previous next

[444] ἀμνίον is the vessel for the blood, probably connected with “αἷμα”. Curt. suggests a connection with “ἀμίς”.

Νέστωρ. There is little truth in the common notion that the office of King and Priest was originally vested in the same person. Of the Homeric King— here, for example, of Nestor—it is true in that sense alone in which every head of a family is his own “ἱερεύς” at home. This was purely a domestic sacrifice. Otherwise the several gods had their own “ἱερεῖς”, and as Lobeck (Aglaoph. 258) observes, in the only instances where a state sacrifice is offered, namely at the beginning of this book and Od.21. 258, the sacrificer is not specified.

The following statement of Aristotle cannot accordingly apply to the Homeric Kings, but only to later, though still early, times. The Kings he says (Pol. 3. 14. 11-12)κατὰ τοὺς ἡρωικοὺς χρόνους . . κύριοι ἦσαν . . τῶν θυσιῶν ὅσαι μὴ ἱερατικαί”, and these he explains (6. 8. 20) to be “ὅσας μὴ τοῖς ἱερεῦσιν ἀποδίδωσιν νόμος, ἀλλ᾽ ἀπὸ τῆς κοινῆς ἑστίας ἔχουσι τὴν τιμήν” (‘but the ministers whereof derived their office from the state altarhearth’). That is, when a state, whether by adopting the family gods of its royal house, or otherwise, had come to have its tutelar deities and rites and altarhearths, the Kings were naturally made the ministers of the national tutelars as such. To such a ministry reference is made in Hdt.4. 161τῷ βασιλέι τεμένεα ἐξελὼν καὶ ἱρωσύνας τὰ ἄλλα πάντα τὰ πρότερα εἶχον οἱ βασιλέες ἐς μέσον τῷ δήμῳ ἔθηκε”, and the Athenian Archons had stated sacrifices to perform for the same reason. But the state-officers exercised no priestly function except with reference to the state-tutelars.

Thus, any peculiar connection of the kingly office with the sacerdotal can only be admitted under two considerable limitations. First, it was a post-primitive accretion which only arose along with the worship of state-tutelars. Secondly, at no time whatever did it exist beyond this range; witness Aristotle as already quoted. The temples had their own priests; it was only at the “πρυτανεῖον τῆς πόλεως” that the King could officiate. Virgil's crude antiquarian fact in Aen.3. 81‘Rex Anius, rex idem hominum Phoebique sacerdos,’ is an instance either of a tutelar connection of Apollo with the community of which Anius was King, or of a combination of offices worth mentioning on account of its singularity.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide References (5 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (5):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: