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Sculptural Display of the Smintheion in Troas: visual rhetoric in the context of a Hellenistic sanctuary

Journal: RUDN Journal of World History (Vol.14, No. 3)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 338-348

Keywords : Apollo Smintheus; Smintheion; Troas; columnae caelatae; Iliad; Homer; Hellenistic architectural sculpture;

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The temple of Apollo Smintheus near the village of Gülpınar (north-western Turkey, Troas) is undoubtedly among the most important monuments of the Hellenistic Age. The latest publications on the temple and sanctuary complex allow a more accurate and precise assessment of this remarkable building. Apollo bearing the epithet “Smintheus” (“Lord of mice”) appears in the opening lines of the Iliad and the very place of action is localized in the vicinity of Chrysa - an ancient town found near modern Göztepe, not far from Smintheion. These “Homeric” associations are reflected in the sculptural decoration of the temple: its frieze depicts scenes from the Iliad and later epic poems. Such a representation of the Trojan cycle, as a continuous narrative with direct reference to Homer and post-Homeric texts, has no precedent in earlier temple sculptures. In addition to the continuous frieze in the entablature, the sculptural decoration of the temple included columnae caelatae of two types - ornamental and figurative ones. Being placed on the top of the columns they formed a single semantic and visual unit with the frieze. In the present article the reach sculptural display of the temple is carefully analyzed. The author demonstrates the way in which various visual languages - narrative, associative, and symbolic - were involved in the mechanisms of creating memory, maintaining the aristocratic ideology and specific aspects of the local cult.

Last modified: 2022-09-16 21:38:07