Greek city-state patron gods

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Ancient Greek temples were dedicated to a certain deity. A typical temple would have a statue inside. An altar would be placed outside, upon which offerings would be placed as sacrifices to the city's patron deity. The Parthenon is a famous example of an Ancient Greek temple.

Athena and Apollo are among the most common choices of patron gods of the ancient Greek cities.[1]

Examples of city-state patron gods[edit]

  • Athens worshipped Athena, the goddess of wisdom, as a patron city-state god.[2] The designation of Athena as patron of Athens occurred during the Great Panathenaea in 566 B.C., potentially coinciding with construction of the Altar of Athena Polias.[3] An epithet of Athena commonly referred to as Athena Alea, served as patron of the cities of Alea, Mantinea and Tegea.
  • Sparta worshipped Athena as their patron goddess, under the epithet "Athena Poliachos" (Athena Protector of the City).[4] However, Apollo was a favorite of Spartans and was widely worshipped in the most important religious celebrations in the polis.[5]
  • Delphi and Delos had Apollo as their patron god, and honored him as Delphian Apollo and Delian Apollo respectively. Delos was considered to be the birthplace of the god.
  • Elis and Olympia had Zeus as their city god. The statue of Zeus at Olympia was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.[6]
  • Syracuse, as with Athens, worshipped Athena. Reference to Athena can be seen on their city-state banner.[7]
  • Thespiae was a city/state that worshiped Eros. Due to this, the Thespian hoplites would bear the crescent moon symbol on their shield, the crescent moon was "the lunar Aphrodite". The was a bull's foot. Another name for Dionysus was Axios Tauros, which translates as 'worthy bull'.[8]
  • Corinth chose Poseidon, lord of the sea, as their city-state patron god.[9]
  • The patron god of Thebes was Apollo and Dionysus, also called Bacchus and Iacchos. Dionysus' mother, Semele, was a Theban princess. Sophocles includes in his play Antigone an ode to Dionysus, the guardian of Thebes. Because Thebans had close ties with Delphi, Apollo was also the patron god of the city.[10]
  • Megara worshipped Apollo as their patron god, and as such, he is lauded by the poet Theognis of Megara in his collection of works Theognidea as guardian of the city.[11]
  • The polis of Argos was dedicated to the worship of Hera.[12]
  • The island city-state of Samos, in the Aegean Sea, worshipped Hera too as their patron.[13]
  • Rhodes was a city on an island, which built the Colossus of Rhodes, a giant statue, in honor to their patron god, Helios.[14]
  • Both Eretria and Epidauros worshipped Apollo as their patron god. Eretria, as Apollo Daphnephoros; and Epidauros as Apollo Maleatas (Apollo's son, Asklepios, was also worshipped at Epidauros).[15]
  • The patron god of the city of Miletus, in Asia Minor, was Apollo. The sanctuary and oracle of Didyma, devoted to Apollo, was within Miletus' territory.[16]
  • The patron goddess of Ephesus, also in Asia Minor, was Artemis, who had been identified with an oriental mother goddess, like Cybele.[17] The Temple of Artemis, or Artemision, in Ephesus was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
  • The city of Cnidus, in Asia Minor, worshiped Aphrodite as their patron.[18]


  1. ^ Cole 1995, p.300
  2. ^ Buckley 2010, p. 103
  3. ^ Buckley 2010, p. 110
  4. ^ Cartledge 2002, p. 309
  5. ^ Peterson 1992
  6. ^ Connolly & Solway 2001
  7. ^ Hansen 2006
  8. ^ Rhodes 2007
  9. ^ Kearns 2009
  10. ^ "Antigone". Sophocles. Translated by Robin Bond.
  11. ^ Zhou 2010, pp.76-77
  12. ^ Burkert 1985, p. 139
  13. ^ Cole 1995, p.295
  14. ^ Connolly & Solway 2001
  15. ^ Cole 1995, p.300
  16. ^ Cartledge 2011, p.40
  17. ^ Fine 1983, p.128
  18. ^ Cole 1995, p.295


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