Wednesday, December 05, 2018
Festival of Artemis at Scillus
The country festival at Skillous founded and financed by Xenophon (Anab. 5.3.7-13) is another lovely case; indeed it would be hard to find a passage more instinct with Greek religious feeling than Xenophon's warm and graceful description of it.Xenophon, Anabasis 5.3.7-13 (tr. Carleton L. Brownson):
 In the time of Xenophon's exile and while he was living at Scillus, near Olympia, where he had been established as a colonist by the Lacedaemonians, Megabyzus came to Olympia to attend the games and returned to him his deposit. Upon receiving it Xenophon bought a plot of ground for the goddess in a place which Apollo's oracle appointed.Edith Hall, "Xenophon: Magician and Friend," in The Cambridge Companion to Xenophon, ed. Michael A. Flower (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), pp. 449-458 (at 455; footnote omitted):
 As it chanced, there flowed through the plot a river named Selinus; and at Ephesus likewise a Selinus river flows past the temple of Artemis. In both streams, moreover, there are fish and mussels, while in the plot at Scillus there is hunting of all manner of beasts of the chase.
 Here Xenophon built an altar and a temple with the sacred money, and from that time forth he would every year take the tithe of the products of the land in their season and offer sacrifice to the goddess, all the citizens and the men and women of the neighborhood taking part in the festival. And the goddess would provide for the banqueters barley meal and loaves of bread, wine and sweetmeats, and a portion of the sacrificial victims from the sacred herd as well as of the victims taken in the chase.
 For Xenophon's sons and the sons of the other citizens used to have a hunting expedition at the time of the festival, and any grown men who so wished would join them; and they captured their game partly from the sacred precinct itself and partly from Mount Pholöe—boars and gazelles and stags.
 The place is situated on the road which leads from Lacedaemon to Olympia, and is about twenty stadia from the temple of Zeus at Olympia. Within the sacred precinct there is meadowland and tree-covered hills, suited for the rearing of swine, goats, cattle and horses, so that even the draught animals which bring people to the festival have their feast also.
 Immediately surrounding the temple is a grove of cultivated trees, producing all sorts of dessert fruits in their season. The temple itself is like the one at Ephesus, although small as compared with great, and the image of the goddess, although cypress wood as compared with gold, is like the Ephesian image.
 Beside the temple stands a tablet with this inscription: THE PLACE IS SACRED TO ARTEMIS. HE WHO HOLDS IT AND ENJOYS ITS FRUITS MUST OFFER THE TITHE EVERY YEAR IN SACRIFICE, AND FROM THE REMAINDER MUST KEEP THE TEMPLE IN REPAIR. IF ANY ONE LEAVE THESE THINGS UNDONE, THE GODDESS WILL LOOK TO IT.
 Ἐπεὶ δ᾿ ἔφευγεν ὁ Ξενοφῶν, κατοικοῦντος ἤδη αὐτοῦ ἐν Σκιλλοῦντι ὑπὸ τῶν Λακεδαιμονίων οἰκισθέντος παρὰ τὴν Ὀλυμπίαν ἀφικνεῖται Μεγάβυζος εἰς Ὀλυμπίαν θεωρήσων καὶ ἀποδίδωσι τὴν παρακαταθήκην αὐτῷ. Ξενοφῶν δὲ λαβὼν χωρίον ὠνεῖται τῇ θεῷ ὅπου ἀνεῖλεν ὁ θεός.
 ἔτυχε δὲ διαρρέων διὰ τοῦ χωρίου ποταμὸς Σελινοῦς. καὶ ἐν Ἐφέσῳ δὲ παρὰ τὸν τῆς Ἀρτέμιδος νεὼν Σελινοῦς ποταμὸς παραρρεῖ. καὶ ἰχθύες τε ἐν ἀμφοτέροις ἔνεισι καὶ κόγχαι· ἐν δὲ τῷ ἐν Σκιλλοῦντι χωρίῳ καὶ θῆραι πάντων ὁπόσα ἐστὶν ἀγρευόμενα θηρία.
