The worship of goddess Athena is very old in Lindos. The ancient Rhodians attributed the construction of Athena’s temple to Danaus and his daughter who had passed through the island. Possibly, the prehistoric inhabitants worshipped a female deity called ”Lindia” and later identified it with goddess Athena. Athena Lindia, as they called her, was the goddess of nature and fertility like the matriarchal deities in Crete, including the famous “goddess of snakes”. 4 miracle stories, known as “epiphanies of goddess Athena” , are contained in the Lindos Chronicle. This is an inscription that contains a detailed account of the history and political situation of the city-state of Lindos during the Hellenistic period. Of the 4, only one is still totally legible, and two more are fragmentary.
The first miracle story is said to have occurred in the early 5th century BC during the campaign of the Persians against Athens. When the Persians besieged Lindos, the Lindians and the residents of the surrounding entrenched themselves in the acropolis of Lindos. Considering the difficulties of the conquest, the Persians chose to keep the siege until the Lindians would be forced to surrender from lack of water and food. The besieged Lindians then sought the help of the goddess Athena who actually appeared in the sleep of her high priest and promised him that she would ask Zeus to send rain. Indeed, after a while it started to rain, so the acropolis’ tanks became full of water. Upon seeing this, the Persian commander immediately calls off the siege, forms a treaty of friendship with the city, and makes lavish donations to Athena at her sanctuary.
The second “epiphany” of Athena is said to have occurred around the mid-4th century BC, when a man killed himself in her temple. The Lindians considered the incident as sacrilege and asked the oracle of Delphi help them purify the temple. Then the goddess appeared again in the sleep of her priest and advised him to remove the roof of the temple. After this to repair its top and make the typical purifications and offer sacrifice.
The third “epiphany” turns explicitly to Lindian relations with the outside world. Once more, Lindos is besieged, this time by Demetrius Poliorcetes. The goddess appeared six times in the sleep of Kallikles, her priest and advised him to ask the magistrate of Rhodes, Anaxipolis to write a letter to Ptolemy and ask him to help the Rhodians fight against Demetrius. If Anaxipolis followed the advice of the goddess, Athena herself would be in charge of the Rhodian army. She also said that if her advice wasn’t followed, the Rhodians would regret it. After that, the priest Kallikles went to the city and informed Anaxipolis and the Rhodian parliament members of the epiphany of the goddess. Then Kallikles was named “ambassador” of the Rhodians and he went to Egypt to get help from Ptolemy.
The Lindos Chronicle is an inscription from Lindos, dated to 9 BC. It records dedications made in the temple to Athena at Lindos prior to the destruction of the original temple in 392. The chronicle is considered as one of the longest surviving inscriptions ever. lt was excavated early in the 20th century by a Danish expedition, which found it used as paving block of the Byzantine church of Saint Stephen. The inscription was discovered near the ancient theater of Lindos and is now kept at the museum of Copenhagen. It contains decrees of Lindian, as well reports on previous dedications of rulers and generals to Athena Lindia.
The chronicle is inscribed on a marble slab, approximately eight-by-three feet, which is now broken into two pieces. The list of dedications contains about 45 entries, though only 37 of them are still legible. The chronicle provides valuable information about the political, social, and economic history of Lindos, and is an important source for the study of ancient Greek history and culture.
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