Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion  

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Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion (1903) is a book by Jane Harrison.

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Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion

Hontion: C. J. CLAY AND SONS,





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THE object of the following pages is to draw attention to .some neglected aspects of Greek religion.

Greek religion, as set forth in popular handbooks and even in more ambitious treatises, is an affair mainly of mythology, and moreover of mythology as seen through the medium of literature. In England, so far as I am aware, no serious attempt has been made to examine Greek ritual. Yet the facts of ritual are more easy definitely to ascertain, more permanent, and at least equally significant. What a people does in relation to its gods must always be one clue, and perhaps the safest, to what it thinks. The first preliminary to any scientific understanding of Greek religion is a minute examination of its ritual.

This habit of viewing Greek religion exclusively through the medium of Greek literature has brought with it an initial and fundamental error in method an error which in England, where scholarship is mainly literary, is likely to die hard. For literature Homer is the beginning, though every scholar is aware that he is nowise primitive ; for theology, or if we prefer so to call it mythology, Homer presents, not a starting-point, but a culmination, a complete achievement, an almost mechanical accomplishment, with scarcely a hint of origines, an accomplish- ment moreover, which is essentially literary rather than religious, sceptical and moribund already in its very perfection. The Olympians of Homer are no more primitive than his hexameters. Beneath this splendid surface lies a stratum of religious conceptions, ideas of evil, of purification, of atonement, ignored or suppressed by Homer, but reappearing in later poets and notably in Aeschylus. It is this substratum of religious conceptions, at once more primitive and more permanent, that I am concerned

viii Introduction

to investigate. Had ritual received its due share of attention, it had not remained so long neglected.

I would guard against misapprehension. Literature as a starting-point for investigation, and especially the poems of Homer, I am compelled to disallow; yet literature is really my goal. I have tried to understand primitive rites, not from love of their archaism, nor yet wholly from a single-minded devotion to science, but with the definite hope that I might come to a better understanding of some forms of Greek poetry. Religious convention compelled the tragic poets to draw their plots from traditional mythology, from stories whose religious content and motive were already in Homer's days obsolete. A knowledge of, a certain sympathy with, the milieu of this primitive material is one step to the realization of its final form in tragedy. It is then in the temple of literature, if but as a hewer of wood and drawer of water, that I still hope to serve.

As the evidence to be set before the reader is necessarily somewhat complex in detail, and the arguments of the successive chapters closely interdependent, it may be well at the outset to state, as simply as may be, the conclusions at which I have arrived, and to summarize briefly the steps of the discussion.

In Chapter I. it is established that the Greeks themselves in classical times recognized two forms of ritual, Olympian and Chthonic. It is further seen that the characteristic ritual of Homeric days was of the kind known to them as Olympian. Sacrifice in Homer takes the form of an offering to the god to induce his favour. Its formulary is do ut des. Moreover the sacrificial banquet to which the god is bidden is shared by the worshipper. In sharp contradistinction to this cheerful sacrificial feast, when we examine the supposed festival of Zeus at Athens, the Diasia, we find rites of quite other significance ; the sacrifice is a holocaust, it is devoted, made over entirely to the god, unshared by the worshipper, and its associations are gloomy. The rites of the Diasia, though ostensibly in honour of Zeus, are found really to be addressed to an underworld snake on whose worship that of Zeus has been superimposed.

In the three chapters that follow, on the festivals of the

Introduction ix

Anthesteria, Thargelia, and Thesmophoria, held respectively in the spring, summer, and autumn, the Olympian ritual super- imposed is taken as known and only alluded to in passing. The attention is focussed on the rites of the underlying stratum.

In the Anthesteria, ostensibly sacred to Dionysos, the main ritual is found to be that of the placation of ghosts. Ghosts, it is found, were placated in order that they might be kept away ; the formulary for these rites is not, as with the Olympians, do ut des, but do ut abeas. The object of these rites of Aversion, practised in the spring, is found to be strictly practical ; it is the promotion of fertility by the purgation of evil influences.

The ritual of the Thargelia is even more primitive and plain-spoken. In this festival of the early summer, ostensibly dedicated to Apollo, the first-fruits of the harvest are gathered in. The main gist of the festival is purification, necessary as a preliminary to this ingathering. Purification is effected by the ceremonial of the pharmakos. Though the festival in classical days was * sacred to ' Apollo, the pharmakos is nowise a ' human sacrifice' to a god, but a direct means of physica\ and moral purgation, and again with a view to the promotion and conser- vation of fertility.

Thus far it will be seen that the rites of the lower stratum are characterized by a deep and constant sense of evil to be removed and of the need of purification for its removal ; that the means of purification adopted are primitive and mainly magical nowise affects this religious content.

This practical end of primitive ceremonies, the promotion of fer- tility by magical rites, comes out still more strongly in the autumn sowing festival of the Thesmophoria. Here the women attempt, by carrying certain magical sacra, the direct impulsion of nature. In connection with these sacra of the Thesmophoria the subject of 'mysteries' falls to be examined. The gist of all primitive mysteries is found to be the handling or tasting of certain sacra after elaborate purification. The sacra are conceived of as having magical, i.e. divine, properties. Contact with them is contact with a superhuman potency, which is taboo to the unpurified. The gist of a mystery is often the removal of a taboo. From the Olympian religion ' mysteries ' appear to have been wholly absent.

x Introduction

In Chapter V. we pass from ritual to theology, from an examination of rites performed to the examination of the beings to whom these rites were addressed. These beings, it is found, are of the order of sprites, ghosts, and bogeys, rather than of completely articulate gods, their study that of demonology rather . than theology. As their ritual has been shown to be mainly that of the Aversion of evil, so they and their shifting attributes are mainly of malevolent character. Man makes his demons in the image of his own savage and irrational passions. Aeschylus attempts, and the normal man fails, to convert his Erinyes into Semnai Theai.

In Chapter VI. the advance is noted from demonology to theology, from the sprite and ghost to the human and humane god. The god begins to reflect not only human passions but humane relations. The primitive association of women with agriculture is seen to issue in the figures of the Mother and the Maid, and later of the Mother and the Daughter, later still in the numerous female trinities that arose out of this duality. In Chapter VII. the passage from ghost to god is clearly seen, and the humane relation between descendant and ancestor begets a kindliness which mollifies and humanizes the old religion of Aversion. The culminating point of the natural development of an anthropomorphic theology is here reached, and it is seen that the goddesses and the * hero-gods ' of the old order are, in their simple, non-mystic humanity, very near to the Olympians.

At this point comes the great significant moment for Greece, the intrusion of a new and missionary faith, the religion of an immigrant god, Dionysos.

In Chapter VIII. the Thracian origin of Dionysos is established. In his religion two elements are seen to coexist, the worship of an old god of vegetation on which was grafted the worship of a spirit of intoxication. The new impulse that he brought to Greece was the belief in enthusiasm, the belief that a man through physical intoxication at first, later through spiritual ecstasy, could pass from the human to the divine.

This faith might have remained in its primitive savagery, and therefore for Greece ineffective, but for another religious impulse, that known to us under the name of Orpheus. To the

Introduction xi

discussion of Orphism the last four chapters IX. XII. are de- voted.

In Chapter IX. I have attempted to show that the name Orpheus stands for a real personality. I have hazarded the conjecture that Orpheus came from Crete bringing with him, perhaps ultimately from Egypt, a religion of spiritual asceticism which yet included the ecstasy of the religion of Dionysos. Chapter X. is devoted to the elucidation of the Orphic and Dionysiac mysteries. It has been shown that before the coming of the Orphic and Dionysiac religion the mysteries consisted simply in the handling of certain sacra after elaborate purification. By handling these sacra man came into contact with some divine potency. To this rudimentary mysticism Orphism added the doctrine of the possibility of complete union with the divine. This union was effected in the primitive Cretan rite of the Omophagia by the physical eating of the god ; union with the divine was further symbolically effected by the rite of the Sacred Marriage, and union by adoption by the rite of the Sacred Birth. The mission of Orphism was to take these primitive rites, originally of the crudest sympathetic magic, and inform them with a deep spiritual mysticism. The rite of the Omophagia found no place at Eleusis, but the other two sacramental rites of union, the Sacred Marriage and the Sacred Birth, formed ultimately its central mysteries.

With the doctrine and ritual of union with the divine there came as a necessary corollary the doctrine that man could attain the divine attribute of immortality. Orphic eschatology is the subject of Chapter XI. Its highest spiritual form, the belief that perfect purity issued in divinity and hence in immortality, is found expressed in the Orphic tablets. Its lower expression, the belief in a Hades of eternal punishment as contrasted with the shadowy after-world of Homer, is seen in the vases of Lower Italy and the eschatology denounced by Plato.

Finally in Chapter XII. it is shown how, as a concomitant to their Eschatology, the Orphics, unlike Homer, evolved a Cosmogony, and with this Cosmogony was ultimately bound up a peculiar and philosophic theology. In the fifth century B.C. the puppet-show of the Olympians was well-nigh played out, but the two gods of the Orphics remained potent. In ritual they worshipped Dionysos, but their theoretical theology recognized

xii Introduction

Eros as source of all things. The Eros of the Orphics was a mystery-being, a daimon rather than a theos, a potency wholly alien to the clear-cut humanities of Olympus.

With the consideration of Orphism it has become, I hope, abundantly clear why at the outset attention was focussed on the primitive rites of Aversion and Purification rather than on the Service of the Olympians. The ritual embodied in the formulary do ut des is barren of spiritual content. The ritual embodied in do ut abeas contains at least the recognition of one great mystery of life, the existence of evil. The rites of the Olympians were left untouched by the Orphics; the rites of purification and of sympathetic magic lent them just the symbolism they needed. Moreover even in theology the crude forms of demons were more pliant material for mysticism than the clear-cut limitations and vivid personality of the Olympians. Orphism was the last word of Greek religion, and the ritual of Orphism was but the revival of ancient practices with a new significance.

The reader will note that in the pages that follow, two authors, Plutarch and Euripides, have been laid under special contribution. Plutarch's gentle conservatism made him cling tenaciously to antique faith. According to him, one function of religion was to explain and justify established rites, and in the course of his attempted justification he tells us many valuable ritual facts. Euripides, instant in his attack on the Olympian gods, yet treats with respect the two divinities of Orphism, Dionysos and Eros. I have suggested that, born as he was at Phlya, the ancient home of Orphic mysteries, his attitude on this matter may have been influenced by early associations. In any case, a religion whose chief divinities were reverently handled by Euripides cannot be dismissed as a decadent maleficent superstition.

I would ask that the chapters I have written be taken strictly as they are meant, as Prolegomena. I am deeply conscious that in surveying so wide a field I have left much of interest un- touched, still more only roughly sketched in. I wished to present my general theory in broad outline for criticism before filling in

Introduction xiii

details, and I hope in the future to achieve a study of Orphism that may have more claim to completeness. If here I have dwelt almost exclusively on its strength and beauty, I am not unaware that it has, like all mystical religions, a weak and ugly side.

If in these Prolegomena I have accomplished anything, this is very largely due to the many friends who have helped me ; the pleasant task remains of acknowledging my obligations.

My grateful thanks are offered to the Syndics of the University Press for undertaking the publication of this book ; to the Syndics of the University Library and the Fitzwilliam Museum for the courtesy they have shown in allowing me free access to their libraries ; to my own College, which, by electing me to a Fellowship, has given me for three years the means and leisure to devote myself to writing.

For the illustrations they have placed at my disposal I must record my debt to the Trustees of the British Museum, to the Hellenic Society, the German Archaeological Institute, and the Ecole Franaise of Athens. The sources of particular plates are acknowledged in the notes. The troublesome task of drawing from photographs and transcribing inscriptions has been most kindly undertaken for me by Mrs Hugh Stewart.

Passing to literary obligations, it will be evident that in the two first chapters I owe much, as regards philology, to the late Mr R. A. Neil. His friendship and his help were lost to me midway in my work, and that loss has been irreparable.

It is a pleasure to me to remember gratefully that to Sir Richard Jebb I owe my first impulse to the study of Orphism. The notes in his edition of the Characters of Theophrastos first led me as a student into the by-paths of Orphic literature, and since those days the problem of Orphism, though often of necessity set aside, has never ceased to haunt me.

To Professor Ridgeway I owe much more than can appear on the surface. The material for the early portion of my book was collected many years ago, but, baffled by the ethnological problems it suggested, I laid it aside in despair. The appearance

xiv Introduction

of Professor Ridgeway's article, ' What people made the objects called Mycenaean ? ' threw to me an instant flood of light on the problems of ritual and mythology that perplexed me, and I returned to my work with fresh courage. Since then he has, with the utmost kindness, allowed me to attend his professorial lectures and frequently to refer to him my difficulties. I have thought it best finally to state my own argument independently of his ethnological conclusions, first because those conclusions are, at the time I write, only in part before the public, but chiefly because I hoped that by stating my evidence independently it might, in the comparatively narrow sphere in which I work, offer some slight testimony to the truth of his illuminating theories.

To all workers in the field of primitive religion Dr Frazer's writings have become so part and parcel of their mental furniture that special acknowledgement has become almost superfluous. But I cannot deny myself the pleasure of acknowledging a deep and frequent debt, the more as from time to time I have been allowed to ask for criticism on individual points, and my request, as the notes will show, has always met with generous response.

Mr F. M. Cornford of Trinity College has, with a kindness and patience for which I can offer no adequate thanks, undertaken the revision of my proof-sheets. To him I owe not only any degree of verbal accuracy attained, but also, which is much more, countless valuable suggestions made from time to time in the course of my work. Many other scholars have allowed me to refer to them on matters outside my own competency. Some of these debts are acknowledged in the notes, but I wish specially to thank Dr A. S. Murray, Mr Cecil Smith and Mr A. H. Smith of the British Museum for constant facilities afforded to me in my work there, and Mr R. C. Bosanquet and Mr M. Tod for help in Athens ; and, in Cambridge, Dr Haddon, Dr Hans Gadow, Mr Francis Darwin, Mr H. G. Dakyns and Mr A. B. Cook.

My debt to Dr A. W. Verrall is so great and constant that it is hard to formulate. If in one part of my book more than another I am indebted to him it is in the discussion of the Erinyes. Chapter V. indeed owes its inception to Dr Verrall's notes in his edition of the Choephoroi, and its final form to his unwearied criticism. Throughout the book there is scarcely a literary difficulty that he has not allowed me to refer to him, and

Introduction xv

his sure scholarship and luminous perception have dissipated for me many a mental fog.

Mr Gilbert Murray has written for me the critical Appendix on the text of the Orphic tablets, a matter beyond my competence. Many verse translations, acknowledged in their place, are also by him, and uniformly those from the Bacchae and Hippolytus of Euripides. It is to Mr Murray's translation of the Bacchae that finally, as regards the religion of Dionysos, I owe most. The beauty of that translation, which he kindly allowed me to use before its publication, turned the arduous task of investigation into a labour of delight, and throughout the later chapters of the book, the whole of which he has read for me in proof, it will be evident that, in many difficult places, his sensitive and wise imagination has been my guide.






Mr Kuskin on the absence of fear in the Greek genius. Eeligion, to writers of the fifth century B.C., mainly a matter of festivals. In the Euthyphron religion is ' doing business with the gods,' a form of c tendance ' (6 f pair f La). Contrast of Stio-tScu/zoWa, ' fear of spirits.' Plutarch on ' fear of spirits.' Dis- tinction drawn by Isocrates and others between Olympian and apotropaic ritual. Contrast between ' Tendance ' (BepaTreia] and ' Aversion ' (diroTpoirij). Sacrifice to Zeus in Homer is a banquet shared. Contrast of the ritual of the Diasia . The holocaust or uneaten sacrifice. Ritual of the Diasia addressed primarily to an underworld snake. Superposition of the Homeric Zeus. Evidence of art. The ' Dian ' fleece, not the ' fleece of Zeus ' but the fleece of magical purification. Examination of the Attic calendar. The names of festivals not connected with the names of Olympian divinities. The ritual of these festivals belongs to a more primitive stratum than that of the Olympians, pp. 131.



The Anthesteria, ostensibly dedicated to Dionysos, a spring festival of the revocation and aversion of ghosts. Examination of the rites of the three days. Meaning of the Chytroi, the Choes and the Pithoigia. Derivation of the word Anthesteria. Rites of purgation among the Romans in February. The Feralia and Lupercalia. The ritual of * devotion ' (evayio-p-oi}. Contrast of Qvfiv and fvayl&iv. The word tivfiv used of burnt sacrifice to the Olympians, the word evayifciv of 'devotion' to underworld deities. The ritual of dir6ippa. Gist of the word cvayifav is purgation by means of placation of ghosts. Con- trast of tepeloi/, the victim sacrificed and eaten, with (r<t>dyiov, the victim sacri- ficed and ' devoted.' The afydyia in use for the taking of oaths, for purification, for omens, for sacrifice to winds and other underworld powers. Elements of

  • tendance ' in the ritual of ' aversion,' pp. 32 74.

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The Thargelia an early summer festival of first-fruits. The Eiresione. Object of the offering of first-fruits a release from taboo. The Australian Intichiuma. Removal of taboo developes into idea of consecration, dedication, sacrifice. The material of sacrifice. The god fares as the worshipper, but sometimes, from conservatism, fares worse. Instances in ritual of survival of primitive foods. The oi/Xo^urat, the pelanos and the nephalia. The fireless sacrifice. The bringing in of first-fruits preceded by ceremonies of purification. The pharmakos. Details of the ritual. The pharmakos only incidentally a ' human sacrifice. 3 Its object physical and spiritual purgation. Meaning of the term. The pharmakos in Egypt, at Chaeronea, at Marseilles. Analogous ceremonies. The Charila at Delphi. The Bouphonia. The Stepterion. Further ceremonies of purification. The Kallynteria, Plynteria, Vestalia. General conclusion : in the Thargelia the gist of sacrifice is purification, a magical cleansing as a preparation for the incoming of first-fruits, pp. 75119.




Importance of these festivals as containing the germ of ' Mysteries.' Detailed examination of the ritual of the Thesmophoria. The Kathodos and Anodos, the Nesteia, the Kalligeneia. Gist of the rites the magical impulsion of fertility by burying sacra in the ground. Magical rites preceded by purifi- cation and fasting. Analogy of Arrephoria, Skirophoria and Stenia with Thesmophoria. Meaning of the word Thesmophoria, the carrying of magical sacra. Magical spells, curses and law. deo-pos and vopos. The curse and the law. The Dirae of Teos. The Haloa, a festival of the threshing-floor, later taken over by Dionysos. Tabooed foods. Eleusinian Mysteries a primitive harvest -festival. Order of the ritual. The pig of purification. Other rites of purification. The tokens of the mysteries. Ancient confessions rather of the nature of Confiteor than Credo. The fast and the partaking of the kykeon. The Kernophoria. Ancient mysteries in their earliest form consist of the tasting of first-fruits and the handling of sacra after preliminary purification, pp. 120162.

Table of Contents ixix



Primitive demonology constantly in flux. Various connotations of the word Ker. The Ker as evil sprite, the Ker as bacillus of disease. The Keres of Old Age and Death. The Ker as Harpy and Wind-Daimon. The Ker as Fate in Homer and Hesiod. The Ker as Gorgon. Origin of the Gorgoneion. Apotropaic masks. The Gorgon developed from the Gorgoneion. The Graiae. The Evil Eye. The Ker as Siren. The Sirens of Homer. Problem of the bird- form in art. The Siren as midday daimon. The Siren on funeral monuments. The bird-form of the soul in Greece and Egypt. Plato's Sirens. The Ker as Sphinx. Mantic aspect of Sphinx. The Sphinx as Man-slaying Ker, as Funeral Monument. The Ker as Erinys. The Erinyes as angry Keres. Erinys an adjectival epithet. The Erinyes primarily the ghosts of slain men crying for vengeance. The Erinyes developed by Homer and Herakleitos into abstract ministers of vengeance. The Erinyes of Aeschylus more primitive than the Erinyes of Homer. The blood-curse in the Choephoroi. The Erinyes of the stage. The Erinyes analogous to Gorgons and Harpies, but not identical. The wingless Erinyes of Aeschylus. The winged Erinyes of later art. The Poinae. The Erinys as snake. The Semnai Theai. New cult at Athens. New underworld ritual. The transformation of Erinyes into Semnai Theai. The Eumenides at Colonos, at Megalopolis, at Argos, pp. 163256.


Anthropomorphism. Gradual elimination of animal forms. The gods begin to mirror human relations and at first those of ' matriarchal ' type. The Mother and the Maid, two forms of one woman-goddess. The Great Mother as HoTvia drjpwv, as Kourotrophos. Influence of agriculture. Relation of women to primitive agriculture. Demeter and Kore as Mother and Maid rather than Mother and Daughter. Gradual predominance of the Maid over the Mother. The Anodos of the Maiden. Influence of mimetic agricultural rites. The evidence of vase-paintings. Pandora Mother and Maid. The Hesiodic story. The Maiden- Trinities. Origin of Trinities from the duality of Mother and Maid. Korai, Charites, Aglaurides, Nymphs. The Judgment of Paris a rivalry of three dominant Korai Hera, Athene and Aphrodite. Evidence of vase-paintings. Development of Athene, her snake- and bird-forms. Athene finally a frigid impersonation of Athens. Developement of Aphrodite. Myth of her sea-birth. Its origin in a ritual bath. The Ludovisi throne. Ultimate dominance of the mother-form of Aphrodite as Genetrix. Hera as maiden. Her marriage with Zeus. Intrusion of Olympian ' patriarchal ' cults on the worship of the Mother and the Maid. Evidence from art, pp. 257 322.

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The passage from ghost to god more plainly seen in the cult of heroes than in that of heroines. Instances from heroine- worship. Helen and Hebe. The hero as snake. Origin of the bearded snake. Heroes called by adjectival cultus-titles rather than personal names. The ' nameless ' gods of the Pelasgians. The name ' hero ' adjectival. Origin of supposed * euphemistic ' titles. The 'Blameless' Aigisthos. The 'Blameless' Salmoneus. Antagonism between the gods proper of the Olympian system and local heroes. Benefi- cence of the heroes. Asklepios and the heroes of healing. Asklepios originally a hero-snake. Evidence of votive reliefs. Amynos and Dexion. The 'Hero- Feasts.' Cult of Hippolytus. Zeus Philios. Hero-Feasts lead to Theoxenia. Type of the Hero-Feast taken over by Dionysos. Evidence from reliefs, pp. 323363.



Mystical character of the religion of Dionysos. Dionysos an immigrant Thracian. The legend of Lycurgus. Historical testimony. In Euripides Dionysos an oriental. Explanation of apparent discrepancy. The Satyrs. Analogy with the Centaurs. The Satyrs represent an indigenous people who became worshippers of Dionysos. Cheiron the good Centaur. The Maenads not merely mythological. The Thyiades of historical times. The Maenads, Thyiades, Bacchants, women possessed by Dionysos. They are the nurses of the god and worship him as Liknites. Dionysos son of Semele. Semele the Earth-Mother. Cult of thunder-smitten places. Dionysos son of Zeus. Zeus adopts Dionysos as god of the grape. Examination of the titles Bromios, Braites, Sabazios. All three are titles of a god of a cereal intoxicant. The cereal intoxicant preceded in the North the intoxicant made from the grape. Tragedy the song of the cereal drink. Dionysos emerges from obscurity as god of the grape. Dionysos the tree and vegetation god. Evidence of art. The * Principle of Moisture.' Dionysos the Bull-god. Animal incarnations. The ' return to nature.' Dithyram'bos and the Dithyramb. Dithyrambos the Mystery-Babe. Plutarch on the Dithyramb. Possible association with the Bee-Maidens, the Thriae. Moderation of the Greek in the use of wine. Sacra- mentalism of eating and drinking. The escstasy of aceticism, pp. 364 454.

Table of Contents xxi



Problem of relation between Orpheus and Dionysos. Analogy and contrast between the two. Orpheus a Thracian ; a magical musician. Possible Cretan origin of Orpheus. The island route from Crete to Thrace. The death of Orpheus. Kepresentations on vase-paintings. Orpheus an enemy of the Maenads. His burial and the cult at his tomb. His oracle at Lesbos. His relation to Apollo. Orpheus a real man, a reformer, and possibly a martyr ; heroized but never deified. Orpheus as reformer of Bacchic rites. Influence of Orphism at Athens. New impulse brought by Orphism into Greek religion. Spiritualization of the old Dionysiac doctrine of divine possession. Contrast with the anthropomorphism of Homer and Pindar. Consecration the keynote of Orphic religion, pp. 455 478.



Our chief source a fragment of the Cretans of Euripides. The Idaean Zeus the same as Zagreus. The Omophagia or feast of raw flesh. The bull- victim. Bull-worship in Crete. The Minotaur. Evidence of Clement of Alexandria as to the Omophagia. Narrative of Firmicus Maternus. Analo- gous Omophagia among primitive Arabs. Account of Nilus. Sacramental union with the god by eating his flesh. Kemmiscences of human sacrifice in Greek tradition. The Titans and the infant Zagreus. The Titans white- earth men. The smearing with gypsum. The Orphic doctrine of the dis- membered god. The Mountain Mother. Her image on a Cretan seal impression. The Kouretes her attendants. The final consecration of the mystic. Meaning of the word oo-ivdfis, ' consecrated.' Orphic taboos. Orphic formalism. Parody of Orphic rites of initiation in the Clouds of Aristophanes. The ' shady side ' of Orphism. The Liknophoria. Dionysos Liknites. Symbolism of the liknon. Purification, rebirth. The liknon and the Homeric ptyon. The liknon in marriage ceremonies. The Sacred Marriage. Orphic elements in Eleusinian Eitual. lacchos at Eleusis. The Liknophoria at Eleusis. The Sacred Marriage and the Sacred Birth at Eleusis. Thessalian influence, Brimo. Thracian influence, Eumolpos. Dionysos at Eleusis. As child, and as grown man. The pantomime element in the cult of Dionysos. Its influence on the Eleusiuian Mysteries, pp. 479 572.

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The tablets our chief source for Orphic doctrines. Their provenance and general character. The Petelia tablet of the British Museum. Analogous tablets from Crete. The Well of Mnemosyne. Parallels in Fiji and Egypt. Lethe in Greek Literature. Lethe in the ritual of Trophonios. The river of Eunoe, Good Consciousness, in Dante. Th| Sybaris tablets. The tablet of Caecilia Secundina. The confession of Ritual Acts on the Sybaris tablets. The attainment of divinity through purification. The escape from the Wheel. The kid and the milk. The formulary of adoption. Eschatology on Orphic vases from Lower Italy. Orpheus in Hades. The tortured criminals. De- velopement by Orphism of doctrine of eternal punishment. The Danaides and the Uninitiated, pp. 573 624.



Orphic theology as seen in the Hymns. The World- Egg. Use of eggs in Orphic ritual of purification. Birth of Eros from World-Egg. Complex origin of Orphic Eros. Eros as Herm. Eros as Ker of life. Evidence of art. Eros as Ephebos. Eros and the Earth-Mother. Eros present at the Anodos. Evidence of art. The Mystery-cult at Phlya, the birthplace of Euripides. Pythagorean revival of the cult of the Mother. The mystic Eros as Phanes and Protogonos. Contaminatio of Eros and Dionysos. Popular Orphism on vases from Thebes. Eros as Proteurhythmos. The divinities of Orphism are demons rather than gods. Orphism resumed, pp. 625 659.


I. Greek . . . . . . pp. 675, 676

II. General .: ./ pp. 676 680




IN characterizing the genius of the Greeks Mr Ruskin says: 'there is no dread in their hearts; pensiveness, amazement, often deepest grief and desolation, but terror never. Everlasting calm in the presence of all Fate, and joy such as they might win, not indeed from perfect beauty, but from beauty at perfect rest! The lovely words are spoken of course mainly with reference to art, but they are meant also to characterize the Greek in his attitude towards the invisible, in his religion meant to shew that the Greek, the favoured child of fortune yet ever unspoilt, was exempt from the discipline to which the rest of mankind has been subject, never needed to learn the lesson that in the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.

At first sight it seems as though the statement were broadly true. Greek writers of the fifth century B.C. have a way of speak- ing of, an attitude towards, religion, as though it were wholly a thing of joyful confidence, a friendly fellowship with the gods, whose service is but a high festival for man. In Homer sacrifice is but, as it were, the signal for a banquet of abundant roast flesh and sweet wine ; we hear nothing of fasting, of cleansing, and atonement. This we might perhaps explain as part of the general splendid unreality of the heroic saga, but sober historians of the fifth century B.C. express the same spirit. Thucydides is assuredly by nature no reveller, yet religion is to him in the main 'a rest from toil.' He makes Pericles say 1 : ' Moreover we have

1 Thuc. ii. 38.

H. 1

2 Olympian and Chthonic Ritual [CH.

provided for our spirit very many opportunities of recreation, by the celebration of games and sacrifices throughout the year.'

Much the same external, quasi-political, and always cheerful attitude towards religion is taken by the ' Old Oligarch 1 .' He is of course thoroughly orthodox and even pious, yet to him the main gist of religion appears to be a decorous social enjoyment. In easy aristocratic fashion he rejoices that religious ceremonials exist to provide for the less well-to-do citizens suitable amusements that they would otherwise lack. 'As to sacrifices and sanctuaries and festivals and precincts, the People, knowing that it is impossible for each poor man individually to sacrifice and feast and have sanctu- aries and a beautiful and ample city, has discovered by what means he may enjoy these privileges. The whole state accordingly at the common cost sacrifices many victims, while it is the People who feast on them and divide them among themselves by lot'; and again 2 , as part of the splendour of Athens, he notes that ' she celebrates twice as many religious holidays as any other city.' The very language used by this typical Athenian gentleman speaks for itself. Burnt-sacrifice (dvaia), feasting, agonistic games, stately temples are to him the essence of religion ; the word sacri- fice brings to his mind not renunciation but a social banquet ; the temple is not to him so much the awful dwelling-place of a divinity as an integral part of a ' beautiful and ample city.'

Thucydides and Xenophon need and attempt no searching analysis of religion. Socrates of course sought a definition, a definition that left him himself sad and dissatisfied, but that adequately embodied popular sentiment and is of importance for our enquiry. The end of the Euthyphron is the most disappointing thing in Plato ; Socrates extracts from Euthyphron what he thinks religion is ; what Socrates thought he cannot or will not tell 3 .

Socrates in his enquiry uses not one abstract term for religion the Greeks have in fact no one word that covers the whole field he uses two 4 , piety (TO eiW/Se?) and holiness (TO ocnov).

1 Ps.-Xen. Rep. Athen. n. 99. 2 Ps.-Xen. Rep. Athen. m. 8.

a Plat. Euthyph. 15 D.

4 So far as it is possible to distinguish the two, TO eu<re/3& is religion from man's side, his attitude towards the gods, TO 8<nov religion from the gods' side, the claim they make on man. TO 6<riov is the field of what is made over, consecrated to the gods. The further connotations of the word as employed by Orphism will be discussed later. ' Holiness ' is perhaps the nearest equivalent to TO 6<nov in the Euthyphron.

i] Socrates on Religion 8

Euthyphron of course begins with cheerful confidence: he and all other respectable men know quite well what piety and holiness are. He willingly admits that ' holiness is a part of justice/ that part of justice that appertains to the gods; it is giving the gods their due. He also allows, not quite seeing to what the argument is tending, that piety and holiness are ' a sort of tend- ance (depcLTTela) of the gods.' This 'tendance/ Socrates presses on, ' must be of the nature of service or ministration/ and Euthyphron adds that it is the sort of service that servants shew their masters. Socrates wants to know in what particular work and operation the gods need help and ministration. Euthyphron answers with some impatience that, to put it plainly and cut the matter short, holiness consists in * a man understanding how to do what is pleasing to the gods in word and deed, i.e. by prayer and sacrifice/ Socrates eagerly seizes his advantage and asks: 'You mean then that holiness is a sort of science of praying and sacrificing ? ' ' Further/ he adds, ' sacrifice is giving to the gods, prayer is asking of them, holiness then is a science of asking and giving/ If we give to the gods they must want something of us, they must want to ' do business with us/ ' Holiness is then an art in which gods and men do business with each other/ So Socrates triumphantly con- cludes, to the manifest discomfort of Euthyphron, who however can urge no tenable objection. He feels as a pious man that the essence of the service or tendance he owes to the gods is of the nature of a freewill tribute of honour, but he cannot deny that the gods demand this as a quid pro quo.

Socrates, obviously unfair though he is, puts his finger on the weak spot of Greek religion as orthodoxly conceived in the fifth century B.C. Its formula is do ut des. It is, as Socrates says, a ' business transaction ' and one in which, because god is greater than man, man gets on the whole the best of it. The argument of the Euthyphron is of importance to us because it clearly defines one, and a prominent, factor in Greek religion, that of service (OepaTreia), and in this service, this kindly ' tendance/ there is no element of fear. If man does his part in the friendly transaction, the gods will do theirs. None of the deeper problems of what we moderns call religion are even touched : there is no question of sin, repentance, sacrificial atonement, purification, no fear of judgment to come, no longing after a future complete beatitude.


4 Olympian and Chthonic Ritual [CH.

Man offers what seems to him in his ignorance a reasonable service to gods conceived of as human and rational. There is no trace of scepticism; the gods certainly exist, otherwise as Sextus Empiricus 1 quaintly argues ' you could not serve them ' : and they have human natures. ' You do not serve Hippocentauri, because Hippocentauri are non-existent/

To the average orthodox Greek the word depaireia, service, tendance, covered a large, perhaps the largest, area of his conception of religion. It was a word expressing, not indeed in the Christian sense a religion whose mainspring was love, but at least a religion based on a rational and quite cheerful mutual confidence. The Greeks have however another word expressive of religion, which embodies a quite other attitude of mind, the word Seio-iSai/jLovia, fear of spirits ; fear, not tendance, fear not of gods but of spirit- things, or, to put it abstractly, of the supernatural.

It is certainly characteristic of the Greek mind that the word SeiGibaiiMovia and its cognates early began to be used in a bad sense, and this to some extent bears out Mr Ruskin's assertion. By the time of Theophrastos o Seia-iSaifji&v is frankly in our sense ' the superstitious man/ and superstition Theophrastos defines as not just and proper reverence but simply ' cowardice in regard to the supernatural/ Professor Jebb 2 has pointed out that already in Aristotle the word Seto-tSat/zo)*/ has about it a suspicion of its weaker side. An absolute ruler, Aristotle 8 says, will be the more powerful ' if his subjects believe that he fears the spiritual beings ' (eav ^eidL^aL/jLova vofjii^oxriv elvai) but he adds significantly ' he must shew himself such without fatuity ' (avev a/SeXre/na?).

Plutarch has left us an instructive treatise on ' the fear of the supernatural/ He saw in this fear, this superstition, the great element of danger and weakness in the religion that he loved so well. His intellect steeped in Platonism revolted from its un- meaning folly, and his gentle gracious temperament shrank from its cruelty. He sees 4 in superstition not only an error, a wrong judgment of the mind, but that worse thing a 'wrong judgment inflamed by passion/ Atheism is a cold error, a mere dislocation of the mind : superstition is a ' dislocation complicated, inflamed,

1 Sext. Empir. adv. Math. ix. 123.

2 The Characters of Theophrastus, p. 264.

3 Arist. Polit. p. 1315 a 1. 4 Plut> de Superstit. i.

i] Plutarch on Superstition 5

by a bruise.' 'Atheism is an apathy towards the divine which fails to perceive the good : superstition is an excess of passion which suspects the good to be evil ; the superstitious are afraid of the gods yet fly to them for refuge, flatter and yet revile them, invoke them and yet heap blame upon them.'

Superstition grieved Plutarch in two ways. He saw that it terrified men and made them miserable, and he wanted all men to be as cheerful and kindly as himself; it also made men think evil of the gods, fear them as harsh and cruel. He knew that the canonical religion of the poets was an adequate basis for super- stitious fear, but he had made for himself a way out of the difficulty, a way he explains in his treatise on ' How the poets ought to be taken.' 'If Ares be evil spoken of we must imagine it to be said of War, if Hephaistos of Fire, if Zeus of Fate, but if anything honourable it is said of the real gods 1 .' Plutarch was too gentle to say sharply and frankly :

'If gods do aught that's shameful, they are no gods 2 /

but he shifted the element of evil, of fear and hate, from his theological ideals to the natural and purely human phenomena from which they had emerged. He wants to treat the gods and regard them as he himself would be treated and regarded, as kindly civilized men. ' What!' he says 3 , 'is he who thinks there are no gods an impious man, while he who describes them as the superstitious man does, does he not hold views much more impious ? Well anyhow I for my part would rather people would say of me there never was or is any such a man as Plutarch, than that they should say Plutarch is an unstable, changeable fellow, irritable, vindictive, and touchy about trifles ; if you invite friends to dinner and leave out Plutarch, or if you are busy and omit to call on him, or if you do not stop to speak to him, he will fasten on you and bite you, or he will catch your child and beat him, or turn his beast loose into your crops and spoil your harvest.'

But though he is concerned for the reputation of the gods, his chief care and pity are for man. Atheism shuts out a man, he says, from the pleasant things of life. ' These most pleasant things,' he adds 4 in characteristic fashion, 'are festivals and feastings in

1 Plut. de and. poet. 4. a Eur. frg. 292.

3 Plut. de Superstit. x. 4 Plut. de Superstit. ix.

6 Olympian and Chthonic Ritual [CH.

connection with sacred things, and initiations and orgiastic festi- vals, and invocations and adorations of the gods. At these most pleasant things the atheist can but laugh his sardonic laugh, but the superstitious man would fain rejoice and cannot, his soul is like the city of Thebes :

" It brims with incense and burnt sacrifice And brims with paeans and with lamentations."

A garland is on his head and pallor on his face, he offers sacrifice and is afraid, he prays and yet his tongue falters, he offers incense and his hand trembles, he turns the saying of Pythagoras into foolishness *' Then we become best when we approach the gods, for those who fear spirits when they approach the shrines and dwellings of the gods make as though they came to the dens of bears and the holes of snakes and the lairs of sea-monsters." ' In his protest against the religion of fear Plutarch rises to a real eloquence 1 . ' He that dreads the gods dreads all things, earth and sea, air and heaven, darkness and light, a voice, a silence, a dream. Slaves forget their masters in sleep, sleep looses their fetters, salves their gangrened sores, but for the superstitious man his reason is always adreaming but his fear always awake.'

Plutarch is by temperament, and perhaps also by the decadent time in which he lived, unable to see the good side of the religion of fear, unable to realize that in it was implicit a real truth, the consciousness that all is not well with the world, that there is such a thing as evil. Tinged with Orphism as he was, he took it by its gentle side and never realized that it was this religion of fear, of consciousness of evil and sin and the need of purification, of which Orphism took hold and which it transformed to new issues. The cheerful religion of ' tendance ' had in it no seeds of spiritual development ; by Plutarch's time, though he failed to see this, it had done its work for civilization.

Still less could Plutarch realize that what in his mind was a degradation, superstition in our sense, had been to his predecessors a vital reality, the real gist of their only possible religion. He deprecates the attitude of the superstitious man who enters the presence of his gods as though he were approaching the hole of a snake, and forgets that the hole of a snake had been to his ancestors,

1 Plut. de Superstit. in.

i] Plutarch on Superstition 7

and indeed was still to many of his contemporaries, literally and actually the sanctuary of a god. He has explained and mysticized away all the primitive realities of his own beloved religion. It can, I think, be shewn that what Plutarch regards as superstition was in the sixth and even the fifth century before the Christian era the real religion of the main bulk of the people, a religion not of cheerful tendance but of fear and de- precation. The formula of that religion was not do ut des ( I give that you may give/ but do ut abeas ' I give that you may go, and keep away.' The beings worshipped were not rational, human, law-abiding gods, but vague, irrational, mainly malevolent Sal^oves, spirit -things, ghosts and bogeys and the like, not yet formulated and enclosed into god-head. The word SeicriSaiiiovia tells its own tale, but the thing itself was born long before it was baptized.

Arguments drawn from the use of the word SetaiSaL/jLovia by particular authors are of necessity vague and somewhat unsatis- factory ; the use of the word depends much on the attitude of mind of the writer. Xenophon 1 for example uses Seio-iSai/jLovia in a good sense, as of a bracing confidence rather than a degrading fear. ' The more men are god-fearing, spirit-fearing (Seto^Sat/zoz/e?), the less do they fear man.' It would be impossible to deduce from such a statement anything as to the existence of a lower and more ' fearful ' stratum of religion.

Fortunately however we have evidence, drawn not from the terminology of religion, but from the certain facts of ritual, evidence which shews beyond the possibility of doubt that the Greeks of the classical period recognised two different classes of rites, one of the nature of ' service ' addressed to the Olympians, the other of the nature of ' riddance ' or ' aversion ' addressed to an order of beings wholly alien. It is this second class of rites which haunts the mind of Plutarch in his protest against the ' fear of spirits ' ; it is to this second class of rites that the ' Superstitious Man' of Theophrastos was unduly addicted; and this second class of rites, which we are apt to regard as merely decadent, superstitious, and as such unworthy of more than a passing notice and condemna- tion, is primitive and lies at the very root and base of Greek religion.

1 Xen. Cyropaed. in. 3. 58.

8 Olympian and Chthonic Ritual [CH.

First it must clearly be established that the Greeks themselves recognised two diverse elements in the ritual of their state. The ^evidence of the orator Isocrates 1 on this point is indefeasible. He is extolling the mildness and humanity of the Greeks. In this respect they are, he points out, 'like the better sort of gods/ 'Some of the gods are mild and humane, others harsh and un- pleasant.' He then goes on to make a significant statement: ' Those of the gods who are the source to us of good things have the title of Olympians, those whose department is that of calamities and punishments have harsher titles; to the first class both private persons and states erect altars and temples, the second is not worshipped either with prayers or burnt-sacrifices, but in their case we perform ceremonies of riddance' Had Isocrates commented merely on the titles of the gods, we might fairly have said that these titles only represent diverse aspects of the same divinities, that Zeus who is Maimaktes, the Raging One, is also Meilichios, Easy-to-be-Intreated, a god of vengeance and a god of love. But happily Isocrates is more explicit ; he states that the two classes of gods have not only diverse natures but definitely different rituals, and that these rituals not only vary for the individual but are also different by the definite prescription of the state. The ritual of the gods called Olympian is of burnt-sacrifice and prayer, it is con- ducted in temples and on altars : the ritual of the other class has neither burnt-sacrifice nor prayer nor, it would seem, temple or altar, but consists in ceremonies apparently familiar to the Greek v under the name of airoTro^iral, ' sendings away.'

For d-TTOTrofjiTrai the English language has no convenient word. Our religion still countenances the fear of the supernatural, but we have outgrown the stage in which we perform definite ceremonies to rid ourselves of the gods. Our nearest equivalent to aTTOTro^Trai is ' exorcisms/ but as the word has connotations of magic and degraded superstition I prefer to use the somewhat awkward term ' ceremonies of riddance/

Plato more than once refers to these ceremonies of riddance. In the Laws 2 he bids the citizen, if some prompting intolerably base occur to his mind, as e.g. the desire to commit sacrilege,

1 Isocr. Or. v. 117. Plat. Legg. 854 B Wt d-n-l ras cnroSioTro^Tnjo-eis, We tiri deuv diroTpo-rraiuv iepa

i] Ritual of Aversion 9

' betake yourself to ceremonies of riddance, go as suppliant to the shrines of the gods of aversion, fly from the company of wicked men without turning back.' The reference to a peculiar set of rites presided over by special gods' is clear. These gods were variously called aTrorpoTraioi, and dTrorro/jLTraloi,, the gods of Aver- sion and of Sending-away.

Harpocration 1 tells us that Apollodorus devoted the sixth book of his treatise Concerning the gods to the discussion of the deal aTTOTTOfjiTraioi,, the gods of Sending-away. The loss of this treatise is a grave one for the history of ritual, but scattered notices enable us to see in broad outline what the character of these gods of Aversion was. Pausanias 2 at Titane saw an altar, and in front of it a barrow erected to the hero Epopeus, and ' near to the tomb,' he says, ' are the gods of Aversion, beside whom are performed the ceremonies which the Greeks observe for the averting of evils.' Here it is at least probable, though from the vagueness of the statement of Pausanias not certain, that the ceremonies were of an underworld character such as it will be seen were performed at the graves of heroes. The gods of Aversion by the time of Pausanias, and probably long before, were regarded as gods who presided over the aversion of evil ; there is little doubt that to begin with these gods were the very evil men sought to avert. The domain of the spirits of the underworld was confined to things evil. Babrius 3 tells us that in the courtyard of a pious man there was a precinct of a hero, and the pious man was wont to sacrifice and pour libations to the hero, and pray to him for a return for his hospitality. But the ghost of the dead hero knew better ; only the regular Olympians are the givers of good, his province as a hero was limited to evil only. He appeared in the middle of the night and expounded to the pious man this truly Olympian theology :

' Good Sir, no hero may give aught of good ; For that pray to the gods. We are the givers Of all things evil that exist for men.'

It will be seen, when we come to the subject of hero-worship, that this is a very one-sided view of the activity of heroes. Still it remains, broadly speaking, true that dead men and the powers of the underworld were the objects of fear rather than love, their cult was of ' aversion ' rather than ' tendance.'

1 Harpocrat. s.v. aTroiro^irds. 2 P. n. 11. 1. 3 Babr. Fab. 63.

10 Olympian and Chthonic Ritual [OH.

A like distinction is drawn by Hippocrates 1 between the attributes, spheres and ritual of Olympian and chthonic divinities. He says: ' we ought to pray to the gods, for good things to Helios, to Zeus Ouranios, to Zeus Ktesias, to Athene Ktesia, to Hermes, to Apollo ; but in the case of things that are the reverse we must pray to Earth and the heroes, that all hostile things may be averted.'

It is clear then that Greek religion contained two diverse, even opposite, factors : on the one hand the element of service (depaireia), on the other the element of aversion* (aTrorpoTrr)). The rites of service were connected by ancient tradition with the Olympians, or as they are sometimes called the Ouranians: the rites of aversion with ghosts, heroes, underworld divinities. The rites of service were of a cheerful and rational character, the rites of aversion gloomy ^and tending to superstition. The particular characteristics of each set of rites will be discussed more in detail later; for the present it is sufficient to have established the fact that Greek religion for all its superficial serenity had within it and beneath it elements of a darker and deeper significance.

So far we have been content with the general statements of Greek writers as to the nature of their national religion, and the evidence of these writers has been remarkably clear. But, in order to form any really just estimate, it is necessary to examine in detail the actual ritual of some at least of the national festivals. To such an examination the next three chapters will be devoted.

The main result of such an examination, a result which for

clearness' sake may be stated at the outset, is surprising. We shall

'find a series of festivals which are nominally connected with, or as

the handbooks say, 'celebrated in honour of various Olympians;

the Diasia in honour of Zeus, the Thargelia of Apollo and

Artemis, the Anthesteria of Dionysos. The service of these

Olympians we should expect to be of the nature of joyous

""' tendance.' To our surprise, when the actual rites are examined,

1 Hippocr. irepl evvirviuv 639 eiri 8 roifftv evavrlounv KOU yy /cat

ra xaXeTra iravra.

2 English has no convenient equivalent for aVorpoTr^, which may mean either turning ourselves away from the thing or turning the thing away from us. Aversion, which for lack of a better word I have been obliged to adopt, has too much personal and no ritual connotation. Exorcism is nearer, but too limited and explicit. Dr Oldenberg in apparent unconsciousness of depairda and a-rroTpoTrri uses in conjunction the two words Cultus and Abwehr. To his book, Die Religion des Veda, though he hardly touches on Greek matters, I owe much.

i] Ritual of Olympians 11

we shall find that they have little or nothing to do with the particular Olympian to whom they are supposed to be addressed ; that they are rites not in the main of burnt-sacrifice, of joy and feasting and agonistic contests, but rites of a gloomy underworld character, connected mainly with purification and the worship of ghosts. The conclusion is almost forced upon us that we have here a theological stratification, that the rites of the Olympians have been superimposed on another order of worship. The contrast between the two classes of rites is so marked, so sharp, that the unbroken development from one to the other is felt to be almost impossible.

To make this clear, before we examine a series of festivals in regular calendar order, one typical case will be taken, the Diasia, the supposed festival of Zeus; and to make the argument in- telligible, before the Diasia is examined, a word must be said as to the regular ritual of this particular Olympian. The ritual of the several Olympian deities does not vary in essentials ; an instance of sacrifice to Zeus is selected because we are about to examine the Diasia, a festival of Zeus, and thereby uniformity is secured.

Agamemnon 1 , beguiled by Zeus in a dream, is about to go forth to battle. Zeus intends to play him false, but all the same he accepts the sacrifice. It is a clear instance of do ut des.

The first act is of prayer and the scattering of barley grains ; the victim, a bull, is present but not yet slain :

'They gathered round the bull and straight the barley grain did take, And 'mid them Agamemnon stood and prayed, and thus he spake : O Zeus most great, most glorious, Thou who dwellest in the sky And storm-black cloud, oh grant the dark of evening come not nigh At sunset ere I blast the house of Priam to black ash, And burn his doorways with fierce fire, and with my sword-blade gash His doublet upon Hector's breast, his comrades many a one Grant that they bite the dust of earth ere yet the day be done.'

Next follows the slaying and elaborate carving of the bull for the banquet of gods and men :

'When they had scattered barley grain and thus their prayer had made, The bull's head backward drew they, and slew him, and they flayed His body and cut slices from the thighs, and these in fat They wrapped and made a double fold, and gobbets raw thereat They laid and these they burnt straightway with leafless billets dry And held the spitted vitals Hephaistos' flame anigh The thighs they burnt ; the spitted vitals next they taste, anon The rest they slice and heedfully they roast till all is done When they had rested from their task and all the banquet dight, They feasted, in their hearts no stint of feasting and delight.'

1 Horn. II. ii. 421.

12 Olympian and Chthonic Ritual [CH.

Dr Leaf 1 observes on the passage : ' The significance of the various acts of the sacrifice evidently refers to a supposed invitation to the gods to take part in a banquet. Barley meal is scattered on the victim's head that the gods may share in the fruits of the earth as well as in the meat. Slices from the thigh as the best part are wrapped in fat to make them burn and thus ascend in sweet savour to heaven. The sacrificers after roasting the vitals taste them as a symbolical sign that they are actually eating with \IQ gods. When this religious act has" been done, the rest of the victim is consumed as a merely human meal.'

Nothing could be simpler, clearer. There is no mystic com- munion, no eating of the body of the god incarnate in the victim, no awful taboo upon what has been offered to, made over to, the gods, no holocaust. Homer knows of victims slain to revive by their blood the ghosts of those below, knows of victims on which oaths have been taken and which are utterly consumed arid abolished, but the normal service of the Olympians is a meal shared. The god is Ouranios, so his share is burnt, and the object of the burning is manifestly sublimation not destruction.

With the burnt-sacrifice and the joyous banquet in our minds we turn to the supposed festival of Zeus at Athens and mark the contrast, a contrast it will be seen so great that it compels us to suppose that the ritual of the festival of the Diasia had primarily nothing whatever to do with the worship of Olympian Zeus.


Our investigation begins with a festival which at first sight seems of all others for our purpose most unpromising, the Diasia 2 . Pollux, in his chapter 3 on ' Festivals which take their names from

1 Companion to the Iliad, p. 77. I have advisedly translated ovXoxtrai by barley grain, not meal, because I believe the ouXoxirrcu to be a primitive survival of the custom of offering actual grain, but this disputed question is here irrelevant. I follow Dr H. von Fritze, Herme$ xxxn. 1897, p. 236.

2 The sources for the Diasia are all collected in the useful and so far as I am aware complete work, Oskar Band, Die Attischen Diasien ein Beitrag zur Grie- chischen Horteologie, Wissenschaftliche Beilage zum Programm der Victoriaschule, Ostern 1883 (Berlin). Many of the more important sources are easily accessible in Mr FarnelPs Cults of the Greek States, vol. i. pp. 171, 172. Mr Farnell regards Zeus Meilichios as merely a form of the Olympian Zeus, not as a contaminatio of two primarily distinct religious conceptions.

3 On. i. 37.

i] The Diasia 13

the divinities worshipped/ cites the Diasia as an instance 'the Mouseia are from the Muses, the Hermaia from Hermes, the Diasia and Pandia from Zeus (A to?), the Panathenaia from Athene.' What could be clearer 1 It is true that the modern philologist observes what naturally escaped the attention of Pollux, i.e. that the i in Diasia is long, that in Ato? short, but what is the quantity of a vowel as against the accredited worship of an Olympian I

To the question of derivation it will be necessary to return later, the nature of the cult must first be examined. Again at the outset facts seem against us. It must frankly be owned that as early as the middle of the seventh century B.C. in common as well as professional parlance, the Diasia was a festival of Zeus, of Zeus with the title Meilichios.

Our first notice of the Diasia comes to us in a bit of religious historj- as amusing as it is instructive, the story of the unworthy trick played by the Delphic oracle on Cylon. Thucydides 1 tells how Cylon took counsel of the oracle how he might seize the Acropolis, and the priestess made answer that he should attempt it 'on the greatest festival of Zeus.' Cylon never doubted that ' the greatest festival of Zeus ' was the Olympian festival, and having been (B.C. 640) an Olympian victor himself, he felt that there was about the oracle ' a certain appropriateness.' But in fine oracular fashion the god had laid a trap for the unwary egotist, intending all the while not the Olympian festival but the Attic Diasia, 'for,' Thucydides explains, 'the Athenians too have what is called the Diasia, the greatest festival of Zeus, of Zeus Meilichios.' The passage is of paramount importance because it shows clearly that the obscurity lay in the intentional omission by the priestess of the cultus epithet Meilichios, and in that epithet as will be presently seen lies the whole significance of the cult. Had Zeus Meilichios been named no normal Athenian would have blundered.

Thucydides goes on to note some particulars of the ritual of the Diasia ; the ceremonies took place outside the citadel,^

1 Thucyd. I. 126 tan yap /ecu 'Adyvaiois Ata<ria a /faXemit Atds eoprr) - iv 17 Trav8r]/j.el 0vov<ri iro\\a oi>x lepeia aXX'

Schol. ad loc. d^^ara riva Tr^u/tara et $ f<a> /j-opfias Tfrvirw^va. Zdvov.

14 Olympian and Chthonic Ritual [CH.

sacrifices were offered by the whole people collectively, and many of those who sacrificed offered not animal sacrifices but offerings in accordance with local custom. The word iepeta, the regular ritual term for animal sacrifices, is here opposed to Ovfjiara eirt^apeo, local sacrifices. But for the Scholiast the meaning of ' local sacrifices ' would have remained dubious; he explains, and no doubt rightly, that these customary ' local sacrifices ' were cakes made in xthe shape of animals. The principle in sacris simulata pro veris accipi was and is still of wide application, and as there is nothing in it specially characteristic of the Diasia it need not be further exemplified.

Two notices of the Diasia in the Clouds of Aristophanes 1 yield nothing. The fact that Strepsiades bought a little cart at the Diasia for his boy or even cooked a sausage for his relations is of no significance. Wherever any sort of religious ceremony goes on, there among primitive peoples a fair will be set up and outlying relations will come in and must be fed, nor does it concern us to decide whether the cart bought by Strepsiades was a real cart or as the Scholiast suggests a cake-cart. Cakes in every conceivable form belong to the common fund of quod semper quod ubique. Of capital importance however is the notice of the Scholiast on line 408 where the exact date of the Diasia is given. It was celebrated on the 8th day of the last decade of the month Anthesterion i.e. about the 14th of March. The Diasia was a Spring festival and therein as will be shown later (p. 52) lies its true significance.

From Lucian we learn that by his time the Diasia had fallen somewhat into abeyance ; in the Icaro-Menippos Zeus complains that his altars are as cold as the syllogisms of Chrysippos. Worn out old god as he was, men thought it sufficient if they sacrificed every six years at Olympia. 'Why is it/ he asks ruefully, ' that for so many years the Athenians have left out the Diasia ? ' It is sig- nificant that here again, as in the case of Cylon, the Olympian Zeus has tended to efface from men's mind the ritual of him who bore the title Meilichios. The Scholiast 2 feels that some explana- tion of an obsolete festival is desirable, and explains : ' the Diasia,

1 vv. 864 and 408.

2 Luc. Icaro-Menip. 24 schol. ad loc. Aidtrta topri) 'Ad^vrjffiv, ffv faerfrow TWOS (TTvyvoTrjTos, dtiovres tv avry Ad MetXi^y.

i] The Diasia 15

a festival at Athens, which they keep with a certain element of chilly gloom (o-rvyvorrj^), offering sacrifices to Zeus Meilichios.' This 'chilly gloom' arrests attention at once. What has Zeus of the high heaven, of the upper air, to do with ' chilly gloom/ with things abhorrent and abominable ? Styx is the chill cold water of death, Hades and the Erinyes are 'chilly ones' (o-Tvyepoi), the epithet is utterly aloof from Zeus. The Scholiast implies that the * chilly gloom ' comes in from the sacrifice to Zeus Meilichios. Zeus qua Zeus gives no clue, it remains to examine the title Meilichios.

Xenophon in returning from his Asiatic expedition was hin- dered, we are told 1 , by lack of funds. He piously consulted a religious specialist and was informed that ' Zeus Meilichios ' stood in his way and that he must sacrifice to the god as he was wont to do at home. Accordingly on the following day Xenophon ' sacrificed and offered a holocaust of pigs in accordance with ancestral custom and the omens were favourable.'

The regular ancestral ritual to Zeus Meilichios was a holocaust of pigs, and the god himself was regarded as a source of wealth, a sort of Ploutos. Taken by itself this last point could not be ^pressed, as probably by Xenophon's time men would pray to Zeus pure and simple for any thing and everything; taken in conjunction with the holocaust and the title Meilichios, the fact, it will pre- sently be seen, is significant. There is of course nothing to prove that Xenophon sacrificed at the time of the Diasia, though this is possible ; we are concerned now with the cult of Zeus Meilichios in general, not with the particular festival of the Diasia. It may be noted that the Scholiast, on the passage of Thucydides already discussed, says that the ' animal sacrifices ' at the Diasia were Trpofiara, a word usually rendered 'sheep'; but if he is basing his statement on any earlier authority Trpoftara may quite well have meant pig or any four-legged household animal ; the meaning of the word was only gradually narrowed down to ' sheep.'

It may be said once for all that the exact animal sacrificed is not of the first importance in determining the nature of the god. Pigs came to be associated with Demeter and the underworld

1 Xen. Anab. vil. 8. 4 rrj Se v^repatq. 6 Eet>o0wi'...^ero /ecu wXo/caiVet xolpovs T< irarpvy i/6/xy /cai f/caXXifyei. The incident probably took place in February, the month of the Diasia. See Mr H. G. Dakyns, Xen. vol. i. p. 315.

16 Olympian and Chthonic Ritual [on.

divinities, but that is because these divinities belong to a primitive stratum, and the pig then as now was cheap to rear and a stand- by to the poor. The animal sacrificed is significant of the status of the worshipper rather than of the content of the god. The argument from the pig must not be pressed, though undoubtedly the cheap pig as a sacrifice to Zeus is exceptional.

The manner of the sacrifice, not the material, is the real clue to the significance of the title Meilichios. Zeus as Meilichios de- manded a holocaust, a whole burnt-offering. The Zeus of Homer demanded and received the tit- bits of the victim, though even these in token of friendly communion were shared by the wor- shippers. Such was the custom of the Ouranioi, the Olympians in general. Zeus Meilichios will have all or nothing. His sacri- fice is not a happy common feast, it is a dread renunciation to a dreadful power, hence the atmosphere of ' chilly gloom.' It will later be seen that these ^n-eaten sacrifices are characteristic of angry ghosts demanding placation and of a whole class of under- world divinities in general, divinities who belong to a stratum of thought more primitive than Homer. For the present it is enough to mark that the service of Zeus Meilichios is wholly alien to that of the Zeus of Homer. The next passage makes still clearer the .nature of this service.

Most fortunately for us Pausanias, when at Myonia in Locris, visited 1 a sanctuary, not indeed of Zeus Meilichios, but of ' the Meilichians.' He saw there no temple, only a grove and an altar, and he learnt the nature of the ritual. ' The sacrifices to "the Meilichians " are at night-time and it is customary to consume the flesh on the spot before the sun is up.' Here is no question of Zeus ; we have independent divinities worshipped on their own account and with nocturnal ceremonies. The suspicion begins to take shape that Zeus must have taken over the worship of these dread Meilichian divinities with its nocturnal ceremonial. The suspicion is confirmed when we find that Zeus Meilichios is, like the Erinyes, the avenger of, kindred blood. Pausanias 2 saw near the Kephissos ' an ancient altar of Zeus Meilichios ; on it Theseus received purification from the descendants of Phytalos after he had slain among other robbers Sinis who was related to himself through Pittheus.'

1 P. x. 38. 8. 2 P. i. 37. 4.

i] The Diasia 17

Again Pausanias 1 tells us that, after an internecine fray, the Argives took measures to purify themselves from the guilt of kindred blood, and one measure was that they set up an image of Zeus Meilichios. Meilichios, Easy-to-be-entreated, the Gentle, the Gracious One, is naturally the divinity of purification, but he is also naturally the other euphemistic face of Maimaktes, he who rages eager, panting and thirsting for blood. This Hesychius 2 tells us in an instructive gloss. Maimaktes-Meilichios is double- faced like the Erinyes- Eumenides. Such undoubtedly would have been the explanation of the worship of Zeus Meilichios by any educated Greek of the fifth century B.C. with his monotheistic tendencies. Zeus he would have said is all in all, Zeus Meilichios is Zeus in his underworld aspect Zeus-Hades.

Pausanias 3 saw at Corinth three images of Zeus, all under the open sky. One he says had no title, another was called He of the underworld (%0owo9), the third The Highest. What earlier cults this triple Zeus had absorbed into himself it is impossible to say.

Such a determined monotheism is obviously no primitive con- ception, and it is interesting to ask on what facts and fusion of facts it was primarily based. Happily where literature and even ritual leave us with suspicions only, art compels a clearer defi- nition.

The two reliefs in figs. 1 and 2 were found at the Peiraeus and are now in the Berlin Museum 4 . From the inscription on the relief in fig. 1 and from numerous other inscribed reliefs found with it, it is practically certain that at the place in which they were found Zeus Meilichios was worshipped. In any case the relief in fig. 1 is clearly dedicated to him. Above the splendid coiled beast is plainly inscribed * to Zeus Meilichios '

1 P. ii. 20. 1. 2 Hesych. s.v. Mat/xd/cr^s' nei\lxios, Ka6dp<nos.

8 P. n. 2. 8.

4 Permission to republish the two reliefs figured here and that in fig. 5 has been courteously granted me by Professor Kekule' von Stradowitz, Director of the Berlin Museum, and I owe to his kindness the excellent photographs from which the reproductions are made. From the official catalogue (Beschreibung der Antiken Skulpturen in Berlin) I quote the following particulars as to material, provenance &c.

1. Cat. 722, H. 0-58, Br. 0-31. Hymettus marble found with No. 723 at the Zea harbour not far from Ziller's house. Taken to Berlin 1879. Inscribed All MEIAIXIQI. Date fourth century B.C., see CIA. n. 3, 1581, cf. CIA. n. 3. 1578, 1582, 1583.

2. Cat. 723, material, provenance, date, same as 722.

H. 2


Olympian and Chthonic Ritual


(Au MeA,t%t'&>). We are brought face to face with the astounding fact that Zeus, father of gods and men, is figured by his wor- shippers as a snake.

FIG. 1.

So astonishing is the inscription that it drove a man of M. Foucart's learning and ability into strange straits. He was the first to attempt the interpretation of these remarkable reliefs, and so determined is he that the Hellenic Zeus is not, cannot be, a mere snake that he resorts to the perfectly gratuitous assumption that Meilichios is Moloch (Melek) and that the reliefs are dedicated by foreigners to their foreign god 1 . We have no evidence that Moloch was figured as a snake, but anything is good enough for a foreigner. This explanation, though supported by a great name,

1 Bull, de Corr. Hell. vn. p. 507.

The Diasia


was too preposterous long to command attention and another way was sought out of the difficulty. The snake, it was suggested, was not the god himself, it was his attribute. Again the assump- tion is baseless. Zeus is one of the few Greek gods who never appear attended by a snake. Asklepios, Hermes, Apollo, even Demeter and Athene have their snakes, Zeus never. Moreover when the god developed from snake form to human form, as, it will later be shown, was the case with Asklepios, the snake he once was remains coiled about his staff or attendant at his throne. In the case of Zeus Meilichios in human form the snake he once was not disappears clean and clear.

The explanation of the snake as merely an attribute is indeed impossible to any unbiassed critic who looks at the relief in fig. 2. Here clearly the snake is the object wor- shipped by the woman and two men who approach with gestures of adoration. The colossal size of the beast as ifc towers above its human adorers is the Magnificat of the artist echoed by the wor- shippers. When we confront the relief in fig. 3, also found at the Peiraeus, with those in figs. 1 and 2, the secret is out at last. In fig. 3 a man followed by a woman and child approaches an altar, behind which is seated a bearded god holding a sceptre and patera for libation. Above is clearly inscribed

' Aristarche to Zeus Meilichios' (A.piardpxn Au MeiX^tp). And the truth is nothing more or less than this. The human-shaped Zeus has slipped himself quietly into the place of the old snake- god. Art sets plainly forth what has been dimly shadowed in ritual and mythology. It is not that Zeus the Olympian has


FIG. 2.


Olympian and Chthonic Ritual


f an underworld aspect'; it is the cruder fact that he of the upper air, of the thunder and lightning, extrudes an ancient serpent-

FIG. 3.

demon of the lower world, Meilichios. Meilichios is no foreign Moloch, he is home-grown, autochthonous before the formulation of Zeus.

How the shift may have been effected art again helps us to conjecture. In the same sanctuary at the Peiraeus that yielded the reliefs in figs. 1 and 2 was found the inscribed relief 1 in fig. 4. We have a similar bearded snake and above is inscribed 'Heracleides to the god.' The worshipper is not fencing, uncertain whether he means Meilichios or Zeus; he brings his offering to the local precinct where the god is a snake and dedicates it to the god, the god of that precinct. It is not monotheism, rather it is parochial- ism, but it is a conception tending towards a later monotheism. When and where the snake is FIG. 4.

simply ' the god/ the fusion with Zeus is made easy.

1 Bull, de Corr. Hell. 1883, p. 510.


The Diasia


In fig. 5 is figured advisedly a monument of snake worship, which it must be distinctly noted comes, not from the precinct of Zeus Meilichios at the Peiraeus, but from Eteonos in Boeotia.

FIG. 5.

When we come to the discussion of hero-worship, it will be seen that all over Greece the dead hero was worshipped in snake form and addressed by euphemistic titles akin to that of Meilichios. The relief from Boeotia is a good instance of such worship and is chosen because of the striking parallelism of its art type with that of the Peiraeus relief in fig. 3. The maker of this class of votive reliefs seems to have kept in stock designs of groups of pious worshippers which he could modify as required and to which the necessary god or snake and the appropriate victim could easily be appended. Midway in conception between the Olympian Zeus with his sceptre and the snake demon stands another relief 1 (fig. 6), also from the Peiraeus sanctuary. Meilichios is human, a snake no longer, but he is an earth god, he bears the cornucopia, his victim is the pig. He is that Meilichios to whom Xenophon offered the holocaust of pigs, praying for wealth ; he is also the Zeus-Hades of Euripides. We might have been tempted to call him simply Hades or Ploutos but for the inscrip- tion [Kptro]/3oX?7 Au MetXt^tft), ' Kritoboule to Zeus Meilichios,' which makes the dedication certain.

1 From a photograph (Peiraeus 12) published by kind permission of the German Archaeological Institute, see Eph. Arch. 1886, p. 47.

22 Olympian and Chthonic Ritual [CH.

By the light then of these reliefs the duality, the inner discrepancy of Zeus Meilichios admits of a simple and straight- forward solution. It is the monument of a superposition of cults.

FIG. 6.

But the difficulty of the name of the festival, Diasia, remains. There is no reason to suppose that the name was given late ; and, if primitive, how can we sever it from Ato? ?

It is interesting to note that the ancients themselves were not quite at ease in deriving Diasia from Ato?. Naturally they were not troubled by difficulties as to long and short vowels, but they had their misgivings as to the connotation of the word, and they try round uneasily for etymologies of quite other significance. The Scholiast on Lucian's Timon 1 says the word is probably derived from ^laaaiveiv ' to fawn on,' ' to propitiate. 5 Suidas 2 says it comes from Sia<f>wyeiv avrovs ei)%ou9 ra? aVa?, because in the Diasia ' men escaped from curses by prayers.' If etymologi- cally absurd, certainly, as will be seen, a happy guess.

Such derivations are of course only worth citing to show that even in ancient minds as regards the derivation of Diasia from Ato? misgiving lurked.

The misgiving is emphasized by the modern philologist. The derivation of Diasia with its long from Ato9 with its short i is scientifically improbable if not impossible. Happily another

1 Lucian, Tim. c. 7. 2 Suidas s.v. Aidcria.

i] The Dian Fleece 23

derivation that at least satisfies scientific conditions has been suggested by Mr R. A. Neil. Not only does it satisfy scientific conditions but it also confirms the view arrived at by independent investigation of the ritual and art representations of Zeus Meilichios. Mr Neil 1 suggests that in several Greek words show- ing the stem Sto this stem may stand by the regular falling away of the medial a for Slao and is identical with the Latin cforo 2 . dims, he notes, was originally a purely religious word. Such words would be the Diasia, whatever the termination may be, the Am, of Teos (p. 143) and perhaps the TldvSia of Athens. Seen in the light of this new etymology the Diasia becomes intelligible: it is the festival of curses, imprecations : it is nocturnal and associated with rites of placation and purgation, two notions inextricably linked in the mind of the ancients.

We further understand why Meilichios seems the male double of Erinys and why his rites are associated with 'chilly gloom.' The Diasia has primarily and necessarily nothing to do with Ato?, with Zeus; it has everything to do with 'dirae/ magical curses, exorcisms and the like. The keynote of primitive ritual, it will become increasingly clear, is exorcism.

In the light of this new derivation it is possible further to explain another element in the cult of Zeus Meilichios hitherto purposely left unnoticed, the famous Ato? /cwSiov, the supposed ' fleece of Zeus.' The Ato? /caSiov is, I think, no more the fleece of Zeus than the Diasia is his festival.

Polemon, writing at the beginning of the second century B.C., undoubtedly accepted the current derivation, and on the statement of Polemon most of our notices of ' the fleece of Zeus ' appear to be based. Hesychius 3 writes thus : ' The fleece of Zeus : they use

1 J.H.S. xix. p. 114, note 1.

2 Mr P. Giles kindly tells me that a rare Sanskrit word dveshas meaning ' hate ' and the like exists and phonetically would nearly correspond to the Latin dims. The corresponding form in Greek would appear as 5etos, unless in late Greek. But from the end of the 5th century B.C. onwards the pronunciation would be the same as 5toy, and if the word survived only in ritual terms it would naturally be confused with Sios. Almost all authorities on Latin however regard the ru in dims as a suffix containing an original r as in mirus, durus etc. This view, which would be fatal to the etymology of dims proposed in the text, seems supported by a statement of Servius (if the statement be accurate) on Aen. in. 235 ' Sabini et Umbri quae nos mala dira appellant,' as, though s between vowels passes in Latin and Umbrian into r, it remains an s sound in Sabine.

3 Hesych. s.v. 6 5e IIoKtfiwv TO tic rov Ad redv^vov lepetov. From Athenaeus also we learn that Polemon had treated in some detail of the ' fleece of Zeus ' ; Athenaeus says (xi. 478 c), IIoA^ixwi/ 5' tv r$ irepi TOV dlov Kwdiov <j>i)<ri,..

24 Olympian and Chthonic Ritual [CH.

this expression when the victim has been sacrificed to Zeus, and those who were being purified stood on it with their left foot. Some say it means a great and perfect fleece. But Polemon says it is the fleece of the victim sacrificed to Zeus.'

But Polemon is by no means infallible in the matter of etymology, though invaluable as reflecting the current impression of his day. Our conviction that the Ato? /cwSiov is necessarily ' the fleece of Zeus ' is somewhat loosened when we find that this fleece was by no means confined to the ritual of Zeus, arid in so far as it was connected with Zeus, was used in the ritual only of a Zeus who bore the titles Meilichios and Ktesios. Suidas 1 expressly states that ' they sacrifice to Meilichios and to Zeus Ktesios and they keep the fleeces of these (victims) and call them "Dian," and they use them when they send out the procession in the month of Skirophorion, and the Dadouchos at Eleusis uses them, and others use them for purifications by strewing them under the feet of those who are polluted.'

It is abundantly clear that Zeus had no monopoly in the fleece supposed to be his; it was a sacred fleece used for purification ceremonies in general. He himself had taken over the cult of Meilichios, the Placable One, the spirit of purification ; we conjec- ture that he had also taken over the fleece of purification.

Final conviction comes from a passage in the commentary of Eustathius 2 on the purification of the house of Odysseus after the

1 Suidas s.v. 66ov<rl re r< re MetXix^y /cat ry Kryo-iy Alt', rd 6e K&Sia TOIJTWV <pv\d<r<rov(Ti /cat Ata (5ta) irpoffayopeiJovTai, xp^ }vral $' O.VTOIS o'i re 2iKipo<popl<>)v rrjv iro^ir'qv <TTe\\ovTes Kai 6 SaSovxos & 'EXe^-ivi Kai &\\oi rives irpbs Kadap/Jiovs viroffTOpvvvTes atfra rots irovi TWV evay&v. For Ata Gaisford conjectures Atos but from the passage of Eustathius (see infr.) it is clear that we must read 5ta.

2 Eustath. ad Od. xxn. 481 1934 5 86Kovv yap ol "EXX^es otfrw rd rotaOra fj.ijo"r) Kadatpeffdai 8iOTro/jiTrov/j.eva. Kai eVepoi /u.ev Si/XoOo'i rpoirovs Kadapo~lwv ertpovs, a Kai 6%ayovTes rdov otKwv /xera. rds 0ifj,ovs ^traoiSas Trpoffeppiirrov d/i065ots /u.7raX' ra irpoffwira ffrpe'fioi'Tes Kai tTravibvres d/j.erao'Tpe'jrTi. 6 8t ye Troi-rjTiKos 'Odv<T(revs oi>x oOrw Troiei dXX' erepwi airXovvTepov. (py^i yovv olffe deeiov ypijv KaKwv &KOS . . .Tr\eov Trot^aas ovdev . . . deeLOv 8e dv/j,idfj.aTOS eldos Kadaipeiv doKovvros TOVS ^itatryuoi/s. 5to /cat SiaaretXas KaK&v a/cos auro cp^aiv 6 Trotijr^s, o^re 5^ rives 4vrav6a eTr^dai <rvvr)6eis rots TraXatots oifre (TTevwiros tv y dvdpaKes a.7ray6/Jt,evoL aury ayyety eppL-n-TovTO 6ir<.crdo(paviiis, Itrreov 8e Sri ov fi6vov 5ta ^eiou eyivovTO Ka.6apfj.oi Kadd irpoaexus ^ypd^i) dXXd Kai <pvrd TWO. ets roOro xprjffifJLa yv. dpiffTepewv yovv, <f>vrov Kara Ilaucrai'iaj' ^iri.T'qoei.ov els Kadap/j,6v' Kai o~vs 8e eis rotaura, o~riv o5, TrapeXa/AfidveTO, ws kv 'IXtdSt (paLverai. Kai oi TO SiOTTO/JiTreiv 8e epju.'rjvevovTe's <f>aaiv 6'ri 8iov e'/cdXow /cwoiov iepeiov rvdevros Ait /x,eiXtxty iv rols Kadapjuiois, (pdivovros Maijtia/crT/pitSpos i^rjvbs ore tfyovro rd 7ro/u7raia, Kai Kadapfj.G)v e^jSoXai els rds rpioSovs 4yivovro. elxov 8e /xera x ?P as iro/ut-irov ' 6irep -rjv, <pa<rl, KTjpvKiov, ffefias 'EpyttoG. /cat e'/c roO TOLOVTOV TTO/XTTOU /cat roO pTjOevros 8iov TO 8ioTrofj,Treiv...a\\b)s 8e Koiv6Tepov StoTro/iTreti' Kai diroS LOTTO /unreiv e<j>alvTo TO Aios dXei/cdKOi e > 7rt/cX?7<rei e/cTr^Treiv ra 0aOXa. Eustathius passes on to speak of purification by blood and the (papftaKoi, see p. 95.

i] The Dian Fleece 25

slaying of the suitors. Odysseus purges his house by two things, first after the slaying of the suitors by water, then after the hang- ing of the maidens by fire and brimstone. His method of purifying is a simple and natural one, it might be adopted to-day in the disinfecting of a polluted house. This Eustathius notes, and contrasts it with the complex magical apparatus in use among the ancients and very possibly still employed by the pagans of his own day. He comments as follows : ' The Greeks thought such pollutions were purified by being "sent away." Some describe one sort of purifications some others, and these purifications they carried out of houses after the customary incantations and they cast them forth in the streets with averted faces and returned without looking backwards. But the Odysseus of the poet does not act thus, but performs a different and a simpler act, for he says :

" Bring brimstone, ancient dame, the cure of ills, and bring me fire That I the hall may fumigate."'

In the confused fashion of his day and of his own mind Eustathius sees there is a real distinction but does not recognise wherein it lies. He does not see that Homer's purification is actual, physical, rational, not magical. He goes on : ' Brimstone is a sort of incense which is reputed to cleanse pollutions. Hence the poet distinguishes it, calling it " cure of ills." In this passage there are none of the incantations usual among the ancients, nor is there the small vessel in which the live coals were carried and thrown away vessel and all backwards.'

