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Athenian religious life was distinguished by a variety of cults, each of which was “assigned” to a certain association, which financed this cult, organized related festivals and sacrifi ces and nominated the cult personnel: so, there were cults that were in the competence of the polis, demes, clans, phratries, private cult associations. The phyle was also such an association, which had its own cult system. The cult activity of phylai was reduced mainly to a single cult – the cult of the eponymous hero of a phyle, and this is an essential feature of the sacral life of a phyle, unlike other associations, where the number of deities was unlimited. Each eponym had its own sanctuary, near which meetings of the phyle took place and where sacrifi ces were made. Priests from the phyle were originally clan’s priests, who served the cult of the eponymous hero from ancient times. From the end of the 5th – beginning of the 4th century BC, changes begin in the structure of the priesthood, and persons elected from among the phyletai could become the priests; however, connections with the ancestral priesthood were never interrupted. Each phyle had its own land estates, the proceeds from which went to the structure of its cult. Phylai as the structuring units of the polis took part in organizing the religious life of Athens, undertaking the duties of recruiting and training teams for festival competitions, as well as the task of recruiting ephebes who took an active part in religious ceremonies of the polis.


Ancient Greece, Athens, religion, phyle, priests, eponymous hero.

Valeriya S. Lenskaya

Institute of World History, Russian Academy of sciences, Moscow, Russia

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