Sylvana Katsaounou

Sylvana Katsaounou (Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of Athens): “Reflections of the Hellenistic World on the Worship of Tyche. The Personification of a New Concept in the Hellenistic Societies and its Fusions in Art, Religion, and Politics”

 

Τhe Hellenistic era was marked by a series of unforeseeable events which changed humans’ worldview. The new world order drew the attention not only of common people but also of monarchs to abstract concepts that defined human life. The most popular was the concept of Tyche whose deification had been already noted since the Archaic times. However during the early Hellenistic period a new perception about Tyche was formed which indicates the uncertainty of life and the restless gaze of the individuals towards the instability of their era. Hellenistic philosophy, religion and art gave prominence to the so called “Agathe Tyche” elevating her to the highest but also to the most ambivalent concept. The present paper aims at pointing out the active role that this concept played in politics, society, economy, religion and art by presenting certain artistic works with depictions of the goddess in forms and symbols

that manifest the purpose of the Hellenistic monarchs to bring her to the foreground and have a personal connection with her. The examination of main centers of her cult throughout the Hellenistic world will shed light on the conceptual background of Tyche’s linkage to certain cities but also on her conflation with goddesses, like Kybele, whose consoling character acquired universal dimensions during the Hellenistic age. Representations of Tyche will be analyzed in order to clarify their conceptual framework regarding the correlation of the goddess with the different aspects of life in the Hellenistic period and illustrate reflections of the social changes

on the philosophical or theological context of her cult. In more detail this paper attempts to answer the following questions: How certain Hellenistic works, such as bas-reliefs, statues, altars and coins, connect Tyche with death, love and everyday life? Why is she often in an iconographical dependence on deities who are related with health and fertility, such as Asklepios and the fused goddesses Demeter, Rhea and Kybele? How the Hellenistic philosophers are involved in the mirroring of Tyche on great personalities starting with that of Alexander’s? What political and social ramifications the cult of the so-called King’s Tyche took and what did it mean for his personal prosperity but also for the well-being of his people? How depictions of the

goddess with symbols such as the mural crown connected her with the protection of cities but also with deities who were primarily worshipped as their protectors? Why almost every city had founded at least one shrine for the worship of Tyche and in what context this tutelary deity symbolized freedom and autonomy?

 

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