What half occurs to Eustathius and would strike any in- telligent modern observer acquainted with ancient ritual is that the purification of the house of Odysseus is as it were scientific ; there is none of the apparatus of magical ' riddance.' Dimly and darkly he puts a hesitating finger on the cardinal difference between the religion of Homer and that of later (and earlier) Greece, that Homer is innocent, save for an occasional labelled magician, of magic. The Archbishop seems to feel this as something of a defect, a shortcoming. He goes on : 'It must be understood that purifications were effected not only as has just been described, by means of sulphur, but there are also certain plants that were useful for this purpose ; at least according to Pausanias there is verbena, a plant in use for purification, and the pig was

26 Olympian and Chthonic Ritual [CH.

sometimes employed for such purposes, as appears in the Iliad! This mention of means of purification in general brings irre- sistibly to the mind of Eustathius a salient instance, the very fleece we are discussing. He continues : ' Those who interpret the word SIOTTO jjuirelv say that they applied the term &2ov to the fleece of the animal that had been sacrificed to Zeus Meilichios in purifications at the end of the month of Maimakterion 1 when they performed the Sendings and when the castings out of pollutions at the triple ways took place : and they held in their hands a sender which was they say the kerukeion, the attribute of Hermes, and from a sender of this sort, pompos, and from the Slav, the fleece called "Dian," they get the word LOTTO pirelv, divine sending.'

From this crude and tentative etymological guessing two im- portant points emerge. Eustathius does not speak of the ' fleece of Zeus/ but of the Dian or perhaps we may translate divine fleece. ?o? is with him an adjective to be declined, not the genitive of Zeus. This loosens somewhat the connection of the fleece with Zeus, as the adjective Sto? could be used of anything divine or even magical in its wonder and perfection. Further, and this is of supreme importance, he connects the Dian fleece with the difficult word SioTTo/jiTreiv, and in this lies the clue to its real interpretation. 'That this,' he goes on meaning his derivation of SiOTro^Trelv from Tro/LfcTro? the kerukeion of Hermes and &LOV the divine fleece 'is so we find from special investigation, but in more general parlance by SiOTToiJb'jreiv and airo^ioiro^elv is meant the sending away of unclean things in the name of Zeus Averter of Evil.' Eustathius evidently gets nervous ; his ' special investigation ' is leading him uncomfortably near the real truth, uncomfortably far from the orthodox Zeus, so he pulls himself up instinctively.

The explanation of the strange word airo^ioTro^Trelv, to which Eustathius at the close of his remarks piously reverts, is still accredited by modern lexicons. anro^ioTro^ir^lcrQai the middle form is the most usual means, we are told, ' to avert threatened evils by offerings to Zeus 2 .' Are scholars really prepared to believe that aTroSwiroiJuirelaOai, means, to put it shortly, ' to Zeus things away ' ? The lexicons after this desperate etymology proceed

1 Maimaktes, it will be remembered, is the other face of Meilichios, see supra.

2 See Liddell and Scott, s.v.

i] The Dian Fleece 27

'hence, to conjure away, to reject with abhorrence,' and finally, under a heading apart, ' OLTT oS LOTTO fjuTrela-dai oltcov to purify a house.' Surely from beginning to end the meaning inherent in the word is simply 'to rid of pollution'; a7roSto7ro///7refccr#at is substantially the same as avroTreyLtTretz/, to send away, to get rid of, but and this is the important part the element Si,o emphasizes the means and method of the ' sending.' The quantity of the i in aTroSto- Trojj,7T6Lo-0ai, we have no means of knowing, the i in Diasia the feast of Zeus Meilichios is long, the i in the Slov KW&LOV used in his service is long, the Slav KM^LOV is used in ritual concerned with $io7ro/A7rov/jLeva, its purpose is dTroBioTro/jbTrelo-Oat,. Is it too bold to see in the mysterious Sio the same root as has been seen in Diasia and to understand d7ro$io7rop,7r6icr0ai, as ' to effect riddance by magical imprecation or deprecation ' ?

The word dims is charged with magic, and this lives on in the Greek word 09 which is more magical than divine. It has that doubleness, for cursing and for blessing, that haunts all inchoate religious terms. The fleece is not divine in our sense, not definitely either for blessing or for cursing ; it is taboo, it is ' medicine,' it is magical. As magical medicine it had power to purity, i.e. in the ancient sense, not to cleanse physically or purge morally, but to rid of evil influences, of ghostly infection.

Magical fleeces were of use in ceremonies apparently the most diverse, but at the bottom of each usage lies the same thought, that the skin of the victim has magical efficacy as medicine against impurities. Dicaearchus 1 tells us that at the rising of the dog-star, when the heat was greatest, young men in the flower of their age and of the noblest families went to a cave called the sanctuary of Zeus Aktaios, and also (very significantly it would seem) called the Cheironion; they were girded about with fresh fleeces of triple wool. Dicaearchus says that this was because it was so cold on the mountain ; but if so, why must the fleeces be fresh ? Zeus Aktaios, it is abundantly clear, has taken over the cave of the old Centaur Cheiron; the magic fleeces, newly slain because all 'medicine' must be fresh, belong to his order as they belonged to the order of Meilichios.

Again we learn that whoever would take counsel of the oracle of Amphiaraos 2 must first purify himself, and Pausanias himself

1 Dicaearch. Frg. Hist. n. 262.

2 P. i. 34. 25. Strabo (vi. 284) says that the Daunians when they consulted

28 Olympian and Chthonic Ritual [CH.

adds the explanatory words, 'Sacrificing to the god is a ceremony of purification.' But the purification ceremony did not, it would appear, end with the actual sacrifice, for he explains, 'Having sacrificed a ram they spread the skin beneath them and go to' sleep, awaiting the revelation of a dream'; here again, though the name is not used, we have a Biov /caibiov, a magic fleece with purifying properties. It is curious to note that Zeus made an effort to take over the cult of Amphiaraos, as he had taken that of Meilichios ; we hear of a Zeus Amphiaraos 1 , but the attempt was not a great success ; probably the local hero Amphiaraos, himself all but a god, was too strong for the Olympian.

The results of our examination of the festival of the Diasia are then briefly this. The cult of the Olympian Zeus has over- laid the cult of a being called Meilichios, a being who was figured as a snake, who was a sort of Ploutos, but who had also some of the characteristics of an Erinys; he was an avenger of kindred blood, his sacrifice was a holocaust offered by night, his festival a time of ' chilly gloom.' A further element in his cult was a magical fleece used in ceremonies of purification and in the service of heroes. The cult of Meilichios is unlike that of the Olympian Zeus as described in Homer, and the methods of puri- fication characteristic of him wholly alien. The name of his festival means 'the ceremonies of imprecation/

The next step in our investigation will be to take in order certain well-known Athenian festivals, and examine the cere- monies that actually took place at each. In each case it will be found that, though the several festivals are ostensibly consecrated to various Olympians, and though there is in each an element of prayer and praise and sacrificial feasting such as is familiar to us in Homer, yet, when the ritual is closely examined, the main part of the ceremonies will be seen to be magical rather that what we should term religious. Further, this ritual is addressed, in so far as it is addressed to any one, not to the Olympians of the upper air, but to snakes and ghosts and underworld beings; its

the oracle of the hero Calchas sacrificed a black ram to him and slept on the fleece. The worshippers of the ' Syrian Goddess,' Lucian says (De Syr. Dea 35), knelt on the ground and put the feet and the head of the victim on their heads. He probably means that they got inside the skin and wore it with the front paws tied round the neck as Herakles wears the lion-skin. 1 Dicaearchus i. 6.

The Attic Calendar


main gist is purification, the riddance of evil influences, this rid- dance being naturally prompted not by cheerful confidence but by an ever imminent fear.

In the pages that follow but little attention will be paid to the familiar rites of the Olympians, the burnt sacrifice and its attendant feast, the dance and song ; our whole attention will be focussed on the rites belonging to the lower stratum. This course is adopted for two reasons. First, the rites of sacrifice as described by Homer are simple and familiar, needing but little elucidation and having already received superabundant commentary, whereas the rites of the lower stratum are often obscure and have met with little attention. Second, it is these rites of purification belonging to the lower stratum, primitive and barbarous, even repulsive as they often are, that furnished ultimately the material out of which 'mysteries' were made mysteries which, as will be seen, when informed by the new spirit of the religions of Dionysos and Orpheus, lent to Greece its deepest and most enduring religious impulse.


NOTE. Names of Festivals selected for special discussion are printed in large type. Names of Festivals incidentally discussed in italics.

Hecatombaion Metageitnion Boedromion Pyanepsion

July, August Aug., September Sept., October Oct., November

5. Maimakterion 6. Poseideon

7. Gamelion 8. Anthestetion

Nov., December Dec., January Jan., February Feb., March

9. Elaphebolion 10. Munychion Thargelion


March, April April, May May, June

12. Skirophorion June, July

Kronia, Panathenaia


Eleusinia and Greater Mysteries

THESMOPHORIA. Pyanepsia and

Oschophoria [Id. Oct. (Oct. 15)

October Horse] ' Albs Ktodiov ' Haloa

Gamelia (Lenaia?) ANTHESTERIA, DIASIA, Lesser

Mysteries [xv. Kal. Mart. (Feb.

15) Lupercalia] [(Feb. 21)

Feralia] Dionysia

Munychia, Brauronia TH ARGELIA, Kallynteria, Plynteria

(May 15 Argei, June 15 Vest-

alia, Q. St. D. F.) Skirophoria, Arrephoria, Dipo-

lia, Bouphonia

The Athenian official calendar began in the month Heca- tombaion (July August) at the summer's height. In it was

30 Olympian and Chthonic Ritual [CH.

celebrated the great festival of the Panathenaia, whose very name marks its political import. Such political festivals, however magnificent and socially prominent, it is not my purpose to examine; concerning the gist of primitive religious conceptions they yield us little. The Panathenaia is sacred rather to a city than a goddess. Behind the Panathenaia lay the more elementary festival of the Kronia, which undoubtedly took its name from the faded divinity Kroiios ; but of the Kronia the details known are not adequate for its fruitful examination.

A cursory glance at the other festivals noted in our list shows that some, though not all, gave their names to the months in which they were celebrated, and (a fact of high significance) shows also that with one exception, the Dionysia, these festivals are not named after Olympian or indeed after any divinities. Metageitnia, the festival of ' changing your neighbours,' is obviously social or political. The Eleusinia are named after a place, so are the Munychia and Brauronia. The Thesmophoria, Oschophoria, Skiro- phoria and Arrephoria are festivals of carrying something ; the Anthesteria, Kallynteria, Plynteria festivals of persons who do something ; the Haloa a festival of threshing-floors, the Thargelia of first-fruits, the Bouphonia of ox-slaying, the Pyanepsia of bean- cooking. In the matter of nomenclature the Olympians are much to seek.

The festivals in the table appended are arranged according to the official calendar for convenience of reference, but it should be noted that the agricultural year, on which the festivals primarily depend, begins in the autumn with sowing, i.e. in Pyanepsion. The Greek agricultural year fell into three main divisions, the autumn sowing season followed by the winter, the spring with its first blossoming of fruits and flowers beginning in Anthesterion, and the early summer harvest (OTTO) pa) beginning in Thargelion, the month of first-fruits ; to this early harvest of grain and fruits was added with the coming of the vine the vintage in Boedromion, and the gathering in of the later fruits, e.g. the fig. All the festivals fall necessarily much earlier than the dates familiar to us in the North. In Greece to-day the wheat harvest is over by the middle or end of June.

No attempt will be made to examine all the festivals, for two practical reasons, lack of space and lack of material; but fortunately

i] The Attic Calendar 31

for us we have adequate material for the examination of one characteristic festival in each of the agricultural seasons, the Thesmophoria for autumn, the Anthesteria for spring, the Thar- gelia for early summer, and in each case the ceremonies of the several seasons can be further elucidated by the examination of the like ceremonies in the Roman calendar. To make clear the superposition of the two strata 1 , which for convenience' sake may be called Olympian and chthonic, the Diasia has already been examined. In the typical festivals now to be discussed a like superposition will be made apparent, and from the detailed examination of the lower chthonic stratum it will be possible to determine the main outlines of Greek religious thought on such essential points as e.g. purification and sacrifice.

It would perhaps be more methodical to begin the investigation with the autumn, with the sowing festival of the Thesmophoria, but as the Thesmophoria leads more directly to the consum- mation of Greek religion in the Mysteries it will be taken last. The reason for this will become more apparent in the further course .of the argument. We shall begin with the Anthesteria.

1 As regards the ethnography of these two strata, I accept Prof. Eidgeway's view that the earlier stratum, which I have called chthonic, belongs to the primitive population of the Mediterranean to which he gives the name Pelasgian ; the later stratum, to which belongs the manner of sacrifice I have called 'Olympian,' is characteristic of the Achaean population coming from the North. But, as I have no personal competency in the matter of ethnography and as Prof. Kidgeway's second volume is as yet unpublished, I have thought it best to state the argument as it appeared to me independently, i.e. that there are two strata in religion, one primitive, one later. I sought for many years an ethnographical clue to this stratification, but sought in vain.



OUR examination of the unpromising Diasia has so far led us to the following significant, if somewhat vague, results. The festival in all probability did not originally belong to Zeus, but to a being called Meilichios, a snake god or demon. The worship of this being was characterized by nightly ceremonies, holocausts which the sun might not behold, it was gloomy in character, potent for purification. The name of the festival is probably associated with dirae, curses, imprecations.

The Diasia, gloomy though it is, is a spring festival and its significance will be yet more plainly apparent if we examine another, the other spring festival of the Greeks, i.e. the Anthesteria, which gives its name to the first spring month Anthesterion.

If we know little about the Diasia, about the Anthesteria 1 we know much. Apollodorus, quoted by Harpocration, tells us that the whole festival collectively was called Anthesteria, that it was celebrated in honour of Dionysos, and that its several parts, i.e. its successive days, were known as Pithoigia (cask-opening), Choes (cups), Chytroi (pots). The exact date of the festival is fixed, the three successive days falling from the llth to the 13th of Anthesterion 2 .

1 The sources for the Anthesteria are collected and discussed in the Lexicons of Pauly-Wissowa and of Daremberg and Saglio and more completely in Dr Martin Nilsson's Studia de Dionysiis Atticis (Lundae, 1900), which has been of great service to me.

2 Harpocrat. s.v.

CH. n] The Anthesteria 33

On the first day, the llth of Anthesterion, i.e. the Pithoigia, Plutarch 1 tells us ' they broached the new wine at Athens. It was an ancient custom/ he adds, ' to offer some of it as a libation before they drank it, praying at the same time that the use of the drug ((frappd/cov) might be rendered harmless and beneficial to them.' This is a clear case of the offering of first- fruits 2 . Among his own people, the Boeotians, Plutarch adds, 'the day was called the day of the Good Spirit 3 , the Agathos Daimon, and to him they made offerings. The month itself was known as Prostaterios.' The scholiast to Hesiod 4 tells us that the festival was an ancestral one (e'z> rot? Trarpiois), and that it was not allow- able to hinder either household slaves or hired servants from partaking of the wine.

The casks once opened, the revel set in and lasted through the next day (the Choes or Cups) and on through the third (the Chytroi or Pots). The day of the Choes seems to have been the climax, and sometimes gave its name to the whole festival.

It is needless to dwell on all the details of what was in intent a three days' fair. A 'Pardon' in the Brittany of to-day affords perhaps the nearest modern analogy. The children have holidays, fairings are bought, friends are feasted, the sophists get their fees, the servants generally are disorganized, and every one down to the small boys, as many a vase-painting tells us, is more or less drunk. The drinking bore of course its ritual aspect; there is a drinking contest presided over by the King Archon, he who first drains his cup gets a cake, each man crowns his cup with a garland and deposits the wreath in keeping of the priestess of the sanctuary of Dionysos in the Marshes. On the day of the Cups takes place the august ceremony of the wedding of the wife of the King Archon to the god Dionysos. On that day alone in all the year the temple of Dionysos is opened 5 ; the wedding ceremony itself takes place in the Boukoleion.

On the third day, the Chytroi or Pots, there was a dramatic contest known as Xvrpivoi,, Pot-contests. During this third day

1 Plut. Q. Symp. in. 7. 1.

a The gist of such offerings will be considered under the Thargelia.

3 Plut. Q. Symp. vm. 3.

4 Op. 368.

5 Discussed in relation to Diouysos, see infra, Chapter vm.

H. 3

34 The Anthesteria [OH.

the revel went on ; Aristophanes 1 has left us the picture of the drunken mob thronging the streets at the holy Pot-Feast :

'0 brood of the mere and the spring, Gather together and sing

From the depths of your throat

By the side of the boat Coax, as we move in a ring.

As in Limnae we sang the divine Nyse'ian Giver of Wine,

When the people in lots

With their sanctified Pots Came reeling around my shrine.'

The scholiast on the Acharnians 2 , a play which gives us a lively picture of the festival, says that the Choes and the Chytroi were celebrated on one day. The different days and acts of the whole Anthesteria were doubtless not sharply divided, and if each day was reckoned from sunrise to sunset confusion would easily arise.

So far a cursory inspection clearly shows that the Anthesteria was a wine-festival in honour of Dionysos. Moreover we have the definite statement of Thucydides 3 that 'the more ancient Dionysia were celebrated on the 12th day of the month Anthesterion in the temple of Dionysos in the Marshes.' The reference can only be to the Choes, so that the festival of the Choes seems actually to have borne the name Dionysia. Harpocration 4 goes even further ; he says, quoting Apollodorus, that 'the whole month was sacred to Dionysos.'

A more searching examination of the sources reveals beneath the surface rejoicings, as in the case of the Diasia, another and more primitive ritual, and a ritual of widely different significance. It has escaped no student of Greek festivals that through the Anthesteria there ran ' a note of sadness.' Things were not altogether so merry as they seemed. This has been variously explained, as due to the ' natural melancholy of the spring,' or more recently as evidence of the fact that Dionysos had his 1 chthonic side' and was the 'Lord of souls.' A simpler ex- planation lies at the door.

1 Ar. Ran. 212, trans. Mr Gilbert Murray.

2 Aristoph. Ach. 1076, schol. ad loc. 3 Thucyd. n. 15. 4 Harpocrat. s.v. Xoes.

n] The Chytroi 35

The clue to the real gist of the Anthesteria is afforded by a piece of ritual performed on the last day, the Chytroi. The Greeks had a proverbial expression spoken, we are told, of those who 'on all occasions demand a repetition of favours received.' It ran as follows : ' Out of the doors ! ye Keres ; it is no longer Anthesteria.' Suidas 1 has preserved for us its true signification ; it was spoken, he says, 'implying that in the Anthesteria the ghosts are going about in the city.' From this fragmentary state- ment the mandate, it is clear, must have been spoken at the close of the festival, so we cannot be wrong in placing it as the last act of the Chytroi.

The statement of Suidas in itself makes the significance of the words abundantly clear, but close parallels are not wanting in the ritual of other races. The Lemuria at Rome is a case in point. According to Ovid 2 each father of a family as the festival came round had to lay the ghosts of his house after a curious and complex fashion. When midnight was come and all was still, he arose and standing with bare feet he made a special sign with his fingers and thumb to keep off any ghost. Thrice he washes his hands in spring water, then he turns round and takes black beans into his mouth ; with face averted he spits them away, and as he spits them says, ' These I send forth, with these beans I redeem myself and mine.' Nine times he speaks, and looks not back. The ghost, they believe, picks them up and follows behind if no one looks. Again he touches the water and strikes the brass of Temesa and begs the ghost to leave his house. When nine times

1 Suidas s.v. dvpafr' t& TTJS 6vpas'

dvpafe Kapes, OVK 'T ' ol fji^v 5ta Tr\TJ6o$ oiKer&v Rapt/cu)? eiprjadaL <f>a<nv, u>s v rots 'Avdetfrrjplots /ecu OVK pyao[JLv(i)v. TTJS ovv eoprrjs T\e<r6elcrr)s \yeiv TTL ra pya

6vpae Rapes, OVK tr ' AvdeffT-fjpia. 5e OVTU TTJV irapoi^lav (pavi-

dvpafc Kfjpes, OVK

ws Kara rrjv Tro\iv rots 'Av deary plots T&V Photius s.v. substantially identical.

To the information here given Zenobius (Cent. Paroimiogr.) adds : El'pT/rai 5 17 irapOLfjila tiri ruv ra aura tiri^rovvruv iravroTe \a^dvei.v. It is fortunate that Suidas records his second conjecture, as his first is rendered plausible by the fact that we know the household servants were admitted to the Pithoigia. Probably in classical days KTjpes had already become an old fashioned word for souls and the formulary may have been easily misunderstood. Mommsen in his second edition (Feste der Stadt Athen, p. 386) argues that the form *%>es is impossible because 'Gespenstern zeigt man nicht die Thiir wie einem Bettler,' a difficulty that will scarcely be felt by any one acquainted with primitive customs.

2 Ovid, Fasti v. 443.


36 The Anthesteria [CH.

he has said, ' Shades of my fathers, depart ' (Manes exite paterni !), he looks back and holds that the rite has been duly done. We cannot impute to the Anthesteria all the crude minutiae of the Lemuria, but the content is clearly the same the expulsion of ancestral ghosts. The Lemuria took place not in the spring but in the early summer, May a time at which ceremonies of puri- fication were much needed.

A second striking parallel is recorded by Mr Tylor 1 . He says of a like Sclavonic custom, ' when the meal was over the priest rose from the table and hunted out the souls of the dead like fleas with these words : " Ye have eaten and drunk, souls, now go, now go".' Dr Oldenberg 2 calls attention to another analogy. In sacrifices in India to the dead the souls of ancestors are first invoked, then bidden to depart, and even invited to return again after the prescribed lapse of a month.

The formula used at the close of the Anthesteria is in itself ample proof that the Anthesteria was a festival of All Souls ; here at last we know for certain what was dimly shadowed in the Diasia, that some portion at least of the ritual of the month Anthesterion was addressed to the powers of the underworld, and that these powers were primarily the ghosts of the dead. The evidence is not however confined to an isolated proverbial formulary. The remaining ritual of the Chytroi confirms it. Before they were bidden to depart the ghosts were feasted and after significant fashion.

The scholiast on Aristophanes 3 commenting on the words rofc iepolcn XvTpoio-i,, ' at the holy Pot-feast,' explains the ceremonies as follows : ' The Chytroi is a feast among the Athenians ; the cause on account of which it is celebrated is explained by Theo-

pompos who writes thus : "They have the custom of sacrificing

at this feast, not to any of the Olympian gods at all, but to Hermes Chthonios"; and again in explaining the word xv-rpa, pot: "And of the pot which all the citizens cook none of the priests tastes;

1 Primitive Culture n. p. 40. 2 Religion des Vedas, p. 553.

3 Schol. ad Ar. Ran. 218 TO?S ie/>ori Xirrpourr Xtfr/ooi eopri) Trap 'AQyvaiois ' ayerai de irapa roArt\v TTJV airLav, -qv Kal QeoTro/jmos ^Kriderai ypa<puv OVTW < J> ..J-jretra' 0tjeiv avTois 6os Covert TWV /u.V 'QXvfjnribw 6eu>v ovdevi TO irapaTrav, 'Ep/if/ 8e ^dovi^i. /cat TT}? xirr/>as, TJV tyovcri iravres oi Kara TTJV irb\iv, ouSets 76^x01 r&v iepewjt ' TOVTO 6e jroiovcri rrj <iy'> Kal' TOVS rbre jrapayivofj.tvovs virtp T&V airoOavovrdiv i\d<rao-6ai'Tbv"EpfJiT)v. iep&v Eav., ieptwv Ven. : whichever be followed, the mandate of not tasting is clear.

n] The Chytroi 37

they do this on the (13th) day " ; and again : " Those present appease Hermes on account of the dead".' The scholiast on another passage in Aristophanes 1 says substantially the same, but adds, again on the authority of Theopompos, that the practice of cooking the dish of seeds was observed by those who were saved from the deluge on behalf of those who perished. The deluge is of course introduced from a desire to get mythological precedent; the all-important points are that the \vrpa, the dish of grain and seeds, was offered to none of the Olympians, not even to Dionysos in whose honour the festival was ostensibly celebrated, but only to Hermes Chthonios, Hermes of the Underworld, and that of this sacrifice no man tasted. It was no sacrifice of com- munion, but like the holocaust made over utterly to dread chthonic powers, and behind this notion of sacrifice to the underworld deities lay the still earlier notion that it was dead men's food, a supper for the souls.

Before we leave the %vrpa it is necessary to examine more precisely the name of the day, Chytroi. August Mommsen 2 has emphasized the fact, too much neglected, that the name of the festival is masculine, ol ^yrpoi not al ^vrpai. The feminine form 'xyrpai means pots artificially made ; the masculine form 'Xyrpoi, which occurs far less frequently, means in ordinary parlance natural pots, i.e. holes in the ground. Pausanias 3 speaks of a certain natural bath at Thermopylae which the country people called ' the Chytroi of the women ' : and Herodotus 4 describes it in the same* terms. Theophrastos 5 in his History of Plants speaks of a certain plant as growing in a place between the Kephisos and the Melas, ' the place being called Pelekania, i.e. certain hollows in the marsh, the so-called Pot-holes.' Hesychius 6 , interpreting ol 'xyrpivoi,, says they are ' the hollow places of the earth through which springs come up.' The word tco\v/*/3?j0pa itself, in classical Greek a natural pool, became in mediaeval Greek a font, and it may be

1 Schol. ad Ar. Ach. 1076 Xirrpous' Qeoiro/mTros TOVS 5iao~(i)6vTas K TOV KaTaK\vtr/nov

2 Feste der Stadt Athen, p. 385.

3 P. iv. 35. 9 KO\vfjL(3ri&pa rfVTiva 6vo/j.dov<rit> ol eirix&pioi "x^Tpov^ yvvaiKetovs.

4 Herod, vin. 176.

5 Theoph. Hist. Plant, iv. 11. 8 oSros de 6 r6?ros irpoo-ayopeijeTai TOVTO 5' iarlv &rra

6 Hesych. s.v.

38 The Anthesteria [OH.

noted that the natural chasms that occur in western Yorkshire still locally bear the name of ' Pots.'

It is possible therefore that the festival took its name from natural holes in the ground in the district of the Limnae where it was celebrated, a district to this day riddled with Turkish cisterns made of great earthen jars (iriOoi). Such holes may have been used for graves, and were in many parts of Greece regarded as the constant haunt of ghosts going up and down. They were perhaps the prototypes of the ' chasms in the earth ' seen in the vision of Er 1 . Near akin were the megara or chasms of Demeter at Potniae 2 , and the clefts on and about the Pnyx where the women celebrated the Thesmophoria (p. 125). Such chasms would be the natural sanctuaries of a Ge and ghost cult.

It is obvious that the two forms %vrpoi and %vTpai would easily pass over into each other, and it is hard to say which came first. It is also to be noted that, though the masculine form more often means natural hole, it is also used for artificial pot. Pollux 3 , in discussing 'the vessels used by cooks/ says that when Delphilos speaks of the big pot (xyrpov peyav) at the cook's, he clearly means the ^trpa, not the foot-pan (^urpoTroSa). Though the form xvrpoi, ultimately established itself, the associations of 'Xyrpa, artificial pot, seem to have prevailed, and these associa- tions are important and must be noted.

Hesychius 4 says that by ^appaicr} is meant the ^vrpa which they prepared for those who cleansed the cities. From the scholiast on the Choephoroi of Aeschylus 5 we learn that the Athenians purified their houses with a censer made of a pot ; ' this they threw away at the meeting of three ways and went away without turning back.' Here we have of course the origin of ' Hecate's suppers/ These were primarily not feasts for the goddess but purification ceremonies, of which, as no mortal might taste them, it was supposed an infernal goddess partook. The day of the Chytroi was a day of such purifications. From some such notion arose the Aristophanicword eyxvTpifav, 'to pot/ i.e. to utterly ruin and destroy, to make away with. The scholiast 6 explains it as

1 Plato, Rep. 614 c. 2 P. ix. 8. 3 On. x. 99.

4 Hesych. s.v. ^ap/ua/ci? ij r VTpa T)V i)Toifj.a^ov rots tcadaipovcri ras TroXets.

5 v. 96.

6 Schol. ad Ar. Vesp. 289.

n] The Choes 39

referring to the practice of exposing children, but Suidas 1 knows of another meaning ; he says the eyxvTpia-Tpiai were those ' women who purified the unclean, pouring upon them the blood of the victim/ and also those who ' poured libations to the dead/ those in a word who performed ceremonies of placation and purgation.

It is curious that, though most modern writers from Crusius onwards have recognised that the Chytroi was a dies nefastus and in the main a festival of ghosts, this day has been separated off from the rest of the Anthesteria, and the two previous days have been regarded as purely drinking festivals : the Pithoigia the opening of the wine-cask, the Choes the drinking of the wine- cups. And yet for the second day, the Choes, literary testimony is explicit. Spite of the drinking contest, the flower-wreathed cups and the wedding of Dionysos, all joyful elements of the service of the wine-god, the Choes was a dies nefastus, an unlucky day, a day to be observed with apotropaic precautions. Photius 2 , in explaining the words /Mapa rjf^epa, ' day of pollution,' says such a day occurred 'in the Choes in the month of Anthesterion, in which (i.e. during the Choes) they believed that the spirits of the dead rose up again. From early morning they used to chew buckthorn and anointed their doors with pitch/ Buckthorn, known to modern botanists as Rhamnus catharticus, is a plant of purgative properties. The ancient Athenian, like the modern savage, believed that such plants have the power of keeping off evil spirits, or rather perhaps of ejecting them when already in possession. Chewing a substance was naturally a thorough and efficient way of assimilating its virtues. The priestess of Apollo chewed the laurel leaf. It seems possible that she may have primarily had to do this rather as a means of ejecting the bad spirits than to obtain inspiration from the good. Fasting is a substantial safe -guard, but purgation more drastically effective. The prophylactic properties of rhamnus, buckthorn, were well known to the ancients. Dioscorides 3 in his Materia Medica

1 Suidas s.v. tyxuTpiarpiai' ai rots x oa * T0 ^ rere\tVTiiK6ffU> Tri<ptyov(rai...yxvTpi- ias 5 X^yeffdaL Kal 6'crat TOVS evayeis Kadaipovcru', at/xa eTri^owrcu iepelov.

2 Photius s.v. fuapa ij^pa" tv rots Xov<riv ' A.irdeaTrjpi&i'os /i^^6s, ev $ doKovffiv al l TU)I/ T\VTTf)iravT(jjv dvitvat, pafj-vuv Zudev ^ytcacrwj/ro Kal TTiTTrj ras dtipas ^xP iOV - Diosc. De mat. med. i. 119 X^erat S /cat /cXc^cts O.VTTJS dtpcus T) dtpacn irpoffre- s air OK pot e iv ras r&v (j>ap/j.aKu}i> xaKovpylas. For this reference I am indebted to

the kindness of Dr Frazer, who also notes that in Ovid spina alba, white thorn, is placed in a window to. keep off tristes noxas and striges (Ovid, Fasti vi. 129 163),

40 The Anthesteria [OH.

writes, * it is said that branches of this plant attached to doors or hung up outside repel the evil arts of magicians.' Possibly, in addition to the chewing of buckthorn, branches of it were fastened to doors at the festival of the Choes, and served the same purpose as the pitch. Pitch, Photius tells us in commenting on rhamnus, was on account of its special purity used also to drive away sprites at the birth of a child always a perilous moment 1 .

It is not easy to imagine an enlightened citizen of the Athens of the fifth century B.C., an Aeschylus, a Pericles, chewing buck- thorn from early dawn to keep off the ghosts of his ancestors, but custom in such matters has an iron hand. If the masters of the house shirked the chewing of buckthorn, the servants would see to it that the doors were at least anointed with pitch ; it is best to be on the safe side in these matters, and there is the public opinion of conservative neighbours to be considered. Be this as it may, it is quite clear that the day of the Choes was a day of ghosts like the day of the Chytroi.

But, if the ceremonies of the Choes clearly indicate the ' un- lucky ' nature of the day, what is to be made of the name ? Nothing, as it stands. Choes, Cups, are undeniably cheerful. But, as in the case of Chytroi,. there may have been a confusion between approximate forms; the two words %OT;, funeral libation, and %oO?, cup, have a common stem ^of. May not %oe? have superimposed itself on %oat, wine-cups upon funeral libations? A scholiast on Aristophanes 2 seems to indicate some such a con- taminatio. In explaining the word %oa9, he says the meaning is ' pourings forth, offerings to the dead or libations. An oracle was issued that they must offer libations (^oa?) yearly to those of the Aetolians who had died, and celebrate the festival so called.' Here the name of a festival Xoa<? is oxytone, and though we cannot

and compares the English notion that hawthorn keeps off witches (see Golden Bough, second edit. vol. i. p. 124, note 3). Miss M. C. Harrison tells me that to this day rue (ruta) is eaten on Ascension Day at Pratola Peligna and other places in the Abruzzi, " that the witches may not come to torment our children " (noi mangiamo la ruta am'nche le streghe non vengano a tormentare le creature nostre) ; see A. De Nino, Usi Abruzzesi i. p. 168.

1 Phot. s.v. pdfju>os' (f>vrov $ 4i> rots Xouaii' ws d\e^i(f)dp/j.aKOv efj-aff^vro ZwOev, Kal

expiovro Ta S^juara, dfjuavTos yap aC/r?; ' 5id Kal ev rats yevfoevi TWV iraidiwv L ras oiKtas els dir\a<riv T&V datfidfuv.

2 Schol. ad Ar. Ach. 961 Xoas - ^yx^ ""^ evayta-fj-ara tiri veKpois r) a-irovdds. TTei xpT/tr/xos Seii> ^ods rots redveuxri T&V At'rajXu)/' eTrdyeiv dvd irav TOS Kal

eoprijv Xoas ayeiv.

n] The Choes 41

assume that it was identical with the Athenian Choes, it looks as if there was some confusion as to the two analogous forms.

If we view the Choes as Xoat, the Cups as Libations, the anomalous and, as it stands, artificial connection of Orestes with the festival becomes at once clear. At the drinking bout of the Choes, we learn from Athenaeus 1 and other authorities, the singular custom prevailed that each man should drink by himself. A mythological reason was sought to account for this, and the story was told 2 that Orestes, polluted by the blood of his mother, came to Athens at the time of the celebration of the Choes. The reigning king, variously called Pandion and Phanodemus, wished to show him hospitality, but religious scruple forbade him to let a man polluted enter the Sanctuaries or drink with those cere- monially clean. He therefore ordered the Sanctuaries to be shut and a measure of wine (%o?) to be set before each man severally, and bade them, when they had finished drinking, not to offer up the garlands with which they had been crowned in the Sanctuaries, because they had been under the same roof with Orestes ; but he bade each man place his wreath round his own cup, and so bring them to the priestess at the precinct of the Limnae. That done, they were to perform the remaining sacrifices in the Sanctuary. From this, Athenaeus adds, the festival got the name of Gups. The mad Orestes in the Iphigenia in Tauris s tells the same tale and naively states that, though he was hurt by the procedure, he dare not ask the reason, knowing it all too well.

The whole account is transparently aetiological. Some mytho- logical precedent is desired for the drinking bout of the Choes, based as it was on a ceremony of funeral libations; it is sought and found or rather invented in the canonical story of Orestes, and he is made to say in a fashion almost too foolish even for a madman :

'And this I learn, that my mishaps became A rite for the Athenians ; and Pallas' folk Have still this custom that they reverence The Choan vessel.'

If we suppose that the Cups (%oe9) were originally Libations (%oat), the somewhat strained punctilio of the host becomes at least intelligible. Orestes is polluted by the guilt (^709) of his

1 Athen. vn. 2 276.

2 Athen. x. 49 437 and Suidas s.v. X6es. a Ear. Iph. in T. 953 seq.

42 The Anthesteria [OH.

mother's blood, he finds the people in the Limnae 1 , close to the Areopagos, celebrating the Xoat, the libations to the dead; till he is purified from kindred blood he cannot join : all is simple and clear.

If the Choes were in intent %oa, the Cups Libations, the ceremony has an interesting parallel in a rite performed at the Eleusinian mysteries. Athenaeus 2 , in discussing various shapes of cups says : ' The plemochoe is an earthen vessel shaped like a top that stands fairly steady ; some call it, Pamphilos tells us, the cotyliscus. And they use it at Eleusis on the last day of the mysteries, which takes its name Plemochoai from the cup. On this day they fill two plemochoae and set them up, the one towards the East, the other towards the West, and pronounce over them a magic formula. The author of the Peirithous mentions them, whether he be Ktesias the Tyrant or Euripides, as follows :

" That these plemochoae down the Chthonian chasm With words well-omened we rnay pour." '

It is at least significant that a compound of the word ^077 should both give its name to a festival day and to a vessel used in chthonic ritual.

The Chytroi and Choes then bear unrnistakeably a character of gloom, and in their primary content are festivals of ghosts. But what of the Pithoigia ? Surely this day is all revel and jollity, all for Dionysos ?

Had we been dependent on literature alone, such would have been our inevitable conclusion. In Plutarch's account of the Pithoigia (p. 33), the earliest and fullest we possess, there is no hint of any worship other than that of the wine-god, no hint of possible gloom. Eustathius 3 indeed tells of a Pithoigia or Jar- opening which was ' not of a festal character, but in every respect unlucky,' but this is the Pithoigia, the Jar-opening, of Pandora. Here we have a hint that a Pithoigia need not be an opening of wine-jars ; there are other jars, other openings, but save for the existence of one small fragile monument the significance of the hint would have escaped us. '

1 The topographical question does not here immediately concern the argument. I have tried to show elsewhere (J.H.S. xx. p. Ill) that the precinct of the Limnae cannot be severed from the Areopagos without grave loss to mythology.

2 Athen. xi. 93 496.

3 Eustath. ad II. xxiv. 526, p. 1363. 26 ou% eoprdaL^os.. dXX' <?s rb irav

The Pithoigia



In the vase-painting in fig. 7 from a lekythos in the University Museum of Jena 1 we see a Pith- oigia of quite other and more solemn intent. A large pithos is sunk deep into the ground. It has served as a grave. In primitive days many a man, Diogenes-like, lived the 'life of the jar' (far) TriOov), but not from philosophy, rather from dire necessity. During the Pelo- ponnesian war, when the city was crowded with refugees, a jar (TTL- Bd/cvrj) was a welcome shelter 2 . A man's home during his life is apt to be his grave in death. In the Dipylon Cemetery at

Athens, at Aphidna 3 , at Corfu, FlG< 7>

at Thoricus, and in many an- other burying place, such grave pithoi have come to light. From the grave-jar in fig. 7 the lid has been removed ; out of it have escaped, fluttering upward, two winged Keres or souls, a third soul is in the act of emerging, a fourth is diving headlong back into the jar. Hermes Psychopompos, with his magic staff in his hand, is evoking, revoking the souls. The picture is a speaking commentary on the Anthesteria ; we seem to hear the mandate 'Out of the doors! ye souls; it is no longer Anthesteria!' The Pithoigia of the Anthesteria is the primitive Pithoigia of the grave- js^rs, later overlaid by the Pithoigia of the wine-jaxs.

The vase-painting in fig. 7 must not be regarded as an actual conscious representation of the Athenian rite performed on the first day of the Anthesteria. It is more general in content ; it is in fact simply a representation of ideas familiar to every Greek, that the pithos was a grave-jar, that from such grave-jars souls

1 First published by Dr Paul Schadow, Elne Attische Grablekythos, Inaugural- Dissertation (Jena, 1897), reproduced and discussed by the present writer J.H.S. xx. p. 101.

2 Ar. Eq. 792. Mr K. A. Neil ad loc. points out that -n-LBos answers to fidelia in etymology, to dolium in meaning.

3 Dr Sam. Wide, 'Aphidna in Nord- Attica,' A. Mitt. 1896, p. 398.

44 The Anthesteria [CH.

escaped and to them necessarily returned, and that Hermes was Psychopompos, Evoker and Revoker of souls. The vase-painting is in fact only another form of the scene so often represented on Athenian white lekythoi, in which the souls flutter round the grave-stele. The grave-jar is but the earlier form of sepulture ; the little winged figures, the Keres, are identical in both classes of vase-painting.

The nature of these Keres will be further analysed when we come to the discussion of primitive dernonology. For the present it is enough to note that the Keres in the vase-paintings and the Keres of the Anthesteria are regarded as simply souls of dead men, whereas the little winged phantoms that escape from Pandora's jar are indeed ghosts, but ghosts regarded rather as noisome sprites than as spirits ; they are the source of disease and death rather than dead men's souls. The jar of Pandora is not so much a grave as a store-house of evil ; the pithos as store-house not only of wine but of grain and all manner of provisions was familiar to the Greeks. The ordinary pithos was pointed at the base and buried permanently in the earth like a Turkish cistern; a row of such pithoi, like those recently unearthed at Cnossus, might serve equally as a wine-cellar or a granary or a cemetery.

The attributes of Hermes in the vase-painting in fig. 7 are noticeable. In one hand he holds his familiar herald's staff, the kerykeion. But, and this is the interesting point, he is not using it; it is held in the left hand, inert; it is merely attributive, present out of convention. The real implement of his agency in revoking the souls is held uplifted in the right hand ; it is his rhabdos, his magic wand.

This rhabdos is, I think, clearly to be distinguished from the kerykeion, though ultimately the two became contaminated. The kerykeion or herald's staff is in intent a king's sceptre held by the herald as deputy; it is a staff, a walking-stick, a fid/crpov, by which you are supported; the rhabdos is a simple rod, even a pliable twig, a thing not by which you are supported but with which you sway others. It is in a word the enchanter's wand.

It is with a rhabdos that Circe 1 transforms the comrades of 1 Od. x. 236.

n] The Pithoigia 45

Odysseus into swine ; it is as magical as the magic potion they

drink :

  • Straight with her rhabdos smote she them and penned them in the sties.'

With the rhabdos Hermes 1 led the ghosts of the slain suitors to Hades. He held in his hand

' His rhabdos fair and golden wherewith he lulls to rest The eyes of men whoso he will, and others by his hest He wakes from sleep. He stirred the ghosts ; they followed to their doom And gibbered like the bats that throng and gibber in the gloom.'

This magic wand became the attribute of all who hold sway over the dead. It is the wand, not the sceptre, that is the token of life or death, as Pindar 2 shows :

' Nor did Hades the king Forget his wand to wave Whereby he doth bring Shapes of men dying Adown the hollow roadway of the grave.'

The rhabdos as magic wand was Treio-lpporos, enchanter of the dead, before it became as sceptre Treio-lpporos, ruler of mortals.

Eustathius tells us in the passage already discussed 3 , that the kerykeion was also called TTO/JLTTOS, conductor, and that it was carried in the hands of those who performed ceremonies of purifi- cation. He is trying, it will be remembered, to derive the words SioTTOfjiTrelv and a7roSto7royu,7re?y. When an ancient author is trying to derive words, we are bound to accept his statements only with the utmost caution ; still in this particular instance there seems no reason for suspecting the statement that the kerykeion was called TToyLtTTo? ; it is dragged in quite gratuitously, and does not help out the proposed derivation. What Eustathius says is this : * At the end of the month Maimakterion they perform ceremonies of sending, among which was the carrying of the magic fleece, and there take

1 Od. xxiv. 19.

2 Find. 01. ix. 33

ou5' 'A5as aKwffrav ^e pdfidov (Bporea <rct>yu,a0' $ Kardyet KoL\av irpbs dyvidv

a.K(vf)Tav is usually rendered ' unraised ' as though the sceptre were lifted in token of kingly power. I translate by ' wave ' because I believe the action denoted is the waving or moving of a wand, not the raising of a sceptre. The verb m.vtu is, I believe, characteristic of this wand-waving. Kivtw is used in Homer (loc. cit.) TT; 8' &ye Kiv-^ffas. By Pindar's time the wand and the sceptre were fused, but he is haunted by the old connotation of magic. 3 For text, see p. 24, note 2.

46 The Anthesteria [OH.

place then throwings out of purifications at the crossways, and they hold in their hands the pompos (i.e. conductor), the which they say is the kerykeion, the attribute of Hermes.' The object of the whole ceremony is 'to send out polluted things.' It is, I think, significant that the kerykeion, or rather to be strictly accurate the rhabdos 1 , was carried in apotropaic ceremonies, pre- sumably with a view to exorcise bad spirits, which as will appear later were regarded as the source of all impurities. It is the other face of revocation ; the rhabdos is used either for the raising or the laying of ghosts, for the induction (eTrayayij) of good spirits, for the exorcism (aTrorpoTrtj) of bad.

In discussing the Anthesteria on a previous occasion 2 , I felt confident that in the opening of the grave-jars we had the complete solution of the difficulty of the unlucky character of the day Pithoigia. It seems to me now in the light of further investi- gation that another ritual element may have gone to its deter- mination.

Plutarch 3 , in discussing the nature of the sacred objects committed to the care of the Vestal Virgins, makes the following notable statement: 'Those who pretend to have most special knowledge about them (i.e. the Vestal Virgins) assert that there are set there two jars (iridoi) of no great size, of which the one is open and empty, the other full and sealed up, and neither of them may be seen except by these all-holy virgins. But others think that this is false, and that the idea arose from the fact that the maidens then placed most of their sacred things in two jars, and hid them underground below the temple of Quirinus, and that the place even now is called from that by the title Pithisci (Doliola).' We have two other notices of these Doliola. Varro 4 says: 'The place which is called Doliola is at the Cloaca Maxuma, where people are not allowed to spit. It is so called from the jars beneath the earth. Two accounts are given of these jars : some

1 Space forbids the discussion of the whole evolution of the kerykeion. It contains elements drawn from both sceptre and rhabdos. The rhabdos is sometimes forked like a divining rod: the forks were entwined in various shapes. Hound the rhabdos a snake, symbol of the underworld, was sometimes curled as the snake is curled round the staff of Aesculapius. Ultimately the twisted ends of the rhabdos were crystallized into curled decorative snakes. In like fashion the frayed fringe of the leather aegis of Athene is misunderstood and rendered as snakes. By the time of Eustathius, kerykeion and rhabdos are not clearly differentiated.

2 J.H.S. xx. p. 101. 3 Plut . ViL Cam , xx . 4 Ling. Lat. 5 157.

n] Derivation of Anthesteria 47

say they contain the bones of dead bodies, others that after the death of Numa Pompilius certain sacred objects (religiosa quae- dam) were buried there.' Festus 1 gives substantially the same account, but he says that the sacred objects were buried there when the Gauls invaded the city.

Of jars containing ' sacra ' we have in Greece no knowledge, but it is significant to find that Zeus, who was the heir to so much antique ritual, had on his threshold in Olympus two jars, one containing good the other evil 2 :

' Jars twain upon Zeus' threshold ever stood ; One holds his gifts of evil, one of good.'

With some such notion as that of the Pithoigia must have been connected the ceremony of the opening of the mundus or round pit on the Palatine. Festus 3 tells us that on three days in the year, August 24, October 5, November 6, the lapis manalis that covered it was removed. Varro, quoted by Macrobius 4 , adds : 'when the mundus is open, the gate of the doleful underworld gods is open.'

It has been shown that the ritual of each of the several days

points determinedly ghost-wards. The names in each case admit at least of chthonic interpretation. It remains to examine the collective name Anthesteria.

The ancients sought and found what was to them a satisfactory etymology. Istros, writing in the third century B.C. and quoted by Harpocration, says that Anthesterion is the blossoming month because then ' the most of the things that spring from the earth blossom forth 5 .' The Etymologicon Magnum 6 offers an easy-going alternative : feast and month bear their names either because the earth then began to blossom, or because they offered flowers at the festival.

It was not the habit of those days to trouble about ' verb-stems ' and ' nouns of the agent in rrjp,' but it is surprising to find that the dubious guess hazarded by Istros should have passed so long

1 Pauli excerpta ex Lib. Pomp. Fest. s.v. doliola.

2 Iliad xxiv. 527

Boiol ydp re trldoi KaraKeiarat v Atos S&pwv ola 5idd)<Ti Ka/cwv re/3os 8 eduav. a Fest. 154. 4 Macr> SaL

5 Harpocrat. s.v. 'Avdea-r. Sia TO TrXettrra T&V e/c rf)S 7775 avdelv rbre.

6 Etym. Mag. s.v. '

48 The Anthesteria [OH.

unchallenged by modern science, the more so as flowers have but a general and accidental connection with the ritual of the feast. Are scholars really content with an etymology that makes of the Anthesteria the festival of those who 'did the flowers'?

In a recent paper in the Hellenic Journal l Dr A. W. Verrall has faced the difficulty and offered a new solution. The names of festivals, he points out, are no exception to the rule that nouns in Trjpio are normally formed from verb-stems through the ' noun of the agent ' in ryp, and take their sense from the action described by the verb, as o-a)TtjpLos, XUTT^KO?, povXevTtjpiov. In like fashion the names of festivals ending in rrjpia describe the action in which the ceremony consisted, or with which it was chiefly connected. Thus dvaK\r)Tijpi,a is a feast or ceremony of dvd/cXrjo-K;, dvaKaXwrr- TTjpia of dvaKaXv-fyis and so on. Prima facie then a derivation of Anthesteria should start from the assumption that the stem is verbal.

" But we need not assume that the verbal stem is dvOea--. Perhaps dvdea- itself needs analysis; and for the first syllable there is an obviously possible origin in the preposijbion dv- (dva), of which so many examples (e.g. avOepa dvdQefia) are preserved in the poets. The verb-stem will then be 0ecr-, which is in fact a verb-stem and has more than one meaning. The meaning which would perhaps in any case have suggested itself first, and which now seems especially attractive, is that which appears in the archaic verb QkaacrQai or deo-aaa-Oat, to pray or pray for*, and in the adjectives 7ro\vdecnos and Vo#e<7T05. Prayers and invo- cations addressed to the dead were a regular part of the proceed- ings by which they were brought back to the world of the living. The compound dvaOeao-acrOcu would, after the analogy of dvaica\elv and the like, bear the sense to raise by prayer or to recall by prayer, literally 'to pray up' or 'pray back.' And dvOecrrripia, derived from dvadeaa-aa-Oai, would be the feast of revocation, the name, as usual, signifying the action in which the ceremony con- sisted and which was the object of it 3 ."

In connection with this new and illuminating etymology, it is interesting to note that even in their misguided derivation from

1 J.H.S. xx. 115. 2 Qd. x. 526.

3 My view of the primitive significance of the root 0e<r, which is perhaps primarily rather to conjure than to pray, will appear more clearly when we come to the dis- cussion of the Thesmophoria.

n] Anthesterion and February 49

the ancients themselves lay stress not so much on the flowers as on the rising up 1 , the avOelv etc rrjs 7779. Under the word "AvOeia the Etymologicon Magnum says 'a title of Hera when she sends up (avirjart) fruits,' where there seems a haunting of the true meaning though none of the form*.

Dr Verrall declines to assert positively the derivation of Anthesteria he propounds, but a second philological argument brings certain conviction. Mr R. A. Neil suggests that the root which appears in Greek as #e? may appear as fes fer in Latin. This gives us the delightful equation or rather analogy dv-Oeo-- rtjpia, in-fer-iae. Of course inferiae is usually taken as from inferi, infra etc., but no Latin word ought to have medial f except when preceded by a separable prefix. To make certainty more certain we have the Feralia, the festival of All Souls, kept from the 13th to the 31st of the month of Fe(b)ruary. The month of purification is the month of rites to the dead, in a word purgation is the placation of souls. This is true for Latin and Greek alike and will emerge more clearly when we come to study in detail the ritual of the month of February.


The general analogy between the months of Anthesterion and February, arid the fact that both alike were unlucky and given over to the service of the dead, was clear to the ancients them- selves. The scholiast on Lucian's Timon 3 , commenting on the word Diasia, says: 'The day is unlucky... there were among the

1 Dr Wuensch in his instructive pamphlet Ein Fruhlingsfest auf Malta (Leipzig, 1902) discusses a spring festival of the flowering of beans which he believes to be analogous to the Anthesteria, but the rites practised are wholly different. Dr Hiller von Gaertringen (Festschrift fur 0. Benndorf) calls attention to the title Anthister which occurs in an inscription found on Thera, but the inscription is of the second century B.C., the festival of the 'Anthesteria' was celebrated on Thera, as indeed wherever there was a primitive population, and Anthister must have borrowed rather than lent his name.

2 Archbishop Eustathius may have had a dim consciousness of the separable ava when he says avdos 6'n K rov avadteiv iraprjKrai Kara evyKOirfy.

3 Schol. ad Luc. Tim. 43 a.Tro<f>pa$ i) TjiJ.paL]...ri(ra.v trap 1 "EXX^crw/ rnj^poa dirpa^iav mrqyo&fjLevai iravrbs Kal dpyiav, as aTro<ppd8as e/caXow. et> ravrais otidt irpocreiirev av ris nva, oi)5 KaOaTrai; <f>i\os eireiJ.lyvvTo 0/Xy, dXXd Kal T&, iepci, axpiH^-driVTa yv avrots. ^KoXeiro 5^ TaOra airrots /card rbv bevpovdpiov fj,r)i>a fire /cat 4i>-/iyiov rots

Kal Tras oSros 6 [ATJV aveiro Ka.Toixo/J.vois /nerd <TTvyv6r'r)TOS iravruv irpoibvTwv rpbirov 8v Kal ra AtdVta ffTvyyafovres riyov '


50 The Anthesteria [CH.

Greeks certain days which brought with them complete idleness and cessation of business, and which were called unlucky (aVo- </>pae9). On these days no one would accost any one else, and friends would positively have no dealings with each other, and even sanctuaries were not used. These times were so accounted on the analogy of the month of February, when also it was the custom to sacrifice to those below, and all that month was dedicated to the dead and accompanied by gloom, everything going on in an unusual fashion just as the Athenians celebrated the Diasia in gloom.' Clearly to the scholiast the Diasia is but one element of a month given over to the dead.

The meaning of Anthesterion, the significance of its ceremonies, have been effectively overlaid by the wine-god and his flower garlands, but with the Romans there was no such superposition and consequently no misunderstanding. They clearly realized two things, that February was the month of the dead, and that it was the month of purification. Plutarch in his Roman Questions^ asks ' Why was Decimus Brutus wont to sacrifice to the dead in December, whereas all other Romans offered libations and sacri- fices to the dead in the month of February?' In his twenty-fifth Question 2 , while discussing the reasons ,why the days following respectively the Calends, Nones and Ides of each month were unlucky, he tells us that the Romans ' used to consecrate the first month of the year to the Olympian gods, but the second to the gods of the earth, and in this second month (February) they were wont to practise certain purifications and to sacrifice to the dead.' Athenaeus 3 states that ' Juba the Mauretanian said that the month of February was so called from the terrors of the lower world, with regard to means taken for riddance from such alarms at the time when the winter is at its height, arid it is the custom to offer libations to the dead on several days.' Juba the Mauretanian must have known quite well that in February the winter was not at its height. He states correctly the fact that February was a month

1 Plut. Q. R. xxxiv. 5ta ri, ruv aXXwj/ 'Pu/maluv tv T$ ^e^povaply /j.r}vl %ods KCU eva,7i0yioi)s TO?S TedvrjKdfft, Ae/ci/zos BpoDros (ws ItLiK^pu

Plut. Q. R. XXV. rdv ^vCiv rbv / irpurov 6\vfjiiriots deois itp&crav TOP 8 deurepov oLS (.v y /cat Kadap/motis rw/aj reXoucri Kal rots /caroi%o/x.^ois ei>a.yiov<ni>. 3 Athen. in. 53 98 rbv 8e fj.rjva rovrov KX-tjdrjvai (pTjffiv 6 Mavpocrios 'I6/3as airb rtjjv KO.TOv5a.Luv (f>bfi&v /car' avaipecriv TWI> 5ei/idra>v ev y rod % ei l ji & v s a"Ti TO /cat Zdos r6re rots Karoixo/i^pois rds %oas eTTKfrepeiv TroXXals

n] The Lupercalia 51

devoted to ceremonies for the riddance of terrors from the under- world, but carelessly adds an impossible reason for the selection of this particular month.

Ovid is of all witnesses the most weighty because his testimony is in part unconscious. In the opening words of the second book of the Fasti 1 , after an invocation to Janus, he goes straight to the question of what the Romans meant by the wordfebruum ; he notes that the term was applied to many things, wool, a branch from a pine-tree, grain roasted with salt, and finally concludes that 'any thing by which the soul was purged was called by his rude ancestors februum.'

'Denique quodcumque est, quo pectora nostra piantur, Hoc apud intonsos nomen habebat avos.'

The month he feels sure got its name from these ' februa ' or purifications, but he asks ' was it because the Luperci purified all the soil with the strips of skin and accounted that a purification or atonement, or was it because when the dies ferales were accom- plished then owing to the fact that the dead were appeased there was a season of purity ? '

'Mensis ab his dictus secta quia pelle Luperci Omne solum lustrant idque piamen habent ? Aut quia placatis sunt tempora pura sepulcris, Tune cum ferales praeteriere dies 1 '

Both the ceremonials, the Lupercalia and the Feralia, were, he knows, cathartic: that Fe(b)rua and Feralia were etymologically and .significantly the same naturally he does not guess. Still less could he conjecture that etymologically February and Anthesterion are in .substance one.

The two great February festivals 2 to which Ovid alludes are of course the Feralia and the Lupercalia, celebrated respectively on the 21st and loth of February.

The Feralia was but the climax of a series of days beginning on Feb. 13th and devoted to ceremonies of the worship of ancestors, Parentalia. It is curious that, though the Lemuria (May 9 13) were marked as Nefasti, none of the days of the Parentalia were so marked: still from the 13th to the 21st marriages were forbidden

1 Ovid, Fasti n. 19.

2 The ceremonies of the Lupercalia have been fully discussed by Warde-Fowler, The Roman Festivals, p. 310, and very fully by Mannhardt, Mythologische Forsch- unyen, p. 72.


52 The Anthesteria [OH.

temples closed, and magistrates appeared without their insignia ; clearly there was some lingering dread of ghosts that might be about. Parentalia and Feralia alike were ceremonies wholly devoted to the placation of ghosts.

In the Lupercalia, on the other hand, it is purification rather than placation that is the prominent feature in the rites. Much in the Lupercalia is obscure, and especially the origin of its name, but one ritual element is quite certain. Goats and a dog were sacrificed, two youths girt themselves in the skins of the slain goats, they held in their hands strips of the hides of the victims. They ran round a certain prescribed portion of the city, and as they ran smote the women they met with the strips of skin. These strips of skin were among the things known as februa, purifiers, and by their purifying power they became fertility charms.

'Forget not in your speed, Antonius, To touch Calpurnia, for our elders say The barren touched in this holy chase Shake off their sterile curse 1 .'

There has been much needless discussion as to whether in cere- monies where striking and beating occur the object is to drive out evil spirits or to stimulate the powers of fertility. Primitive man does not so narrowly scrutinize and analyse his motives. To strike with a sacred thing, whether with a strip of skin from a victim or a twig from a holy tree, was to apply what the savage of to-day would call ' good medicine.' Precisely how it worked, whether by expulsion or impulsion, is no business of his.

When the Catholic makes the sacred sign of the Cross over his food, is he, need he be quite clear as to whether he does it to induce good or to exorcise evil ? The peasant mother of to-day may beat her boy partly with a view to stirring his dormant moral impulses, but it is also, as she is careful to explain, with intent to 1 beat the mischief out of him.' In the third Mime of Herondas 2 the mother is explicit as to the expulsive virtue of beating. Her boy is a gambler and a dunce, so she begs the schoolmaster to

  • Thrash him upon his shoulders till his spirit,

Bad thing, is left just hovering on his lips. 3

1 Julius Caesar, Act i. Sc. 2, v. 6.

2 Herond. Mim. in. 3.

n] The Lupercalia 53

She is in the usual primitive dilemma : his spirit is bad but it is his life ; it is kill and cure.

The strips of goat-skin were februa 1 , purifying, and thereby fertility charms. As such they cast sudden illumination on the ' magic fleece ' already discussed. The animal sacrificed, be it sheep or goat or dog, is itself a placation to ghosts or underworld powers ; hence its skin becomes of magical effect : the deduction is easy, almost inevitable. The primary gist of the sacrifice is to appease and hence keep off evil spirits ; it is these evil spirits that impair fertility : in a word purification is the placation of ghosts.

The question ' What was purity to the ancients ? ' is thus seen to be answered almost before it is asked. Purity was not spiritual purity in our sense that is foreign to any primitive habit of thought, nor was it physical purity or cleanliness it was possible to be covered from head to foot with mud and yet be ceremonially pure. But so oddly does the cycle of thought come round, that the purity of which the ancients knew was, though in a widely different sense, spiritual purity, i.e. freedom from bad spirits and their maleficent influence. To get rid of these spirits was to undergo purification. In the month of February and Anthesterion the Roman or Greek might, mutatis mutandis, have chanted our Lenten hymn :

'Christian, dost thou see them On the holy ground How the hosts of Midian Prowl and prowl around ? Christian, up and smite them!'

Till the coming of the new religion of Dionysos, the Greek notion of purity seems not to have advanced beyond this negative combative attitude, this notion of spiritual forces outside and against them.

The question yet remains ' Why did this purification need to take place in the spring?' The answer is clear. Why did our own near ancestors have spring cleanings?

'Winter rains and ruins are over And all the season of snows and sins,

While in green underwood and cover Blossom by blossom the Spring begins?

1 Serv. ad Verg. Aen. vin. 343 natn pellem ipsam capri veteres februum vocabant. Varro (Ling. Lat. vi. 13) says that februum was Sabine for purgamentum.

54 The Anthesteria [CH.

Winter is a reckless time with its Christmas and its Saturnalia. There is little for the primitive agriculturist to do and less to fear. The fruits of the earth have died down, the gods have done their worst. But when the dead earth begins to awake and put forth bud and blossom, then the ghosts too have their spring time, then is the moment to propitiate the dead below the earth. Ghosts were placated that fertility might be promoted, fertility of the earth and of man himself.

It is true that the primitive rites of February and Anthesterion, of Romans and Greeks, were in the main of 'riddance/ The ghosts, it would seem from the ritual of the Choes and Chytroi, the chew- ing of buckthorn, anointing with pitch, the mandate to depart, were feared as evil influences to be averted ; but there is curious evidence to show that at the time of the Anthesteria the coming of the ghosts was regarded as a direct promotion of fertility. Athenaeus 1 , quoting the Commentaries of Hegesander 2 , tells us of a curious tradition among the natives of Apollonia in Chalkis. 'Around Apollonia of Chalkidike there flow two rivers, the Ammites and the Olynthiacus and both fall into the lake Bolbe. And on the river Olynthiacus stands a monument of Olynthus, son of Herakles and Bolbe. And the natives say that in the months of Elaphebolion and Anthesterion the river rises because Bolbe sends the fish apopyris to Olynthus, and at that season an immense shoal of fish passes from the lake to the river Olynthus. The river is a shallow one, scarcely overpassing the ankles, but nevertheless so great a shoal of the fish arrives that the in- habitants round about can all of them lay up sufficient store of salt fish for their needs. And it is a wonderful fact that they never pass by the monument of Olynthus. They say that formerly the people of Apollonia used to perform the accustomed rites to the dead in the month of Elaphebolion, but now they do them in Anthesterion, and that on this account the fish come up in those months only in which they are wont to do honour to the dead/ Here clearly the dead hero is the source of national wealth, the honours done him are the direct impulsion to fertility. The gloomy rites of aversion tend to pass over into a cheerful, hope- ful ceremonial of * tendance.'

1 Athen. vm. 11 334 r. 2 3rd cent. B.C.

n] Placation of Ghosts 55

To resume, the Anthesteria was primarily a Feast of All Souls : it later 1 became a revel of Dionysos, and at the revel men wreathed their cups with flowers, but, save for a vague and un- scientific etymology, we have no particle of evidence that the Anthesteria was ever a Feast of Flowers. The transition from the revocation of ghosts with its dire association to a drunken revel may seem harsh, but human nature is always ready for the shift from Fast to Feast, witness our own Good Friday holiday.


In the light of the ceremonies of the spring month February and Anthesterion, it is now possible to advance a step in the under- standing of Greek ritual terminology and through it of Greek religious thought.

In the first chapter the broad distinction was established between sacrifice to the Olympians of the upper air sacrifice which involved communion with the worshipper, and sacrifice to chthonic powers which forbade this communion in which the sacrifice was wholly made over to the object of sacrifice. The first, the Olympian sacrifice, is expressed by two terms, Oveiv and iepevew ; the second, if the sacrifice is burnt, by oKoKavretv, and as will presently be seen by crfya^eiv, also more generally by the term evayi&iv.

As regards the Olympian terms, it is only necessary to say definitely what has already been implied, that Oveiv strictly is applicable only to the portion of the sacrifice that was actually burnt with a view to sublimation, that it might reach the gods in the upper air ; whilst lepevew applies rather to the portion unburnt, which was sacred indeed, as its name implies, to the gods, but was actually eaten in communion by the worshipper. With the growing prevalence of burnt sacrifice and the increasing popu- larity of the Olympians and their service, the word Qveiv came to cover the whole field of sacrifice, and in late and careless writers is used for any form of sacrifice burnt or unburnt without any consciousness of its primary meaning.

The term lepevew is strictly used only of the sacrifice of an

1 That the religion of Dionysos came to Greece at a comparatively late date will be shewn in Chapter vin.

56 The Anthesteria [CH.

animal ; iepelov is the animal victim. Among the Homeric Greeks sacrifice and the flesh feast that followed were so intimately con- nected that the one almost implied the other; the lepelov, the animal victim, was the material for the /cpeo&cucria, the flesh feast. So prominent in the Homeric mind was the element of feasting the worshipper that the feast is sometimes the only stated object. Thus Odysseus 1 gives command to Telemachus and his thralls :

  • Now get you to my well-built house, the best of all the swine

Take you and quickly sacrifice that straightway we may dine.'

Here the object is the meal, though incidentally sacrifice to the gods is implied. It is not that on the occasion of sacrifice to the gods man solemnly communicates, but that when man would eat his fill of flesh food he piously remembers the gods and burns a little of it that it may reach them and incline their hearts to beneficence.

In the Homeric sacrifice there is communion, but not of any mystical kind; there is no question of partaking of the life and body of the god, only of dining with him. Mystical communion existed in Greece, but, as will be later seen, it was part of the worship of a god quite other than these Homeric Olympians, the god Dionysos.

Before we leave the lepelov, the animal sacrificed and eaten, one word of caution is necessary. It is sometimes argued that animal sacrifice, as contrasted with the simpler offerings of grain and fruits, is the mark of a later and more luxurious civilization. Such was the view of Porphyry 2 the vegetarian. Flesh-eating and flesh sacrifice is to him the mark of a cruel and barbarous licence. Such too was the view of Eustathius 3 . In commenting on the ovKo^urai, the barley grain scattered, he says, ' after the offering of barley grain came sacrifices and the eating of meat at sacrifices, because after the discovery of necessary foods the luxury of a meat diet and imported innovations in food were invented.' As a generalization this is false to facts ; it depends on the environment of a race whether man will first eat vegetable or animal food ; but as regards the particular case of the Greeks themselves, the obser-

1 Od. xxiv. 215

deiTrvov ' al\}/a. <rvuv iepetiffare 6s ns apiffros.

2 Porph. de Abst. n. passim.

3 Eust. ad II. I. 449 132 /xcrd 5 ras otfXoxtfrcts ai 0v<riat KO.I i] ev avrais Kpeu<payia SIOTI /ecu pera TT]V ruv avayKalwv rpoQ&v etipeffiv i] TTJS Kpewdai<rias iro\VT^\eia Kal TO TTJS rpotprjs ird(ra.KTOV efy>7/rcu.

n] Placation of Ghosts 57

vations of Porphyry and Eustathius are broadly true. The primitive dwellers in Greece and round the Mediterranean generally lived mainly on vegetarian diet, diversified by fish, and the custom of flesh-eating in large quantities was an innovation brought from without 1 (eireLcraKTov). Athenaeus 2 in his first book discusses the various kinds of food, and dwells with constant astonishment on the flesh-eating habits of the Achaean heroes of Homer. He quotes the comic poet Eubulos as asking

  • I pray you, when did Homer ever make

An Achaean chief eat fish ? 'tis always flesh, And roasted too, not boiled.'

Achaean chiefs, he notes and in this they resemble their northern descendants ' do not care for made-dishes, kickshaws and the like. Homer sets before them only roast meat, and for the most part beef, such as would put life into them, body and soul.' It is true Athenaeus is arguing about the simplicity of the Homeric as contrasted with later Greek life, but the fact he states is beyond dispute, i.e. that the Homeric diet was mainly of flesh and unlike the vegetarian and fish diet of the ordinary Greek. Given a flesh diet for man, and the sacrifice of flesh to the gods he makes in his own image follows.

The terms Oveiv and lepeveiv belong then to sacrifice regarded as a feast ; it remains to consider the term eva^i^eiv, in the definition of which we come, I think, to the fullest understanding of the ideas of the lower stratum of Greek religion.

First it is necessary to establish the fact that in usage the terms Ovetv and evayi^eiv are clearly distinguished. A passage in Pausanias is for this purpose of capital importance. Pausanias is visiting a sanctuary of Heracles at Sicyon. He makes the follow- ing observations 3 : ' In the matter of sacrifice they are accustomed

1 Prof. Eidgeway (Early Age of Greece, vol. i. p. 524) has shown (to me conclusively) that these Homeric Achaeans were of Celtic origin and brought with them from central Europe the flesh-roasting and flesh-eating habits of their northern ancestors.

2 Athen. i. 46 25.

3 P. ii. 10. 1 ^?rt 5 rrj dvffiq. roidde dpav vo/j.Lfov<ri. Qalvrov ev Zucvuviq. \tyovffiv \66vra KaraKafieiv 'Hpct/cXet (T0as ws rfpw'C fraylfovras' otiKovv Tj^Lov dpav ovbkv 6 ^CUCTTOS TU>V O.VT&V, clXX' us 6e<f Otieiv. /ecu vvv ri apva oi SIKV&VIOI cr0daj'Tes xat roi)s yUT7/>oi)s e?ri roO jSw/uoO KafoavTes ra ptv eff6lov<nv cos ctTrd iepelov TO. 5 cbs rjpu'i T&V Kpeuv i>ayiov<ri. That the distinction between 0tfetj> and evayifav is no late invention of Pausanias is shown by the fact that Herodotos (n. 43) uses the same words and draws the same distinction though with less explicit detail. Speaking of Herakles as god and hero, he says : r ptv adavdrif) 'OXv/ttTri'cj 5t ^truvv^v dtovei, rep 5'

ws fi

58 The Anthesteria [CH.

to do as follows. They say that Phaestos, when he came to Sicyon, found the Sicyonians devoting offerings to Heracles as to a hero. But Phaestos would do nothing of the kind, but would sacrifice to him as to a god. And even now the Sicyonians, when they slay a lamb and burn the thighs upon the altar, eat a portion of the flesh as though it were a sacrificial victim, and another part of the flesh they make over as to a hero.' The passage is not easy to translate, because we have no English equivalent for vayi%iv. I have translated the word by ' devote ' because it connotes entire dedication part of the sacrifice is shared, eaten by the worshipper in common with Heracles regarded as a god, the other part is utterly consecrated to Heracles as a hero ; it is dead men ? s food. Pausanias, who is often careless in his use of Ovew, here carefully marks the distinction. The victim is an animal : part of it is offered to an Olympian that portion is shared ; part of it is offered, like the offerings at the Chytroi, to no Olympian, but to a ghost, and of that portion no man eats.

A second passage from Pausanias adds a further element of differentiation. At Megalopolis, Pausanias visited a sanctuary of the Eumenides. Of their ritual he speaks as follows 1 : c They say that when these goddesses would drive Orestes mad they appeared to him black, but that after he had bitten off his finger they seemed to him white, and his senses returned to him, and there- fore he made over an offering to the black goddesses to turn away their wrath, but to the white ones he did sacrifice.'

Language and ritual could scarcely speak more plainly : Oveiv is to the Olympians, a joyous thanksgiving to gods who are all white and bright, beneficent, of the upper air ; evayi&tv is to those below who are black and bad and malignant : dvew is for OepaTreia, tendance ; vayl%eiv for aTrorpoTrij, riddance.

The distinction between the two forms of ritual having been thus definitely established, it remains to examine more closely the word kva^'i^ew and the ritual it expresses, that of the dead a ritual which, it must at this point be remembered, is also concerned with purification.

The word eva<yi%ew can only mean the making of or dealing

1 P. vill. 34. 3 Kal o&T(i> rcus p.v (rats yu.eXah'cus) evrjyiffev, atroTptiruv TO atiruv, rats 5 Zdvve TCUS Xeu/ccus.

n] Placation of Ghosts 59

with something that is of the nature of an 61709, or, as the word sometimes appears, a #709. It did not escape that acute observer of man and his language, Archbishop Eustathius 1 , that this word and its cognate ^7^09, holy, had in ancient days a double significance, that holy was not only pure but also polluted ; this, he says, ' is on account of the double meaning of 61709.' To put the matter into modern phraseology, 6*709 is the thing that is taboo, the thing consecrated to the gods, and hence forbidden to man, the thing ' devoted.' The word lies deep down in the ritual of ancient sacrifice and of ancient religious thought ; it is the very antithesis of communion ; it is tinged with, though not quite the equivalent of, expiation.

Fortunately we are not left to conjecture as to what was the precise nature of the ceremonies covered by the word evayi&iv. We know what was done, though we have no English word fully to express that doing. This fact may well remind us that we have lost not only the word but the thought, and must be at some pains to recover it. In the discussion that follows no translation of evayi&iv will be attempted : I shall frankly use the Greek word and thereby avoid all danger from misleading modern conno- tations 2 .

Quite accidentally, in the middle of a discourse on the various sorts of soap and washing basins, Athenaeus 3 has preserved for us a record of the exact ritual of evayio-^oi After stating that the word (iTToviTTTpov, washing off, is applied alike to the water in which either feet or hands are washed, he goes on to note that the word aTrovL/LLfjia, ' offscouring,' slightly different in form but sub-

1 Bust, ad II. xxiii. 429, 1357. 59 OVTU /cat aiyios irapd rots TraXatots ov p.ovov 6 KaOapbs dXXd /cat 6 /xtap6s 5ta TO TOV ayovs 5t7rX6cr77/40i'.

2 I do not deny that the word can be translated if we are content to vary our rendering in each various case. In the passages already discussed ' devote ' is perhaps a fair equivalent, because the contrast emphasized is with a sacrifice shared. Sometimes the word may be rendered simply ' sacrifice to the dead,' sometimes 'purificatory sacrifice,' sometimes 'expiatory sacrifice.' No one word covers the whole field. It is this lost union of many diverse elements that has to be recovered and is nameless.

3 Athen. ix. 78 409 E ff. t'Stws 5e /caXetrat irap' 'AOyvaiois airon/u/ma. tirl rdv els TI/J.TJV rots veKpois ytvo/j-fruv /cat ^TTL rdv TOI)S evayeis Ka6(upbvT<j)v ws nail KXeidrjfjLos 4v ry

^-rjyrjTLK^. Upodeis yap TTC/OI vayi<TH&v ypdfai rdde' ""0/>vat fibdvvov effirepav TOV cnj/taros. "ETretra irapa rbv fibdvvov irpbs ecnrtpav /3X^7re, udwp /cara^ee, fuv aTrbvi/ji/ULa, ols XPV Ka ^ " 0^us.' "ETretra aC0is fripov /cardxce." Ilape^ero raOra Kal Awp60eos (paffKiav /cat v rots EuTrar/atSwi' Trarpt'ots rdde yeypd<j>dai trepi TTJS T&V i/cerajj/ /catfapcrews. "ETretr'

vStijp Xa/Scbp Kddaipe d-jrovL^e TO afytta TOV Kadaipo/ntvov /cat yuerd TO ets TO.VTO

60 The Anthesteria [OH.

stantially the same in meaning, has among the Athenians a technical ritual usage. ' The term a-Trow/x^a is specially applied to the ceremonies in honour of the dead and to those that take place in the purification of the polluted.' The word translated 'polluted' is evayels, i.e. under or in a state of ayo$. He then proceeds. to quote from a lost treatise on ceremonies of eva^io-^, the exact details of the ritual. ' Kleidemos, in his treatise called Exegeticus, writes on the subject of Iva^Kj^oi as follows : " Dig a trench to the west of the tomb. Then, look along the trench towards the west, pour down water, saying these words : A purification for you to whom it is meet and right. Next pour down a second time myrrh." Dorotheos adds these particulars, alleging that the following prescription is written also in the ancestral rites of the Eupatridae concerning the purification of suppliants: "Next having washed himself, and the others who had disembowelled the victim having done the same, let him take water and make purification and wash off the blood from the suppliant who is being purified, and after- wards, having stirred up the washing, pour it into the same place." '

The conjoint testimony of the two writers is abundantly clear : either alone would have left us in doubt as to the real gist of the ceremony. Kleidemos tells us that it was addressed to the dead ; the trench near the tomb, -the western aspect of the setting sun, the cautious formulary, ' To you to whom it is meet and right,' all tell the same tale. It is safest not even to name the dead, lest you stir their swift wrath. But Kleidemos leaves us in the dark as to why they want an aTrovi/jb/jia, ' an offscouring,' water defiled : wh} T will not pure water or water and myrrh suffice ? Dorotheos supplies the clue those who have slain the victim wash the blood from their hands and wash it off him who has been purified, and then stirring it all up pour it into the trench. The ghost below demands the blood of the victim washed off from the polluted suppliant : when the ghost has drunk of this, then, and not till then, there is placation and purification.

