Apollon: Soranus, Lykeios and Karneiosu

In many ways there seems to be a distinct relation between Apollo Soranus and Apollon Lykeios. It could be possibly that when the Romans identified the Sabine god Soranus with Apollon, that they were being informed by characteristics that were common between this god and the wolfish Apollon, whom they were apparently aware via the cult of Faunus and Lupercus familiar at the Lupercalia from which was believed to originate from the natal myths of Zeus honored with Pan and Apollon Lykeios high upon the mountain on which Zeus was reared. This would certainly explain why, after adopting the identity of Apollon that his followers were themselves teferred to as wolves.

As the rites of Apollo Soranus are believed by academica to be associated explicity to the warming of the earth by the sun, it can likely reaffirm, if true, the link to the Pelopennesian Apollon as there we find Apollon Lykeios addressed in Arkadia as one of the two seasons, undeniably the dry season of light as Apollon Lykeios is strongly associated with the twilight hour, that time which brackets the day. This is used as a metephor by Apollodorod Rhodios (Rhodes being a Doric colony) in which Apollon, returning to Hellas is addressed as Lykeios. Commonly among the Doric people, this would also have been true too of Apollon Karneios whose pinecone specifically represented the dry season in which the fruits of the earth chiefly developed. The firewalking of the wolves of Soranus may be well linked to this as well as that of purification and personal sacrifice for this food wealth. Such concepts of sacrifice are hardly uncommon in the various cults of Apollon.

Soranus, though, seemed to enjoy one festival per year. That it is known that tithes of harvest were offered up to him, it is likely that it would have coincided with this festival and therefore after the grain harvest, possibly also includive of the shepherd and vineyard harvests as we find it is utterly common for wolfish gods also to be pastoral gods such ad in the case of Apollon, Pan and Zeus. This would have probably made the festival of Soranus, like the Karneia, in August. As Spartans had considerable colonies throughout southern Italy it seems credible to at least make this suggestion that this particular influence may have become part if the Italian cult. This suggested date could potentially carry more weight if it can be shown that the grain harvests were a bit more delayed than in the Aegean. That the ritual was a communal affair in which offerings were carried by the wolf priests over coals certainly in my mind reinforces a post harvest tithing to the god. Of course as these are wolfish priests it is likely that the greater part of the sacrifice would be that of flesh as would be fitting for shepherd sacrifices of young fat summer rams nurtured from the pick of the spring lambs as we find with Apollon Karneios.

That Soranus may have death and purification associations in his cult does not make any disassociation from Apollon as the case may be. As Apollon often had sanctuaries high in the mountains, it is likely that some of these were held near venerated caves, or even certain rites beld in caves as in the case of honoring the god in the cave where Creousa abandoned her son Ion to the care of his father and where she conceived Ion. Likewise in Delphi, Delphus was conceived and born in a cave at Delphi by a local nymph to Apollon. This also does not take into account the numerous examples of Apollon as guardian of the tomb. If we considered Hyperborea, the garden of Apollon, may have been an spiritworld paradise ruled by him, we can see bis departure and return from there bearing the golden harvest to be pertinent to the grain mysteries of Demeter. Thus Apollon Lykeios emerges and returns to his garden as we have seen above at the twilight of his season, and would explain some of the enormity of his spring purification rituals, as well as his more protective functions where we see Apollin Lykeios repel looters from Delphi and safeguard the riches in a cave. His role as a destroyer by winds as in Rhodes where as a wolf Apollon destroyed the Telchines with wind, also announces the end of the growing season when certain rituals were carried out in Rome to protect ripening crops from autumn storms arriving too early.

In short, focusing on Apollo Soranus puts us in touch with specific functions of Apollon that deal with the balance of earth vitality with the necessity of death. The cycle that is so part of Apollon’s nature in which rot and decay, death, feeds life.


1 thought on “Apollon: Soranus, Lykeios and Karneiosu

  1. Pingback: Apollo Soranus – We Are Star Stuff

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