From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Jump to: navigation, search

Herostratus (Greek: Ἡρόστρατος) was an arsonist. On July 21, 356 BC, seeking notoriety, he burned down the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus in ancient Greece [now Turkey]. The temple was constructed of marble and was built by King Croesus of Lydia to replace an older site destroyed during a flood, and it honoured a local goddess, conflated by the Greeks with Artemis, their goddess of the hunt, the wild, and childbirth. Measuring 130 metres long (426.5 feet) and supported by columns 18 metres high (60 feet), it was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.



Far from attempting to evade responsibility for his act of arson, Herostratus proudly claimed credit in an attempt to immortalise his name. To dissuade those of a similar mind, the Ephesian authorities not only executed him, but attempted to condemn him to a legacy of obscurity by forbidding mention of his name under penalty of death. However, this did not stop Herostratus from achieving his goal as the ancient historian Theopompus recorded the event and its perpetrator in his Hellenics.

Cultural references

Herostratus' name lived on in classical literature and has passed into modern languages as a term for someone who commits a criminal act in order to bask in the resultant notoriety.


Film and writings



See also


  1. ^ James Bowman (April 18, 2001). "From Heroes to Herostratus". JamesBowman.net. http://www.jamesbowman.net/articleDetail.asp?pubID=456. Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  2. ^ Geoffrey Chaucer (1379-1380). "The House of Fame". The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. Georgetown University. http://www8.georgetown.edu/departments/medieval/labyrinth/library/me/chaucer/HF.html. Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  3. ^ Frederick A. de Armas, "The Burning at Ephesus: Cervantes and Alarcón's La verdad sospechosa," Studies in Honor of Gilbert Paolini, ed. Mercedes Vidal Tibits. Newark, Delaware: Juan de la Cuesta, 1996, pp. 41–55.