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals"...

, whose own cult center at Didyma was only recently established, or whether, as Wilamowitz
Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff
Enno Friedrich Wichard Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff was a German Classical Philologist. Wilamowitz, as he is known in scholarly circles, was a renowned authority on Ancient Greece and its literature.- Youth :...

 suggested there is a connection to Cybele Dindymene
Cybele
Cybele , was a Phrygian form of the Earth Mother or Great Mother. As with Greek Gaia , her Minoan equivalent Rhea and some aspects of Demeter, Cybele embodies the fertile Earth...

, "Cybele of Mount Dindymon
Dindymon
In Greek mythology, Dindymon , was a mountain in eastern Phrygia , later part of Galatia, that was later called Agdistis, sacred to the "mountain mother", Cybele, whom the Hellenes knew as Rhea...

", is mooted. Recent excavations by the German team of archaeologists have uncovered a major sanctuary dedicated to Artemis, with the key ritual focus being water.

The 6th-century Didymaion, dedicated to Apollo, enclosed its smaller predecessor, which archaeologists have identified. Its treasury was enriched by gifts from Croesus
Croesus
Croesus was the king of Lydia from 560 to 547 BC until his defeat by the Persians. The fall of Croesus made a profound impact on the Hellenes, providing a fixed point in their calendar. "By the fifth century at least," J.A.S...

.

The Branchidae


Until its destruction by the Persians in 494 BC
494 BC
Year 494 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Tricostus and Geminus...

, Didyma's sanctuary was administered by the family of the Branchidae, who claimed descent from a purely eponym
Eponym
An eponym is the name of a person or thing, whether real or fictitious, after which a particular place, tribe, era, discovery, or other item is named or thought to be named...

ous Branchos, a youth beloved of Apollo. The priestess, seated above the sacred spring, gave utterances that were interpreted by the Branchidae. Both Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 and Pausanias dated the origins of the oracle at Didyma before the Ionian colonization
Ionia
Ionia is an ancient region of central coastal Anatolia in present-day Turkey, the region nearest İzmir, which was historically Smyrna. It consisted of the northernmost territories of the Ionian League of Greek settlements...

 of this coast. The Branchidae were expelled by Darius' Persians, who burned the temple in 493 BC
493 BC
Year 493 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Auruncus and Viscellinus...

 and carried away to Ecbatana
Ecbatana
Ecbatana is supposed to be the capital of Astyages , which was taken by the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great in the sixth year of Nabonidus...

 the archaic bronze statue of Apollo, traditionally made by Canachus of Sicyon in the 6th century; the spring dried up, it was reported, and the archaic oracle was silenced. Though the sanctuaries of Delphi and Ephesus
Temple of Artemis
The Temple of Artemis , also known less precisely as the Temple of Diana, was a Greek temple dedicated to a goddess Greeks identified as Artemis and was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was situated at Ephesus , and was completely rebuilt three times before its eventual destruction...

 were swiftly rebuilt, Didyma remained a ruin until the first steps of restoration were undertaken, in 334 BC
334 BC
Year 334 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Caudinus and Calvinus...

. Callisthenes
Callisthenes
Callisthenes of Olynthus was a Greek historian. He was the son of Hero and Proxenus of Atarneus, which made him the great nephew of Aristotle by his sister Arimneste. They first met when Aristotle tutored Alexander the Great...

, a court historian of Alexander reported that the spring began once more to flow after Alexander passed through, but there had been a complete break in the oracles' personnel and tradition. Inscriptions, including inquiries and responses, and literary testimony record Didyma's role as an oracle, with the "grim epilogue" of Apollo's supposed sanction of Diocletian's persecution of Christians, until the closing of the temples under Theodosius I
Theodosius I
Theodosius I , also known as Theodosius the Great, was Roman Emperor from 379 to 395. Theodosius was the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire. During his reign, the Goths secured control of Illyricum after the Gothic War, establishing their homeland...

.


After his capture of Miletus in 334 BC Alexander the Great reconsecrated the oracle but placed its administration of the oracle in the hands of the city, where the priest in charge was annually elected. About 300 BC Seleucus I Nicator
Seleucus I Nicator
Seleucus I was a Macedonian officer of Alexander the Great and one of the Diadochi. In the Wars of the Diadochi that took place after Alexander's death, Seleucus established the Seleucid dynasty and the Seleucid Empire...

 brought the bronze cult image
Cult image
In the practice of religion, a cult image is a human-made object that is venerated for the deity, spirit or daemon that it embodies or represents...

 back, and the Milesians began to build a new temple, which, if it had ever been completed, would have been the largest in the Hellenic world. Vitruvius
Vitruvius
Marcus Vitruvius Pollio was a Roman writer, architect and engineer, active in the 1st century BC. He is best known as the author of the multi-volume work De Architectura ....

 recorded a tradition that the architects were Paeonius of Ephesus, whom Vitruvius credited with the rebuilding of the Temple of Artemis
Temple of Artemis
The Temple of Artemis , also known less precisely as the Temple of Diana, was a Greek temple dedicated to a goddess Greeks identified as Artemis and was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was situated at Ephesus , and was completely rebuilt three times before its eventual destruction...

 there, and Daphnis of Miletus. The peripteral temple was surrounded by a double file of Ionic columns
Ionic order
The Ionic order forms one of the three orders or organizational systems of classical architecture, the other two canonic orders being the Doric and the Corinthian...

