“The Story of a New Name”: Cultic Innovation in Greek Cities of the Black Sea and the Northern Aegean Area

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Strong links between the cults of apoikiai and metropoleis, forging the Hellenic identity of the colonists, have long been recognised. In becomes increasingly clear that in addition, the mental world of the population of colonies was conditioned by amalgamation of Greek and local identities. The Greek-barbarian dichotomy and its corollaries are now questioned, and the emergence of colonial settlements is perceived as a gradual process, in which Greek and local traditions interacted and blended. Many important cults of Greek cities in the northern Aegaean and the Black Sea area, such as Abdera, Odessus, Olbia, Chersonesus, and the Cimmerian Bosporus, featured both Greek and indigenous elements, their scope and nature varying from place to place. Appropriation of local gods can also be viewed as part of appropriation of the local territory and its traditions. The adaptation of Hellenic gods to the new setting and worship of local gods started at an early stage and served as a powereful cognitive mechanism establishing safe ties to the environment, mediating between different ethnic groups, and shaping people’s self-image and communal identity. The innovations in cult were often expressed by changing names or epicleseis of deities, emphasizing the change in their nature and functions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-186
Number of pages28
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Black Sea cults, Achilles, Aphrodite, Artemis, Parthenos, Olbia, Bosporus, Odessus, Theos Megas, ancient Greek cults, ancient Greek religion, colonization


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