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Headword: Λεωκόριον
Adler number: lambda,262
Translated headword: Leokorion, Leocorium, Leos-shrine
Vetting Status: high
Translation:
A heroon in the middle of the Kerameikos. For Leos son of Orpheus had a son named Kulanthos, and three daughters named Phasithea [sic], Theope, and Euboule, whom the Athenians honored with the heroon after they had been sacrificed for the sake of the country while still virgins.
Greek Original:
Λεωκόριον: ἡρῷον ἐν μέσῳ τῷ Κεραμεικῷ. Λεὼς γὰρ ὁ Ὀρφέως υἱὸν μὲν ἔσχε Κύλανθον, θυγατέρας δὲ τρεῖς, Φασιθέαν, Θεόπην, Εὐβούλην: ἃς ὑπὲρ τῆς χώρας σφαγιασθείσας ἔτι παρθένους ἐτίμησαν Ἀθηναῖοι τῷ ἡρῴῳ.
Notes:
cf. already lambda 261. For the present material see Aelian, Varia Historia 12.28 (who however gives the name of the first of Leos's three daughters as Praxithea; in Photius and elsewhere it is Phrasithea; the Suda's 'Phasithea' looks like a slip).
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Similar to the Hyacinthides, the daughters of Leos offered themselves up for sacrifice to Athena when the Delphic oracle revealed that this would end a plague or a famine. H.W. Parke and D.E.W. Wormell, The Delphic Oracle (Oxford, 1956) 1.295-96, discuss the common mythological motif in which members of the royal family must be sacrificed for the good of the people, and their 2.86-87 no.209 lists the sources for this particular case. No further myths are associated with Leos, who is usually distinguished from the herald from Hagnous referred to at Plutarch, Theseus 13.2-3 (Emily Kearns, The Heroes of Attica (London 1989) 181).
The daughters were probably worshipped at the Leokoreion, which was most probably somewhere in the Agora, although a few of the sources refer to it being ἐν μέσῳ τῷ Κεραμεικῷ (notably Harpokration s.v. Leokoreion, citing Phanodemus FGrH 325 F8; Jacoby ad loc. lists the other references). H.A. Thompson, "Athens faces adversity," Hesperia 50 (1981) 343-355, at 347-348, and R.E. Wycherley, Agora III (Princeton 1957) 63-4, propose that the remains of a shrine in the northwest corner of the Agora be identified with the Leokoreion, because of the location and the finding of a number of votives for feminine gods or heroes, but the identification is not certain (Uta Kron, Die zehn attischen Phylenheroen. Geschichte, Mythos, Kult und Darstellungen (Berlin 1976) 199-200 objects because of the small size of the shrine). The shrine existed as early as the latter part of the sixth century, when Hipparchus was killed by Harmodius and Aristogeiton nearby (Thucydides 1.20.3 and 6.57.3), and was presumably not very conspicuous by the time of the second century CE, since Pausanias does not mention it (H.A. Thompson and R.E. Wycherley, Agora XIV (Princeton 1972) 123 and 207 n.2). The ancient testimonia for the site and the myth of the sacrifice are collected at Wycherley, Agora III, 109-113.
(This note was contributed to a discussion of the Leokorion on the Classics list by Judson Hermann 30 September 2000.)
Keywords: architecture; biography; children; definition; gender and sexuality; mythology; religion; tragedy; women
Translated by: Ross Scaife ✝ on 24 November 2002@20:44:13.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (added x-ref and keyword; cosmetics) on 25 November 2002@03:47:07.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 11 November 2005@06:00:59.
David Whitehead (tweaks and cosmetics) on 12 July 2011@04:09:51.
David Whitehead on 4 April 2013@09:30:24.
David Whitehead (expanded primary note, at the prompting of Dr Nick Nicholas) on 27 December 2015@10:09:20.

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