That the ghost should demand the blood of the victim is natural enough ; the ghosts in the Nekuia of the Odyssey ' drink the black blood' and thereby renew their life ; but in ceremonies of purification they demand polluted water, the 'offscourings,' and why ? The reason is clear. The victim is a surrogate for the polluted suppliant, the blood is put upon him that he may be

n] Placation of Ghosts 61

identified with the victim, the ghost is deceived and placated. The ghost demands blood, not to satisfy a physical but so to speak a spiritual thirst, the thirst for vengeance. This thirst can only be quenched by the water polluted, the 'offscourings' 1 of the suppliant.

The suppliant for purification in the ritual just described was identified with the victim, or rather perhaps we should say the victim with the suppliant, by pouring over the suppliant the victim's blood. There were other means of identification. It has already been seen (p. 27) that the suppliant sometimes put on the whole skin of the victim, sometimes merely stood with his foot on the fleece. Another and more attenuated form of identification was the wearing of fillets, i.e. strands of wool confined at intervals by knots to make them stronger. Such fillets were normally worn by suppliants and by seers : the symbolism for suppliants is obvious, for seers evident on a closer inspection. The seer himself was powerless, but he could by the offering of a sacrifice to ghosts or heroes invoke the mantic dead ; he wears the symbols of this sacrifice, the wreath and the fillets. Later their significance was forgotten, and they became mere symbols of office. The omphalos at Delphi, itself a mantic tomb, was covered with a net-work of wool-fillets, renewed no doubt at first with the offering of each new victim, later copied in stone 2 , but always the symbol of recurring sacrifice.

Fillets of wool became as it were the attributes of the sacri- ficial victim. In the curious vase-painting 3 in fig. 8 Salrnoneus, himself the victim, is wreathed, decorated all over with fillets, which of course, as there was no animal slain, are merely symbolic 4 . Animal victims in like fashion are adorned for sacrifice with these merely routine fillets. The animal sacrifice is to the ghost the surrogate of the human victim, the fillet in its turn the surrogate of the animal.

The dread ceremonial of eva^/iapo? in its crudest, most

1 Hesych. \ovrp6v TO ptitrapov tiSwp -fjyovv airbvifji.^.

2 Bull, dc Corr. Hell. xxiv. p. 258.

3 Now in the Museum at Chicago. American Journal of Archaeology, 1899, pi. iv. The vase presents some difficulties, the discussion of which would be irrelevant here. The figure of Salrnoneus madly and sacrilegiously counterfeiting Zeus and holding his thunder-bolt is I think certain.

4 Fillets are specially characteristic of sacrificial victims. Herodotus vn. 197 describes Athamas as

62 The Anthesteria [OH.

barbarous form, is very clearly shown on the vase-painting in


Pio. 8.

fig. 9, from a ' Tyrrhenian ' amphora now in the British Museum 1 . The scene depicted is the sacrifice of Polyxena on the tomb of Achilles. In the Hecuba of Euripides 2 , Neoptolemos

FIG. 9.

1 Published by Mr H. B. Walters, J.H.S. xvm. 1898, p. 281, pi. xv. The class of vases known sometimes as 'Tyrrhenian,' sometimes as Corintho- Attic, all belong to the same period, about the middle of the sixth century B.C., and are apparently from the same workshop.

2 Eur. Hec. 535.

n] Placation of Ghosts 63

takes Polyxena by the hand and leads her to the top of the mound, pours libations to his father, praying him to accept the 'soothing draughts,' and then cries

'Come thou and drink the maiden's blood Black and unmixed.'

In the centre of the design in fig. 9 is the omphalos-shaped grave 1 , which is in fact the altar. Right over it the sacrifice takes place. Neoptolemos, as next of kin to the slain man, is the sacrificer ; Polyxena, as next of kin to the slayer, is the sacrifice. The ghost of the slain man drinks her blood and is appeased, and thereby the army is purged.

The blood only is offered to the ghost the blood is the life, and it is vengeance, not food, the ghost cries for. It is so with the Erinyes, who are but angry ghosts 2 ; when they hunt Orestes they

cry 3 ,

' The smell of human blood smiles wooingly.'

Earth polluted has drunk a mother's blood, and they in turn 'Will gulp the living gore red from his limbs 4 .'

When the ghost of Achilles has drunk the fresh blood of the maiden her body will be burnt, not that it may rise as a sweet savour to the gods above, but as a holocaust; it is a Ova-ia a&uro?, a sacrifice without feast. It will be burnt on the low- lying eschara or portable hearth that stands on the grave. The eschara was by the ancients clearly distinguished from the altar proper, the /3o>yito9. The eschara, says the scholiast on the Phoenissae 5 of Euripides, is * accurately speaking the trench in the earth where they offer Iva^ia^oi to those who are gone below ; the altar is that on which they sacrifice to the heavenly gods.'

Porphyry 6 , who is learned in ritual matters, draws the same distinction. ' To the Olympian gods they set up temples and images and altars, but to the Earth-gods and to heroes, escharas, while for those below the earth there are trenches and megara.'

1 Omphalos and tomb are in intent the same, see J.H.S. xix. p. 225.

2 The genesis of the Erinys is discussed later, in Chapter v.

3 Aesch. Eum. 253. 4 Aesch. Eum. 264.

5 Schol. ad Eur. Phoen. 284 diafapei /3w/i6s KO! ta-x&P - a ^ 274 taxa-P - ^ v Kvplu^ 6 TTI r?}s 7775 /360/>os Zvda evayifovcri rots KOLTW tpxo 01$, ^Sw/xos 5 ev y dijovtri rots tirovpaviois 6eots.

6 Porph. de antr. nymph. 3 TOIS fikv '0\v/rois 0eo?s vaovs re /cat 25-ri /cat ^W/AOUS iSpvaavTo, -xBoviois 5e Kol r)pu/-to?, the altar of the Olympians, rises higher and higher heavenwards. There is the like symbolism in the actual manner of the slaying of the victim. Eustathius 2 , in commenting on the sacrifice of Chryses to Phoebus Apollo, when they ' drew back the victims' heads,' says ' according to the custom of the Greeks, for if they are sacrificing to those above they bend back the neck of the sacrificial animal so that it may look away towards the sky, but if to heroes or to the dead in general the victim is sacrificed looking downwards.' Eustathius 3 again says of the prayer of Achilles, ' by looking heavenwards he expresses vividly whither the prayer is directed, for Achilles is not praying to Zeus of the underworld, but to Zeus of the sky.' The Christian of to-day, though he believes his God is everywhere, yet uplifts his hands to pray. For the like reason the victim for the dead was black and that for the Olympians frequently white ; that for the dead sacrificed at the setting of the sun, that for the Ouranians at the dawn 4 . Upon certain holocausts, as has already been seen, the sun might not look.

The ritual of the eva^to-fjioi is then of purgation by placation of the spirits of the underworld. The extreme need of primitive man for placation is from the stain of bloodshed ; purgation from this stain is at first only obtained by the offering of the blood of the murderer himself, < then by the blood of a surrogate victim applied to him.

It is, I think, probable that at the back of many a mytho- logical legend that seems to us to contain what we call ' human sacrifice ' there lies, not the slaying of a victim for the pleasure of a Moloch-like god, but simply the appeasement of an angry ghost.

1 Aesch. Eum. 106.

2 Eustath. ad II. i. 459 134. 3 Eustath. 1057, 37.

4 Schol. ad Apoll. Bhod. I. 587 rots ptv ovv /carotxoyct^ois ws irepi i)\iov dv(T/j,as rots d ovpavidais inrb TTJV 2w, avartXhovros TOV i]\lov.

n] Placation of Ghosts 65

So long as primitive man preserves the custom of the blood-feud, so long will he credit his dead kinsman with passions like his own.

In this connection it is interesting to note some further details of the ritual terminology of evayia/jiOL as contrasted with that of the service of the Olympians.

The sacrifice burnt that the Olympians may eat of it is dv^a, the thing burned to smoke ; the sacrificial victim slain to be eaten by the worshipper is iepelov ; the victim slain for placation and purification is by correct authors called by another name, it is a a$a<yiov, a thing slaughtered. The word explains itself: it is not the sacrifice burnt, not the sacred thing killed and carved for a meal, but simply the victim hacked and hewn to pieces. Such a victim was not even necessarily skinned. Of what use to care- fully flay a thing doomed to utter destruction ? In the Electra of Euripides 1 the old man describes such a

' I saw upon the pyre with its black fleece A sheep the victim, and fresh blood outpoured.'

It is interesting to note in this connection that the word <r(f>dyiov is always used of human victims, and of. such animals as were in use as surrogates. The term is applied to all the famous maiden sacrifices of mythology. Ion 2 asks Creousa : 1 And did thy father sacrifice thy sisters 2' And Creousa with greater ritual precision makes answer : 'He dared to slay them as sphagia for the land.'

As a crtydylov Polyxena 3 is slain on the tomb of Achilles ; she dies as an atonement, a propitiation, as ' medicine of salvation.'

The normal and most frequent use of trtfrdryia was, as in the case of evayio-fjioi in general, for purification by placation. In stress of great emergency, of pestilence, of famine, and throughout historical times at the moment before a battle, a<j)d<yia were regularly offered. They seem to have been carried round or through the person or object to be purified. Athenaeus 4 records

1 Eur. El. 514.

2 Eur. Ion 277

1(2. Trarfyo 'Epe^^eus <ras dv<re crvyyovovs ; KP. ^T\rj trpb yaias <r(f>dyia ira.pdvovs Kravetv.

3 Eur. Hec. 121 njufBy (r<pdyioi>.

4 Athen. xiv. 22 626 Kadap^bv T^S TroXews iiro(.-f)ffavTO <r(f>dyia irepidyovres KVK\^ rrjs xupa-s

H. 5

66 The Anthesteria [CH.

an instructive instance. The inhabitants of Kynaetho, a village in Arcadia, neglected the civilizing influences of dancing and feasting, and became so savage and impious that they never met except for the purpose of quarrelling. They perpetrated at one time a great massacre, and after this, whenever their emissaries came to any other of the Arcadian cities, the citizens by public proclamation bade them depart, and the Mantineans after their departure made a purification of the city, leading the slaughtered victims round the whole circuit of the district.

As purifications the use of o-^dyca needs no further comment. It is less obvious at first why o-<f>dyia were always employed in the taking of oaths. The expression re^vetv ox^ayto. is the equivalent of the familiar Tepveiv op/cia. In the Suppliants of Euripides 1 Athene says to Theseus:

'Hearken whereinto thou must cut the sphagia.'

She then bids him write the oaths in the hollow of a tripod- cauldron and then cut the throats of the victims into the cauldron, thus clearly identifying the oaths and the blood.

In the ordinary ritual of the taking of oaths, the oath-taker actually stood upon the pieces of the slaughtered animal. Pausanias 2 , on the road between Sparta and Arcadia, came to a place called ' Horse's Tomb.' There Tyndareus sacrificed a horse and made Helen's suitors take an oath, causing them to stand on the cut-up pieces of the horse, having made them take the oath, he buried the horse. At Stenyclerum 3 in Messenia was another monument, called ' Boar's Monument,' where it was said Herakles had given an oath to the sons of Neleus on the cut pieces of a boar. Nor is the custom of swearing on the cut pieces recorded only by mythology. In the Bouleuterion at Elis was an image of Zeus, ' of all others,' says Pausanias 4 , ' best fitted to strike terror into evildoers.' Its

1 Eur. Supp. 1296 iv $ 5e rt/j-vetv <r<t>dyi.a xpy o"' anovt fwv.

2 P. HI. 20. 9. 3 P. iv. 15. 8.

4 P. v. 24. 10 rots ye apxaiortpois liri tepeiy r\v KadeffrrjK^s e<' $ TIS SpKiov tTronfjaaTo /^yde 5udi.f*.oi> efoat TOUT' ZTI avtipuwij). Strictly speaking Pausanias ought to have written ewi a^ayty, but his meaning is sufficiently clear. rbfua are actually (r<f>dyia, not iepeia. Eustathius, in discussing the sacrifice of Odysseus to the ghosts in the Nekuia, makes the following statement: O'TI 'Op-r/pov eiirovros ieprna ra ev "Aidov ff<pdyia CTTI xV vfKpCcv (f>a.<rlv ol TraXaiol OVK 6pd&s elpr)(rdai TOUTO, tnl yap veKp&v To/jud <f>a<n Kal ^vrofj-a, tiri 8e dedov iepela. Pausanias in the passage cited above (in. 20. 9) uses dveiv where ff<payia<?6ai would be more correct. He makes a sort of climax of confusion when, in describing the ritual of the hero Amphiaraos, he says (i. 34. 5) : tffri 5 Ka6ap<noi> T<$ 6e$ 6tiet.v, when he should have said T$ rjpwt ff<payt.d.-

n] Placation of Ghosts 67

surname was Horkios, He of the Oath. Near this image the athletes, their fathers, brothers, and trainers had to swear on the cut pieces of a boar that they would be guilty of no foul play as regarded the Olympian games. Pausanias regrets that he ' forgot to ask what they did with the boar after the oath had been taken by the athletes.' He adds, ' With the men of old days the rule was as regards a sacrificial animal on which an oath had been taken that it should be no more accounted as eatable for men. Homer/ he says, ' shows this clearly, for the boar on the cut pieces of which Agamemnon swore that Briseis had not been partner of his bed is represented as being cast by the herald into the sea :

"He spake and with the pitiless bronze he cut The boar's throat, and the boar Talthybios whirled And in the great wash of the hoary sea He cast it to the fish for food 1 ."

This in ancient days was their custom about such matters.'

The custom of standing on the fragments of the victim points clearly to the identification of oath-taker and sacrifice. The victim was hewn in bits; so if the oath-taker perjure himself will he be hewn in bits : the victim is not eaten but made away with, utterly destroyed, devoted ; a like fate awaits the oath-breaker : the oath becomes in deadly earnest a form of self-imprecation.

Still less obvious is it why sacrifices to the winds should uniformly have taken the form of atydyia rather than [epela. At first sight the winds if anything would appear to be Ouranian powers of the upper air, yet it would appear that sacrifices to the winds were buried, not burnt.

What astonished Pausanias 2 more than anything else he saw at Methana in Troezen was a ceremony for averting the winds. ' A wind called Lips, which rushes down from the Saronic gulf, dries up the tender shoots of the vine. When the squall is upon them two men take a cock, which must have all its feathers white, tear it in two, and run round the vines in opposite directions, each of them carrying one half of the cock. When they come back to the place they start from they bury the cock there. This is the device they have invented for counteracting Lips. I myself,' he adds, ' have seen the people keeping off hail by sacrifices and incantations.' The Methanian cock is a typical aQdyiov : it is

1 II. xix. 265. 2 P. ii. 34. 3.


68 The Anthesteria [CH.

carried round for purification, the evil influences of the wind are somehow caught by it, in rather proleptic fashion, and then buried away. It is really of the order of pharmakos ceremonies, to be considered later, rather than a sacrifice proper. For a cr^dyiov we should expect the cock to be black, but on the principle of sympathetic magic it is in this case white. The normal sacrifice to a wind was a black animal. When in the Frogs 1 a storm is brewing between Aeschylus and Euripides, and threatens to burst, Dionysos calls out :

'Bring out a ewe, boys, bring a black-fleeced ewe, Here's a typhoon that's just about to burst.'

Winds were underworld gods, but when propitious they had a strong and natural tendency to become Ouranian, and the white sacrifices with intent to compel their beneficence would help this out. They are an exact parallel to the black and white Eumenides already noted. Virgil 2 says :

'To Storm a black sheep, white to the favouring West.'

Equally instructive is the account given by Pausanias 3 of the ceremonies performed at Titane to soothe the winds, though with his customary vagueness Pausanias describes them by the word tivew when they are really eva<yia-fjLoi They are performed on one night in each year, and Pausanias adds, the priest also ' does secret ceremonies into four pits,' soothing the fury of the winds, and he chants over them as they say Medea's charms. Each of the four winds dwelt, it is clear, as a chthonic power in a pit ; his sacrifice was after the fashion of heroes and ghosts. It is possible, indeed probable, that the pits were in connection with the tomb of some hero or heroine. The sacrifice of Iphigeneia was Travaavepos*, with power to stay the winds; that of Polyxena at the tomb of Achilles had the like virtue. Be that as it may, it will be seen when we come to demonology that the winds were regarded as ghosts, as breaths : as such their cult was necessarily chthonic.

Another of their functions o-(f)dyta share with the ordinary animal- sacrifices, the lepela: Like the lepela they could be used for purposes of divination. Used as they were for purification in any great emergency, mere economy may have suggested that they should be further utilized for oracular purposes. The greater

1 Ar. Ean. 847. 2 Virg. Aen. in. 120.

3 P. ii. 12. 1. 4 Aesch. Agam. 214.

n] Placation of Ghosts 69

solemnity of a-<f>dyta would lend to the omens taken from them a specially portentous virtue 1 . It is amusing to find that even Porphyry 2 , averse though he is to human sacrifice, still seems to feel a dim possibility that for mantic purposes human entrails may have special virtue. 'But it will be urged,' he says, as though stating a possible and reasonable argument, ' that the future may be more clearly divined from the vitals of a man/

Precise authors who know about ritual always distinguish between the omens taken from ordinary animal sacrifice and those from acfxiyia. Thus Xenophon 3 in the Anabasis says, ' The sacrifices (iepela) are propitious to us, the omens favourable, the (7(f)djia most propitious.' The practice of using o-^dyia for omens before a battle would seem to have been uniform. When women, says Eteocles 4 , are wailing and making a commotion, it is the part of men

'To slay the victims, take therefrom the omens Before the gods, at the onset of the foe.'

It is probably to this oracular function of o-cfrdyia that we owe the very frequent use of the middle o-^ajid^ecrdat,, as in the parallel case of 6veiv, the sacrifice by fire. For dveiv and OvecrQai the distinction is familiar, and expressly stated by Ammonius 6 : ' of those who simply sacrifice (active) the victims the word dvovai is used, of those who take omens from the entrails Ovovrai! The active is of the nature of thanksgiving, the middle partakes of prayer and impulsion. In the case of cr^dyia the active is very rarely in use, and naturally, for the sacrifice of crtydyia has in it no element of thanksgiving 6 .

1 The full and somewhat revolting details as to how omens were taken from ff(f>ayia do not concern us here ; they are given in full by the scholiast on Eur. Phoenissae 1255; see P. Stengel, Hermes 1899, xxxiv. p. 642.

2 Porph. de Abst. n. 51. 3 Xen. Anab. vi. 5. 21.

4 Aesch. Sept. 230

av8p)v ra5' ^crrt <r<f>dyia /cat %p770"njpta deoiffiv ^pSfLf iroKf/JiLwv ireipwiA^vitiv.

5 Ammon. p. 72 Valck. dtiovtrc pep yap oi cr<j>dovTes ra tepeta, 66ovrai 5 ot dia T&V

6 The question of cr^ayia has been very fully discussed by Dr Paul Stengel in four papers as follows: ' Z,<j>ayia,' Hermes xxi. p. 307, 1886; 'Miscellen,' xxv. p. 321; 'Prophezeiung aus der S^cryio,' xxxi. p. 479 and xxxiv. p. 642. To this must be added papers by the same author on frrtnveiv ^vro/ma in the Zeitschrift fur Gymnasial-Wesen 1880, p. 743, and in the Jahrbuch fur Philologie 1882, p. '322, and 1883, p. 375, and on the winds, Hermes 1900, p. 626. I owe much in the matter of references to Dr Stengel's full collection of sources, but his conclusions as stated in ' Die Sakralaltertiimer ' (Iwan Miiller's Handbuch der kL Altertumswissenschaft, Band v. Abt. 3) seem to me to be vitiated by the assump- tion that ceremonies of purification are late and foreign importations.

70 The Anthesteria [OH.

The ritual then of afycuyia and of evajio-fjioi, of slaughter and of purification, is based on the fear of ghosts, of ghosts and their action on men alive, whether as evil winds, or for dread portents, or for vengeance on the broken oath, or, first and foremost, for the guilt of shed blood. Its essence is of airoTpoTnj, aversion.

Nowhere perhaps is this instinct of aversion so clearly seen, seen in a form where the instinct has not yet chilled and crystallized into definite ritual, as in the account of the murder of Absyrtos by Jason and Medea as given by Apollonius Rhodius 1 . The murder was by a treacherous ambuscade set for Absyrtos at the threshold of the temple of Artemis; Jason smites him like a bull for sacrifice, while Medea stands by.

'So by that portal old kneeling he fell, And while the last of life yet sobbed and passed, Craving, clasped both hands to the wound, to hold The dark blood back. But the blood reached, and sprang, And, where the veiled woman shuddered from him, Lay red on the white robe and the white veil. Then swift a sidelong eye, a pitiless eye, The Erinys all subduing, that knoweth Sin, Awoke, and saw what manner of deed was there. And Aeson's son smote from that sacrifice Red ravine, and three times ravined with his mouth Amid the blood, and three times from him spewed That horror of sin ; as men that slay by guile Use, to make still the raging of the dead.'

Apollonius tries to make a ritual of the awful instinct of physical fear. The body is mangled that the angry ghost may be maimed, the blood actually licked up that the murderer may spit it forth and rid himself of the fell pollution. Only then can the corpse be safely buried 2 . But it is too late, for Absyrtos has put the blood upon Medea.

Clytaemnestra, when she murdered Agamemnon, followed the

1 Apoll. Ehod. iv. 470, trans, by Mr Gilbert Murray.

2 Since the above was written my attention has been called to Dr J. G. Frazer's paper ' On certain Burial Customs as illustrations of the primitive theory of the soul ' (Journal of Anthropological Institute, vol. xv. 1885-6). After a detailed examination of the burial rites and customs of the Greeks and many other peoples Mr Frazer reaches the following memorable and to me most welcome conclusion : ' In general I think we may lay down the rule that wherever we find so-called purification by fire or water from pollution contracted by contact with the dead we may assume with much probability that the original intention was to place a physical barrier of fire or water between the living and the dead, and that the conceptions of pollution and purification are merely the fictions of a later age invented to explain the purpose of a ceremony of which the original intention was forgotten. '

n] Placation of Ghosts 71

same horrid practice of ' aversion.' Sophocles 1 makes Electra say:

'She lopped his limbs as though he were a foe And for libations wiped upon his head The blood stains.'

By the time of Apollonius the Erinys is no longer the actual ghost but a separate spirit of vengeance, and even the primitive ritual of aversion is explained as a sort of tendance ; the lopped limbs are ^dpy^ara, first beginnings, a sort of hideous sacrifice to the murdered man rather than mainly the means of maiming him 2 . But the scholiast 3 on the Electra clearly explains the gist of the ceremonial. He says these things were done 'as taking away the force of the dead so that later they may suffer nothing fearful from them.'

It may perhaps be felt that such instances are purely mytho- logical, and that fear of the ghost had wholly waned in historical times. The horrid practice of mutilation no doubt fell into abeyance, but the fear of the ghost and the sense that purification from guilt could only be obtained by direct appeal to the ghost itself lived on.

The case of Pausanias gives curious evidence as to the procedure of an educated murderer of the fifth century B.C. Pausanias 4 the traveller tells how his namesake sought protection from the Goddess of the Brazen House, but failed because he was defiled by blood. This pollution he tried by every possible means to expiate : he had recourse to purifications of all kinds, he made supplication to Zeus Phyxios, a being obviously akin to Meilichios and he resorted to the Psychagogi, the Ghost-Com- pellers of Phigalia. They seem to have failed, for Plutarch 5 tells us he sent to Italy for experts, and they, after they had done sacrifice, wrenched the ghost out of the sanctuary.

The historical case of Pausanias is exactly parallel to that of the mythological Orestes. Man expects that the dead man will behave as he would behave were he yet living pursue him for vengeance; the ghost is an actual, almost physical reality. It

1 Soph. EL 445.

2 The details described by Suidas s.v. ^aff-xaKLffdt] have a somewhat apocryphal air and are probably due to etymology.

3 Schol. ad Soph. El. 445. 4 P. m. 17. 7.

5 Plut. de ser. num. vind. xvn. /xera7re / u0^^res ol \f/vxayuyol Kal duaavres lepou rb

72 The Anthesteria [CH.

needed a Euripides to see that this ghost was a purely subjective horror, a disordered conscience. He makes Menelaos ask the mad Orestes 1 :

'What dost thou suffer? What disease undoes thee?' and Orestes makes answer :

'Conscience, for I am conscious of fell deeds.'

Anthropomorphism is usually regarded as a humane trait in Greek religion ; it is noted as a thing distinguishing their cultus from the animal worship of less civilized nations. But anthropo- morphism, as is clearly seen in ghost-worship, looks both ways. To be human is not necessarily to be humane. Man is cruel and implacable, and he makes the ghost after his own image. Man is also foolish and easily tricked, so he plays tricks upon the vengeful ghost, cheating him of his real meed of the murderer's or kinsman's blood. Hence the surrogate victims, hence the frequent substitu- tion stories. Another element enters in. The gods, and specially the ghost-gods, are conservative ; man gets in advance of the gods he has made, and is ashamed of the rites he once performed with complete confidence in their Tightness. Then he tries by a cheat to reconcile his new view and his old custom. Religion, which once inspired the best in him, lags behind, expressing the worst.

Suidas 2 tells a story which curiously expresses this state of transition, this cheating of the god to save the conscience of the worshipper. The Greeks had a proverb, "E/i,/3a/909 etW, ' I am Embaros,' which they used, according to Suidas, of a ' sharp man with his wits about him,' and, according to one of the collectors of proverbs, of those who ' gave a false impression, i.e. were out of their minds.' The origin of the proverb was as follows : There was a sanctuary of Artemis at Munychia. A bear came into it and was killed by the Athenians. A famine followed, and the god gave an oracle that the famine should cease if some one would sacrifice his daughter to the goddess. Embaros was the only man who promised to do it, on condition that he and his family should have the priesthood for life. He disguised his daughter and hid

1 Eur. Or. 395

ME. rl xpTJ/J,a Travels; rLs a* airb\\v<riv v6<ros; OP. r) vi>e(ris, 8ri ffvvoiSa deiv' fipyaaptvos.

2 Suidas s.v. "E/-ta/>6s d/M, Paroimiograph. i. 402, App. Cent, and Eustath. ad II. n. 732 331.

n] Placation of Ghosts 73

her in the sanctuary, and 'dressed a goat in a garment and sacrificed it as his daughter.' The story is manifestly aetiological, based on a ritual with a hereditary priesthood, and the sacrifice of a surrogate goat dressed as a woman.

It is probable, though not certain, that behind the figure of the Olympian Artemis, of the goddess who was kindly to lions' cubs and ' suckling whelps,' there lay the cult of some vindictive ghost or heroine who cried for human blood. In moments of great peril this belief in the vindictiveness of ghosts, a belief kept in check by reason in the day-time, might surge up in a man's mind and haunt his dreams by night. Plutarch 1 tells an instructive story about a dream that came to Pelopidas before the battle of Leuctra. Near the field of battle was a field where were the tombs of the daughters of Scedasos, a local hero. The maidens, who were obviously local nymphs, were called from the place Leuctrides. The night before the battle, as Pelopidas was sleeping in his tent, he had a vision which ' caused him no small disturbance.' He thought he saw the maidens crying at their tombs and cursing the Spartans, and he saw Scedasos their father bidding him sacrifice to his daughters a maiden with auburn hair if he wished to over- come his enemies on the morrow. Being a humane as well as a pious man, the order seemed to him a strange and lawless one, but none the less he told the soothsayers and the generals about it. Some of them thought that it ought not to be neglected, and brought forward as precedents the ancient instances of Menoiceus, son of Creon, and Macaria, daughter of Heracles, and, in more recent times, the case of Pherecydes the philosopher, who was put to death by the Spartans and whose skin was preserved (no doubt as ' medicine ') by their kings in accordance with an oracle ; also the case of Leonidas, who sacrificed himself for Greece ; and, lastly, the human victims sacrificed to Dionysos Omestes before the battle of Salamis, all which cases had the sanction of success. Moreover, they pointed out, Agesilaus, when he was about to set sail from Aulis itself, had the same vision as Agamemnon, and disregarding it through misplaced tenderness, came to grief in consequence. The more advanced section of the army used the argument of the fatherhood of God and the superior nature of the supreme deities ; such sacrifices were only fit for Typhons and Giants and inferior 1 Plut. Vit. Pelop. xxi.


The Anthesteria


and impotent demons. Pelopidas, while they were discussing the question in the abstract, only got more and more uncomfortable, when on a sudden a she-colt got loose from the herd and ran through the camp ; the laymen present only admired her shining red coat, her proud paces and shrill neighing, but Theocritus the soothsayer saw the thing in his heart, and cried .aloud to Pelopidas, ' Happy man, here is the sacred victim, wait for no other maiden, use the one the god has given thee.' And they took the colt and led her to the tombs of the maidens, and prayed and wreathed her head and cut her throat and rejoiced and published the vision of Pelopidas and the sacrifice to the army. Whether Plutarch's story is matter of fact or not is of little moment ; it was felt to be probable, or else it would never have been narrated.

I have purposely dwelt on the dark side of evayia/juoi, of the service of the placation of ghosts, because in the vengeance of the ghost exacted for bloodshed lies the kernel of the doctrine of purification. But since man's whole activity is not bounded by

FIG. 10.

revenge, ghosts have other and simpler needs than that of ven- geance. The service of the underworld is not all aversion, there is also some element of tendance.

n] Placation of Ghosts 75

In the vase-painting in fig. 10, a design from a rather late red-figured krater in the Bibliotheque Nationale 1 in Paris, we have a representation of a familiar scene, the raising of the ghost of Teiresias by Odysseus, as described in the Nekuia. Vase-paintings of this date tend to be rather illustrations than independent con- ceptions, but they sometimes serve the purpose of vivid pre- sentation. Odysseus 2 has dug the trench, he has poured the drink-offering of mead and sweet wine and water, and sprinkled the white meal, and he has slain the sheep ; the head and feet of one of them, seemingly a black ram, are visible above the trench. He has sat him down sword in hand to keep off the throng of lesser ghosts, and he and his comrades wait the up-rising of Teiresias. Out of the very trench is seen emerging the bald ghost-like head of the seer. This is a clear case, not of deprecation but of invocation. Teiresias by the strength of the black blood returns to life. There is a clear reminiscence of the ghost-raising 3 that went on at many a hero's tomb, for, as will later be seen in the discussion of hero-worship, every hero was apt to be credited with mantic powers. The victims slain are in a sense, as Homer calls them, leprfia; they are sacrificed and eaten, but eaten by a ghost. As such they have been accompanied by offerings that could only be intended for drink-offerings, not the airovi/nfjia, the offscourings, but libations of mead and wine and pure water. Here again the ghost is made in the image of man : the Homeric hero drinks wine in his life and demands it after his death. The service of the dead is here very near akin to that of the Olympians; it is no grim atonement, but at worst a bloody banquet, at best a human feast, too human, too universal to need detailed elucida- tion. It is a ritual founded on a belief deep-rooted and long-lived; with the Greeks it was alive in Lucian's 4 days. Charon asks Hermes why men dig a trench, and burn expensive feasts, and pour wine and honey into a trench. Hermes answers that he cannot think what good it can do to those in Hades, but ' anyhow people believe that the dead are summoned up from below to the feast, and that they flutter round the smoke and fat and drink the honey draught from the trench.' Here the ghosts invade the late and

1 Cat. 422. 2 Od. xi. 23 ff.

3 For the ceremonials of ghost-raising, see Dr W. G. Headlam, Classical Review, 1902, p. 52.

4 Luc. Char. 22.

76 The Anthesteria [CH. n

popular burnt sacrifice of the Olympians, but the principle is the same.

The Anthesteria was a festival of ghosts, and so far the riddance of ghosts by means of placation has been shown to be an important element in ancient sacrifice and in the ancient notion of purification. But placation of ghosts does not exhaust the content even of ancient sacrifice : another element will appear in the festival of early summer that has next to be considered, the Thargelia.




SPRING-TIME, it has been seen in the last chapter, is the season for purification by means of the placation of ghosts. But spring- time is not the only anxious time for primitive man. As the year wears on, a season approaches of even more critical import, when purification was even more imperatively needed, the season of harvest ; in the earliest days the gathering in of such wild fruits as nature herself provides, in later times the reaping and garnering of the various kinds of cereals.

In the North with our colder climate we associate harvest with autumn ; our harvest festivals fall at the end of September. September was to the Greek the month of the grape harvest, the vintage, but his grain harvest fell in ancient days as now in the month Thargelion, the latter part of May and the beginning of June. This month is marked to the Greeks by three festivals, the Thargelia, which gave its name to the month, the Kallynteria, and the Plynteria. No festival has been more frequently discussed than the Thargelia, and on no festival has comparative anthropology thrown more light. The full gist of the ceremony has never, I think, been clearly set forth, owing to the simple fact that the Thargelia has usually been considered alone, not in connection with

78 Harvest Festivals [CH.

the two other festivals 1 . In the present chapter I shall consider first that element in the festival to which it and the month owe their names, i.e. the first-fruits ; second, the ceremony of the Pharmakos, which has made the festival famous ; third the con- nection with the Kallynteria and Plynteria and the light thrown on both by the Roman festival of the Vestalia. Finally from the consideration of the gist of these harvest festivals it will be possible to add some further elements to our conception of Greek religious thought, and especially of the Greek notion of sacrifice.


About the meaning 2 of the word Thargelia there is happily not the slightest doubt. Athenaeus 3 quotes a statement made by Krates, a writer of about the middle of the 2nd century A.D., in his book on the Attic dialect as follows : ' The thargelos is the first loaf made after the carrying home of the harvest.' Now a loaf of bread is not a very primitive affair, but happily Hesychius 4 records an earlier or at least more rudimentary form of nourishment : ' Thargelos,' he says, 'is a pot full of seeds.' From Athenaeus 5 again we learn that the cake called thargelos was sometimes also called thalusios. The Thalusia, the festival of the first-fruits of Demeter, is familiar to us from the lovely picture in the Seventh Idyll of Theocritus 6 . The friends meet Lycidas the goatherd and say to him :

'The road on which our feet are set it is a harvest way, For to fair-robed Demeter our comrades bring to-day The first-fruits of their harvesting. She on the threshing place Great store of barley grain outpoured, for guerdon of her grace.'

1 A. Mommsen (Feste der Stadt Athen, p. 486) discusses the Thargelia, Kallyn- teria and Plynteria in immediate succession, but without a hint of the connection of the two last with the first.

2 Vanicek (s.v. p. 310) derives Qapy-^Xia, which appears also in the form Tapy/)\ia, from a root rapy meaning 'hot' and 'dry' and connects it with rpvy in rp^<r/cw, rpvydw etc. All these analogous forms have the same meaning, i.e. ' ripened by the sun,' ' ready for harvesting.'

3 Athen. in. 52 115 ddpyrjXov /caAelcrflcu rbv e'/c rfjs <rvyKO[u5r)S irp&rov yevo/^evov &prov.

4 Hesych. s.v. 6dpyr)\os x^ T P a tffTiv apaTrXew

5 loc. cit. supra.

6 Theocr. Id. vii. 31 d 5' 656s ade GaXwrfas.

in] Thargelia 79

Homer 1 tells how the plague of the Calydonian boar came to waste the land of the Aetolians, because Oineus their king forgot to celebrate the Thalusia, and Eustathius, commenting on the passage, says : ' The first-fruits are the thalusia.' He adds that some of the rhetoricians call the thalusia ( feasts of the Harvest- Home.'

It is then abundantly clear that the festival of the Thargelia is in the main a festival of the offering of first-fruits on the occasion of harvest, and the month Thargelion the month of harvest rites. Of one of these harvest rites, the carrying of the Eiresione 2 , we have unusually full particulars.

In the Knights of Aristophanes 3 , Cleon and the Sausage-Seller are clamouring at the door of Demos. Demos comes out and asks angrily :

' Who's bawling there ? do let the door alone, You've torn my Eiresione all to bits. 3

The scholiast explains. ' At the Pyanepsia and the Thargelia the Athenians hold a feast to Helios and the Horae, and the boys carry about branches twined with wool, from which they get the name of Eiresiones, and they hang them up before the doors.' It is very probable that the wool (etpo?), taken perhaps from a sacred animal, gave its name to the Eiresione, but there were many other things besides wool hung on the branch. Our fullest account comes from the rhetorician Pausanias, who is quoted by Eustathius 4 in his commentary on the Iliad. Eustathius is explaining that the term a^idaX^ means a child with both parents alive, and he adds by way of illustration that children of this sort were chosen by the ancients to deck out the Eiresione. He then quotes from the works of Pausanias the following account of the ceremony :

1 Horn. II. ix. 534

8 ol oti n 6a\ij<ria yovvy

Eustath. ad loc. ddXticria 5 ai airapxai...Tiv$ 5 r(av prjrdpwv Kal (ruy/roAuonypia ravra Ka\ovffiv...^Ti 5 Kal 6a\v<rios apros 6 e/c TTJS T&V Kapir&v, 0a<ri, ffvyi<o/ju.dris irp&Tos

2 The sources for the Eiresione are very fully given and discussed by Mannhardt, Wald- und Feldkulte, pp. 214248; see Dr Frazer, Golden Bough, 2nd edition, vol. i. p. 190, for modern parallels.

3 Ar. Eq. 729, schol. ad loc.

4 Eustath. ad II. xxn. 496, p. 1283 %5ov iraides

ri ffvKO, 0^/oet /cat iriovas tLprovs fj.\iTos KorvXyv Kal ZXaiov eTriKpr}cra(T6ai K6\iKa etffapov 'iva /j.edvovo'a

80 Harvest Festivals [CH.

' The Eiresione is a branch of olive twined with wool, and having hanging from it various fruits of the earth ; a boy, both of whose parents are alive, carries it forth and places it in front of the doors of Apollo's sanctuary, at the feast of Pyanepsia.' He then goes on to an aetiological legend about Theseus, and finally records the words of the song sung by the children who carried or attended the Eiresione :

'Eiresione brings All good things, Figs and fat cakes to eat, Soft oil and honey sweet, And brimming wine-cup deep That she may drink and sleep.'

The boy who actually carried the Eiresione must have both parents alive, because any contact with death even remote was unlucky ; the ghost of either parent might be about. The song is of some interest because of the half-personification of Eiresione. The Maypole or harvest-sheaf is halfway to a harvest Maiden ; it is thus, as will be seen later, that a goddess is made. A song is sung, a story told, and the very telling fixes the outline of personality. It is possible to worship long in spirit, but as soon as the story- telling, myth-making, instinct awakes you have anthro- pomorphism and theology.

What was hung on the Eiresione no doubt depended on the wealth of particular worshippers; we hear of white wool and purple wool, vessels of wine, figs, strings of acorns, cakes ; nothing in the way of natural produce came amiss. The Eiresione once fixed over the door remained there, a charm against pestilence and famine, till the next year; then it was changed for a new one. The withered branch must have been a familiar sight at Athens, When in the Plutus 1 of Aristophanes the young rough is insulting the old woman and thrusting his torch into her withered face, she cries :

'For pity's sake don't bring your torch so near me,'

and Chremylus says :

'Yes, right she is, for if she caught a spark She'd burn up like an old Eiresione.'

1 Ar. Plut. 1054, schol. ad loc. roAr-ipr 6 ryv eipea-i^vTjv irpb r&v

01 'AdTjircuoi KO! KO.T ros avTTjv -fj\\arTov...^Kaa-Tos irpb T&V dvp&v eipecri&vas ets aTroTpoirrjv TOV Aot/ioD, KO! 8i.^evev et's eviavrbv. rjv KO.I ^pavdeiffav Trd\Lv /car' fros eTTotet erepav -x\oa,^o

in] Eiresione 81

The Eiresione, Pausanias says, was fastened before the door of the sanctuary of Apollo. Plutarch 1 , in his rather clumsy aetio- logical account of the Oschophoria, connects the Eiresione with vows paid to Apollo by Theseus on his return from Crete to Athens. Harpocration 2 says ' The Thargelia was celebrated in the month of Thargelion, which is sacred to Apollo,' and the author of the Etymologicon Magnum 3 states ' The Thargelia, a festival at Athens. The name is given from the thargelia, and thargelia are all the fruits that spring from the earth. The festival is celebrated in the month Thargelion to Artemis and Apollo.' From Suidas 4 we learn that there was a musical contest at the Thargelia, and that the actors dedicated their prize tripods in the sanctuary of Apollo known as the Pythion.

All this makes it quite clear that at some time or other the festival of the Thargelia was connected with the Olympian Apollo, and more vaguely with his sister Artemis, but the connection is obviously loose and late. The Eiresione was fastened up not only over the door of the sanctuary of Apollo, but over the house-door of any and every Athenian. The house of Demos was no sanctuary of Apollo. Moreover, when the scholiast on Aristophanes 5 is com- menting on the Eiresione, he says, to our surprise, that it was carried and hung at the Thargelia and Pyanepsia in honour, not of Apollo and Artemis, but of ' Helios and the Horae.' Porphyry 6 does not definitely name the Eiresione, but he is clearly alluding to it when he speaks of the procession that still took place at Athens in his own day to Helios and the Horae. It is evidence, he says, that in early days the gods desired in their service not the sacrifice of animals, but the offering of vegetable first- fruits. ' In this procession they carried wild herbs as well as ground pulse, acorns, barley, wheat, a cake of dried figs, cakes of wheat and barley flour, and a pot (^vrpos).'

It is abundantly clear that the Eiresione is simply a harvest- home, an offering of first-fruits that was primarily an end in itself,

1 Plut. Vit. Thes. xvm. The account of Plutarch is substantially the same as that of his contemporary Pausanias the rhetorician ; both appear to draw from some common source, which may be Krates' irepi dvaiuv : see Mannhardt, Wald- und Feldkulte, p. 219.

2 Harpocrat. s.v. 3 Etym. Mag. s.v.

4 Suidas s.v. ILMunr. 5 Schol. ad Ar. Plut. 1054.

6 Porph. de Abst. n. 7. The text contains obscure words, e.g. ei\v<nr6a of which Nauck observes loci medela nobis negata, but those translated above seem certain.

H. 6

82 Harvest Festivals [OH.

but that could easily be affiliated to any dominant god. It will be remembered 1 that Oineus got into trouble because, when all the other gods had their feasts of hecatombs, he did not offer first- fruits to Artemis, great daughter of Zeus. Oineus, we may con- jecture, was the faithful conservative worshipper of earlier gods ; the Athenians were wiser in their generation ; their ancient service of the primitive Helios and the Horae they somehow affiliated to that of the incoming Olympians.

It remains to ask more precisely what was the primitive signifi- cance of the offering of first-fruits. At first sight it may seem as if the question were superfluous. Surely we have here the simplest possible instance of the service of ' tendance ' (depa-rreia), the primitive sacrifice that embodies the very essence of do ut des, a gift given to the god to ' smooth his face,' a gift that necessarily presupposes the existence of a god with a face to be smoothed.

Such seems to have been the view of Aristotle 2 . He says in characteristically Greek fashion, ' They hold sacrifices, and meetings in connexion therewith, paying rites of worship to the gods while providing rest and recreation for themselves. For the most ancient sacrifices and meetings seem to be as it were offerings of first- fruits after the gathering in of the various harvests. For those were the times of year when the ancients were especially at leisure/ Aristotle clearly takes the view of sacrifice already discussed, that sacrifice is mainly an occasion for enjoyment and the result of leisure, but his remark as to its early connection with first-fruits goes deeper down than he himself knows. Regarded as a dva-ia, a sacrifice, the offering of first-fruits presupposes, as we have said, a god or spirit to whom sacrifice is made, and a god of human passions. But it must not be forgotten that in this view we are making a very large assumption, i.e. that of the existence of some such god or spirit. It is instructive to note that among other primitive races ceremonies have been observed which apparently are not addressed to any god or spirit, and yet which seem to contain in them a possible germ of some idea akin to sacrifice.

1 Iliad loc. cit. supra.

2 Aristot. Eth. Nic. 1160 G. ix. 5 dvctas re TTOLOVVTCS Kal Trepi Tairras <rvi>6dovs, rt/xcis <re> a-rrovefjiovTes rots deois /cat avrois avairafoei.* iropL^ovr^ /xe0' T)dovrjs. at yap

dpxcuat 6v<riai Kai crtfi/o5ot <f>aivovTai ylv<r6ai ^era ras T&V Kapir&v (TvyKOfJuSas olov dirapxat. fJidXiara yap tv Totfrots eaxoXafoi' rois Kaipols.

in] Removal of taboo 83

Such are the ceremonies of the Australian Arunba, observed and described in detail by Messrs Spencer and Gillen 1 . These ceremonies, consisting of lengthy and elaborate mummeries, are called Intichiuma, and their object seems to be to secure the increase of the animal or plant associated with a particular totem. The pantomimes enacted seem to be of the nature of sympathetic magic, and they are interspersed with chanted invitations to the particular plant or animal to be fertile. The point of special interest is that the ceremonies are closely connected with certain taboos on particular foods. Mr Lang 2 suggests that the removal of the taboo at the time of the Intichiuma may indicate that the necessary ' close time ' is over. The imposition of the taboo is on this showing not due to any primary moral instinct in man, but simply a practical necessity if the plant or animal is not to become extinct. The removal of the taboo after a suitable lapse of time is, if man himself is not to become extinct, equally practical and necessary. This sort of taboo is in fact a kind of primitive ' game law.' Philochoros 3 gives an instance : ' At Athens,' he says, ' a prohibition was issued that no one should eat of unshorn lamb on the occasion of failure in the breed of sheep.' If at the end of the close time it was customary to eat a little of a plant or animal, the eating being accompanied by certain solemn ceremonials, the food itself would easily come to be regarded as specially sacred and as having sacramental virtue, and the further step would soon be taken of regarding it as consecrated to certain spirits or divinities. This may have been in part the origin of the offering of first-fruits.

The removal of a taboo is assuredly not the same thing as the worship of a god, but it is easy to see how the one might slide over into the other. A taboo is by common consent placed upon the harvest fruits till all are ripe : such harvest-fruits are sacred, for- bidden, dangerous. Why ? As soon as primitive man has fashioned for himself any sort of god in his own image, the answer is ready, 'The Lord thy God is a jealous God.' Primitive man is so instinctively anthropomorphic that it seems to me rash to assert

1 Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes of Central Australia, pp. 167 ff.

2 A. Lang, Religion and Magic, p. 265.

3 Philoch. ap. Athen. i. 16 9 <t\6xpos 8t to-ropei Kal /ce/cwXC<r0cu 'A^^eri mfticfov apvos /j.i]8fra yevecrdac eTri\nrotiffi>)s irort rr}s T&V tywv TOIJTWV yev^ffews.


84 ffarvest Festivals [CH.

that the notion of taboo precedes that of sacrifice. The natives of Central Australia appear to have taboo without the notion of sacri- fice, i.e. of any spirit to whom sacrifice is made; another race might have a primitive notion of a spirit to be placated without the notion of taboo ; or the two might be inextricably blended and only our modern habit of pitiless analysis separate them.

Late writers on ritual, and it is only late that there are such writers, always explain taboo as consecration rather than prohibi- tion. Festus 1 says ' they called the juice of the vine sacrima because they sacrificed (or consecrated) it to Liber with a view to the protec- tion of the vineyards and the vessels and the wine itself, just as they sacrificed to Ceres a first harvest from the ears they had first reaped.' Here the ' sacramental ' wine is clearly a sacrifice of the Olympian kind ; but in the Pithoigia, already discussed, the more primitive notions of release from taboo and * aversion ' of evil influences clearly emerge. ' Libation of the new wine is poured out that the use of the magical thing (<j>ap/jLcifcov) may become harmless and a means of safety 2 .' In the Thargelia we have no definite information as to a solemn eating as well as offering of first-fruits, but this element will appear when we reach the great harvest festival commonly known as the Eleusinian Mysteries.

It remains to note some details as to the material of sacrifice. The general principle is clear and simple. The god fares as his worshipper. Porphyry 3 , in discussing the various kinds of animals sacrificed, observes with much common sense, ' No Greek sacrifices a camel or an elephant to the gods, because Greece does not produce camels and elephants.'

It might not be necessary to state a fact so obvious but that writers on the subject of ritual seem haunted by the notion that certain animals are sacrificed to certain gods because they are in some mystical sense ' sacred to them,' and this notion has intro- duced much needless complexity. It is quite true that locally we find certain taboos on the sacrifice of certain animals, the cause of

1 Fest. 318 sacrima appellabant mustum quod Libero sacrificabant, pro vineis et vasis et ipso vino conservando, sicut praemetium de spicis quas primum messuis- sent sacrificabant Cereri.

2 Plut. Q. Symp. in. 7. 1 /ecu TraXcu 7' d>s tomev etix VTO T v otvov irplv 77 TTLCIV airotnr^v8ovTS afiXafir) K.a.1 o'brrrjpioi' avrois rov (fiapfjiaKov TTJV

3 Porph. de Abst. i. 14.

in] Material of sacrifice 85

which is unknown, but these taboos are local and by no means uniform. Moreover the animal 'sacred' to the particular god is by no means always the material of sacrifice ; the owl, for reasons to be later discussed, is ' sacred ' to Athene, but we hear of no sacrifice of owls. Broadly then, as noted before, the material of sacrifice is conditioned, not by the character of the god, but by the circumstances of the worshipper.

The principle that the god fares as his worshipper is however crossed by another, he sometimes fares worse. This was noticed by writers on ritual such as Porphyry * and Eustathius 2 , and they explain it as a sort of survival of a golden age of simple manners, dear to the conservatism of the gods. This conservatism of the gods mirrors, of course, the natural and timid conservatism of their worshippers. They have begun by offering just what they eat them- selves, and, from the fact that they have once offered it, they attach to this food special sanctity. They advance in civilization, and their own food becomes more delicate and complex, but they dare not make any change in the diet of their gods ; they have learnt to bake and eat fermented bread themselves, but the gods are still nurtured on barley grains and porridge. Porphyry" reduces the successive stages of sacrifice to a regular system of progressive vegetarianism. First men plucked and offered grass, which was like the ' soft wool ' of the earth ; then the fruit of trees and their leaves, the acorn and the nut ; then barley appeared first of the grains, and they offered simple barley-corns ; then they broke and bruised grain and made it into cakes. In like fashion they made libations first of water, then of honey, the natural liquid prepared for us by bees, thirdly of oil, and last of all of wine ; but after each advance the older service remained ' in memory of the ancient manner of life/ Last, through diverse influences of ignorance and fear, came ' the luxury of flesh and imported forms of diet 4 /

The incoming of the luxury of flesh diet was, it has already been noted, due not to ignorance and fear but to the inroad of a flesh-eating Northern race whose splendid physical stature

1 Porph. de Abst. n. 56. The treatise of Porphyry, so far as it relates to sacrifice, is mainly based on the previous treatise of Theophrastos.

2 Eustath. ad II. i. 449 132. Porph. de Abst. n. 20.

4 Porph. loc. cit. /ierd. 5 TOUS ovXox^Ta^ ai dvcriai Kal i) ev avrats Kpekxpayla. SIOTL Kal fj.erci TT]v Tuv avayKatuv Tpo<f>wv etipefftv rj rrjs Kpewdanrias TroXurActa /ecu rb TTJS fijprjTa.1.

86 Harvest Festivals [CH.

and strength Porphyry was little likely to appreciate. They were not wholly flesh-eaters ; hence, as has been seen, they offered the sacrifice of the barley grains (ouXo^rat), and offered these at a time when they were themselves eating some form of manufactured bread. The primitive character of the rite is, I think, marked by the ritual precedence. The ovXo^vrai, the sprinkling of grains, has usually been explained as the sprinkling of meal on the heads of the victims, as the equivalent of the mola salsa of the Romans ; but Eustathius is probably right when, in commenting on the sacrifice of Nestor 1 , he says, 'the sprinkled grains are in memory of the food of old times which consisted in grains, i.e. barley-corns.' ' Hence/ he adds, ' one of the ancient commentators explains the sprinkled grains as barley-corns.' That OV\O%VTCU were nothing more nor less than the actual barley-corns is also shewn by a passage from Strato 2 . A cook, who apparently from his use of archaic termino- logy is according to his master more like a male sphinx than a cook, calls for

I OV\OXVTCU why what on earth is that?'

And the answer is

'Just barley-corns.'

The first act in a Homeric sacrifice was uniformly prayer and the sprinkling of grain 3 , and it is important to observe that Eustathius 4 expressly notes this as a previous sacrifice (jrpoOv^a} ; the ov\o%vTai, were, he says, a mixture of grain and salt poured on the altar before the sacrificial ceremony began. By the 'sacrificial ceremony' Eustathius means the slaying of the animal victim. It is important to note that the grain was poured on the altar and was therefore in itself a sacrifice, as it is sometimes stated that it was merely thrown on the head of the victim. The state- ment of Eustathius is confirmed by the account in Euripides 5

1 Eustath. ad Od. in. 440, 1476. 37 ws /cat oi ovXoxvrai T^S iraXaias rpocpTJs dve/jii/j-vijaKov rrjs re rQiv ot\wv, 8-jrep <JTI ruv KpiBwv, dib /cat roi)s ouXox^ras T&V TIS TraXcuwj' Kpi6as ijp^vevffev.

2 Strato ap. Athen. ix. 29 382.

3 For a full discussion of otfXcu and ovXox^rai see Dr H. von Fritze, Hermes 1897, p. 236.

4 Eustath. ad II. i. 449 132, 23 ei<rl 5 ov\ox^rai...Ta irpod>j(ji.aTa...oi ov\ai Tjffa.v TovrtffTi tcpidal /xerct d\uJ^ as ^Treyec? ro?s tfauiois irpb rris iepovpyias.

5 Eur. El 804


in] Sprinkling of grain 87

of the sacrifice made by Aegisthus to the Nymphs. Here, before the elaborate slaying of the bull, we have, just as in Homer, the sprinkling of the grain, and it is sprinkled on the altar. The Messenger tells Electra that when all was ready Aegisthus

'Took the grains for sprinkling and he cast them Upon the altar and these words he spake.'

The sprinkling of salted meal (mold salsa) was, if we may believe Athenaeus 1 , a later innovation. He tells us distinctly, quoting Athenion as his authority, that the use of salt for seasoning was a comparatively late discovery and therefore excluded from certain sacrifices to the gods.

'Whence even now, remembering days of old, The entrails of their victims for the gods They roast with fire and bring no salt thereto, Because at first they knew no use for salt. And even when they knew and loved its savour They kept their fathers' sacred written precepts.'

The sacrifice of the animal victim never in Homer takes place without the 'previous sacrifice' of grain-sprinkling and prayer, but prayer and grain-sprinkling can take place, as in the prayer of Penelope 2 , without the animal sacrifice. This looks as though the animal sacrifice were rather a supplementary later-added act than a necessary climax. Later, when animal sacrifice became common and even as a rule imperative, the real sacrificial intent of the preliminary grain-sprinkling would naturally become obscured and it would be brought into connection with animal sacrifice by the practice of sprinkling grain on the heads of the victims.

By Plutarch's 3 time the sprinkling of grain was regarded as something of an archaeological curiosity. He asks in his Greek Questions ' Who is he who is called among the Opuntians kritho- logos! i.e. the c barley collector ' ? The answer is ' Most of the Greeks make use of barley for their very ancient sacrifices when the citizens offer first-fruits. And the man who regulates these sacrifices and gets in these first-fruits is called krithologos! He adds a curious detail illustrative of the two strata of worship, ' and they had two priests, one to supervise divine things, one for those of things demonic.' In like archaic fashion, when Pisthetairos 4

1 Athen. xiv. 81 661. 2 Horn. Od. iv. 761.

3 Plut. Q. Gr. vi. 4 Alm Av> 622 .

88 Harvest Festivals [OH.

would inaugurate the blessed simplicity of bird-rule, he revives the ancient ritual of the sprinkling of barley-corns :

'O better than worship of Zeus Most High Is the service of Birds that sing and fly. They ask for no carven temple's state, They clamour not for a golden gate. The shrine they ask of a mortal's vow Is leave to perch on an olive bough. In the little thickets of ash and oak They dwell anigh us. We humble folk Never need fare to the far-off lands Of Ammon or Delphi, but lift our hands Under our vine and our fig-tree's shade. For a slender grace let our prayer be said, As we cast up our barley in little showers And a little grace from the Birds is ours.'

The barley grain sprinkled is part of the ritual of the Olympians, but in the case of the two survivals to be next considered, the pelanos and the nephalia, their use was almost wholly confined to, and characteristic of, the lower stratum of worship, that of ghosts and sprites and underworld divinities.

After the sacrifice of the natural fruits of the earth, the TrajKapTTia, comes the most primitive form of artificial food, i.e. the pelanos, a sort of porridge.

We speak of Bread and Wine as sacramental elements, but both are far removed from being elemental. Leavened bread, the Greek apro^, is a product of advanced civilization, and with a true conservative ritual instinct the Roman Church prescribes to this day the use of the unleavened wafer. Athenaeus 1 , citing the author of a play called the Beggars, tells us that when the Athenians set a meal in the Prytaneum for the Dioscuri they serve upon the tables cheese and barley-porridge ((frvo-rr/v) and chopped olives and leeks, making remembrance of their ancient mode of life. And Solon bids them supply to those who had free meals in the Prytaneum barley cake (jjua^av], but at feasts to place in addition loaves of bread (aprov), and this in imitation of Homer. For Homer, when he brought the chiefs together to Agamemnon, says 'they stirred up meal.' The words 'they stirred up meal,' <f>vpero S' a\.<f>iTa, do not occur in our text, but the author of the Beggars clearly refers to the ordinary Homeric meal, and takes us straight

1 Athen. iv. 14 137.

in] The pelanos 89

back to the real primitive meaning of pelanos. On the shield of Achilles 1 we have the picture of a harvest feast:

'The heralds dight the feast apart beneath a spreading oak, The ox they slew, and much white barley-meal the women folk Sprinkled, a supper for the thralls.'

The lord and his fellows feast on flesh-meat, the workmen have their supper of primitive porridge. So the Townley scholiast clearly understands the passage; he comments: iraXvvov, epacra-ov fj e(f>vpov, 'they sprinkle, i.e. they knead or mix together.' It is noticeable that he employs the exact word, efopov, quoted by Athenaeus as in the text of Homer 2 . To explain the passage as 'sprinkle on the heads of the victims or on the roast flesh' is to miss the whole antithesis between master and man. Eustathius 3 , that close observer of primitive fact, saw what was being done in Homer and doubtless still by the poor of his own days. He says 'to sprinkle barley-meal does not mean bread- making but a sort of paste in ordinary use among the ancients.' To any one who has watched the making of porridge, the shift of meaning from 7ra\v- vetv, to sprinkle, to (frvpetv and /judo-o-eiv, to stir and to knead, is natural and necessary. You first sprinkle the meal on the water, you then stir it, so far you have porridge ; if you let it get thicker and thicker you must knead it and then you have oat-cake. It has of course frequently been noted that a pelanos may be either fluid or solid, and herein lies the explanation. When the pelanos is thick and subjected to fire, baked, it becomes a pemma, an ordinary cake. The Latin libum 4 , a cake, is a strict parallel; it was primarily a thing out-poured, a libation, then a solid thing cooked and eaten.

A pelanos was then primarily the same as alphita, barley-meal.

1 Horn. II. xvni. 560.

2 The process of primitive bread-making is fully discussed by Prof. Benndorf (Eranos Vindobensis, p. 374), to whom I am indebted for the view here expressed. In Yorkshire within my own remembrance a rather repulsive mess of corn stewed in milk with currants was always eaten on Christmas Eve before the regular feast began. It was served as soup and called frummety.

3 Eustath. ad II. xvni. 563 rb d iraXtiveiv aX^ira ovde vvv dijXoi dproTrouav aXXot, r6 ^TTiTraor^ca ffvvrjdes ov rots TraXcuots, and again in discussing the feast of Eumaeus ( 1751, 33) 6 5' aX0ira Xevna firdXvvev, 5 eo"ru> irira<re Kara Zdos apxcuov TO

4 Varro L.L. v. 106 libum quod ut libaretur. The Latin puls and polenta are probably from the same root as irtXavos. Pliny (N.H. xvni. 19) says it is clear that in ancient days pulte non pane Romanes vixisse. He adds that to his day primitive rites and those on birthdays are carried on with pulse.

90 Harvest Festivals [OH.

The food of man was the food of the gods, but the word was early specialized off to ritual use. There is, I believe, no instance in which a pelanos, under that name, is eaten in daily life or indeed eaten at all save by Earth and underworld gods, their repre- sentative snakes and other Spirits of Aversion 1 . The comic poet Sannyrion 2 puts it thus :

  • We gods do call it pelanos,

You pompous mortals barley-meal.'

To us the pomposity seems on the side of the gods.

As there was a time when leavened bread was not, and men ate porridge cooked or uncooked, so before the coming of the vine men drank a honey drink. And as the conservative gods, long after men ate fermented bread, were faithful to their porridge, so long after men drank wine they still offered to the gods who were there before the coming of the vine 'wineless libations,' nephalia 3 .

The ritual of the underworld gods is in many respects identical with that of the ghosts out of which they are developed, but with this difference ghosts are less conservative than fully developed gods ; the habits and tastes of ghosts are more closely akin to those of the men who worship them. Quite early, it would appear, man offered to ghosts the wine he loved so well himself.

Atossa 4 brings for the ghost of Darius a pelanos, as was meet. She brings also all manner of ' soothing gifts ' (/j,ei\i/cTt]pi,a), but she pours wine also :

'A holy heifer's milk, white, fair to drink, Bright honey drops from flowers bee-distilled, With draughts of water from a virgin fount, And from the ancient vine its mother wild An unmixed draught, this gladness ; and fair fruit Of gleaming olive ever blossoming And woven flowers, children of mother earth.'

The dead fare as the living ; wine is added to milk and honey

1 Aesch. Pers. 204 d-rroTpdiroiat dalpoffi, and 523 777 re /ccd 00irots

2 Sannyr. frg. 1 Koch.

3 The sources for j/i70dXia are well collected and discussed by Dr von Fritze, De Libatione veterum Graecorum, Berlin 1893, also by Stengel, Hermes xxn. p. 645, and 'Chthonische und Totenkult' in Festschrift fur Friedlander, p. 418, and W. Earth, 'Bestattungsspende bei den Griechen,' Neue Jahrbiicher fur klass. Altertum. 1900, p. 177. W. Bartb draws distinctions between the cultus of the dead and that of chthonic divinities, which I think cannot be clearly made out.

4 Aesch. Pers. 607.

m] Nephalia 91

and olive oil and water, but wine perhaps significantly as an innovation is never named. Atossa seems also consciously to insist over much on its being wild, primitive, ancient, and therefore permissible. We are reminded of the religious shifts to which the Komans were put by the introduction of wine into their daily life and thence into their ritual. Plutarch 1 in his Roman Questions says that 'when the women poured libations of wine to Bona Dea, they called it by the name of milk/ and Macrobius 2 adds 'that wine could not be brought in under its own name, but the wine was called milk and the vessel containing it a honey-jar.'

The ghosts of the dead admit and even welcome the addition of wine, but actual chthonic divinities are stricter. When Oedipus 3 came to the precinct of the Semnae, the Chorus bid him make atonement, because, though unwittingly, he has violated the precinct. He asks the precise ritual to be observed. The answer, though it is thrice familiar, is so important for the understanding of chthonic ceremonies that it must be given in full :

1 Oed. Arid with what rites, strangers ? teach me this. Chor. First, fetch thou from an ever-flowing fount,

Borne in clean hands, an holy drink-offering. Oed. And next, when I have brought the holy draught ? Chor. Bowls are there next, a cunning craftsman's work,

Crown thou their lips and handles at the brim. Oed. With branches, woollen webs, or in what wise? Chor. Of the ewe-lamb take thou the fresh-shorn wool. Oed. So be it, and then to what last rite I pass? Chor. Pour thy drink offerings, facewards to the dawn. Oed. With these same vessels do I pour the draught? Chor. Yes, in three streams, the last pour wholly out. Oed. And filled wherewith this last ? teach me this also. Chor. Water and honey bring no wine thereto. Oed. When the dark shadowed earth hath drunk of this? Chor. Lay on it thrice nine sprays of olive tree

With both thine hands, and make thy prayer the while. Oed. That prayer? vouchsafe to teach, for mighty is it. Chor. Pray thou that, as they are called the Kindly Ones,

With kindly hearts they may receive and bless.

Be this thy prayer, thine own or his who prays

For thee. Whisper thy prayer nor lift thy voice,

Then go, look not behind, so all is well.'

The Kindly Ones, though their name is only adjectival, have

Plut. Q. R. xx. olvov 5' aftrrj crirtvdovcri. yd\a 7rpo<rayopeijov<rai.

2 Macr. i. 12. 25 quod vas in quo vinum inditum est mellarium nominetur et vdnum lac nuncupetur.

3 Soph. Oed. Col. 468.

92 Harvest Festivals [OH.

crystallized into divinities ; they are no longer ghosts, and none may tamper with their archaic ritual.

For the dread counterpart of the Eumenides, the Erinyes, there is the same wineless service, witness the reproach of Clytaemnestra. The Erinyes have deserted her, yet she has given them of the ritual they exact 1 :

'Full oft forsooth from me have ye licked up Wineless libations, sober balms of wrath.'

To offer wine was the last outrage done by the parvenu Apollo to ancient ritual, hence the bitter protest 2 :

  • Thou hast bewildered the old walks of life,

With wine the Ancient Goddesses undone.'

The wineless service of the Eumenides in the Oedipus Coloneus is of course no mere invention of the poet. At Titane near Sicyon Pausanias 3 came to a grove of evergreen oaks and a temple of the goddesses whom, he says, the Athenians call Semnae, but the Sicyonians Eumenides, and every year on one day they celebrate a festival in their honour, 'sacrificing sheep with young and a libation of water and honey'

The scholiast in the Oedipus Coloneus 4 gives a list of the divinities to whom at Athens wineless sacrifices were made. He quotes as his authority Polemon. 'The Athenians were careful in these matters and scrupulously pious (ocrioi) in the things that pertain to the gods, and they made wineless sacrifices to Mnemosyne the Muse, to Eos, to Helios, to Selene, to the Nymphs, to Aphrodite Ourania.' The list is at first surprising. We associate nephalia with the Underworld powers, but here it is quite clear that, in primitive days, side by side with the Earth-gods were worshipped sky-gods, but in their own simple being as Dawn and Sun and Moon, not as full-blown human Olympians. Mnemosyne 6 , it will later be seen, had a well of living water herself; she needed no wine. The Heavenly Aphrodite is more surprising, but her honey libation is further attested by Empedokles 6 . He

1 Aesch. Eum. 104. 2 Aesch. Eum. 727.

3 P. ii. 11. 3. The relation between the Semnae and the Eumenides and the ritual of the Semnae, which is identical with that of the Eumenides, will be discussed later in Chapter v.

4 Schol. ad Oed. Col. 100. 5 Porph. de antr. Nymph. 1. 6 Emped. frg. ap. Porph. de Abst. n. 21.

in] The fireless sacrifice 93

tells of the days long ago when the god Ares was not, nor King Zeus, nor Kronos, nor Poseidon, but only

' Kypris the Queen Here they adored with pious images, With painted victims and with fragrant scents, With fume of frankincense and genuine myrrh. Honey of yellow bees upon the ground They for libation poured.'

But though here and there a very early 'Heavenly One' claimed the honey service, it was mostly the meed of the dead. Porphyry knew that honey was used to embalm the body of the dead because it prevented putrefaction, and this custom of honey burial is echoed in the myth of Glaukos and the honey-jar. The marvellous sweetness of honey lent itself to the notions of propitiation and placation 'sweets to the sweet' or rather, as it seemed to the practical primitive mind, 'sweets to the spirits to be sweetened,' the Meilichioi, ghosts and heroes to be appeased 1 .

One more element in archaic ritual yet remains to be con- sidered the fireless sacrifice.

Fire, it has been seen, was used in the Homeric burnt sacrifice Jor sublimation. By fire, Eustathius 2 says in speaking of the burning of the dead among the northern nations, 'the divine element was borne on high as though in a chariot and mingled with the heavenly beings.' In like fashion we may suppose the burnt victim was freed from the grosser elements and in purified vaporous form ascended to the gods of the upper air. This is what Porphyry 3 means when he says that in burnt sacrifice we 'immortalize the dues of the heavenly gods by means of fire.' Fire again in the service of the underworld gods was used, it has further been seen, for utter destruction, for the holocaust. But in certain rituals established, it may be, before the discovery of fire, it was definitely prescribed that the sacrifice should be fireless. Diogenes Laertius 4 relates that according to tradition there was but one altar in Delos at which Pythagoras could worship, the 'Altar of Apollo the Sire,' which stood behind the great Altar of the Horns, because on this altar wheat and barley and cakes are

1 Some further points as to the Nephalia will be considered in relation to the Eleusinian ritual (p. 150), and the Orphic mysteries (Chapter x.).

2 Eustath. ad II. i. 52. For a full discussion of the purport of cremation see Prof. Eidgeway, Early Age of Greece i. p. 540.

3 Porph. de Abst. n. 5. 4 Diog. Laert. vm. 13.

94 Harvest Festivals [OH.

the only offering laid and the sacrifice is without fire and there is no sacrificial victim so Aristotle stated in his Constitution of the Delians. This altar was also known as the Altar of the Pious. The foundation of the great blood-stained Altar of the Horns may still be seen in Delos ; the primitive Altar of the Sire has left no trace, but in some bygone time a voice, it would seem, had been heard on Mount Cynthus saying, 'Thou shalt not hurt nor destroy in all my Holy Mountain.'

What ancient worship of a ' Sire ' Apollo had taken to himself in Delos we do not know, but in remote Arcadia a fireless sacrifice of a specially simple kind went on right down to the time of Pausanias 1 in honour of a home-grown goddess, Demeter. At Phigalia Pausanias visited the cave-sanctuary of the Black Demeter ; indeed he says in his pious way it was chiefly for her sake that he went to Phigalia, and he adds 'I sacrificed no victim to the goddess, such being the custom of the people of the country. They bring instead as offerings the fruit of the vine and of other trees they cultivate, and honey-combs and wool which is still unwrought and full of the natural grease; these they lay on the altar which is set up in front of the cave, and having laid them there they pour on them olive oil. Such is the rite of sacrifice observed by private persons and once a year by the Phigalian people collectively.' Everything here prescribed is in its most natural form, grapes rather than wine, honey-comb rather than honey, unwrought wool not artificial fillets, and the service is fireless. It was a service to content even Pythagoras.

That there was between the early fireless sacrifice and the burnt sacrifice of the Olympian in some prehistoric time a rivalry and clashing of interests, is clear from the Rhodian tradition of the Heliadae. Pindar 2 tells how :

' Up to the hill they came,

Yet in their hand No seed of burning flame,

And for the Rhodian land With fireless rite The grove upon the citadel they dight.'

And the scholiast commenting on the passage says : ' The Rhodians going up to the Acropolis to sacrifice to Athene, forgot

1 P. vni. 42. 5. 2 Find. 01. vn. 47, schol. ad loc.

m] The PkarmaJcos 95

to take fire with them for their offerings (evayio-^ao-i) and made a fireless sacrifice. Hence it came about that, as the Athenians were the first to sacrifice by fire, Athene thought it best to live with them/ Athene was always a prudent goddess, ready to swim with the tide; she was 'all for the father,' all for the Olympians, and she had her reward. Philostratos 1 tells the same story with something more of emphasis. He contrasts the Acropolis of Athens and the Acropolis of Rhodes ; the Rhodians had only a fireless cheap service, the people of Athens provide the savour of burnt sacrifice and fragrant smoke ; the goddess went to live with them because ' they were wiser in their generation (crofarepovs) and good at sacrificing.' From Diodorus 2 we learn that it was Cecrops who introduced the fire-sacrifice at Athens. On Cecrops were fathered many of the innovations of civilized life, among them marriage. He was halfway between the old and the new, half civilized man, half snake. He, Pausanias 3 significantly tells us, was the first to give to Zeus the name of the Highest. He too became all for the Olympian.

These forms of primitive sacrifice the pelanos, the barley grains, the nephalia, the fireless rites have been considered at some length because, though in part they went over to the Olympians, they remain broadly speaking and in their simplest forms characteristic of the lower stratum and of the worship of underworld spirits. Moreover it is these primitive rites which were, as will later be seen, taken up and mysticized by the religion of Orpheus.

It remains to consider the second and by far the most im- portant element in the harvest festival of the Thargelia, the ceremony of the Pharmakos.


That the leading out of the pharmakos was a part of the festival of the Thargelia we know from Harpocration 4 . He says in commenting on the word : 'At Athens they led out two men to be purifications for the city ; it was at the Thargelia, one was

1 Philostrat. Eik. u. 27 852. 2 Diod. v. 56.

3 P. vin. 2. 2. 4 Harpocrat. s.v. 0ap/Aa/c6s.

96 Harvest Festivals [CH.

for the men and the other for the women.' These men, these phar- makoi, whose function it was to purify the city, were, it will later be seen, in all probability put to death, but the expression used by Harpocration is noteworthy they were led out. The gist of the ceremony is not death but expulsion; death, if it. occurs, is incidental.

The ceremony of expulsion took place, it is again practically certain, on the 6th day of Thargelion, a day not lightly to be forgotten, for it was the birthday of Socrates. Diogenes Laertius 1 says in his life of Socrates: 'He was born on the 6th day of Thargelion, the day when the Athenians purify the city.' The pharmakos is not expressly named, but it will be seen in the sequel that the cleansing of the city by the expulsion of the pharmakos was regarded as the typical purification of the whole year. The etymology of the word will be best considered when the nature of the rites has been examined 2 .

The ceremony of the pharmakos has been often discussed, but I think frequently and fundamentally misapprehended. It appears at first sight to involve what we in our modern termino- logy call 'Human Sacrifice.' To be told that this went on in civilized Athens in the 5th cent. B.C. shocks our preconceived notions of what an Athenian of that time would be likely to do or suffer. The result is that we are inclined to get out of the difficulty in one of two ways : either we try to relegate the ceremony of the pharmakos to the region of prehistoric tradition, or we so modify and mollify its main issues as to make it un- meaning.

The issue before us is a double one and must not be confused. We have to determine what the ceremonial of the pharmakos was, and next, did that ceremonial last on into historic times?

My own view is briefly this : that we have no positive evidence that it did last on into the 5th century B.C., but that, if the gist of the ceremonial is once fairly understood, there is no a priori difficulty about its continuance, and that, this a priori difficulty being removed, we shall accept an overwhelming probability. The evidence for the historical pharmakos is just as good as

1 Diog. Laert. n. 4.

2 Classical sources for the pharmakos are most fully enumerated by Mannhardt, Myth. Forschungen, pp. 123, 133. For primitive analogies see Frazer, Golden Bough, 2nd ed., vol. in. p. 93, from whom I have taken the instances adduced.

m] The Pharmakos 97

e.g. the evidence for the chewing of the buckthorn at the Anthesteria.

It should be noted at the outset that the pharmakos, i.e. the human scape-goat, though it seems to us a monstrous and horrible notion, was one so familiar to the Greek mind as to be in Attic literature practically proverbial. Aristophanes 1 wants to point the contrast between the old mint of sterling state officials and the new democratic coinage: he says, now-a-days we fill offices by

'Any chance man that we come across,

Not fit in old days for a pharmakos,

These we use

And these we choose,

The veriest scum, the mere refuse,'

and again in a fragment 2 :

' Your kinsman ! how and whence, you pharmakos,' and in the Knights 3 Demos says to Agoracritos :

'I bid you take the seat In the Prytaneum where this pharmakos Was wont to sit.'

Pharmakos is in fact, like its equivalent * offscouring ' (rcdOapfjia), a current form of utter abuse, disgust and contempt.

Moreover its ritual import was perfectly familiar. Lysias 4 in his speech against Andokides is explicit : * We needs must hold that in avenging ourselves and ridding ourselves of Andokides we purify the city and perform apotropaic ceremonies, and solemnly expel a pharmakos and rid ourselves of a criminal; for of this sort the fellow is.'

For the fullest details of the horrid ceremony we are indebted to a very late author. Tzetzes 5 (A.D. 1150) in his Thousand

1 Ar. Ean. 734. 2 Ar. frg. 532. 3 Ar. Eq. 1405.

4 Lys. c. Andok. 108. 4 : vvv ovv xpy vo^L^eiv Tiuupovfj.tvovs /cat djraXXaTTOfjievovs 'AvdoKidov TT)v ir6\iv nadaipeiv /cat dTroSiorrofjiirei(r6ai Kal <pap[j,aK6v dTroir^treiv Kal &\iri)piov ctTraXXaTTecrflat, u>s v TOVTUV ovrds eart.

