Apollo in Sicily
: Analysing Apolline cultic perceptions in Archaic and early Classical Syracuse, Selinous, and Gela as compared to those in their founding cities

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Philosophy


This thesis analyses the cults of Apollo in the Greek Sicilian settlements of Syracuse, Selinous, and Gela as compared to those in their founding places of Corinth, Megara, and Rhodes in the Greek homeland. Arguably one of the most well-known deities of the Greek pantheon, Apollo has generally been under- and misrepresented in research comprised on religion in the Sicilian Greek settlements. In the cases where he functions as the main subject of such examination, the focus is principally set on his assumed involvement as the oracular god of Delphi instead of an individually viable deity. The establishment of the earliest poleison the island during the eighth century BC suggests that their foundations occurred prior to the expansion of Delphi into a Panhellenic sanctuary and the subsequent involvement of its oracle in overseas settling. This study argues that the cults of Apollo in the Sicilian Greek case studies did not develop according to the assumed involvement of Delph in their foundations. Instead, it concerns an individual development of the god in these three cities with differing degrees of founder influences. As such, it proposes that Apollo became significant in these settlements due to the fact that every one of them deemed certain aspects of his character useful for the development and maintenance of their societies. While some of these were inspired by founders, this does not seem to have been the case for most of them. In order to place this development of Apolline perceptions in the wider context of Greek overseas settling, a comparison is made between the case studies of this thesis and Miletos and its settlements. Similar to the Sicilian Greek case studies, the latter also show a varying degree of Milesian influence. Hence, the thesis also proposes that the diversification of Apolline cults was not limited to Sicily, but was likely also observed in other parts of the Mediterranean subject to Greek settling. Additionally, it is not unreasonable to consider comparable developments in the cults of other deities, which could make interesting cases for further research.

Date of Award1 Apr 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorIrene Polinskaya (Supervisor) & Hugh Bowden (Supervisor)

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