Sponsored by: Willamette University, The Center for Ancient Studies and Archaeology
Professor, Dept. of Classical Studies, Willamette University
In Classical and Hellenistic Greece Hecate was renowned as a witch and moon goddess, but her origins remain a mystery, especially since her earliest mentions in literature and archaeological finds seem to describe a very different personality: a city goddess of Miletus, amenable to prayer (Hesiod’s Theogony), and a maidenly helper of Demeter (Homeric Hymn to Demeter). I delve into possible parallels with Bronze Age goddesses in Anatolia, using Hittite narratives, prayers, and magical incantations performed by “Old Women” that mention the Sun-goddess of the Earth and the Sun-goddess of the holy city Arinna to explain both the prehistory of her seemingly anomalous characterization in the Archaic period, and how she morphed into the witch goddess of later times.