5 Fragments of Hipponax (6th cent. B.C.) incorporated by Tzetzes Hist. 23. 726756 :

T TO Kadapfta; 6 0apjtta/c6s rb Kadapp.a TOIOVTOV TJV rb ird\ai.

efr' ovv Xtyuos ei're Xot/ios etre /ecu /3Xa/3os aXXo, T&V TTCLVTWV yyov ws ?rpds dvalav et's Kal <f>dp/j(,aKov TroXews TTJS vocroija-rjs. els rbirov de TOV irp6(T<f)opov aTr)<ra.vTes TTJV dvcrlav rvpov re dovres rfj xetpi /cat fj,dfav /cat eTrrd/cts yap pairLoavres eKeivov e/s rb T

98 Harvest Festivals [CH.

Histories describes it as follows : ' The pharmakos was a purifi- cation of this sort of old. If a calamity overtook the city by the wrath of God, whether it were famine or pestilence or any other mischief, they led forth as though to a sacrifice the most unsightly of them all as a purification and a remedy to the suffering city. They set the sacrifice in the appointed place, and gave him cheese with their hands and a barley cake and figs, and seven times they smote him with leeks and wild figs and other wild plants. Finally they burnt him with fire with the wood of wild trees and scattered the ashes into the sea and to the winds, for a purification, as I said, of the suffering city. Just as, I think, Lycophron records it of the Locrian maidens, speaking somewhat after this manner, I do not remember the exact verse, "when, having consumed their limbs with fuel from fruitless trees, the flame of fire cast into the sea the ashes of the maidens that died on the hill of Traron." '

Tzetzes is not inventing the ceremonies, and in his awkward confused way he goes on to tell us his source the iambic poet Hipponax. 'And Hipponax gives us the best complete account of the custom when he says, ' to purify the city and strike (the pharmakos) with branches, and in another place he says in his first iambic poem, ' striking him in the meadow and beating him with branches and with leeks like a pharmakos'] and again in other places he says as follows : ' we must make of him a pharmakos ' ; and he says, 'offering him figs and a barley cake and cheese such as pharmakoi eat ' ; and ' they have long been waiting agape for them t holding branches in their hands as pharmakoi do ' ; and some-

s, (TVKCUS dypiais re /cat aXXots rQ>v dypiwv,

TTVpl KO.TtKO.LOV tv tfX<U5 TOIS dyptoiS,

Kal rbv o-woobv els daXacffav tppaivov Kal avfaovs Kal KaQapfJtbv TTJS 7r6Xea;s ws ^t\v TTJS

6 8t 'l7T7rtDj>a apto-ra <njfJ.Trav TO tdos \tyet

1 7r6Xii> KaOaipeiv Kal Kpddrj(ri /3aXXe<r0ai /cat aXXa%ou 5 woti <f>rfo~t Trpciry /d/x./3y ypd^uv

2 fid\\ovTes ev \ei/j.wvi. /cat Kpddrjffi Kal <rKl\\Tj<rLV uxrirep

/cat TraXtv aXXots TOTTOLS 8 TO.VTO. ^TJCTI /car' TTOS

3 5et 5' avTbv es <f>a.p/j.a.Kbv

4 K0,<j>ri iraptt-eiv ^xaSas re Ka.1 KO.I Tvpbv olov tffdiovfft. (f>apfj.a.Kol.

5 TraXai yap auroiis Trpo<rd^x ovTa ( i ) X a < rKOVTes Kpddas ZXOVTCS ws ZXOVGI <f>apfiaKol.

Kal dXXaxou 8t TTOV <j>rj<Tiv ev r^J aury id/J.^

6 Xt//,< ytvr/Tai %r)pb$ ws tv Tip


in] The Pharmakos 99

where else he says in the same iambic poem, ' may he be parched with hunger, so that in (their) anger he may be led as pharmakos and beaten seven times!

Tzetzes quotes for us six fragmentary statements from Hipponax, and the words of Hipponax correspond so closely in every detail with his own account that we are justified in sup- posing that his account of the end of the ceremonial, the burning and scattering of the ashes, is also borrowed; but the evidence of this from Hipponax he omits.

Hipponax makes his statements apparently, not from any abstract interest in ritual, but as part of an insult levelled at his enemy Boupalos. This is made almost certain by another frag- ment of Hipponax 1 in which he says, ' as they uttered impreca- tions against that abomination (#709) Boupalos.' The fragments belong obviously to one or more iambic poems in which Hipponax -expresses the hope that Boupalos will share the fate of a phar- makos, will be insulted, beaten, driven out of the city, and at last presumably put to death. Hipponax is not describing an actual historical ceremony, but to make his insults have any point he must have been alluding to a ritual that was, in the 6th century B.C., perfectly familiar to his hearers.

Some of the statements of Hipponax as to the details of the ritual are confirmed from other sources, and are given in these with certain slight variations which seem to show that Hipponax was not the only source of information.

Helladius 2 the Byzantine, quoted by Photius, says that 'it was the custom at Athens to lead in procession two pharmakoi with a view to purification ; one for the men, one for the women. The pharmakos of the men had black figs round his neck, the other had white ones, and he says they were called crvfBaic'xpi,? Helladius added that ' this purification was of the nature of an apotropaic ceremony to avert diseases, and that it took its rise from An- drogeos the Cretan, when at Athens the Athenians suffered abnormally from a pestilential disease, and the custom obtained of constantly purifying the city by pharmakoi/

The man and woman and the black and white figs are variant details. Helladius is our sole authority for the curious name

1 Hippon. frg. 11 (4) tbs ol M^ oiye'C BouTrdXy KaTrjpwvTO.

2 Hellad. ap. Phot. Bibl. c. 279, p. 534.


100 Harvest Festivals [CH.

what this means is not certain. The term may have

meant ' pig-Bacchoi.' The Bacchoi, as will later be seen, were sacred and specially purified persons with magical powers, and the term may have been applied to mark analogous functions. Crete was the home of ceremonies of purification.

Harpocration, in the passage already quoted, confirms the view that there were two pharmakoi, but he says they were both men : one for the women, one for the men. The discrepancy is not serious. It would be quite easy if necessary to dress up a man as a woman, and even a string of white figs would be sufficient presentment of gender; simulata pro veris is a principle of wide acceptation in primitive ritual.

The beating of the pharmakoi was a point of cardinal im- portance. It was a ceremonial affair and done to the sound of the flute. Hesychius 1 says, 'The song of the branches is a measure that they play on the flute when the pharmakoi are expelled, they being beaten with branches and fig sprigs. The pharmakos was actually called " he of the branches.'" It must have been a matter of very early observation that beating is expulsive. You beat a bush, a bird escapes ; you beat a garment, the dust comes out ; you beat a man, the evil, whatever it be, will surely emerge. We associate beating with moral stimulus, but the first notion is clearly expulsive.

Probably some notion of the application or instigation of good as well as the expulsion of evil early came in. This may be conjectured from the fact that rods made of special plants and trees were used, notably leeks and fig-trees. Plants with strong smells, and plants the eating of which is purgative, are naturally regarded as 'good medicine'; as expulsive of evil, and hence in a secondary way as promotive of good.

Pythagoras 2 taught that to have a leek hung up over a door- way was a good thing to prevent the entrance of evil, and Dioscorides 3 records the same belief. Lucian 4 makes Menippus relate how before he was allowed to consult the oracle of the dead he was 'purged and, wiped clean and consecrated with leek and torches.'

1 Hesych. s.v. Kpadirjs i>6//,os. 2 Plin. N.H. xx. 9. 39.

3 Diosc. de mat. med. n. 202.

4 Luc. Nek. 7 eKadrjpt re /x,e /cat a7reyuae icai irepf/iyviffe SaStotj /cat cr/dAX?/.

m] The Pharmakos 101

The locus classicus on beating with leek is of course the beating of the god Pan by his Arcadian worshippers. Theocritus 1 makes Simichidas sing :

' Dear Pan, if this my prayer may granted be Then never shall the boys of Arcady Flog thee on back arid flank with leeks that sting When scanty meat is left for offering ; If not, thy skin with nails be flayed and torn And amid nettles mayst thou couch till morn.'

And the scholiast remarks, ' they say that a festival was held in Arcadia in which the youths beat Pan with leeks when the officials sacrificed a small victim, and there was not enough to eat for the worshipper; or the Arcadians when they went out hunting if they had good sport paid honour to Pan ; if the reverse they maltreated him with leeks because, being a mountain god, he had power over the produce of the chase.' The first explanation confuses cause with effect, the second is undoubtedly right. Pan is beaten because, as lord of the chase, he has failed to do his business.

It is sometimes said that Pan is beaten, and the pharmakoi beaten, in order to 'stimulate their powers of fertility.' In a sense this is ultimately true, but such a statement gives a false and misleading emphasis. The image and the pharmakoi are beaten partly to drive out evil influences, partly, it should not be for- gotten, to relieve the feelings of the beaters. When the evil influences are beaten out, the god will undoubtedly do better next time, but it is only in this sense that the powers of fertility are stimulated. The pharmakos has no second chance. He is utterly impure, so that the more purifying influences, the more good medicine brought to bear upon him, the better ; but he is doomed to death, not to reform. In the Lupercalia, already discussed (p. 51), the women are struck by the februum as a fertility charm, but even here the primary notion must have been the expulsion of evil influences.

The beating, like the pharmakos, became proverbial. Aristo- phanes 2 makes Aeacus ask how he is to torture the supposed Xanthias, and the real Xanthias makes answer :

' Oh, in the usual way, but when you beat him Don't do it with a leek or a young onion.'

1 Theocr. Id. vn. 104, schol. ad loc. 2 Ar. Ran. 620.

102 Harvest Festivals [OH.

Here undoubtedly the meaning is, ' don't let this be a merely ceremonial beating, a religious performance,' and the allusion gains in point by the fact that the supposed slave was a real god to be treated worse than a pharmakos. Lucian 1 says that the Muses, he is sure, would never deign to come near his vulgar book- buyer, and instead of giving him a crown of myrtle they will beat him with myrrh and mallow and get rid of him, so that he may not pollute their sacred fountains. Clearly here the vulgar book- buyer is a pharmakos.

We have then abundant evidence that the pharmakos was beaten; was he also put to death? Tzetzes, as has been seen, states that he was burnt with the wood of certain fruitless trees, and that his ashes were scattered to the sea and the winds. The scholiast on Aristophanes 2 also states expressly that by Srj/JLoo-ioi, i.e. people fed and kept at the public expense, was meant ' those who were called pharmakoi, and these pharmakoi purified cities by their slaughter.' So far his statement is of the most general character, and it need not have been inferred that he was speaking of Athens, but he goes on, ' for the Athenians maintained certain very ignoble and useless persons, and on the occasion of any calamity befalling the city, I mean a pestilence or anything of that sort, they sacrificed these persons with a view to purification from pollution and they called them purifications ' Tzetzes said a pharmakos was excessively ungainly , the scholiast, worthless and useless. Aristophanes himself regarded them as the ' scum ' of humanity.

The scholiast is of course a late and somewhat dubious authority, and did the fact of the death of the pharmakos rest on him and on Tzetzes alone, we might be inclined to question it. A better authority is preserved for us by Harpocration 3 ; he says, ' Istros (circ. B.C. 230), in the first book of his Epiphanies of Apollo, says that Pharmakos is a proper name, and that Pharmakos stole sacred phialae belonging to Apollo, and was taken and stoned by the men with Achilles, and the ceremonies done at the Thargelia are mimetic representations of these things.' The aetiology of Istros

1 Luc. Indoct. 1. 2 Schol. ad Ar. Eq. 1136.

3 Harpocrat. s.v. 0ap/xa/f6s* 6Vt 5 ovo/j-a ittpi6v ianv 6 (pap/ut.aK6$, iepas d 0idXas TOW 'ATToXXwj'oj K\\//as Kal ctXous virb TWV irepi rbv 'A%t\X^a KareXevcrdri, Kai TCL rots QapyrjXLois aybjjieva. TOVTWV aTro/ui/xiftuard fonv, "Iffrpos ev Tr/Jwry TU>V

m] The Pharmakos 103

is of course wrong, but it is quite clear that he believed the cerenonies of the Thargelia to include the stoning of a man to deatn.

That in primitive pharmakos-ceremonies the human phar- makos was actually put to death scarcely admits of doubt : that Isti os believed this took place at the ceremony of the Thargelia in horour of Apollo may be inferred from his aetiology. There still remains in the minds of some a feeling that the Athens of the fifth century was too civilized a place to have suffered the actual death of human victims, and that periodically, as part of a public state ritual. This misgiving arises mainly, as was indi- cated at the outset, from a misunderstanding of the gist of the ceremony. Tzetzes, after the manner of his day, calls it a Ovala, a burnt sacrifice ; but it was not really a sacrifice in our modern sense at all, though, as will later be shown, it was one of the diverse notions that went to the making of the ancient idea of sacrifice.

The pharmakos was not a sacrifice in the sense of an offering made to appease an angry god. It came to be associated with Apollo when he took over the Thargelia, but primarily it was not intended to please or to appease any spirit or god. It was, as ancient authors repeatedly insist, a KaOappos, a purification. The essence of the ritual was not atonement, for there was no one to atone, but riddance, the artificial making of an ayos, a pollution, to get rid of all pollution. The notion, so foreign to our scientific habit of thought, so familiar to the ancients, was that evil of all kinds was a physical infection that could be caught and trans- ferred ; it was highly catching. Next, some logical savage saw that the notion could be utilized for artificial riddance. The Dyaks 1 sweep misfortunes out of their houses and put them into a toy-house made of bamboo ; this they set adrift on a river. On the occasion of a recent outbreak of influenza in Pithuria 'a man had a small carriage made, after a plan of his own, for a pair of scape- goats which were harnessed to it and driven to a wood at some distance where they were let loose. From that hour the disease completely ceased in the town. The goats never returned ; had they done so the disease must have come back with them.' It

1 For these modern savage analogies and many others see Dr Frazer, Golden Bough, 2nd ed., vol. in. p. 93.

104 Harvest Festivals [CH.

is needless for our purpose to accumulate instances of the count- less varieties of scape-goats, carts, cocks, boats, that the ingenuity of primitive man has invented. The instance chosen shows as clearly as possible that, as the gist of the ceremony is magical riddance, it is essential that the scape-goat, whatever form he takes, should never return.

This necessity for utter destruction comes out very clearly in an account of the way the Egyptians treated their scape-goats. Plutarch 1 in his discourse on Isis and Osiris says, on the authority of Manetho, that in the dog-days they used to burn men alive whom they called Typhonians, and their ashes they made away with by winnowing and scattering them. The winnowing-fan in which the corn was tossed and by means of which the chaff was blown utterly away was to Clement of Alexandria 2 the symbol of utter ruin and destruction. In his protest against the ruinous force of convention among pagan people, he says finely : ' let us fly from convention, it strangles men, it turns them away from truth, it leads them afar from life; convention is a noose, a place of execution, a pit, a winnowing-fan ; convention is ruin.'

The pharmakos is killed then, not because his death is a vicarious sacrifice, but because he is so infected and tabooed that his life is a practical impossibility. The uneducated, among whom his lot would necessarily be cast, regard him as an infected horror, an incarnate pollution; the educated who believe no such nonsense know that the kindest thing is to put an end to a life that is worse than death. Moreover nearly every civilized state to this day offers 'human sacrifice' in the shape of the criminals it executes. Why not combine religious tradition with a supposed judicial necessity ? Civilized Athens had its barathron ; why should civilized Athens shrink from annually utilizing two vicious and already condemned criminals to ' purify the city ' ?

The question of whether the pharmakos was actually put to death in civilized Athens is of course for our purpose a strictly subordinate one. It has only been discussed in detail because the answer that we return to it depends in great measure on how

1 Plut. de Is. et Os. LXXIII. favras avdp&irovs KaTeirL^Trpaaav us Mavedws iffrbpriKe Tv<j>(i}viovs KaXovvres Kal rty rtypav avr&v XiK/iwj/res 17$ dvifrv Kal Sitairetpov.

2 Clem. Al. Protr. xn. 118 Qtyunev ovv rrjv avvi\Q^^x^ T ^ v avdpuirov, rrjs aXrjdelas aTrorp^Trei, aTrcryei TTJS fays, Trayis effrlv fioipadpbv tanv fiodpos earl \(KVOV to-riv,

in] The Pharmakos 105

far we realize the primary gist of a pharmakos, i.e. the two notions of (a) the physicalness, the actuality of evil, and (b) the possibility of contagion and transfer.

Our whole modern conception of the scape-man is apt to be unduly influenced by the familiar instance of the Hebrew scape- goat. We remember how

4 The scape-goat stood all skin and bone While moral business, not his own, Was bound about his head.'

And the pathos of the proceeding haunts our minds and prevents us from realizing the actuality and the practicality of the more primitive physical taboo. It is interesting to note that even in this moralized Hebrew conception, the scape-goat was not a sacri6ce proper; its sending away was preceded by sacrifice. The priest ' made an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year,' and when the sacrifice of bullock and goat and the burning of incense, and the sprinkling of blood was over, then and not till then the live goat was presented to the Lord 1 . The Hebrew scriptures emphasize the fact that the burden laid upon the goat is not merely physical evil, not pestilence or famine, but rather the burden of moral guilt. 'And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness. And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities into a land not inhabited.'

But so close is the connection of moral and physical that even here, where the evil laid upon the scape-goat is moral only, there is evident danger of infection ; the goat is sent forth into a land not inhabited and it would be manifestly undesirable that he should return. At Athens we hear of no confession of sins, it is famine and pestilence from which a terror-stricken city seeks riddance.

This physical aspect of evil is still more clearly brought out in a ceremony performed annually at Chaeronea. Plutarch 2 him- self, when he was archon, had to preside over the ritual and has

1 Lev. xvi. 21, and for the Egyptian scape-animal see Herod, n. 39.

2 Plut. Q. Symp. vi. 8.

106 Harvest Festivals [CH.

left us the account. A household slave was taken and ceremonially beaten with rods of agnus castus again a plant of cathartic quality and driven out of doors to the words, 'Out with hunger, in with wealth and health.' The ceremony was called the ' expulsion of hunger/ and Plutarch speaks of it as an 'ancestral sacrifice.' It was performed by each householder for his own house, and by the archon for the common hearth of the city. When Plutarch was archon he tells us the ceremony was largely attended. The name of the ' ceremony ' is instructive, it is e'f ekaai?, riddance, ex- pulsion, riot as the pharmakos was, KaOappos, purification ; both are called Ovo-iat, sacrifices, only by concession to popular usage when every religious ceremony is regarded as of the nature of burnt sacrifice. The ceremony of the pharmakos was taken on by Apollo, but in the Chaeronea 'expulsion' there is no pretence that any god is worshipped ; the performance remains frankly magical.

At Chaeronea the slave was merely beaten and expelled. At Delphi a pharmakos ceremony of still milder form took place in which the victim was merely a puppet.

In his 12th Greek Question Plutarch asks, 'What is Charila among the Delphians?' His answer is as follows: 'Concerning Charila they tell a story something on this wise. The Delphians were afflicted by a famine following after a drought. They came to the gates of the king's palace with their children and their wives to make supplication. And the king distributed grain and pulse to the noblest of them as there was not enough for all. And there came a little girl who had lost both her father and mother, and she made supplication. But he struck her with his shoe and threw the shoe into her face. Now she was poor and desolate but of noble spirit, and she went away and loosed her girdle and hanged herself. As the famine went on and pestilence was added thereto, the Pythia gave an oracle to the king that he must appease Charila, a maiden who had died by her own hand. After some difficulty they found out that this was the name of the girl who had been struck. So they performed a sacrifice which had in it some admixture of a purification, and this they still perform every nine years.'

The tale told of Charila is, of course, pure aetiology, to account for certain features in an established ritual. The expression

in] Charila 107

Plutarch uses, a ' sacrifice with admixture of purification ' fAevrfv nva Ka6ap^ov Qvaiav), is interesting because it shows that though by his time almost every religious ceremony was called a Ovala, his mind is haunted by the feeling that the Charila ceremony was in reality a purification, a KaOappos; he would have been nearer the truth had he said it was a 'purification containing in it a certain element of sacrifice.

He then proceeds to give the actual ritual. 'The king is seated to preside over the pulse and the grain and he distributes it to all, both citizens and strangers: there is brought in an image of Charila as a little girl, and when they all receive the corn, the king strikes the image with his shoe and the leader of the Thyiades takes the image and conducts it to a certain cavernous place, and there fastening (a rope) round the neck of the image they bury it where they buried the strangled Charila.'

The festival Charila, festival of rejoicing and grace, is like the Thargelia, a festival of first-fruits containing the ceremony of the Pharmakos, only in effigy. Charila is beaten with a shoe: leather is to this day regarded as magically expulsive, though the modern surrogate is of white satin. On a curious vase in the National Museum at Athens 1 , we have a representation of a wedding procession at which a man is in the act of throwing a shoe. It is still to-day regarded as desirable that bride and bridegroom should be hit, evil influences are thereby expelled, and the shower of fertilizing rice is made the more efficacious. The effigy of Charila is buried, not burnt, possibly a more primitive form of destruction. The origin of the ceremony is dated back to the time when the king was priest, but the actual celebrants are women.

A pharmakos ceremony that is known to have taken place at Marseilles adds some further instructive details. Servius, in com- menting on the words auri sacra fames* 'accursed hunger of gold/ notes that sacer may mean accursed as well as holy, and he seems, rather vaguely, to realize that between these two meanings is the

1 My attention was kindly drawn to this vase by M. Perdrizet who proposes shortly to publish it. Suidas (s.v. etdu\ov) seems to refer to the Charila ceremony, KeXeuei i] Hv6ia et5u\6v TL Trir\affp.frov et's 6\f/u> yvvaiKbs ywer&t>/ooj> ^aprav /cat aveppw<r6r) T? 7r6Xis. For this and the oscilla ceremonies and the analogy of Artemis dirayxo^vr) (P. vin. 23. 7) see Lobeck, Aglaoph. p. 175. The beating of the female slave in the temple of Leucothea (Plut. Q. R. xvi.) seems to have been based on a racial taboo, but a (fxap^oiKb^ ceremony may underlie it.

3 Serv. ad Verg. Aen. in. 75.

108 Harvest Festivals [CH.

middle term ' devoted.' The use of the term, he says, is derived from a custom among the Gauls : ' Whenever the inhabitants of Marseilles suffer from a pestilence, one of the poorer class offers himself to be kept at the public expense and fed on specially pure foods. After this has been done he is decorated with sacred boughs and clad in holy garments, and led about through the whole city to the accompaniment of curses, in order that upon him may fall all the ills of the whole city, and thus he is cast headlong down.'

. Here we have the curious added touch that the vehicle of impurity is purified. To our modern minds pure and impure stand at two opposite poles, and if we were arraying a scape-goat we certainly should not trouble about his preliminary purification. But the ancients, as Servius dimly feels, knew of a condition that combined the two, the condition that the savage describes as ' taboo.' For this condition the Latins used the word ' sacer,' the Greeks, as has already been seen, the word ^705. It is in such complex primitive notions as those of sacer and ^709, that our modern habit of clear analysis and differentiation causes us to miss the full and complex significance.

The leading out of the pharmakos is then a purely magical ceremony based on ignorance and fear ; it is not a human sacrifice to Apollo or to any other divinity or even ghost, it is a ceremony of physical expulsion. It is satisfactory to find that the etymology 1 of the word confirms this view, (f)ap/j,aKo$ means simply 'magic- man.' Its Lithuanian cognate is burin, magic ; in Latin it appears as forma, formula, magical spell ; our formulary retains some vestige of its primitive connotation. QappaKov in Greek means healing drug, poison, and dye, but all, for better for worse, are magical. To express its meaning we need what our language has lost, a double-edged word like the savage ' medicine.' The phar- makos of the Thargelia shows us a state of things in which man does not either tend or avert god 2 or ghost, but seeks, by the

1 For a full and very interesting discussion of the etymology and meaning of (t>apfjLa.K6s, see Osthoff, ' Allerhand Zauber etymologisch beleuchtet,' Bezzenberger, Beitrage xxiv. p. 109. As to the accentuation of the word (fxtp^a^ Eustathius (1935. 15) notes that it was proparoxytone ' among the lonians.'

2 As to the god worshipped at the Thargelia it is probable that when godhead came to be formulated Demeter Chloe long preceded Apollo. Diogenes Laertius (n. 44) notes that on the sixth day of Thargelia when the Athenians purified the city, sacrifice was done to Demeter Chloe. Here as elsewhere Apollo took over the worship of an Earth-goddess.

m] Human Sacrifice 109

  • medicine' he himself makes, to do, on his own account, his spring

or rather Whitsuntide ' thorough cleaning.' The ceremony of the pharmakos went in some sense to the making of the Greek and modern notion of sacrifice, but the word itself has other and perhaps more primitive connotations.

Tzetzes, looking back at the ceremony of the expulsion of the pharmakos, calls it a sacrifice (Ovaia), but we need not imitate him in his confusion of ideas new and old. The rite of the Thargelia was a rite of expulsion, of riddance, which incidentally, as it were, involved loss of life to a human being. The result is, indeed, in both cases the same to the human being, but the two ceremonials of sacrifice and riddance express widely different conditions and sentiments in the mind of the worshipper.

It may indeed be doubted whether we have any certain evidence of 'human sacrifice' in our sense among the Greeks even of mythological days. A large number of cases which were by the tragedians regarded as such, resolve themselves into cases of the blood feud, cases such as those of Iphigeneia and Polyxena, when the object was really the placation of a ghost, not the service of an Olympian. Perhaps a still larger number are primarily not sacrifices, dva-lai, but ceremonies of riddance and purification, /caOap/jiOi. The ultimate fact that lies behind such ceremonies is the use of a human pharmakos, and then later, when the real meaning was lost, all manner of aetiological myths are invented and some offended Olympian is introduced.

The case of the supposed 'human sacrifice' of Athamas is instructive, both as to its original content and as to the shifting sentiments with which it was regarded. When Xerxes came to Alos in Achaia his guides, Herodotus 1 tells us, anxious to give him all possible information as to local curiosities, told him the tradition about the sanctuary of Zeus Laphystios : ' The eldest of the race of Athamas is forbidden to enter the Prytaneion which is called by the Achaians the Le'iton. If he enters he can only go out to be sacrificed.' It was further told how some, fearing this fate, had fled the country, and coming back and entering the Prytaneion were decked with fillets and led out in procession to be

1 Herod, vn. 197. My attention was drawn to this passage and its importance as reflecting the attitude of the Greek mind towards Human Sacrifices by Dr A. W. Verrall.

110 Harvest Festivals [CH.

sacrificed (&>? dverai re e^rjjeovro o-re/uyxao-t Tra? irvKao-6el<$ KOI &>? a-vv TTo/jLTrfj 4ax0k). Here there is obvious confusion, as the man who left the country to avoid death would never have been so foolish as, immediately on his return, to enter the forbidden place. The point is clear: great stress is laid on the leading forth in procession the descendant of the royal race was a scape- goat. Herodotus makes this quite clear. Athamas was sacrificed because the Achaeans were making a purification of the land (/caQapfjibv rfjs ^p?/? Troievfievcov ' A%at,a)v). Herodotus gives as the cause of this primitive and perfectly intelligible custom various conflicting reasons which well reflect the various stages of opinion through which the thinking Greek passed. We have first the real reason Athamas as a scape-goat. Then the public conscience is uneasy, and we have a legend that the ' sacrifice ' is interrupted at the moment of consummation either by Herakles (according to Sophocles in the lost Athamas) or by Kytissoros. It is wrong to sacrifice; hence the sacrifice is interrupted, but it is wrong to interrupt sacrifice, so the descendants of Kytissoros are punished. Then, finally, it is felt that the sacrifice must go on, but it is a dreadful thing, an 0^709, so a chance of escape is given to the victim. Finally in the same complex legend we have the substitution of a ram for the human victim Phrixos.

Sometimes incidentally we learn that other peoples adopted the device which may have satisfied the Athenians, i.e. needing a pharmakos they utilized a man already condemned by the state. Thus in the long list of ' human sacrifices' drawn up by Porphyry 1 in his indictment of human ignorance and fear he mentions that on the 6th day of the month Metageitnion a man was sacrificed to Kronos, a custom, he says, which was maintained for a long time unchanged. A man who had been publicly condemned to death was kept till the time of the festival of Kronia. When the festival came they brought him outside the gates before the image (eSou?) of Aristobule, gave him wine to drink and slew him. The victim is already doomed, and it would seem intoxicated before he is sacrificed.

In noting the substitution of animal for human sacrifice, one curious point remains to be observed. The step seems to us momentous because to us human life is sacrosanct. But to the 1 Porphyr. de Abst. n. 5356.

m] The Bouphonia 111

primitive mind the gulf between animal and human is not so wide. The larger animals, and certain animals which for various reasons were specially venerated, were in early days also regarded as sacro- sanct, and to slay them was murder, to be atoned for by purification.

This notion comes out very clearly in the ritual of the Murder of the Ox, the Bouphonia 1 , or, as it was sometimes called, the Dipolia 2 . The Bouphonia by the time of Aristophanes 3 was a symbol of what was archaic and obsolete. After the Just Logos in the Clouds has described the austere old educational regime of ancient Athens, the Unjust Logos remarks :

'Bless me, that's quite the ancient lot Dipolia-like, chock-full Of crickets and Bouphonia too. 3

And the scholiast comments, ' Dipolia, a festival at Athens, in which they sacrifice to Zeus Polieus, on the 14th day of Skiro- phorion. It is a mimetic representation of what happened about the cakes (TreXaz/ot) and the cows 4 .' What happened was this : ' Barley mixed with wheat, or cakes made of them, was laid upon the bronze altar of Zeus Polieus, on the Acropolis. Oxen were driven round the altar, and the ox which went up to the altar and ate the offering on it was sacrificed. The axe and knife with which the beast was slain had been previously wetted with water, brought by maidens called " water-carriers." The weapons were then sharpened and handed to the butchers, one of whom felled the ox with the axe and another cut its throat with the knife. As

1 My account of the Bouphonia is taken from Dr Frazer's summary, which is exactly based on the complex double account given by Porphyry from Theophrastos (Porphyr. de Abst. ri. 29 seq.) and Aelian (V.H. vin. 3). With Dr Frazer's exhaustive commentary (Golden Bough, 2nd ed. vol. n. p. 295) I am in substantial agreement, save that I do not see in the murdered ox the representative of the Corn Spirit. The Bouphonia as ox-murder was first correctly explained by Prof. Eobertson Smith (Religion of the Semites, p. 286 ff.). I have discussed it previously in Mythology and Monuments of Ancient Athens, p. 424 ff.: see also Dr Paul Stengel, Rhein. Mils. 1897, p. 187. With Dr von Prott's view (Rhein. Mus. 1897, p. 187) that the sense of guilt in the sacrifice arises from the fact that the ox was the surrogate of a human victim I wholly disagree.

2 It is possible that Dipolia is etymologically not festival of Zeus Polieus but festival of the Plough Curse, see p. 23.

3 Ar. Nub. 984.

4 The scholiast is (so far as I know) the only authority who gives the female form. It is possible that the sacrifice may have been primarily to an earth-goddess and hence the animals are female. The curious ceremonial of the Chthonia (P. n. 35. 3) was a similar butchery of cows in honour of Chthonia and presided over by old women who did the actual slaughter, and no man native or foreigner was allowed to see it.

112 Harvest Festivals [OH.

soon as he had felled the ox, the former threw the axe from him and fled, and the man who had cut the beast's throat apparently imitated his example. Meantime the ox was skinned and all present partook of its flesh. Then the hide was stuffed with straw and sewed up, and next the stuffed animal was set on its feet and yoked to a plough as if it were ploughing. A trial then took place in an ancient law court, presided over by the king (as he was called), to determine who had murdered the ox. The maidens who had brought the water accused the men who had sharpened the axe and knife, the men who had sharpened the axe and knife blamed the men who had handed these implements to the butchers, the men who had handed the implements to the butchers blamed the butchers and the butchers blamed the axe and knife, which were accordingly found guilty and condemned and cast into the sea.'

The remarks of the Unjust Logos are amply justified. That a mummery so absurd, with all its leisurely House-that-Jack-built hocus-pocus, should be regularly carried on in the centre of civilized Athens was enough to make the most careless and the most conventional reflect on the nature and strength of religious conservatism. But the rite was once of real and solemn import, and, taken as such, the heart of a terror-stricken service of Aversion. The ox had to be killed, man imperatively demanded his feast of flesh meat, but it was a dreadful dyos, an abomination, to kill it, as bad as, perhaps worse than killing a man, and the ghost of the ox and the spirits of vengeance generally must at all costs be tricked or appeased. So great is the terror that no one device is enough. You pretend that the ox is not really dead, or at least that he has come to life : if that is not enough you pretend that he was him- self an offender : he ate the sacred cakes, not by compulsion, but of his own free, wicked will. Last you pretend that you did not do it yourself, it was some one else. No, not some one else, but some- thing else. Finally that thing is got rid of; the ayos, the pollution, is thrown into the sea.

The important point for the moment is that the ox, though no surrogate for human sacrifice, is as good as human, is a man. His murdered ghost, or at least the pollution of his murder, cries for placation and purification. It is satisfactory to note that if you had to be purified yourself for murdering an ox, an ox, even a

m] The Stepterion 113

bronze ox, had to be purified for murdering you. Pausanias 1 was told the following story about a bronze ox, dedicated at Olympia by the Corcyreans. A little boy was sitting playing under the ox, and suddenly he lifted up his head and broke it against the bronze, and a few days after he died of the wounds. The Eleans consulted as to whether they should remove the ox out of the Altis, as being guilty of blood, but the Delphic oracle, always con- servative in the matter of valuable property, ordained ' that they were to leave it and perform the same ceremonies as were customary among the Greeks in the case of involuntary homicide.'

To return to the Bouphonia, the confused notion that a thing must be done, and yet that its doing involves an ayos, a pollution, comes out in all the rituals known as Flight-ceremonies. The gist of them is very clear in the account given by Diodorus 2 of the cere- monies of embalming among the Egyptians. He tells us 'the man called He- who-slits- asunder (Trapaa-^iarri^) takes an Aethiopian stone, and, making a slit in the prescribed way, instantly makes off with a run, and they pursue him and pelt him with stones, and heap curses on him, as though transferring the pollution of the thing on to him.'

The Flight- Ceremony recorded by Plutarch 3 is specially instruc- tive, and must be noted in detail, the more so as it, like the Bouphonia, is connected with rites of the threshing-floor. In his 12th Greek Question, Plutarch says that among the three great festivals celebrated every eighth year at Delphi was one called Stepterion*, and in another discourse (De defect, orac. XIV.) he describes the rite practised, though he mixes it up with so much aetiological mythology that it is not very easy to disentangle the actual facts. This much is clear ; every eighth year a hut (/caXids) was set up about the threshing-floor at Delphi. This hut, Plutarch says, bore more resemblance to a kingly palace than to a snake's lair ; we may therefore safely infer that it held a snake. A boy with both

1 P. v. 27. 6.

2 Diod. I. 91 Kadairepei rb /j.6<ros et's eKelvov Tpeirbvruv.

3 Plut. De defect, orac. xiv. , the text is in places corrupt.

4 I have elsewhere (J.H.S. xix. 1899, p. 223) stated that the word Stepterion ' cannot to my thinking be translated 'Festival of Crowning.' This explanation rests only on Aelian (Hist. An. xn. 34), and purification (iidap(ns, ticdvffis), not crowning, is the main gist of the ceremonies. The name Stepterion, is, I suspect, connected with the enigmatic ffTtyi) and o-rtyeiv as occurring in Aesch. Choeph. 94, Soph. Ant. 431, Elec. 52, 458, and means in some way purification.

H. 8

114 Harvest Festivals [CH.

his parents alive was led up by a certain prescribed way 1 with lighted torches ; fire was set to the hut, a table overturned, and the celebrants took flight without looking back through the gates of the precinct ; afterwards the boy went off to Tempe, fasted, dined, and was brought back crowned with laurel in solemn procession. Plutarch never says that the boy killed the snake, but as the ceremony was supposed to be a mimetic representation of the slaying of the Python and the banishment of Apollo, this may be inferred. Plutarch is of course more suo shocked at the idea that Apollo could need purification, and at a loss to account decently for the curious ceremonial, but he makes one acute remark : ' finally the wanderings and the servitude of the boy and the purifications at Tempe raise a suspicion of some great pollution and deed of daring' (/u^aXou TWOS ayovs KCU roX/xTy/xaro? vTrotyiav e^oucri). This hits the mark : a sacred snake has been slain ; the slayer has incurred an ^709, from which he must be purified. The slaying is probably formal and sacrificial, for the boy is led to the hut with all due solemnity, and has been carefully selected for the purpose ; but the T6\/un]fj,a, the outrage, the deed of daring, is an ^709, so he must take flight after its accomplishment. Sacred snake, or sacred ox, or human victim, the procedure is the same.

To resume. The outcome of our examination of the ceremony of the pharmakos is briefly this : the gist of the pharmakos rite is physical purification, /caOapfjuos, and this notion, sometimes alone, sometimes combined with the notion of the placation of a ghost, is the idea underlying among the Greeks the notion we are apt to call Human Sacrifice. To this must be added the fact that in a primitive state of civilization the line between human and animal ' sacrifice ' is not sharply drawn.


Plutarch' 2 tells us that it was on a day of ill-omen that Alcibiades returned to Athens : c On the day of his return they were solemnizing the Plynteria to the Goddess. For on the 6th

1 Other instances are given Ael. Hist. An. xn. 34, Philostr. Im. u. 24. 850. For analogous Roman Festivals see Regifugium and Poplifugia, Warde-Fowler, Roman Festivals, pp. 327 and 174. For the Stepterion and savage analogies see Dr Frazer, Pausanias, vol. in. p. 53.

2 Plut. Vit. Ale. xxxiv.

in] Kallynteria, Plynteria 115

day of the third part of Thargelia the Praxiergidae solemnize the rites that may not be disclosed : they take off the adornments of the image, and cover it up. Hence the Athenians account this day as most unlucky of all, and do no work on it. And it seemed as though the Goddess were receiving him in no friendly or kindly fashion, as she hid her face from him and seemed to banish him from her presence.' At the Plynteria, as at other ' unlucky ' festivals, the sanctuaries, Pollux 1 tells us, were roped round. The object was in part to keep out the common herd, perhaps primarily to ' avert ' evil influences.

Photius 2 discusses the two festivals, the Kallynteria and the Plynteria, together, placing the Kallynteria first ; they have indeed practically always been bracketed in the minds of commentators as substantially identical in content. The Piynteria, it is usually stated, was the washing festival. The image of Pallas was taken in solemn procession down to the sea, stripped of its gear, veiled from the eyes of the vulgar, washed in sea- water, and brought back. At the Kallynteria it was re-dressed, re-decked, ' beautified.' This simple explanation of the sequence of rites presents only one trifling difficulty. Photius expressly tells us that the Kallynteria preceded the Plynteria ; the Kallynteria took place on the 19th of the month Thargelion, and the Plynteria on the second day of the 3rd decade, i.e. on the 22nd 3 . It would be strange if the image was first ' beautified ' and then washed. The explanation of the seeming incongruity is of course a simple one. The word ica\\vveiv means not only ' to beautify ' but to brush out, to sweep, ' to give a shine to.' The Greek for broom is /caXXvvrpiov, also /ca\<\>vv- Tpov in Hesych. s.v. aapov ; and /caXXva/jLara, if we may trust Hesychius 4 , means sweepings (adp^ara). In a word the Kallyn- teria is a festival of what the Romans call everruncatio, the festival of ' those who do the sweeping.' They swept out the sacred places, made them as we say now-a-days ' beautifully clean,' and then, having done their sweeping first like good housewives, when the house was ready they washed the image and brought it back in new shining splendour.

It is evident that when we hear of sweeping out sanctuaries

1 Poll. On. vm. 141. 2 Phot. s.v.

3 Plutarch and Photius cannot both be right, but it is unlikely that Photius would give the sequence incorrectly.

4 Hesych. s.v. ffdpfj-ara.


116 Harvest Festivals [OH.

and washing an image we have come to a religious stage in which there is a definite god worshipped, and that god is conceived of as anthropomorphic. There may have been rites of the Thargelia, including the Pharmakos, i.e. the ceremony of the expulsion of evil, before there were any Kallynteria or Plynteria. Be this as it may, the Kallynteria and Plynteria throw light on the purport of the pharmakos, and emphasize the fact that all the cleansing, whether of image, sanctuary or people, was but a preliminary to the bringing in of the first-fruits.

This connection between first-fruits and purification explains a feature in the Plynteria that would otherwise remain obscure. In the procession that took place at the Plynteria, probably, though not quite certainly, the procession in which the image was taken down to the sea, Hesychius 1 tells us they carried a cake or mass of dried figs, which went by the name of Hegeteria. Hesychius is at no loss to account for the strange name. Figs were the first culti- vated fruit of which man partook ; the cake of figs is called Hegeteria because it ' Led the Way ' in the matter of diet !

We may perhaps be allowed to suggest a possible alterna- tive. May not the fig-cake be connected with the root of #709 rather than with dyco ? Figs were used in purification. Is not the Hegeteria the fig-cake of purification ? A necklace of figs was hung about the neck of the pharmakos, and the statues of the gods had sometimes a like adornment. Primitive man is apt to get a little confused as to cause and effect. He performs a rite of purification to protect his first-fruits ; he comes to think the offering of those first-fruits is in itself a rite of purification.

As usual when we come to consider the analogous Roman festival the meaning of the rites practised is more baldly obvious. Plutarch 2 in his Roman Questions asks, ' Why did not the Romans marry in the month of May V and for once he hits upon the right answer : ' May it be that in this month they perform the greatest of purificatory ceremonies ?' What these purificatory ceremonies, these /caQapfjLOi, were, he tells us explicitly : ' for at the present day they throw images from the bridge into the river, but in old times they used to throw human beings.' We must here separate sharply the fact stated by Plutarch, the actual ritual that took

1 Hesych. s.v. ^yr/TTjptcr irapa ijy^a-affdai ovv rrjs Tpofiys K^K\f)Tat -})yr]Tr)pta.

2 Plut. Q.E. LXXXVI.

m] The Vestalia 117

place in his own day, from his conjecture about the past. We know images, puppets, were thrown from the bridge, we may con- jecture, as Plutarch did, that they were the surrogates of human sacrifice, but we must carefully bear in mind that this is pure con- jecture. The fact Plutarch certifies in another of his Questions 1 , and adds the name of the puppets. l What/ he asks, * is the reason that in the month of May they throw images of human beings from the wooden bridge into the river, calling them Argeioi ? ' Ovid 2 tells us a little more: 'Then (i.e. on May 15th) the Vestal is wont to throw from the oaken bridge the images of men of old times, made of rushes.' He adds that it was in obedience to an oracle : * Ye nations, throw two bodies in sacrifice to the Ancient One who bears the sickle, bodies to be received by the Tuscan streams/ Ovid and Plutarch clearly both held that the Argei of rushes were surrogates. It seems possible, on the other hand, that the myth of human sacrifice may have arisen from a merely dramatic apotropaic rite. The one certain thing is that the Argei 9 were pharmakoi, were /caOdpfjuara.

That the time of the Argei, and indeed the whole month till the Ides of June, was unlucky is abundantly proved by the conduct of the Flaminica. Plutarch 4 goes on to say that the Flaminica is wont to be gloomy (o-KvOpcoTrd&iv) and not to wash nor to adorn herself. Ovid 5 adds details of this mourning ; he tells us that he consulted the Flaminica Dialis as to the marriage of his daughter, and learnt that till the Ides of June there was no luck for brides and their husbands, 'for thus did the holy bride of the Dialis speak to me : " Until tranquil Tiber has borne to the sea in his tawny waters the cleansings from Ilian Vesta it is not lawful for me to comb my shorn locks with the boxwood, nor to pare my nails with iron, nor to touch my husband though he be priest of Jove.... Be not in haste. Better will thy daughter marry when Vesta of the Fire shines with a cleansed hearth." '

The Roman Vestalia fell a little later than the Kallynteria and

1 Plut. Q.R. xxxn.

2 Ov. Fasti v. 621.

3 The whole ceremony of the Argei has been fully discussed by Mr Warde- Fowler (The Roman Festivals, p. 111). Abundant primitive analogies have been collected by Mannhardt (Baumkultus, pp. 155, 411, 416, and Antike Wald- und Feldkulte, p. 276). For the etymology of Argei see Mr A. B. Cook, Glass. Rev. xvn. 1903, p. 269.

4 Plut. Q. R. LXXXVI. 5 Ov . Fa8ti VI> 219234.

118 Harvest Festivals [CH.

Plynteria, but their content is the same. I borrow the account of the ritual of the Vestalia from Mr Warde-Fowler 1 . On June 7 the penus, or innermost sanctuary of Vesta, which was shut all the rest of the year and to which no man but the pontifex maxim us had at any time right of entry, was thrown open to all matrons. During the seven following days they crowded to it barefoot. The object of this was perhaps to pray for a blessing on the house- hold. On plain and old-fashioned ware offerings of food were carried into the temple : the Vestals themselves offered the sacred cakes made of the first ears of corn, plucked as we saw in the early days of May; bakers and millers kept holiday, all mills were garlanded and donkeys decorated with wreaths and cakes. On June 15 the temple (aedes) was swept and the refuse taken away and either thrown into the Tiber or deposited in some particular spot. Then the dies nefasti came to an end, and the 15th itself became fast'iis as soon as the last act of cleansing had been duly performed. Quando stercus delatum fas, ' When the rubbish has been carried away.'

Dr Frazer 2 has collected many savage parallels to the rites of the Vestalia. The most notable is the busk or festival of first- fruits among the Creek Indians of North America, held in July or August when the corn is ripe. Before the celebration of the busk no Indian would eat or even touch the new corn. In preparation for its rites they got new clothes and household utensils : old clothes, rubbish of all kinds, and the old corn that remained were carefully burnt. The village fires were put out and the ashes swept away, and in particular the hearth and altar of the temple were dug up and cleaned out. The public square was carefully swept out ' for fear of polluting the first-fruit offerings.' Before the sacramental eating of the new corn a strict fast was observed, and (for the precautions taken by the savage ritualist are searching and logical) a strong purgative was swallowed. With the new corn was solemnly dispensed the freshly-kindled fire, and the priest publicly announced that the new divine fire had purged away the sins of the past year. Such powerful ' medicine ' was the new corn that some of the men rubbed their new corn between their hands, then on their faces and breasts.

1 Warde-Fowler, Roman Festivals, p. 148.

2 Frazer, Golden Bough, 2nd ed., vol. n. p. 329.

m] Purification and Sacrifice 119

To resume. In the Anthesteria we have seen that sacrifice was in intent purification, and that this purification took the form of the placation of ghosts. In the Thargelia, purification is again the end and aim of sacrifice, but this purification, though it involves the taking of a human life, is of the nature of a merely magical cleansing to prepare for the incoming first-fruits.

We pass to the consideration of the autumn festival of sowing, the Thesmophoria.



  • TA OecMocJwpi' ApoyciN oocnep KAI npo rof/

The Thesmophoria.

WITH the autumn festival of the Thesmophoria 1 we come to a class of rites of capital interest. They were practised by women only and were of immemorial antiquity. Although, for reasons explained at the outset, they are considered after the Anthesteria and Thargelia, their character was even more primitive, and, owing to the conservative character of women and the mixed contempt and superstition with which such rites were regarded by men, they were preserved in pristine purity down to late days. Unlike the Diasia, Anthesteria, Thargelia, they were left almost uncontaminated by Olympian usage, and a point of supreme interest under the influence of a new religious impulse, they issued at last in the most widely influential of all Greek cere- monials, the Eleusinian Mysteries.

To the primitive character and racial origin of these rites we have the witness of Herodotus 2 , though unhappily piety sealed his lips as to details. He says, 'Concerning the feast of Demeter which the Greeks call Thesmophoria I must preserve an auspi- cious silence, excepting in so far as every one may speak of it. It was the daughters of Danaus who introduced this rite from

1 The sources for the Thesmophoria are collected and discussed by Dr J. G. Frazer, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Art. Thesmophoria.

2 ii. 171. See also Frazer, Pausanias, vol. v. p. 29 ; Harrison and Verrall, Myth, and Mon. Anc. Athens, pp. xxxiv. and 102 105 and 482 ; A. Lang, Homeric Hymns, Introd. Essay and Hymn to Demeter.

CH. iv] KatJiodos and Anodos 121

Egypt and taught it to the Pelasgian women ; but after the upset of the whole of Peloponnesos by the Dorians the rite died down completely, and it was only those of the Peloponnesians who were left, and the Arcadians who did not leave their seats who kept it up/ Herodotus oddly enough does not mention the Athenians, who were as stable and as untouched as the Arcadians, but his notice is invaluable as fixing the pre-Dorian character of the rites. Knowing that they were of immemorial antiquity, more suo he attributes them to the Egyptians, and as will later be seen (p. 128) there may be some element of probability in his supposition.

The Thesmophoria, like the Anthesteria, was a three days' festival. It was held from the llth 13th of Pyanepsion (October November); the first day, the llth, was called both Kathodos and Anodos, Downgoing and Uprising, the second Nesteia, Fasting, and the third Kalligeneia, Fair-Born or Fair-Birth *. The mean- ing of the name Thesmophoria and the significance of the three several days will appear later : at present it is sufficient to note that the Thesmophoria collectively was a late autumn festival and certainly connected with sowing. Cornutus 2 says, * they fast in honour of Demeter. . .when they celebrate her feast at the season of sowing.' Of a portion of the ritual of the Thesmophoria we have an unusually detailed account preserved to us by a scholiast on the Hetairae of Lucian ; and as this portion is, for the under- standing of the whole festival, of capital importance it must at the outset be examined in detail. In the dialogue of Lucian, Myrto is reproaching Pamphilos for deserting her ; ' the girl,' says Myrto, 'you are going to marry is not good-looking; I saw her close at hand at the Thesmophoria with her mother.' The notice is important as it has been asserted that the Thesmophoria was a festival of married women only, which, in Lucian's time, was clearly not the case.

The scholiast 3 on the passage comments as follows, and ancient

1 Schol. ad Aristoph. Thesm. 78. Photius, s.v. and Schol. ad Aristoph. Thesm. 585.

2 Cornut. de Theol. 28.

3 Lucian, Dial. Meretr. n. 1, first published and commented on by E. Kohde, Ehein. Mus. xxv. p. 549. As the text is not very easily accessible it is given below : 0e<r/uo06/)ta eopxTj 'EXXiyvwi' /uu<7r^/oia irepi^xovffa. ra 5 aura /cat <TKippo<p6pia /caXe?Tcu. Jjyero d Kara rbv fjivdwStffTepov \byov, OTI dvdo\oyova'a ripTrafero 77 K6p>; inrb TOV ITXoirrwj'os. r6re /car' eKeivov rbv rbirov Eu/3ouXei/s ns fffjSc^r^s Hvefj,ev 5s /rat

eirbdiiaav T<$ xatr/wart r^s K6p7;s. ei's ovv TifMTjv TOV Eu/Soi/X^ws pLirrea'dai TOI)S ets TO. xaoyxaTa rrjs Aij/u^rpos Kal T^S K6/9?;s. ra 5 aair^vra. T&V

122 The Thesmophoria [OH.

commentators have left us few commentaries more instructive : ' The Thesmophoria, a festival of the Greeks, including mysteries, and these are called also Skirrophoria. According to the more mythological explanation they are celebrated in that Kore when she was gathering flowers was carried off by Plouton. At the time a certain Eubouleus, a swineherd, was feeding his swine on the spot and they were swallowed down with her in the chasm of Kore. Hence in honour of Eubouleus the swine are thrown into the chasms of Demeter and Kore. Certain women who have purified themselves for three days 1 and who bear the name of 'Drawers up' bring up the rotten portions of the swine that have been cast into the m.egara. And they descend into the inner sanctuaries and having brought up (the remains) they place them on the altars, and they hold that whoever takes of the remains and mixes it with his seed will have a good crop. And they say that in and about the chasms are snakes which consume the most part of what is thrown in ; hence a rattling din is made when the women draw up the remains and when they replace the remains by those well-known (^tceiva) images, in order that the snakes which they hold to be the guardians of the sanctuaries may go away.

'The same rites are called Arretophoria (carrying of things unnamed) and are performed with the same intent concerning the growth of crops and of human offspring. In the case of the Arretophoria, too, sacred things that may not be named and that are made of cereal paste, are carried about, i.e. images of snakes and of the forms of men 2 . They employ also fir-cones on account

es rd fj.eyapa KaTava<pepovffi.v dvTXrjTpiat Ka\ovfj.evai yvvaiKes, Kada.petiffa.ffai rpi&v ij/j.ep&v. Kal Karafiaivovffiv et's rd aSura Kal dveveyKaoai eir<.r(.Qea.ffiv eiri TWV fiw/jiuv. wv vofdftiwri TOV \a/Jif3dvovTa Kal T<$ oirbp^ ffvyKarafid\\ovra evtpoplav e^eiv. Xeyovffi 5e Kal dpaKOVTas Kara elvai irepl ra xaoTzara, ovs TO, TroXXa TWV jSXydevT&v Kareffdleiv 5ib Kal Kpbrov yeveadai orav dvT\G)ffi.v at yvvalxcs Kal orav diroTiOuivTai irdXiv ra TrXdff /tiara ^reti/a, 'iva dvaxwp^ffuffLv ol SpaKovres of)s vo^i'$ovffi <ppovpoi>s r&v aftvrwv. TO, 8e avrd Kal dpp-r)TO<t>6pi.a /caXctrat, Kal ayerai TOV avrbv \byov ^x ovra ' ire P' i T ^ s T ^ v Kapwwv yevtffe&s Kal TTJS TWV avdp&iruv crTropas. avafapovrai 5 Kavravda apprjra lepa K <rrearos TOU ffirov KareffK.evaffiJ.tva, /xi/UTj/uara SpaKovnav Kal dvSpQiv crx r Jf J - aTOJV ' \a[jt,(3ai>ovffi 5 K(J)VOV 6a\\oi>s 5ia r6 iro\tiyovov TOV <f>vrov. e^aXXovraL ok Kal ei's ra fieyapa ourws KaXovfjieva abvra eKelvd re Kal x^P OL ^ s ^^ r l ^^*V**'i Ka ' avrol did TO TTO\VTOKOV, els avvdr)fj.a rijs yeveffeus rQiv KapirCov Kal r&v dv0puTrwj>, ws xapiffTrjpia rrj A^Tjrpt eireidr] rbv orjfjiriTpi.ov Kapirbv Trapexovffa eirolriffev r^epov TO TWV dvOpibiruv yevos. 6 /J,v ovv dvd) TTJS foprr/s \6yos 6 /AvBiKos' 6 5 TrpoKei/u-evos 0icri/c6s' Qeff/J,o<j>6pia /ca\e?rat Ka66ri 6eff/J.O(p6pos TI Arjfj.rfT'rjp /caTovo/xdferat, ridelffa VO^JLOV T/TOI 6eff/J.6v Kad' oOs Trjv rpotyty iropl^effdal re Kal Karepydfeffdai avdpuirovs oeov.

1 The rites of purification included strict chastity, for the purport of which as a conservation of energy see Dr Frazer, Golden Bough, 2nd ed. 11. p. 210.

2 fjLifj.rnj.ara....dvpuv a-^^arwv , i.e. {pd\\oi. Cf. Septuagint, Is. iii. 17. The Arrephoroi are not as I previously (Myth, and Mon. Ancient Athens, p. xxxiv.)

iv] Kathodos and Anodos 123

of the fertility of the tree, and into the sanctuaries called megara these are cast and also, as we have already said, swine the swine, too, on account of their prolific character in token of the growth of fruits and human beings, as a thank-offering to Derneter, inasmuch as she, by providing the grain called by her name, civilized the human race. The interpretation then of the festival given above is mythological, but the one we give now is physical. The name Thesmophoria is given because Demeter bears the title Thesmophoros, since she laid down a law or Thesmos in accordance with which it was incumbent on men to obtain and provide by labour their nurture.'

The main outline of the ritual, in spite of certain obscurities in the scholiast's account, is clear. At some time not specified, but during the Thesmophoria, women, carefully purified for the purpose, let down pigs into clefts or chasms called /jieyapa or chambers. At some other time not precisely specified they descended into the megara, brought up the rotten flesh and placed it on certain altars, whence it was taken and mixed with seed to serve as a fertility charm. As the first day of the festival was called both Kathodos and Anodos it seems likely that the women went down and came up the same day, but as the flesh of the pigs was rotten some time must have elapsed. It is therefore conjectured that the flesh was left to rot for a whole year, and that the women on the first day took down the new pigs and brought up last year's pigs.

How long the pigs were left to rot does not affect the general content of the festival. It is of more importance to note that the flesh seems to have been regarded as in some sort the due of the powers of the earth as represented by the guardian snakes. The flesh was wanted by men as a fertility charm, but the snakes it was thought might demand part of it ; they were scared away, but to compensate for what they did not get, surrogates made of cereal paste had to be taken down. These paste surrogates were in the form of things specially fertile. It is not quite clear whether the pine-cones etc. or only the pigs were let down at the Thesmo-

suggested Hersephoroi, Carriers of Young Things. Suidas, it may be noted, has the formally impossible word appr)vo<popeiv. It may have arisen from a paronomasia and seems to point in the same direction as the ^u^/tara avftp&v trx^drwi' of the scholiast. On the use of the 0dXXos among agriculturalists as a prophylactic against the evil eye and e*> rats Te\eTais...ffx^ov cbrdcrais, see Diod. iv. 6.

124 The Thesmophoria [CH.

phoria as well as the Arrephoria, but as the scholiast is con- tending for the close analogy of both festivals this seems probable. It does not indeed much matter what the exact form of the sacra was : all were fertility charms.

The remarks of the scholiast about the double Xtxyo?, i.e. the double rationale of the festival, are specially instructive. By his time, and indeed probably long before, educated people had ceased to believe that by burying a fertile animal or a fir-cone in the earth you could induce the earth to be fertile ; they had advanced beyond the primitive logic of ' sympathetic magic.' But the Thesmophoria was still carried on by conservative womanhood :

'They keep the Thesmophoria as they always used to do.'

An origin less crude and revolting to common sense is required and promptly supplied by mythology 1 . Kore had been carried down into a cleft by Plouton : therefore in her memory the women went down and came up. Pigs had been swallowed down at the same time : therefore they took pigs with them. Such a mytho- logical rationale was respectable if preposterous. The myth of the rape of Persephone of course really arose from the ritual, not the ritual from the myth. In the back of his mind the scholiast knows that the content of the ritual was ' physical/ the object the impulsion of nature. But even after he has given the true content his mind clouds over with modern associations. The festival, he says, is a 'thank-offering' to Demeter. But in the sympathetic magic of the Thesmophoria man attempts direct compulsion, he admits no mediator between himself and nature, and he thanks no god for what no god has done. A thank-offering is later even than a prayer, and prayer as yet is not. To mark the transition from rites of compulsion to rites of supplication and consequent thanksgiving is to read the whole religious history of primitive man.

Some details of the rites of the Thesmophoria remain to be noted. The Thesmophoria, though, thanks to Aristophanes, we know them best at Athens, were widespread throughout Greece. The ceremony of the pigs went on at Potniae in Boeotia. The passage in which Pausanias 2 describes it is most unfortunately

1 The influence of mimetic ritual on the development of mythology will be considered later, p. 279.

2 P. ix. 8. 1.

iv] The Megara 125

corrupt ; but he adds one certain detail, that the pigs there used were new-born, sucking pigs (u? rwv veo*/vwv}. Among nations more savage than the Greeks a real Kore took the place of the Greek sucking pig or rather reinforced it. Among the Khonds, as Mr Andrew Lang 1 has pointed out, pigs and a woman are sacrificed that the land may be fertilized by their blood ; the Pawnees of North America, down to the middle of the present century, sacrificed a girl obtained by preference from the alien tribe of the Sioux, but among the Greeks there is no evidence that the pigs were surrogates.

The megara themselves are of some importance ; the name still survives in the modern Greek form Megara. Megara appear to have been natural clefts or chasms helped out later by art. As such they were at first the natural places for rites intended to compel the earth ; later they became definite sanctuaries of earth divinities. In America, according to Mr Lang's account, Gypsies, Pawnees, and Shawnees bury the sacrifices they make to the Earth Goddess in the earth, in natural crevices or artificial crypts. In the sanctuary of Demeter, at Gnidos, Sir Charles Newton 2 found a crypt which had originally been circular and later had been compressed by earthquake. Among the contents were bones of pigs and other animals, and the marble pigs which now stand near the Demeter of Cnidos in the British Museum. It is of importance to note that Porphyry 3 , in his Gave of the Nymphs, says, that for the Olympian gods are set up temples and images and altars (/Sw/Ws), for the chthonic gods and heroes hearths (lo"x,apai), for those below the earth (vTro^dovLo^) there are trenches and megara. Philostratos 4 , in his Life of Apollonius, says, ' The chthonic gods welcome trenches and ceremonies done in the hollow earth.'

Eustathius 5 says that megara are ' underground dwellings of the two goddesses,' i.e. Demeter and Persephone, and he adds that ' Aelian says the word is fj,a<yapov not jjueyapov and that it is the place in which the mystical sacred objects are placed.' Unless this suggestion is adopted the etymology of the word remains

1 Nineteenth Century, April, 1887.

2 Newton, C. T., Discoveries at Halicarnassus, vol. n. p. 383, and Travels and Discoveries in the Levant, n. p. 180.

3 Porphyr. de antro Nymph, vi.

4 vi. 11. 18. s Eustath. 1387.


The Thesmophoria


obscure 1 . The word itself, meaning at first a cave-dwelling, lived on in the megaron of kings' palaces and the temples of Olympian gods, and the shift of meaning marks the transition from under to upper-world rites.

Art has left us no certain representation of the Thesmophoria ; but in the charming little vase-painting from a lekythos in the National Museum at Athens 2 , a woman is represented sacrificing a pig. He is obviously held over a trench and the

FIG. 11.

three planted torches indicate an underworld service. In her left hand the woman holds a basket, no doubt containing sacra. There seems a reminiscence of the rites of the Thesmophoria, though we cannot say that they are actually represented.

It is practically certain that the ceremonies of the burying and resurrection of the pigs took place on the first day of the Thesmophoria called variously the Kathodos and the Anodos. It is further probable from the name Kalligeneia, Fairborn, that on the third day took place the strewing of the rotten flesh on the fields. The second, intervening day, also called fjuecrrj, the middle day, was a solemn fast, Nesteia ; probably on this day the magical sacra lay upon the altars where the women placed them. The

1 Dr Frazer reminds me that Prof. Bobertson Smith (Religion of the Semites, p. 183) derived ntyapov from the Phoenician maghar, Hebrew meghara 'a cave.' The form pdyapov adduced by Aelian, favours this view ; cf. also Photius s.v. pdyapov ov fj.tyapoi', cts 6 TO. ILVCTTIKO. lepa KararidevTai ' oi/rws Me^apSpos.

2 Heydemann, Griechische Vasenbilder, Taf. n. 3. For a somewhat similar design cf. Brit. Mus. Cat. E 819.


The Nesteia


strictness of this fast made it proverbial. On this day prisoners were released, the law courts were closed, the Boule could not meet 1 . Athenaeus mentions the fast when he is discussing different kinds of fish. One of the Cynics comes in and says: ' My friends too are keeping a fast as if this were the middle day of the Thesmophoria since we are feasting like cestreis' ; the cestreus being non-carnivorous.

The women fasted sitting on the ground, and hence arose the aetiological myth that Demeter herself, the desolate mother, fasted sitting on the ' Smileless Stone.' Apollodorus 2 , in recount- ing the sorrows of Demeter, says: 'and first she sat down on the stone that is called after her " Smileless" by the side of the "Well of Fair Dances."' The 'Well of Fair Dances' has come to light at Eleusis, arid there, too, was found a curious monu- ment 3 which shows how the Eleusinians made the goddess in their own image. In fig. 12 we have a votive relief of the usual

FIG. 12.

1 Marcellinus on Hermog. in Rhet. Graec., ed. Walz, iv. 462. Sopater, ibid. vin. 67. Aristoph. Thesm, 80. Dr Frazer kindly suggests to me that the custom of releasing prisoners at the Thesmophoria may be explained as a precaution against the magical influence of knots, fetters, and the like in trammeling spiritual activities whether for good or evil, cf. Golden Bough, 2nd ed. i. p. 392 sqq.

2 Apollod. i. 5. 1. i Ath. Mitt. 1899, Taf. vm. 1.

128 The Thesmophoria [CH.

type, a procession of worshippers bearing offerings to a seated goddess. But the goddess is not seated goddess-fashion on a throne ; she is the Earth mother, and she crouches as the fasting women crouched on her own earth.

A passage in which Plutarch speaks of the women. fasting is of great importance for the understanding of the general gist of the festival. In the discourse on Isis and Osiris 1 he is struck by the general analogy of certain agricultural ceremonies in Egypt and Greece, and makes the following instructive remarks : ' How are we to deal with sacrifices of a gloomy, joyless arid melancholy character if it be not well either to omit traditional ceremonies, or to upset our views about the gods or confuse them by pre- posterous conjectures ? And among the Greeks also many analogous things take place about the same time of the year as that in which the Egyptians perform their sacred ceremonies, e.g. at Athens the women fast at the Thesmophoria seated on the ground, and the Boeotians stir up the megara of Achaia, calling that festival grievous (enra^drf), inasmuch as Demeter was in grief (eV a%6), on account of the descent of her daughter. And that month about the rising of the Pleiades is the month of sowing which the Egyptians call Athor, and the Athenians Pyanepsion (bean month), and the Boeotians Damatrion. And Theopompos relates that those who dwell towards the West account and call the Winter Kronos, and the Summer Aphrodite, and the Spring Persephone, and from Kronos and Aphrodite all things take their birth. And the Phrygians think that in the Winter the god is asleep, and that in the Summer he is awake, and they celebrate to him revels which in winter are Goings- to-sleep and in summer Wakings-up. And the Paphlagonians allege that in winter the god is bound down and imprisoned, and in spring aroused and set free again.'

Whatever be the meaning of the difficult Achaia 2 Plutarch has hit upon the truth. Common to all the peoples bordering

1 Plut. de Is. et Os. LXIX.

2 As to the meaning of the difficult word 'A^ata I can offer nothing satisfactory. It is perhaps worth noting that Athenaeus (m. 74 109), on the authority of Semos, mentions a sort of cake called 'AxeuiVa, which was made on the occasion of the Thesmophoria; the people who carried it are said to have exclaimed ' Munch an Achaina full of fat,' eiri\tyoi>Tes T&V fapbvrwv ' 'AxcuV?;*' OT&ITOS fywrXeuw rpdyov.' The scholiast on Ar. Ach. 709 says that Demeter got her name of Achaia airb rov KTIJITOV rtav Kvfj.pd\uv /ecu Tv^iravtav rov yevo^vov Kara ^rrjffiv TTJS

s, and he may be right.

iv] Plutarch's Anthropology 129

on the Aegean and, had he known it, to many another primitive race, were ceremonies of which the gist was pantomime, the mimicking of nature's processes, in a word the ritual of sympathetic magic. The women fasted seated on the ground because the earth was desolate ; they rose and revelled, they stirred the megara to mimic the impulse of spring. Then when they knew no longer why they did these things they made a goddess their protagonist.

Plutarch 1 has made for himself in his own image his ' ideal ' Greek gods, serene, cheerful, beneficent ; but he is a close observer of facts, and he sees there are ceremonies 'sacrifices' (Ovaicu) in his late fashion he calls them which are ' mournful,' ' gloomy,'

  • smileless.' Who and what are these gods who demand fasting

and lamentation ? He must either blink the facts of acknow- ledged authorized ritual this he cannot and will not do, for he is an honest man or he must confuse and confound his conceptions of godhead. Caught on the horns of this dilemma he betakes himself to comparative anthropology and notes analogies among adjacent and more primitive peoples.

Of two other elements in the Thesmophoria we have brief notice from the lexicographers. Hesychius 2 says of the word ^loyj/jia (pursuit), ' a sacrifice at Athens, performed in secret by the women at the Thesmophoria. The same was later called From Suidas 3 we learn that it was also called &{a)yfj,a, the ' Chalcidian pursuit,' and Suidas of course gives a historical explanation. Only one thing is clear, that the ceremony must have belonged to the general class of ' pursuit ' rituals which have already been discussed in relation to the Thargelia.

The remaining ceremony is known to us only from Hesychius 4 . He says, ' f^yu-ta (penalty), a sacrifice offered on account of the things done at the Thesmophoria.'

Of the Thesmophoria as celebrated at Eretria we are told two characteristic particulars. Plutarch, in his Greek Questions 5 , asks, 'Why in the Thesmophoria do the Eretrian women cook their

1 Plut. lOC. Clt. 7TWS OVV XpT<l<TTtoi> (ffTL TCUS (TKVdpWwdlS Kdi dy\d(TTOI.$ KO,l

TrevOi/uois Ovalais ei fM^re TrapaXtTre?^ ra vevofj.Hrfj.fra KoXcDs ^x et A t1 7 re <ptipiv TOLS trepi deCov 56as KO.I avvro.po.rrf.iv vTro\f/tai.s ATOTTOIS;

2 Hesych. s.v. olwy^a. 3 Suid. s.v.

4 Hesych. s.v. fyftia' Qvala. rts aTroSi.Sofji.evri virtp ruv yevo^evuv tv Qefffjio<f>oplois. It is possible, I think, that f/7/xt'ct may conceal some form connected with Damia.

5 Plut. Q. Gr. xxxi.

H. 9

130 The Thesmophoria [OH.

meat not by fire but by the sun, and why do they not invoke Kalligeneia ? ' The solutions suggested by Plutarch for these difficulties are not happy. The use of the sun in place of fire is probably a primitive trait; in Greece to-day it is not difficult to cook a piece of meat to a palatable point on a stone by the rays of the burning midday sun, and in early days the practice was probably common enough ; it might easily be retained in an archaic ritual. Kalligeneia also presents no serious difficulty, the word means ' fair-born ' or ' fair-birth.' It may be conjectured that the reference was at first to the good crop produced by the rotten pigs' flesh. With the growth of anthropomorphism the ' good crop ' would take shape as Kore the 'fair-born,' daughter of earth. Of such developments more will be said when we discuss (p. 276) the general question of 'the making of a goddess.' A conservative people such as the Eretrians seem to have been would be slow to adopt any such anthropomorphic development.

Another particular as regards the Thesmophoria generally is preserved for us by Aelian in his History of Animals 1 ; speaking of the plant Agnos (the Agnus castus), he says, ' In the Thesmo- phoria the Attic women used to strew it on their couches and it (the Agnos) is accounted hostile to reptiles.' He goes on to say that the plant was primarily used to keep off snakes, to the attacks of which the women in their temporary booths would be specially exposed. Then as it was an actual preventive of one evil it became a magical purity charm. Hence its name.

The pollution of death, like marriage, was sufficient to exclude the women of the house from keeping the Thesmophoria. Athenaeus 2 tells us that Democritus of Abdera, wearied of his extreme old age, was minded to put an end to himself by refusing all food ; but the women of his house implored him to live on till the Thesmophoria was over in order that they might be able to keep the festival; so he obligingly kept himself alive on a pot of honey.

An important and easily intelligible particular is noted by Isaeus 3 in his oration About the Estate of Pyrrhos. The question comes up, ' Was Pyrrhos lawfully married ? ' Isaeus asks. ' If he were married, would he not have been obliged, on behalf of his lawful wife, to feast the women at the Thesmophoria and to

i ix. 26. 2 Athen. n. 26 46. 3 Is. Pyrr. Hered. 80.

iv] Arrephoria 131

perform all the other customary dues in his deme on behalf of his wife, his property being what it was ?' This is one of the passages on which the theory has been based that the Thesmophoria was a rite performed by married women only. It really points the other way ; a man when he married by thus obtaining exclusive rights over one woman violated the old matriarchal usages and may have had to make his peace with the community by paying the expenses of the Thesmophoria feast.

Before passing to the consideration of the etymology and precise meaning of the word Thesmophoria, the other women festivals must be briefly noted, i.e. the Arrephoria or Arreto- phoria, the Skirophoria or Skira, and the Stenia.


The scholiast on Lucian, as we have already seen, expressly notes that the Arretophoria and Skirophoria were of similar content with the Thesmophoria. Clement of Alexandria 1 , a dispassionate witness, confirms this view. ' Do you wish/ he asks, ' that I should recount for you the Flower-gatherings of Pherephatta and the basket, and the rape by Aidoneus, and the cleft of the earth, and the swine of Eubouleus, swallowed down with the goddesses, on which account in the Thesmophoria they cast down living swine in the megara^. This piece of mythology the women in their festivals celebrate in diverse fashion in the city, dramatizing the rape of Pherephatta in diverse fashion in the Thesmophoria, the Skirophoria, the Arretophoria.'

The Arretophoria or Arrephoria was apparently the Thesmo- phoria of the unmarried girl. Its particular ritual is fairly well known to us from the account of Pausanias. Immediately after his examination of the temple of Athene Polias on the Athenian Acropolis, Pausanias 2 comes to the temple of Pandrosos, ' who alone of the sisters was blameless in regard to the trust com- mitted to them': he then adds, 'what surprised me very much, but is not generally known, I will describe as it takes place. Two

1 Clem. Al. Protr. u. 17, p. 14, 8C -f)v alrlav h rots 0eo>io0o/>(HS fj-eyapi^ovres* (fj.eydpoLs fuWas, Lobeck) -^olpovs </jL{}d\\ov<rLi>. ravTrjv rty p,vdo\oyla.v ai yvvalKes /caret TTO\IV eopTdov(ru> 0ea / u,o06/)ia, S/apo06/>ta, 'ApprjTo<p6pia Trot/dXws TJ)V 77s ^KTpay^dovffdt apira.yyv. i. 27. 3.


132 The Thesmophoria [CH.

maidens dwell not far from the temple of Polias : the Athenians call them Arrephoroi, they are lodged for a time with the goddess, but when the festival comes round they perform the following ceremony by night. They put on their heads the things which the priestess of Athena gives them to carry, but what - it is she gives is known neither to her who gives nor to them who carry. Now there is in the city an enclosure not far from the sanctuary of Aphrodite, called Aphrodite in the Gardens, and there is a natural underground descent through it. Down this way the maidens go. Below they leave their burdens, and getting something else which is wrapt up, they bring it back. These maidens are then dis- charged and others brought to the Acropolis in their stead 1 .'

From other sources some further details, for the most part insignificant, are known. The girls were of noble family, they were four in number and had to be between the ages of seven and eleven, and were chosen by the Archon Basileus. They wore white robes and gold ornaments. To two of their number was entrusted the task of beginning the weaving of the peplos of Athene. Special cakes called avda-raroi were provided for them, but whether to eat or to carry as sacra does not appear. It is more important to note that the service of the Arrephoroi was not confined to Athene and Pandrosos 2 . There was an Errephoros (sic) to Demeter and Proserpine 3 , and there were Hersephoroi (sic) of ' Earth with the title of Themis' and of ' Eileithyia in Agrae 4 .' Probably any primitive woman goddess could have Arrephoria.

Much is obscure in the account of Pausanias ; we do not know what the precinct was to which the maidens went, nor where it was. It is possible that Pausanias confused the later sanctuary of Aphrodite (in the gardens) with the earlier sanctuary of the goddess close to the entrance of the Acropolis. One thing, how- ever, emerges clearly, the main gist of the ceremonial was the

1 Trans. J. G. Frazer. Dr Frazer in his commentary on the passage, vol. n. p. 344, enumerates the other sources respecting the Arrephoroi ; see also Harrison and Verrall, Mythology and Monuments of Ancient Athens, pp. xxxii and 512.

2 Dr Frazer draws my attention to the curiously analogous ritual practised at Lanuvium, in a grove near the temple of the Argive Hera, described by Aelian (Hist. An. xi. 16) and Propertius (iv. 8. 3 sqq.). Once a year sacred maidens descended with bandaged eyes into a serpent's cave and offered it a barley cake. If the serpent ate of the cake the people rejoiced, taking it to show that the girls were pure maidens and that the year's crops would be good :

Si fuerint castae, redeunt in colla parentum ; Clamantque agricolae Fertilis annus erit.

3 C.I.A. m., No. 19. 4 C.I.A. in., Nos. 318, 319.




carrying of unknown sacra. In this respect we are justified in holding with Clement that the Arrephoria (held in Skirophorion, June July) was a parallel to the Thesmophoria.

It is possible, I think, to go a step further. A rite frequently throws light on the myth made to explain it. Occasionally the rite itself is elucidated by the myth to which it gave birth. The maidens who carried the sacred cista were too young to know its holy contents, but they might be curious, so a scare story was invented for their safeguarding, the story of the disobedient sisters who opened the chest, and in horror at the great snake they found there, threw themselves headlong from the Acropolis. The myth is prettily represented on an amphora in the British

FIG. 13.

Museum 1 , reproduced in fig. 13. The sacred chest stands on rude piled stones that represent the rock of the Acropolis, the child rises up with outstretched hand, Athene looks on in dismay and anger, and the bad sisters hurry away. Erichthonios is here a human child with two great snakes for guardians, but what the sisters really found, what the maidens really carried, was a snake 2 and symbols like a snake. Snake and child to the primitive mind are not far asunder ; the Greek peasant of to-day has his child quickly baptized, for till baptized he may at any moment dis- appear in the form of a snake. The natural form for a human hero to assume is, as will later be seen, a snake.

1 B. M. Cat. E 418, see Myth, and Mon. Anc. Athens, p. xxxii.

2 Apprjra][Jt,a.Ta 8pai<6vT(i)v Kal avdpuv fr^/id-rco/', see p. 122, note 2.

134 The Thesmophoria [OH.

The little girl-Arrephoroi in ignorance, as became their age, carried the same sacra as the full-grown women in the Thesmo- phoria. The perfect seemliness and reverence of the rite is shown by the careful precautions taken. When goddesses began to take shape the sacra were regarded, not as mere magical charms, but as offerings as was meet to Ge, to Themis, to Aphrodite, to Eileithyia, but always the carrying was a reverent 'mystery.'

The Skira or Skirophoria 1 presents more difficulties. It was specially closely associated with the Thesmophoria of which it may have formed part. The chorus in the Thesmophoriazusae of Aristophanes 2 says, 'If any of us bear a good citizen to the state, a taxiarch or strategos, she ought to be rewarded by some honourable office, the presidency ought to be given her at the Stenia and the Skira and at any other of the feasts which we (women) celebrate.' The scholiast remarks, ' both were feasts of women ; the Stenia took place before the two days of the Thesmo- phoria on the 7th of Pyanepsion, and the Skira, some say, are the sacred rites that took place on this feast (i.e. the Thesmophoria) to Demeter and Kore. But others say that sacrifice was made 7rl 2/ctpq) to Athene/ On the other hand in an inscription, usually a most trustworthy authority, the two ceremonies are noted as separate though apparently analogous. In the inscription in question 3 which is of the 4th century B.C., certain regulations are enforced ' when the feast of the Thesmophoria takes place, and at the Plerosia, and at the Kalamaia and the Skira, and if there is any other day on which the women congregate by ancestral usage.'

