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Thread: Hekate, Theomachy and the Pergamon Altar

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    Silver Member monsno_leedra's Avatar
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    Hekate, Theomachy and the Pergamon Altar

    Hekate, Theomachy and the Pergamon Altar

    If one researches the heritage of Hekate most instances point to her being a Titan who sided with the Olympians against her fellow titans. Upon conclusion of said battle Zeus reward Hekate by allowing her to retain her influence or control over the spheres of Ocean, Heaven and Earth. A blood lineage or familial connection for Hekate appearing to be of lesser importance in the story of the Hellene Olympian mythological or social and cultural influence being recorded. Recognition and acknowledgement of Hekate favoring the Olympians and Zeus during the battle with the Titans a prime fact of Importance in her development and inclusion within the Olympian Pantheon. The idea of Theomachy or battle between the gods / goddesses a frequent concept within the Hellene universe and the Olympian Pantheon in particular.

    Yet evidence wise through archaeology or literature we have little material of what she actually did in siding with the Olympians. Yes she sided with them and was rewarded by Zeus but not much more than that. Participation and influences in the Titanomachy (War of the Titans) more of a footnote in Hekate’s history for us than historical fact. Yet historically and mythology wise there is another chapter to her aiding of the Olympian’s and placement in Hellene culture. That being the battle that mythology wise is known as the Gigantomachy (Gigantomachia). A battle recorded in mythology as the conflict between the offspring of Gaia, the Giants and the Olympians. A second battle if you will that is old divinity against new divinity.

    It is important to understand that the Gigantes or Giants came after the Titans. This separation is important in understanding the later role of Hekate in Hellene mythology. Mythology wise the basic story is that the Gigantes were created when the blood of Uranus was spilt upon the ground after being castrated by Kronus (Cronus) when Uranus attempted to lay with Gaia. As to why Gaia gave the sickle to Kronus (Cronus) varies from story to story though a core element is revenge for what was done to her offspring the Titans.

    Development of the mythology of the Gigantomachy is sparse in early literature. There are hints or implied suggestions of the battle but it is really the mythographer Apollodorus in his works Library Book 1 who provides the most detail about the battle.

    Just as Hekate sided with the Olympian’s in their battle against the Titan’s so too did she side with the Olympian’s in their battle with the Gigantes during the Gigantomachy. One of the best archeological items depicting the battle recorded upon the Pergamon Altar.

    “East frieze[edit]
    As mentioned above, visitors first saw the eastern side as they entered the altar area. Here was where almost all of the important Olympian gods were assembled. On the left the presentation begins with the three-faceted goddess Hecate. She fights in her three incarnations with a torch, a sword and a lance against the Giant Clytius. Next to her is Artemis, the goddess of the hunt; in keeping with her function she fights with a bow and arrow against a Giant who is perhaps Otos. Her hunting dog kills another Giant with a bite to the neck. Artemis’ mother Leto fights at her side using a torch against an animal-like Giant; at her other side her son and Artemis’ twin, Apollo, fights. Like his sister, he is armed with bow and arrow and has just shot the Giant Udaios, who lies at his feet” note 31 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pergamon_Altar (note 31) This Giant had previously been identified as Ephialtes, see Queyrel, pp. 55–56

    The Pergamon altar was created in the city of Pergamon in Asia Minor sometime in the 2nd century b.c.. The altar consists of a number of panels, 50 in total, though some are heavily damaged. For my interest the East Frieze, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pergam...ltar_02-03.jpg is the most important as it contains the depiction of both Hekate and Artemis engaged in battle with various named Giants.

    Mythology wise it seems the Titanomachy and the Gigantomachy have become conflated with one another as well as other battles between the Olympian’s and other God’s / Goddesses in various pieces of literature. Earlier pieces of literature and pottery clearly separate the two battles while later pieces tend to merge them or omit the Gigantomachy to minor references. References or clues which seem to suggest that the listening or viewing audience would already know of it, so no in-depth recounting was needed in the retelling of the story.

