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The Galeots

 

The following is excerpted from: Cults, Myths and Legends of Ancient Sicily (Author: Ignazio Caloggero - ISBN: 9788894321913)

The Galeots were considered fortune-tellers and their cult had to be, in some way, linked to that of the goddess Ibla, if it is true that in the ancient Ibla Galeote, inside the temple dedicated to Ibla, there was a sanctuary seat of these priests fortune tellers.

The location of Ibla Galeote is uncertain; it is not known whether it should coincide with that of Pantalica or that of Ibla Megarese or, again, that of Ibla Herea, or that of Ibla Etnea near today's Paternò. Not surprisingly, in the past, historians have not been able to accurately assign a site to ancient Ibla whose nickname, in addition to that of Galeote, was also Galeonte [1], Galeotide and Gereatide [2]. The Ragusan historian Solarino writes that "Galeotide" derives from the Syriac "Gala" which means "to reveal" and that the term Galeoti indicated a caste of men who had the faculty of interpreting dreams and were experts in divination ceremonies. He concludes by stating that the origin of the Galeots was Eastern and precisely Phoenician. Ciaceri [3], on the other hand, agrees on the oriental origin but affirms that they were Greeks and not Phoenicians and puts them in close relationship with the inhabitants of Megara, a Greek city.

The Priesthood of the Galeots is related by Ciaceri to the ancient cult of Apollo Cario. The legend says that Galeote (or Galeo) was the ancestor of a lineage of Sicilian diviners, he was the son of Apollo and Themisto, the daughter of the king of the Hyperboreans. The oracle of Dodona ordered Galeote and another Hyperborean named Telmiso to walk, one to the east and the other to the west, until, during a sacrifice, an eagle would come and steal the victim's flesh. sacrificial. Where this happened, they should have built a temple. Telmiso stopped in Caria and Galeote arrived as far as Sicily.

According to Ciaceri, the legend reflects the colonization of the Sicilian coasts by the megarese who, arriving in Sicily, brought with them the tradition of Galeote and, perhaps, also the guilds of the Galeot diviners.

[1] Giovanni E. Di-Blasi: History of the Kingdom of Sicily vol.I. p. 69.

[2] Raffaele Solarino: The County of Modica Vol.I. p.125

[3] Emanuele Ciaceri: Cults and Myths in the History of Ancient Sicily p.19.

Card insertion: Ignazio Caloggero

Photo: web, Ignazio Caloggero

Information contributions: Ignazio Caloggero, Region of Sicily

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