Sacred Geography of the Ancient Greeks

Astrological Symbolism in Art, Architecture, and Landscape

By Jean Richer
Translated by Christine Rhone

Subjects: Classics
Series: SUNY series in Western Esoteric Traditions
Paperback : 9780791420249, 319 pages, December 1994
Hardcover : 9780791420232, 319 pages, December 1994

Table of contents

List of Maps


Translator's Preface


Chapter 1. Theory of Alignments


1. Delphi: Apollo and Athena
2. The Meridian of Delphi: Tempe-Delphi-Sparta-Cape Taenarum
3. Bassac, Tegea, Corinth
4. From Crete to Hyperborea
5. Leucas
6. The Four Temples of Hermione
7. The Oracle of Ptoon
8. The Apparently "Abnormal" Orientations of Temples: Bassae, Delos


Chapter 2. Interpretation of the Alignments. The Zodiacal Wheel Centered on Delphi. A Text of Plato's


1. Cephallenia or Aries
2. "Cow-eyed" Hera. Olympia
3. Gemini and Sparta
4. Cancer and the Moon
5. Leo, the Solar Sign
6. Athens, Delos, and the Sign of Virgo
7. Libra, Harmonia, and Thebes
8. Scorpio or the Eagle
9. The Land of the Centaurs: Chiron the Sagittarian
10. Capricorn and Hyperborea
11. Aquarius
12. Pisces. Cassiopeia
13. A Text of Plato's


Chapter 3. The System Centered on Delos


1. The Zodiacal Division
2. The Signs
3. Delphi and Delos
4. Delphi and Sardis


Chapter 4. An Anatolian System Centered on Sardis


1. The Omphalos of Sardis
2. The Zodiacal Wheel Centered on Sardis: the Signs
3. The Three Zodiacal Wheels of the Aegean


Chapter 5. The Constellations, Return to Delphi. Demeter, Artemis, and Athena


1. Ursa Major: Artemis, Brauron
2. Ursa Minor
3. Return to Delphi: the Agrenon
4. Demeter-Gemeter
5. Artemis
6. Brauron, Ephesus, and the Cave of the Bear
7. Athena


Chapter 6. The World Axis and the Planetary Lines. Symbols of the Pole


1. The Gateways of the Solstices
2. The Descent of Souls: from Taenarum to Delphi
3. The Ascent of Souls: from Delphi to Olympus
4. World Axes and Planetary Lines in the Systems of Delos and Sardis
5. The Nonzodiacal Constellations and Symbols of the Pole
6. The Boar, Symbol of the Pole; the Oath on the Boar


Chapter 7. The Zodiacal Division of Attica and the Mysteries: Agrae and Eleusis


1. The Zodiacal Division
2. The Mysteries: Agrae and Eleusis
3. An Unusual Monument


Chapter 8. Zodiacal Wheels as Keys to Decoding. The Gods and the Zodiac


1. The Homeric Hymn to Hermes
2. Hermes and Athens: the Charites; Cephalus
3. The Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite
4. Hephaestus. Scorpio. The Journey of Sacrifices. The Sacrifices. Sexual Magic
5. Poseidon, the Horse-god, and the Sign of Gemini


Chapter 9. The Cult of Zeus. Sardis, Delphi, and the Oasis of Siwa. A System Centered on Ammoneion


1. Sites of the Cult of Zeus
2. The Sardis-Delphi-Ammoneion Triangle
3. Myths and Monuments Confirming the Existence of this System
4. The Legend of Ammon and the Ritual of the Oracle


Chapter 10. The Calendars of Heracles. Guardians of the Signs


1. Heracles and the Peloponnese: the System Centered on Phlius
2. The Ancient Guardians of the Zodiac ("Hesiodic Guardians")
3. Heracles and Omphale
4. A More General System. The Directions of Space
5. Vestiges of an Earlier Zodiac in the Legend of Heracles; the Sign of the Boar
6. Heracles and Apollo


