Hero/ine-Cults in Helenic Religion

A hero/ine  is a person real or mythical who lived and dye and whose tomb can be a place of worship. They death stress the difference with a God/dess, but this difference was erased on time.

The word hero is probably being connected to Hera, as a possible consort figure of this Godddes, though this vision is not proved. Hero/ine-Cults use to be very local phenomena, sometimes surrounding the burial place of the hero/ine.

For Hesiods, Heroes are one of the four races, appearing after gold, silver and bronze ages. Some classical heroes are Helen of Sparta, Odysseus on Ithaca and Agamemnon at Mycenae.

Most of heroes are male warriors giving the modern use of the word, but there is plenty of female heroines, most of the time, virgins who gave their lives to save they relatives or city. Some heroes and heroines were previously considered goddesses like Cassandra and Helen of Sparta.

Some heroes were historical figures; athletes, politicians, warriors and a great number of them were not benevolent.Hero/Ines might help the living or might be worship to prevent they anger. Some heroes were considered harmful as Orestes.

The main ritual in hero-cult was an animal sacrifice or other food sacrifice, shared on a meal afterwards. Sometimes the rites included theoxenia (gods entertainment) with the preparation of a couch and an invitation to the hero/ine to come as a guest.


Heroes and Hero-Cults        Gunnel Ekroth