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BRA´NCHIDAE (Βράγχιδαι). “After Poseideion, the promontory in the territory of the Milesians, is the oracle of Apollo Didymeus at Branchidae, about 18 stadia the ascent (from the sea).” (Strab. p. 634.) The remains of the temple are visible to one who sails along the coast. (Hamilton, Researches, &c., vol. ii. p. 29.) Pliny (5.29) places it 180 stadia from Miletus, and 20 from the sea. It was in the Milesian territory, and above the harbour Panormus. (Hdt. 1.157.) The name of the site of the temple [p. 1.428]was Didyma or Didymi (Δίδυμα, Steph. s.v. Hdt. 6.19), as we might also infer from the name of Apollo Didymeus; but the place was also called Branchidae, which was the name of a body of priests who had the care of the temple. Croesus, king of Lydia (Hdt. 1.46, 92), consulted the oracle, and made rich presents to the temple. The god of Branchidae was consulted by all the Ionians and Aeolians; and Necos, king of Egypt, after he had taken Cadytis (Hdt. 2.159), sent to the god the armour in which he had been victorious. We may infer that the fame of this god had been carried to Egypt by the Milesians, at least as early as the time of Necos. After the revolt of Miletus. and its capture by the Persians (B.C. 494) in the time of the first Darius, the sacred place at Didyma, that is the sacred place of Apollo Didymeus. both the temple and the oracular shrine were robbed and burnt by the Persians. If this is true, there was hardly time for the temple to be rebuilt and burnt again by Xerxes, the son of Darius, as Strabo says (p. 634); who also has a story that the priests (the Branchidae) gave up the treasures to Xerxes when he was flying back from Greece, and accompanied him. to escape the punishment of their treachery and sacrilege. (Comp. Strab. p. 517.)

The temple was subsequently rebuilt by the Milesians on an enormous scale; but it was so large, says Strabo, that it remained without a roof. A village grew up within the sacred precincts, which contained several temples and chapels. Pausanias (7.2) says that the temple of Apollo at Didymi was older than the Ionian settlements in Asia. The tomb of Neleus was shown on the way from Miletus to Didymi, as Pausanias writes it. It was adorned with many most costly and ancient ornaments. (Strabo.)

A road called the Sacred Way led from the sea up to the temple; it “was bordered on either side with statues on chairs, of a single block of stone, with the feet close together and the hands on the knees,--an exact imitation of the avenues of the temples of Egypt.” (Leake, Asia Minor, p. 239.) Sir W. Gell copied from the chair of a sitting statue on this way, a Boustrophedon inscription, which contains τωπολλωνι, that is τῷ Ἀπόλλωνι. The temple at Branchidae was of white marble, in some parts bluish. There remain only two columns with the architrave still standing; the rest is a heap of ruins. The height of the columns is 63 feet, with a diameter of 6 1/2 feet at the base of the shaft. It has 21 columns on the flanks, and 4 between the antae of the pronaos, 112 in all; for it was decastyle dipteral. Chandler describes the position and appearance of the ruins of Apollo's temple at Didyma (100.43, French Tr. with the notes of Servois and Barbié Du Bocage; see also the Ionian Antiquities, published by the Dilettanti Society).


hide References (7 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (7):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.46
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.92
    • Herodotus, Histories, 2.159
    • Herodotus, Histories, 6.19
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.157
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.2
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 5.29
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