Karadeniz Ereğli Müzesi’nden Herakles Aleksikakos’a Sunulan Bir Adağın Düşündürdükleri

Bülent ÖZTÜRK   682–698

 

Abstract: In this article an inscribed pedestal of a statuette held in the Karadeniz Ereğli Museum (Zon­guldak/Devrek province) is presented. From the inscription it is understood that a man named Asklepiodoros, following the order of an oracle, dedicated the statuette to Heracles Alexi­kakos. This votive object and inscription encourage reflection on the presence and impor­tance of Heracles’ cult in Roman Bithynia and specifically Heraclea Pontica, the city named after Heracles as its mythological founder; the origin and the character of Heracles Alexikakos; and the ways that orders given by oracles were received and enacted upon. Based on the epitheton “Alexi­kakos”, it is understood that this god’s qualities include warding off ill and mischief. The earliest mention of the god goes back to 429 BC when the commentator of Aristophanes’ Frogs notes that a shrine was built in his honour in the demos of Melitine following an outbreak of the plague at the be­ginning of Peloponnessian Wars; a statue of Heracles Alexikakos was created by the famous sculp­­tor Hageladas of Argos for this shrine to honour the god’s healing and heroic character. The sug­gested purpose of the dedication by Asklepiodoros to Heracles Alexikakos is also related to the god’s healing qualities, and was the result of an order of the oracle after an incubation in the shrine of Heracles, or after a dream in which he had direct contact with the god, possibly in order not to be infected with the plague that affected the region. Besides being the first known votive inscrip­tion to Heracles in the territory of Heraclea Pontica, the statue demonstrates continuity of the cult of Heracles in Roman Bithynia. Representations of the “feet of a man”, “club” and “lion skin” on the statuette puts forth this as a local variation of the famous Heracles Farnese of Lysippos pro­duced in a local atelier; “a boar under the club” makes a reference to the fourth of Heracles’ twelve Labours – the capture the Erymanthian boar.

Keywords: Heracles Alexikakos; Heraclea Pontica; Roman Bithynia; dedication; Asklepiodoros.

 

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