Sunday, November 30, 2008


Herostratus (Ancient Greek: Ἡρόστρατος) was a young man who set fire to the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (in what is now western Turkey) in his quest for fame on about July 20, 356 BC. The temple was constructed of marble and considered the most beautiful of some thirty shrines built by the Greeks to honour their goddess of the hunt, the wild and childbirth. The temple was also one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, 425 feet long and supported by columns sixty feet high.

Far from attempting to evade responsibility for his act of arson, Herostratus proudly claimed credit in order to immortalize his name in history. In order to dissuade similar-minded fame-seekers, the Ephesean authorities not only executed him but also condemned him to a legacy of obscurity by forbidding mention of his name under the penalty of death. This did not stop Herostratus from achieving his goal, however, as the ancient historian Theopompus recorded the event and its perpetrator in his history.