The Ancient Sanctuary:
Pausanias reports: After Aepytus, Aleus came to the throne. For Agamedes and Gortys, the sons of Stymphalus, were three generations removed from Arcas, and Aleus, the son of Apheidas, two generations. Aleus built the old sanctuary in Tegea of Athena Alea, and made Tegea the capital of his kingdom. (Paus. 8.4.8)
Pausanias reports: The ancient sanctuary of Athena Alea was made for the Tegeans by Aleus. Later on the Tegeans set up for the Goddess a large temple, worth seeing. The sanctuary was utterly destroyed by a fire which suddenly broke out when Diophantus was archon at Athens, in the second year of the ninety-sixth Olympiad, at which Eupolemus of Elis won the foot-race. (Paus. 8.45.4)
Pausanias reports: The modern temple is far superior to all other temples in the Peloponnesus on many grounds, especially for its size. Its first row of pillars is Doric, and the next to it Corinthian; also, outside the temple, stand pillars of the Ionic order. I discovered that its architect was Scopas the Parian, who made images in many places of ancient Greece, and some besides in Ionia and Caria. (Paus. 8.45.5)
On the front gable is the hunting of the Calydonian boar. The boar stands right in the center. On one side are Atalanta, Meleager, Theseus, Telamon, Peleus, Polydeuces, Iolaus, the partner in most of the labours of Hercules, and also the sons of Thestius, the brothers of Althaea, Prothous and Cometes. (Paus. 8.45.6)
On the other side of the boar is Epochus supporting Ancaeus who is now wounded and has dropped his axe; by his side is Castor, with Amphiaraus, the son of Oicles, next to whom is Hippothous, the son of Cercyon, son of Agamedes, son of Stymphalus. The last figure is Peirithous. On the gable at the back is a representation of Telephus fighting Achilles on the plain of the Caicus. (Paus. 8.45.7)
Pausanias reports: But when his fellow citizens charged him (Pausanias) with his slowness in this Boeotian campaign, he did not wait to stand his trial, but was received by the people of Tegea as a suppliant of Athena Alea. Now this sanctuary had been respected from early days by all the Peloponnesians, and afforded peculiar safety to its suppliants, as the Lacedaemonians showed in the case of Pausanias and of Leotychides before him, and the Argives in the case of Chrysis; they never wanted even to ask for these refugees, who were sitting as suppliants in the sanctuary, to be given up. (Paus. 3.5.6)
Or, being brought to trial in Lacedaemon he voluntarily went into exile to Tegea, where he sought sanctuary as a suppliant of Athena Alea.(Paus. 3.7.10)
Chryseis, the priestess of Hera, after the fire in the Heraeum, also went to the Temple of Tegea as suppliant of Athena Alea.
Pausanias reports: Above this temple (the Heraeum, fifteen stades distant from Mycenae) are the foundations of the earlier temple and such parts of it as were spared by the flames. It was burnt down because sleep overpowered Chryseis, the priestess of Hera, when the lamp before the wreaths set fire to them. Chryseis went to Tegea and supplicated Athena Alea. Although so great a disaster had befallen them the Argives did not take down the statue of Chryseis; it is still in position in front of the burnt temple. (Paus. 2.17.7)
Pausanias reports: The ancient image of Athena Alea, and with it the tusks of the Calydonian boar, were carried away by the Roman emperor Augustus after his defeat of Antonius and his allies, among whom were all the Arcadians except the Mantineans. (Paus. 8.46.1) The image of Athena Alea at Rome is as you enter the Forum made by Augustus. (Paus. 8.46.4)
Pausanias reports: Here then it has been set up, made throughout of ivory, the work of Endoeus. Those in charge of the curiosities say that one of the boar's tusks has broken off; the remaining one is kept in the gardens of the emperor, in a sanctuary of Dionysus, and is about half a fathom long. (Paus. 8.46.5)
The present image at Tegea was brought from the parish of Manthurenses, and among them it had the surname of Hippia (Goddess of Horses). According to their account, when the battle of the Gods and giants took place the Goddess drove the chariot and horses against Enceladus. Yet this Goddess too has come to receive the name of Alea among the Greeks generally and the Peloponnesians themselves. On one side of the image of Athena stands Asclepius, on the other Health, works of Scopas of Paros in Pentelic marble. (Paus. 8.47.1)
Pausanias reports: The altar for the Goddess was made, they say, by Melampus, the son of Amythaon. Represented on the altar are Rhea and the nymph Oenoe holding the baby Zeus. On either side are four figures: on one, Glauce, Neda, Theisoa and Anthracia; on the other Ide, Hagno, Alcinoe and Phrixa. There are also images of the Muses and of Memory. (Paus. 8.47.3)
Pausanias reports: The priest of Athena is a boy; I do not know how long his priesthood lasts, but it must be before, and not after, puberty. (Paus. 8.47.3)
Pausanias reports: Of the votive offerings in the temple these are the most notable. There is the hide of the Calydonian boar, rotted by age and by now altogether without bristles. Hanging up are the fetters, except such as have been destroyed by rust, worn by the Lacedaemonian prisoners when they dug the plain of Tegea. There have been dedicated a sacred couch of Athena, a portrait painting of Auge, and the shield of Marpessa, surnamed Choera, a woman of Tegea. (Paus. 8.47.2)
Laodice sent to Tegea a robe as a gift for Athena Alea, probably at the Aleaea Festival (see below).
Pausanias reports: Afterwards Laodice, a descendant of Agapenor, sent to Tegea a robe as a gift for Athena Alea. The inscription on the offering told as well the race of Laodice :--
This is the robe of Laodice; she offered it to her Athena,
Sending it to her broad fatherland from divine Cyprus. (Paus. 8.5.3)
Pausanias reports: To the north of the temple is a fountain, and at this fountain they say that Auge was outraged by Hercules. (Paus. 8.47.4)
Pausanias reports: Not far from the temple is a stadium formed by a mound of earth, where they celebrate games, one festival called Aleaea after Athena, the other Halotia (Capture Festival) because they captured the greater part of the Lacedaemonians alive in the battle. (Paus. 8.47.4)
Just north of the Temple can be seen the large basin with marble sides and steps were Hercules abducted Auge, the priestess of Athena.
Several fragments of statues and sculptures have been found: the most important, representing the hunting of the Calydonian boar (the Calydonian boar and the head of Atalanta), are exposed at the museum of Athens, others are in the small local museum.
Copyright ©1998-1999 Roy George