The ancients themselves had raised the question whether the Skira were sacred to Athene or to Demeter and Kore. This question is not really relevant to our enquiry; Athene, as will be seen later, when the ' making of a goddess ' is discussed, is simply 77 'A6r)vaia /coprj, the /copy, the maiden of Athens, and any festival of any Kore any maiden would early attach itself to her.

More important is the question, What does the word cr/dpa mean ? Two solutions are offered. The scholiast on Aris-

1 For various views of the Skirophoria, see Eobert, Hermes xx. 394; Kohde, Kleine Schriften, p. 371; A. Mommsen, Philolog. L. p. 123.

2 Ar. Thesmoph. 834. 3 C.I.A. n. p. 422, n. 573 b.

iv] Skirophoria 135

tophanes 1 says <ricipov means the same as cr/cidSeLov, umbrella, and the feast and the month took that name from the fact that at a festival of Demeter and Kore on the 12th of Skirophorion, the priest of Erechtheus carried a white umbrella. A white umbrella is a slender foundation for a festival, but the element of white points in the right direction. The scholiast on the Wasps of Aristophanes 2 commenting on a/cipov has a happier thought : he says a certain sort of white earth, like gypsum, is called a-Kippds, and Athene is called 2, Kip pa? inasmuch as she is daubed with white, from a similarity in the name.

The same notion of white earth appears in the notice of the Etymologicon Magnum on the month Skirophorion, ' the name of a month among the Athenians ; it is so called from the fact that in it Theseus carried (r/cipav by which is meant gypsum. For Theseus, coming from the Minotaur, made an Athene of gypsum, and carried it and as he made it in this month it is called Skiro- phorion.'

But, it will be asked, supposing it be granted that Skira means things made of gypsum and Skirophoria the carrying of such things, what, in the name of common sense, has this to do with a festival of women analogous to the Thesmophoria ? Dr A. Mommsen 3 , who first emphasized this etymology, proposes that the white earth was used as manure ; this, though possible and ingenious, seems scarcely satisfactory. I would suggest another connection. The scholiast on Lucian has told us that the surrogates deposited in the megara were shaped out of paste made of grain. Is it not possible that the 2/a/oa were such surrogates made of gypsum alone or part gypsum, part flour-paste ? That such a mixture was manufactured for food we learn from Pliny 4 . In discussing the preparation of alica from zea (spelt) he says, ' astonishing statement, it is mixed with chalk.' In the case of a coarse sort of zea from Africa, the mixture was made in the proportion of a quarter of gypsum to three of zea. If this suggestion be correct, the Skirophoria is simply a summer Thesmophoria.

If the Skirophoria must, all said, remain conjectural, the gist

1 Ar. Eccles. 18. 2 Ar. Vesp. 925.

3 A. Mommsen, ' Die Attischen Skira-Gebrauche,' Philolog. L. p. 123.

4 Plin. N.H. xvn. 29. 2.

136 The Thesmophoria [OH.

of the Stenia is clear and was understood by the ancients them- selves. Photius remarks on Stenia 'a festival at Athens in which the Anodos of Demeter is held to take place. At this festival, according to Euboulos, the women abuse each other by night/ Hesychius 1 explains in like fashion and adds : o-r^z/twcrat, ' to use bad language/ 'to abuse/ According to him they not only abused each other but 'made scurrilous jests/ Such abuse, we know from Aristophanes 2 , was a regular element of the licence of the Thesmophoria. The Gephyrismoi, the jokes at the bridge, of the Eleusinian Mysteries, will occur to every one : similar in content is the stone-throwing, the Lithobolia of Damia and Auxesia.

It is interesting to note that in the primitive festivals of the Romans, the same scurrility contests appear. At the ancient feast of the Nonae Capratinae, Plutarch 3 tells us, 'the women are feasted in the fields in booths made of fig-tree branches, and the servant-maids run about and play ; afterwards they come to blows and throw stones at one another/ The servant-maids represent here as elsewhere a primitive subject population ; they live during the festival in booths as the women did at the Thesmo- phoria. How precisely this fight and this scurrility serve the end proposed, the promotion of fertility, is not wholly clear, but the throwing of stones, the beating and fighting, all look like the expulsion of evil influences. The scurrilous and sometimes to our modern thinking unseemly gestures savour of sympathetic magic, an intent that comes out clearly in the festival of the Haloa, the discussion of which must be reserved to the end.

We come next to the all-absorbing question, What is the derivation, the real root-meaning of the term Thesmophoria and the title Thesmophoros? The orthodox explanation of the Thesmo- phoria is that it was the festival of Demeter Thesmophoros, the law-carrier or law-giver. With Demeter, it is said, came in agriculture, settled life, marriage and the beginnings of civilized law. This is the view held by the scholiast on Theocritus 4 . In commenting on various sacred plants, which promoted chastity,

1 Hesych. s.v. 2 Ar. Thesm. 533. 3 Plut. Vit. Rom. sub fin.

4 Schol. ad Theocr. Id. iv. 25 rets vo/w'/ious /3t'/3Xous Kal lepas inrep TUIV avruv averldeffav Kal uvavei XirapeiAroixrcu airripxovTo els 'E\ev<riJ>a.

iv] Meaning of Thesmophoria 137

he adds, 'It was a law among the Athenians that they should celebrate the Thesmophoria yearly, and the Thesmophoria is this : women who are virgins and have lived a holy life, on the day of the feast, place certain customary and holy books on their heads, and as though to perform a liturgy they go to Eleusis.'

The scholiast gives himself away by the mention of Eleusis. He confuses the two festivals in instructive fashion, and clearly is reconstructing a ritual out of a cultus epithet. Happily we know from the other and better informed scholiast 1 that the women carried at the Thesmophoria not books but pigs. How then came the pigs and other sacra to be Thesmoi ? Dr Frazer proposes a solution. He suggests that the sacra, including the pigs, were called Oevpol, because they were 'the things laid down.' The women were called Thesmophoroi because they carried 'the things laid down ' ; the goddess took her name from her ministrants.

This interpretation is a great advance on the derivation from Thesmophoros, Law-giver. Thesmophoros is scarcely the natural form for law -giver, which in ordinary Greek appears as Thesmothetes. Moreover the form Thesmophoros must be con- nected with actual carrying and must also be connected with what we know was carried at the Thesmophoria. But Thesmoi in Greek did certainly mean laws, and Demeter Thesmophoros was in common parlance supposed to be Law-giver. What we want is a derivation that will combine both factors, the notion of law as well as the carrying of pigs.

In the light of Dr Verrall's new explanation of Anthesteria (p. 48) such a derivation may be found. If the Anthesteria be the festival of the charming up, the magical revocation of souls, may not the Thesmophoria be the festival of the carrying of the magical sacra ? To regard the Qzapoi, whether they are pigs or laws, as simply 'things laid down,' deriving them from the root 0e, has always seemed to me somewhat frigid. The root 6ea is more vivid and has the blood of religion, or rather magic, in its veins. Although it came, when man entered into orderly and civilized relations with his god, to mean ' pray,' in earlier days it carried a wider connotation, and meant, I think, to perform any kind of magical ceremonies. Is not fleovceXo? alive with magic ?

1 See supra, p. 121 sq.

138 The Thesmophoria [CH.


But what has law, sober law, to do with magic ? To primitive man, it seems, everything. Magic is for cursing or for blessing, and in primitive codes it would seem there was no commandment without cursing. The curse, the dp a, is of the essence of the law. The breaker of the law is laid under a ban. ' Honour thy father and thy mother' was the first commandment 'with promise.' Law in fact began at a time long before the schism of Church and State, or even of Religion and Morality. There was then no such thing as'* civil' law. Nay more, it began in the dim days when religion itself had not yet emerged from magic, in the days when, without invoking the wrath of a righteous divinity, you could yet ' put a curse ' upon a man, bind him to do his duty by magic and spells.

Primitive man, who thought he could constrain the earth to be fertile by burying in it fertile objects, by 'sympathetic magic,' was sure to think he could in like fashion compel his fellow. Curse tablets deposited in graves and sanctuaries have come to light in thousands ; but before man learnt to write his curse, to spell out the formulary /caraSco, ' I bind you down,' he had a simpler and more certain plan. In a grave in Attica was found a little lead figure 1 which tells its own tale. It is too ugly for needless reproduction, but it takes us into the very heart of ancient malignant magic. The head of the figure has been wrenched off, both arms are tightly swathed behind the back, and the legs in like fashion ; right through the centre of the body has been driven a great nail. Dr Wiinsch 2 , in publishing the figure, compares the story recorded of a certain St Theophilos 3 ' who had his feet and hands bound by magic.' The saint sought relief in vain, till he was told in a dream to go out fishing, and what the fishermen drew up would cure him of his malady. They let down the net and drew up a bronze figure, bound hand and foot and with a nail

1 Sixteen similar figures with feet and hands tightly bound, and in some cases the arms pierced by nails, were recently found on the site of the ancient Palestrina, see Egypt Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement, p. 332.

2 K. Wunsch, ' Eine antike Eachepuppe,' Philolog. LXI. 1902, p. 26.

3 Migne, Patrol. Gr. LXXXVII. 50 wept Qto<f>l\ov TOV diro nayelas (rvvdeOevTOS ras

/cat TOUS 7r65as.

iv] The Curse and the Law 139

driven through the hand: they drew out the nail and the saint immediately recovered.

The locus classicus on ancient magic and spells is of course the second Idyll of Theocritus 1 , on Simaetha the magician. Part of her incantation may be quoted here because a poet's insight has divined the strange fierce loveliness that lurks in rites of ignorance and fear, rites stark and desperate and non-moral as the passion that prompts them.

Delphis has forsaken her, and in the moonlight by the sea Simaetha makes ready her magic gear:

' Lo ! Now the barley smoulders in the flame.

Thestylis, wretch ! thy wits are woolgathering ! Am I a laughing-stock to thee, a Shame ?

Scatter the grain, I say, the while we sing,

"The bones of Delphis I am scattering." Bird' 2 , magic Bird, draw the man home to me.

Delphis sore troubled me. I, in my turn, This laurel against Delphis will I burn.

It crackles loud, and sudden down doth die,

So may the bones of Delphis liquefy. Wheel, magic Wheel, draw the man home to me.

Next do I burn this wax, God helping me,

So may the heart of Delphis melted be. This brazen wheel I whirl, so, as before Restless may he be whirled about my door.

Bird, magic Bird, draw the man home to me.

Next will I burn these husks. Artemis, Hast power hell's adamant to shatter down

And every stubborn thing. Hark ! Thestylis, Hecate's hounds are baying up the town, The goddess at the crossways. Clash the gong.

Lo, now the sea is still. The winds are still.

The ache within my heart is never still.'

The incantations of Simaetha are of course a private rite to an individual end. That the practice of such rites was very frequent long before the decadent days of Theocritus is clear from the fact that Plato 3 in the Laws regards it as just as necessary that his

1 Theocr. Id. n. 18 ff.

2 The bird tvy%, supposed to be the wry-neck lynx torquilla, bound on a wheel was a frequent love-charm. It is like the Siren (p. 201) a bird-soul, an enchanted maiden with the power to lure souls. Such enchanters, half-human, half-bird, were also the Keledones, cf. Athen. vn. 290 E at Kara rbv avrbv rpbirov rcus 2et/>??<n TOI)S di<po(i}/j.frovs 7Toiovv TTi\av0avofj,^vovs rQiv Tpoffruv dia TTJV r]8ovr)i> d<f>ai>aii>ecr6ai. In metaphorical language Siren and lynx are equivalents, cf. Xen. Mem. in. 11. 18 ; and cf. Diog. Laert. vi. 2. 76 Totatrr) TIS irpoariv tvy? Aioyfrovs rots \6yois.

3 Plat. Legg. 933.

140 The Thesmophoria [CH.

ideal state should make enactments against the man who tries to slay or injure another by magic, as against him who actually does definite physical damage. His discussion of the two kinds of evil- doing is curious and instructive, both as indicating the prevalence of sorcery in his days, and as expressing the rather dubious attitude of his own mind towards such practices. ' There are two kinds of poisoning in use among men, the nature of which forbids any clear distinction between them. There is the kind of which we have just now spoken, and which is the injury of one body by another in a natural and normal way, but the other kind injures by sorceries and incantations and magical bindings as they are called (/caraSeo-eo-t), and this class induces the aggressors to injure others as much as is possible, and persuades the sufferers that they more than any other are liable to be damaged by this power of magic. Now it is not easy to know the whole truth about such matters, nor if one knows it is one likely to be able lightly to persuade others. When therefore men secretly suspect each other at the sight of, say, waxen images fixed either at their doors or at the crossways or at the tombs of their parents, it is no good telling them to make light of such things because they know nothing certain about them.' Evidently Plato is not quite certain as to whether there is something in witchcraft or not : a diviner or a prophet, he goes on to admit, may really know something about these secret arts. Anyhow, he is clear that they are deleterious and should be stamped out if possible, and accordingly, any one who injures another either by magical bindings (/caraSea-ecriv') or by magical inductions (firarywyak) or by incantations (eTrwSat?) or by another form of magic is to die.

The scholiast 1 on the Idyll of Theocritus just quoted knows that one at least of the magical practices of Simaetha was also part of public ritual :

' The goddess at the crossways. Clash the gong.'

Hecate is magically induced, yet her coming is feared. The clash of the bronze gong is apotropaic. The scholiast says that

1 Schol. ad Theocr. Id. n. 10 rbv yap xaX/cdi' e-rrydov tv rats e/cXe^ecrt TTJS ffeKfyyis Kal Iv TOIS KaToixofJ-tvots* tireidri troftlfeTQ KaQapbs elvai. Kal dTreXacrrt/cds ru>v /xia<7/ndra'. Sibirep irpbs iraffav atyoffluffLV Kal diroKadapffLv avT$ txp&vro, ws 077<rt Kal 'A?ro\-

XoSwpos v r<p ire pi de&v (pijcrlv 'A7roXX6wpos 'AO^vgat TOV lepo^avr^v rrjs K6pr)s

TriKa\ov/Jifr'r}S, eTTiKpotietv rb KaXoti/mevov ^x e ' OI/ ' KC " Trapa AaKtaffi /SacriX^ws awodavovTOS elwdafft Kpoteiv X^Sijra. The reading /caroixo/^Ws is doubtful; see Mr A. B. Cook, J. H. S. 1902, p. 14.

iv] 77^6 Curse and the Law 141

'they sound the bronze at eclipses of the moon... because it has power to purify and to drive off pollutions. Hence, as Apollodorus states in his treatise Concerning the Gods, bronze was used for all purposes of consecration and purgation.' Apollodorus also stated that ' at Athens, the Hierophant of her who had the title of Kore sounded what was called a gong.' It was also the custom ' to beat on a cauldron when the king of the Spartans died.' All the cere- monies noted, relating to eclipses, to Kore and to the death of the Spartan king, are on public occasions, and all are apotropaic, directed against ghosts and sprites. Metal in early days, when it is a novelty, is apt to be magical. The din (fcporos) made by the women when they took down the sacra, whether it was a clapping of hands or of metal, is of the same order. The snakes are feared as hostile demons. These apotropaic rites are not practised against the Olympians, against Zeus and Apollo, but against sprites and ghosts and the divinities of the underworld, against Kore and Hecate. These underworld beings were at first dreaded and exor- cised, then as a gentler theology prevailed, men thought better of their gods, and ceased to exorcise them as demons, and erected them into a class of 'spiritual beings who preside over curses.' Pollux 1 has a brief notice of such divinities. He says 'those who resolve curses are called " Protectors from evil spirits," Who-send- away, Averters, Loosers, Putters-to-flight ; those who impose curses are called gods or goddesses of Vengeance, Gods of Appeal, Exactors.' The many adjectival titles are but so many descriptive names for the ghost that cries for vengeance.

The 'curse that binds,' the /carSecr/xo9, throws light on another element that went to the making of the ancient notion of sacrifice. The formula 2 in cursing was sometimes tcara&d) 'I bind down,' but it was also sometimes irapa^i^wfja 'I give over.' The person cursed or bound down was in some sense a gift or sacrifice to the gods of cursing, the underworld gods : the man stained by blood is ' consecrate ' (/eafltepo^eVo?) to the Erinyes. In the little sanctu- ary of Demeter at Cnidos 3 the curse takes even more religious

1 Poll. On. v. 131 irepl daifj,6v(n)v r&v ^TTI T&V ap&v. 01 8 dat/noves, oi IJL^V \vovres ras dpas dAe/ccucoi XtfyOPTW dtTroTro/UTrcuoi, diroTpoTraioi, Xi/(Tiot, 0tf|tot, oi 5 Kvpovvres dXiTTjpioi, dXtr^/jtajSets, irpoaTpbircuoi, waXafj-vaioi.

2 W. H. D. Bouse, Greek Votive Offerings, p. 339. Dr Rouse says that 4 binding spells ' S^uara ' are still the terror of the Greek bridegroom. '

3 C. T. Newton, Discoveries at Cnidus and Halicarnassus.

142 The Thesmophoria [CH.

form. He or she dedicates (aviepoT), or offers as a votive offering (dvaTi6r){jLi, for avarid^ai,), and finally we have the familiar dvaOepa of St Paul. Here the services of cursing, the rites of magic and the underworld are half way to the service of ' tendance/ the service of the Olympians, and we begin to understand why, in later writers, the pharmakos and other ' purifications ' are spoken of as Ovcriai. It is one of those shifts so unhappily common to the religious mind. Man wants to gain his own ends, to gratify his own malign passion, but he would like to kill two birds with one stone, and as the gods are made in his own image, the feat presents no great difficulty. Later as he grows gentler himself, he learns to pray only 'good prayers,' bonas preces 1 .

The curse (a pa) on its religious side developed into the vow 2 and the prayer (ev-^rj), on its social side into the ordinance (#6071,0?) and ultimately into the regular law (vo/j,os) ; hence the language of early legal formularies still maintains as necessary and integral the sanction of the curse. The formula is not ' do this' or 'do not do that,' but ' cursed be he who does this, or does not do that.'

One instance may be selected, the inscription characteristically known as ' the Dirae of Teos 3 .' The whole is too long to be tran- scribed, a few lines must suffice.

' Whosoever maketh baneful drugs against the Teans, whether against individuals or the whole people :

May he perish, both he and his offspring.

'Whosoever hinders corn from being brought into the land of the Teans, either by art or machination, whether by land or sea, and whosoever drives out what has been brought in : ' May he perish, both he and his offspring?

So clause after clause comes the refrain of cursing, like the

1 Cato, de agr. cult. 134. 3 bonas preces precor uti sies volens propitius mihi liberisque, etc.

2 Suidas in explaining tdpa<r6ai says rb ^/creX^rcu ras dpds, TOUT' <rrt TCLS eu^as as 4rrl TCUS lpv<re(r<. T&V vawv eiuda<ri Troieicrdcu. It is worth noting that in M.H.D. segen is not only as in modern German benedictio but also maledictlo, see Osthoff, 'Allerhand Zauber etymologisch beleuchtet,' Bezzenberger, Beitrdge xxiv. p. 180.

3 Kohl, I.G.A. 497. The whole subject of legal curses has been well discussed by Dr Ziebart, ' Der Fluch im Griechischen Eecht ' (Hermes xxx. p. 57) to whom I owe many references. Also by the same writer in his 'Neue Attische Fluchtafeln' (Nachrichten der K. Ges. d. Wiss. zu Gottingen, Phil.-Hist. Kl. 1889, pp. 105 and 135), and by E. Wiinsch, 'Neue Fluchtafeln (flfcem. Mas. 1900, i. p. 62, n. p. 232). Curse Inscriptions are collected in an Appendix to the Corpus Inscriptionum Atticarum, under the title Defixionum Tabulae.

iv] The Curse and the Law 143

tolling of a bell, and at last as though they could not have their fill, comes the curse on the magistrate who fails to curse :

' Whosoever of them that hold office doth not make this cursing, what time he presides over the contest at the Anthesteria and the Herakleia and the Dia, let him be bound by an overcurse (eV rrj 7rapfj e^e<r&u), and whoever either breaks the stelae on which the cursing is written, or cuts out the letters or makes them illegible :

' Nay Tie perish, both he and his offspring'

It is interesting to find here that the curses were recited at the Anthesteria, a festival of ghosts, and the Herakleia, an obvious hero festival, and at the Dia this last surely a festival of imprecation like the Diasia.

On the strength of these Dirae of Teos, recited at public and primitive festivals, it might not be rash to conjecture that at the Thesmophoria some form of decr^oi or binding spells was recited as well as carried. This conjecture becomes almost a certainty when we examine an important inscription 1 found near Pergamos and dealing with the regulations for mourning in the city of Gambreion in Mysia. The mourning laws of the ancients bore harder on women than on men, a fact explicable not by the general lugubriousness of women, nor even by their supposed keener sense of convention, but by those early matriarchal con- ditions in which relationship naturally counted through the mother rather than the father. Women, the law in question enacts, are to wear dark garments ; men if they ' did not wish to do this' might relax into white; the period of mourning is longer for women than for men. Next follows the important clause : ' the official who superintends the affairs of women, who has been chosen by the people at the purifications that take place before the Thesmophoria, is to invoke blessings on the men who abide by the law and the women who obey the law that they may happily enjoy the goods they possess, but on the men who do not obey and the women who do not abide therein he is to invoke the contrary, and such women are to be accounted impious, and it is not lawful for them to make any sacrifice to the gods for the space of ten years, and the steward is to write up this law on two

1 Dittenberger, Syll. Inscr. 879.

144 The Thesmophoria [CH.

stelae and set them up, the one before the doors of the Thesmo- phorion, the other before the temple of Artemis Lochia.'

From the Thesmophoriazusae of Aristophanes we learn almost nothing of the ritual of the Thesmophoria, save the fact that the feast was celebrated on the Pnyx 1 : but the fashion in which the woman-herald prays is worth noting ; she begins by a real prayer 2 :

'I bid you pray to Gods and Goddesses That in Olympus and in Pytho dwell And Delos, and to all the other gods.'

But when she comes to what she really cares about, she breaks into the old habitual curse formularies :

' If any plots against the cause of Woman Or peace proposes to Euripides Or to the Medes, or plots a tyranny, Or if a female slave in her master's ear Tells tales, or male or female publican Scants the full measure of our legal pint Curse him that he may miserably perish, He and his house, but for the rest of you Pray that the gods may give you all good things.'

It is of interest to find that not only were official curses written up at the doors of a Thesmophorion, but, at Syracuse, an oath of special sanctity 'the great oath' was taken there. Plutarch 3 tells us that when Callippus was conspiring against his friend Dion, the wife and sister of Dion became suspicious. To allay their suspicions, Callippus offered to give any pledge of his sincerity they might desire. They demanded that he should take ' the great oath ' (o^ocrat, rov ^e^av op/cov). ' Now the great oath was after this wise. The man who gives this pledge has to go to the temenos of the Thesmophoroi, and after the performance of certain sacred ceremonies, he puts on him the purple robe of the goddess, and taking a burning torch he denies the charge on oath' (aTTo/jLvvo-i,). It is clear that this ' great oath ' was some form of imprecation on the oath-taker, who probably by putting on the robe, dedicated himself in case of perjury to the goddess of the underworld. That the goddess was Kore we know from the fact that Callippus eventually forswore himself in sacrilegious fashion by sacrificing his victim on the feast of the Koreia, 'the feast of the goddess by whom he had sworn.' The curse is the dedication

1 Mow. and Myth. Anc. Athens, p. 104.

2 Ar. Thesm. 331. 3 Plut. Vit. Dion. 56.

iv] The Haloa 145

or devotion of others ; the oath, like its more concrete form the ordeal, is the dedication of the curser himself.

The connection between primitive law and agriculture seems to have been very close. The name of the earliest laws recorded they are rather precepts than in our sense laws the 'Ploughman's Curses ' speaks for itself. Some of these Ploughman's Curses are recorded. We are told by one of the ' Writers of Proverbs 1 ' that < the Bouzyges at Athens, who performs the sacred ploughing, utters many other curses and also curses those who do not share water and fire as a means of subsistence and those who do not show the way to those who have lost it.' Other similar precepts, no doubt sanctioned by similar curses, have come down to us .under the name of the Thrice-Plougher Triptolemos*, the first lawgiver of the Athenians. He bade men ' honour their parents, rejoice the gods with the fruits of the earth and not injure animals.' Perhaps these were to the Greeks the first command- ments 'with promise/

Such are the primitive precepts that grow up in a com- munity which agriculture has begun to bind together with the ties of civilized life. In the days before curses were graven in stone and perhaps for long after, it was well that when the people were gathered together for sowing or for harvest, these salutary curses should be recited. Amid the decay of so much that is robust and primitive, it is pleasant to remember that in the Commination Service of our own Anglican Church with its string of holy curses annually recited

'They keep the Thesmophoria as they always used to do.'


The consideration of the Haloa has been purposely reserved to the end for this reason. The rites of the Thesmophoria, Skirophoria and Arrephoria are carried on by women only, and when they come to be associated with divinities at all, they are regarded as ' sacred to' Demeter and Kore or to analogous women goddesses Ge,

1 Paroimiogr. i. 388 6 yap fiovfflyqs ' 'Adrivrjffiv 6 rbv iepbv aporov ^TrtreXcGj' aXXa re iroXXa dparcu /cat rots fJ.i] Koivwvovffi. /card rbv filov Vdaros rj irvpbs TJ /J.T) i/iro(j>aivov(ru> irXavdj / ois. Porph. de Abst. iv. 22.

H. 10

146 The Thesmophoria [CH.

Aphrodite, Eileithyia and Athene. Moreover the sacra carried are cereal cakes and nephalia : but the rites of the Haloa, though indeed mainly conducted by women, and sacred in part to Demeter, contain a new element, that of wine, and are therefore in mythological days regarded as ' sacred to ' not only Demeter but Dionysos.

On this point an important scholion 1 to Lucian is explicit. The Haloa is ' a feast at Athens containing mysteries of Demeter and Kore and Dionysos on the occasion of the cutting of the vines and the tasting of the wine made from them.' Eustathius 2 states the same fact. 'There is celebrated, according to Pausanias, a feast of Demeter and Dionysos called the Haloa.' He adds, in explaining the name, that at it they were wont to carry first-fruits from Athens to Eleusis and to sport upon the threshing-floors, and that at the feast there was a procession of Poseidon. At Eleusis, Poseidon was not yet specialized into a sea-god only ; he was Phytalmios, god of plants, and as such, it will be later seen (p. 427), his worship was easily affiliated to that of Dionysos.

The affiliation of the worship of the corn-goddess to that of the wine-god is of the first importance. The coming of Dionysos brought a new spiritual impulse to the religion of Greece, an impulse the nature of which will later be considered in full, and it was to this new impulse that the Eleusinian mysteries owed, apart from political considerations which do not concern us, their ultimate dominance. Of these mysteries the Haloa is, I think, the primitive prototype.

As to the primitive gist of the Haloa, there is no shadow of doubt : the name speaks for itself. Harpocration 3 rightly explains the festival, 'the Haloa gets its name, according to Philochorus, from the fact that people hold sports at the threshing- floors, and he says it is celebrated in the month Poseideon.' The sports held were of course incidental to the business of threshing, but it was these sports that constituted the actual festival. To this day the

1 Schol. ad Luc. Dial. Meretr. vn. 4

Kal K6/J7JS Kal Acovvcrov irl rrj TOfty T&V a.^ir^\d)v Kal rrj yeijffet TOV airo- KeifjL^vov fjdt] olvov yi.vbfj.eva. irapa. 'Adrjv aloes.

2 Eustath. ad II. ix. 530, 772 'lartov dt 8ri tnl <rvyKO[u8fj Kapiruv e0' rj Kal ret 6a\vcria iBvero eoprr} tfyeTO A-ty/tojrpos Kal Aiovixrov Kara Havvavtav, d\ya KaKov^vr] dia TO rats aTrapxats /cat ytcdXicrra ev 'Afl^cus curb rrjs d'Xw rore KaraxpacrQai (ptpovras ets

7} wei Kada Kal "OfATjpos fji<f)alvei v a\w<riv Zirai^ov Kara rijv eopryv kv 77 Kal


3 Harp. s.v. '

iv] The Haloa 147

great round threshing-floor that is found in most Greek villages is the scene of the harvest festival. Near it a booth (a-icrivrj) is to this day erected, and in it the performers rest and eat and drink in the intervals of their pantomimic dancing.

The Haloa was celebrated in the month Poseideon (December January), a fact as surprising as it is ultimately significant. What has a threshing festival to do with mid-winter, when all the grain should be safely housed in the barns? Normally, now as in ancient days, the threshing follows as soon as may be after the cutting of the corn ; it is threshed and afterwards winnowed in the open threshing-floor, and mid-winter is no time even in Greece for an open-air operation.

The answer is simple. The shift of date is due to Dionysos. The rival festivals of Dionysos were in mid-winter. He possessed himself of the festivals of Demeter, took over her threshing-floor and compelled the anomaly of a winter threshing festival. The latest time that a real threshing festival could take place is Pyanepsion, but by Poseideon it is just possible to have an early Pithoigia and to revel with Dionysos. There could be no clearer witness to the might of the incoming god.

As to the nature of the Haloa we learn two important facts from Demosthenes. It was a festival in which the priestess, not the Hierophant, presented the offerings, a festival under the presidency of women ; and these offerings were bloodless, no animal victim (lepelov) was allowed. Demosthenes 1 records how a Hierophant, Archias by name, ' was cursed because at the Haloa he offered on the eschara in the court of Eleusis burnt sacrifice of an animal victim brought by the courtezan Sinope.' His condem- nation was on a double count, ' it was not lawful on that day to sacrifice an animal victim, and the sacrifice was not his business but that of the priestess.' The epheboi 2 offered bulls at Eleusis, and, it would appear, engaged in some sort of ' bull fight 3 ,' but this

1 Dem. 59. 116 KaTrjpif)dr) avrov (TOV iepo<pdvTov) Kal tin 2,Lv6irr] ry eraipa 'AXy'ots tirl TTJS e<r%cipas TTJS ev Ty au\rj'^\ev<rlvL irpoffayotiffTj lepelov dvcreiev, ov vo/ml/j-ou ovros ev ravrr; ry ij/J.e'pa lepeta Gueiv ovde cKeivov otfcnjs rijs dvalas dXXa r^s iepeias.

2 C.I. A. II. 1, n. 471 tfpavro 8e Kal rovs ftovs ro[us] ev 'EXeyaii't TY/ dvalq. Kal rots irpoypofflois Kal TOI>S ev rots dAXots lepois Kal yi)<rtois. Cf. Dittenberger, De Epheb. p. 77.

3 The nature of the contest is not clear. Artemidorus (i. 8) says: ravpois ev luvla waides 'Efieffiuv ayuvifrovTai Kal ev 'ArTt/q? irapa rais deais ev 'EXefcni'i

TrepiTe\\o[j.tvwv ^j/taurwv.' See Lobeck, Agl. p. 206.


148 The Tfiesmophoria [OH.

must have been in honour either of Dionysos or of Poseidon who preceded him : the vehicle of both these divinities was the bull. It was the boast of the archon at the Haloa that Demeter had given to men 'gentle foods.'

Our fullest details of the Haloa, as of the Thesmophoria, come to us from the newly discovered scholia on Lucian 1 . From the scholiast's account it is clear that by his day the festival was regarded as connected with Dionysos as much as, or possibly more than, with Demeter. He definitely states that it was instituted in memory of the death of Ikarios after his introduction of the vine into Attica. The women he says celebrated it alone, in order that they might have perfect freedom of speech. The sacred symbols of both sexes were handled, the priestesses secretly whispered into the ears of the women present words that might not be uttered aloud, and the women themselves uttered all manner of what seemed to him unseemly quips and jests. The sacra handled are, it is clear, the same as those of the Thesmo- phoria : that their use and exhibition were carefully guarded is also clear from the exclusion of the other sex. The climax of the festival, it appears, was a great banquet. ' Much wine was set out and the tables were full of all the foods that are yielded by land and sea, save only those that are prohibited in the mysteries, I mean the pomegranate and the apple and domestic fowls, and eggs and red sea-mullet and black-tail and crayfish and shark. The archons prepare the tables and leave the women inside and

1 Luc. Dial. Meretr. vn. 4 ' rri^epov 'AX<d fort, ri 5'<roi 6VSw/cej> els TT\V eoprrjv ;' schol. ad loc. 'Eo/xrrj 'A6r/vr)o~i ^var-^pio. Trept^xofcra A^/r^rpos /cat KO/DTJS Kal Atovvffov ^?rt rfj TOfMrj rwv dfj.irt\u)v Kal rrj yeixrei TOV aTTOKifj.^vov rfdrj o'ivov yivo/meva irapa 'A6i)valois iv o?s TrporldeTai (d. Subject fehlt im Cod.: zu erganzen 1st Tr^u/nard?) TWO. alo~x vvaL ^ dvdpeiois (sic) &>t/c6ra, irepl uv SirjyovvTai ws Trpbs o~vvdrnj.a. rrjs rdv

dvOpwTTuv <riropas yivo/j-tvuv 6'rt 6 Atopuaos Soil's TOV olvov After recounting the death

of Ikarios the scholiast continues, v7r6/n.vrjfjLa 8t TOV irdOovs i] ToiaiJT-rj fopT-f]. tv rctirr^ /cat reXer?7 TIS etViryerat ywaiKW tv 'E\evaii>i, /cat TratStat \tyovTai TroAXat /cat <r/ca>^/iara, /.Luvai d yvvaiKes elo"iropvb[J.eva.i ^TT' dSet'as -% ovffLV a ^3oi)Xovrat \tyeiv. /cat 5r) TO, afoxiVTa dXX-^Xats \tyovai TOTC, at 8e itpeiai \ddpa Trpoffiova-ai rats ywcui K\e\f/iya/j.ias irpbs Tb ovs ws diroppTjTov TL crvufiovXevovviv. ava.(p<j}vovo~L 5e irpbs dXX^Xas Tracrat at yvvaiKes atVxpa /cat aere/i^a, f3affTdov(rai ei8-r) (rw/idrajj' (so die Hs. : der Sinn erfordert G~XJT\IJ.Q.T(I)V genitalium) airpeirv) (dirpeirel die Hs.) dvopeid TC Kal yvvaiKeia. evTavda olvbs re 7roXi>s Trpo/cetrat /cat TpdirefaL irdvTUV r&v TTJS yys Kal 0a\d<rar)S ytnovo-ai ^pu/naTUv, ir\ty TUIV dirLpTf^v<j}V 4v T< /iuort/cy, poias <pripi.l Kal /xlJXou /cat opvidwv KaToiKidiwv, Kal q>u>v, Kal 6a\aaaias Tpty\r)s epvdivov (epi6ijvov die Hs.), fjieXavovpov, xupdfiov (?/capd)8ou), yaXatoO (^aXeoD?). irapaTidtacri 8e rds Tpairtfas ot &PXOVTCS Kal v8ov /caraXiTroi'Tes rats yvvailj>, avTol x u P^ OVTaL ^ w 5ia/Ae>'OJ'Tes, ^iriSeiKvij/u.ei'oi rot's eirior)p,ovfft. iraffi ras ijfji.povs rpo0ds Trapd ai>T&v evpe6r)vai Kal Tracrt KOivuvrjdijvai rots dvdpwirois Trap* avTUiv. irpoo~KiTai 8 rats Tpairtfais Kal K TrXa/coui/ros KaTffKeva<T/j.eva dufportpuv yevwv 8e e/cX^^i; 5td TOV Kapirbv TOV Atovvvov ' dXwai yap at TUV djui.irt\wv 0vretat.

iv] The Haloa 149

themselves withdraw and remain outside, making a public state- ment to the visitors present that the <l gentle foods " were discovered by them (i.e. the people of Eleusis) and by them shared with the rest of mankind. And there are upon the tables cakes shaped like the symbols of sex. And the name Haloa is given to the feast on account of the fruit of Dionysos for the growths of the vine are called Aloai!

The materials of the women's feast are interesting. The diet prescribed is of cereals and of fish and possibly fowl, but clearly not of flesh. As such it is characteristic of the old Pelasgian population before the coming of the flesh-eating Achaeans. More- over a second point of interest it is hedged in with all manner of primitive taboos. The precise reason of the taboo on pome- granates, red mullet and the like, is lost beyond recall, but some of the particular taboos are important because they are strictly paralleled in the Eleusinian mysteries. That the pomegranate was ' taboo ' at the Eleusinian mysteries is clear from the aetio- logical myth in the Homeric hymn to Demeter 1 . Hades consents to let Persephone return to the upper air.

'So spake he, and Persephone the prudent up did rise Glad in her heart and swift to go. But he in crafty wise Looked round and gave her stealthily a sweet pomegranate seed To eat, that not for all her days with Her of sable-weed, Demeter, should she tarry.'

The pomegranate was dead men's food, and once tasted drew Persephone back to the shades. Demeter admits it ; she says 2 to Persephone :

'If thou hast tasted food below, thou canst not tarry here, Below the hollow earth must dwell the third part of the year.'

Porphyry 3 in his treatise on Abstinence from Animal Food, notes the reason and the rigour of the Eleusinian taboos. Demeter, he says, is a goddess of the lower world and they consecrate the cock to her. The word he uses, d<j)iepa)crav, really means put under a taboo. We are apt to associate the cock with daylight and his early morning crowing, bub the Greeks for some reason regarded the bird as chthonic. It is a cock, Socrates remembers, that he owes to Asklepios, and Asklepios, it will be seen when we come

1 Horn. Hym. ad Ger. 370. 2 v. 399.

3 Porphyr. de Abst. iv. 16.

150 The ThesmopJioria [CH.

to the subject of hero-worship, was but a half-deified hero. The cock was laid under a taboo, reserved, and then came to be con- sidered as a sacrifice. Porphyry goes on ' It is because of this that the mystics abstain from barndoor fowls. And at Eleusis public proclamation is made that men must abstain from barndoor fowls, from fish and from beans, and from the pomegranate and from apples, and to touch these defiles as much as to touch a woman in child-birth or a dead body.' The Eleusinian Mysteries were in their enactments the very counterpart of the Haloa.


The Eleusinian Mysteries 1 are usually treated as if they were a thing by themselves, a ceremony so significant, so august, as to stand apart from the rest of Greek Ritual. If my view be correct, they are primarily but the Eleusinian Haloa : all their ultimate splendour and spiritual as well as social prestige are due to two things, first the fact that Athens for political purposes made them her own, second that at some date we cannot exactly fix, they became affiliated to the mysteries of Dionysos. To Athens the mysteries owe their external magnificence, to Dionysos and Orpheus their deep inward content. The external magnificence, being non- religious, does not concern us ; the deep inward content, the hope of immortality and the like are matters of cardinal import, but must stand over till a later chapter, after the incoming of Dionysos has been discussed. For the present what concerns us is, setting aside all vague statements and opinions as to the meaning and spiritual influence attributed by various authors, ancient and modern, to the mysteries, to examine the actual ritual facts of which evidence remains.

Mysteries were by no means confined to the religion of Demeter and Kore. There were mysteries of Hermes, of lasion, of Ino, of Archemoros, of Agraulos, of Hecate. In general mysteries

1 The sources for the Eleusinian Mysteries are collected in Ijobeck'sAglaophamus. Beference to inscriptions discovered since Lobeck's days will be found in Daremberg and Saglio's Dictionnaire des Antiquites, s.v. The best general account in English is that by Prof. Eamsay in the Encyclopaedia Brilannica, in Prench two articles reprinted from the Memoires de VAcademie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, vol. xxxv. 2nd part 1895, and vol. xxxvn. 1900, entitled 'Eecherches sur 1'origine et la nature des Mysteres d'Eleusis,' and 'Les Grands Mysteres d'Eleusis, Personnel, Ceremonies.'

iv] The Eleusinian Mysteries 151

seem to occur more usually in relation to the cult of women divinities 1 , of heroines and earth-goddesses; from the worship of the Olympians in Homer they are markedly absent. In general, by a mystery is meant a rite in which certain sacra are exhibited, which cannot be safely seen by the worshipper till he has under- gone certain purifications.

The date of the mysteries at Eleusis is fortunately certain. The ceremonies began on the 13th of Boedromion, i.e. about the end of September, an appropriate date for any harvest festival which was to include the later fruits and notably the grape. Our evidence for this date is an imperial Roman inscription 2 , but this inscription expressly states that its enactments are ' according to ancient usage.' ' The people has decided to order the Kosmeter of the Epheboi in accordance with ancient usage to send them to Eleusis on the 13th day of Boedromion, in their customary dress, for the procession that accompanies the sacra, in order that on the 14th they may escort them to the Eleusinion which is at the foot of the Acropolis. Also to order the Kosmeter of the Epheboi to conduct them on the 19th to Eleusis in the same dress, escorting the sacra.' The inscription is of great importance, as it is clear evidence that sacra were part of the regular ritual. What precisely these sacra were we do not know ; presumably they were objects like those in use at the Thesmophoria. The going to and fro from Eleusis to Athens is purely political. The sacra were really resident at Eleusis, but Athens liked to think she brought them there. The Epheboi escorted the sacra, but, as was fitting, they were really in charge of, and actually carried by, priestesses 3 .

On the 15th of Boedromion took place the d<yvp^o^ or assembling of the candidates for initiation, and the proclama- tion by the Hierophant in the Stoa Poikile interdicting those whose hands were defiled and those whose lips spoke unintelligible words 4 . Some such interdiction, some ' fencing of the tables/ took

1 The rites at Eleusis were probably at first confined to women. Dionysios of Halicarnassos (Ant. Rom. i. 331) says in speaking of the cult of Demeter in Arcadia, idptaavro 5e Ka.1 A^/ATJT/OOJ ifpbv KCLI rds duaias avrr] 5td ywaiKwv /cat vrj<pa\lovs

2 C.I.A. in. 5.

3 Inscr. A. Mitth. 1894 p. 163 u>s SLV rot iepa $tpw<nv at Itpeiai d

4 The exact formulary is preserved by Theon of Smyrna, p. 22, rb K-ripvyna TOVTO

' oVrts T<XS X"P as A"? Ka0ap6s...6'crm (J>UVT)V do-wercy.' Some authorities

152 The Thesmophoria [CH.

place in all probability before all mysteries. It is this prorrhesis of course that is parodied by Aristophanes in the Frogs 1 , who actually dares to put his burlesque into the mouth of the Hierophant himself.

The 16th of Boedromion saw the accomplishment of a rite of cardinal importance. The day was called in popular parlance ' a\a$e fjuva-rai,,' ' To the sea ye mystics/ from the cry that heralded the act of purification. Hesychius 2 in commenting on the expression says 'a certain day of the Mysteries at Athens.' Polyaenus 3 is precise as to the date. He says ' Chabrias won the sea-fight at Naxos on the 16th of Boedromion. He had felt that this was a good day for a battle, because it was one of the days of the Great Mysteries. The same thing happened with Themistocles against the Persians at Salamis. But Themistocles and his troops had the "lacchos" for their call, while Chabrias and his troops had " To the sea ye mystics.'" The victory of Chabrias was won, as we know from Plutarch 4 , at the full moon, and at the full moon the Mysteries were celebrated.

The procession to the sea was called by the somewhat singular name e'Xacrt?, 'driving' or 'banishing 5 ,' and the word is instructive. The procession was not a mere procession, it was a driving out, a banishing. This primary sense seems to lurk in the Greek word 7ro//,7r?7 6 , which in primitive days seems to have mainly meant a conducting out, a sending away of evil. The bathing in the sea was a purification, a conducting out, a banishing of evil, and each man took with him his own pharmakos, a young pig. The eXa<rt?, the driving, may have been literally the driving of the pig, which, as the goal was some 6 miles distant, must have been a lengthy and troublesome business. Arrived at the sea, each man bathed with his pig the pig of purification was itself purified. When in the days of Phocion 7 the Athenians were compelled to receive a

think that 0WJ/V afftveros means speaking an unknown, barbarous tongue, others that it meant having some impediment of speech that prevented the due utterance of the sacred formularies. I think the former more probable.

1 Ar. Ran. 354.

2 Hesych. s.v. 3 Polyaen. Strat. in. 11.

4 Plut. de glor. Ath. vn.

5 G.I. A. IV. 385 d, 1. 20 ^ire/j.fX^e-rjffav 8t Kal rrjs a\ade Adtrews.

6 Mr B. A. Neil suggested that the same root and idea may lurk in the unexplained pontifex, i.e. maker of TTO/ATTCU. The connection with bridges is late and fanciful.

7 Plut. Vit. Phoc. xxvin.

iv] The Eleusinian Mysteries 153

Macedonian garrison, terrible portents appeared. When the ribbons with which the mystic beds were wound came to be dyed, instead of taking a purple colour they came out of a sallow death-like hue, which was the more remarkable as when it was the ribbons belonging to private persons that were dyed, they came out all right. And more portentous still 'when a mystic was bathing his pig in the harbour called Kantharos, a sea-monster ate off the lower part of his body, by which the god made clear beforehand that they would be deprived of the lower parts of the city that lay near the sea, but keep the upper portion.'

The pig of purification was a ritual element, so important that when Eleusis was permitted (B.C. 350 327) to issue her au- tonomous coinage 1 it is the pig that she chooses as the sign and symbol of her mysteries. The \

bronze coin in fig. 14 shows the pig standing on the torch : in the FIG. 14.

exergue an ivy spray. The pig

was the cheapest and commonest of sacrificial animals, one that each and every citizen could afford. Socrates in the Republic* says ' if people are to hear shameful and monstrous stories about the gods it should be only rarely and to a select few in a mystery, and they should have to sacrifice not a (mere) pig but some huge and unprocurable victim/

Purification, it is clear, was an essential feature of the mysteries, and this brings us to the consideration of the meaning of the word mystery. The usual derivation of the word is from fjujo), I close the apertures whether of eyes or mouth. The mystes, it is supposed, is the person vowed to secrecy who has not seen and will not speak of the things revealed. As such he is distinguished from the epoptes who has seen, but equally may not speak ; the two words indicate successive grades of initiation. It will later be seen (p. 480) that in the Orphic Mysteries the word mystes is applied, without any reference to seeing or not seeing, to a person who has fulfilled the rite of eating the raw flesh of a bull. It will also be seen that in Crete, which is

1 Head, Hist. Num. p. 328 : on the reverse is Triptolemos in his winged car.

2 Plat. Eep. ii. 378 A.

154 The Thesmophoria [OH.

probably the home of the mysteries, the mysteries were open to all, they were not mysterious. The derivation of mystery from fjuvo), though possible, is not satisfactory. I would suggest another and a simple origin.

The ancients themselves were not quite comfortable about the connection with /AVW. They knew and felt that mystery, secrecy, was not the main gist of ' a mystery ': the essence of it all primarily was purification in order that you might safely eat and handle certain sacra. There was no revelation, no secret to be kept, only a mysterious taboo to be prepared for and finally overcome. It might be a taboo on eating first-fruits, it might be a taboo on handling magical sacra. In the Thesmophoria, the women fast before they touch the sacra ; in the Eleusinian mysteries you sacrifice a pig before you offer and partake of the first-fruits. The gist of it all is purification. Clement 1 says significantly, ' Not unreasonably among the Greeks in their mysteries do ceremonies of purification hold the initial place, as with barbarians the bath.' Merely as an insulting conjecture Clement 2 in his irresponsible abusive fashion throws out what I believe to be the real origin of the word mystery. 'I think/ he says, 'that these orgies and mysteries of yours ought to be derived, the one from the wrath (0/3777) of Demeter against Zeus, the other from the pollution (/xucro?) relating to Dionysos.' Of course Clement is formally quite incorrect, but he hits on what seems a possible origin of the word mystery, that it is the doing of what relates to a JJLVO-QS, a pollution, it is primarily a ceremony of purification. Lydus 3 makes the same suggestion, ' Mysteries,' he says, ' are from the separating away of a pollution (/AVCTO?) as equivalent to sanctifi- cation.'

The bathing with the pig was not the only rite of puri- fication in the mysteries, though it is the one of which we have most definite detail. From the aetiology 4 of the Homeric

1 Clem. Al. Strom, v. 689 OVK aTrec^rws /cal rQ>v nwTypluv ru>v trap 1 [jikv Ka.66.paia Kadairep KO! tv rots /3a/>/3apots TO \ovrpbv.

2 Clem. Al. Protr. n. yuua-r^pta...a7r6 rov <ri>/i/3e/3?7/c<5Tos irepl rbv

3 Lyd. de mens. IV. 38 MuonJ/xa airb rris arepTjaews rov /mvaovs O.VTI TTJS <ryio<n5f?7S. In form /j,6crTr]s might come from /JLVW (cf. d/ivori), but Mr Gilbert Murray draws my attention to some uses of fj-va-r-rfpiov which point rather to fj.vaos, e.g. Eur. Suppl. 470 XtiffavTa <T(J.VCI,<j}v fj,v(TTripia and El. 87 e/c 6eov p.vffTf]pid}v.

4 The aetiology of the Hymn and the various ceremonies that gave rise to it are well explained by Mr F. B. Jevons, Introd. to History of Religion, Appendix to Chapter XXIV.

iv] The Tokens 155

Hymn to Demeteiy we may conjecture that there were, at least for children, rites of purification by passing through fire, and ceremonies of a mock fight or stone-throwing (Xt#o/3oAta, /3aX\,r)Tv$). All have the same intent and need not here be examined in detail.

On the night of the 19 20th 1 the procession of purified mystics, carrying with them the image of lacchos, left Athens for Eleusis, and after that we have no evidence of the exact order of the various rites of initiation. The exact order is indeed of little importance. Instead we have recorded what is of im- measurably more importance, the precise formularies in which the mystics avowed the rites in which they had taken part, rites which we are bound to suppose constituted the primitive ceremony of initiation.

Before these are examined it is necessary to state definitely what already has been implied, i.e. the fact that at the mysteries there was an offering of first-fruits ; the mysteries were in fact the Thargelia of Eleusis. An inscription 2 of the 5th century B.C. found at Eleusis is our best evidence. ' Let the Hierophant and the Torch-bearer command that at the mysteries the Hellenes should offer first-fruits of their crops in accordance with ancestral

usage To those who do these things there shall be many good

things, both good and abundant crops, whoever of them do not injure the Athenians, nor the city of Athens, nor the two goddesses.' The order of precedence is amusing and character- istic. Here we have indeed a commandment with promise.

The 'token' or formulary by which the mystic made confession is preserved for us by Clement 3 as follows : ' / fasted, I drank the kykeon, I took from the chest, (having tasted ?) I put back into the basket and from the basket into the chest! The statement involves, in the main, two acts besides the preliminary fast, i.e. the drinking of the kykeon and the handling of certain unnamed sacra.

1 I omit altogether the ceremonies of the 17th 18th, the Epidauria, as they were manifestly a later accretion ; the worship of the Epidaurian Asklepios was formally inaugurated at Athens (see p. 344) in 421 B.C.

2 Dittenberger, Syllog. Inscript. 13.

3 Clem. Al. Protr. n. 18 &TTI rb (njv6rjfj.a 'EXeuaWwj' 'Ej^oreutra, ZTTIOV rbv KVKewva, tXafiov K KtVr?7S, tpya<rd/ui.evos (? tyyev<rd/j.fvos) aired^f]v ds K&Kadov Kal 4i< KaKaQov els KiffTTfjv. Since the above was written, Dr Dieterich (Eine Mithras-Liturgie p. 125) has shown good reason for supposing that tpyaaa/j.ei'os is a euphemism for rites analogous to the lepbs : see p. 535.

156 The Thesmophoria [OH.

It is significant of the whole attitude of Greek religion that the confession is not a confession of dogma or even faith, but an avowal of ritual acts performed. This is the measure of the gulf between ancient and modern. The Greeks in their greater wisdom saw that uniformity in ritual was desirable and possible ; they left a man practically free in the only sphere where freedom is of real importance, i.e. in the matter of thought. So long as you fasted, drank the kykeon, handled the sacra, no one asked what were your opinions or your sentiments in the performance of those acts ; you were left to find in every sacrament the only thing you could find what you brought. Our own creed is mainly a Credo, an utterance of dogma, formulated by the few for the many, but it has traces of the more ancient conception of Confiteor, the avowal of ritual acts performed. Credo in unam sanctam catholicam et apostolicam ecclesiam is immediately followed by Confiteor unum baptismum, though the instinct of dogma surges up again in the final words in remissionem peccatorum.

The preliminary fast before the eating of sacred things is common to most primitive peoples ; it is the simplest negative form of purification : among the more logical savages it is often accompanied by the taking of a powerful emetic. The kykeon requires a word of explanation. The first-fruits at Eleusis were presented in the form of a pelanos*. The nature of a pelanos has already been discussed, and the fact noted that the word pelanos was used only of the half-fluid mixture offered to the gods. Its equivalent for mortals was called alphita or sometimes kykeon. Eustathius in commenting on the drink prepared by Hekamede for Nestor, a drink made of barley and cheese and pale honey and onion and Pramnian wine, says that the word kykeon meant some- thing between meat and drink, but inclining to be like a sort of soup that you could sup. Such a drink it was that in the Homeric Hymn Metaneira prepared for Demeter, only with no wine, for Demeter, as an underworld goddess 'might not drink red wine ' : and such a wineless drink, made in all probability from the pelanos and only differing from it in name, was set before the mystae.

Some ceremony like the drinking of the kykeon is represented in the vase-painting 2 in fig. 15. Two worshippers, a man and

1 C.LA. vol. iv. p. 203, 11. 68 and 72.

2 Annali delV Inst. 1865, Tav. d' agg. F. Naples, Heydemann, Cat. 3358.


The Sacra


a woman, are seated side by side ; before them a table piled with food, beneath it a basket of loaves. They are inscribed Mystae (Mvo-ra). A priest holding in the left hand twigs and standing by a little shrine, offers to them a cylix containing some form of drink. The presence of the little shrine has made some commen- tators see in the priest an itinerant quack priest (dyvpTrjs), but it

FIG. 15.

is quite possible that shrines of this kind containing sacra were carried at the Eleusinian mysteries. Anyhow the scene depicted is analogous.

Of the actual sacra which the initiated had to take from the chest, place in the basket, and replace in the chest, we know nothing. The sacra of the Thesmophoria are known, those of the Dionysiac mysteries were of trivial character, a ball, a mirror, a cone, and the like : there is no reason to suppose that the sacra of the Eleusinian mysteries were of any greater intrinsic significance.

158 The Thesmophoria [CH.

Clement l in a passage preceding that already quoted gives the Eleusinian ' tokens/ with slightly different wording and with two additional clauses: he says 'the symbols of this initiation are, I ate from the timbrel, I drank from the cymbal, I carried the kernos, I passed beneath the pastos.' The scholiast 2 on Plato's Gorgias makes a similar statement. He says 'at the lesser mysteries many disgraceful things were done, and these words were said by those who were being initiated : I ate from the timbrel, I drank from the cymbal, I carried the kernos'; he further adds by way of explanation 'the kernos is the liknon or ptuon,' i.e. it is some form of winnowing fan.

There has been much and, I think, needless controversy as to whether this form of the tokens belongs to the mysteries at Eleusis or not. From the words that precede Clement's statement, a mention of Attis, Kybele and the Korybants, it is quite clear that he has in his mind the mysteries of the Great Mother of Asia Minor, but from his mentioning Demeter also, it is also clear that he does not exactly distinguish between the two. The mention of the ' tokens ' by the scholiast on Plato is expressly made with reference to the Lesser Mysteries, and these, it will later (Chap, x) be seen, are related especially to Kore and Dionysos. The whole confusion rests on the simple mythological fact that Demeter and Cybele were but local forms of the Great Mother worshipped under diverse names all over Greece. Wherever she was wor- shipped she had mysteries, the timbrel and the cymbal came to be characteristic of the wilder Asiatic Mother, but the Mother at Eleusis also clashed the brazen cymbals. In her ' tokens ' however her mystics ate from the cista and the basket, but the distinction is a slight one.

The question of the kernos is of some interest. The scholiast states that the kernos was a winnowing fan, and the winnowing fan we shall later see (p. 548) was, at least in Alexandrine days,

1 Clem. Al. Protr. I. 2. 13 Arjovs ^vcrrripia. Kal (leg. at) Atos irpbs

d<ppoSi(naL <rv/j,ir\OKal Kal /x^i/is TTJS Arjovs Kal Atos iKeTvjpiai. ravra reXiffKovatv ol $>puyes "A.TTLOI Kal KujS^X?/ /cat Kopvj3a<n, TO. crtf/ujSoXa TTJS /j.vj]<re(n}s rai/TT/s 'E/c rv/jurdvov 6K KV/J.pd\ov ZTTLOV, eKepvo^dptjaa, virb TOV TravTov inrtdvov.

2 Schol. ad Plat. Gorg. p. 123 ev ols (rotj oyu/cpots fj,v<TTr)piois) TroXXa fj.ev atVxpa, Ayero 5e Trpbs r&v fjivov^vuv ravra' e/c rv^irdvov tyayov, CK Kv/j.j3d\ov ^Kepvcxpoprjcra (K^PVOS d TO \LKVOV TJyovv TO TTTUQV ecrTlv), VTTO TOV iraffTov vir8vov Kal TO, e^s. The concluding formulary, which does not occur in the Eleusinian con- fession, will be explained later (Chap. x).

iv] The Kernophoria 159

used in the mysteries of Eleusis. It was a simple agricultural instrument taken over and mysticized by the religion of Dionysos. From Athenaeus 1 however we learn of another kind of kernos. In his discussion of the various kinds of cups and their uses he says: 'Kernos, a vessel made of earthenware, having in it many little cups fastened to it, in which are white poppies, wheat, barley, pulse, vetch, ochroi, lentils ; and he who carries it after the fashion of the carrier of the liknon, tastes of these things, as Ammonius relates in his third book On Altars and Sacrifices.' A second and rather fuller notice of the kernos is given by Athenaeus 2 a little later in discussing the kotylos. 'Polemon in his treatise "On the Dian Fleece " says, " And after this he performs the rite and takes it from the chamber and distributes it to those who have borne the kernos aloft."' Then follows an amplified list of the contents of the kernos. The additions are italicized : ' sage, white poppies, wheat, barley, pulse, vetch, ochroi, lentils, beans, spelt, oats, a cake, honey, oil, wine, milk, sheep's wool unwashed.'

The list of the Tray/capTria, the offering of all fruits and natural products, is in some respects a primitive one : the unwashed wool reminds us of the simple offering made by Pausanias at the cave of Demeter at Phigalia ; but there are late additions, the manu- factured olive oil and wine. Demeter in early days would assuredly never have accepted wine. The kernos, like the offerings it con- tained, is comparatively late and complex. Vessels exactly corre- sponding to the description given by Athenaeus have been found in considerable numbers in the precinct at Eleusis, both vessels meant for use and others obviously votive. In the accounts 3 of the officials at Eleusis for the year 408 7 B.C. there is mention of a vessel called /cepxvos, which in all probability is identical with the kernos of Athenaeus. The shape and purport of the vessel are clearly seen in the very perfect specimen 4 in fig. 16.

1 Athen. xi. 52 476.

2 Athen. xi. 56 478 6aoi &vw TO ictpvos Trepievrfvoxores. TOVTO 5' tffTiv dyyeiov

/i?7/cwj>es \evKoi, Trvpoi, Kpidai, wiffot, \d9vpoi, w^poi, </>a/foi, /ctfa^oi, eicu, (3p6/mos, fjitXi, Xai.oi>, olvos, ydXa, oiov Zpiov dirXvTov. 6 de TOVTO jSacrrdtras olov \iKvo<popri(ras TotiTwv yeveTcu. I have translated the difficult avw by aloft taking it as referring to the carrying on the head, but see 'Kerchnos,' 0. Bubensohn, A. Mitt. 1898, xxm. p. 270, to whom I am indebted for many references. The Kernophoria is well shown in the Ninnion pinax in fig. 160.

  • 'E^/iepts 'A/>x- 1898, p. 61 xpuo-ot Ktpxvoi T.

4 Sevres Museum, Annual of British School at Athens, vol. in. p. 57, PI. iv.

160 The Thesmophoria [OH.

Such a vessel might well be called a separator ; each of the little kotyliskoi attached would contain a sample of the various grains

FIG. 16.

and products. It is easy to see how the scholiast might explain it as a liknon. The liknon was an implement for winnowing, separat- ing grain from chaff, the kernos a vessel in which various sorts of grain could be kept separate. The Kernophoria was nothing but a late and elaborate form of the offering of first-fruits. In the simple primaeval form of the Mysteries as certified by the tokens, we have but two elements, the presentation and tasting of first-fruits and the handling of sacra. All later accretions will be discussed in the chapter on Orphic Mysteries.

In discussing the Anthesteria (p. 42) mention has already been made of a rite which, according to Athenaeus 1 , took place on the final day of the Mysteries. On this day, which took its name from the rite, two vessels called plemochoae are emptied, one towards the east, the other towards the west, and at the moment of out- pouring a mystic formulary was pronounced. Athenaeus explains that a plemochoe was an earthenware vessel ' shaped like a top but standing secure on its basis ; : it seems to have been a vessel in

1 Athen. xi. 93 496.

iv] Purification and Sacrifice 161

general use for the service of the underworld, for he quotes a play called Peirithous in which one of the characters said :

  • That these plemochoai with well- omened words

We may pour down into the chthonian chasrn. ;

What the mystic formulary was we cannot certainly say, but it is tempting to connect the libation of the plemochoe with a formulary recorded by Proclos \ He says ' In the Eleusinian mysteries, looking up to the sky they cried aloud "Rain," and looking down to earth they cried " Be fruitful." ' The simplicity of the solemn little prayer cannot be reproduced in English. It was a fitting close to rites so primitive.

Last of all, over those who had been initiated were uttered, if we may trust Hesychius 2 , the mysterious words Koy% o/jb-rra^.

It remains to resume the results of the last four chapters. It has been seen in examining four of the great public festivals of Athens, the Diasia, the Anthesteria, the Thargelia, the Thesmo- phoria, that neither their names, nor primarily their ritual, were concerned with the worship of the Olympian gods to whom the festivals were ostensibly dedicated. When the nature of that ritual was examined, it was seen to consist not in sacrifice like that paid to the Olympians, which was of the nature of tendance and might be embodied in the formula do ut des, but rather of ceremonies of aversion based on ignorance and fear. Its formula was do ut abeas. In the Anthesteria the ceremonies known as evayio-jjioi were seen to be purifications (/ca6ap/j,oi), and by puri- fications were meant placations of Keres, of ghosts and sprites. In the Thargelia the ceremony of the pharmakos was seen to be also a purification, but in the sense not of the placation or riddance of ghosts and sprites but of a magical cleansing from physical evil. In the Thesmophoria the ceremony with the pigs was preceded by ceremonies of purification, and was in itself of magical intent. Moveover the element of cursing and devotion was seen to lie at the root of the later notion of consecration. To these three festivals, taken from the three seasons of the agri-

1 Procl. ad Plat. Tim. p. 293 iv rots 'EXevvivlois ets ntv rbv ovpavbv dva^Xewovres j/ ' fle, ' KarafiXtyavTes 8 els TTJV yijv ' xte. '

Hesych. s.v. K6-/ 6/j.Tra^- 4Tri(J>uvr]/j.a rereXeoy^i'ots. Mr F. M. Cornford suggests that the original form may have been K6yov ird, ' Sound the conch enough.' See also Lobeck, Aglaoph. 775.

H. 11

162 The Thesmophoria [CH. iv

cultural year, has now been added the rite of the Eleusinian Mysteries, the gist of which has been shown to be purification as preliminary to the handling of magical sacra and to the partaking of first-fruits.

The only just way of understanding the religious notions of a particular race is to examine the terminology of the language of that race. Our modern notion of ancient religion is largely summed up by the word * sacrifice.' We are too apt to ask ' what was the nature of sacrifice among the Greeks?' If we follow the lead of their language instead of imposing our language on them, it is abundantly clear that sacrifice, with all our modern connotations of vicarious expiation and of mystical communion, they had not. All the ancient ceremonies, so far considered, point to a thought simpler and nowise less beautiful or less deeply religious, and that thought is purification. Purification practically unknown to Olympian worship is the keynote of the lower stratum.

It is all important that this should be clearly and emphatically stated at this point in order that the sequel may be intelligible. When the new impulse connected with the names of Dionysos and Orpheus entered Greece, it left aside the great and popular Olympian system embodied in the formula do ut des, and, by a true instinct, fastened on an element which, if in some respects it was lower, was truer to fact and had in it higher possibilities, a religion that recognized evil, though mainly in physical form, and that sought for purification.

The essence of that new religion was, as will later be shown, the belief that man could become god : the new ritual feature it introduced, a feature wholly lacking in the old uneaten ' sacrifices/ was mystical communion by the eating of the body of the god. But, because man was mortal, there was mortality to be purged away; and hence, although with a new faith and hope, men reverted to the old ritual of purification.

So much by anticipation ; but before we come to the study of the new impulse it is necessary to leave ritual and turn to theology, which is in fact mythology: the rites have been considered, and now in the next three chapters something must be said of the beings worshipped, at first in vague shifting outlines as ghosts and sprites, later crystallized into clear shapes as goddesses and gods.




Khpec 'EpiNyec.'

IN the preceding chapters the nature of Greek ritual has been discussed. The main conclusion that has emerged is that this ritual in its earlier phases was mainly characterized by a tendency to what the Greeks called airorpoirri, i.e. the turning away, the aversion of evil. This tendency was however rarely quite un- touched by an impulse more akin to our modern notion of worship, the impulse to depaTrela, i.e. the induction, the fostering of good influences.

Incidentally we have of course gathered something of the nature of the objects of worship. When the ritual was not an attempt at the direct impulsion of nature, we have had brief uncertain glimpses of sprites and ghosts and underworld divinities. It now remains to trace with more precision these vague theological or demonological or mythological outlines, to determine the character of the beings worshipped and something of the order of their development.

In theology facts are harder to seek, truth more difficult to formulate than in ritual. Ritual, i.e. what men did, is either known or not known; what they meant by what they did the connecting link between ritual and theology can sometimes be certainly known, more often precariously inferred. Still more hazardous is the attempt to determine how man thought of the objects or beings to whom his ritual was addressed, in a word what was his theology, or, if we prefer the term, his mythology.

At the outset one preliminary caution is imperative. Our


164 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [CH.

minds are imbued with current classical mythology, our imagination peopled with the vivid personalities, the clear-cut outlines of the Olympian gods ; it is only by a somewhat severe mental effort that we realize the fact essential to our study that there were no gods at all, that what we have to investigate is not so many actual facts and existences but only conceptions of the human mind, shifting and changing colour with every human mind that conceived them. Art which makes the image, literature which crystallizes attributes and functions, arrest and fix this shifting kaleidoscope ; but, until the coming of art and literature and to some extent after, the formulary of theology is ' all things are in flux ' (Trdvra pel).

Further, not only are we dealing solely with conceptions of the human mind, but often with conceptions of a mind that conceived things in a fashion alien to our own. There is no greater bar to that realizing of mythology 1 which is the first condition of its being understood, than our modern habit of clear analytic thought. The very terms we use are sharpened to an over nice discrimina- tion. The first necessity is that by an effort of the sympathetic imagination we should think back the ' many ' we have so sharply and strenuously divided, into the haze of the primitive ' one.'

Nor must we regard this haze of the early morning as a dele- terious mental fog, as a sign of disorder, weakness, oscillation. It is not confusion or even synthesis ; rather it is as it were a proto- plasmic fulness and forcefulness not yet articulate into the diverse forms of its ultimate births. It may even happen, as in the case of the Olympian divinities, that articulation and discrimination sound the note of approaching decadence. As Maeterlinck 2 beautifully puts it, la clarte parfaite nest-elle pas d ordinaire le* signe de la lassitude des idees ?

There is a practical reason why it is necessary to bear in mind this primary fusion, though not confusion, of ideas. Theology, after articulating the one into the many and diverse, after a course of exclusive and determined discrimination, after differentiating a number of departmental gods and spirits, usually monotheizes, i.e. resumes the many into the one. Hence, as will be constantly seen, mutatis mutandis, a late philosophizing author is often of

1 My position in this matter was stated long ago in an article in the Journal of Hellenic Studies xx. 1899, p. 211, 244.

2 Sagesse et Destinte, p. 76.

v] The Ker as Evil Sprite 165

great use in illustrating a primitive conception : the multiform divinity of an Orphic Hymn is nearer to the primitive mind than the clear-cut outlines of Homers Olympians.

In our preliminary examination of Athenian festivals we found underlying the Diasia the worship of a snake, underlying the Anthesteria the revocation of souls. In the case of the Thesmo- phoria we found magical ceremonies for the promotion of fertility addressed as it would seem directly to the earth itself: in the Thargelia we had ceremonies of purification not primarily addressed to any one. In the Diasia and Anthesteria only was there clear evidence of some sort of definite being or beings as the object of worship. The meaning of snake-worship will come up for discus- sion later (p. 326), for the present we must confine ourselves to the theology or demonology of the beings worshipped in the Anthesteria, the Keres, sprites, or ghosts, and the theological shapes into which they are developed and discriminated.



That the Keres dealt with in the Anthesteria ' worshipped ' is of course too modern a word were primarily ghosts, admits, in the face of the evidence previously adduced (pp. 43, 44), of no doubt. That in the fifth century B.C. they were thought of as little winged sprites the vase-painting in fig. 7 clearly shows, and to it might be added the evidence of countless other Athenian white lekythi where the eidolon or ghost, is shown fluttering about the grave. But to the ancients Keres\&& a word of far larger and vaguer connotation than our modern ghosts, and we must grasp this wider connotation if we would understand the later developments of the term.

Something of their nature has already appeared in the apotro- paic precautions of the Anthesteria. Pitch was smeared on the doors to catch them, cathartic buckthorn was chewed to eject them ; they were dreaded as sources of evil ; they were, if not exactly evil spirits, certainly spirits that brought evil : else why these precau- - tions ? Plato has this in his mind when he says 1 ' There are many

1 Legg. xi. p. 937 D TOIS irXelffrois avrtiv olov K^/aes irnre<f>ijKa<riv, at re Kal KaTappvTralvovffLv avrd.

166 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [CH.

fair things in the life of mortals, but in most of them there are as it were adherent Keres which pollute and disfigure them.' Here we have not merely a philosophical notion, that there is a soul of evil in things good, but the reminiscence surely of an actual popular faith, i.e. the belief that Keres, like a sort of personified bacilli, engendered corruption and pollution 1 . To such influences all things mortal are exposed. Conon 2 in telling the story of the miraculous head of Orpheus (p. 468) says that when it was found by the fisherman 'it was still singing, nor had it suffered any change from the sea nor any other of the outrages that human Keres inflict on the dead, but it was still blooming and bleeding with fresh blood.' Conon is of course a late writer, and full of borrowed poetical phrases, but the expres- sion human Keres (avdpwTrwat, tffjpe?) is not equivalent to the Destiny of man, it means rather sources of corruption inherent in man.

In fig. 7 we have seen a representation of the harmless Keres, the souls fluttering out of the grave-pithos. Fortunately ancient art has also left us a representation of a bale- ful Ker. The picture in fig. 17 is from a pelike 3 found at Thisbe and now in the Berlin Museum 4 . Heracles, known by his lion skin and quiver, swings his rudely hewn club (/c\d- 09) against a tiny winged figure with shrivelled body and distorted ugly face. We might have been at a loss to give a name to his feeble though repulsive

1 I am indebted for this and many important references to the article on Keres by Dr Otto Crusius in Koscher's Lexicon (Bd. n. 1148). Dr Crusius' admirable exposition of the nature of the Keres suffers only from one defect, that he feels himself obliged to begin it with the comparatively late literary conceptions of Homer.

2 Conon, Narr. XLV.

3 Published and explained as Heracles K-npa^vr^ by Professor Furtwangler, Jahrb. d. Inst. 1895, p. 37.

4 Berlin, Inv. 3317.

FIG. 17.

v] The Ker as Bacillus 167

antagonist but for an Orphic Hymn to Heracles 1 which ends with the prayer :

'Come, blessed hero, come and bring allayments Of all diseases. Brandishing thy club, Drive forth the baleful fates; with poisoned shafts Banish the noisome Keres far away.'

The primitive Greek leapt by his religious imagination to a forecast of the truth that it has taken science centuries to establish, i.e. the fact that disease is caused by little live things^ germs bacilli we call them, he used the word Keres. A fragment of the early comic poet Sophrori 2 speaks of Herakles throttling Hepiales. Hepiales must be the demon of nightmare, well known to us from other sources and under various confused names as Ephialtes, Epiales, Hepialos. The Etymologicon Magnum* explains ' Hepialos ' as a shivering fever and ' a daimon that comes upon those that are asleep.' It has been proposed to regard the little winged figure which Herakles is clearly taking by the throat as Hepiales 4 , demon of nightmare, rather than as a Ker. The question can scarcely be decided, but the doubt is as in- structive as any certainty. Hepiales is a disease caused by a Ker; i.e. it is a special form of Ker, the nightmare bacillus. Blindness also was caused by a Ker, as was madness ; hence the expression * casting a black Ker on their eyes 5 .' Blindness and madness, blindness of body and spirit are scarcely distinguished, as in the blindness of Oedipus ; both come of the Keres-Erinyes.

To the primitive mind all diseases are caused by, or rather are, bad spirits. Porphyry 6 tells us that blisters are caused by evil spirits which come at us when we eat certain food and settle on our

1 Orph. Hymn. xn.

vofouv de\KTr)pia TTOLVTO. /ca/cas aras, K\ddov v X T' to/36Xois K7?pas x a ^ e7n

2 Ahrens, No. 99 b, 'H/>a/cX?7s'H7ridX?7Ta irviyuv s S.v. piyoirtipeTov.

4 Eoscher, Lexicon s.v. Nosoi p. 459, following Professor Furtwangler. For the whole subject of the demonic cause of nightmare, see Eoscher's Monograph on Ephialtes, AbhandL d. K. Sachs. Ges. Phil.-Hist. Kl. xx. 1900.

5 Eur. Phoen. 950 id\aivai> Krjp' ^?r' o/j./j.a.(rii> /SaXwr.

6 Wolff. Porphyr. De philos. ex orac. haur. p. 149 = Eusebius Praep. Ev. 4. 23. 3 Kai yap yu,dXt(rra TCUS TTOICUS rpo<pcus xaipovcri, a(.ro\)^.ivwv yap yfA&v Trpoalacri Kai Trpcxrifrd-

T$ <r6/j,aTi. Kai Sia TOVTO al ayvelai, ov 5ia rows deovs Trpoa-rjyov/j^vus dXX' IV OVTOL yudXtara 5' crf/uart x a ^P OV(rL Ka i- ra ' s ctAca^a/xriats /cal a.iro\avov<n TOIJTUV, ols x/)w/x,ei/ots. The word Trpofftjyov^vus does not so far as I know occur elsewhere, it seems from the context to mean 'inductively,' with a view to induce rather than expel.

168 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [CH,

bodies. He goes to the very heart of ancient religious ' aversion ' when he adds that it is on account of this that purifications are practised, not in order that we may induce the presence of the gods, but that these wretched things may keep off. He might have added, it is on account of these bad spirits that we fast; indeed ayveLa, the word he uses, means abstinence as well as purity. Eating is highly dangerous because you have your mouth open and a Ker may get in. If a Ker should get in when you are about to partake of specially holy food there will naturally be difficulties. So argues the savage. Porphyry being a vegetarian says that these bad spirits specially delight in blood and impurities generally and they ' creep into people who make use of such things/ If you kept about you holy plants with strong scents and purging properties, like rue and buckthorn, you might keep the Keres away, or, if they got in, might speedily and safely eject them.

The physical character of the Keres, their connection with ' the lusts of the flesh/ comes out very clearly in a quaint moralising poem preserved by Stobaeus and attributed to Linos. It deals with the dangers of Keres and the necessity for meeting them by ' purification.' Its ascetic tone and its attribution to Linos probably point to Orphic origin. It runs as follows 1 :

'Hearken to these my sayings, zealously lend me your hearing To the simple truth about all things. Drive far away the disastrous Keres, they who destroy the herd of the vulgar and fetter All things around with curses manifold. Many and dreadful Shapes do they take to deceive. But keep them far from thy spirit, Ever watchful in mind. This is the purification That shall rightly and truly purge thee to sanctification (If but in truth thou hatest the baleful race of the Keres), And most of all thy belly, the giver of all things shameful, For desire is her charioteer and she drives with the driving of madness.'

It is commonly said that diseases are ' personified ' by the Greeks. This is to invert the real order of primitive thought. It is not that a disease is realized as a power and then turned into a person, it is that primitive man seems unable to conceive of any

1 Stob. v. 22. MVOV.

Kypas airuffa.ij.evos Tro\VTnrifj,oi>as a'i re ^e^-f}\wv 6~x\ov aviffT&ffai arcus Trepl TTO.VTO. Tred&cri iravroiais /j.op(p&v x a ^- 7r & v ras fj.ei> airb ifsvxfjs eipyeiv 0iAa/caZ<rt vboio. OVTOS yap ere OVTWS ducalus tocn ef Kev d\r)6f;L-r) /uuffeeis 6\obv ytvos avru>v, vydvv /j.ei> irp&TUTT 1 aiffxP&v Swretpav /j.apyol<ri

v] The Ker as Evil Sprite 169

force except as resulting from some person or being or sprite, something a little like himself. Such is the state of mind of the modern Greek peasant who writes XoXepa with a capital letter. Hunger, pestilence, madness, nightmare have each a sprite behind them ; are all sprites.

Of course, as Hesiod 1 knew, there were ancient golden days when these sprites were not let loose, when they were shut up safe in a cask and

' Of old the tribes of mortal men on earth Lived without ills, aloof from grievous toil And catching plagues which Keres gave to men 2 .'

But alas !

