Taking Apollo by the horns. Reconsidering the cult(s) of Apollo Karneios in the Mediterranean.
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This dissertation examines Apollo Karneios’ cult(s) in its religious, festive, and political aspects, and investigates the deity’s role in civic and ethnic identities: one of the most striking features of the cult of this deity is the evidence for its presence in many Dorian communities throughout the Mediterranean, particularly in Sparta, where Apollo Karneios’ cult was of central significance. My research endeavours to clarify the cult’s use in political relations between ancient Sparta and its colonies, and interrogates the evidence to determine where and when the cult originated; how we can recognise the deity in visual material; if Karneios was a Spartan god, or if he ‘belonged’ to all Dorians; and the role of his cult in the foundation of Spartan colonies, such as Thera and Cyrene. This work begins with a review of how previous scholarship addressed those issues raised above, and continues with an analysis of the iconography of the deity, combining literary sources with autopsy of the material evidence, which includes sculpted stelai, archaeological sites and monuments, and most numerous of all, inscriptions. Organising the evidence according to geographical areas, my work progresses comparing and contrasting the manifestation and character of the cult in various locations. In addition, my new readings of literary and epigraphical sources, combined with first-hand study of archaeological evidence, result in new reconstructions of monuments related to Karneios’ cult, and offers a new interpretation of Spartan civic and religious topography. As a last step, my research argues that although the cult displays regional variations to reflect local identities, the many similarities established a Dorian network around the Mediterranean, which changed over time. This study contributes to the ongoing discussion on the formation and modifications of local identities and political relations among the Dorian poleis of the Mediterranean, highlighting the role of religion, and, in particular of Apollo Karneios in this complex historical process.