The Heroic Cult of Agamemnon

Gina Salapata

Abstract

The Atrid Agamemnon received cult in two Peloponnesian towns, Mycenae and Amyklai, both of which claimed to have his grave. The conflicting reports about the location of his grave correspond to early variations in the literary tradition about the location of the murder of the king and his consort Kassandra. The Lakonian version of the legend and the cult associated with it may have been promoted by the Spartans when they aspired to become the sovereigns of the Peloponnese.
Despite the heroic origins of Agamemnon, a persistent scholarly opinion assumes that the Spartans worshipped him as a manifestation of Zeus, a belief based on the reference of later literary sources to a cult of Zeus-Agamemnon. In this paper I aim to conclusively disprove the divine worship of Agamemnon in Lakonia and argue instead that he received heroic worship from the establishment of the sanctuary at Amyklai along with his consort Kassandra, known locally as Alexandra. The fusion of Zeus with Agamemnon was relatively late and probably the invention of the poet Lykophron.

Keywords

Agamemnon, hero, Kassandra, Amyklai, Zeus

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.26220/ele.4380

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