. With a pronaos of three rows of four columns, the approaching visitor passed through a regularized grove formed of columns. The usual door leading to a cella
Cella
A cella or naos , is the inner chamber of a temple in classical architecture, or a shop facing the street in domestic Roman architecture...

 was replaced by a blank wall with a large upper opening through which one could glimpse the upper part of the naiskos
Naiskos
The naiskos is a small temple in Classical order with columns or pillars and pediment. Often applied as an artificial motif, it is not rare in ancient art...

in the inner court (adyton
Adyton
The adyton or adytum was a restricted area within the cella of a Greek or Roman temple. Its name meant "inaccessible" or "do not enter". The adyton was frequently a small area at the farthest end of the cella from the entrance: at Delphi it measured just nine by twelve feet. The adyton would...

). The entry route lay down either of two long constricted sloping passageways built within the thickness of the walls which gave access to the inner court, still open to the sky but isolated from the world by the high walls of the cella: there was the ancient spring, the naiskos— which was a small temple itself, containing in its own small cella the bronze cult image
Cult image
In the practice of religion, a cult image is a human-made object that is venerated for the deity, spirit or daemon that it embodies or represents...

 of the god— and a grove of laurels, sacred to Apollo. The inner walls of the cella were articulated by pilasters standing on a base the height of a man (1.94 m). Turning back again, the visitor saw a monumental staircase that led up to three openings to a room whose roof was supported by two columns on the central cross-axis. The oracular procedure, so well documented at Delphi, is unknown at Didyma and must be reconstructed on the basis of the temple's construction, but it appears that several features of Delphi were now adopted: a priestess and answers delivered in classical hexameters. At Delphi, nothing was written; at Didyma, inquiries and answers were written; a small structure, the Chresmographion featured in this process: it was meticulously disassembled in the Christian period.

The annual festival held there under the auspices of Miletus was the Didymeia; it was made a Panhellenic festival in the beginning of the 2nd century BC. German excavations made between 1905 and 1930 revealed all of the incomplete new temple and some carved fragments that belonged to the earlier temple and to associated statues.

Pausanias
Pausanias (geographer)
Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD, who lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He is famous for his Description of Greece , a lengthy work that describes ancient Greece from firsthand observations, and is a crucial link between classical...

 visited Didyma in the later 2nd century AD. Pliny
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

 reported the worship of Apollo Didymiae, Apollo of Didymus, in Central Asia, transported to Sogdiana
Sogdiana
Sogdiana or Sogdia was the ancient civilization of an Iranian people and a province of the Achaemenid Empire, eighteenth in the list on the Behistun Inscription of Darius the Great . Sogdiana is "listed" as the second of the "good lands and countries" that Ahura Mazda created...

 by a general of Seleucus and Antiochus whose inscribed altars there were still to be seen by Pliny's correspondents. Corroborating inscriptions on amphoras were found by I.R. Pichikyan at Dilbergin.

Clement of Alexandria
Clement of Alexandria
Titus Flavius Clemens , known as Clement of Alexandria , was a Christian theologian and the head of the noted Catechetical School of Alexandria. Clement is best remembered as the teacher of Origen...

 quotes Leandrios saying that Cleochus, grandfather of the eponymous founder Miletus, was buried within the temple enclosure of Didyma.

External links


Further reading


  • Joseph Fontenrose
    Joseph Fontenrose
    Joseph Eddy Fontenrose was an American classical scholar. He was centrally interested in Greek religion and Greek mythology; he was also an expert on John Steinbeck, commenting on the mythology in Steinbeck's work.He was from Sutter Creek, California...

    , 1988. Didyma. Apollo's Oracle, Cult and Companions, (Berkeley). Catalogue of Didyman inquiries and responses, translated.
  • Robin Lane Fox
    Robin Lane Fox
    Robin Lane Fox is an English historian, currently a Fellow of New College, Oxford and University of Oxford Reader in Ancient History.-Life:Lane Fox was educated at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford....

    , Pagans and Christians 1986: Chapter 5.
  • H. W. Parke, 1985. The Oracles of Apollo in Asia Minor
  • T. Wiegand, 1941-58. Didyma, 2 vols. in 4, (Berlin) The prime archaeological report.