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A heroon is a shrine dedicated to an ancient Greek or Roman hero. These shrines were used to commemorate the hero’s accomplishments and served as a place for cult worship of the hero. A heroon would often be erected over the hero’s supposed tomb.

Hero worship was quite prevalent in Ephesus during Roman times as it played a central role in giving the city a shared sense of identity. Statues and reliefs of heroes like Hercules can be seen on several monuments throughout Ephesus. The cult typically centered on the heroon where the hero’s bones were buried to offer meals cans celebrations. The hero’s was believed to take part in the feasts which would secure allegiance for the protection and continued well-being of the city.

A well-known and well-preserved Roman heroon from the Augustan period is situated located in Ephesus. The Library of Celsus was built in honor the Roman senator, Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus. The senator was a consul and proconsul of Asia in the 1st century AD. He eventually became governor of Asia and bequeathed a large sum of money for the construction of the heroon. The Library of Celsus was completed by Celsus’s son after his death and it was the third richest library of the ancient world.

This particular heroon was 21 meters wide and over 16 meters high with two-stories supported by Corinthian columns. Three windows from the upper story give the illusion that the columns at the sides of the facade are shorter than those at the center. This would have made the building seem even larger than it really was. Several centuries after its construction a fire destroyed the library’s reading room and building was abandoned. The facade finally collapsed in an earthquake around the 10th century AD.

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