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Smintheum

Smintheum: temple of Apollo in the southwestern Troad, modern Gülpinar.

The shrine of Apollo Smintheus (Σμινθεύς, "destroyer of mice") is mentioned by Homer as the temple where Chryses was priest.note The town next to the temple was sometimes called Chryse, and the priest's daughter was therefore known as Chryseis, "the girl from Chryse", while the name of the priest simply means "the man from Chryse". She was taken captive by Agamemnon, who was besieging Troy.

Understandably, Chryses did not like the capture of his daughter and invoked his god to punish the Greeks. Apollo indeed intervened, and the beginning of the Iliad mentions a plague caused by Apollo's arrows, which forced the Greek commander to give back the girl to her father.

The sanctuary was shown in later times. If it is the site that Homer had in mind, we do not know, but it was certainly old: archaeologists have found traces of occupation that go back to the fifth millennium BCE.

The ruin we see today, however, is younger. It dates back to the mid-second century BCE, and has several Latin inscriptions. Measuring 22.4 x 40.3 meters, it has an unusual 8x14 Ionic columns of Proconessian marble. The cult statue, which is known from the coins of nearby Alexandria in the Troad, represented Apollo stepping on a mouse.

This page was created in 2003; last modified on 26 March 2014.