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THERAPNAI or Therapne Greece.

The site lay at the top of the bluffs beside the E bank of the river Eurotas, to the SE of Classical Sparta. Remains of a Late Helladic settlement have been found on the hill tops, but nothing of a palatial character. It has been suggested that the Homeric city of Lakedaimon was at or near Therapnai (Toynbee); others, however, argue that Lakedaimon in Homer means the country ruled by Menelaos, not the seat of his power (Hope Simpson & Lazenby).

A massive platform (16 x 23 m) built in the 5th c. B.C. supported an altar—and perhaps a temple—of Helen, who together with Menelaos was worshiped at Therapnai as a divinity. A temple at Therapnai is mentioned by Alkman (F 14 Page). The cult center was also called the Menelaion (Polyb. 5.18.3; 5.22.3). Helen of Therapnai may originally have been a Lakonian nature goddess (cf. Helen's tree: Theok. Idyll 18.47). Bronze, lead, and other votives found at the Menelaion show that a cult lasted from early Geometric times until the 4th c. B.C. Pindar in Nemean 10 associates the Dioskouroi with Therapnai, but they were less significant there than Helen and her husband.


Hdt. 6.61; Isok. Helen 63; J. G. Fraser, Paus. Des. Gr. (1898) III.358-60; A.J.B. Wace & M. S. Thompson, BSA 15 (1908-9) 108-16; A. J. Toynbee, JHS 33 (1913) 246-47; F. Bolte, RE X (1934) 2350-65; F. W. Walbank, A Historical Commentary on Polybius (1957-) I.553; H. Waterhouse & R. Hope Simpson in BSA 55 (1960) 72-73; R. Hope Simpson & J. F. Lazenby, The Catalogue of the Ships in Homer's Iliad (1970) 74.


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