THE CULT OF NEMESEIS AT SMYRNA
Background of the Cult
According to Hesiod , Nemesis was the daughter of Nyx. It was believed at Rhamnous that the father of the goddess was Okeanos, while at Smyrna her mother was held to be Nyx. Nemesis was the product of the personification of the concept of Divine Punishment/Revenge ; she was a deity who took precautions against excess, who punished the immoderation of humans, and also man’s excessive confidence in himself and his good fortune.
Strabo’s states that Nemesis had a temple in the vicinity of Cyzicus and an altar on the banks of the Aesepus (Gönen) River, and that the first temple built for this goddess was constructed by King Adrastus. Though she was also worshiped at Rhamnous in Attica, Strabo’s statement has been the cause of a search for the goddess’ origins in the lands of Asia. Further, it has been suggested that the typical symbols of the goddess do not belong to Greece , and even that Smyrna was the original homeland of the Nemesis cult. On the other hand, as a different hypothesis, it has been proposed that the cult of Nemesis carried from the Greek mainland to Anatolia by the first Ionian colonists. However, according to Miles, since Nemesis was a personification the cults of the goddess probably sprang up independently of each other. Therefore this researcher is of the opinion that there is no need to theorize an association between the cults at Smyrna and Rhamnous.
That Nemesis was worshipped at Smyrna, where she was held equal to the mother goddess, is attributed to the hubris which caused the city’s ruin in the war waged against the Lydians in the 6th century B.C.E. Thus it is thought that the earliest cult of Nemesis was founded at Smyrna after the Lydians had destroyed the city, probably around 575 B.C.E. The distinguishing feature of the cult in this city is that two Nemeseis are worshipped together. To date, there have been various theories proposed to explain the significance of the worship of a pair of goddesses. That the double Nemeseis was the twin mountain peaks at Smyrna, which in our time are called “The Two Brothers”, or that they were the two aspects of the goddess as a punitive and stabilizing deity, or that they symbolized the union of the old and the new city upon the command of Alexander the Great, or yet that they represented the union of the Attic Nemesis with an Aeolian goddess associated with her, the deity Adrasteia, are among these theories about what the duality represented.
Price evaluates the duplication of Nemesis as a practice aimed at strengthening the quality of her divine station. According to the author, “depictions of two identical woman figures side by side are encountered in the Minoan and Mycenaean ages. The existence of these representations of a religious meaning goes back as far as the early Anatolian cultures at Çatalhöyük. Reflections of the Great Mother, who is depicted on Hittite seals as a pair together with lions, are observable in the depictions of a pair of Cybeles which are frequently encountered in the Greek world.” On the other hand, paired cult images are quite widespread around Anatolia, Syria and Greece; early information concerning them is encountered around Cappadocia. Apparently, paired cultic images are of Asian origin, though not original to Smyrna. That one encounters these depictions in different geographies indicates that the pair of Nemeseis does not form the basis of the cult at Smyrna. This situation becomes clearer with the occasional occurrence of a single Nemesis upon coins.
One first encounters Nemesis on coins struck during the reign of Tiberius in the Roman Imperial period. On the obverse of the issues are Nero and Agrippina, while the goddess is seen to have winged form on the reverse (fig. 1). From the reign of Domitian onwards a pair of Nemeseis is depicted on the coins that are struck (fig. 2). The importance of the Nemeseis for Smyrna is symbolized by the coins which portray their appearance in the scene of Alexander the Great’s dream (fig. 3).
Eleven inscriptions, mostly from the 2nd or the 3rd centuries C.E., give examples of the practices relevant to the Nemesis cult at Smyrna. One of these, dated to the 1st/2nd century C.E., honors the organizer of the games (agonothetes) dedicated to Nemesis and celebrates the games’ having been organized in a fashion worthy of the city and the gods. Another inscription, dated to shortly after the year 124 C.E. in the reign of Hadrian, commemorates Claudius Bassus, organizer of the games dedicated to the Nemeseis.
