Remus M. Feraru


Jan. 22, 2024

Apollon Didymeus



Our study focuses on the cult of Apollo Didymeus in the Milesian colonies of the Propontis and the Euxine Pontus. The sanctuary at Didyma, a toponym of Carian origin, was one of the main centers of the cult of Apollo in Asia Minor. The cult of Apollo would have been established in Didyma sometime between the 11th and 8th centuries BC., during which Apollo would probably have adopted the Didymeus epiclesis, derived from the homonymous toponym. Beginning in the Archaic period, Milesian territory included the famous sanctuary of Apollo at Didyma, a settlement located 18 km south of Miletus. The importance of the sanctuary at Didyma resides in the major role it played in the colonization movement initiated by Miletus, around 700 BC, under the patronage of Apollo Didymeus. The name of Apollo from Didyma is associated with a multitude of epiclesis: Didymeus or occasionally Didymaios, Branchidai (Branchides, Branchiades, etc.), Branchios. Hekatos is one of the ancient cult epiclesis of Apollo the Didymean. The name Hekatos is used to denote the oracle god of Didyma. Apollo from Didyma is worshiped in the posture of Ἀρχηγέτης which means «founder». The term archegetes is synonymous with oïkistes and designates the leader of the colonists who is at the same time the founder of a colony. Archegetes also functions as Apollo’s cult epiclesis. Apollo Didymeus is worshiped with the epiclesis Προκαθηγεμών. This epithet characterizes Apollo of Didyma in his function as ruler, master and protective deity of the city. Apollo of Didyma is worshiped in the pose of Philesios / Philios which refers to the relationship between Apollo and Branchos, the founder of the oracle of Didyma. The bronze statue of Apollo of Didyma or Apollo Philesios, executed in the 6th century BC by the Peloponnesian sculptor Canachos of Sicyon, served as a cult image of Didyma until the Imperial era. The name of Apollo Didymeus appears on a bone plaque found at Berezan, dating from the third quarter of the 6th century BC. According to A. S. Rusjaeva and W. Burkert, the text of this inscription is a copy – probably private – of an oracle regarding the foundation of Olbia, issued by the sanctuary of Apollo Didymeus Milesius of Didyma. At Istros there is so far no definite evidence of the existence of the cult of Apollo Didymeus. And in the case of Apollonia Pontica it is expected that the oracle of Didyma played a special role in the foundation of the city. In this context, it is therefore plausible that the cult of Apollo Didymeus was transferred to Apollonia directly from Didyma. The very presence of the temple of Apollon Hégèmôn at Phasis is a direct testimony to the existence of the cult of Apollo Didymeus in this city, a cult that had been imported from the metropolis of Miletus. It is expected that this cult of Apollo Didymeus of Phasis was closely connected with the foundation of the colony in the first half of the 6th century BC. The Oracle of Apollo Didymeus sanctioned the founding of Cyzicus by Milesian colonists. In the Milesian colonies, as in Miletus, Apollo Didymeus fulfills the function of guarantor and initiator of the colonial movement and, at the same time, leader, master and protective deity of the newly established cities.