 ἐποίησε δὲ καὶ βωμὸν καὶ ναὸν ἀπὸ τοῦ ἱεροῦ ἀργυρίου, καὶ τὸ λοιπὸν δὲ ἀεὶ δεκατεύων τὰ ἐκ τοῦ ἀγροῦ ὡραῖα θυσίαν ἐποίει τῇ θεῷ, καὶ πάντες οἱ πολῖται καὶ οἱ πρόσχωροι ἄνδρες καὶ γυναῖκες μετεῖχον τῆς ἑορτῆς. παρεῖχε δὲ ἡ θεὸς τοῖς σκηνοῦσιν ἄλφιτα, ἄρτους, οἶνον, τραγήματα, καὶ τῶν θυομένων ἀπὸ τῆς ἱερᾶς νομῆς λάχος, καὶ τῶν θηρευομένων δέ.
 καὶ γὰρ θήραν ἐποιοῦντο εἰς τὴν ἑορτὴν οἵ τε Ξενοφῶντος παῖδες καὶ οἱ τῶν ἄλλων πολιτῶν, οἱ δὲ βουλόμενοι καὶ ἄνδρες συνεθήρων· καὶ ἡλίσκετο τὰ μὲν ἐξ αὐτοῦ τοῦ ἱεροῦ χώρου, τὰ δὲ καὶ ἐκ τῆς Φολόης, σύες καὶ δορκάδες καὶ ἔλαφοι.
 Ἔστι δὲ ὁ τόπος ᾗ ἐκ Λακεδαίμονος εἰς Ὀλυμπίαν πορεύονται ὡς εἴκοσι στάδιοι ἀπὸ τοῦ ἐν Ὀλυμπίᾳ Διὸς ἱεροῦ. ἔνι δ᾿ ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ χώρῳ καὶ λειμὼν καὶ ὄρη δένδρων μεστά, ἱκανὰ σῦς καὶ αἶγας καὶ βοῦς τρέφειν καὶ ἵππους, ὥστε καὶ τὰ τῶν εἰς τὴν ἑορτὴν ἰόντων ὑποζύγια εὐωχεῖσθαι.
 περὶ δὲ αὐτὸν τὸν ναὸν ἄλσος ἡμέρων δένδρων ἐφυτεύθη ὅσα ἐστὶ τρωκτὰ ὡραῖα. ὁ δὲ ναὸς ὡς μικρὸς μεγάλῳ τῷ ἐν Ἐφέσῳ ᾔκασται, καὶ το ξόανον ἔοικεν ὡς κυπαρίττινον χρυσῷ ὄντι τῷ ἐν Ἐφέσῳ.
 καὶ στήλη ἕστηκε παρὰ τὸν ναὸν γράμματα ἔχουσα· ΙΕΡΟΣ Ο ΧΩΡΟΣ ΤΗΣ ΑΡΤΕΜΙΔΟΣ. ΤΟΝ ΕΧΟΝΤΑ ΚΑΙ ΚΑΡΠΟΥΜΕΝΟΝ ΤΗΝ ΜΕΝ ΔΕΚΑΤΗΝ ΚΑΤΑΘΥΕΙΝ ΕΚΑΣΤΟΥ ΕΤΟΥΣ, ΕΚ ΔΕ ΤΟΥ ΠΕΡΙΤΤΟΥ ΤΟΝ ΝΑΟΝ ΕΠΙΣΚΕΥΑΖΕΙΝ. ΑΝ ΔΕ ΤΙΣ ΜΗ ΠΟΙΗΙ ΤΑΥΤΑ ΤΗΙ ΘΕΩΙ ΜΕΛΗΣΕΙ.
Along with accessibility, Dio specifies Xenophon’s virtue of making the reader feel the emotions of the moment he is describing. It is this quality which has led two scenes in particular to appeal to painters. The first is his idyllic description of the sanctuary he built for Artemis at his new home in Skillos near Olympia, where he settled with his wife and children some time after his adventures abroad. He would hold annual festivals there, with sumptuous banquets and hunting expeditions (Anabasis 5.3.7–10). This passage became a favorite of Italian Renaissance noblemen as offering an exemplary image of bountiful leadership; painters strove to capture the happiness of the moment. Sacrificio di Senofonte a Diana in the Palazzo Barberini in Rome, attributed to Pietro da Cortona, shows a bearded Xenophon standing in front of his temple and organizing the other men as they bring back their spoils from the hunt; to the right is his wife, with their little sons, one of whom is playing with a sheep. This painting was much imitated.The painting disappeared at the end of World War II. Here is a photograph:
See Timothy Rood, "Xenophon and the Barberini: Pietro da Cortona's Sacrifice to Diana," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 76 (2013) 1-22.