'The woman with her hands took the great lid From off the cask and scattered them, and thus Devised sad cares for mortals. Hope alone Kemained therein, safe held beneath the rim, Nor flitted forth, for she thrust to the lid 3 .'

Who the woman was and why she opened the jar will be con- sidered later (p. 283) ; for the moment we have only to note what manner of things came out of it. The account is strange and significant. She shut the cask too late:

'For other myriad evils wandered forth To man, the earth was full, and full the sea. Diseases, that all round by day and night Bring ills to mortals, hovered, self-impelled, Silent, for Zeus the Counsellor their voice Had taken away 4 .'

Proclus understands that these silent ghostly insidious things are Keres, though he partly modernizes them. He says in com- menting on the passage, ' Hesiod gives them (i.e. the diseases) bodily form making them approach without sound, showing that even of these things spirits are the guardians, sending invisibly

1 Hes. Erg. 90

irplv IAV yap ^"wecr/cov iri %#oj4 00\' avdp&Trcw vbatfiiv arep re KO.K&V Kal arep %a\e7roTo irbvoio votiauv T' dpya\^<j}v cur' dvdpda't Kijpas ZduKav.

2 I prefer to read: curr' avdpaan /c%>es 5w/cai/, i.e. 'grievous diseases which Keres gave to men,' but I have translated the text as it stands, since possibly Hesiod, though he clearly knew of a connection between vbcroi and /c%>es, may have inverted cause and effect. I have already discussed the passage in the Journal of Hellenic Studies, xx. 1900, p. 104.

3 Hes. Erg. 94.

4 Hes. Erg. 102. Procl. ad 102 ^(rw/uaroTroiT/cre Se atfras 7rpo<rtot$cras a^uvovs Troojaas ^i>5ei/o/u/xej>os 6'rt /cat TOITTWJ/ 2<j>opot. da.ifj.ovts daw oirutes 8pu(nv d(f>a.vus

rds v6aovs ras VTT& TTJV T&i/j.ap/j.eviriv reray/j^vas Kal ras ev ry iridq> itrjpas

170 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [OH.

the diseases decreed by fate and scattering the Keres in the cask.' After the manner of his day he thinks the Keres were presided over by spirits, that they were diseases sent by spirits, but primitive man believes the Keres are the spirits, are the diseases. Hesiod himself was probably not quite conscious that the jar or pithos was the great grave-jar of the Earth-mother Pandora (p. 286), and that the Keres were ghosts. ' Earth,' says Hesiod, ' was full and full the sea.' This crowd of Keres close-packed is oddly emphasized in a fragment by an anonymous poet 1 :

'Such is our mortal state, ill upon ill, And round about us Keres crowding still ; No chink of opening Is left for entering.'

/This notion of the swarm of unknown unseen evils hovering about men haunts the lyric poets, lending a certain primitive reality to their vague mournful pessimism. Simonides of Amorgos 2 seems to echo Hesiod when he says ' hope feeds all men ' but hope is all in vain because of the imminent demon host that work for man's undoing, disease and death and war and shipwreck suicide.

'No ill is lacking, Keres thousand-fold Mortals attend, woes and calamities That none may scape.'

Here and elsewhere to translate ' Keres ' by fates is to make a premature abstraction. The Keres are still physical actual things not impersonations. So when Aeschylus 3 puts into the mouth of his Danaid women the prayer

'Nor may diseases, noisome swarm, Settle upon our heads, to harm Our citizens,'

the ' noisome swarm ' is no mere ' poetical ' figure but the reflection of a real primitive conviction of live pests.

The little fluttering insect-like diseases are naturally spoken of

1 Frg. ap. Plut. ConsoL ad Apoll. xxvi. Tl ovv ; apd y' fae'is TOVTO did. TOV \6yov fjiadflv ov dvfdfj.eda, ou5' ^TriXoyLffaffdai ; 8ri TrXefy fjv yala KaK&v 7r\iij 8 6d\a<r<ja Kal roidde BvrjTOiffi KaKa KO.K&V d/juj>i re idjpes elXeOcrcu, Keverj 5' eurSuais oi)5' aiddpi. Bergk (Frg. adesp. 2 B) points out that Plutarch's second quotation is an elegiac couplet, and for the MS. cuWpi reads 'A?5ew. This gives no satisfactory sense. Mr Gilbert Murray reads dfftpi a conjecture made certain by a passage in the dialogue ' Theophrastos ' (p. 399 E) by Aeneas of Gaza, irX^p^ 5e Kal 17 777 /cat ij l ra virb yrjv travra' Kal ws e(pT) rts r<av Trap 1 TJ/UUV ffotfr&v Kevbv ovdev ovd' o<rov

2 Simon. Amorg. i. 20. 3 Aesch. Suppl. 684.

v] The Ker as Evil Sprite 171

for the most part in the plural, but in the Philoctetes of Sophocles 1 the festering sore of the hero is called * an ancient Ker '; here again the usage is primitive rather than poetical. Viewing the Keres ' as little inherent physical pests,' we are not surprised to learn from Theognis 2 that

'For hapless man wine doth two Keres hold Limb-slacking Thirst, Drunkenness overbold.'

Nor is it man alone who is beset by these evil sprites. In that storehouse of ancient superstition, the Orphic Lithica*, we hear of Keres who attack the fields. Against them the best remedy is the Lychnis stone, which was also good to keep off a hailstorm.

' Lychnis, from pelting hail be thou our shield, Keep off the Keres who attack each field.'

And Theophrastus 4 tells us that each locality has its own Keres dangerous to plants, some coming from the ground, some from the air, some from both. Fire also, it would seem, might be infested by Keres. A commentator on Philo says that it is important that no profane fire, i.e. such as is in ordinary use, should touch an altar because it may be contaminated by myriads of Keresy Instructive too is the statement of Stesichorus 6 , who according to tradition ' called the Keres by the name Telchines.' Eustathius in quoting the statement of Stesichorus adds as explanatory of Keres TQ? cr/coTwcret? : the word ovcorcocret? is late and probably a gloss, it means darkening, killing, eclipse physical and spiritual. Leaving the gloss aside, the association of Keres with Telchines is of capital interest and takes us straight back into the world of ancient magic. The Telchines were the typical magicians of antiquity, and Strabo 7 tells us that one of their magic arts was to

1 Soph. Phil. 4. 2 Theog. 837.

3 Orph. Lith. 268 AiJx" l > <n> 5' K ireSlov p60i6v T" diroepye x<*^ a fa v

T]fj.eT^pov Kal Krjpas Sffat o~T(.x o<j}ffLV ^TT' aypovs.

4 Theophr. De cans. pi. 5. 10. 4 2/ccurroi TWI/ TOTTWV idias 2x i Kijpas, ol fj.h K TOV tdd(f>ovs ol 5' K TOV dtpos ol 5' e djj.(}>olv.

5 owws P.TI Trpocrd\l/atTO TOV /3/ioD dia TO fj,vptas ftrws dva^e^dxdat Kijpas. This reference I borrow from the Thesaurus of Stephanos s.v., but I have been unable to verify the quotation. The reference as given by Stephanos is Bud. ap. Philon. V. M. 3. In connection with fire and fire-places the belief in Keres is not dead to-day. An Irish servant of mine who failed to light a fire firmly declined to make a second attempt on the ground that she knew ' there was a little fairy in the grate.' The Ker in this case was, as often in antiquity, a malign draught.

6 Frg. ap. Eustath. 772. 3. 7 xiv. 2. 652.

172 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [CH.

'besprinkle animals and plants with the water of Styx and sulphur mixed with it, with a view to destroy them.'

Thus the Keres, from being merely bad influences inherent and almost automatic, became exalted and personified into actual magicians. Eustathius in the passage where he quotes Stesichorus allows us to see how this happened. He is commenting on the ancient tribe of the Kouretes: these Kouretes, he says, were Cretan and also called Thelgines (sic), and they were sorcerers and magicians. 'Of these there were two sorts: one sort craftsmen and skilled in handiwork, the other sort pernicious to all good things ; these last were of fierce nature and were fabled to be the origins of squalls of wind, and they had a cup in which they used to brew magic potions from roots. They (i.e. the former sort) invented statuary and discovered metals, and they were amphibious and of strange varieties of shape, some were like demons, some like men, some like fishes, some like serpents ; - and the story went that some had no hands, some no feet, and some had webs between their fingers like geese. And they say that they were blue-eyed and black-tailed.' Final ly\ comes the significant statement that they perished struck down by the thunder of Zeus or by the arrows of Apollo. The old order is slain by the new. To the imagination of the conqueror the conquered are at once barbarians and magicians, monstrous and magical, hated and feared, craftsmen and medicine men, demons, beings endowed like the spirits they worship, in a word Keres- Telchines 1 . When we find the good, fruitful, beneficent side of the Keres effaced and ignored we must always remember this fact that we see them through the medium of a conquering civilization 2 .


By fair means or foul, by such ritual procedures as have already been noted, by the chewing of buckthorn, the sounding of brass,

1 Professor Eidgeway, Early Age of Greece i. p. 177.

2 As evidence of the evil reputation of Keres Mr Gilbert Murray calls my atten- tion to the pun in Eur. Tro. 424 which seems to have escaped the attention of commentators :

rl TTOT' Covert Toflvo[J,a ; Ki?ipVKs, v ct7r^%0?7yu,a irdyifoivov /SporoTs.

' What name have they ? A Kerish name.' Hermes as K^/JV invokes and revokes with his KypvKelov, see pp. 26 and 43.

v] The Keres of Old Age and Death 173

the making of comic figures, most of the Keres could be kept at bay ; but there were two who waited relentless, who might not be averted, and these were Old Age and Death. It is the thought that these two Keres are waiting that with the lyric poets most of all overshadows the brightness of life. Theognis 1 prays to Zeus :

' Keep far the evil Keres, me defend From Old Age wasting, and from Death the end.'

These haunting Keres of disease, disaster, old age and death Mimnermus 2 can never forget :

'We blossom like the leaves that come in spring,

What time the sun begins to flame and glow, And in the brief span of youth's gladdening Nor good nor evil from the gods we know, But always at the goal black Keres stand Holding, one grievous Age, one Death within her hand.

And all the fruit of youth wastes, as the Sun

Wastes and is spent in sunbeams, and to die Not live is best, for evils many a one

Are born within the soul. And Poverty Has wasted one man's house with niggard care,

And one has lost his children. Desolate Of this his earthly longing, he must fare

To Hades. And another for his fate Has sickness sore that eats his soul. No man Is there but Zeus hath cursed with many a ban.

Here is the same dismal primitive faith, or rather fear. All things are beset by Keres, and Keres are all evil. The verses of Mimnermus are of interest at this point because they show the emergence of the two most dreaded Keres, Old Age and Death, from the swarm of minor ills. Poverty, disease and desolation are no longer definitely figured as Keres. The vase-painter shows this fact in a cruder form. On a red-figured amphora (fig. 18) in the Louvre 3 Herakles is represented lifting his club to slay a shrivelled ugly little figure leaning on a stick the figure obviously is an old man. Fortunately it is inscribed yrjpas. It is not an old man, but Old Age itself, the dreaded Ker. The representation is a close parallel to Herakles slaying the Ker in fig. 17. The Ker of Old Age has no wings : these the vase-painter rightly felt were inappropriate. It is in fact a Ker developed one step further into an impersonation. The vase may be safely dated as belonging to about the middle of the 5th century B.C. It is analogous in style,

1 Theog. 707. 2 Mimnermus 2.

3 Pettier Cat. 343. P. Hartung, Philologos L. (N. F. iv. 2) Taf. i.

174 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [CH.

as in subject, to an amphora 1 in the British Museum bearing the love-name Charmides.

Gradually the meanings of Ker became narrowed down to one, to the great evil, death and the fate of death, but always with a

FIG. 18.

flitting remembrance that there were Keres of all mortal things. This is the usage most familiar to us, because it is Homeric. Homer's phraseology is rarely primitive often fossilized and the regularly recurring 'Ker of death 2 ' (tcrjp Oavdroio) is heir to a long ancestry. In Homer we catch the word Ker at a moment of transition ; it is half death, half death-spirit. Odysseus 3 says 'Death and the Ker avoiding, we escape,'

where the two words death and Ker are all but equivalents: \they are both death and the sprite of death, or as we might say

1 Cat. E 290. Cecil Smith, J.H.S 1883, PL xxx. p. 96.

2 Od. xi. 398 Ts vi) ffe Hyp t5d/j,a<r<re rainrjXeytos 6avdroio.

3 Od. xn. 158 "H Kev d\vdfj.vot. Q6.vo.rov KQ.\ Krjpa

v] The Ker of Death 175

now-a-days death and the angel of death. Homer's conception so dominates our minds that the custom has obtained of uniformly translating ' Ker ' by fate, a custom that has led to much confusion of thought.

Two things with respect to Homer's usage must be borne in mind. First, his use of the word Ker is, as might be expected, far more abstract and literary than the usage we have already noted. It is impossible to say that Homer has in his mind anything of the nature of a tiny winged bacillus. Second, in Homer Ker is almost always defined and limited by the genitive Oavaroio, and this looks as though, behind the expression, there lay the half-conscious knowledge that there were Keres of other things than death. Ker itself is not death, but the two have become well-nigh inseparable.

Some notion of the double nature, good and bad, of Keres seems to survive in the expression two-fold Keres (8(,%6dS(,ai, Kijpe?). Achilles 1 says :

  • My goddess-mother silver-footed Thetis

Hath said that Keres two-fold bear me on To the term of death.'

It is true that both the Keres are carrying him deathward, but there is strongly present the idea of the diversity of fates. The English language has in such cases absolutely no equivalent for Ker, because it has no word weighted with the like associations.

In one passage only in the Iliad 2 , i.e. the description of the shield of Achilles, does a Ker actually appear in person, on the battlefield :

'And in the thick of battle there was Strife And Clamour, and there too the baleful Ker. She grasped one man alive, with bleeding wound, Another still unwounded, and one dead She by his feet dragged through the throng. And red Her raiment on her shoulders with men's blood.'

A work of art, it must be remembered, is being described, and the \ feeling is more Hesiodic than Homeric. The Ker is in this case not a fate but a horrible she-demon of slaughter.

1 II. ix. 410. 2 IL xvin. 535.

176 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [CH.


In Homer the Keres are no doubt mainly death-spirits, but they have another function, they actually carry off the souls to Hades. Odysseus says 1 :

'Howbeit him Death -Keres carried off To Hades' house.'

It is impossible here to translate Keres by ' fates/ the word is too abstract : the Keres are 7rp6o-7ro\oi, angels, messengers, death- demons, souls that carry off souls.

The idea that underlies this constantly recurring formulary, fcrjpes ejBav 6avaroio (frepovcrai,, emerges clearly when we come to consider those analogous apparitions, the Harpies. The Harpies\ betray their nature clearly in their name, in its uncontracted form ' 'A/)67ri;m,' which appears on the vase-painting in fig. 19 ; they are the Snatchers, winged women-demons, hurrying along like the storm wind and carrying all things to destruction. The vase- painting in fig. 19 from a large black-figured vessel in the Berlin

FIG. 19.

Museum 2 is specially instructive because, though the winged demons are inscribed as Harpies, the scene of which they form

1 Od. xiv. 207.

2 Cat. 1682, Arch. Zelt. 1882, PI. 9.


The Ker as Harpy


part, i.e. the slaying of Medusa, clearly shows that they are Gorgons ; so near akin, so shifting and intermingled are the two conceptions. On another vase (fig. 20), also in the Berlin Museum 1 ,

FIG. 20.

we see an actual Gorgon with the typical Gorgon's head and protruding tongue performing the function of a Harpy, i.e. of a Snatcher. We say ' an actual Gorgon,' but it is not a Gorgon of the usual form but a bird- woman with a Gorgon's head. The bird- woman is currently and rightly as- sociated with the Siren, a creature to be discussed later (p. 197), a crea- ture malign though seductive in Homer, but gradually softened by the Athenian imagination into a sorrow- ful death angel.

The tender bird-women of the so- called ' Harpy tomb ' from Lycia (fig. 21), now in the British Museum, perform the functions of a Harpy, but very gently. They are at least near akin to the sorrowing Sirens on Athe- nian tombs. We can scarcely call them

FIG. 21.

1 Cat. 2157, Jahrbuch d. Arch. Inst. i. p. 210.



178 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [CH.

by the harsh name of the ' Snatchers.' And yet, standing as it did in Lycia, this ' Harpy tomb ' may be the outcome of the same stratum of mythological conceptions as the familiar story of the daughters of the Lycian Pandareos. Penelope 1 in her desolation cries aloud :

' Would that the storm might snatch me adown its dusky way And cast me forth where Ocean is outpour'd with ebbing spray, As when Pandareos' daughters the storm winds bore away,'

and then, harking back, she tells the ancient Lycian story of the fair nurture of the princesses and how Aphrodite went to high Olympus to plan for them a goodly marriage. But whom the gods love die young:

  • Meantime the Harpies snatched away the maids, and gave them o'er

To the hateful ones, the Erinyes, to serve them evermore 2 .'

'Early death was figured by the primitive Greek as a snatching away by evil death-demons, storm-ghosts. These snatchers he called Harpies, the modern Greek calls them Nereids. In Homer's lines we seem to catch the winds as snatchers, half-way to their full impersonation as Harpies. To give them a capital letter is to crystallize their personality prematurely. Even when they become fully persons, their name carried to the Greek its adjectival sense now partly lost to us.

Another function of the Harpies links them very closely with the Keres, and shows in odd and instructive fashion the animistic habit of ancient thought. The Harpies not only snatch away souls to death but they give life, bringing things to birth. A Harpy was the mother by Zephyros of the horses of Achilles 3 . Both parents are in a sense winds, only the Harpy wind halts between horse and woman. By winds as Vergil tells us mares became pregnant 4 .

1 Od. xx. 66

?) f-TreiTa /x,' a.vapira^aa'a 0i$eAAa otxoiro Trpo<ptpov<ra KUT' Tjepbevra K&evffa tv Trpoxorjs de /3d\oi a.\fsopp6ov 'ftxeavoio, ws d' 8re TLavdaptov /cotfpas avtXovro 66e\\cu.

2 Od. xx. 77

r60/>a 8e ras Kotipas aptrviai dvrjpeiif/avro

Kai p' ZSocrav o'Tvyepfjo'iv tpLvixnv dyu^tTroXeiJeiJ'.

3 Iliad xvi. 150.

4 Georg. in. 274

saepe sine ullis conjugiis vento gravidae, mirabile dictu.

v] The Ker as Wind-demon 179

As such a Harpy, half horse, half Gorgon-woman, Medusa is represented on a curious Boeotian vase (fig. 22) of very archaic

FIG. 22.

style now in the Louvre 1 . The representation is instructive, it shows how in art as in literature the types of Gorgon and Harpy were for a time in flux ; a particular artist could please his own fancy. The horse Medusa was apparently not a success, for she did not survive.

It is easy enough to see how winds were conceived of as Snatchers, death-demons, but why should they impregnate, give life ? It is not, I think, by a mere figure of speech that breezes (TTvoiaL) are spoken of as ' life-begetting ' (^WO^OVOL) and ' soul- rearing ' (^u%oT/?o</>ot). It is not because they are in our sense life- giving and refreshing as well as destructive : the truth lies deeper down. Only life can give life, only a soul gives birth to a soul ; the winds are souls as well as breaths (TTVCV para). Here as so often we get at the real truth through an ancient Athenian cultus practice^ When an Athenian was about to be married he prayed and sacrificed, Suidas tells us, to the Tritopatores. The statement is quoted from Phanodemus who wrote a book on Attic Matters 2 .

1 Bull, de Corr. Hell xxn. 1898, PL v.

2 Suidas s.v. Tritopatores. $av66rifj.os 5e iv 2/cry <f)rjarlv 6rt fj,6voi 'AOyvcuoi 96ov<rl re Kal e^oi/rat avrois virep yeveffews Traldwv orav ya/u.e'ti' / uAAw<r'. ev 5 r(p ' 3?v(riK<{) dfofjid^ea'dai roi)s T/HTOTTOTTO/XXS 'A^waX/ce^T;?' /cat II/wro/cA^a /cat

dvpupovs Kal 01/Xcucas elvai r&v av^wv and supra Arj/j-uv v TTJ 'ArdLdi

elvai TOVS TpiroTrdropas- <l>tA6xopos 5^ rous TptroTrdrpeis TravTW yeyovtvai irpurovs. TTJV

ptv yap yrjv Kal TOV ij\iov, <$>t]<s\.v yoveis avrCjv ijTriffTavTO oi rore avdpuirot rovs de K

TOIJTUV rpirovs irarepas.


180 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [OH.

Suidas tells us also who the Tritopatores were. They were, as we might guess from their name, fathers in the third degree, fore- fathers, ancestors, ghosts, and Demon in his Atthis said they were winds. To the winds, it has already been seen (p. 67), are offered such expiatory sacrifices (crcfxiyia) as are due to the spirits of the underworld. The idea that the Tritopatores were winds as well as ghosts was never lost. To Photius and Suidas they are ' lords of the winds' and the Orphics make them 'gate-keepers and guardians of the winds.' From ghosts of dead men, Hippocrates 1 tells us, came nurture and growth and seeds, and the author of the Geoponica* says that winds give life not only to plants but to all things. It was natural enough that the winds should be divided into demons beneficent and maleficent, as it depends where you live whether a wind from a particular quarter will do you good or ill.

In the black-figured vase-painting in fig. 23, found at Naukratis and now in the British Museum 3 , a local nymph is depicted : only

FIG. 23. the lower part of her figure is left us, drapery, the ends of her long

1 Hipp. Hepi evvwv. II. p. 14 cnro yap T&V a.iroOavbvT<3)v at rpo(f>ai /cat ai)7j<rets /cai ^o/iara.

2 Geop. IX. 3 ov TO, <j>vra p.bvov dXAa /cat iravra.

3 Cat. B 4.

v] The Ker as Wind-demon 181

hair and her feet, but she must be the nymph Gyrene beloved of Apollo, for close to her and probably held in her hand is a great branch of the silphium plant. To right of her approaching to minister or to worship are winged genii. It is the very image of OepaTTeia, tendance, ministration, fostering care, worship, all in one. The genii tend the nymph who is the land itself, her and her products. The figures to the right are bearded : they can scarcely be other than the spirits of the North wind, the Boreadae, the cool healthful wind that comes over the sea to sun-burnt Africa. If these be Boreadae, the opposing figures, beardless and therefore almost certainly female, are Harpies, demons of the South wind, to Africa the wind coming across the desert and bringing heat and blight and pestilence 1 .

It might be bold to assert so much, but for the existence of another vase-painting on a situla from Daphnae (fig. 24), also, happily for comparison, in the British Museum 2 . On the one side, not figured here, is a winged bearded figure ending in a snake, probably Boreas : such a snake-tailed Boreas was seen by Pausanias 3 on the chest of Cypselus in the act of seizing Oreithyia. There is nothing harsh in the snake tail for Boreas, for the winds, as has already been noted (p. 68), were regarded as earth-born. Behind Boreas is a plant in blossom rising from the ground, a symbol of the vegetation nourished by the North wind. On the reverse (fig. 25) is a winged figure closely like the left hand genii of the Gyrene cylix, and this figure drives in front of it destructive creatures, a locust, the pest of the South, two birds of prey attacking a hare, and a third that is obviously a vulture. The two representations taken together justify us in regarding the left hand genii as destructive. Taking these two representations together with a third vase-painting, the celebrated Phineus cylix 4 , we are further justified in calling these destructive wind-demons Harpies. On this vase 5 the Boreadae, Zetes and Kalais, show their true antagonism. The Harpies have

1 The full interpretation of the Gyrene vase is due to Mr Cecil Smith, Journal of Hellenic Studies p. 103, ' Harpies in Greek Art.' The vase is reproduced and discussed, but only with partial success, by Dr Studniczka in his Kyrene p. 18.

2 Cat. B 104.

P. v. 19. 1 Bop^as tariv ypiraKus 'QpetQvMV, ovpal d ofawv avrl Trod&v elalv aury. 4 Wiirzburg, no. 354. 5 Eeproduced later, fig. 47.

182 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [OH.

fouled the food of Phineus like the pestilential winds they were, and the clean clear sons of the North wind give chase. It is

FIG. 25.

seldom that ancient art has preserved for us so clear a picture of the duality of things.

On black-figured vase-paintings little winged figures occur not unfrequently to which it is by no means easy to give a name. In

FIG. 26.

fig. 26 we have such a representation 1 Europa seated on the bull

passes in rapid flight over the sea which is indicated by fishes and

1 Cecil Smith, J.H.S. ffln. p. 112, fig. 2.

v] The Ker as Fate 183

dolphins. In front of her flies a vulture-like bird, behind comes a winged figure holding two wreaths. Is she Nike, bringing good success to the lover ? is she a favouring wind speeding the flight ? I incline to think the vase-painter did not clearly discriminate. She is a sort of good Ker, a fostering favouring influence. In all these cases of early genii it is important to bear in mind that the sharp distinction between moral and physical influence, so natural to the modern mind, is not yet established.

We return to the Keres from which the wind demons sprang.


One Homeric instance of the use of Ker remains to be ex- amined. When Achilles 1 had the fourth time chased Hector round the walls of Troy, Zeus was wearied and

'Hung up his golden scales and in them set Twain Keres, fates of death that lays men low.'

This weighing of Keres, this * Kerostasia,' is a weighing of death fates, but it is interesting to find that it reappears under another name, i.e. the ' Psychostasia,' the weighing of souls. We know from Plutarch 2 that Aeschylus wrote a play with this title. The subject was the weighing of the souls or lives not of Hector and Achilles, but Achilles and Memnon. This is certain because, Plutarch says, he placed at either side of the scales the mothers Thetis and Eos praying for their sons. Pollux 3 adds that Zeus and his attendants were suspended from a crane. In the scene of the Kerostasia as given by Quintus Smyrnaeus 4 , a scene which probably goes back to the earlier tradition of 'Arctinos,' it is noticeable that Memnon the loser has a swarthy Ker while Achilles the winner has a bright cheerful one, a fact which seems to anti- cipate the white and black Erinyes.

The scene of the Psychostasia or Kerostasia, as it is variously called, appears on several vase-paintings, one of which from the

1 H. xxn. 208. 2 Plut. Moral, p. 17 a. 3 Poll. Onomast. iv. 130.

4 Post-Horn, ii. 509

doial tip* a/j.<J>OT{poi<ri de&v eKdrepQe iraptcrrav Rapes' epe/JLvaLt] pey ZfiTj TTOTL M^UPOPOS yTop <j>aidp7) 5' a/j.<p' 'AxtX^a 8a't(ppova.

Mr T. E. Glover, in the chapter on Quintus Smyrnaeus in his Life and Letters in the Fourth Century, points out that the Keres in the poem of Quintus have developed a supremacy unknown to Homer, they are &<f>vKroi even the gods cannot check them. They are by-forms of Aisa and Moira.

184 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [OH.

British Museum 1 is reproduced in fig. 27. Hermes holds the

scales, in either scale

is the Ker or eidolon of

one of the combatants ;

the lekythos is black-

figured, and is our

earliest source for the

Kerostasia. The Keres

or vxai are repre- FIG. 27.

sented as miniature

men, it is the lives rather than the fates that are weighed. So

the notion shifts.

In Hesiod, as has already been noted (p. 169), the Keres are more primitive and actual, they are in a sense fates, but they are also little winged spirits. But Hesiod is Homer-ridden, so we get the ' black Ker,' own sister to Thanatos and hateful Moros (Doom) and Sleep and the tribes of Dreams 2 . We get also 3 the dawnings of an Erinys, of an avenging fate, though the lines look like an interpolation:

'Night bore The Avengers and the Keres pitiless.'

Hesiod goes on to give the names usually associated with the Fates, Klotho, Lachesis, Atropos, and says they

'To mortals at their birth Give good and evil both.'

Whether interpolated or not the passage is significant both be- cause it gives to the Keres the functions Homer allotted to the Erinyes, and also because with a reminiscence of earlier thought it makes them the source of good and of evil. It is probably this last idea that is at the back of the curious Hesiodic epithet Krjpi,Tp<ptfs, which occurs in the Works and Days 4 ' :

' Then, when the dog-star comes and shines by day For a brief space over the heads of men Ker-nourished.'

1 Cat. B 639 ; Murray, Hist, of Greek Sculpture vol. n. p. 28. Dr Murray cites this vase as an instance of primitive perspective. Hermes, depicted in an impossible position, actually between the two advancing combatants, is thought of as in the background.

3 Hes. Theog. 211. 3 Theog. 217 ff.

4 Hes. Erg. 416. The only other passage in which this difficult word occurs is in one of the oracles collected in the avvaywyf) of Mnaseas (3rd cent. B.C.) and preserved for us by the scholiast on the Phoenissae of Euripides (ad v. 638,

v] The Ker as Fate 185

'Men nourished for death' assuredly is not the meaning; the idea seems to be that each man has a Ker within him, a thing that nourishes him, keeps him alive, a sort of fate as it were on which his life depends. The epithet might come to signify something like mortal, subject to, depending on fate. If this be the meaning it looks back to an early stage of things when the Ker had not been specialized down to death and was not wholly ' black,' when it was more a man's luck than his fate, a sort of embryo Genius.

Kilp IT p (/>?')<?, Ker-nourished, would then be the antithesis of Kr)pl<f)aTo<s 'slain by Keres,' which Hesychius 1 explains as those who died of disease ; and would look back to a primitive double- ness of functions when the Keres were demons of all work. In vague and fitful fashion they begin where the Semnae magnifi- cently end, as Moirae with control over all human weal and woe.

'These for their guerdon hold dominion O'er all things mortal 2 .'

In such returning cycles runs the wheel of theology.

But the black side of things is always, it would seem, most impressive to primitive man. Given that the Ker was a fate of death, almost a personified death, it was fitting and natural that it should be tricked out with ever increasing horrors. Hesiod, or the writer of the Shield, with his rude peasant imagination was ready for the task. The Keres of Pandora's jar are purely primitive, and quite natural, not thought out at all : the Keres of i\\Q f Shield are a literary effort and much too horrid to be frightening. Behind the crowd of old men praying with uplifted hands for their fighting children stood

'The blue-black Keres, grinding their white teeth, Glaring and grim, bloody, insatiable ; They strive round those that fall, greedy to drink Black blood, and whomsoever first they found Low lying with fresh wounds, about his flesh A Ker would lay long claws, and his soul pass To Hades and chill gloom of Tartarus 3 .'

Miiller F.H.G. 3, p. 157) where Kadmos is told to go on 'till he comes to the herds of the Ker-nourished Pelagon' (/C77pn-pe0<?o$ UeXdyovTos). Here it looks as if the epithet indicated prosperity, the man nourished and favoured and cherished by the Keres, see Koscher, Lexicon s.v. Kadmos, p. 834, and s. v. Keres, p. 1139, but it is possible that, as suggested to me by Mr Cornford, the word may have been coined by Hesiod in bitter parody of the Homeric Ator / oe07?s. The notion of the evil wasting action of Keres comes out in the word Kypaivw, as in Eur. Hipp. 223 rt TTOT, u TKVOV, rdde

aiveis, and more physically in Aesch. Supp. 999 6i)pes 5e K^paivovffi.

1 Hesych. s.v., 6aot v6a^ TeevrjKa<nv. 2 Aesch. Eum. 930.

3 Hes. Scut. 249.

186 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [CH.

Pausanias 1 in his description of the chest of Cypselus tells of the figure of a Ker which is thoroughly Hesiodic in character. The scene is the combat between Eteokles and Polyneikes; Polyneikes has fallen on his knees and Eteokles is rushing at him. ' Behind Polyneikes is a woman-figure with teeth, as cruel as a wild beast's, and her finger-nails are hooked. An inscription near her says that she is a Ker, as though Polyneikes were carried off by Fate, and as though the end of Eteokles were in accordance with justice.' Pausanias regards the word Ker as the equivalent of Fate, but we must not impose a conception so abstract on the primitive artist who decorated the chest.

We are very far from the little fluttering ghosts, the winged bacilli, but there is a touch of kinship with those other ghosts who in the Nekuia draw nigh to drink the black blood (p. 75), and a forecast of the Erinyes the 'blue-black 2 ' Keres are near akin to the horrid Hades demon painted by Polygnotus on the walls of the Lesche at Delphi. Pausanias 3 says, 'Above the figures I have mentioned (i.e. the sacrilegious man, etc.) is Eury- nomos; the guides of Delphi say that Eurynomos is one of the demons in Hades, and that he gnaws the flesh of the dead bodies, leaving only the bones. Homer's poem about Odysseus, and those called the Minyas and the Nostoi, though they all make mention of Hades and its terrors, know no demon Eurynomos. I will therefore say this much, I will describe what sort of a person Eurynomos is and in what fashion he appears in the painting. The colour is blue-black (fcvavov TTJV xpoav fiera^v ecrn KOI fjueXavos) like the colour of the flies that settle on meat ; he is showing his teeth and is seated on the skin of a vulture.' The Keres of the Shield are human vultures; Eurynomos is the sarcophagus in- carnate, the great carnivorous vulture of the underworld, the flesh- eater grotesquely translated to a world of shadows. He rightly sits upon a vulture's skin. Such figures, Pausanias truly observes, are foreign to the urbane Epic. But rude primitive man, when

1 P. V. 19. 6 TOV IloXweiVovs d owiffdev %<rTr)Kev odbvras re ^oi/cra ovdtv

6rjplov Kai oi Kal T&V x l P^ v f ' L ^ v eTrtKa/iTrets ol' tirtypa.fji.fjia. 5e CTT' avT% clva.1 0?7<ri K%>a, ws TOV fj.^v viro TOV HeTrpw/ut-^vov TOV HoXvveiKrji' d-jraxd^vra, 'Ereo/cXe? 5 yevojj.frr)s /cat o~vv r oiKa'up r^s rcXeur^s.

2 Blue-black, Kvdveos, remained the traditional colour of the underworld, as in the Alcestis of Eiiripides (v. 262) :

ITT' P\{ a P. x. 28. 4.

v] The Ker as Gorgon 187

he sees a skeleton, asks who ate the flesh ; the answer is ' a Ker.' We are in the region of mere rude bogeydom, the land of Gorgo, Empusa, Lamia and Sphinx, and, strange though it may seem.^ of Siren.

To examine severally each of these bogey forms would lead too far afield, but the development of the types of Gorgon, Siren and Sphinx both in art and literature is so instructive that at the risk of digression each of these forms must be examined some- what in detail.


The Gorgons are to the modern mind three sisters of whom one, most evil of the three, Medusa, was slain by Perseus, and her lovely terrible face had power to turn men into stone.

The triple form is not primitive, it is merely an instance of a general tendency, to be discussed later a tendency which makes of each woman-goddess a trinity, which has given us the Horae, the Charites, the Semnae, and a host of other triple groups. It is immediately obvious that the triple Gorgons are not really three but one 4- two. The two unslain sisters are mere superfluous x appendages due to convention ; the real Gorgon is Medusa. It is equally apparent that in her essence Medusa is a head and nothing more; her potency only begins when her head is severed, and that potency resides in the head ; she is in a word a mask with a body later appended. The primitive Greek knew that there was in his ritual a horrid thing called a Gorgoneion, a grinning mask with glaring eyes and protruding beast-like tusks and pendent tongue. How did this Gorgoneion come to be ? A hero had slain a beast called the Gorgon, and this was its head. Though many other associations gathered round it, the basis of the Gorgoneion is a cultus object, a ritual mask misunderstood. The ritual object comes first ; then the monster is begotten to account for it ; then the hero is supplied. to account for the slaying of the monster.

Ritual masks are part of the appliances of most primitive cults. They are the natural agents of a religion of fear and 'riddance.' Most anthropological museums 1 contain specimens

1 Admirable specimens of savage dancing-masks with Medusa-like tongue and tusks are exhibited in the Berlin Museum fur Volkerkunde.

188 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [CH.

of ' Gorgon eia ' still in use among savages, Gorgoneia which are veritable Medusa heads in every detail, glaring eyes, pendent tongue, protruding tusks. The function of such masks is perma- nently to ' make an ugly face,' at you if you are doing wrong, breaking your word, robbing your neighbour, meeting him in battle ; for you if you are doing right.

Scattered notices show us that masks and faces were part of the apparatus of a religion of terror among the Greeks. There was, we learn from the lexicographers 1 , a goddess Praxidike, Exactress of Vengeance, whose images were heads only, and her sacrifices the like. By the time of Pausanias 2 this head or mask goddess had, like the Erinys, taken on a multiple, probably a triple form. At Haliartos in Boeotia he saw in the open air ' a sanctuary of the goddesses whom they call Praxidikae. Here the Haliartans swear, but the oath is not one that they take lightly.' In like manner at ancient Pheneus, there was a thing called the Petroma 3 which contained a mask of Demeter with the surname of Cidaria: by this Petroma most of the people of Pheneus swore on the most important matters. If the mask like its covering were of stone, such a stone-mask may well have helped out the legend of Medusa. The mask enclosed in the Petroma was the vehicle of the goddess : the priest put it on when he performed the ceremony of smiting the Underground Folk with rods.

/ The use of masks in regular ritual was probably a rare survival, and would persist only in remote regions, but the common people were slow to lose their faith in the apotropaic virtue of an ' ugly face.' Fire was a natural terror to primitive man and all operations of baking beset by possible Keres. Therefore on his ovens he thought it well to set a Gorgon mask. In fig. 28, a portable oven now in the museum at Athens*, the mask is outside guarding the entrance. In fig. 29 the upper part of a similar oven is shown, and inside, where the fire flames up, are set three masks. These ovens are not very early, but they are essentially primitive. The face need not be of the type we call a Gorgon. In fig. 80 we have a Satyr type, bearded, with stark upstanding ears and hair, the

1 Hesych. s.v., Photius s.v.

2 P. vm. 15. 3, see Dr Frazer ad loc. 3 P. vm. 15. 3.

4 For these ovens see Conze, ' Griechische Kohlenbecken,' Jahrbuch d. Inst., 1890, Taf. i. and n., and Furtwangler, op. cit. 1891, p. 110.

The Ker as Gorgon


FIG. 28.

FIG. 29.

FIG. 30.

FIG. 31.

190 *Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [OH.

image of fright set to frighten the frightful. It might be the picture of Phobos himself. In fig. 31 we have neither Gorgon nor Satyr but that typical bogey of the workshop, the Cyclops. He wears the typical workman's cap, and to either side are set the thunderbolts it is his business to forge. The craftsman is regarded as an uncanny bogey himself, cunning over-much, often deformed, and so he is good to frighten other bogeys. The Cyclops was a terror even in high Olympus. Callimachus 1 in his charming way tells how

' Even the little goddesses are in a dreadful fright ; If one of them will not be good, up in Olympos' height, Her mother calls a Cyclops, and there is sore disgrace, And Hermes goes and gets a coal, and blacks his dreadful face, And down the chimney comes. She runs straight to her mother's lap, And shuts her eyes tight in her hands for fear of dire mishap.'

This fear of the bogey that beset the potter, and indeed beset every action, even the simplest, of human life, is very well shown in the Hymn 2 ' The Oven, or the Potters,' which shows clearly the order of beings against which the ' ugly face ' was efficacious :

4 If you but pay me my hire, potters, I sing to command. Hither, come hither, Athene, bless with a fostering hand Furnace and potters and pots, let the making and baking go well; Fair shall they stand in the streets and the market, and quick shall

they sell,

Great be the gain. But if at your peril you cheat me my price, Tricksters by birth, then straight to the furnace I call in a trice Mischievous imps one and all, Crusher and Crasher by name, Smasher and Half-bake and Him-who-burns-with-Unquenchable-Flame, They shall scorch up the house and the furnace, ruin it, bring it to nought. Wail shall the potters and snort shall the furnace, as horses do snort.'

How real was the belief in these evil sprites and in the power to avert them by magic and apotropaic figures is seen on a fragment of early Corinthian pottery 3 now in the Berlin Museum reproduced in fig. 32. Here is the great oven and here is the potter hard at work, but he is afraid in his heart, afraid of the Crusher and the Smasher and the rest. He has done what he can ; a great owl is perched on the oven to protect it, and in front he has put a little ugly comic man, a charm to keep off evil spirits : he might have put a Satyr-head 4 or a Gorgoneion ; he often did put both ; it is all

1 Callim. Hym. ad Dian. 67, and see Myths of the Odyssey, p. 26.

2 Horn. Epigr. xiv. Kdfuvos ^ Kepa/*ety.

3 Pernice, Festschrift fur Benndorf, p. 75. The inscriptions are not yet satis- factorily explained.

4 A satyr-mask on an oven is figured in my Greek Vase-paintings, p. 9, fig. 1.

v] The Ker as Gorgon 191

the same. Pollux 1 tells us it was the custom to put such comic figures (<y\ola) before bronze-foundries ; they could be either hung up or modelled on the furnace, and their object was 'the aversion of ill-will' (eVt (frOovov aTrorpoTrf)). These little images were

FIG. 32.

also called ftacncavia or by the unlearned Trpoffaar/cavia, charms against the evil eye ; and if we may trust the scholiast on Aris- tophanes 2 they formed part of the furniture of most people's chimney corners at Athens. Of such ftaa-Kavia the Gorgon mask was one and perhaps the most common shape.

In literature the Gorgon first meets us as a Gorgoneion, and this Gorgoneion is an underworld bogey. Odysseus 3 in Hades would fain have held further converse with dead heroes, but

'Ere that might be, the ghosts thronged round in myriads manifold, Weird was the magic din they made, a pale-green fear gat hold Of me, lest for my daring Persephone the dread From Hades should send up an awful monster's grizzly head.'

1 Poll. On. vii. 108. 2 Schol. ad Ar. Nub. 436.

3 Od. xi. 633

Ipt 8 -)(\upov dtos ijpei jjsfl yopyeirjv K(f)a\7]v deivoTo TreXwpou ^ 'AiSeos wtfji^eiev ayavr) TLepaefaveia.

I have translated yopyeiyv 'grizzly,' not 'Gorgon,' advisedly. Homer does not commit himself to a definite Gorgon. Mr Neil on Aristoph. Eq. 1181 says " Topyo\6(pa, means merely 'fierce-plumed.'" The Gorgon was made out of the terror, not the terror out of the Gorgon.

192 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [OH.

Homer is quite non-committal as to who and what the awful monster is ; all that is clear is that the head only is feared as an aTrorpoTraiov, a bogey to keep you off. Whether he knew of an actual monster called a Gorgon is uncertain. The nameless horror may be the head of either man or beast, or monster compounded of both.

In this connection it is instructive to note that, though the human Medusa-head on the whole obtained, the head of any beast is good as a protective charm. Prof. Ridge way 1 has conclusively shown that the Gorgoneion on the aegis of Athene is but the head of the slain beast whose skin was the raiment of the primitive goddess ; the head is worn on the breast, and serves to protect the wearer and to frighten his foe ; it is a primitive half-magical shield. ^The natural head is later tricked out into an artificial bogey.

We are familiar with the Gorgoneion on shields, with the Gorgoneion on tombs, and as an amulet on vases. On the basis 2

FIG. 33.

1 J.H.S. xx. 1900, p. xliv. On an askos in the British Museum (Cat. Q 80) decorated with a stamped relief, a Gorgon's head is figured with horns and animal ears. The head stands above, but separated from, a fantastic body.

2 Th. Homolle, Bull, de Corr. Hell. xn. 1888, p. 464.

The Ker as Gorgon


in fig. 33 the Gorgoneion is set to guard a statue of which two delicate feet remain. On two sides of the triangular statue we have the Gorgon head; on the third, serving a like protective purpose, a ram's head. The statue, dedicated in the precinct of Apollo at Delos, probably represents the god himself, but we need seek for no artificial connection between Gorgon, rams and Apollo ; Gorgoneion and ram alike are merely prophylactic. The basis has a further interest in that the inscription 1 dates the Gorgon- type represented with some precision. The form of the letters shows it to have been the work and the dedication of a Naxian artist of the early part of the 6th century.

On a Rhodian plate 2 in the British Museum in fig. 34 the

FIG. 34.

I ho | Nd,/z<nos, see M. Homolle, op. cit. 2 J.H.S. 1885, PI. LIX. Brit. Mus. Cat.



194 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [OH.

Gorgon eion has been furnished with a body tricked out with wings, but the mask-head is still dominant. The figure is con- ceived in the typical heraldic fashion of the Mistress of Wild Things (TroTvia drjp&v] ; she is in fact the ugly bogey-, Erinys- side of the Great Mother ; she is a potent goddess, not as in later days a monster to be slain by heroes. The highest divinities of the religion of fear and riddance became the harmful bogeys of the cult of * service.' The Olympians in their turn became Christian devils.

Aeschylus 1 in instructive fashion places side by side the two sets of three sisters, the Gorgons and the Graiae. They are but two by-forms of each other. Prometheus foretells to lo her long wandering in the bogey land of Nowhere :

'Pass onward o'er the sounding sea, till thou Dost touch Kisthene's dreadful plains, wherein The Phorkides do dwell, the ancient maids, Three, shaped like swans, having one eye for all, One tooth whom never doth the rising sun Glad with his beams, nor yet the moon by night Near them their sisters three, the Gorgons, winged, With snakes for hair hated of mortal man None may behold and bear their breathing blight.'

The daughters of Phorkys, whom Hesiod 2 calls Grey Ones or Old Ones, Graiae, are fair of face though two-thirds blind and one-toothed ; but the emphasis on the one tooth and the one eye shows that in tooth and eye resided their potency, and that in this they were own sisters to the Gorgons.

The Graiae appear, so far as I know, only once in vase-paintings, on the cover of a pyxis in the Central Museum at Athens 3 , repro- duced in fig. 35. They are sea-maidens, as the dolphins show; old Phorkys their father is seated near them, and Poseidon and Athene are present in regular Athenian fashion. Hermes has brought Perseus, and Perseus waits his chance to get the one eye as it is passed from hand to hand. The eye is clearly seen in the hand outstretched above Perseus ; one blind sister hands it to the other. The third holds in her hand the fanged tooth. The vase-painter will not have the Graiae old and loathsome, they are lovely maidens ; he remembers that they were white-haired from their youth.

1 Aesch. Prom. Vinet. 793. 2 Hes. Theog. 270.

8 Cat. 1956 ; Ath. Mitt. 1886, Taf. x. 270.

The Ker as Gorgon


The account given by Aeschylus of the Gorgons helps to explain their nature :

'None may behold, and bear their breathing blight 1 .'

They slay by a malign effluence, and this effluence, tradition said, came from their eyes. Athenaeus 2 quotes Alexander the

FIG. 35.

Myndian as his authority for the statement that there actually existed creatures who could by their eyes turn men to stone.

1 Aesch. Prom. Vinct. 800 ds OvrjTos ovdels eiviSuv ?ei TTVOO.S. The line is usually rendered 'no mortal may behold them and live,' but, in the light of the account of Athenaeus, it is clear that the irvoai are the intolerable exhalations, not the breath of life.

2 Athen. v. 64 221 KreLvei rbf VTT' avrijs deupydevra, ou rt$ irveu^n dXXd ry yiyvo- \iivrj airb T??S rCov d/JL/mdruv 0i)(rews <t>opq. KO.L veKpbv -rroiei. The same account is given by Aelian, Hist. An. vu. 5, and Eustathius 1704 in commenting on Od. xi. 633.


196 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [OH.


Some say the beast which the Libyans called Gorgon was like a wild sheep, others like a calf; it had a mane hanging over its eyes so heavy that it could only shake it aside with difficulty ; it killed whomever it looked at, not by its breath but by a destructive exha- lation from its eyes.

What the beast was and how the story arose cannot be decided, but it is clear that the Gorgon was regarded as a sort of incarnate Evil Eye. The monster was tricked out with cruel tusks and snakes, but it slew by the eye, it fascinated.

The Evil Eye itself is not frequent on monuments; the Gorgoneion as a more complete and more elaborately decorative horror attained a wider popularity. But the prophylactic Eye, the eye set to stare back the Evil Eye, is common on vases, on shields and on the prows of ships (see fig. 38). The curious design in fig. 36 is from a Roman mosaic dug up on the Caelian



FIG. 36.

hill 1 . It served as the pavement in an entrance hall to a Basilica built by a certain Hilarius, a dealer in pearls (margaritarius) and head of a college of Dendrophoroi, sacred to the Mother of the

1 Visconti, Bull, de Comm. Arch. 1890, Tav. i. and n. p. 24. A relief with similar design exists on the back of a Corinthian marble in the British Museum : its apotropaic functions are fully discussed by Prof. Michaelis, J.H.S. vi. 1885, p. 312.

v] The Ker as Siren 197

Gods. The inscription prays that 'God may be propitious to those who enter here and to the Basilica of Hilarius,' and to make divine favour more secure, a picture is added to show the complete over- throw of the evil eye. Very complete is its destruction. Four- footed beasts, birds and reptiles attack it, it is bored through with a lance, and as a final prophylactic on the eye-brow is perched Athene's little holy owl. Hilarius prayed to a kindly god, but deep down in his heart was the old savage fear 1 .

The Gorgon is more monstrous, more savage, than any other of the Ker-forms. The Gorgoneion figures little in poetry though much in art.' It is an underworld bogey but not human enough to be a ghost, it lacks wholly the gentle side of the Keres, and would scarcely have been discussed here, but that the art-type of the Gorgon lent, as will be seen, some of its traits to the Erinys, and notably the deathly distillation by which they slay :

'From out their eyes they ooze a loathly rheum 2 .'


The Sirens are to the modern mind mermaids, sometimes all human, sometimes fish-tailed, evil sometimes, but beautiful always. Milton invokes Sabrina from the waves by

' . . .the songs of Sirens sweet, By dead Parthenope's dear tomb, And fair Ligeia's golden comb Wherewith she sits on diamond rocks Sleeking her soft alluring locks.'

Homer by the magic of his song lifted them once and for all out of the region of mere bogeydom, and yet a careful exami-

1 For the evil eye in Greece see 0. Jahn, Berichte d. Tc. sacks. Ges. d. Wissen- schaften, Wien 1855, and P. Perdrizet, Bull, de Corr. Hell. 1900, p. 292, and for modern survivals, Tuchmann, Melusine 1885.

2 Aesch. Eum. 54 tic 5' 6/j,/ji.dTuv \dBov<ri dv<r(j>i\r) dia. Following Dr Verrall, I keep the MS. reading.

3 Since this section was written Dr G. Weicker's treatise Der Seelenvogel has appeared. As the substance of his argument as to the soul-origin of the Sirens had been previously published in a dissertation De Sirenibus Quaestiones Selectae (Leipzig, 1895) he had long anticipated my view and I welcome this confirmation of a theory at which I had independently arrived, a theory which indeed must occur to everyone who examines the art-form of the Sirens. I regret that his work was known to me too late for me to utilize the vast stores of evidence he has accumulated.

198 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [OH.

nation, especially of their art form, clearly reveals traces of rude origin.

Circe's warning to Odysseus runs thus 1 :

'First to the Sirens shalt thou sail, who all men do beguile. Whoso unwitting draws anigh, by magic of their wile, They lure him with their singing, nor doth he reach his home Nor see his dear wife and his babes, ajoy that he is come. For they, the Sirens, lull him with murmur of sweet sound Crouching within the meadow: about them is a mound Of men that rot in death, their skin wasting the bones around.'

Odysseus and his comrades, so forewarned, set sail 2 :

'Then straightway sailed the goodly ship and swift the Sirens' isle Did reach, for that a friendly gale was blowing all the while. Forthwith the gale fell dead, and calm held all the heaving deep In stillness, for some god had lulled the billows to their sleep.'

The song of the Sirens is heard 3 :

' Hither, far-famed Odysseus, come hither, thou the boast Of all Achaean men, beach thou thy bark upon our coast, And hearken to our singing, for never but did stay A hero in his black ship and listened to the lay Of our sweet lips ; full many a thing he knew and sailed away. For we know all things whatsoe'er in Troy's wide land had birth And we know all things that shall be upon the fruitful earth.'

It is strange and beautiful that Homer should make the Sirens appeal to the spirit, not to the flesh. To primitive man, Greek or Semite, the desire to know to be as the gods was the fatal desire.

Homer takes his Sirens as already familiar ; he clearly draws from popular tradition. There is no word as to their form, no hint of parentage : he does not mean them to be mysterious, but by a fortunate chance he leaves them shrouded in mystery, the mystery of the hidden spell of the sea, with the haze of the noon- tide about them and the meshes of sweet music for their unseen toils, knowing all things yet for ever unknown. It is this mystery of the Sirens that has appealed to modern poetry and almost wholly obscured their simple primitive significance.

'Their words are no more heard aright Through lapse of many ages, and no man Can any more across the waters wan Behold these singing women of the sea.'

Four points in the story of Homer must be clearly noted. The 1 Od. xii. 39. 2 Od. xii. 166. 3 Od. xn. 184.

v] The Ker as Siren 199

Sirens, though they sing to mariners, are not sea-maidens ; they dwell on an island in a flowery meadow. They are mantic creatures like the Sphinx with whom they have much in common, knowing both the past and the future. Their song takes effect at midday, in a windless calm. The end of that song is death. It is only from the warning of Circe that we know of the heap of bones, corrupt in death horror is kept in the background, / seduction to the fore.

It is to art we must turn to know the real nature of the Sirens. Ancient art, like ancient literature, knows nothing of the fish-tailed mermaid. Uniformly the art-form of the Siren is that of the bird-woman. The proportion of bird to woman varies, but the bird element is constant. It is interesting to note that, though the bird-woman is gradually ousted in modern art by the fish-tailed rnermaid, the bird element survives in mediaeval times 1 . In the Hortus Deliciarum of the Abbess Herrad (circ. A.D. 1160), the Sirens appear as draped women with the clawed feet of birds ; with their human hands they are playing on lyres.

The bird form of the Sirens was a problem even to the ancients. Ovid 2 asks :

' Whence came these feathers and these feet of birds ? Your faces are the faces of fair maids.'

Ovid's aetiology is of course beside the mark. The answer to his pertinent question is quite simple. The Sirens belong to the same order of bogey beings as the Sphinx and the Harpy ; the monstrous form expresses the monstrous nature ; they are birds of prey but with power to lure by their song. In the Harpy-form the ravening snatching nature is emphasized and developed, in the Sphinx the mantic power of all uncanny beings, in the Siren the seduction of song. The Sphinx, though mainly a prophetess, keeps Harpy elements; she snatches away the youths of Thebes: she is but

1 Mediaeval Sirens are more fully discussed in my Myths of the Odyssey, p. 172.

2 Met. v. 552

vobis Acheloi'des unde

pluma pedesque avium cum virginis ora geratis?

Apollonius Ehodius also believes that the bird form was a metamorphosis. Arqon. iv. 898

r6re 5' aXXo p. aXXo 5e irapdeviicrjs ej/aXry/acu ZGKOV

200 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [OH.

' a man -seizing Ker 1 .' The Siren too, though mainly a seductive singer, is at heart a Harpy, a bird of prey.

This comes out very clearly in representations on vase-paintings. A black-figured aryballos 2 of Corinthian style (fig. 37), now in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, is our earliest artistic source for the

FIG. 37.

Siren myth. Odysseus, bound to the mast, has come close up to the island : on the island are perched ' Sirens twain.' Above the ship hover two great black birds of prey in act to pounce on the mariners. These birds cannot be merely decorative: they in a sense duplicate the Sirens. The vase-painter knows the Sirens are singing demons sitting on an island ; the text of Homer was not in his hands to examine the account word by word, but the Homeric story haunts his memory. He knows too that in popular belief the Sirens are demons of prey ; hence the great birds. To the right of the Sirens on the island crouches a third figure ; she is all human, not a third Siren. She probably, indeed all but certainly, represents the mother of the Sirens, Chthon, the Earth. Euripides 3 makes his Helen in her anguish call on the

'Winged maidens, virgins, daughters of the Earth, The Sirens,'

to join their sorrowful song to hers. The parentage is significant. The Sirens are not of the sea, not even of the land, but demons of the underworld ; they are in fact a by -form of Keres, souls.

The notion of the soul as a human-faced bird is familiar in Egyptian, but rare in Greek, art. The only certain instance is,

1 Aesch. Sept. 776. The nature of the Sphinx as a mantic earth-demon will be discussed in detail later (p. 207).

2 Published and discussed by H. Bulle, Strena Helbigiana, p. 31. Eecently acquired for the Boston Museum, see Twenty-sixth Annual Report of Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Dec. 31, 1901, p. 35.

3 Eur. Hel. 167.

v] The Ker as Siren 201

so far as I know, the vase in the British Museum 1 on which is represented the death of Procris. Above Procris falling in death hovers a winged bird-woman. She is clearly, I think, the soul of Procris. To conceive of the soul as a bird escaping from the mouth is a fancy so natural and beautiful that it has arisen among many peoples. In Celtic mythology 2 Maildun, the Irish Odysseus, comes to an island with trees on it in clusters on which were perched many birds. The aged man of the island tells him, ' These are the souls of my children and of all my descendants, both men and women, who are sent to this little island to abide with me ac- cording as they die in Erin.' Sailors to this day believe that sea-mews are the souls of their drowned comrades. Antoninus Liberalis 3 tells how, when Ktesulla because of her father's broken oath died in child-bed, ' they carried her body out to be buried, and from the bier a dove flew forth and the body of Ktesulla disappeared.'

The persistent anthropomorphism of the Greeks stripped th^ bird-soul of all but its wings. The human winged eidolon prevailed in art: the bird-woman became a death-demon, a soul sent to fetch a soul, a Ker that lures a soul, a Siren.

Later in date and somewhat different in conception is the scene on a red-figured stamnos in the British Museum 4 (fig. 38). The artist's desire for a balanced design has made him draw two islands, on each of which a Siren is perched. Over the head of one is inscribed 'I/ie(/?)o7ra ' lovely- voiced.' A third Siren flies or rather falls headlong down on to the ship. The drawing of the eye of this third Siren should be noted. The eye is indicated by two strokes only, without the pupil. This is the regular method of representing the sightless eye, i.e. the eye in death or sleep or blindness. The third Siren is dying ; she has hurled herself from the rock in despair at the fortitude of Odysseus. This is clearly

1 Cat. E 477. The vase is a kelebe of late style with columnar handles. In previously discussing this design (Myths of the Odyssey, p. 158, pi. 40 and Myth, and Mon. Ancient Athens, p. Ixix, fig. 14) I felt uncertain whether the bird- woman were Harpy, Siren, or Soul. I am now convinced that a soul is intended, and that the bird form was probably borrowed from Egypt : see Book of the Dead, Vignette xci.

2 See Myths of the Odyssey, p. 180.

3 Anton. Lib. i. I owe this reference to Prof. Sam. Wide, A. Mitt. xxvi. 1901, 2, p. 155. At the miracle plays it was a custom to let a bird fly when a person died a crow for the impenitent thief and a white dove for the penitent one. See Mr Hugh Stewart, Boethius, p. 187.

4 B.M. Cat. E 440. Monimenti delV Inst. vol. i. pi. 8.

202 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [CH.

what the artist wishes to say, but he may have been haunted by an artistic tradition of the pouncing bird of prey. He also has adopted the number three, which by his time was canonical for the Sirens. By making the third Siren fly headlong between the two others he has neatly turned a difficulty in composition. On

FIG. 38.

the reverse of this vase are three Love-gods, who fall to be dis- cussed later (Chap. xn.). Connections between the subject matter of the obverse and reverse of vases are somewhat precarious, but it is likely, as the three Love-gods are flying over the sea, that the vase-painter intended to emphasize the seduction of love in his Sirens.


The clearest light on the lower nature of the Sirens is thrown by the design in fig. 39 from a Hellenistic relief 1 . The monu- ment is of course a late one, later by at least two centuries than the vase-paintings, but it reflects a primitive stage of thought and one moreover wholly free from the influence of Homer. The scene is a rural one. In the right-hand corner is a herm, in

1 Published by Schreiber, Hellenistische Relief bilder, Taf. LXI. : where the relief now is is not known. Fully discussed by Dr Otto Crusius, 'Die Epiphanie der Sirene,' Philologos (N.F. iv.) p. 93. Dr Crusius rightly observes that the relief has been misunderstood. It represents rather an 0o5os than a <r6fjt,ir\eyij.a, and the recumbent figure is a mortal man not a Silen.

The Ker as Siren


FIG. 39.

front of it an altar, near at hand a tree on which hangs a votive

syrinx. Some peasant or possibly a wayfarer has fallen asleep.

Down upon him has pounced

a winged and bird -footed

woman. It is the very image

of obsession, of nightmare, of

a haunting midday dream.

The woman can be none other

than an evil Siren. Had the

scene been represented by an

earlier artist, he would have

made her ugly because evil ;

but by Hellenistic times the

Sirens were beautiful women,

all human but for wings and

sometimes bird-feet.

The terrors of the midday

sleep were well known to the Greeks in their sun-smitten land ; nightmare to them was also daymare. Such a visitation, coupled possibly with occasional cases of sunstroke, was of course the obsession of a demon 1 . Even a troubled tormenting illicit dream was the work of a Siren. In sleep the will and the reason are becalmed and the passions unchained. That the midday night- mare went to the making of the Siren is clear from the windless calm and the heat of the sun in Homer. The horrid end, the wasting death, the sterile enchantment, the loss of wife and babes, all look the same way. Homer, with perhaps some blend of the Northern mermaid in his mind, sets his Sirens by the sea, thereby cleansing their uncleanness ; but later tradition kept certain horrid primitive elements when it made of the Siren a Jietaira disallowing the lawful gifts of Aphrodite.

There remains another aspect of the Sirens. They appear frequently as monuments, sometimes as actual mourners, on tombs. Here all the erotic element has disappeared; they are substantially

1 Pliny cites Dinon as authority for a like superstition in India. Nat. Hist. x. 49 (F.H.G. ii. p. 90) : Nee Sirenes impetraverunt fidem adfirmet licet Dinon Clitarchi celebrati auctoris pater in India esse mulcerique earum cantu quos gravatos somno lacerent. And cf. Aelian H.A. xvm. 22, 23. Siren in the Septuagint is the word used of the desert bogey that our translation renders 'dragon,' Job xxx. 30 'I am brother to the dragon and companion to owls,' and again Micah i. 8 'I will make a wailing like the dragon and a mourning as the owls.'

204 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [OH.

Death-Keres, Harpies, though to begin with they imaged the soul itself. The bird-woman of the Harpy tomb, the gentle angel of death, has been already noted (p. 177). The Siren on a black-figured lekythos in the British Museum 1 (fig. 40) is purely monumental.

FIG. 40.

She stands on the grave stele playing her great lyre, while two bearded men with their dogs seem to listen intent. She is grave and beautiful with no touch of seduction. Probably at first the Siren was placed on tombs as a sort of charm, a Trpoftao-Kaviov, a soul to keep off souls. It has already been shown, in dealing with apotropaic ritual (p. 196), that the charm itself is used as counter- charm. So the dreaded Death-Ker is set itself to guard the tomb. Other associations would gather round. The Siren was a singer, she would chant the funeral dirge ; this dirge might be the praises of the dead. The epitaph that Erinna 2 wrote for her girl- friend Baukis begins

  • Pillars and Sirens mine and mournful urn.'

On later funeral monuments Sirens appear for the most part as mourners, tearing their hair and lamenting. Their apotropaic function was wholly forgotten. Where an apotropaic monster is wanted we find an owl or a sphinx.

Even on funeral monuments the notion of the Siren as either soul or Death- Angel is more and more obscured by her potency as sweet singer. Once, however, when she appears in philosophy, there is at least a haunting remembrance that she is a soul who

1 B.M. Cat. B 651. J. E. Harrison, Myths of the Odyssey, PL 39.

2 Erinna, frg. 5 ZrSXcu Kai Zeiprjves e/A<xi Kai

v] The Ker as Siren 205

sings to souls. In the cosmography with which he ends the Republic, Plato 1 thus writes: 'The spindle turns on the knees of Ananke, and on the upper surface of each sphere is perched a Siren, who goes round with them hymning a single tone. The eight together form one Harmony.' Commentators explain that the Sirens are chosen because they are sweet singers, but then, if music be all, why is it the evil Sirens and not the good Muses who chant the music of the spheres ? Plutarch 2 felt the difficulty. In his Symposiacs he makes one of the guests say: ' Plato is absurd in committing the eternal and divine revolutions not to the Muses but to the Sirens ; demons who are by no means either benevolent or in themselves good.' Another guest, Ammonius, attempts to justify the choice of the Sirens by giving to them in Homer a mystical significance. ' Even Homer,' he says, ' means by their music not a power dangerous and destructive to man, but rather a power that inspires in the souls that go from Hence Thither, and wander about after death, a love for things heavenly and divine and a forgetfulness of things mortal, and thereby holds them enchanted by singing. Even here/ he goes on to say, 'a dim murmur of that music reaches us, rousing remi- niscence.'

It is not to be for a moment supposed that Homer's Sirens had really any such mystical content. But, given that they have the bird- form of souls, that they ' know all things,' are sweet singers and dwellers in Hades, and they lie ready to the hand of the mystic. Proclus 3 in his commentary on the Republic says, with perhaps more truth than he is conscious of, ' the Sirens are a kind of souls living the life of the spirit.' His interpretation is not merely fanciful ; it is a blend of primitive tradition with mystical philosophy.

The Sirens are further helped to their high station on the spheres by the Orphic belief that purified souls went to the stars, nay even became stars. In the Peace of Aristophanes 4 the servant asks Trygaeus,

'It is true then, what they say, that in the air A man becomes a star, when he comes to die?'

1 Plat. Rep. 617 B. 2 Plut. Symp. ix. 14. 6.

3 Procl. ad Plat. Eep. loc. cit. \l/vxa>l fives voep&s f&trcu.

4 Ar. Pax 832. For this Orphic doctrine see Rohde, Psyche n. p. 423 4 , Dieterich, Nekuia, pp. 104 ff.

206 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [OH.

To the poet the soul is a bird in its longing to be free :

'Could I take me to some cavern for mine hiding,

On the hill-tops, where the sun scarce hath trod, Or a cloud make the place of mine abiding, As a bird among the bird-droves of God 1 .'

And that upward flight to heavenly places is as the flying of a Siren :

'With golden wings begirt my body flies,

Sirens have lent me their swift winged feet, Upborne to uttermost ether I shall meet And mix with heavenly Zeus beyond the skies 2 .'

But, though Plato and the poets and the mystics exalt the Siren, ' half-angel and half-bird/ to cosmic functions, yet, to the popular mind, they are mainly things, if not wholly evil, yet fearful and to be shunned. This is seen in the myth of their contest with the Muses 3 . Here they are the spirits of forbidden intoxication ; as such on vases they join the motley crew of Centaurs and Satyrs who revel with Dionysos. They stand, it would seem, to the ancient as to the modern, for the impulses in life as yet unmoralized, imperious longings, ecstasies, whether of love or art or philosophy, magical voices calling to a man from his ' Land of Heart's Desire ' and to which if he hearken it may be he will return home no more voices too, which, whether a man sail by or stay to hearken, still sing on.

The Siren bird-woman transformed for ever by the genius of Homer into the sweet- voiced demon of seduction may seem re- mote from the Ker of which she is but a specialized form. A curious design 4 on a black-figured cylix in the Louvre (fig. 41) shows how close was the real connection. The scene is a banquet : five men are reclining on couches, two of them separated by a huge deinos, a wine-vessel, from which a boy has drawn wine in an oinochoe. Over two of the men are hovering winged figures, each holding a crown and a spray ; over two others hover bird-women, each also holding a crown and a spray. What are we to call these ministrant figures, what would the vase-painter himself have called them ? Are the human winged figures Love-gods, are the bird- women Sirens ? For lack of context it is hard to say with certainty. Thus much is clear, both kinds of figures are favouring genii of

1 Eur. Hipp. 732. 2 Eur. frg. 911. 3 Myths of the Odyssey, p. 166.

4 Bull, de Corr. Hell. 1898, p. 238, fig. 6.

v] The Ker as Sphinx 207

the feast, and for our purpose this is all-important: the bird- women, be they Sirens or not, and the winged human figures, be they Love-gods or merely Keres, perform the same function. The

FIG. 41.

development of the Love-god, Eros, from the Ker will be discussed later (Chap. XII.) ; for the present it is best to regard these bird- women and winged sprites as both of the order of Keres, as yet unspecialized in function.


Two special features characterize the Sphinx : she was a Harpy carrying off men to destruction, an incarnate plague ; she was the soothsayer with the evil habit of asking riddles as well as answering them. Both functions, though seemingly alien, were characteristic of underworld bogeys ; the myth-making mind put them together and wove out of the two the tale of the unanswered riddle and the consequent deathly pest.

On the vase-painting in fig. 42 from a cylix 1 in the Museo Gre- goriano of the Vatican, we have a charming representation of the riddle-answering Oedipus, whose name is written Oidipodes, sitting

1 Mus. Greg. No. 186. Hartwig, Meisterschalen, Taf. Lxxm.

208 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [OH.

meditating in front of the oracle. The Sphinx on her column is half monument, half personality; she is a very human monster, she has her lion-body, but she is a lovely attentive maiden. From her lips come the letters KCU rpi, which may mean and three or and three (-footed). In the field is a delicate decorative spray, which, occur- ring as it does on vases with a certain individuality of drawing^ seems to be, as it were, the signature of a particular master 1 .

FIG. 42.

The Sphinx in fig. 42 is all oracular, but occasionally, on vases of the same date, she appears in her other function as the ' man- snatching Ker.' She leaves her pedestal and carries off a Theban youth. The 5th century vase-painter with his determined euphe- mism, even when he depicts her carrying off her prey, makes her do it with a certain Attic gentleness, more like a death-Siren than

1 Dr Hartwig op. cit. has collected and discussed these vases and gives to the artist the name ' Meister mit dem Kanke.'

The Ker as Sphinx


a Harpy. Aeschylus 1 in the Seven against Thebes describes her as the monster she is ; the Sphinx on the shield of Parthenopaeus is a horrid bogey, the ' reproach of the state,' ' eater of raw-flesh/ with hungry jaws, bringing ill-luck to him who bears her on his ensign. In the curious vase-painting in fig. 43, a design from a late Lower Italy krater 2 in the museum at Naples, the Sphinx is wholly

FIG. 43.

oracular, and this time she must answer the riddle, not ask it. The Sphinx is seated on a rocky mound, near which stands erect a snake. The snake is not, I think, without meaning ; it is the oracular beast of the earth-oracle. The Silenus who has come to consult the oracle holds in his hand a bird. The scene would be hopelessly enigmatic but for one of the fables that are current under the name of Aesop 3 , which precisely describes the situation. 'A certain bad man made an agreement with some one to prove that the Delphic oracle was false, and when the appointed day came, he took a sparrow in his hand and covered it with his garment and came to the sanctuary, and standing in front of the oracle, asked whether the thing in his hand was alive or dead, and

1 Aesch. Sept. c. Theb. 539.

2 Heydemann, Gat. No. 2846. Museo Borbonico xn. 9. Discussed and explained by Dr Otto Crusius, Festschrift filr Overbeck, p. 102. Dr Crusius holds that the snake is merely a 'Fiillfigur.'

3 Aesop. Fab. 55.



210 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [CH.

he meant if the oracle said it was dead, to show the sparrow alive, but if the oracle said it was alive, to strangle it first and then show it. But the god knew his wicked plan, and said to him, " Have done, for it depends on you whether what you hold is dead or living." The story shows plainly that the divinity is not lightly to be tempted.'

The story, taken in conjunction with the vase-painting it explains, shows clearly another thing. The Sphinx was mainly a local Theban bogey, but she became the symbol of oracular divinity. At Delphi there was an earth-oracle guarded by a snake, and in honour of that earth-oracle the Naxians upreared their colossal Sphinx 1 and set it in the precinct of Gaia. As time went on, the savage ' man-snatching ' aspect of the Sphinx faded, remembered only in the local legend, while her oracular aspect grew ; but the local legend is here as always the more instructive.

The next representation of the Sphinx (fig. 44), from the frag- ment of an oinochoe in the

Berlin Museum 2 , is specially suggestive. The monster is inscribed, not with the name we know her by, ' Sphinx,' but as ' Kassmia/ the Kad- mean One, the bogey of Kadmos. The bearded mon- ster with wings and claws and dog-like head has lost her orthodox lion-body, and lent it perhaps to Oedipus who stands in front of her. The scene is of course pure comedy, and shows how near to the Greek mind

were the horrible and the grotesque, the thing feared and the thing scoffed at. The Kassmia, the bogey of Kadmos, may have brought her lion-body with Kadmos from the East, but the sup- position, though very possible, is not necessary. Cithaeron was

1 Discovered in the excavations at Delphi, see Homolle, Fouilles de Delphes, 1902, T. n. pi. xiv.

2 Berlin, Inv. 3186. Jahrbuch d. Inst. 1891, Anzeiger, p. 119, fig. 17.

FIG. 44.

The Ker as Sphinx


traditionally lion-haunted 1 . The Sphinx may have borrowed some of her traits and part of her body from a real lion haunting a real local tomb.

It is worth noting in this connection that Hesiod 2 calls the monster not Sphinx but Phix :

'By stress of Orthios, she, Echidna, bare Disastrous Phix, a bane to Kadmos' folk.'

The scholiast remarks that 'Mount Phikion where she dwelt was called after her/ but the reverse is probably true. Phix was the local bogey of Phikion. The rocky mountain which rises to the S.-E. corner of Lake Copais is still locally known as Phaga 3 . By a slight and easy modification Phix became Sphix or Sphinx, the ' throttler/ an excellent name for a destructive bogey.

The last representation of the Sphinx, in fig. 45, brings us to her characteristic as tomb- haunter. The design is from a krater 4

FIG. 45.

in the Vagnonville Collection of the Museo Greco Etrusco at Florence. The Sphinx is seated on a tomb-mound (x&pa yfjs) of the regular sepulchral type. That the mound is sepulchral is certain from the artificial stone basis pierced with holes 5 on which it stands. Two lawless Satyrs attack the mound with picks. The Sphinx is a tomb-haunting bogey, a Ker, but ulti-

1 P. i. 41. 4. 2 Hes. Theog. 326 and Scut. Her. 33, and see Plat. Crat. 414 D.

3 Dr Frazer ad P. ix. 26. 2.

4 Milani, Museo Topografico, p. 69. ' Delphika,' J.H.S.. 1899, p. 235.

5 The purpose of these holes, which occur frequently in representations of tomb- mounds on Athenian lekythoi, is not, so far as I know, made out.


212 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [CH.

mately she fades into a decorative tomb monument, with always perhaps some prophylactic intent. In this, as in her mantic aspect, she is own cousin to the Ker-Siren, but with the Sphinx the mantic side predominates. The Sphinx, unlike the Siren, never developed into a trinity, though when she became decorative she is doubled for heraldic purposes.

It is time to resume the various shifting notions that cluster round the term Ker, perhaps the most untranslateable of all Greek words. Ghost, bacillus, disease, death-angel, death-fate, fate, bogey, magician have all gone to the making of it. So shifting and various is the notion that it is hard to say what is primary, what developed, but deep down in the lowest stratum lie the two kindred conceptions of ghost and bacillus. It is only by a severe effort of the imagination that we can think ourselves back into an \adequate mental confusion to realize all the connotations of Ker.

When the lexicographers carne to define the word they had no easy task. Their struggles they are honest men, if not too intelligent are instructive. Happily they make no attempt at real formulation, but jot things down as they come. Hesychius, after his preliminary statement '/crjp (neuter, with circumflex accent) the soul, (oxytone, feminine) death-bringing fate, death,' gives us suggestive particulars : fcijpas aicaOapcrias, fjuaiXvcr/jLara, /3Xa/3a?, where we see the unclean bacilli; /cijpov \TTTOV voarjpov, which reminds us of the evil skinny Ker of the vase-painting (fig. 17); 6K7r\riTTcr0cu, where the bogey Ker is manifest; VTTO (TKOToSwov Xrj^Ofjvcu, where the whirlwind seems indicated, though it may be the dizziness of death. Kerukainae were the female correlatives of Kerykes, ' women whose business it was to collect things polluted' and carry them off to the sea 1 . Most curious and primitive of all, we are told 2 that /crjpvKes itself means not only messengers, ministers, a priestly race descended from Hermes, but * they call the insects that impregnate the wild fig /ctfpvtcas.' Here are bacilli indeed, but for life not for death.

1 Suidas s.v., /ecu KrjpvKalvas ticd\ovv 'AXelcti'fyets yvvaiKas, airi^es es ras ai)\cts Trapiovaat KO.L rds ffvvoiKias e^>' (pre avvayeipeiv TO. fudcrfj-ara Kal airo^petv et's 6d\affffav aTrep eKd\ovv <f>v\aKia.

2 Hesych. s.v., Kal rows tpivd^ovTas TOVS tpivovs KrjpvKas \yov<rt.

v] The Ker as Erinys 213


It has been already indicated that a Ker is sometimes an avenger, but this aspect of the word has been advisedly reserved because it takes us straight to the idea of the Erinys.

Pausanias 1 , a propos of the grave of Koroibos at Megara, tells us a story in which a Ker figures plainly as an Erinys, with a touch of the Sphinx and of the death-Siren. Psamathe, daughter of Krotopos, King of Argos, had a child by Apollo, which, fearing her father's anger, she exposed. The child was found and killed by the sheep-dogs of Krotopos. Apollo sent Poine (Penalty or Vengeance) on the city of the Argives. Poine, they say, snatched children from their mothers until Koroibos, to please the Argives, slew her. After he had slain her, there came a second pestilence upon them and lasted on. Koroibos had to go to Delphi to expiate his sin ; he was ordered to build a temple of Apollo wherever the tripod he brought from Delphi should fall. He built of course the town of Tripodisci. The grave of Koroibos at Megara was sur- mounted by the most ancient Greek stone images Pausanias had ever seen, a figure of Koroibos slaying Poine. There were elegiac verses carved on it recounting the tale of Psamathe and Koroibos. Now Pausanias mentions no Ker, only Poine ; but the Anthologists 2 have preserved for us verses which, if not actually those carved on the grave, at all events refer to it, and in them occur the notable words :

'I am the Ker, slain by Koroibos, I dwell on his tomb, Here at my feet, on account of the tripod, he lies for his doom.'

