Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Ancient History

First Advisor

Jeremy McInerney




Kyle W. Mahoney

Jeremy McInerney

This dissertation surveys the history of the sanctuary of Zeus on Mt. Lykaion and its environment, from the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1600-1100 B.C.) to the Roman imperial period (ca. A.D. 200). I begin with a review of the myth traditions attached to the landscape, suggesting that these were familiar to Greek speakers all over the Mediterranean from early times. We can see their influence in our earliest poets, Homer and Hesiod, who indirectly acknowledge the birth of Zeus on Mt. Lykaion and other local myths. The remainder of Chapter 1 discusses Mt. Lykaion through a comparative mythological and linguistic lens. In Chapter 2, I argue that during the Bronze and Early Iron Ages Mt. Lykaion was closely connected to the mountainous area defined by the Alpheios, Neda, and Pamisos rivers. This fact is evidenced by shared cults and toponymy, conventions which are documented as early as the Pylian Linear B documents (ca. 1200 B.C.). From here I survey Mt. Lykaion in the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods. I argue that Sparta’s incursions into northern Messenia, Arcadia, and Kynouria during the Archaic period pushed Mt. Lykaion into the orbit of the eastern Arcadian cities. The myths and heroic genealogies of the two regions were eventually fused, and by the mid-fourth century B.C. the traditions of Lykaion came to predominate. Chapter 3 concludes with a discussion of the relationship between the Arcadian League and the sanctuary of Zeus Lykaios. Chapter 4 is a history of the Lykaian Games from ca. 600-200 B.C. All literary and epigraphical sources documenting the festival are reviewed, and I maintain that it was held every four years in April or early May of the fourth Olympiad year. Chapter 5 investigates the relationship between Mt. Lykaion and Rome. I argue that around A.D. 1/2 the Lykaia were supplemented by games in honor of the Roman emperor (the Kaisareia) based upon the mythical pedigree of the Roman festival of the Lupercalia, which was said to have been a reproduction of the Lykaia.

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