Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Plague Conquered By Hero Veneration


Ancient Greek religion is, of course, ripe with mythology, but just because it's called a myth doesn't mean it's untrue, and second, we know that myths were often centered around real events, such as the Trojan War. While reading a new book today called Seers, Shrines and Sirens, I came across a Hero I had never before learned about, which is why I encourage Hellenists, no matter how long they've been at study and practice, to always read something new. They may discover a new Hero, God or story to their life and knowledge. The stories and histories of ancient Greece speak regularly about a veneration, sacrifice or action that delivered people from plagues, famine and destruction. In this case, I found new information on these instances, which I suppose spoke to me directly because we today are just now coming out of our own plague, Covid19.

The Hero is named Trophonios. Although sources say that it was not officially decided whether He was a God, Spirit or Hero, the Oracle of Delphi seems to have called Him a Hero. His Cult center was located in Boeotia, Greece, in an area called Livadeia. Trophonios was the legendary builder of the Temple of Apollon at Delphi itself, along with a man named Agamedes, and died 7 days after (the 7th day of each New Moon being sacred to Apollon). But this was not His only great feat or adventure. According to the historian Pausanias, He constructed a secret treasure chamber for the king of Boetoia, a fortune which He and His partner Agamedes tried to steal. Trophonios got away from the traps set by the king, but His partner was killed. Trophonios then went into an unknown cave location in the City of Livadeia and was never seen again.

The veneration of the Hero, seemingly, did not return to the City until the people in later history suffered a plague. Upon consulting the Oracle of Delphi, they were advised that a Hero was angry for not being venerated. If they could locate His resting place and worship Him, the plague would cease. When they eventually found the Cave of Trophonios, where His body apparently resided, the plague vanished. Legend has it that a shepherd was led to the discovery by a swarm of bees, hence the Hero's connection with the honey-making insects. The Cave was used in ancient times as the residence of the Oracle of Trophonios. We know it existed because Pausanias himself visited the Cave and the Oracle, and describes the experience in detail. You can read the account by clicking here.

So how do we venerate this very ancient Hero today? I have actually begun collecting charms for my daily clothes that I am going to bless as amulets of Heroes. This one I have chosen for Trophonios is below.


The bee, as explained above, is sacred to Trophonios, and the crown above is His association with the royalty of His land which ended up contributing to His Heroism. The gold represents the purity, light and genuineness of Apollon and His center at Delphi, Delphi being a place that the Hero had a notable hand in building. Finally, as His Oracle was a famous one, the silver stands for the mystical side of life. This charm, of course, was not created with such intent. I found it at a local craft store, but such beautiful things can be easily found and made into religious and spiritual items. The Amulet or Charm of Trophonios is used to invoke the Hero into my daily life, but also to protect against plague and injury when worn, and to invoke good fortune and wealth. Everything about this Hero is handsomely connected as well, and thus makes so much sense. Bees are sacred to Trophonios who was a servant of Apollon, who is the Healing God, and honey from bees is scientifically a curative antibacterial element for preventing infections. Plagues are also caused by infections, which the Hero banished when He was invoked in the ancient setting. 

To my understanding Trophonios is a Hero who can be prayed to for good health, protection against disease, healing, escaping hard situations, and prophecy. He is the Patron of Boeotia, architects, beekeepers, doctors, medicine and oracles. Offerings to Him naturally would be honey, gold and silver.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

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