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The Mother of the Gods, Athens, and the Tyranny of AsiaA Study of Sovereignty in Ancient Religion$
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Mark Munn and Michael Rose

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780520243491

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520243491.001.0001

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The Mother of the Gods and Persian Sovereignty

The Mother of the Gods and Persian Sovereignty

(p.221) Chapter 6 The Mother of the Gods and Persian Sovereignty
The Mother of the Gods, Athens, and the Tyranny of Asia

Mark Munn

University of California Press

This chapter reviews the evidence for the Persian appropriation of symbols of Lydian sovereignty, beginning with earth and water. These elemental symbols of the basis of life prove to be part of the complex of symbols related to the ideology of Asiatic sovereignty centered at Sardis. Earth and water were abstractions of the Lydo-Ionian cosmogony that also found expression in divinity, most directly in Kybebe, Herodotus' “local deity” of the Sardians. She was the Asiatic Mother of the Gods, and the same emissaries from Darius who demanded earth and water of the Athenians in 491 also demanded recognition for this deity among the Athenians. The rejection of both by the Athenians was a decisive moment, arguably the single most decisive moment in determining the course of political, intellectual, and religious history in classical antiquity.

Keywords:   Persian empire, maternal deities, Kybebe, mythology, Athens, Greece, classical era

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