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by Archaeology Newsroom

Sacred Wedding and Fertility Rites in Ancient Aetolia

Mythical indications as well as archaeological evidence related to the Sacred Wedding or hierogamy, that is, the symbolic union of gods and humans, have been located in the area of prehistoric and historic Aetolia. The mythical indications of the rite of hierogamy in ancient Aetolia refer to the coupling of Queen Althaea, Oineas’ consort, with the god Dionysos in the town of Calydon in Aetolia; to the savage

boar, the tribal symbol of the Aetolians; to the monosandalia (wearing a single sandal), typical habit of the Aetolians and their mythical patriarch Aitolos which symbolized their own mystic faith in and expression of the Sacred Wedding; to the Hieroduleia or Sacred Prostitution of the Temples, exercised in Aphrodite’s temple in Calydon. The archaeological evidence is supplied by one of the decorated metopes of the Archaic temple dedicated to Apollo Lyseios or to Artemis at Thermo in Aetolia that survives in fragments and shows the “erotic union” of a male and a female figure.