Chapter 11. The Astral Significance of Greek Myths and Heroes


1. Myths and Rites of the Spring Equinox
2. Castor and Pollux
3. Helen and Cancer
4. The Cancer-Capricorn Axis: Zeus and Typhon
5. Orion and the Taurus-Scorpio Axis
6. Cadmus and Harmonia or Scorpio and Libra
7. Perseus, Solar Hero and Champion of Athena
8. Bellerophon, Corinth, and Lycia
9. The Heroic Deeds of Theseus
10. The Heroes of Sagittarius


Chapter 12. The Revelation of the Lion of Julis


1. The Lion of Julis
2. The Coins of Kea, the Dog and the Dog-days, the Bull
3. The Alpheus or Taurus, the Elaphe
4. Aristaeus
5. A Significant Rectangle
6. A Rectangle Centered on Sardis


Chapter 13. Fixed Symbols of the Signs, Directions, and Seasons. The Loves of Zeus


1. The Fixed Symbols of the Directions of Space: the Cycles of Four Animals
2. The Loves of Zeus


Chapter 14. Double Symbols. Syncretic Forms. Fighting Animals, Dynamic Symbols of Seasonal Variations. The Calendar of Xanthus


1. Double Symbols
2. A Syncretic Form: the Hippalectryon
3. Other Syncretic Forms
4. Associations of Zodiacal Symbols
5. Dynamic Symbols of Seasonal Variations
6. The Calendar of the Acropolis of Xanthus


Chapter 15. Shield Devices. The Commons Origins of Blazons and Monetary Symbols. The Complementarity of Opposites. Plaques from Delphi. Study of Vases


1. Shield Devices
2. The Complementarity of Opposites. The Lesson of the Vases
3. Symbolic Scenes Showing Zodiacal Oppositions: Plaques Found at Delphi
4. Zodiacal Aspects on Vases. Principles of Interpretation. Oppositions and Squares
5. The Vases of Exekias
6. Images of the Solstices and the Equinoxes onVases
7. A Corinthian Aryballus of Astrological Design
8. Symbolic Formulas


Chapter 16. The Horoscopic Meaning of the Armlets of Shields

Chapter 17. Greek Temples: Sculpted Pediments and Zodiacal Geography. The Structure of Sanctuaries


1. Corfu and Athens
2. Temples of the Delphic System
3. Delphi: the Pediments of the Temple of the Alcmaeonidae
4. Delos: the Pediments of the Temple of the Athenians
5. The Pediment of the Hydra at Athens
6. Temples in the Phlius System: Tegea and Calydon
7. Bassac
8. Olympia
9. The Temple of Hera at Samothrace: the Structure of the Sanctuary and the Pediment; Victory and the Ship


Chapter 18. Greek Temples of Asia Minor. The Decor of the Temple of Assos in the Troad


1. Didyma and Bassae
2. The Decor of the Temple of Assos in the Troad
3. Conclusions
4. Symbolic Formulas


Chapter 19. The Delphic Oracle and Colonization. Animal Guides. The Trojan Horse


1. The Oracle and Significant Alignments
2. Animal Guides
3. The Trojan Horse


Chapter 20. Zodiacal Imagery at Mycenae. The Great Uranian Goddess. The Inquiry Continues


1. Zodiacal Imagery at Mycenae
2. The Great Goddess
3. The Handles of Hydrias
4. The Inquiry Continues






This book provides proof of the existence and explains the significance of planned alignments between classical temples and oracle sites over a wide range of territory, pointing to an astrological system of planning in the ancient world. This system of symbolism may be used predictively and is supported by all relevant artifacts. Here is a unifying approach to the study of geomancy in the ancient world as a whole.

Richer has found a network of significant geographic alignments, associated with the pathways of various legendary figures and gods, that are geomantic keys to many legends and texts. One of these texts is Plato's Laws in which Plato describes the layout of the ideal city. Richer found Plato's ideal city repeated around the most important oracular centers on ancient Greece. He shows how Plato's description was a later codification of a much earlier practice of dividing geography into twelve regions under the patronage of the gods of the zodiac. Several such twelve-part divisions of the Greek Territories are presented here.

Jean Richer is Chevalier des Palmes academiques et des Arts et des Lettres , and he is Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur. His published books include Gerard de Nerval et les Doctrines esoteriques; Delphes, Delos et Cumes; and Iconologie et Tradition.