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Myth and Ritual at Sinope: From Diogenes the Cynic to Sanape the Amazon

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image of Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia

The interaction of myth and history at Sinope is explored with regard (1) to Diogenes the Cynic and (2) Sanape/Sinope the Amazon. The modern statue of Diogenes illustrates the abiding and changing significance of an individual whose myth is much more important than the more probable details of his biography. His dwelling in a storage-jar may echo the image of Sinope as a centre of production and exchange (especially in wine and oil), while his apparent exile from Sinope (with his father) may shed some light on the obscure history of the city around the turn of the fifth into the fourth century BC, especially in its dealings with Athens.

As for Amazons, it is argued that the distinction between Sinope the nymph and Sinope/Sanape the Amazon is not clear-cut, especially because the nymph was imagined (as often as not) as a daughter of Ares, like the Amazons. That explains why she is an Amazon (and not a nymph) in Pseudo-Scymnus, writing for a king of neighbouring Bithynia. The much-discussed version of Andron of Teos and his story of the hard-drinking Amazon may owe something to the city’s reputation for wine, but it seems to be marginal to the main-line tradition from Heraclitus to Pseudo-Scymnus and the Tabula Albana. Sinope was one of several cities of Asia Minor which claimed and celebrated an Amazon in its mythical past. Aeneas Tacticus gives a clue to Amazon cult practice in the city. The link with Amazons may also have assisted Sinope’s imperialism in the eastern Black Sea region.


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