Poine is clearly the avenging ghost of the child of Psamathe causing a pest which snatched babes from their mother, and Poine the ghost-pest is a Ker and practically a Ker-Erinys.

The simple truth emerges so clearly as to be almost self- evident, yet is constantly ignored, that primarily the Keres-Erinyes are just what the words say, the 'Keres Angry-ones.' There is no reason to doubt the truth of what Pausanias 3 tells us, that the

1 P. i. 43. 7.

2 Anthol. Pal. vn. 154

Ei'/i! 5e KT}/) Tv/ji[3ovxos, 6 d Kreivas ytce K6j00tj3os

Keircu 5' ud' VTT' e/xots Tro<r<rl dia Tpiiroda. - 3 P. Vin. 25. 4 &TI

214 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [OH.

Arcadians and, with the Arcadians, probably the rest of the primi- tive Greeks, called 'being in a rage' epivvew. Demeter at Thelpusa had two surnames and even two statues. When she was wroth they called her Erinys 1 on account of her wrath, when she relented and bathed they called her Lousia. Pausanias gives as literary authority for the surname Erinys, Antimachus who wrote (4th cent. B.C.) of the expedition of the Argives against Thebes.

The Erinyes, on this showing, are one form of the countless host of divine beings whose names are simply adjectival epithets, not names proper. Such others are the Eumenides the Kindly Ones, the Potniae the Awful Ones, the Maniae the Madnesses, the Praxidikae the Vengeful Ones. With a certain delicate shyness, founded possibly on a very practical fear, primitive man will not address his gods by a personal name; he decently shrouds them in class epithets. There are people living now, Celts for the most part, who shrink from the personal attack of a proper name, and call their friends, in true primitive fashion, the Old One, the Kind One, the Blackest One, and the like.

It is apparent that, given these adjectival names, the gods are as many as the moods of the worshipper, i.e. as his thoughts about his gods. If he is kind, they are Kindly Ones ; when he feels venge- ful, they are Vengeful Ones.

The question arises, why did the angry aspect of the Keres, i.e. the Erinyes, attain to a development so paramount, so self- sufficing, that already in Homer they are distinct from the Keres, with functions, if not forms, clearly defined, beyond possibility of confusion. It is precisely these functions that have defined them. A Ker, as has been seen, is for good and for evil, is active for plants, for animals, as for men : a Ker when angry is Erinys : a Ker is never so angry as when he has been killed. The idea of Erinys as distinct from Ker is developed out of a human relation intensely felt. The Erinys primarily is the Ker of a human being un- righteously slain. Erinys is not death ; it is the outraged soul of the dead man crying for vengeance ; it is the Ker as Poine. In discussing the Keres it has been abundantly shown that ghost

1 The explanation of Erinyes as ' angry ones ' is confirmed by modern philology. F. Froehde, Bezzenberger. Beitrcige, xx. p. 188, derives the word Erinys from -pv<r-vos, Lith. rustas, angry.

v] The Ker as Erinys 215

is a word too narrow: Keres denote a wider animism. With Erinys the case is otherwise : the Erinyes are primarily human ghosts, but all human ghosts are not Erinyes, only those ghosts that are angry, and that for a special reason, usually because they have been murdered. Other cases of angry ghosts are covered by the black Ker. It is the vengeful inhumanity of the Erinyes, arising as it does from their humanity, which marks them out from the Keres.

That the Erinyes are primarily the vengeful souls of murdered men can and will in the sequel be plainly shown, but it would be idle to deny that already in Homer they have passed out of this stag? and are personified almost beyond recognition. They are no longer souls ; they are the avengers of souls. Thus in Homer, in the prayer of Althaea, Erinys 1 , though summoned to avenge the death of Althaea's brethren, is clearly not the ghost of either of them ; she is one, they are two ; she is female, they are male. Althaea prays :

'And her the Erinys blood-haunting 2 Heard out of Erebos' depths, she of the soul without pity.'

There is nothing that so speedily blurs and effaces the real origin of things as this insistent Greek habit of impersonation. We were able to track the Keres back to something like their origin just because they never really got personified. In this respect poets are the worst of mythological offenders. By their intense realization they lose all touch with the confusions of actuality. The Erinyes summoned by Althaea were really ghosts of the murdered brothers, but Homer separates them off into avengers.

1 II. ix. 571 TV 5'

?K\vev tg 'E/>^3e0-0i' apelXixov yrop

2 On the epithet ^epo^oirtj 'blood-haunting,' usually translated 'walking in dark- ness,' Eoscher (Myth. Lex. s.v.) has based a whole mistaken theory of the nature of the Erinyes as ' storm-clouds.' The Townley scholion (ad loc.) offers an alternative reading of the epithet more consonant with the nature of the Erinys : ol 5e eiapoTrwris, eym/i^ou rov elap Sirep earl Kara SaXa/w^ous afyia. On this showing the Erinyes would be not those who 'walked in darkness' but those who sucked the blood, a view certainly consonant with the picture of the Erinyes presented by Aeschylus : &irb fwi'Tos pofaiv epvdpov K fteXtdw ire\avov (Eum. 264). The termination -Trams instead of -0oins gives of course a simple and satisfactory meaning ; but, accepting f}epo- as representing the Cyprian form elap 'blood,' it is perhaps possible to retain 0oms and explain the epithet as ' blood haunting.' Another alternative is suggested by Fick, i.e. that the primitive form is -rjapo-iroiTts ' blutrachend,' irotris being akin to Troivfj, cf. Apollo Poitios (see A. Fick, ' Gotternamen,' in Bezzenberger. Beitrdge, xx. p. 179).

216 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [CH.

In other Homeric Erinyes there is often not even a fond of possible ghosts. Phoenix transgresses against his father Amyntor 1 , and Amyntor for his unnatural offence invokes against him the ' hateful Erinyes ' : they are no ancestral ghosts, they are merely avengers of the moral law, vaguer equivalents of 'Underworld Zeus and dread Persephone/ Ares 2 offends his mother Aphrodite, who is certainly not dead and has no ghost, and the wounds inflicted on him by Athene appease the 'Erinys of his mother/ In a word, in Homer, as has frequently been pointed out, the Erinyes are avengers of offences against blood-relations on the mother's and father's side, of all offences against moral, and finally even natural law.

The familiar case of Xanthus, the horse of Achilles 3 , marks the furthest pole of complete abstraction. Xanthus warns Achilles that, for all their fleetness, his horses bear him to his death, and

'When he thus had spoken The Erinyes stayed his voice/

The intervention of the Erinyes here is usually explained by a reference to the saying of Heracleitus 4 that ' the sun could not go out of his course without the Erinyes, ministers of justice, finding him out.' I doubt if the philosophy of Heracleitus supplies the true explanation. The horse speaks as the mouthpiece of the fates, the Erinyes ' they tell of what fate (/juotpa) will accomplish ; nay more, as fates they, reluctant but obedient, carry him to his death. When Xanthus has uttered the mandate of fate, the Fates close his mouth, not because he transgresses their law, but because he has uttered it to the full.

Be that as it may, the view stated by Heracleitus is of capital importance. It shows that to a philosopher writing at the end of the 6th century B.C. the Erinyes were embodiments of law, ministers of Justice. Of course a philosopher is as little to be taken as reflecting popular faith as a poet, indeed far less; but even a philosopher cannot, save on pain of becoming unintelligible, use words apart from popular associations. Heracleitus was indeed drunk with the thought of law, of Fate, of unchanging 'moral

1 II. ix. 454. 2 II. xxi. 412.

3 II. xix. 418 ws &pa (t>wf](ra.vTos epivijes ^cr^Qov avdfy.

4 Pint, de Ex. 11 ^/'Xios 'yap oi>x vTrep^-riffeTai fjL^Tpa. ((firjo'lv 6 'H/x/cAeiros) et 5 /J.TJ

A/KT?S eirlnovpoi,

v] The Erinyes of Aeschylus 217

retribution/ with the eternal sequence of his endless flux; his Erinyes are cosmic beyond the imagination of Homer, but still the fact remains that he uses them as embodiments of the vengeance that attends transgression. By his time they are not Keres, not souls, still less bacilli, not even avengers of tribal blood, but in the widest sense ministers of Justice 1 (At/c?;9 eTritcovpoi).


Heracleitus has pushed abstraction to its highest pitch. When we come to Aeschylus we find, as would be expected, a conception of the Erinyes that is at once narrower and more vitalized, more objective, more primitive. In the Septem 2 the conception is narrower, more primitive than in Homer ; the Erinys is in fact an angry ghost. This is stated with the utmost precision.

'Alas, thou Fate grievous, dire to be borne, And Oedipus' holy Shade, Black Erinys, verily, mighty art thou,'

chant the chorus again and again. Fate is close at hand and nigh akin, but the real identity and apposition is between the shade, the ghost of Oedipus, and the black Erinys.

Here and in the Prometheus Bound 3 Aeschylus is fully conscious that it is the actual ghost, not a mere abstract venge- ance that haunts and pursues. lo is stung by the oestrus 4 because she was a cow-maiden, but the real terror that maddens her is that most terrifying of all ancient ghosts, the phantom of earth-born Argus.

'Woe, Woe!

Again the gadfly stings me as I go. The earth-born neatherd Argos hundred-eyed, Earth, wilt thou never hide?

1 The conception of Dike was largely due to Orphic influence, see p. 507.

2 v. 988

Id fJLOipa (3apvd6reipa (j.oyepa

TroTvtd T Oidiirov avtti

/z^Xaw' 'E/>>i5s, ?} fjt,ya.<r0t>ri$ rts el.

3 Aesch. Prom. Vinct. 566.

4 The gadfly is purely incidental to lo as cow. Oistros is an incarnation of the distraction caused by the ghost. On a vase-painting representing the slaying of her children by Medea, Oistros (inscribed) is represented as a figure in a chariot drawn by snakes, and near at hand is 'the ghost of Aietes' (inscribed) who sent it. (Arch. Zeit. 1847, T. 3.)

218 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [OH.

O horror ! he is coming, coming nigh, Dead, with his wandering eye. Uprising from the dead He drives me famished Along the shingled main,

His phantom pipe drones with a sleepy strain. Ye gods, what have I done to cry in vain, Fainting and frenzied with sting-driven pain ?'

But when we come to the Oresteia, the Erinyes are envisaged from a different angle. The shift is due partly to the data of the plot, the primitive saga out of which it is constructed, partly to a definite moral purpose in the mind of the tragedian.

The primitive material of the trilogy was the story of the house of Atreus in which the motive is the blood-curse working from generation to generation, working within the narrow limits of one family and culminating in the Erinys of a slain mother. At the back of the Orestes and Clytaemnestra story lay the primaeval thought so clearly expressed by Plato in the Laws 1 . 1 If a man/ says the Athenian, ' kill a freeman even unintention- ally, let him undergo certain purifications, but let him not dis- regard a certain ancient tale of bygone days as follows : " He who has died by a violent death, if he has lived the life of a freeman, when he is newly dead, is angry with the doer of the deed, and being himself full of fear and panic on account of the violence he has suffered and seeing his murderer going about in his accustomed haunts, he feels terror, and being himself disordered 2 communicates the same feeling with all possible force, aided by recollection, to the guilty man both to himself and to his deeds." ' Here the actual ghost is the direct source of the disorder and works like a sort of bacillus of madness. It is not the guilty conscience of the murderer, but a sort of onset of the consciousness of the murdered.

1 Plat. Legg. ix. 865.

2 Mr F. M. Cornford draws my, attention to a similar and even cruder English superstition. Sir Kenelm Digby, in his Observations on the Eeligio Medici (5th ed. p. 128), maintains as against Sir Thomas Browne who says that apparitions are devils, that those that appear in cemeteries and charnel-houses are the souls of the dead which have ' a byas and a languishing ' towards their bodies, and that the body of a murdered man bleeds when the murderer approaches (' which is frequently seen in England ') because the soul, desiring revenge, and being unable to speak, ' must endeavour to cause a motion in the subtilest or most fluid parts (and consequently the most moveable ones) of it. This can be nothing but the blood, which then being violently moved, must needs gush out at those places where it findeth issues.'

v] The Curse of the Blood 219

Its action is local, and hence the injunction that the murderer must leave the land. How fully Aeschylus was conscious of this almost physical aspect of crime as the action of the disordered ghost on the living comes out with terrible vividness in the Choephori 1 :

'The black bolt from below comes from the slain Of kin who cry for vengeance, and from them Madness and empty terror in the night Comes haunting, troubling.'

It is 'the slain of kin' who cries for vengeance. As Pausanias 2 says of the same house, ' the pollution of Pelops and the avenging ghost of Myrtilos dogged their steps.' 'Fate/ says Polybius 3 , ' placed by his (Philip's) side Erinyes and Poinae and Pointers-to- Vengeance (TrpocrTpoTralovs)? Here clearly all the words are synonymous. Apollo threatens the slayer of his mother with

'Yet other onsets of Erinys sent Of kindred blood the dire accomplishment, Visible visions that he needs must mark, Aye, though he twitch his eyebrows in the dark 4 .'

To cause these ' onsets,' these 7rpoo-/3o\ai ) or, as they are some- times called, efoSoi, was, Hippocrates 5 tells us, one of the regular functions of dead men.

Behind the notion of these accesses of fright, these nocturnal apparitions caused by ghosts, there is in the mind of Aeschylus the still more primitive notion that the shed blood not only ' brings these apparitions to effect,' but is itself a source of physical infection. Here we seem to get down to a stratum of thought perhaps even more primitive than that of the bacillus-like Keres. The Chorus in the Choephori sings 6 :

'Earth that feeds him hath drunk of the gore, Blood calling for vengeance flows never more, But stiffens, and pierces its way Through the murderer, breeding diseases that none may allay. 1

1 Aesch. Choeph. 285.

2 P. ii. 18. 2 rb,a TO HVXoTros Ka.1 6 M.vprl\ov TrpoffTpdiraios rjKoXoijdrjffe.

3 xxni. 10. 2.

4 Choeph. 282. In the interpretation of this passage I follow Dr Verrall, Choe- phori, ad v. 286.

5 Hippocr. ircpl iepris votieov, p. 123, 20 Swoffa 5 del^ara VVKTOS iraplffrarat KO! oi Kdl irapdvoiai Kal ai>airr}Si?i(reis K K\IVT)S 'E/tctTTjj (f>atrlv elvai ^Trt/SouXas /cat

6 Aesch. Choeph. 64. The same idea comes out in the Electro, of Euripides (v. 318).

220 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [CH.

The blood poisons the earth, and thereby poisons the murderer fed by earth. As Dr Verrall (ad loc.) points out, it is the old doctrine of the sentence of Cain, ' And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand ; when thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength.'

In the crudest and most practical form, this notion of the physical infection of the earth comes out in the story of Alcmaeon. Pausanias 1 tells us that when Alcmaeon had slain his mother Eriphyle, he came to Psophis in Arcadia, but there his disease nowise abated. He then went to Delphi, and the Pythia taught him that the only land where the avenger of Eriphyle could not dog him was the newest land which the sea had laid bare subse- quently to the pollution of his mother's blood, and he found out the deposit of the river Achelous and dwelt there. There, by the new and unpolluted land he might be nourished and live. Apollo- dorus 2 misses the point: he brings Alcmaeon to Thesprotia and purifies him, but by the waters of Achelous.

The case of Alcmaeon does not stand alone. It has a curious parallel in the fate that befell Bellerophon, a fate that, I think, has not hitherto been rightly understood.

In Homer 3 the end of Bellerophon is mysterious. After the episode with Sthenoboea, he go to Lycia, is royally entertained, marries the king's daughter, rules over a fair domain, begets three goodly children, and then, suddenly, without warning, without manifest cause, he comes to be

' Hated of all the gods. And in the Alei'an plain apart He strayed, shunning men's foot-prints, consuming his own heart.'

Homer, with a poet's instinct for the romantic and mysterious, asks no questions; Pindar 4 with his Olympian prejudice saw in the downfall of Bellerophon the proper meed of 'insolence.' Bellerophon's heart was ' aflutter for things far-off,' he had vainly longed for

' The converse of high Zeus.'

1 P. vill. 24. 8 and 9 /ecu avrbv -ij Hvdla 5t5d<r/cei rbv 'Epi0i5X7;s dXd<rro/>a es ravryv ot fj.6vr)t> xup av v ffvvaKoXovdrjcreiv 17x15 tffri veuTCiTij, Kal ij 6d\a<r<ra TOV (JLirjrp^ov /a<r/AaTOj

2 Apollod. m. 7. 5.

3 II. vi. 200. 4 Find. Isth. v. 66.

v] The Curse of the Blood 221

But the mythographers knew the real reason of the madness and the wandering, knew of the old sin against the old order. Apollodorus 1 says : ' Bellerophon, son of Glaukos, son of Sisyphos, having slain unwittingly his brother Deliades, or, as some say, Peiren, and others Alkimenes, came to Proetus and was purified/ On Bellerophon lay the taboo of blood guilt. He came to Proetus, but, the sequel shows, was not purified. In those old days he could not be. Proetus sent him on to the king of Lycia, and the king of Lycia drove him yet further to the only land where he could dwell, the Ale'ian or Cilician plain 2 . This Aleian plain was, like the mouth of the Achelolis, new land, an alluvial deposit slowly recovered from the sea, ultimately in Strabo's time most fertile, but in Bellerophon's days a desolate salt-marsh. The madness of Bellerophon for in Homer he is obviously mad is the madness of Orestes, of the man blood-stained, Erinys-haunted ; but the story of Bellerophon, like that of Alcmaeon, looks back to days even before the Erinys was formulated as a personality, to days when Earth herself was polluted, poisoned by shed blood.

Aeschylus then in the Oresteia is dealing with a primitive story and realizes to the uttermost its primaeval savagery. But he has chosen it for a moral purpose, nay more, when he comes to the Eumenides, with an actual topical intent. He desires first and foremost by the reconciliation of old and new to justify the ways of God to men, and next to show that in his own Athenian law- court of the Areopagus, those ways find their fullest practical human expression. That court, he somehow contrived to believe, or at least saw fit to assert, was founded on a fact of tremendous moral significance, the conversion of the Erinyes into Semnae. The conception of the Erinyes comes to Aeschylus from Homer almost full-fledged ; his mythological data, unlike his plots, were ' slices from the great feasts of Homer/ and this in a very strict sense, for, owing no doubt partly to the primitive legend selected, he has had to narrow somewhat the Homeric conception of the Erinyes and make of them not avengers in general, but avengers of tribal blood. Moreover he has emphasized their legal character.

1 Apollod. ii. 2. 3.

2 For this information as to the character of the Aleian plain, which suggested the view in the text, I am indebted to the kindness of Prof. Kamsay.

222 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [CH.

It is noteworthy that when Athene formally asks the Erinyes who and what they are 1 , their answer is not ' Erinyes ' but

'Curses our name in haunts below the earth.'

And when Athene further asks their function and prerogatives (TI/J,O,L) the answer is :

'Man-slaying men we drive from out their homes 2 .'

The essence of primitive law resided, as has already (p. 142) been seen, in the curse, the imprecation. Here the idea is not that of a cosmic Fate but of a definite and tangible curse, the curse of blood-guilt. It is scarcely possible to doubt that in emphasizing the curse aspect of the Erinyes, Aeschylus had in his mind some floating reminiscence of a traditional connection between the Arae and the Areopagus. He is going to make the Erinyes turn into Semnae, the local Athenian goddesses invoked upon the Areopagus : the conception of the Erinyes as Arae makes as it were a convenient bridge. The notion of the Erinyes as goddesses of Cursing is of course definitely present in Homer, but it is the notion of the curse of the broken oath rather than the curse of blood-guilt. In the great oath of Agamemnon 3 he, as became an Achaean, prays first to Zeus, but also to Earth and to the Sun and to the Erinyes who

'Beneath the earth

Take vengeance upon mortals, whosoe'er Forswears himself.'

Hesiod 4 , borrowing from Melampus, tells us that

'On the fifth day, they say, the Erinyes tend Oath at his birth whom Eris bore, a woe To any mortal who forswears himself.'

Aeschylus narrows the Homeric and Hesiodic conception of the Erinyes to the exigencies of the particular legend he treats ; they are for him almost uniformly the personified Curses that attend the shedding of kindred blood, though now and again he rises to the cosmic conception of Heracleitus, as when the chorus in the Eumenides exclaim 5

'0 Justice, ye thrones Of the Erinyes,'

1 Aesch. Eum. 417. 2 16. 421.

3 II. xix. 258. 4 Hes. Erg. 803. 5 Aesch. Rum. 511.

v] The Tragic Erinyes 223

and chant the doom that awaits the transgressor in general ; but the circumstances of the plot compel a speedy return within narrower limits.


The Erinyes in Homer are terrors unseen : Homer who lends to his Olympians such clear human outlines has no embodied shape for these underworld Angry Ones ; he knows full well what they do, but not how they look. But Aeschylus can indulge in no epic vagueness. He has to bring his Erinyes in flesh and blood actually on the stage ; he must make up his mind what and who they are. Fortunately at this point we are not left with a mere uncertain stage tradition or the statements of late scholiasts and lexicographers. From Aeschylus himself we know with unusual precision how his Erinyes appeared on the stage. The priestess has seen within the temple horrible things ; she staggers back in terror to give for her horror-stricken state a description remark- ably explicit. The exact order of her words is important 1 :

'Fronting the man I saw a wondrous band Of women, sleeping on the seats. But no ! No women these, but Gorgons yet methinks I may not liken them to Gorgon -shapes. Once on a time I saw those pictured things That snatch at Phineus' feast, but these, but these Are wingless black, foul utterly. They snore, Breathing out noisome breath. From out their eyes They ooze a loathly rheum.'

The whole manner of the passage arrests attention at once. Why is Aeschylus so unusually precise and explicit ? Why does he make the priestess midway in her terror give this little archaeo- logical lecture on the art-types of Gorgons and Harpies ? The reason is a simple one ; the Erinyes as Erinyes appear for the first time in actual definite shape. Up to the time when Aeschylus brought them on the stage, no one, if he had been asked what an Erinys was like, could have given any definite answer ; they were unseen horrors which art up to that time had never crystallized set form. The priestess is literally correct when she says 2 :

' This race of visitants ne'er have I seen.' 1 Aesch. Eum. 46 ff. 2 v. 57.

224 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [OH.

Aeschylus had behind him, to draw from, a great wealth of bogey types ; he had black Keres, such as those on the shield of Herakles ; he had Gorgons, he had Harpies, but he had no ready-made shape for his Erinyes, only the Homeric horror of formlessness. What will he do ? What he did do is clearly set forth by the priestess. When she first, in the gloom of the adyton, catches sight of the sleeping shapes, she thinks they are women, they have something human about them ; but no, they are too horrible for women, they must be Gorgons. She looks a little closer. No, on second thoughts, they are not Gorgons ; they have not the familiar Gorgon mask ; there is something else she has seen in a picture, Harpies, ' those that snatch at Phineus' feast.' Can they be Harpies ? No, again, Harpies have wings, and these are wingless. Here precisely came in the innovation of Aeschylus ; he takes the Harpy-type, loath- some and foul, and rids them of their wings. It was a master- touch 1 , lifting the Erinyes from the region of grotesque impossible bogeydom to a lower and more loathsome, because wholly human, horror.

The ' Gorgon shapes,' which indeed amount almost to Gorgon masks so characteristic is the ugly face with tusks and protruding tongue have been already fully discussed (p. 187),but for clearness' sake another illustration, which can be securely dated as before the time of Aeschylus, may be added here. The design in fig. 46 is from a black-figured olpe in the British Museum 2 . It is signed by the potter Amasis ("A/xacr^ /*' eTroirjcrev), and dates about the turn of the 6th and 5th centuries B.C. The scene depicted is the slaying of the Gorgon Medusa by Perseus. Medusa is represented with the typical ugly face, protruding tusks and tongue. On her lower lip is a fringe of hair ; four snakes rise from her head. She wears a short purple chiton, over which is a stippled skin with two snakes knotted at the waist. She has high huntress-boots and two pairs of wings, one outspread the other recurved. The essential feature of the Gorgon in Greek art is the hideous mask- like head ; but she has usually, though not always, snakes somewhere about her, in her hair or her hands or about her waist. The wings,

1 A master-touch from the point of view of Aeschylus, who is all for the new order. It is however impossible to avoid a regret that he stooped to the cheap expedient of blackening the Erinyes as representatives of the old. He thereby half alienates our sympathies. See ' Delphika,' J. H. S. xix. 1899, p. 251.

2 Cat. B 471. Vorlegebldtter 1889, Taf. n. 1 a.

The Erinys in Art


also a frequent though not uniform appendage, are sometimes two, sometimes four. In common with the Harpy, to whom she is so

FIG. 46.

near akin, she has the bent knee that indicates a striding pace. That Harpy and Gorgon are not clearly distinguished is evident from the vase-painting already discussed (p. 176, fig. 19), in which the Gorgon sisters of Medusa are inscribed Harpies CApejrvia).

Broadly speaking the Gorgon is marked off from the Harpy by the mask-face. The Harpy is a less monstrous form of Gorgon, but at worst there was not much to choose between them. We

FIG. 47.

sympathize with the hesitation of the priestess, when we compare

the Medusa-Gorgon of the Amasis vase (fig. 46) with the un-

H. 15

226 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [CH.

doubted Harpies of the famous Wiirzburg 1 cylix (fig. 47). Here we have depicted the very scene remembered by the priestess, ' those pictured things that snatch at Phineus' feast.' The vase is in a disastrous condition, and the inscriptions present many difficulties as well as uncertainties, but happily those that are legible and certain are sufficient to place the subject of the scene beyond a doubt. It would indeed be clear enough without the added evidence of inscriptions. Phineus to the right reclines at the banquet, attended by women of his family, whose names present difficulties and need not here be discussed. The Harpies 2 ('Ape...), pestilential unclean winds as they are, have fouled the feast. But for the last time they are chased away by the two sons of Boreas, Zetes and Kalais, sword in hand. The sons of the clean clear North Wind drive away the unclean demons. All the winds, clean and unclean, are figured alike, with four wings each ; but the Boreadae are of course male, the women Harpies are draped.

Before returning to the tragic Erinyes, another vase must be

FIG. 48.

discussed. The design, from an early black-figured cylix in the Louvre 3 , is reproduced in fig. 48. The centre of interest is clearly

1 Wiirzburg, Inv. 354.

2 The Phineus cylix is published in phototype by Carl Sittl, 'Die Phineus Schale, und ahnliche Vasen,' Programm xxv., forming part of the Jahresbericht des Wagner- ischen Kunst-Instituts der Kgl. Universitdt Wiirzburg 1892. The account there given of the difficult inscriptions is inadequate and must be supplemented by reference to Dr Bohlau's corrections in his paper on 'Die lonischen Augenschalen,' A. Mitt. 1898 (xxm.) pp. 54, 77; see also Furtwangler-Beinhold, PI. 41.

3 Pettier, Cat. A. 478, pi. 17. 1. The vase is further discussed by Mr Barnett, Hermes, 'Miscellen,' 1898, p. 639. Mr Barnett sees in the winged figure Iris, an interpretation with which I cannot agree.

v] The Erinys in Art 227

the large dog, a creature of supernatural size, almost the height of a man. To the left of him a bearded man is hastening away ; he looks back, apparently in surprise or consternation. Immediately behind the dog comes a winged figure, also in haste, and manifestly interested in the dog. Behind her is Hermes, and behind him, as quiet spectators, two women figures. There is only one possible explanation of the general gist of the scene. It is the story of the golden dog of Minos stolen from Crete by Pandareos, king of Lycia, and by him from fear of Zeus deposited with Tantalos. The scholiast on the Odyssey 1 tells the story in commenting on the lines 'As when the daughter of Pandareos the bright brown nightingale' as follows. 'There is a legend about the above- mentioned Pandareos, that he stole the golden dog of Zeus in Crete, a life-like work of Hephaistos, from the precinct of Zeus, and having stolen it he deposited it with Tantalos. And when Zeus demanded the stolen thing by the mouth of Hermes Tantalos swore that he had it not. But Zeus when he had got the dog again, Hermes having secretly taken it away, buried Tantalos under Sipylos.' Another scholiast 2 gives a different version, in which judgment fell on the daughters of Pandareos. ' Merope and Kleothera (daughters of Pandareos) were brought up by Aphrodite ; but when Pandareos, having received the dog stolen from Crete in trust for Tantalos, denied that he ever took it, Merope and Kleothera were snatched away by the Harpies and given to the Erinyes.'

In the light of this version the vase-painting is clear. The moment chosen is the coming of Hermes to claim the dog. It is no use Pandareos denying he had it, for there it is, larger than life. The vase-painter had to put the dog in, to make the story manifest. The two women spectators are the daughters of Pan- dareos, Merope and Kleothera. Who is the winged figure ? Archaeologists variously name her Iris, a Harpy, an Erinys. Iris I unhesitatingly reject. Between a Harpy and an Erinys the choice is harder, and the doubt is instructive. Taking into consideration the Lycian character of the story, and the not unimportant fact that the design of the reverse represents a Lycian myth also, Bellerophon and the Chimaera, I think we

1 Schol. ad Od. r 518 and P. x. 30. 2. Find. Schol. 01. i. 90.

2 Schol. Ambros. B. ad r 518.


228 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [OH.

may safely say that the figure is a Harpy, but it is a Harpy performing the functions of an Erinys, avenging the theft, aveng- ing the broken oath, come also to fetch the two maidens whom she will give to be handmaids to the hateful Erinyes so near akin, so fluctuating are the two conceptions.

The fact then that Aeschylus brought them on the stage and his finer poetical conception of horror compelled the complete and human formulation of the Erinyes ; before his time they have no definite art-type. The Erinyes of Aeschylus are near akin to Gorgons, but they lack the Gorgon mask ; nearer still to Harpies, but wingless. It is curious and interesting to note that at the close of the Choephori 1 , where they do not appear on the stage, where they are visible only to the imagination of the mad Orestes, he sees them like the shapes he knows

'These are like Gorgon shapes Black-robed, with tangled tentacles entwined Of frequent snakes.'

Aeschylus felt the imaginative gain of the purely human form,

FIG. 49.

but his fellow artist the vase-painter will not lightly forego the joy of drawing great curved wings. In vases that are immediately

1 Aesch. Choeph. 1048. The noisome exudation from the eyes noted by Aeschylus (Eum. 54) has already been shown (p. 195) to be characteristically Gorgon.

Influence of Aesehylus


post- Aeschylean the wingless type tends to prevail, though not wholly ; later it lapses and the great fantastic wings reappear. On the red-figured vase-painting 1 in fig. 49 the earliest of the series and dating somewhere towards the end of the 5th century we have the scene of the purification of Orestes. He is seated close to the omphalos sword in hand. Above his head Apollo holds the pig of purification, in his left hand the laurel ; to the right is Artemis as huntress with spears ; to the left are the sleeping wingless Erinyes ; the ghost of Clytaemnestra beckons to them to wake. From the ground rises another Erinys, a veritable earth demon. The euphemism of the vase-painter makes the Erinyes not only wingless but beautiful, as fair to see as Clytaemnestra. The next picture 2 (fig. 50) is later in style, but far more

FIG. 50.

closely under dramatic influence. We have the very opening scene of the Eumenides. The inner shrine of the temple, a small

1 Monimenti dell' Inst. iv. pi. 48. Baumeister, p. 1314. The vase, an oxybaphon, is now in the Louvre.

2 Hermitage, Cat. i. 349. Stephani, Compte Rendu 1863, pi. vi. 5.

230 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [CH.

Ionic naos, the omphalos, and the supplicant Orestes, with no Apollo to purify; the frightened priestess holding the symbol of her office, the great temple key with its sacred fillet. All about the shrine are lying the Erinyes, wingless and loathly ; the scanty dishevelled hair and pouting barbarous lips are best seen in the rightmost Erinys, whose face is drawn profile- wise.

In the third representation 1 from a krater formerly in the Hope Collection (fig. 51) the style is late and florid, and the vase-painter

FIG. 51.

has shaken himself quite free from dramatic influence. Orestes crouches in an impossible pose on the great elaborately decorated omphalos ; Apollo is there with his filleted laurel staff. The place of Artemis is taken by Athene, her foot resting on what seems to be an urn for voting. To the left is an Erinys, in huntress garb, with huge snake and high curved wings ; but the vase- painter is indifferent and looks for variety : a second Erinys, who leans over the tripod, is well furnished with snakes, but has no wings.

1 Millin, Peintures des vases grecs n. 68. Baumeister, fig. 1315, p. 1118.

The Erinyes as Poinae


In the last and latest of the series, a kalpis in the Berlin Museum 1 (fig. 52), the Erinys is a mere angel of vengeance ; her wings are no longer fantastic, she is no huntress, but a matronly, heavily draped figure ; she holds a scourge in her hand, she is more Poine than Erinys, only about her is still curled a huge snake.

Aeschylus then, we may safely assert, first gave to the Erinyes outward and visible shape, first differen- tiated them from Keres, Gorgons, or Harpies. In this connection it is worth noting that the Erinyes or Poinae were not infrequently re- ferred to in classical literature as though they were almost the exclusive property of the stage. Aeschines 2 , in his oration against Timarchus, exhorts the

Athenians not to imagine ' that impious men as in the tragedies are pursued and chastized by Poinae with blazing torches.' Plutarch 3 in his life of Dion tells how, when the conspiracy of Callippus was on foot against him, Dion had a 'monstrous and portentous vision.' As he was meditating alone one evening he heard a sudden noise and saw, for it was still light, a woman of gigantic size, ' in form and raiment exactly like a tragic Erinys.' She was sweeping the house with a sort of broom.

On Lower Italy vases the Erinyes as Poinae frequently appear

FIG. 52.

1 Jahrbuch d. Inst. 1890, Anzeiger, p. 90.

2 Aeschin. c. Tim. 80. 3 Plut. Vit. Dion. c. 55.

232 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [OH.

(Chap. XL). They are sometimes winged, sometimes un winged. From the august ministers of the vengeance of the dead they have sunk to be the mere pitiless tormentors of hell. They lash on Sisyphos to his ceaseless task, they bind Peirithoos, they fasten Ixion to his wheel. But it is curious to note that, though the notion of pursuit is almost lost, they still wear the huntress garb, the short skirt and high boots. It is needless to follow the down- ward course of the Erinys in detail, a course accelerated by Orphic eschatology, but we may note the last stage of degradation in Plutarch's treatise ' On those who are punished by the Deity late 1 .' The criminals whom Justice (Dike) the Orphic divinity of purification rather than vengeance rejects as altogether in- curable are pursued by an Erinys, ' the third and most savage of the ministrants of Adrasteia.' She drives them down into a place which Plutarch very properly describes as 'not to be seen, not to be spoken of.' The Erinyes are from beginning to end of the old order, implacable, vindictive; they know nothing of Orphic penance and purgatory; as 'angels of torment 2 ' they go to people a Christian Hell.


We return to Aeschylus. His intent was to humanize the Erinyes that thereby they might be the more inhuman. The more horrible the shape of these impersonations of the old order the greater the miracle of their conversion into the gentle Semnae, and yet the easier, for so early as we know them the Semnae are goddesses, human as well as humane. / In his persistent humanizing of the Erinyes Aeschylus suffers one lapse, the more significant because probably unconscious. When Clytaemnestra would rouse the Erinyes from their slumber, she cries 3 ,

'Travail and Sleep, chartered conspirators, \ Have spent the fell rage of the dragoness.'

It is of course possible to say that she uses the word 'dragoness' (Spd/ccuva) 'poetically,' for a monster in general,

1 Plut. de ser. num. vind. xxn.

2 #77e\oi pao-aviffral in the Apocalypse of Peter ; see Dieterich, Nekuia p. 61.

3 Aesch. Eum. 126.

v] The Erinys as Snake 233

possibly a human monster ; but the question is forced upon us, why is this particular monster selected? why does she say 'dragoness' and not rather 'hound of hell'? In the next lines 1 comes the splendid simile of the dog hunting in dreams, and it would, surely have been more 'poetical' to keep the figure intact. But^ language and associations sometimes break through the best regulated conceptions, and deep, very deep in the Greek mind lay the notion that the Erinys, the offended ghost, was a snake. The notion of the earth demon, the ghost as snake, will be con- sidered when hero-worship is dealt with (p. 326). For the present it can only be noted in Aeschylus as an outcrop of a lower stratum of thought, a stratum in which the Erinys was not yet an abstracted or even humanized minister of vengeance, butX simply an angry ghost in snake form.

The use of the singular number, 'dragoness,' is, in itself, significant. The Erinyes as ministers of vengeance are indefinitely multiplied, but the old ghost-Erinys is one, not many; she is the ghost of the murdered mother. Clytaemnestra herself is the real 'dragoness/ though she does not know it, and by a curious un- conscious reminiscence the Erinyes sleep till she, the true Erinys, rouses them.

The mention by Aeschylus of the ' dragoness ' does not stand alone. To Euripides also the Erinys is a snake. In the Iphigeneia in Tauris 2 the mad Orestes cries to Py lades,

'Dost see her, her the Hades-snake who gapes To slay me, with dread vipers, open-mouthed V

Here it can hardly be said that the conception is borrowed from Aeschylus, for assuredly the stage Erinyes of Aeschylus, as he consciously conceived them, were in no wise snakes. Moreover the 'Hades-snake' confuses the effect of the 'dread vipers' that follow. In his Orestes also 3 Euripides makes the Erinyes ' maidens with the forms of snakes,' where it is straining language, and quite needlessly, to say that the word SpafcovrdbSeis means ' having snakes in their hands or hair.'

Art too has these barkings back to the primitive snake form. The design in fig. 53 is from a black-figured amphora in

1 v. 131. 2 Eur. Iph. in T. 286.

3 Eur. Or. 256.

234 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [OH.

the Vatican Museum 1 , dating about the turn of the 6th and 5th centuries B.C. We have the usual striding flying type, the four wings, the huntress boots a type of which, as has been shown, it is hard to say whether it re- presents Gorgon or Harpy. There is no context to decide. One thing is clear. The vase- painter is afraid that we shall miss his meaning, shall not understand that this winged thing striding through the

air is an earth demon, so he FlG 53

paints below, moving pari passu, a great snake. The winged demon is also a snake 2 .

1 Passerius, Pict. Etrusc. in. 297. J.H.S. vol. xix. 1899, p. 219. This representation does not stand alone. Among the fragments of vase-paintings found in the excavations on the Acropolis, and as yet unpublished, is one of considerably earlier style than the design in fig. 53, and with a representation exactly similar in all essentials. The winged feet and part of the drapery of the figure remain, and below is a large snake with open mouth. Found as it was in the ' pre-Persian ' debris, this fragment cannot be later and is probably much earlier than 480 B.C.

2 This striding flying pose with the bent knee has been used by some archaeo- logists to explain the epithet Ka^lirov?. But bending or turning the knee is not bending or turning the foot. It is possible that in this epithet applied (Aesch. Sept. 791) to the Erinys we have merely an expression of the instinct to create an uncouth deformed bogey. M. Paul Perdrizet (Melusine vol. ix. 1898, p. 99, ' Les pieds ou les genoux a rebours ') makes the interesting suggestion that the Ka/ui.\//iirovs 'Epivfa may be an Erinys with feet turned the reverse way, a horrid distorted cripple. This peculiar form of deformity was not unknown among the ancients, as witness the statuettes cited as examples by M. Perdrizet, a bronze in the British Museum (Cat. Walters no. 216) and a terracotta in the National Museum at Athens (Cat. 7877: Stackelberg, Graber der Hellenen, pi. LXXIII. 475). I do not feel confident of the Tightness of this interpretation for two reasons, firstly, Ka/j.\f/iirovs seems scarcely to be the right epithet for a striking distortion which would rather be <rrpe/3\67roi;s or some such word, and secondly, constant stress is laid on the swiftness of the Erinys which would be inconsistent with a crippling deformity. On the other hand, figures with their feet reversed may have suggested the inevitable back-coming of the Erinys. Mr F. M. Cornford suggests to me that Ka/m\f/lTrovs is the humanized equivalent of yafj.\f/ut>v%, an interpretation proffered by Blomfield but rejected in favour of pernix. The suggestion seems to me to carry fresh con- viction now that the Erinys is seen to be in her original essence and in her art-form near akin to Harpy, Sphinx and Bird- woman. Sophocles (Oed. Tyr. 1199) calls the Sphinx yafjt.\{/uvvZ. In fig. 44 she is claw-footed ; the Harpy to the right in fig. 19 has crooked claws for hands. Aeschylus may be using an epithet that originally meant ' clutch-foot ' in some new sense as ' plying the foot,' i.e. swift, or as ' back- returning.'

The Erinys as Snake


Most clearly of all the identity of ghost and snake comes out in the vase-painting in fig. 54 from an archaic vase of the type known as * prothesis ' vases, in the Museum at Athens 1 . They are a class used in funeral ceremonies and decorated with funeral subjects. Two mourners stand by a grave tumulus, itself sur- mounted by a funeral vase. Within the tumulus the vase-painter depicts what he believes to be there. Winged eidola, ghosts, and a great snake, also a ghost. Snake and eidolon are but two ways of saying the same thing. The little flutter- ing figures here represented are merely harmless Keres, not angry vindictive Erinyes, but when the

Erinys developes into an avenger she yet remembers that she is a snake-ghost.

The Gorgon, too, has her snakes. To the primitive Greek mind every bogey was earth-born. In the design in fig. 55 2

FIG. 54.

FIG. 55.

we have the slaying of the Gorgon Medusa. The inscriptions are not clearly legible, but the scene is evident. Perseus attended by Athene and one of the nymphs, who gave him the kibisis and

1 A. Mitt. xvi. p. 379. J.H.S. xix. 1899, p. 219, fig. 4.

2 Vienna Museum. Masner, Cat. 221. Annali dell' Inst. 1866, Tav. d' agg. E. 2.

236 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [CH.

helmet and winged sandals, is about to slay Medusa. Medusa is of the usual Gorgon type, but she holds in her hand a huge snake, the double of herself.

/ But the crowning evidence as to the snake-form of the Erinys is literary, Clytaemnestra's dream in the Choephori. Clytaemnestra dreams that she gives birth to and suckles a snake 1 . Dr Verrall (ad loc.) has pointed out that the snake is here the regular symbol of things subterranean and especially of the grave, and he conjectures that the snake may have been presented to the eyes of the audience by, ' the visible tomb of Agamemnon which would presumably be marked as a tomb in the usual way.' I would go a step further. The snake is more than the symbol of the dead ; it is, I believe, the actual vehicle of the Erinys. The Erinys is in this case not the ghost of the dead Agamemnon, but the dead Agamemnon's son Orestes. The symbol proper to the ghost-Erinys is transferred to the living avenger. Orestes states this clearly 2 :

'Myself in serpent's shape Will slay her.'

And this, not merely because he is deadly as a snake, but because he is the snake, i.e. the Erinys.

Again, when Clytaemnestra cries for mercy, Orestes answers 3 : 'Nay, for my father's fate hisses thy doom.'

The snake-Erinys in the Eumenides, and here again in the Choephori, remains of course merely an incidental survival, import- ant mainly as marking the road Aeschylus has left far behind. It is an almost unconscious survival of a tradition that conceived of the Erinyes as actually ghosts, not merely as the ministers of ghostly vengeance.

Before we leave the snake-Erinys, one more vase-painting must be cited, which brings this conception very vividly before us. The design in fig. 56 is from an early black-figured amphora of the class known as ' Tyrrhenian,' formerly in the Bourguignon collection at Naples*. The figure of a woman just murdered lies prostrate over

1 Aesch. Choeph. 527 and 531. 2 v. 549.

s v. 927

Trarpbs yap alffa rbvSe avpl^ei /j,6pov, accepting Dr Verrall's reading <rvplfci.

4 Jahrbuch d. Inst. 1893, p. 93, pi. i. The vase is there interpreted as the slaying of Polyxena, but I agree with Dr Thiersch (Tyrrhenische Amphoren, p. 56) that the scene represented is the slaying of Eriphyle by Alcmaeon. In connection with the omphalos-tomb of the vase-painting it is worth noting that at Phlius near the house of divination of Amphiaraos there was an omphalos. See P. n. 13. 7.

v] The Erinyes of Sophocles 237

an omphalos-shaped tomb. The warrior who has slain her escapes with drawn sword to the right. But too late. Straight out of the tomb, almost indeed out of the body of the woman, rises a huge snake, mouthing at the murderer. The intent is clear ; it is

FIG. 56.

the snake-Erinys rising in visible vengeance. The murderer is probably Alcmaeon, who has just slain his mother Eriphyle. His story, already discussed (p. 220), is as it were the double of that of Orestes. The interpretation as Alcmaeon is not quite certain. It does not however affect the general sense of the scene, i.e. a murderer pursued by the instant vengeance of a snake-Erinys.

Before passing to the shift from Erinyes to Semnae it may be well to note that another tragedian priest as well as poet held to the more primitive view, realized definitely that the Erinyes, the avengers, were merely angry implacable Keres. To Sophocles in the Oedipus Tyrannus 1 Apollo is the minister, not, as in the Eumenides, of reconciliation, but of vengeance. He has taken over the functions of the Erinyes. With the lightning and fire of his father Zeus he leaps full-armed upon the guilty man;

1 Soph. Oed. Tyr. 469. The attitude of Sophocles towards the Orestes myth, and the fashion in which he ignores the conflict between Apollo and the Erinyes, cannot be discussed here. It has been ably treated by Miss Janet Case in the Classical Review, May 1902, p. 195.

238 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [CH.

but even Apollo cannot dispense with the ancient avengers. With


' Dread and unerring Follow the Keres.'

The Keres here are certainly regarded as a kind of Fate, but to translate the word ' Fates ' is to precipitate unduly the meaning. The words calls up in the poet's mind 1 , not only the notion of ministers of vengeance, but also the reminiscence of ghostly fluttering things. He says of the guilty man :

'Fierce as a bull is he,

Homeless, with desolate foot he seeks to flee The dooms of Gaia's central mound. In vain, they live and flit ever around.'

Again, in the Electra of Euripides 2 , though the Erinyes are fully personified as dog-faced goddesses, yet they are also Keres.

'They hunt you like dread Keres, goddesses Dog-faced, in circling madness.'

Here the word Keres seems to be used because Moirae is of too beneficent and omnipotent association ; Keres keeps the touch of personal ghostly vengeance.

To resume: the Erinyes are attributive epithets of ghosts, formless in Homer, but gradually developed by literature, and especially by the genius of Aeschylus, into actual impersonations. In accordance with this merely attributive origin it is not strange that qua Erinyes their cult is practically non-existent. In only one instance do we hear of a definite place of worship for the Erinyes as such. Herodotus 3 tells us that at Sparta the children of the clan of the Aegidae ' did not survive/ Accordingly in obedience to an oracle the Aegidae ' made a sanctuary to the Erinyes of Laios and Oedipus.'

Here the Erinyes are plainly offended ancestral ghosts de- structive to the offspring of their descendants, and demanding to be appeased. In so far as they are ghosts, the ghosts of murdered or outraged men, the Erinyes were of course everywhere pro- pitiated, but rarely under their ' Angry ' name. That the natural prudence of euphemism forbade. As abstract ministers of vengeance we have no evidence of their worship. Clytaemnestra 4

1 v. 475. 2 Eur. EL 1252.

3 Herod, iv. 149. 4 Aesch. Eum. 106.

v] The 'Semnai Theai' 239

indeed recounts in detail her dread service to the Erinyes, but when closely examined it is found to be merely the regular ritual of the dead and of underworld divinities ; it has all the accustomed marks, the * wineless libations ' and the ' nephalia for propitiation, the banquets by night' offered on the low brazier (eV%a/o<x) characteristic of underworld sacrifice (p. 62). The hour was one, she adds, ' shared by none of the gods.' What she means is none of the gods of the upper air, the Olympians proper : it was an hour shared by every underworld divinity. Aeschylus has in a word transferred the regular ritual of ghosts to his partially abstracted ministers of vengeance, and has thereby left unconscious witness to their real origin.


To these Erinyes, adjectival, cultless, ill-defined, the Venerable Goddesses (o-epval Oeai) present a striking contrast. If the Erinyes owe such substance and personality as they have mainly to poets, to Homer first, later to Aeschylus and the other tragedians, with the Semnae it is quite otherwise. Their names are of course adjectival almost all primitive cultus names are but from the first, as we know them, they are personal and local. The Erinyes range over earth and sea, the Semnae are seated quietly and steadfastly at Athens. They are the objects of a strictly local cult, never emerging to Pan-Hellenic importance. But for the fact that Aeschylus was an Athenian we should scarcely have realized their existence ; they would have remained obscure local figures like the Ablabiae and the Praxidikae.

In this connection it is of cardinal importance that, though we are apt to speak of them as the Semnae, the Venerable Ones, this is not their cultus title, not the fashion in which they were actually addressed at Athens. They are uniformly spoken of, nojfc as the Venerable Ones, but as the Venerable Goddesses 1 (<xt cre/juval 6eai). The distinction is important. It marks the fact that the Semnae from the first moment they come into our view have

1 Pausanias (i. 31. 2) mentions one other place in Attica where the Semnae are worshipped under this name. At Phlya in one and the same sanctuary there were altars of Demeter Anesidora, of Zeus Ktesios, of Athene Tithrone, of Kore Protogone and of goddesses called Venerable (Se/wwi/ ovo^a^o^vwv 6ewv).

240 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [OH.

attained a complete anthropomorphism, have passed from ghosts to goddesses 1 ; they are clearly defined personalities with a definite cultus ; they are primitive forms, in fact the primitive forms, of earth goddesses, of such conceptions as culminated finally in the great figures of Demeter and Kore. Other such figures are, for Athens the two Thesmophoroi, who are indeed but developments, other aspects, of the Semnae ; for Eleusis the ' two goddesses,' T&> 0eot>, known to us by inscriptions and reliefs; for Aegina Damia and Auxesia ; and for the rest of Greece many another local form, dual or triune, which need not now be enumerated. The process of this gradual anthropomorphism, this passage from sprite and ghost and demon to full-fledged divinity will be fully traced when we come to the ' making of a goddess ' (p. 257). For the present it can only be noted that the term ' goddesses ' sharply differentiates the Semnae from the Erinyes, who, save for sporadic literary mention, never attained any such rank. Euripides 2 does indeed make Orestes call the Erinyes 'dread goddesses,' but Aeschylus 3 is explicit: 'their adornment (#007x09) was neither human nor divine.' It must be distinctly understood that, as the Semnae are goddesses, they are dealt with at this point only by anticipa- tion, to elucidate the transformation effected by Aeschylus.

What we certainly know of the Semnae, as distinct from kindred figures such as the Eumenides, is not very much, but such as it is, is significant. We know the site of their sanctuary, something of the aspect of their images, something also of their functions and of the nature of their ritual. We know in fact enough, as will be shown, to feel sure that like the Erinyes they were underworld potencies, ghosts who had become goddesses. The origin of the two conceptions is the same, but their development widely different, and moreover we catch it arrested at a different stage.

It is obvious from the play of the Eumenides that the worship of the Semnae at Athens was of hoary antiquity. It is true that Diogenes Laertius 4 states (on the authority of the augur Lobon)

1 The best evidence of this is the language, always ceremonial, of oaths taken in the law courts, where we may be sure the Semnae are invoked by their official title, e.g. Deinarchus c. Dem. 47. Ma/>Tu/> ras (reyuvas deas, avdpes 'Adyvcuoi. But so far as I am aware the Semnae are never alluded to merely as Semnae.

2 Eur. Or. 259. 3 Aesch. Eum. 55.

4 Diog. Laert. i. x. 6. See Demoulin, Epimenide de Crete, p. 110.

v] The l Semnai Theai' 241

that the sanctuary of the Seranae at Athens was founded by Epimenides. The scene of the operations of Epimenides was un- doubtedly the Areopagos, but, as the purification of Athens took place in the 46th Olympiad, the statement that he founded the sanctuary must be apocryphal. Very likely he may have revived and restored the cult. Diogenes says that he took a number of black and white sheep and led them up to the Areopagos and thence let them go whither they would, and he commanded those who followed them to sacrifice each of them wherever the sheep happened to lie down, and so the plague would be stayed. Whence even now, adds Diogenes, you may find in the Athenian denies nameless altars in memory of this atonement. Some such altar as this was still to be seen at or near the Areopagos when St Paul preached there, and such an altar may have got as- sociated with the Semnae, who like many other underworld beings were Nameless Ones.

The site of the worship of the Semnae was undoubtedly some sort of cave or natural chasm amplified artificially into a sanctuary. Such caves, clefts or chasms are, as has already been shown (p. 125), the proper haunts of underworld beings; they are also usually, though not uniformly, primitive. Of the sanctuary and the cultus images Pausanias 1 speaks as follows. After describing the Areo- pagos and the two un wrought stones called ' Transgression ' (vfipis) and ' Pitilessness ' (avaibeia) on which accused and accuser stood, he says ' And near is a sanctuary (lepov) of the goddesses whom the Athenians call Semnae, but Hesiod in the Theogony calls Erinyes. Aeschylus represents them with snakes in their hair, but in their images there is nothing frightful, nor in the other images of the underworld gods that are set up. There is a Pluto also and a Hermes and an image of Ge. And there those who have been acquitted in a suit before the Areopagos sacrifice. And others besides sacrifice, both strangers and citizens, and within the enclosure there is the tomb of Oedipus.'

Pausanias by his reference to Aeschylus betrays at once the source of hfs identification of the Semnae with the Erinyes. The statement cannot be taken as evidence that prior to Aeschylus any such identification was current. After the time of Aeschylus, classical writers, except when they are quoting ritual formularies,

1 P. i. 28. 6. H. 16

242 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [CH.

begin to accept the fusion and use the names Erinyes, Eumenides, and Semnae as interchangeable terms. A like laxity unhappily obtains among modern commentators.

The statement of Pausanias, that about the cultus images of the Semnae there was nothing frightful, is important, as showing how foreign to the Semnae was the terror-haunted conception of the tragic Erinys. Aeschylus might fuse the Erinyes and the Semnae at will, but the cultus images of the Semnae take on no attribute of the Erinyes. About these cultus images we learn something more from the scholiast on Aeschines 1 . Commenting on the Semnae he says 'These were three in number and were called Venerable Goddesses, or Eumenides, or Erinyes. Two of them were made of lychnites stone by Scopas the Parian, but the middle one by Kalamis.' Here again we must of course discount the statement as regards the triple appellation, at least for a date preceding Aeschylus. The number of the statues is noticeable. At the time when the scholiast or his informant 2 wrote the images were unquestionably three. The origin and significance of the female trinities will be considered later (p. 286). For the present it is sufficient to note that the trinity was probably a later stage of development than the duality. From the notice of the scholiast we cannot be certain that the images were originally three ; nay more, it looks as if there was some reminiscence of a duality. Moreover the scholiast on the Oedipus Coloneus 3 expressly states that according to Phylarchus the images of the Semnae at Athens were two in number. He adds that according to Polemon they were three. That the number three ultimately prevailed is highly probable, indeed practically certain. The scholiast on Aeschines goes on to say 'the court of the Areopagos adjudged murder cases on three days in each month, assigning one day to each goddess.*

1 Schol. ad Aeschin. c. Timarch. i. 188 c 'rats ae/ij/ats Qecus.' T/>ets yaw aurai at \ty6fj.evai ffe/JLval 6eai 77 Eu/u,ej't'5es 17 'IZpivvves, ut> ras IAV Svo ras eKartpuQev S/c6?ras 6 Hdpios ireiroi^Kev K TTJS Xtx^rov M0ou TTJV 5e fdffyv KdXa/us. ot 5

oTTcrytrcu rpeis TTOV TOU [J.'qvbs Tjftepas ras <f>ovtKas diKas toiKafrv e/cdcrr?7 TWV de&v r)/j.epav a.irovfj.ovTS. rjv 5 TO. Tre/LCTTo/nei/a airrcus lepa iroTrava /cat yd\a ev a-yyetri s. <f>aal ^VTOL ai)rdj F^J eZVcu /cat S/corous, ot 5 2/c6rous /cat Efan'tfjU^S rjv 6vo/j,de<r6ai, K\T)dT)vat. 5e Ei)/x.ei't5as tTrirjptffTepov [de conj.: ^Trirjpa Vat. eVt 'Optarov cett.] irp&Tov Ka\ov/j.{vas. The entire scholion is given here for con- venience, the ritual of cakes and milk has been previously discussed (p. 90).

2 Dr Wellmann (de Istro 14) has shown that in all probability the information of the scholiast is borrowed from the treatise of Polemon quoted by Clement of Alexandria in his Protrepticits, p. 41.

3 Schol. ad Oed. Col. 39 ' fyt^OjSot 0eat'.' QtiXapxbs <t>-rj<n duo auras efrat rd re dydX/j-ara 'A6-rjV7)<ri duo, IIoX^uu>j> 5e rpets auras <p7]ffi.

v] The 'Semnai TlieaV 243

The three days were probably a primitive institution, three being a number sacred to the dead, and these three days may have helped the development of the threefold form of the Semnae. Later in considering the Charites and other kindred shapes (p. 286) it will be shown that many different strands went to the weaving of a trinity. The strictly definite number of the Semnae, be it two or three, is in marked contrast to the indefinite 'wondrous throng' (#au//.a<7T09 X6%o?) of the Aeschylean Erinyes. The contrast may have been softened, if in the concluding scene the chorus of Erinyes filed away in groups of three.

The sanctuary of the Semnae was, in the narrower sense of the word ' sanctuary/ a refuge for suppliants. This is, of course, a trait that it has in common with many other precincts. Thucy- dides 1 tells how in the conspiracy of Kylon some of the con- spirators sat down at the altars of the Venerable Goddesses, and were put to death at the entrance. A monument, the Kyloneion, was put up close to the Nine Gates to expiate the pollution. Plutarch 2 , in his account of this same conspiracy, adds a curious primitive touch : the conspirators connected themselves with the image of ' the goddess ' by a thread, believing thereby they would remain immune; the thread broke of its own accord when they reached the Semnae ; this was taken as an omen of rejection and they were put to death. Aristophanes twice alludes to the precinct of the Semnae as a place of sanctuary. In the Knights*, he makes the outraged triremes say

' If this is what the Athenians like, we must needs set sail forthwith And sit us down in the Theseion or in the Semnae's shrine.'

In the Tkesmophoriazusae 4 ; when Mnesilochus is about to make off in a fright, Euripides asks

'You villain, where are you off to?' and the answer is

'To the shrine of the Semnae.'

It is noticeable that in both these cases the name given to the goddesses of sanctuary is Semnae, not Erinyes or Eumenides.

1 Thucyd. i. 126. 2 Plut. Vit. Sol. xn.

3 Ar. Eq. 1312

ty 5' aptcrKrj raur' 'A.6rjvaiois Kadrjffdai poi doKel ^s rb Qrjaelov 7rAeoi5<ras ?) Vt T&V ffeiw&v de&v.

4 Ar. Thesm. 224

ETP. oCros <rv TTOI 0e?s ;

MN. es rb rdv cre/mvuv de&v.


244 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [CH.

The confusion of the three was never local, only literary, and by the time of Aristophanes it has not yet begun.

Euripides 1 is our solitary authority for the fact that the sanctuary was also oracular. At the close of the Electro, he makes the Dioscuri, in a speech not untinged by irony, prophesy that Orestes, pursued by the Erinyes, will come to Athens and be acquitted by the equal vote, and that in consequence the baffled Erinyes will descend in dudgeon into a subterranean cleft hard by the Areopagos :

'A mantic shrine, Sacred, adored of mortals.'

Oracular functions were ascribed to most, if not all, underworld divinities, so that it is quite probable that the description of the Dioscuri is correct.

The sanctuary of the Semnae was open to suppliants and to those who sought oracular counsel, but to one unfortunate class of the community, happily a small one, it was rigidly closed. These were the people known as 'second-fated' or 'later-doomed/ Hesychius 2 , in explaining the term 'second-fated' (SeurepoTroryu-o?), says ' he is called by some " later-doomed." So a man is termed when the accustomed rites have been performed as though he were dead, and later on he reappears alive ; and Polemon says that to such it was forbidden to enter the sanctuary of the Venerable Goddesses. The term is also used of a man who is reported to have died abroad and then comes home, and again of a man who passes a second time through the folds of a woman's garment, as was the custom among the Athenians in a case of second birth.' / This curious statement is fortunately explained to us in in- structive detail by Plutarch in the answer to his 5th Roman Question. He there says ' Those who have had a funeral and sepulture as though they were dead are accounted by the Greeks as not pure, and they will not associate with them, nor will they permit them to approach sanctuaries. And they say that a certain Aristinus, who believed in this superstition, sent to Delphi to enquire of the god and to ask release from the disabilities this custom imposed on him, and the Pythian made answer :

"Whatsoe'er is accomplished by woman that travails in childbed, That in thy turn having done, sacrifice thou to the gods."

1 Eur. EL 1270. 2 Hesych. s.v.

v] The 'Semnai Theai' 245

And Aristinus being a good and wise man gave himself up, like a new-born child, to the women to wash and swaddle and suckle, and all the others who were called "later-doomed" did the like.' ' But,' adds Plutarch, and doubtless most justly, ' some say that these things were done with respect to the " later-doomed" before Aristinus did them, and the custom was an ancient one.'

Plutarch says the exclusion was from all sacred rites. In this he is probably mistaken. Anyhow in the case of the Semnae, and of all underworld divinities, the significance is clear. If a man comes back to life after burial rites, the reason to the primitive mind is that there is something wrong with him ; he is rejected by the powers below and unfit to mingle with his fellows in the world above ; he is highly taboo. Despised of the gods, he is naturally rejected of his fellow men. The only chance for him is to be born again.

When we come to the ritual of the Semnae every detail con- firms the view that they are underworld beings. From Aeschylus himself 1 we know that o-cfrdyia, animal sacrifices consumed but^ not eaten, were offered to them. Athene bids the Erinyes, after they have turned Semnae,

'pass below the earth With these your sacred sphagia.'

The underworld nature of sphagia the word has no English

equivalent has been fully discussed (p. 63). In careful writers, as has been seen, it is never interchangeable with lepela, victims sacrificed and eaten.

The scholiast on Sophocles 2 speaks of the holocaust of a black sheep to the Eumenides, whom he identifies with the Semnae ; but, as he expressly states that this sacrifice took place in the Pelopon- nese, we cannot safely attribute it to the local Semnae of Athens. It is probable that o-(f)djt,a formed part of the regular sacrifice mentioned by Pausanias as offered to the Semnae by the acquitted ; o-(j)dyia belong, as has already been shown, to the class of expiatory offerings. It was on o-^djia, which were also called ro/jaa, that

1 Aesch. Eum. 1006

fre /ecu fftjjayluv rcDi/5' viro ffe^vdv Kara 7775 (rv/j.evai.

2 Schol. ad Soph. Oed. Col. 42 'ras Trdi>8' opu<ras Ei)/iei/t'5as ' T6re 70/3 Trpwrov

Etf/uei'tSas Kkydrfvcu. ev/jieveis Kpidfrn VLKOLV Trap' 'Adrjvalots Kal 6\o/cauT^<rai at/rcus ol'v fitXatvav h Kapveiq. [the reading Kapvelq, is doubtful] rrjs H.e\owovvf}<rov.

8 6 Acu/u/c6s erects 07;<ri rets o-e/ui/ds fleets r&v

246 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [CH.

oaths were taken (p. 64) in the law courts, oaths the extraordinary solemnity of which Demosthenes 1 emphasizes. A man so swearing stood on the fragments of victims officially and solemnly slain, and devoted himself and his household to destruction in case of perjury. By standing on the slain fragments he identifies himself proleptically with them. We have no explicit statement that the divinities by whom these awful oaths on the TO/MO, had to be taken were the , but as the Semnae were the underworld divinities resident on the Areopagos, and as they were frequently invoked with the local heroes, and as sacrifice was done to them by the acquitted, it seems highly probable. If they were the goddesses of oaths, this is another link with the Erinyes, the avengers of oaths. It is notable that in an ordinary imprecation in the law-courts they take precedence of Athene herself. Thus Demosthenes 2 says, 'I call to witness the Venerable Goddesses, and the place they inhabit, and the heroes of the soil, and Athene of the city, and the other gods who have the city and the land in their dominion.'

We learn from Philo 3 that no slave was allowed to take part in the processions of the Semnae. This in a worship of special antiquity and solemnity is natural enough. But it is strange to hear from Polemon 4 that there was the same taboo on all the Eupatrids. Strange at first sight, but easily explicable. The Semnae are women divinities, and in this taboo on the Eupatrids there seems to lurk a survival of matriarchal conditions. Aeschylus in the Eumemdes is not concerned, save incidentally, to emphasize the issue between matriarchy and patriarchy, between kinship through the mother and through the father, but it lies at the back of the legend he has chosen for his plot. The stories of Orestes and Clytaemnestra, of Alcmaeon and Eriphyle, are deep- rooted in matriarchy both look back to the days when the only relationship that could be proved, and that therefore was worth troubling about, was that through the mother ; and hence special

1 Dem. c. Aristocr. p. 642. 2 Dem. c. Dem. 47.

3 Philo de praest. liber p. 886 B 5ib /JLOI ooicovaiv oi TWJ> 'EXX^wp 6|u5e/)K&rraToi ' Adyva'ioi TT)v ^?rt TCUS ffefJLvats Oecus irofj.Tr^v OTO.V UT&XfcKTi 5ov\ov /^rjoeva Trpo<r\a[J,l3dvei.v.

4 Schol. ad Soph. Oed. Col. 489 'Airva-Ta (puv&v.' TOVTO dirb TTJS S/JW/^PT/S 0v<rias TCUS Bfytemfov fj.Tcn yap ^trux^as ra iepd dpw<ri Kai dia TOVTO oi dirb ' Hffvxov duovffiv aurcus Ka.66.TTfp Ho\^/j.d)v ev rots irpbs ^paTocrd^vrjv <$>t]<j\v oiirw, TO 8 T(OV EuTrarptSaiv yfros ou jmeT^xei TTJS 6v<rias Tavrys. etra f%i)s' TIJS 5 TTOytiTr^s TavTTjs 'H<ruxt'5ai 6 drj -yecoj orrl irepl ras Se/ii/as Ocas /cat TT]V T/yenoviav %x l - Ka >- irpodvovTat irpb Trjs 6vcrias Kptbv

ifpbv, TJpw TOVTOV ovTO) Ka\oOvTes dia T7]v eixpij/miav ov TO icpbv irapd TO KiAwpeiov V tvvta.

v] The 'Semnai Theai' 247

vengeance attends the slayer of the mother. In the light of this it is easy to understand why in the worship of the Semnae the family of Eupatrids those well-born through their fathers had no part. For them Apollo Patr6os was the fitter divinity. The family of the Eupatrids had their own rites of expiation, ancestral rites significantly called irdrpia, paternal. These rites as described > by Dorotheos have been already discussed (p. 60).

The name of the family that held the priesthood of the Semnae is also recorded ; they were the Hesychidae whom Hesychius 1 describes as 'a family of well-born people at Athens.' Polemon is again our authority for connecting these ' Silent Ones ' with the cult of the Semnae. He is quoted by the scholiast already cited (p. 246 note). In commenting on the expression ' uttering words inaudible ' the scholiast says ' This is from the sacrifice performed to the Eumenides. For they enact the sacred rites in silence, and on account of this the descendants of Hesychos (the Silent One) sacrifice to them, as Polemon says in his writings about Erato- sthenes, thus : " the family of the Eupatrids has no share in this sacrifice " ; and then further, " in this procession the Hesychidae, which is the family that has to do with the Venerable Goddesses, take the lead." And before the sacrifice they make a preliminary sacrifice of a ram to Hesychos... giving him this name because of the ritual silence observed. His sanctuary is by the Kyloneion outside the Nine Gates.'

Though these remarks of the scholiast are prompted by the cult of the Eumenides at Colonos, it is quite clear that Polemon is speaking of the Semnae at Athens. He states three important facts. The cult of the Semnae was in the hands of a clan descended from a hero called aetiologically ' the Silent One.' Sacrifice to the goddesses was regularly preceded by the sacrifice of a ram to the eponymous hero. That hero had a sanctuary of his own outside the Nine Gates of the old Pelasgic fortification, and near the historic monument of Kylon. The name ' Silent One ' is possibly a mere cultus epithet, used to preserve safely the anonymity of the hero ; heroes, as will later (p. 340) be seen, are dangerous persons to mention. On the other hand Hesychos may have been the actual name of a real hero, and after his death it may have seemed charged with religious significance. This seems quite possible, the more so as the name was adopted by the whole family. The

1 Hesych. s.v., y&os ^

248 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [OH.

female form Hesychia was a proper name in the days of Nikias, and it is curious to find that even then an omen could be drawn from it. Plutarch 1 recounts that when the Athenians were taking omens before the Syracusan expedition an oracle ordered them to fetch a priestess of Athene from Clazomenae. They found, when they got her, that her name was Hesychia; and this seemed 'a divine indication that they should remain quiet.'

The scholiast speaks of Hesychidae, male members of the family of Hesychos, but if we may trust Callimachus 2 it was the women of the family who brought burnt-offerings; and these offerings were, as we should expect, wineless libations and honey-sweet cakes. The name of the priestesses was according to Callimachus \r)reipai, and it is no doubt from this source that Hesychius 3 gets his gloss, ' Leteirai, priestesses of the Semnae.'

The Semnae were women divinities served by priestesses, and it is noticeable that Athene, who was ' all for the father,' promises to the Erinyes that, if they become Semnae, they shall have worshippers, both men and women 4 . But when the procession to the cave is actually formed, in strict accordance no doubt with the traditional ritual of the place, it is women attendants who bring the ancient image,

'A goodly band, Maidens and wives and throng of ancient dames 6 .'

It can scarcely be doubted that among these ancient dames were members of the clan of Hesychids.

Aeschylus 6 has left us other notes of underworld significance in the ritual of the Semnae. When the procession is forming for the cave Athene speaks :

' Do on your festal garments crimson-dyed For meed of honour, bid the torches flame So henceforth these our visitants shall bless Our land and folk with shining of their grace.'

1 Plut. Vit. Nik. xm.

2 Callim. frg. (Schneider n. 123)

N?70(iXi' ai Kol r^ffiv dei fi Aflreipcu Kaietv \\axov '

3 Hesych. S.V. A^reipaf t^petat r(av <rfJ.vC}v deuiv.

4 Aesch. Eum. 856. 5 v. 1026. 6 Aesch. Eum. 1028

<f>oiviKoj3a,TrTois frdvrois tffdrj/ut.a.o'u' Tifj,aT Kdl TO 0^770? op/u-dcrdb) irvpbs,

6'7TWS SiV $(}>p(i>V 7/5' OfMiXia X^OVOS

TO \onrbv evdvSpotffi (rvfj.<popous irpiirrj.

The construction of Ti/j-are is uncertain, there being no expressed grammatical object ; but the two ritual factors, the torches and crimson garments, are certain.

v] The 'Semnai Theai' 249

Athene proffers for guerdon to the Semnae the ritual that as underworld goddesses was already theirs, torches and crimson raiment.

In connection with the torches it cannot be forgotten that some, though possibly not all, the sittings of the court of the Areopagos took place by night, doubtless in honour of the under- world goddesses who presided. In Lucian's time, at least, these sittings were almost proverbial. He says of a man perceiving with difficulty 1 , 'unless he chance to be stone-blind or like the Council of the Areopagos which gives its hearing by night ' : and again in the Hermotimus 2 'he is doing it like the Areopagites who give judgment in darkness.' To these sittings in the night-time it may be that Athene refers when she says 3

  • This court I set, untouched of gain, revered,

Alert, a wakeful guard o'er those who sleep.'

The garments of crimson or purple dye point to a ritual of placation and the service of the underworld. This is clearly shown in the details given by Plutarch 4 of the rites of placation performed annually for those who fell in the battle of Plataea. 'On the 16th day of the month Mairnakterion the archon of Plataea, who on other days may not touch iron nor wear any garment that is not white, puts on a crimson chiton and taking a hydria and girded with a sword goes to the sepulchres. There with water from the spring he washes the stelae and anoints them with myrrh ; he slays a black bull, prays to Zeus and Hermes Chthonios, and invokes to the banquet and the blood- shed the heroes who died for Greece.'

The crimson-purple is blood colour 5 , hence it is ordained for the service of the dead. It has already been noted (p. 144) that Dion 6 when he took the great oath in the Thesmophorion identi- fied himself with Kore of the underworld by putting on her crimson robe and holding a burning torch. Purple, Pliny 7 tells us, was employed when gods had to be appeased.

1 Luc. de domo 18. 2 Luc. Hermot. 806.

3 Aesch. Eum. 706. 4 Plut. Vit. Aristid. xxi.

5 Cf . a'ifjLan (f>oiv6v (II. xvi. 159). 0o/6s, 0o't and 06i>os are not far asunder : cf. also the tragic use of atpa for corpse. For purple in the ritual of the dead, see Diels, Sibyllinische Blatter, p. 69 note.

6 Plut. Vit. Dion. LVI. Tre/n/SdAXercu rty -rrop^vpiSa TTJS 0eou Kal \aj3uv d$8a

7 Plin. N. H. ix. 60 purpura dis advocatur placandis.

250 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [CH.

The purple robes, the torches, the night-time, above all the a<j)d<yi,a, point to a dread underworld ritual, a ritual that shows clearly that the darker side of the Venerable Ones was not far remote from the Erinyes. But Aeschylus, whose whole mind is bent on a doctrine of mercy, naturally emphasizes the brighter side of their functions and worship. Athene 1 herself knows that they are underworld goddesses, that they must have low-lying altars and underground dwellings ; only so seated will they ever feel really at home. She remembers even that for their feast they must have the wineless sacrifice that drives them mad 2 ; but she bids them leave this madness, and they for their part promise that the earth, their kingdom as vengeful ghosts, shall cease to drink the black blood of citizens. Henceforth they will be content with the white side of their service 3 .

'From this great land, thine is the sacrifice Of first-fruits offered for accomplishment Of marriage and for children 4 . 5

Again Athene offers what was theirs from the beginning. Underworld goddesses presided over marriage : in later days, as Plutarch 5 tells us, it was the priestess of Demeter; earlier we can scarcely doubt it was the Semnae. Here they stand in sharp contrast to the Erinyes, who are all black. Who would have bidden an Erinys to a marriage feast ? as well bid Eris who, in form (fig. 57) and function as perhaps in name, was but another Flo 57

Erinys, Eris

'The Abominable, who uninvited came And cast the golden fruit upon the board.'

1 Aeseh. Eum. 804. The significance of the <?0-xct/>a as distinguished from the Bti)fj,6s has been already discussed (p. 61).

2 Aesch. Eum. 860.

3 Aesch. Eum. 980.

4 v. 834.

5 Plut. Con;. Praec. Proem, yuero, rbv irdrpiov de< dv v/juv i) TTJS AT^CTJT/OOS tipeia


v] The 'Semnai Theai' 251

The Erinyes transformed to Semnae ask Athene what spells they shall chant over the land. She makes answer 1 :

' Whatever charms wait on fair Victory From earth, from dropping dew and from high heaven, The wealth of winds that blow to hail the land Sunlit, and fruits of earth and teeming flocks Untouched of time, safety for human seed.'

The chorus accept these functions of health and life, and chant their promised guerdon 2 .

'No wind to wither trees shall blow, By our grace it shall be so; Nor that nor shrivelling heat On budding plants shall beat

With parching drouth

To waste their growth, Nor any plague of dismal blight come creeping ;

But teeming, doubled flocks the earth

In her season shall bring forth,

And evermore a wealthy race

Pay reverence for this our grace Of spirits that have the rich earth in their keeping.'

We are reminded that Ploutos himself, the Wealth of the underworld, had, according to Pausanias 3 , a statue in the precinct of the Venerable Goddesses. Moreover it is impossible to hear the words ' no wind to wither trees shall blow ' without recalling the altar of the Wind-stillers (Eu&weyitot), which stood somewhere on the western slope of the Areopagos. Arrian 4 , speaking of the statues of Harmodios and Aristogeiton, says 'they stand at Athens in the Cerameicus where we go up to the citadel, just opposite the Metroon not far from the altar of the Wind-stillers. Whoever has been initiated in the Eleusinia knows the altar of the Wind- stillers which stands on the ground.' A low-lying altar doubtless, an eschara, for, as has already been shown (p. 65), the winds were to primitive thinking ghosts or caused by ghosts and worshipped with underworld sacrifices. Hesychius 5 tells us that there was at Corinth a family called the Wind-calmers. The Areopagos was a

1 Aesch. Eum. 903.

2 Aesch. Eum. 938. The translation offered only attempts to render the general sense of this difficult passage, a sense sufficiently clear for the immediate purpose. No satisfactory explanation has yet been offered of the enigmatic rb /ut-rj Trepav 8poi>

ruv, see Dr Verrall, ad loc.

3 P. i. 28. 6.

4 Arrian, Anab. in. 16. 8.

5 Hesych. s.v. 'Aj>e/icoKorrcu.

252 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [OH.

wind-swept hill. It was thence, according to a form of the legend recorded by Plato 1 , that Boreas caught up Oreithyia.

The Semnae claim as their special 'grace 2 ' control over the winds. As goddesses who bring the blessings of marriage and of fertile breezes, they are but good fructifying Keres like the Tritopatores already discussed (p. 179); the Erinyes are blighting poisonous Keres, who Harpy-like foul the food by which men live.

