The Prytaneion was an administrative building consisted of a courtyard, on the front side and a large hall to the back. Hestia’s sacred flame had been placed in the middle of the yard, which was guarded by the priests of the goddess, known as Curettes, as the flame should never go out. They were chosen every year and they were supposed to come from the most privileged families of ancient Ephesus city and apart from their prior duty concerning the flame, they also were in charge of the sacrifices that were made to the gods.

The Curettes used to involve only with the Temple of Artemis during the Roman period. This changed when the Emperor Augustus came to throne, so the Curettes were occupied with the Prytanium of Ephesus.

According to the mythology, the Curetes were semi-dieties who recreated the birth of Artemis from Ephesus. After the mother of Artemis, Leto, having coupled with Zeus, she would give birth to the twins; Artemis and Apollo. The Curetes were said to have used their weapons in order to make a lot of noise so that Hera, who wanted revenge Leto, get confused and not pay attention to the birth of Leto’s children.

The Pretaneion consisted also of rooms used as administrative offices and as the archives of the city and a dining room for the official visitors. Two out of the eight columns of the front side of the building have survived nowadays.


Ancient Ephesus - Prytaneion

Ephesus city Prytaneion