Some researchers consider that the scope of the Nemesis cult in Smyrna was broadened in the Roman Imperial period. For example Robert, taking into consideration the story of the Martyrdom of Pionius defends the idea that the emperor shared his cult with the Nemeseis. As for Tataki, though underlining the fact that his theory cannot be proved from present documents, suggests that the temple of Nemeseis at Smyrna may have been the first temple to be dedicated to the cult of the emperor. In contrast to these two opinions, Rives states that none of the imperial temples at Smyrna seem to be jointly dedicated to the Nemeseis. To clarify the theories that have been put forth, it will be useful to focus upon the works carried out relative to the temple of Nemesis at Rhamnous. An inscription in the center of an architrave block at the eastern end of the temple of Nemesis at Rhamnous is associated with repairs done in the temple, which was rededicated to the goddess Livia by the Demos. This inscription honoring Livia and, in the temple of Nemesis, the base of a statue honoring Claudius, are interpreted as signs that the imperial cults and the traditional cult of Nemesis were united, or that the goddess shared her cult with Livia. In the same way, though we lack archaeological data, it can easily be asserted that at Smyrna the cult of the emperor was united with that of Nemeseis, or that the cult of Nemeseis was incorporated into the imperial one, as was the fashion in the Roman Imperial Period. The following inscription, dated to the years 211/212 C.E. and mentioning the enlargement of the temple of Nemeseis, strengthens this possibility:
4 τὸνπαρατεθέντοἶκονταῖςΝεμέσεσινἀνιέρωσεν, ὡς
“May the life of the most pious Emperor Antoninus (= Caracalla) be long! – Because of the retreat that he made in the Temple of the Nemeseis in order to honor noble Serapis, and because of the oath he took to enlarge the Temple of the Nemeseis, the philosopher Papinius has dedicated to the Nemeseis the house immediately beside it. Thus everything is in the noble Temple of the Nemeseis – The land necessary to construct this was allocated by the Emperor Antoninus. These things were carried out under the rule of Gentianus and Bassus on the 6th of October.”
In the inscription one sees that the Emperor Caracalla has granted land for the temple. What is interesting in this situation is that there was imperial land next to the temple of Nemeseis. According to Petzl, Papinius had the oikos constructed on the land granted by Caracalla and then dedicated it to the Nemeseis. The conclusion is that both the story of the martyrdom of Pionius and this inscription closely associate the temple of Nemeseis with the cult of the emperor.
The Localization of the Temple of Nemeseis
Research work done in ancient cities can reveal that the temples of Nemesis are located near agorae or theatres. One example is the temple of Nemesis at Balboura, dated to the second half of the 2nd century C.E.; this faces south towards a paved avenue, while its back is turned towards the Agora, established at a lower level to the north. Based on an inscription underneath two small niches carved side by side upon a block of the analemma in the theatre of Iznik, one may anticipate that a temple of the goddess Nemesis may be found near the theatre or at its entrance.
Certain researchers have proposed various theories concerning the localization of the temple of Nemeseis at Smyrna, twice mentioned in Pausanias. Cadoux, for example, places the temple of Nemeseis upon Mt. Pagus (Kadifekale) (fig. 7). Keeping in mind the find places of three dedicatory inscriptions obtained from excavations and also the spring mentioned by Pausanias, which passes through the Agora, Robert has proposed that the temple of Nemeseis, the major temple of the city, was located on the southern side of the Agora of Smyrna. Petzl thinks that the temple of Nemeseis adjoined the Agora. Sharing the views of Robert and Petzl, Doğer considers that the spring, which rises at a point south of the Agora and which is channeled into the complex through the west wall of the basement story of the West Portico, is in fact the spring of the temple of Nemeseis and that the Agora included both the spring and the temple of Nemeseis within its limits. The only element that can be added to all these hypotheses is that the area provided for the temple was near the theatre on the north slope of Pagus.
Concerning the appearance of the temple of Nemeseis, the only known example is found on a cistophorus (fig. 4). On the reverse of this coin is seen a tetrastyle temple upon a three stepped podium; it seems to be in the Ionic order and in it there is a pair of Nemeseis looking at each other. For now, if one keeps in mind this example, one can consider that the temple at Smyrna was constructed in the Ionic order in conformance with the western Anatolian architectural tradition.