    One thing does seem certain, to me anyway, that being the story of the Titanomachy was important in placing Hekate within the Olympian Pantheon. Yet the inclusion of the story of the Gigantomachy and the Hekate’s presence upon the Pergamon Altar perhaps suggests the story could have more to do with her battling on the side of the Olympian’s against the Giant’s than the ten year battle against the Titans.

    Today the altar resided in the Berlin Collection of Classical Antiquities.

    Pergamonmuseum_-_Antikensammlung_-_Pergamonaltar_02-03.jpg
    Last edited by monsno_leedra; 25 Jun 2016 at 20:41.
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    Sr. Member Louisvillian's Avatar
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    Re: Hekate, Theomachy and the Pergamon Altar

    I've been long interested in Hekate's role in Greek myth, and what ancient beliefs about her have been lost to time. The imagery of what we may presume is her on the Pergamon altar is rather fascinating. Indicates that, at least to some people, she was depicted as having "earned her due" in the fighting. Hesiod speaks highly of her, an directly talks about her being given a share of the spoils in every "realm" in the postwar settlement.

    Side note: I'm currently working on a redaction of primarily Greek and Roman myth and history into a continuous narrative; in my version, I depict Hekate as having crafted the potion that Zeus uses to make Kronos disgorge his children. Something that, I think, otherwise goes unexplained.
    Last edited by Louisvillian; 29 Jun 2016 at 00:31.

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    Silver Member monsno_leedra's Avatar
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    Re: Hekate, Theomachy and the Pergamon Altar

    I agree that it seems a lot of her mythology has been lost over time. It's like the Pergamon Altar is well known yet there are supposed to be depictions of her in battle with the giants and the birth of Zeus on the friezes from her temple at Lagina. About the only frieze depictions from Lagina I can find is the one dealing with Hellene solders and Amazons. I haven't been able to find a good picture or sketching of those, Gigantomachy specifically, yet so can't say how well they compare to the Pergamon ones. From a personal perspective strikes me as odd as it seems the Gigantomachy is listed as a fairly common frieze depiction for many temples & shrines.

    I always wonder about her connection to the waters. We (collective usage) tend to see quite a bit about her earthly connection's and suggestions of her chthonic ones but seldom anything about her water connections. My self I tend to view her in that capacity as looking something like Calisto from the Pirates movies with sea weed, various aquatic life, etc making up her imagery. However, even the chthonic stories are really lacking if you consider them outside the story of Persephone and Demeter and Jason calling upon her in the Argonautica stories. Mythology says there were a number of entry ways into underworld and that she was free to come and go at will. So which is more associated with her? For my own interest I still see her coming and going more through the swamps and wilderness where the Hydra was supposed to guard the gateway more than past Kerebus (Cerebus). Yet no formal mythology really speaks about that.

    Consider her depictions in the Gigantomachy which seems to suggest her siding with the Olympian's and the reason for her being rewarded by Zeus. Yet that battle occurs after the Titanomanchy which lasted for ten years. So if the giants battle is the source of her rewarding then what did she do during the Titan war? Was she even a part of it or simply remained separate from it? I suppose we'll never really know given that even the ancient writers over time tended to conflate the two battles with each other.
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    Sr. Member Louisvillian's Avatar
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    Re: Hekate, Theomachy and the Pergamon Altar

    Quote Originally Posted by monsno_leedra View Post
    Consider her depictions in the Gigantomachy which seems to suggest her siding with the Olympian's and the reason for her being rewarded by Zeus. Yet that battle occurs after the Titanomanchy which lasted for ten years.
    I'd have to assume that it can be chalked up to one of two things:
    1) it's just later artists conflating the two conflicts.
    2) her alliance with the Olympian order, as established in the Titan war, draws her into the Gigantomachy.

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