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Religion in Antiquity

Mother of the Gods
Eastern divinities

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Silver relief head of Herakles adorning the handle of a silver alabastron from the Tomb of Philip at Vergina, third quarter of 4th century BC, Thessaloniki, Archaeological Museum.

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Vergina, third quarter
of 4th century BC

Herakles son of Zeus was worshipped in Macedonia as a god rather than a simple hero. First the royal house of the Temenidai and later that of the Antigonids invoked him as Patroos (forefather), that is as mythical progenitor of their dynasty whose origins derived from the Heraklidai of Argos.

Herakles, the god of prowess, was the natural protector of youths when they came of age, but also of manumitted slaves. He was also invoked as Kallinikos or Epinikos, the giver of military might and physical vigour.

Above all, however, in Macedonia Herakles was invoked as Kynagidas, protector of hunters in general and of the 'kynegoi' (hunters) in particular, a special corps of youths at the royal court. His most famed sanctuary was at Beroia near the ancient Macedonian capital of Aigai. His symbols, the lion-skin and the club, were both national and royal emblems and adorned the coins and seals of the Macedonians.

See Also
Travelling - Aigai (Vergina)
Ancient Pella

Macedonian Heritage
Content courtesy Ekdotike Athenon S.A.