THE CULT OF TYCHE AT SMYRNA
Background of the Cult
Tyche represented both good and bad destiny and luck. The goddess was called “savior”, “protectress of the city” and “ruler of all”; in sculpture she was depicted as holding in her hand a cornucopia or a ship’s rudder or as a winged being upon a globe. That she was shown holding a cornucopia and a sheaf of corn symbolized the richness she distributed with her hand; the rudder she held symbolized that she could direct destiny in a capricious way towards luck or misfortune; that she was shown with her foot beside a globe or a wheel or a body of water symbolized her changes in direction and speed and her unpredictable motion.
Tyche came into being in the 4th century B.C.E. and in the Hellenistic Period as the result of a complicated evolution; she personified the destiny of a city, a ruler or a person. Nearly every city had a Tyche who represented and ruled its destiny. In the Hellenistic Period, therefore, she doubtless served propaganda purposes as well as assuming a religious role in newly founded cities.
The Tyche statue made for the Smyrnaeans by Boupalos, whom Pausanias characterized as an intelligent architect and sculptor, is evaluated as the earliest known image of the goddess. The period when Boupalos was professionally active can indicate that Tyche existed at Smyrna in the 6th century B.C.E. It appears that, parallel with the cult’s development, Tyche’s presence in the city became even stronger in the Hellenistic Period. In the oath of the Sympoliteia treaty between Smyrna and Magnesia, dated to the second half of the 3rd century B.C.E., the fact that among the names listed the goddess is also present is proof of this:
“In the name of Zeus, the earth, the sky, Ares, Athena Areia and Tauropolos and the Mother of Sipylus (the men of Sipylus) and Apollo at Panda and all the other gods and goddesses, in particular Tyche, the deity of King Seleucus I swear that…”
The following inscription found at Smyrna shows that as part of the extensive building activity in the reign of Hadrian, the construction of a temple of Tyche was planned:
[ ] – ΡΙΑΣ
4 οἵδε·Κλ(αύδιος) Βάσσοςἀγωνοθέτης
Κλ(αυδία) Ἀρτέμυλλα, Κλ(αυδία) Πῶλλα,
στεφανηφόροςβʹ, Φλ(αουία) Ἀσκληπιακή,
24 Εἰσίδωροςσοφιστής, Ἀντωνία
Μάγνα, Κλ(αυδία) Ἀρίστιον, Ἀλβιδία
Μάγναμυ(ριάδα)αʹ·Κλ(αυδία) Ἡδεῖαμυ(ριάδα) αʹ·Κλ(αυδία) Χάρις
μυ(ριάδα) αʹ·Κλ(αυδία) Λεόντιονμυ(ριάδα) αʹ·Κλ(αυδία) Ἀυρηλία
ἀγῶνα̣ ἱ̣ε̣ρόν, ἀτέλειαν, θεολόγους,
40 πεντήκοντα, κείοναςεἰςτὸ
The forty-five line inscription contains the following information concerning the temple and the area where it was located:
7-8 Chersiphron of Asia promises to donate gardens in the Palm Grove,
9-10 Lucius Pompeius promises to donate 50.000 drachmae for the Palm Grove,
14-16 Prytanis Smaragdus promises to have a temple of Tyche constructed in the Palm Grove,
27-30 Cl(audia) Aurelia promises to erect 52 columns, together with their bases and capitals, for the Palm Grove,
31-32 Metrodorus, son of Nicanor promises to donate 7500 denarii for the Palm Grove.
From the year 212 C.E. onwards, a portion of the city coins of Smyrna that belong to the 3rd century C.E. show on their reverse a tetrastyle temple housing a cult statue of Tyche (fig. 5). According to Klose, what is intended to be shown here is perhaps the temple that Prytanis Smaragdus had constructed in the Palm Grove.
The Localization of the Temple of Tyche
Archaeological and written evidence indicates that the cult of Tyche occupied a very visible position in the public spaces set apart for the political and commercial life of an antique city. One encounters ruins of Tyche temples in several ancient cities and the areas where they are sited generally show similarities to each other. For example at Corinth and at Side the Agora was preferred for the construction of her temples. Also, it has been suggested that a temple foundation on the southwest of an Agora Basilica, lately uncovered in work carried out in Kelenderis, may belong to a temple of Tyche. As for the temple of Tyche at Diocaesareia, this is located in the west part of the city on the axis of the main street, which extends in an east west direction. However for the moment it does not seem possible to say what kind of city block it was located on.
At Smyrna the existence of a temple of Tyche is known only from epigraphic and numismatic evidence; like the other examples it was probably located in the area around the Agora. This supposition is further strengthened by a relief portrait of Tyche on a white marble keystone found in the Agora and dated to 180 C.E. or later (fig. 6). If one considers that one of the city towers was called the Agathe Tyche Tower, then the southern part of the Agora, near the fortification walls, or else the area between these same walls and this city block will be the most appropriate position for the localization of the temple (fig. 7).
Evaluating the function of the agora’s building complex will contribute to the above debate directed towards deducing which can be the most appropriate area chosen for the temples of Nemeseis and the Tyche at Smyrna. Although one may think that the state function of the Agora of Smyrna was foremost, or that it was designed for state use, today’s researchers avoid definitely calling this building complex a “State Agora”. The fact that one cannot answer the question of what purpose was served by the buildings that are probably still underground and waiting to be excavated on the eastern and southern sides of the agora influences such an attitude. However, the theories proposed by academics who take archaeological data and ancient sources as a base, while placing the state function of the Agora of Smyrna in the foreground, also present evidence that in some periods the area was used for commercial purposes. Though some results can be arrived at from archaeological evidence relevant to this use of the eastern side of the Agora, the situation is not the same for the southern side. Yet it is still possible to advance theories. For example Taşlıalan and Drew-Bear think that there was here a symmetrical portico, a terrace serving for religious activities or a nymphaeum. When one takes into consideration the evidence presented above it appears that, of these three possibilities, the most probable one is that the southern side of the Agora had a religious nature. According to this, it is within the realm of possibility that the temples of Nemeseis and Tyche were located in the still unexcavated southern building area of the Agora of Smyrna, or else immediately outside this city block on land towards the south near the theatre; the two structures may even have been near each other, perhaps placed side by side (fig. 7). At the base of such a thought lies the fact that Nemesis was mostly identified with Tyche, for these goddesses shared their cults and iconographies in the Roman Period. For example, at Balboura a statue of Tyche was erected in the same street as the Temple of Nemesis, on a sarcophagus from Aphrodisias the characteristics of three deities are united in a single complicated divine figüre, it has been established that a statue found at Corinth represents the Nemesis-Tyche combination, and at Dura, in addition to Cybele and Atargatis, Nemesis is also associated with Tyche; all these are of a nature to prove this idea. In the same way, on the Smyrna-Ephesus homonoia coins, the fact that Nemesis is shown as Tyche can be evaluated as a reflection of just such an approach.
Comparisons made among the narrative of Pausanias, the story of the Martyrdom of Pionios and similar examples are of a nature to verify the location of the temple of Nemeseis within the city of Smyrna. On the other hand, the portrait of Tyche upon a keystone found in the Agora of Smyrna can be interpreted as an indication that the Temple of Tyche may also be found in the area around the Agora. In that case, if one considers admitting the existence of a temple of Tyche in the same building block with the temple of Nemeseis, this also gives rise to the possibility that the Agathe Tyche Tower, mentioned in the inscription cited above, belonged to one of the city walls surrounding Pagus and facing north towards the bay. In the place where the temple of Tyche was built the equipping of this section of the city with a detailed water system must have ensured an environment convenient to supply the water needed to grow an apparently artificially formed grove of palm trees.
The theories put forth above concerning the localization are theories created in the absence of archaeological data. For this reason, in the Izmir of our own day, until the part of the city block that is buried under the modern city is expropriated and uncovered within the scope of work carried out for the protection of historical, environmental and cultural heritages, the location of the temples of Nemeseis and Tyche will remain a subject of argument.
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