The Erinyes, in the play of Aeschylus, are transformed into Semnae, into the local goddesses of Athens. Of this there is no shadow of doubt. They accept the citizenship of Pallas 3 , and they are actually hailed as Semnae 4 . Aeschylus it is true never definitely states that they entered the cleft of the Areopagos, but Euripides, manifestly borrowing from him, is as has been seen explicit.

Such a conversion may have been gratifying to the patriotism of an Athenian audience, but Athenian though he is, it is not the glorification of a local cult that inspires Aeschylus ; it is the re- conciliation of the old order of vengeance with the new law of mercy. It is significant in this connection that Aeschylus, or some one who took his meaning, gave to the play the title, not as we should expect of Semnae, but of Eumenides. The moral of the play is thereby emphasized.

It is, to say the least, curious that a play called traditionally, if not by the author, the 'Eumenides' should contain no single mention of the Eumenides by this name. Harpocration 5 , com- menting on the word Eumenides, says 'Aeschylus in the Eumenides, recounting what happened about the trial of Orestes, says that Athene, having mollified the Erinyes so that they did not deal harshly with Orestes, called them Eumenides.' Aeschylus says no such thing. The text of the play contains no mention of the Eumenides, though in the hypothesis prefixed to the text occur

1 Plat. Phaedr. p. 229. The legend no doubt took its rise in the Areopagos, where the king's daughter was flower-gathering, or fetching water from the Enneakrounos just outside the city gate. It was transplanted later with many another legend and cult to the banks of the Ilissus, outside the enlarged city.

2 Aesch. Eum. 939.

3 Aesch. Eum. 916 5eo/icu IldXXaSos ^vvoiKiav.

4 v. 1041 5eup' n-e, ffffivaL

5 Harpocrat. s.v. Eu/xei'i5es...Aicrx^\os tv Tbtinevlffiv eliruv TO. irepl TTJV Kpicriv TT]V

(f>T}<rlv ws T? 'Atf^a irpa.vva.ffa ras 'Epii'tfas ware /ATJ x a ^ e7r &s ^X eltt ^P T ^ v

v] The Eumenides 253

the following words : ' Having prevailed by the counsel of Athene, he (Orestes) went to Argos, and when he had mollified the Erinyes he addressed them as EumenidesV Harpocration attri- butes to Athene in the play what the hypothesis notes as done by Orestes in the sequel at Argos. By his use of the word ' mollified ' (Trpavvaaa) he betrays, I think, the source of his information. It must always be remembered that the Orestes Jegend was native to Argos and at Argos the local cult was of Eumenides not Semnae.


The worship of divinities bearing the name of Eumenides, though unknown at Athens 2 , was wider-spread than that of the Semnae, which is found nowhere outside Attica. It was possibly for this reason that Aeschylus or later tradition gave this name to the play. The Semnae were familiar figures at Athens, and, spite of many underworld analogies, the shift from Erinyes to Semnae must have been a difficult one. A great deal is borne for the glory of the gods, but there must have been among the audience men conservative and hard-headed who would be likely to maintain that, all said and done, the Erinyes were not, could not be, Semnae. If asked to believe that the Erinyes became Eumenides, they would feel and probably say : that is a matter for Colonos, for Argos, for Sekyon to consider; it affects no Athenian's faith or^ practice. At Colonos it is certain that goddesses were worshipped who bore the name of Eumenides, goddesses of function and ritual precisely identical with the Semnae, but addressed by a different cult us epithet. We have the express statement of Sophocles 3 , who, as a priest himself and a conservative, was not likely to

1 Aesch. Eum. hypoth....^s j3ov\rj j/t/ojcras Ka.rrj\6ev et's *Apyos, ras d irpavvas Trpo<rrry6pevcrei> Evftevldas. To suit the statement of Harpocration, irpavvas has been altered to irpavvaffa.

2 There is no evidence that can be relied on to show that before Aeschylus wrote his play the Semnae ever bore the title of Eumenides. Pausanias indeed (vn. 25. 1) quotes an oracle from Dodona ostensibly belonging to the mythical days of Apheidas, in which the title Eumenides is given to the goddesses of the Areopagos,

5' "Apeibv re irdyov , /3oj//,otfs re 0fo>5eis

wj> KT\.

And this oracle, he says, the Greek called to mind when the Peloponnesians came against Athens in the time of Codrus. The passage stands alone, and oracle- mongering was rife at all times.

3 Soph. Oed. Col. 41.

254 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [CH.

tamper with ritual titles. He makes Oedipus ask the stranger who they are whose dread name he is to invoke. The answer is explicit:

'Eumenides all-seeing here the folk Would call them : other names please otherwhere.'

Sophocles no doubt shows the influence of Aeschylus in his

  • other names please otherwhere.' He realizes that Eumenides

and Semnae are ' one form of diverse names 1 .' This truth it was the mission of the reconciling monotheist always to preach, but he would scarcely dare to tamper with the familiar titles of a local cult. In fact by this very statement, that elsewhere the goddesses bore other names, he makes the local appellation certain. He may indeed have brought Oedipus to Colonos rather than to the Areopagos, where he had also a grave, just because the local attributive title of the goddesses at Colonos suited the gentle moral of his play.

Again when Oedipus asks to be taught to pray aright, the Chorus lay emphasis on the title Eumenides.

'That, as we call them Kindly, from kind hearts They may receive the suppliant 2 .'

So strong is the exclusiveness of local cults that, had the title of Eumenides occurred only at Colonos, neither Aeschylus nor tradition would perhaps have ventured to assume it for the Semnae. But from Pausanias we learn of sanctuaries of the Eumenides at Titane 3 near Sekyon, at Cerynaea 4 in Achaia, and in Arcadia near Megalopolis 5 . The sanctuary between Sekyon and Titane consisted of a grove and a temple. Pausanias ex- pressly says these belonged to the goddesses whom the Athenians called Semnae and the Sikyonians Eumenides. The festival in their honour was a yearly one, and has already been discussed (p. 56). Tradition said that the sanctuary at Cerynaea was founded by Orestes, and that 'if any one stained by blood or any other pollution, or impious, entered the sanctuary wishing to see it, he straightway went out of his wits by the terrors he

1 Aesch. Prom. Vlnct. 209

G^ius /ecu Taia 7ro\\&v ovofj-dT^v fJ.op<j)r) jitta.

2 Oed. Col. 486


or^pvwv dexecrdai rbv 3 P. i. 11. 4. 4 P. vii. 25. 7. 6 P. vm. 34. 2.

The Eumenides


beheld. The images in it were made of wood 1 ... and they were not large.' The ritual of the sanctuary at Megalopolis, with its black and white sides, addressed severally to the goddesses as Madnesses (Maniae) and Kindly Ones (Eumenides), has already been noted (p. 56). To the Madnesses Orestes sacrifices, it will be re- membered, with underworld rites to avert their wrath ; to the Kindly Ones when healed, and after the same fashion as to the gods ; the clearest possible instance of two stages of development in ritual and theology, of dTrorpoirr) side by side with depaTrela.

To these four instances of the cult of the Eumenides a fifth may safely be added, the sanctuary at or near Argos. Of any such sanctuary we have no literary record, but we have what is of even greater value monumental evidence. Three votive reliefs dedicated to the Eumenides have been found at the little church of Hag. Johannes, about half-an-hour to the east of the modern village of Argos 2 . They are still preserved in the local museum of the Demarchy. The material of all three is the hard local lime- stone, and they must have been set up in a local sanctuary. The sanctuary of Titane was nearly twenty miles away, too far to admit of any theory of trans- portation. All three are inscribed, and in each the dedicator is a woman. The relief reproduced in fig. 58 was found built into the outside of the Church of Hag. Jo- hannes. It is clearly inscribed }LvpevLaiv ev^av, a vow or prayer to the Eumenides. The beginning of the inscription is lost, but enough remains, . . 77 A . . e/a, to show that a woman de- 1 At this point unhappily a lacuna occurs. 2 A. Mitt. iv. 1879, pi. ix. p. 176.

FIG. 58.

256 Demonology of Ghosts, Sprites, Bogeys [CH. v

dicated it, and that she was probably an Argive. It is a woman's offering, but she likes to have her husband carved upon it and she lets him walk first. Perhaps he went with her to the sanctuary and offered sacrifice of honey and water and flowers and a ewe great with young 1 .

'The first-fruits offered for accomplishment Of marriage and for children.'

y About the figures of the Eumenides at Argos, as of the Semnae at Athens, 'there is nothing frightful.' These are not the short-girt huntress women of the vases, nor yet the loathly black horrors of tragedy ; they are gentle, staid, matronly figures, bearing in their left hands, for tokens of fertility, flowers or fruit, and in their right, snakes 2 as the symbols, not of terror and torture, but merely of that source of weahh, the underworld; but for the snakes, which lend a touch of austerity, they would be Charites (p. 297). From the inscriptions these reliefs are certainly known to be later than Aeschylus, but because a poet writes a great play at Athens the local stonemason does not alter the type of the votive offerings he supplies. Why should he

^frighten pious women and perhaps lose his custom ? The Erinys of tragedy took strong hold of literature, but even at Athens there was a sceptic to whom the great conversion scene was merely absurd. If we may trust Suidas 3 , the comic poet Philemon held to it that 'the Semnae were quite other than the Eumenides,' and we may be sure that the humour of the situation attempted would lose nothing in his hands. Great though the influence of Aeschylus over the educated undoubtedly was, it was powerless to alter traditional types in art ; equally powerless we may be sure to abate or alter one jot or one tittle of hieratic ceremonial. The Erinyes remained Erinyes, and in popular bogey form went, as has been seen (p. 232), to people with horrors a Christian hell. Man was not ready yet to worship only the Kindly Ones. For generations, nay centuries, he must bear the hard yoke of aTTOTpoTrrf before he might offer to gods remade in his own image the free-will offering of a kindly OepaireLa.

1 The regular ritual offerings at Titane, see P. i. 11. 4 and Aesch. Eum. 834.

2 The archaic marble statuette found at Olympia and representing a woman with polos on her head and a snake in each hand may very possibly be one of three Eumenides. See Olympia, vol. in. p. 27.

3 Suidas S.v. Eu,uei/i5es- $i\ri/j.(i)i> 5e 6 KUJUUKOS ertpas <j>r)<rl ras Se/was 0eas TUIV




IN the last chapter we have traced the development from Keres to Erinyes, and have seen that, on the whole, this develop- ment was a downward course. The Erinyes are in a sense more civilized than the Keres ; they are beings more articulate, more clearly outlined and concerned with issues moral rather than physical; but the career they start as angry souls they end as Poinae, ministers of vindictive torment ; there is in them no element of hope, no kindly impulse towards purification, they end where they began as irreconcileable demons rather than friendly gods.

We have further marked the attempt of Aeschylus to turn the vindictive demons of the old religion into the gentler divinities of the new, and we have seen that, for all his genius, the attempt failed wholly. The Erinyes never, save here and there to a puzzled antiquarian, became really Semnae ; the popular instinct of their utter distinctness remained sound. We have now to note that, where the genius of a poet fails, the slow-moving widespread instinct of a people may prevail ; ghosts are not wholly angry, and the gentler form of ghost may and does become a god.

The line between a spirit (Saipatv) and a regular god (#eo?) is drawn with no marked precision. The difference is best realized by remembering the old principle that man makes all the objects of his worship in his own image. Before he has himself clearly realized his own humanity the line that marks him off from other animals, he makes his divinities sometimes wholly animal, some- H. 17

258 The Making of a Goddess [CH.

times of mixed, monstrous shapes. His animal-shaped gods the Greek quickly outgrew ; something will be said of them when we come to the religion of the Bull-Dionysos. Mixed monstrous shapes long haunted his imagination ; bird-woman-souls, Gorgon- bogeys, Sphinxes, Harpies and the like were, as has been seen, the fitting vehicles of a religion that was mainly of vague fear. But as man became more conscious of his humanity and pari passu grew more humane, a more complete anthropomorphism steadily prevailed, and in the figures of wholly human gods man mirrored his gentler affections, his advance in the ordered relations of life.

Xenophanes 1 , writing in the 6th century B.C., knew that God is ' without body, parts or passions,' but he knew also that, till man becomes wholly philosopher, his gods are doomed perennially to take and retake human shape. His thrice-familiar words still bear repetition :

'One God there is greatest of gods and mortals; Not like to man is he in mind or body.

All of him sees, all of him thinks and hearkens

But mortal man made gods in his own image

Like to himself in vesture, voice and body.

Had they but hands, methinks, oxen and lions

And horses would have made them gods like-fashioned,

Horse-gods for horses, oxen-gods for oxen.'

We are apt to regard the advance to anthropomorphism as necessarily a clear religious gain. A gain it is in so far as a certain element of barbarity is softened or extruded, but with this gain comes loss, the loss of the element of formless, monstrous mystery. The ram-headed Knum of the Egyptians is to the mystic more religious than any of the beautiful divine humanities of the Greek. Anthropomorphism provides a store of lovely motives for art, but that spirit is scarcely religious which makes of Eros a boy trundling a hoop, of Apollo a youth aiming a stone at a lizard, of Nike a woman who stoops to tie her sandal. Xenophanes put his finger on the weak spot of anthropomorphism. He saw that it comprised and confined the god within the limitations of the worshipper. It is not every religion that advances as far as anthropomorphism, but the farthest of anthropomorphism is not very far.

1 Xenoph. frg. 1, 2, 5 and 6.


A nthropomorphism


Traces of animal form are among the recognized Greek gods few and scattered. Pausanias 1 heard at Phigaleia of a horse- headed Demeter, and again of a fish-bodied Eurynome 2 whom some called Artemis, but for the most part by the 6th and 5th centuries B.C. mixed forms, half animal, half human, belong to beings half-way between man and god, demons rather than full- fledged divinities and demons malignant rather than beneficent. Such are Boreas, Echidna, Typhon and the snake-tailed giants.

In the design from a black-figured cylix 3 in fig. 59 we have a curious and rare instance of beings of monstrous form, yet obviously

FIG. 59.

beneficent. The scene is a vineyard at the time of vintage. On the reverse (not figured here) we have the same vintage-setting, but goats, the destroyers of the vine, are nibbling at the vine- stems. On the obverse (fig. 59) we have snake- bodied nymphs rejoicing in the grape harvest. Two of them hold a basket of net or wicker in which the grapes will be gathered, a third holds a great cup for the vine-juice, a fourth plays on the double flutes. Unhappily we can give no certain name to these kindly grape-

1 P. vni. 42. 4. The material for the study of the non-human forms taken by Greek gods has been recently collected by Dr M. W. de Visser, Die nicht-men- schengestaltigen Goiter der Griechen, 1903.

2 P. vm. 41. 6.

3 Munich. Published and discussed by Dr Bohlan, ' Schlangenleibige Nymphen,' Philologos LVII. N.F. xi. 1, and see 'Delphika,' J.H.S. xix. 1899, p. 216, note 1.


260 The Making of a Goddess [CH.

gathering, flute-playing snake-nymphs. They are /copai, but assuredly they are not Erinyes and we dare not even call them Eumenides. Probably any Athenian child would have named them without a moment's hesitation, but we must be content to say that, in their essence, they are Charites, givers of grace and increase, and that their snake-bodies mark them not as malevolent, but as earth-daemons, genii of fertility. They are near akin to the local Athenian hero, the snake-tailed Cecrops, and we are tempted to conjecture that in art, though not in literature, he may have lent his snake-tail to the Agraulid nymphs, his daughters. Later it will be seen that earth-born goddesses, though they shed their snake-form, keep as their vehicle and attribute the snake they once were.


The gods reflect not only man's human form but also his human relations. In the Homeric Olympus we see mirrored a family group of the ordinary patriarchal type, a type so familiar that it scarcely arrests attention. Zeus, Father of Gods and men, is supreme; Hera, though in constant and significant revolt, occupies the subordinate place of a wife; Poseidon is a younger brother, and the rest of the Olympians are grouped about Zeus and Hera in the relation of sons and daughters. These sons and daughters are quarrelsome among themselves and in constant insurrection against father and mother, but still they constitute a family, and a family subject, if reluctantly, to the final authority of a father.

But when we come to examine local cults we find that, if these mirror the civilization of the worshippers, this civilization is quite other than patriarchal. Hera, subject in the Homeric Olympus, reigns alone at Argos ; Athene at Athens is no god's wife, she is affiliated in some loose fashion to Poseidon, but the relation is one of rivalry and ultimate conquest, nowise of sub- ordination. At Eleusis two goddesses reign supreme, Demeter and Kore, the Mother and the Maid ; neither Hades nor Tripto- lemos their nursling ever disputes their sway. At Delphi in

vi] The Mother and the Maid 261

historical days Apollo held the oracle, but Apollo, the priestess 1 knows, was preceded by a succession of women goddesses :

' First in my prayer before all other gods I call on Earth, primaeval prophetess. Next Themis on her mother's oracular seat Sat, so men say. Third by unforced consent Another Titan, daughter too of Earth, Phoebe. She gave it as a birthday gift To Phoebus, and giving called it by her name.'

Gaia the Earth was first, and elsewhere Aeschylus 2 tells us that Themis was but another name of Gaia. Prometheus says the future was foretold him by his mother :

' Themis she And Gaia, one in form with many names.'

In historical days in Greece, descent was for the most part traced through the father. These primitive goddesses reflect another condition of things, a relationship traced through the mother, the state of society known by the awkward term matri- archal 3 , a state echoed in the lost Catalogues of Women, the Eoiai of Hesiod, and in the Boeotian heroines of the Nekuia. Our modern patriarchal society focusses its religious anthropo- morphism on the relationship of the father and the son; the Roman Church with her wider humanity includes indeed the figure of the Mother who is both Mother and Maid, but she is still in some sense subordinate to the Father and the Son.

Of the many survivals of matriarchal notions in Greek myth- ology one salient instance may be noted. St Augustine 4 , telling the story of the rivalry between Athene and Poseidon, says that the contest was decided by the vote of the citizens, both men and women, for it was the custom then for women to take part in public affairs. The men voted for Poseidon, the women for Athene; the women exceeded the men by one and Athene prevailed. To appease the wrath of Poseidon the men inflicted on the women a triple punishment, ' they were to lose their vote, their children were no longer to be called by their mothers name and they

1 Aesch. Eum. 1. 2 Aesch. Prom. Vinct. 209.

3 The clearest and most scientific statement of the facts as to this difficult subject known to me is to be found in an article by Dr E. B. Tylor, 'The Matri- archal family system,' Nineteenth Century, July 1896.

4 S. Augustine, De civitat. Dei 18. 9 ut nulla ulterius ferrent suffragia, ut nullus nascentium maternum nomen acciperet, ut ne quis eas Athenaeas vocaret.

262 The Making of a Goddess [OH.

themselves were no longer to be called after their goddess, Athenians.'

The myth is aetiological, and it mirrors surely some shift in the social organization of Athens. The citizens were summoned by Cecrops, and it is noticeable that with his name universal tradition associates the introduction of the patriarchal form of marriage. Athenaeus 1 quoting from Clearchos, the pupil of Aristotle, says, 'At Athens Cecrops was the first to join one woman to one man : before connections had taken place at random and marriages were in common hence, as some think, Cecrops was called " Twy-formed " (S^wfc), since before his day people did not know who their fathers were, on account of the number (of possible parents).' A society that had passed to patriarchy naturally misjudged the marriage-laws of matriarchy and regarded it as a mere state of promiscuity. Cecrops, tradition 2 said, was the first to call Zeus the Highest, and with the worship of Zeus the Father it is possible that he introduced the social conditions of patriarchy. Apollo, the son of Zeus, was worshipped at Athens as Patroos.

The primitive Greek was of course not conscious that he mirrored his own human relations in the figures of his gods, but, in the reflective days of Pythagoras, the analogy between human and divine was not left unnoted. The evidence he adduces as to the piety of women is perhaps the most illuminating comment on primitive theology ever made by ancient or modern. ' Women,' he 3 says, 'give to each successive stage of their life the same name as a god, they call the unmarried woman Maiden (K6prj\ the woman given in marriage to a man Bride (Nt///,^), her who has borne children Mother (Mtjr'rjp), and her who has borne children's children Grandmother (Mala).' Invert the statement and we have the whole matriarchal theology in a nutshell. The matriarchal goddesses reflect the life of women, not women the life of the goddesses.

Of these various forms of the conditions of woman, woman as maiden, bride, mother and grandmother, the last, grandmother,

1 Athen. xm. 2 555 and Tzetzes Chil. v. 19. 650. Other instances of the survival in Greek mythology of traces of matriarchal conditions are collected by Bachofen in his Mutterrecht, a book which, spite of the wildness of its theories, remains of value as the fullest existing collection of ancient facts.

2 P. vm. 2. 3. 3 Diog. 8. 1. 10, and Iambi. Vit. Pyth. 3. 11.

vi] The Lady of the Wild Things 263

comes little into prominence ; it only lends a name to Maia, the mother of Hermes. Nymphs we have everywhere, but the two cardinal conditions are obviously to a primitive society Mother 1 and Maiden. When these conditions crystallized into the goddess forms of Demeter and Kore, they appear as Mother and Daughter, but primarily the conditions expressed are Mother and Maid, woman mature and woman before maturity, and of these two forms the Mother-form as more characteristic is, in early days, the more prominent ; Kore as daughter rather than maiden is the product of mythology. When we come to the religion of Dionysos, it will be seen that the Mother-goddess has for her attribute of motherhood a son rather than a daughter.


The Mother-goddess was almost necessarily envisaged as the Earth. The ancient Dove-priestesses at Dodona 2 were the first to chant the Litany^:

'Zeus was, Zeus is, Zeus shall be, great Zeus. Earth sends up fruits, so praise we Earth the Mother. 3

The two lines have no necessary connection; it may be that their order is inverted and that long before the Dove- priestesses sang the praises of Zeus they had chanted their hymn to the Mother. It was fitting that women priestesses should sing to a woman goddess, to Ga who was also Ma. Mother-Earth bore not only fruits but the race of man. As the poet Asius 3 said :

' Divine Pelasgos on the wood-clad hills Black Earth brought forth, that mortal man might be.'

Pelasgos claimed no father, but he, the first father, had a mother. And here it must be noted that the local mother must necessarily have preceded Gaia the abstract and universal. Primi-

1 The fundamental unity of all the Greek goddesses was, I think, first observed by Gerhard, Ueber Metroon und Goetter-Mutter, 1849, p. 103, but his illuminating suggestion has been obscured for half a century by systems, such as that of Preller and Max Miiller, that see in ancient deities impersonations of natural phenomena.

2 P. x. 12. 10

Zeus yv, Zeus eVH, 'Zeus eWerar u> [teyaXe ZeO. Fa /ca/)7roi)s dviei, dib /cX^fere /wijre'/ra yaiav.

3 P. vm. 2. 4.


The Making of a Goddess


tive man does not tend to deal in abstractions. Each local hero claimed descent from a local earth-nymph or mother 1 . Salamis, Aegina and ' dear mother Ida ' are not late geographical abstrac- tions ; each is a local mother, a real parent, and all are later merged in the great All-Mother Ge.

The Earth-Mother and each and every local nymph was mother not only of man but of all creatures that live ; she is the 'Lady of the Wild Things ' (nroTVLa Orjpwv). Art brings her figure very clearly before us. On an early stamped Boeotian amphora 2 in the National Museum at Athens (figs. 60 and 61) she is vividly presented. The Great Mother stands with up- lifted hands exactly in the attitude of the still earlier figures recently discovered in the Mycenaean shrine at Cnossos. To either side of her is a lion, heraldically posed like the lions of the Gate at Mycenae; below her is a frieze of deer. The figure is supported or rather encircled by two FIG. 60.

women figures, one at

either side. These seem to be part of a ring of encircling worshippers 3 .

1 The distinction has been acutely observed by Miss W. M. L. Hutchinson in discussing the earthborn parentage of Aeacus, see Aeacus a Judge of the Under- world, p. 6.

2 'E07?/xe/3is 'Apx- 1892, PI. 9; for stamped Boeotian amphorae in general, see Mr A. de Bidder, Butt, de Corr. Hell. xxn. 1898, p. 440.

3 Dr Wolters ('E0. 'A/a*. 1892, p. 225) explains the figure of the Earth-Mother as Artemis Aex^. I entirely agree with Prof. S. Wide that her pose is not that of 'eine gebarende Frau' : see S. Wide, ' Mykenische Gotterbilder und Hole,' A. Mitt. xxvi. 1901, p. 253.


The Lady of the Wild Things


FIG. 61. The design in fig. 62 from a painted Boeotian amphora 1 , also in

FIG. 62.

the Museum at Athens, shows a similar and even more complete conception of the ' Lady of the Wild Things.' Her two lions still

1 'B0. 'A/>x. 1892, PI. 10. 1.


The Making of a Goddess


keep heraldic guard, above her outstretched arms are two birds 1 , her gown is decorated with the figure of a great fish. We are reminded of the Eurynome of Phigalia with her fish-tailed body.

The interesting thing about these early representations, these and countless others, is that we can give the goddess no proper name. We call her rightly the Great Mother and the ' Lady of the Wild Things/ but farther we cannot go. She has been named Artemis and Cybele, but for neither name is there a particle of evidence.

The Great Mother is mother of the dead as well as the living. The design in fig. 63 is from the interior of a rock-hewn tomb


Line, of Floor FIG. 63.

in Phrygia 2 . The great figure of the Mother and her lions occupies the whole height of the back wall of the tomb. 'All things/ as Cicero 3 says, 'go back to earth and rise out of the earth.'

1 On the head of one of the idols in the recently discovered shrine at Cnossos, Mr Arthur Evans kindly tells me, is perched a dove, a forecast it may be of Aphrodite.

2 See Prof. Kamsay, J.H.S. 1884, p. 245.

3 Cic. De Nat. Deor. n. 26 et recidunt omnia in terras et oriuntur e terris.

vi] The Mother as Kourotrophos 267

' Dust we are, and unto dust we shall return/ and more tenderly Aeschylus 1 :

'Yea, summon Earth, who brings all things to life And rears and takes again into her womb.'

And so the Mother herself keeps ward in the metropolis of the dead, and therefore 'the Athenians of old called the dead "Demeter's people" 2 .' On the festival day of the dead, the Nekusia at Athens, they sacrificed to Earth. To a people who practised inhumation, such ritual and such symbolism were almost inevitable. When the Earth-Mother developed into the Corn-Mother, such symbolism gained new life and force from the processes of agriculture. Cicero 3 records that in his day it was still the custom to sow the graves of the dead with corn : ' that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die 4 .' Out of the symbolism of the corn sown the Greeks did not develope a doctrine of immortality, but, when that doctrine came to them from without, the symbolism of the seed lay ready to hand.


Early art figures the Mother in quaint instructive fashion as Kourotrophos, the Child-Rearer. As such she appears in the design in fig. 64 taken from an early black-figured amphora of the 6th century B.C. in the British Museum 5 . This figure of the Mother is usually explained as Leto with the twins Apollo and Artemis, but such an interpretation is, I think, over-bold, and really misleading. The artist knows that there is a Mother- Goddess ; one child would be sufficient as an attribute of mother- hood, but in his quaint primitive fashion he wishes to emphasise her motherhood, he gives her all the children she can conveniently

hold, one on each shoulder.


1 Aesch. Ghoeph. 127.

2 Plut. de fac. in orb. lun. 28 nai robs veKpovs 'Adyvaiot A-n/mrfTpeiovs uitdfjunfov TO iraXcubv.

3 Cic. Legg. n. 22, and 25, 63. 4 1 Cor. xv. 36.

5 B. M. Cat. B 213. Inghirami, Vasi Fitt. in. 300. Mr A. Lang, Homeric Hymns, plate facing p. 104, names the design 'Leto with her infants Apollo and Artemis.' The catalogue of the British Museum with just caution says 'Leto (?),' but adds that the children are 'probably Apollo and Artemis.' The figures to either side of the central ' Mother,' Dionysos and a Satyr, give no clue to the interpretation.


The Making of a Goddess


We have no right to name the children Apollo and Artemis, unless inscribed or marked as such by attributes. This is clear from the fact that, on a frag- ment of a vase found in the Acropolis excavations and un- happily still unpublished, we have a figure closely analo- gous, though later in style, to our Kourotrophos, bearing on her elbows two little naked imps who are inscribed : the one is Himeros, the other E(ros). The mother can in this case be none other than Aphrodite. The attribution is confirmed by another frag- ment 1 in which only half of the Mother-goddess is pre- served and one child seated on her elbow ; the child is not inscribed, but against the mother, in archaic letters, is written Aphrodi(te) ; near her as on our vase is standing Dionysos.

Pausanias 2 , when examin- ing the chest of Cypselos, saw a design on which was represented ' a woman carrying a white boy sleeping on her right arm ; on the other arm she has a black boy who is like the one who is asleep ; they both have their feet twisted (d/n^orepov^ Siecrrpawevovs TOT;? TroSas) ; the inscriptions show that the boys are Death and Sleep, and that Night is the nurse of both.' He adds the rather surprising statement that it ' would have been easy to see who they were without the inscriptions.'

A woman with a child on each arm can then represent Aphrodite with Himeros and Eros; if one child is white and

1 Mr G. C. Kichards, J.H.S. xra. 1892, p. 284, pi. xi.

2 P. v. 18. 1. Dr Frazer translates the difficult word Siearpafj-^vovs ' turned different ways' ; the word seems usually to imply distortion, but in the case of Death and Sleep this seems inappropriate.

FIG. 64.

vi] The Mother as Kourotrophos 269

asleep and the other black, the group represents Night with Death and Sleep; if the group is to represent Leto and her twins, there must be something to mark the twins as Apollo and Artemis. On another amphora in the British Museum 1 there does exist just the necessary differentiation : the child on the left arm is naked, the child on the right though also painted black wears a short chiton. We are justified in supposing that the one is a boy the other a girl, and there is at least a high probability that the differentiation of sex points to Apollo and Artemis.

I have dwelt on this point because vase-paintings are here, as so often, highly instructive in the matter of the development and slow differentiation and articulation of theological types. At first all is vague and misty ; there is, as it were, a blank formula, a mother-goddess characterized by twins. If we give her a name at all she is Kourotrophos. As her personality grows she differ- entiates, she is Aphrodite with Eros and Himeros, she is Night with Sleep and Death. When Apollo and Artemis came from the North they became the twins par excellence, and they are affiliated to the old religion; the Mother as Kourotrophos became Leto with Apollo and Artemis.

The like process goes on in literature, though it is less obviously manifest. At the opening of the Thesmophoria the Woman-Herald in Aristophanes 2 makes proclamation as follows :

' Keep solemn silence. Keep solemn silence. Pray to the two Thesmo- phoroi, to Demeter, and to Kore, and to Plouton, and to Kalligeneia, and to Kourotrophos, and to Hermes, and the Charites.'

Discussion from the time of the scholiast onwards has raged as to who Kourotrophos is is she Hestia, is she Ge ? The simple truth is never faced that she is Kourotrophos, an attribute become a personality. Her personality, it is true, faded before the dominant personality of the Mother of Eleusis, but her presence in the ancient ritual-formulary speaks clearly for her original actuality. Once she had faded, all the other more successful goddesses, Ge, Artemis, Hekate, Leto, Demeter, Aphrodite, even Athene, contend for her name as their epithet. There is no controversy so idle and apparently so prolific as that which seeks to find in these ancient

1 B. M. Cat. B 168.

2 Ar. Thesm. 295 and schol. ad loc. The words rr, Tfj have been interpolated after Kovporpixfry but without MS. authority.


The Making of a Goddess


inchoate personalities, such as Kourotrophos and Kalligeneia, the epithets of the Olympians they so long predated.

The figure of the Mother as Kourotrophos lent itself easily to later abstractions. Themis is one of the earliest, and she attains a real personality; her sisters Eunomia and Dike are scarcely flesh and blood, they are beautiful stately shadows. The ' making of a goddess' is always a mystery, the outcome of manifold causes of which we have lost count. At the close of the 5th century B.C. at the end of the weary, fatal Peloponnesian war, Eirene, Peace, almost attained godhead, and godhead as the Mother. Cephisodotos, father of Praxiteles, made for the market-place at Athens a statue of her carrying the child Ploutos, the Athenians built her an altar and did sacrifice to her, Aristo- phanes brings her on the stage, but it is all too late and in vain, she remains an abstraction as lifeless as Theoria or Opora, and finds no place among the humanities of Olympus.

Tyche, Fortune, another late abstraction of the Mother, though she is scarcely more human than Eirene, obtained a wide popularity. Pausanias 1 saw at Thebes a sanctuary of Tyche; he remarks after naming the artists, 'it was a clever plan of them to put Ploutos in the arms of Tyche as his mother or nurse, and Cephisodotos was FIG. 65.

no less clever; he made for the Athenians the image of Eirene holding Ploutos/

These abstractions, Tyche, Ananke and the like, were popular with the Orphics. Their very lack of personality favoured a growing philosophic monotheism. The design in fig. 65 is carved in low relief on one of the columns of the Hall of the Mystae of

1 P. ix. 16. 2.

vi] Demeter and Kor ; 271

Dionysos, recently excavated at Melos 1 . Tyche holds a child presumably the local Ploutos of Melos in her arms. Above her is inscribed, ' May Agathe Tyche of Melos be gracious to Alexandros, the founder of the holy Mystae.' Tyche, Fortune, might be, to the uninitiated, the Patron, the Good Luck of any and every city, but to the mystic she had another and a deeper meaning ; she, like the Agathos Daimon, was the inner Fate of his life and soul. In her house, as will later be seen (Chap. XI.), he lodged, observing rules of purity and abstinence before he was initiated into the underworld mysteries of Trophonios, before he drank of the waters of Lethe and Mnemosyne. It is one of the countless instances in which the Orphics went back behind the Olympian divinities and mysticized the earlier figures of the Mother or the Daughter.


So long as and wherever man lived for the most part by hunting, the figure of the 'Lady of the Wild Things' would content his imagination. But, when he became an agriculturist, the Mother-goddess must perforce be, not only Kourotrophos of all living things, but also the Corn-mother, Demeter.

The derivation of the name Demeter has been often discussed 2 . The most popular etymology is that which makes her Aa/jLtjrrjp, Earth-mother, Aa, which occurs in such interjections 3 as <f>6v Sd, olol Sd, being regarded as the equivalent of Fa. From the point of view of meaning this etymology is nowise satisfactory. Demeter is not the Earth-Mother, not the goddess of the earth in general, but of the fruits of the civilized, cultured earth, the tilth ; not the 'Lady of the Wild Things,' but She-who-bears-fruits, Karpophoros. Mannhardt was the first to point out another etymology, more consonant with this notion. The author of the

1 Mr R. C. Bosanquet, 'Excavations of the British School at Melos,' J.H.S. xvm. 1898, p. 60, Fig. 1, and Dr P. Wolters, 'Melische Kultstatuen,' A. Mitt. xv. 1890, p. 248.

2 All the proposed etymologies, possible and impossible, are collected by Mann- hardt, MythologlscLe Forschungen, p. 287. To his discussion must now be added Dr Kretschmer's view that Aa like Ma means mother and that the form AapaT-rjp arose when Aa had crystallized into a proper name. See Festschrift der Wiener - Studien, 1902, p. 291.

3 Aesch. Prom. Vinct. 568.

272 The ^Making of a Goddess [CH.

Etymologicon Magnum 1 , after stringing together a whole series of senseless conjectures, at last stumbles on what looks like the truth. ' Deo/ he says, ' may be derived from ra? Srjas, for barley grains are called by the Cretans SrjaL' The Cretan word Brjau is near akin to the ordinary Greek feta, the word used for a coarse wheat or spelt ; the fruitful field in Homer 2 bears the epithet faSwpo?, ' spelt-yielding.' JDemeter, it will later be seen (p. 565), probably came Jrom Crete, and brought her name with her ; she is the Earth, but only in this limited sense, as ' Grain-Mother.'

To the modern mind it is surprising to find the processes o agriculture conducted in the main by women, arid mirroring them- selves in the figures of women-goddesses. But in days when man was mainly concerned with hunting and fighting it was natural enough that agriculture and the ritual attendant on it should fall to the women. Moreover to this social necessity was added, and still is among many savage communities, a deep-seated element of super- stition. ' Primitive man,' Mr Payne 3 observes, ' refuses to interfere in agriculture; he thinks it magically dependent for success on woman, and connected with child-bearing.' ' When the women plant maize,' said the Indian to Gumilla, ' the stalk produces two or three ears. Why 1 Because women know how tojroduce children. They only know how to plant corn to ensure its germi- nating. Then let them plant it, they know mom than we know.' Such seems to have been the mind of the men of Athens who sent their wives and daughters to keep the Thesmophoria and work their charms and ensure fertility for crops and man.

It was mainly in connection with agriculture, it would seem, that the Earth-goddess developed her double form as Mother and Maid. The ancient ' Lady of the Wild Things ' is both in one or perhaps not consciously either, but at Eleusis the two figures are clearly outlined ; Demeter and Kore are two persons though^? one god. They take shape very charmingly in the design in fig. 66, from an early red-figured skyphos 4 , foand at Eleusis. To the left Demeter stands, holding in her left hand her sceptre, while with her right she gives the corn-ears to her nursling,

1 Etym. Mag. s.v. Arju sub fin.: Jj AT/W, wapa ras drjds" otiru - t 'ap 8rjai TrpoaayopeiJ- OVTO.I. virb KpifjT&v at Kpidai.

2 Horn. II. n. 528 feidupos apovpa.

3 History of the New World, vol. n. p. 7. . i .:<

4 0. Kubensobn, ' Eleusiniscbe Beitrage,' A. Mitth. 1899, pi. VH.


Demeter and Kore


Triptolemos, who holds his 'crooked plough.' Behind is Kore, the maiden, with her simple chiton for dress, and her long flowing


hair, and the torches she holds as Queen of the underworld. Mother and Maid in this picture are clearly distinguished, but not infre- quently, when both appear together, it is impossible to say which is which.


The relation of these early matriarchal, husbandless goddesses, whether Mother or Maid, to the male figures that accompany them is one altogether noble and womanly, though perhaps not what the modern mind holds to be feminine. It seems to halt some- where half-way between Mother and Lover, with a touch of the patron saint. Aloof from achievement themselves, they choose a local hero for their own to inspire and protect. They ask of him, not that he should love or adore, but that he should do great deeds. Hera has Jason, Athene Perseus, Herakles and Theseus, Demeter and Kore Triptolemos. And as their glory is in the hero's high deeds, so their grace is his guerdon. With the coming of patriarchal conditions this high companionship ends. The women goddesses are sequestered to a servile domesticity, they become abject and amorous.

H .


274 The Making of a Goddess [OH.

It is important to note that primarily the two forms of the Earth or Corn-goddess are not Mother and Daughter, but Mother and Maiden, Demeter and Kore. They are, in fact, merely the older and younger form of the same person, hence their easy con- fusion. The figures of the Mother and Daughter are mythological rather than theological, i.e. they arise from the story-telling instinct :

' Demeter of the beauteous hair, goddess divine, I sing, She and the slender-ancled maid, her daughter, whom the king Aidoneus seized, by Zeus' decree. He found her, as she played Far from her mother's side, who reaps the corn with golden blade 1 .'

The corn is reaped and the earth desolate in winter-time. Aetiology is ready with a human love-story. The maiden, the young fruit of the earth, was caught by a lover, kept for a season, and in the spring-time returns to her mother ; the mother is com- forted, and the earth blossoms again 2 :

'Thus she spake, and then did Demeter the garlanded yield And straightway let spring up the fruit of the loamy field. And all the breadth of the earth, with leaves and blossoming things Was heavy. Then she went forth to the law-delivering kings And taught them, Triptolemos first.'

Mythology might work its will, but primitive art never clearly distinguished between the Mother and the Maid, never lost hold of the truth that they were one goddess. On the Boeotian plate 3 in fig. 67 is figured the Corn-goddess, but whether as Mother or Maid it is difficult, I incline to think impossible, to decide. She is a great goddess, enthroned and heavily draped, wearing a high polos on her head. She holds ears of corn, a pomegranate, a torch ; before her is an omphalos-like altar, on it what looks like a pome- granate is she Demeter or Persephone ? I incline to think she is both in one ; the artist has not differentiated her.

1 Horn. Hymn, ad Cer. 1.

2 Horn. Hymn, ad Cer. 470. The elaborate aetiology of the whole Homeric Hymn to Demeter has been fully examined and explained by Mr F. B. Jevons in his Introduction to the Histoi-y of Religion, ch. xxm. and Appendix.

3 Athens Nat. Mus. 484. Fig. 67 is reproduced from a photograph kindly sent me by Prof. Sam. Wide. For further particulars of this class of vases I must refer to Prof. Wide's article 'Bine lokale Gattung Boiotischer Gefasse,' A. Mitt. xxvi. 1901, p. 143. Prof. Wide makes the interesting suggestion that the bird in the field is a bird-soul and points out that merely decorative 'Fiillfiguren' do not occur on this class of vases. This interpretation seems to me highly probable, but till further evidence emerges, I hesitate to adopt it as certain.


Demeter and Kore


The dead, according to Plutarch's 1 statement, were called by the Athenians ' Demeter's people.' The ancient ' Lady of the Wild

FIG. 67.

Things/ with her guardian lions, keeps ward over the dead in the tombs of Asia Minor, and every grave became her sanctuary. But ^in_Greece proper, a,nd especially at Eleusis, where the Mother and the Maid take mythological, differentiated form as Demeter and her daughter Persephone, their individual functions tend more and more to specialize. Demeter becomes more and more agricultural, more arid more the actual corn. As Plutarch 2 observes with full consciousness of the anomalous blend of the human and the physical a poet can say of the reapers :

'What time men shear to earth Demeter's limbs.'

.The Mother takes the physical side, the Daughter the spiritual the Mother is more and more of the upper air, the Daughter of the underworld.

Demeter as Thesmophoros has for her sphere more and more the things of this life, laws and civilized marriage ; she grows more and more human and kindly, goes more and more

1 Plut. de fac. in orb. lun. xxvm.

2 ^Plut. de Is. et Osir. LXVI. 71-0077775 5<? TIS eirl rCov Ocpiftvruv '


6r atfrol


276 The Making of a Goddess [CH.

over to the humane Olympians, till in the Homeric Hymn she, the Earth-Mother, is an actual denizen of Olympus. The Daughter, at first but the young form of the mother, is in maiden fashion sequestered, even a little farouche ; she withdraws herself more and more to the kingdom of the spirit, the things below and beyond :

'She waits for each and other, She waits for all men born, Forgets the earth her mother, The life of fruits and corn. And spring and seed and swallow Take wing for her and follow Where summer song rings hollow And flowers are put to scorn.'

And in that kingdom aloof her figure waxes as the figure of the Mother wanes :

' daughter of earth, my mother, her crown and blossom of birth, I am also I also thy brother, I go as I came unto earth.'

She passes to a place unknown of the Olympians, her kingdom is not of this world.

' Thou art more than the Gods, who number the days of our temporal breath, For these give labour and slumber, but thou, Proserpina, Death.'

All this is matter of late development. At first we have merely the figures of the Two Goddesses, the Two Thesmophoroi, the Two Despoinae. Demeter at Hermione is Chthonia, in Arcadia 1 she is at once Erinys and Lousia. But it is not sur- prising that, as will later be seen, a religion like Orphism, which concerned itself with the abnegation of this world and the life of the soul hereafter, laid hold rather of the figure of the underworld Kore, and left the prosperous, genial Corn-Mother to make her way alone into Olympus.


In discussing the Boeotian plate (fig. 67), it has been seen that it is not easy always to distinguish in art the figures of the Mother and the Maid. A like difficulty attends the interpretation of the series of curious representations of the earth-goddess now to be considered (figs. 6872).

i P. vm. 25. 47.


The Anodos of the Maiden


We begin with the vase-painting in fig. 68, where happily an inscription makes the interpretation certain. The design is from a red-figured krater, now in the Albertinum Museum at Dresden 1 . To the right is a conventional earth-mound (%w//,a 7779). In front

FIG. 68.

of it stands Hermes. He holds not his kerykeion, but a rude forked rhabdos. It was with the rhabdos, it will be remembered (p. 44), that he summoned the souls from the gr&ve-pithos. Here, too, he is present as Psychagogos ; he has come to summon an earth-spirit, nay more, the Earth-goddess herself. Out of the artificial mound, which symbolizes the earth itself, rises the figure of a woman. At first sight we might be inclined to call her Ge, the T&SiYth-Mother, but the figure is slight and maidenly, and over her happily is written (Phe)rophatta. It is the Anodos of Kore the coming of the goddess is greeted by an ecstatic dance of goat-

1 Jahrbuch d. Inst. Anz. 1893, p. 166.


The Making of a Goddess


horned Panes. They are not Satyrs : these, as will later be seen (p. 380), are horse demons. By the early middle of the 5th century B.C., the date of this red-figured vase, the worship of the Arcadian Pan was well-established at Athens, and the goat-men, the Paries, became the fashionable and fitting attendants of the Earth-Maiden. The inscriptions above their heads can, -unfortu- nately, not be read.

A vase of much later date (fig. 69) shows us substantially the

FIG. 69.

same scene. The design is from a red-figured krater 1 in the Berlin Antiquarium. The goddess again rises from an artificial mound decorated with sprays of foliage. The attendant figures are different. A goat-legged Pan leans eagerly over the mound, but Dionysos himself, with his thyrsos, sits quietly waiting the Anodos, and with him are his real attendants, the horse-tailed Satyrs. In the left-hand corner a little winged Love-god plays on the double flutes. The rising goddess is not inscribed, and she is

1 Berl. Cat. 2646. Mon. d. Inst. xn. tav. iv. This vase with others of the same type is explained by Dr Robert, Archaologlsche Mahrchen, p. 196, as the rising of a Spring-Nymph, but the inscribed Berlin vase was not known to him, see also 'Delphika,' J.H.S. xix. 1899, p. 232.


The Anodos of the Maiden


best left unnamed. She is an Earth-goddess, but the presence of Dionysos makes us suspect that there is some reminiscence of Semele (p. 407). The presence of the Love-god points, as will be explained later (Chap, xu.), to the influence of Orphism.

M.ore curious, more instructive, but harder completely to explain, is the design in fig. 70, from a black-figured lekythos in

FIG. 70.

the Bibliotheque Nationale 1 at Paris.. The colossal head and lifted hands of a woman are rising out of the earth. This time there is no artificial mound, the scene takes place in a temple or sanctuary, indicated by the two bounding columns. Two men, not Satyrs, are present, and this time not as idle spectators. Both are armed with great mallets or hammers, and one of them strikes the head of the rising woman.

Some possible light is thrown on this difficult vase by the con- sideration of two others. First we have two designs from the obverse and reverse of an amphora 2 , shown together in fig. 71.

1 Cat. 298. Milliet et Giraudon, PL LII. B, discussed by Prof. Furtwangler, Jahrbuch d. Inst. 1891, p. 113, and Prof. Gardner, J.H.S. xxi. 1901, p. 5, and J. E. Harrison, ' Delphika,' J.H.S. xix. 1899, p. 232.

2 Vasi dipinti del Museo Vivenzio designati di C. Angelini nel MDCCXCVI. Illustrate di G. Patroni 1900, Tav. xxix. All the plates of this publication are of course reproduced from very old drawings and are quite untrustworthy as regards style. The vase under discussion is now lost, so that the original cannot be compared. Sig. Patroni thinks the drawing is authentic. I reproduce it partly because the subject is not wholly explicable, partly in the hope that by making it more widely known, I may lead to the rediscovery of the vase, which may be in some private collection. '


The Making of a Goddess


On the obverse to the left we have a scene fairly familiar, a goddess rising from the ground, watched by a youth, who holds in his hand some sort of implement, either a pick or a hammer.

FIG. 71.

The meaning of the reverse design is conjectural. A man, short of stature and almost deformed in appearance, looks at a curious and problematic figure, half woman and half vase, set on a quadrangular basis. Before it, if the drawing be correct, is a spiked crown ; round about, in the field, a number of rosettes. A design so problematic is not likely to be a forgery. Before its meaning is conjectured, another vase, whose interpretation is perfectly clear and certain, remains to be considered. Its meaning may serve to elucidate the others.

The design in fig. 72 is from a red-figured amphora 1 of the finest period, in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford. At a first glance, when we see the splendid figure rising from the ground with outstretched arms, the man with the hammer and Hermes attendant, we think that we have the familiar scene of the rising of Kore or Ge. As such, had no inscriptions existed, the design would certainly have been interpreted. But, as it happens, each figure is carefully inscribed. To the left Zeus, next to him Hermes, next Epimetheus, and last, not Ge or Kore, but Pandora. Over Pandora, to greet her uprising, hovers a Love-god with a fillet in his outstretched hands.

1 Prof. Percy Gardner, A new Pandora Vase,' J.H.S. xxi. 1901, Plate 1.


The Anodos of the Maiden


Pandora rises from the earth ; she is the Earth, giver of all gifts. This is made doubly sure by another representation of her birth or rather her making. On the well-known Bale-cylix of the

FIG. 72.

British Museum 1 Pandora, half statue half woman, has just been modelled by Hephaistos, and Athene is in the act of decking her. Pandora she certainly is, but against her is written her other name (A)nesidora 2 , ' she who sends up gifts.' Pandora is a form or title of the Earth-goddess in the Kore form, entirely humanized and vividly personified by mythology.

In the light of this substantial identity of Pandora and the Earth-Kore, it is possible perhaps to offer an explanation of the

1 Brit. Mus. Cat. D 4. White Athenian Vases, Plate 19. Myth, and Mon. of Anc. Athens, p. 450, fig. 60.

2 The worship of Ge as Anesidora at Phlya will be later discussed, Chap. xn.

282 The Making of a Goddess [CH.

problematic vase in fig. 71. Have we not on obverse and reverse a juxtaposition of the two scenes, the Rise of Kore, the Making of Pandora ? On this showing the short deformed man would be Hephaistos, and Pandora, half woman half vase, may be conceived as issuing from her once famous pithos.

The contaminatio of the myths of the Making of Pandora and the Anodos of Kore may explain also another difficulty. In the making and moulding of Pandora, Hephaistos the craftsman uses his characteristic implement, the hammer 1 . This hammer he also uses to break open the head of Zeus, in representations of the birth of Athene (p. 366). On vases with the Anodos of Kore the Satyrs or Panes carry and use sometimes an ordinary pick, sometimes a hammer, like the hammer of Hephaistos. The pick is the natural implement for breaking clods of earth, the spade appears to have been unknown before the iron age the hammers have always presented a difficulty. May they not have arisen in connection with the myth of the making of Pandora, and then, by confusion, passed to the Anodos of Kore ?

Finally, returning to the difficult design in fig. 70, 1 would offer another suggestion. The fact that the scene takes place in a sanctuary seems to me to indicate that we have here a representa- tion of some sort of mimetic ritual. The Anodos of Kore was, as has already been seen (p. 131), dramatized at certain festivals; exactly how we do not know. At the festival of the Charila (p. 107) a puppet dressed as a girl was brought out, beaten, and ultimately hanged in a chasm. Is it not possible that at some festival of the Earth-goddess there was a mimetic enactment of the Anodos, that the earth or some artificially-formed chasm was broken open by picks, and that a puppet or a real woman emerged. It is more likely, I think, that the vase-painter had some such scene in his mind than that the Satyrs with their picks or hammers represent the storm and lightning from heaven beating on the earth to subdue it and compel its fertility 2 . At Megara,

1 A lost play of Sophocles was Called Havddpa rj S0v/>o/c67roi. The <y<pvpa though characteristic of Hephaistos the craftsman was used by agriculturists. Trygaeus in the Pax (v. 566) remembers that his <?(f>vpa waits at home glittering and ready, see J.H.S. xx. 1900, p. 107.

2 Prof. Furtwangler, Jahrbuch d. Inst. 1891, pp. 117 and 124, 'Bin uraltes mythisches Symbol fiir die Blitze sind aber Hammer und Beil. Sie sind es...die mit machtigen Gewittern den Kopf der grossen Mutter Erde schlagen und hammern bis sie erwacht und erweicht.'

vi] Pandora 283

near the Prytaneion, Pausanias 1 saw 'a rock which was called Anaklethra 2 , "Calling Up," because Demeter, if anyone like to believe it, when she was wandering in search of her daughter, called her up there.' He adds, ' the women of Megara to this day perform rites that are analogous to the legend told.' Unhappily he does not tell us what these rites were. Lucian devotes a half-\ serious treatise to discussing the scope and merits of pantomimic dancing, Xenophon 3 in his Banquet lets us see that educated guests after dinner preferred the acting of a myth to the tumbling of a dancing girl, but the actual ritual pantomime of the ancients is to us a sealed book. Of one thing we may be sure, that the ' things done ' (^pw^eva) of ritual helped to intensify mythological impersonation as much as, or perhaps more than, the 'things/ spoken' (eirr)) of the poet.


r To the primitive matriarchal Greek Pandora was then a real goddess, in form and name, of the Earth, and men did sacrifice to her. By the time of Aristophanes 4 she had become a misty figure, her ritual archaic matter for the oracles of ' Bakis.' The

prophet instructing Peisthetairos reads from his script : v

'First to Pandora sacrifice a white-fleeced ram.'

The scholiast gives the correct and canonical interpretation ' to Pandora, the earth, because she bestows all things necessary for life.' By his time, and long before, explanation was necessary. Hipponax 5 knew of her ; Athenaeus, in his discussion of cabbages, quotes from memory the mysterious lines :

'He grovelled, worshipping the seven-leaved cabbage To which Pandora sacrificed a cake At the Thargelia for a pharmakos.'

The passage, though obscure, is of interest because it connects Pandora the Earth-goddess with the Thargelia, the festival of the

1 P. I. 43. 2...eoi/c6ra d T \6ytp bpuxriv es fyuas TI ai

2 The Etymologicon Magnum has the form 'AvaK\7)6pls.

3 Xen. Symp. vn. 5. I have elsewhere (Myth, and Mon. of Anc. Athens, p. cxvii) discussed the possible influence of such mimetic presentations on the fixed mytho- logical types of vase-paintings. Dr Frazer (Golden Bough, 2nd ed. vol. in. p. 165) makes the interesting suggestion that in sacred dramas may be found a possible meeting-ground between Euhemerists and their opponents.

4 Ar. Av. 971, schol. ad loc. 5 Frg. Hippon. ap. Athen. ix. 370.

284 The Making of a Goddess [CH.

first-fruits of the Earth. Effaced in popular ritual she emerges in private superstition. Philostratos 1 , in his Life of Apollonius, tells how a certain man, in need of money to dower his daughter, 'sacrificed' to Earth for treasure, and Apollonius, to whom he confided his desire, said, 'Earth and I will help you,' and he prayed to Pandora, sought in a garden, and found the desired treasure.

Pandora is in ritual and matriarchal theology the earth as Kore, but in the patriarchal mythology of Hesiod her great figure is strangely changed and minished. She is no longer Earth-born, but the creature, the handiwork of Olympian Zeus. On a late, red-figured krater in the British Museum 2 , obviously inspired by Hesiod, we have the scene of her birth. She no longer rises half- way from the ground, but stands stiff and erect in the midst of the Olympians. Zeus is there seated with sceptre and thunderbolt, Poseidon is there, Iris and Hermes and Ares and Hera, and Athene about to crown the new-born maiden. Earth is all but forgotten, and yet so haunting is tradition that, in a lower row, beneath the Olympians, a chorus of men, disguised as goat-horned Panes, still dance their welcome. It is a singular reminiscence, and, save as ^ survival, wholly irrelevant.

Hesiod loves the story of the Making of Pandora : he has shaped it to his own bourgeois, pessimistic ends ; he tells it twice. Once in the Theogony 3 , and here the new-born maiden has no name, she is just a ' beautiful evil,' a ' crafty snare ' to mortals. But in the Works and Days 4 he dares to name her and yet with infinite skill to wrest her glory into shame :

'He spake, and they did the will of Zeus, son of Kronos, the Lord, For straightway the Halting One, the Famous, at his word Took clay and moulded an image, in form of a maiden fair, And Athene, the gray-eyed goddess girt her and decked her hair. And about her the Graces divine and our Lady Persuasion set Bracelets of gold on her flesh ; and about her others yet, The Hours with their beautiful hair, twined wreaths of blossoms of spring, While Pallas Athene still ordered her decking in everything. Then put the Argus-slayer^ the marshal of souls to their place, Tricks and flattering words in her bosom and thievish ways.

1 Philostr. Vit. Apoll. xxxix. 275.

2 Brit. Mus. Cat. E 467. J.H.S. xi. pi. 11 and 12, p. 278, and Eoscher, Lex. s.v. Pandora, fig. 2.

3 Hes. Theog. 570, trans. Mr D. S. MacColl.

4 Hes. Op. 69 ff.

vi] Pandora 285

He wrought by the will of Zeus, the Loud-thundering giving her voice, Spokesman of gods that he is, and for name of her this was his choice, PANDORA, because in Olympus the gods joined together then And all of them gave her, a gift, a sorrow, to covetous men.'

Through all the magic of a poet, caught and enchanted himself by the vision of a lovely woman, there gleams the ugly malice of theological animus. Zeus the Father will have no great Earth- goddess, Mother and Maid in one, in his man-fashioned Olympus, but her figure is from the beginning, so he re-makes it ; woman, who was the inspirer, becomes the temptress ; she who made all things, gods and mortals alike, is become their plaything, their slave, dowered only with physical beauty, and with a slave's tricks and blandishments. To Zeus, the archpatriarchal bourgeois, the birth of the first woman is but a huge Olympian jest 1 :

' He spake and the Sire of men and of gods immortal laughed. 5

Such myths are a necessary outcome of the shift from matri- archy to patriarchy, and the shift itself, spite of a seeming retrogression, is a necessary stage in a real advance. Matriarchy gave to women a false because a magical prestige. With patri- archy came inevitably the facing of a real fact, the fact of the greater natural weakness of women. Man the stronger, when he outgrew his belief in the magical potency of woman, pro- ceeded by a pardonable practical logic to despise and enslave her as the weaker. The future held indeed a time when the non- natural, mystical truth came to be apprehended, that the stronger had a need, real and imperative, of the weaker. Physically nature had from the outset compelled a certain recognition of this truth, but that the physical was a sacrament of the spiritual was a hard saying, and its understanding was not granted to the Greek, save here and there where a flicker of the truth gleamed and went through the vision of philosopher or poet.

So the great figure of the Earth-goddess, Pandora, suffered eclipse : she sank to be a beautiful, curious woman ; she opened her great grave-pYAos 2 , she that was Mother of Life ; the Keres fluttered forth, bringing death and disease ; only Hope remained. Strangely enough, when the great figure of the Earth-Mother re-emerges, she re-emerges, it will later be seen, as Aphrodite.

1 Hes. Op. 59. 2 For the origin of the pithos see J.H.S. xx. 1900, p. 99.

286 The Making of a Goddess [CH.


So far we have seen that a goddess, to the primitive Greek, took twofold form, and this twofold form, shifting and easily interchangeable, is seen to resolve itself very simply into the two stages of a woman's life, as Maiden and Mother. But Greek religion has besides the twofold Mother and Maiden a number of triple forms, Women-Trinities, which at first sight are not so readily explicable. We find not only three Gorgons and three Graiae, but three Semnae, three Moirae, three Charites, three Horae, three Agraulids, and, as a multiple of three, nine Muses.

First it should be noted that the trinity-form is confined to the women goddesses. Greek religion had in Zeus and Apollo the figures of the father and the son, but of a male trinity we find no trace. Zeus and Apollo, incomers from the North, stand alone in this matter of relationship. We do not find the fatherhood of Poseidon emphasized, nor the sonship of Hermes ; there is no wide and universal development of the father and the son as there was of the Mother and the Maiden. Dualities and trinities alike seem to be characteristic of the old matriarchal goddesses.

Evidence is not lacking that the trinity-form grew out of the duality. Plutarch 1 notes as one of the puzzling things at Delphi which required looking into, that two Moirae were worshipped there, whereas everywhere else three were canonical. It has already been seen (p. 242) that the number of the Semnae varied between two and three, and that, as three was the ultimate canonical number, we might fairly suppose the number two to have been the earlier. It is the same with the Charites. Pausanias 2 was told in Boeotia that Eteocles not only was ' the first who sacrificed to the Charites,' but, further, he ' instituted three Charites.' The names Eteocles gave to his three Charites the Boeotians did not remember. This is unfortunate, as Orchomenos was the most ancient seat of the worship of the Charites ; their images there were natural stones that fell to Eteocles from heaven. Pausanias goes on to note that 'among the Lacedaemonians two Charites only were worshipped; their names were Kleta and Phaenna. The Athenians also from ancient days worshipped two Charites, by

1 Plut. de Ei ap. Delph. n. 1. 2 P. ix. 35. 1.

vi] The Maiden-Trinities 287

name Auxo and Hegemone.' Later it appears they fell in with the prevailing fashion, for ' in front of the entrance to the Acropolis there were set up the images of three Charites.' The ancient Charites at Orchomenos, at Sparta, at Athens, were two, and it may be conjectured that they took form as the Mother and the Maid.

The three daughters of Cecrops 1 are by the time of Euripides 'maidens threefold'; the three daughters of Erechtheus 2 , who are but their later doubles, are a ' triple yoke of maidens,' and yet in the case of the daughters of Cecrops there is ample evidence 3 that originally they were two, and these two probably a mother and a maid. Aglauros and Pandrosos are definite personalities ; they had regular precincts and shrines, known in historical times, Aglauros on the north slope of the Acropolis 4 , where the maidens danced, Pandrosos to the west of the Erechtheion 5 . But of a shrine, precinct, or sanctuary of Herse we have no notice. Ovid 6 probably felt the difficulty ; he lodges Herse in a chamber midway between Aglauros and Pandrosos. The women of Athens swore by Aglauros and more rarely by Pandrosos 7 . Aglauros, by whom they swore most frequently, and who gave her name to the Agraulids, was probably the earlier and mother-form. Herse was no good even to swear by ; she is the mere senseless etymological eponym of the festival of the Hersephoria, a third sister added to make up the canonical triad. The Hersephoria out of which she is made was not in her honour ; it was celebrated to Athene, to Pandrosos, to Ge, to Themis, to Eileithyia.

The women trinities rose out of dualities, but not every duality became a trinity. Plutarch 8 , in discussing the origin of the nine Muses, notes that we have not three Demeters. or three Athenes, or three Artemises. He touches unconsciously on the reason why some dualities resisted the impulse to become trinities. Where personification had become complete, as in the case of Demeter and Kore, or of their doubles, Damia and Auxesia, no third figure could lightly be added. Where the divine pair were still in flux,

1 Eur. Ion 496. 2 Eur. Erech. frg. v. 3.

3 I have collected and discussed this evidence in 'Mythological Studies,' J.H.S., vol. xn. 1891, p. 350.

4 P. i. 18. 2. s p. T . 26. 6. 6 Ov. Met. u. 759.

7 Schol. ad Ar. Thesm. 533 Kara yap r^s 'AypatXov tipwov Kara 5e TTJS Uavdpocrov (nraviurepov.

8 Plut. Quaest. Symp. ix. 14. 2.

288 The Making of a Goddess [OH.

still called by merely adjectival titles that had not crystallized into proper names, a person more or less mattered little. Thus we have a trinity of Semnae, of Horae, of Moirae, but the Thesmo- phoroi, who as Thesmophoroi might have easily passed into a trinity, remain always, because of the clear outlines of Demeter and Kore, a duality.

When we ask what was the impulse to the formation of trinities, the answer is necessarily complex. Many strands seem to have gone to their weaving.

First, and perhaps foremost, in the ritual of the lower stratum, of the dead and of chthonic powers, three was, for some reason that escapes us, a sacred number 1 . The dead were thrice invoked; sacrifice was offered to them on the third day; the mourning in some parts of Greece lasted three days ; the court of the Areopagus, watched over by deities of the underworld, sat, as has been seen (p. 242), on three days ; at the three ways the threefold Hecate of the underworld was worshipped. It was easy and natural that threefold divinities should arise to keep ward over a ritual so consti- tuted. When the powers of the underworld came to preside over agriculture, the transition from two to three seasons would tend in the same direction. For two seasons a duality was enough the Mother for the fertile summer, the Maid for the sterile winter but, when the seasons became three, a trinity was needed, or at least would be welcomed.

Last, the influence of art must not be forgotten. A central figure of the mother, with her one daughter, composes ill. Archaic art loved heraldic groupings, and for these two daughters were essential. Such compositions as that on the Boeotian amphora in fig. 60 might easily suggest a trinity 2 .

Once the triple form established, it is noticeable that in Greek mythology the three figures are always regarded as maiden goddesses, not as mothers. They may have taken their rise in the

1 For three in the cultus of the dead, see Diels, Sibyllinische Blatter, p. 40. For a discussion of trinities other than of maiden goddesses, see Usener, 'Dreiheit' (Ehein. Mus. LVIII. pp. 1 47).

2 In this connection it may be worth noting that where the nature of the dual goddess prevents her taking a central place as in the case of Eileithyia she never merges into a trinity. There are often two Eileithyiai, e.g. one to either side of Zeus at the birth of Athene, but never three.


The Maiden-Trinities


Mother and the Maid, but the Mother falls utterly away. The Charites, the Moirae, the Horae, are all essentially maidens. The reverse is the case in Roman religion; trinities of women god- desses of fertility occur frequently in very late Roman art, but they are Matres, Mothers 1 . Three Mothers are rather heavy, and do not dance well.

In the archaic votive relief 2 in fig. 73 we have the earliest sculp- tured representation of the maiden trinity extant. Had the relief been uninscribed, we should have been at a loss how to name the three austere figures. Two carry fruits, and one a wreath. They might be Charites or Eumenides, or merely nymphs. Most happily the sculptor has left no doubt. He has written against them Kopas SOTWS, 'Sotias (dedi- cated) the Korai ' the * Mai- dens.' Sotias has massed the three stately figures very closely together ; he is rever- ently conscious that though they are three persons, yet they are but one goddess. He is half monotheist.

The same origin of the maiden trinity is clearly indicated in the relief 3 in fig. 74, found during the ' Enneakrounos ' excava- tions in the precinct of Dionysos, at Athens. The main field of the relief is occupied by two figures of Panes, with attendant goats; between them an altar. The Panes are twofold, not because they are father and son, but because there were two caves of Pan, and the god is thought of as dwelling in each. After the battle of Marathon the worship of Pan was established in the ancient dancing-ground of the Agraulids ; by the time of Euripides 4 , Pan is thought of as host and they as guests :

1 Eoscher, Lex. s.v. Matres, Matronae.

2 Frohner, Coll. Tyszkicwisk, PI. xvi. ; J.H.S. xix. p. 218, Fig. 3.

3 A. Mitt. 1896, p. 266, Taf. vm.

4 Eur. Ion 490, trans. Mr D. S. MacColl.




The Making of a Goddess


'0 seats of Pan and rock hard by To where the hollow Long Rocks lie, Where before Pallas' temple-bound Agraulos' daughters three go round Upon their grassy dancing-ground

To nimble reedy staves, When thou, Pan, art piping found Within thy shepherd caves.'

But Pan was a new-comer ; the Agraulids were there from the beginning, as early as Cecrops, their snake-tailed father. Busy

FIG. 74.

though he is with Pan, the new-comer, the artist cannot, may not forget the triple maidens. He figures them in the upper frieze, and in quaint fashion he hints that though three they are one. In the left-hand corner he sets the image of a threefold goddess, a Hecate 1 .

But, as time went on, the fact that the three were one is more

1 For the development of the type of Hecate in conjunction with the Charites, see Myth, and Mon. Anc. Athens, p. 373.


The Maiden-Trinities


and more forgotten. They become three single maidens, led by Hermes in the dance; by Hermes Charidotes, whose worship as the young male god of fertility, of flocks and herds, was so closely allied to that of the Charites.

There is no more frequent type of votive relief 1 than that of which an instance is given in fig. 75. The cave of Pan is the

FIG. 75.

scene, Pan himself is piping, and the three maidens, led by Hermes, dance. The cave, the artist knows, belonged in his days to Pan, but the ancient dwellers there, the Maidens, still bulk the largest. As a rule the reliefs are not inscribed, sometimes there is a dedica- tion 'to the Nymphs.' The personality of the Agraulids has become shadowy, they are merely Maidens or Brides.

The ancient threefold goddesses, as all-powerful Charites, paled before the Olympians, faded away into mere dancing attendant maidens ; but sometimes, in the myths told of these very- Olympians, it is possible to trace the reflection of the older potencies. A very curious instance is to be found in the familiar

1 In the Vienna Museum, found at Gallipoli, Arch. Epigr. Mitt. vol. i. Taf. 1. Prof. 0. Benndorf, ' Die Chariten des Sokrates,' Arch. Zeit. 1869.



The Making of a Goddess


story 1 of the 'Judgment of Paris/ a story whose development and decay are so instructive that it must be examined in some detail.


The myth in its current form is sufficiently patriarchal to please the taste of Olympian Zeus himself, trivial and even vulgar enough to make material for an ancient Satyr-play or a modern opera-bouffe.

1 Goddesses three to Ida came

Immortal strife to settle there Which was the fairest of the three,

And which the prize of beauty should wear.'

The bone of contention is a golden apple thrown by Eris at the marriage of Peleus and Thetis among the assembled gods. On it was written, ' Let the fair one take it/ or, according to some

FIG. 76.

authorities, ' The apple for the fair one 2 .' The three high god- desses betake them for judgment to the king's son, the shepherd Paris. The kernel of the myth is, according to this version, a , a beauty-contest.

1 The sources for the story are well collected in Eoscher's Lexicon, s.v. Paris, but the author of the article seems to have no suspicion of the real substratum of the myth.

2 Luc. dial. deor. 20 T/ KaX?? Xa/S^rw. Tzetzes ad Lycophr. 93 ry Ka\rj TO /J.T)\OV.


The l Judgment of Paris '


On one ancient vase, and on one only of all the dozens that remain, is the Judgment so figured. The design in fig. "76 is from a late red-figured krater in the Bibliotheque Nationale 1 . Paris, dressed as a Phrygian, is seated in the centre. Hermes is telling of his mission. Grouped around, the three goddesses prepare for the beauty-contest in characteristic fashion. Hera needs no aid, she orders her veil and gazes well satisfied in a mirror ; Aphrodite stretches out a lovely arm, and a Love-God fastens ' a bracelet of gold on her flesh ' ; and Athene, watched only by the great grave dog, goes to a little fountain shrine and, clean - hearted goddess as she is, lays aside her shield, tucks her gown about her, and has a good wash. Our hearts are with Oenone when she cries :

'"0 Paris,

Give it to Pallas!" but he heard me not, Or hearing would not hear me, woe is me ! '

It is noteworthy that even in this representation, obviously of a beauty-contest, the apple is absent.

It is quite true that now and again one of the goddesses holds in her hand a fruit. An instance is given in the charming design in fig. 77, from a red-figured stamnos in the British Museum 2 .

FIG. 77.

Fruit and flowers are held indifferently by one or all of the goddesses, and the reason will presently become clear. In the present case Hera holds a fruit, in fig. 81 the two last goddesses hold each a fruit. In fig. 77, against both Aphrodite and Hera, is inscribed KaX?;, 'Beautiful,' and before the blinding beauty of the goddesses Paris veils his face. The inscription

1 Cat. 422. Milliet et Giraudon, PI. 104.

2 B. M. Cat. E 289. J.H.S. vn. 1886, p. 9.


The Making of a Goddess


enables us to date the vase as belonging to the first half of the 5th cent. B.C.

Turning to black-figured vases, a good instance is given in fig. 78 from a patera 1 in the Museo Greco-Etrusco at Florence.

FIG. 78.

The three goddesses, bearing no apple and no attributes, the centre one only distinguished by the spots upon her cloak, follow Hermes into the presence of Paris. Paris starts away in manifest alarm. In the curious design 2 in fig. 79, Hermes actually seizes Paris by the wrist to compel his attendance. There is here clearly no question of voluptuous delight at the beauty of the goddesses. The three maiden figures are scrupulously alike ; each carries a wreath. Discrimination would be a hard task. The figures are placed closely together, as in the representation of the Maidens in fig. 73.

1 J.H.S. vii. 1888, p. 198, fig. 1.

2 J.H.S. vn. 1888, p. 203.


The ' Judgment of Paris '


Finally, in fig. 80, a design from a black-figured amphora 1 , we have the type most frequent of all ; Hermes leads the three

FIG. 79.

goddesses, but in the Judgment of Paris no figure of Paris is present. Without exaggeration it may be said that in three out of four representations of the ' Judgment ' in black-figured vase- paintings the protagonist is absent. The scene takes the form of a simple procession, Hermes leading the three goddesses.

This curious fact has escaped the attention of no archaeologist who has examined the art types of the ' Judgment.' It has been variously explained. At a time when vase-paintings were sup- posed to have had literary sources, it was usual to attempt a literary explanation. Attention was called to the fact that Proklos 2 , in his excerpts of the Kypria, noted that the goddesses, 'by command of Zeus were led to Ida by Hermes'; of this leading it was then supposed that the vase-paintings were ' illustrations.'

1 J.H.S. vii. 1888, p. 282.

2 Prod. Excerpt, at irpbs 'A\^avdpov iv "ISy Kara Ai6s Trpoffray^v i0' 'Ep/uou irpfa rty Kpia-iv dyovrai. See Schneider, Der troische Sagenkreis, p. 99, and Welcker, Ep. Kyklos ii. 88.


The Making of a Goddess


Such methods of interpretation are now discredited ; no one sup- poses that the illiterate vase-painter worked with the text of the Kypria before him. Art had its own traditions.

Another explanation, scarcely more happy, has been attempted. ' Archaic art,' we are told, ' loved processions.' Archaic art, concerned

FIG. 80.

to fill the space of a circular frieze surrounding a vase, did indeed ' love processions,' but not with a passion so fond and unreasonable, and it loved something else better, the lucid telling of a story. In depicting other myths, archaic art is not driven to express a story in the terms of an inappropriate procession ; it is indeed largely governed by traditional form, but not to the extent of tolerating needless obscurity. The 'Judgment' is a situation essentially stationary, with Paris for centre; Hermes is subordinate.

We are so used to the procession form that it requires a certain effort of the imagination to conceive of the myth embodied otherwise. But, if we shake ourselves loose of preconceived notions, surely the natural lucid way of depicting the myth would be something after this fashion : Paris in the centre, facing the successful Aphrodite,


The ' Judgment of Paris '


to whom he speaks or hands the apple or a crown ; behind him, to indicate neglect, the two defeated goddesses ; Hermes anywhere, to indicate the mandate of the gods. Such a form does indeed appear later, when the vase-painter thought for himself and shook himself free of the dominant tradition. The procession form, as we have it, was not made for the myth, it was merely adapted and taken over, and instantly the suggestion occurs, ' Did not the myth itself in some sense rise out of the already existing art form, an art form in which Paris had no place, in which the golden apple was not ? ' That form was the ancient type of Hermes leading the three Korai or Charites. In the design in fig. 80, the centre figure Athene is differentiated by her tall helmet and her aegis. Athene is the first of the goddesses to be differentiated and why ? She was not victorious, but the vase-painter is an Athenian, and he is concerned for the glory of 77 'AOrjvaia Koprj, the Maiden of Athens.

In the design in fig. 81, from a black-figured amphora in the Berlin Museum 1 , the three goddesses are all alike: the first holds

FIG. 81.

a flower, the two last fruits, all fitting emblems of the Charites. Hermes, their leader, carries a huge irrelevant sheep irrelevant for the herald of the gods on his way to Ida, significant for the leader of the Charites, the god of the increase of flocks and herds. Does the picture represent a ' Judgment,' or Hermes and the Charites ? Who knows ? The doubt is here, as often, more instruc- tive than certainty.

1 Berl. Cat. 2154. Endt, Beitrdge zur lonischen Vasenmalerei, p. 29, figs. 11, 12 and 13.

298 The Making of a Goddess [CH.

From vases alone it would be sufficiently evident, I think, that the 'Judgment of Paris' 1 is really based on Hermes and the Charites, but literary evidence confirms the view. The Kpicris, the Decision, of Paris is always as much a Choice as a Judgment ; a Choice somewhat like that invented for Heracles by the philosopher Prodicus, though at once more spontaneous and more subtle than that rather obvious effort at edification. The particular decision is associated in legend with the name of a special hero, of one particular 'young man moving to and fro alone, in an empty hut in the firelight 2 .' It is an anguish of hesitancy ending in a choice which precipitates the greatest tragedy of Greek legend. But before Paris was there the Choice was there. The exact elements of the Choice vary in different versions. Athene is sometimes Wisdom and sometimes War. But in general Hera is Royalty or Grandeur ; Athene is Prowess ; Aphrodite of course is Love. And what exactly has the 'young man ' to decide ? Which of the three is fairest ? Or whose gifts he desires the most ? It matters not at all, for both are different ways of saying the same thing. Late writers, Alexandrian and Roman, degrade the story into a beauty-contest between three thoroughly personal goddesses, vulgar in itself and complicated by bribery still more vulgar. But early versions scarcely distinguish the goddesses from the gifts they bring. There is no difference be- tween them except the difference of their gifts. They are Charites, Gift-bringers. They are their own gifts. Or, as the Greek put it, their gifts are their o-rjfjLeia, their tokens. And Hermes had led them long since, in varying forms, before the eyes of each and all of mankind. They might be conceived as undifferentiated, as mere Givers-of-Blessing in general. But it needed only a little reflection to see that Xa/n? often wars against Xa/n?, and that if one be chosen, others must be rejected 3 .

As gift-givers the same three goddesses again appear in the

1 The figure of Paris which does not here concern us came in with the popu- larity of the Homeric cycle, and the connection between the conflict of o-^/xeta and the Trojan war may probably have been due to the author of the Kypria.

2 Eur. Andr. 281.

3 Since the above was written I see that Eustathius ( 1665. 59) expressly states that Aphrodite strove with the Charites : eV0a epkrcu Trepi /cdXXovs rrjv re 'AQpodirriv KO.I ras Xdpirctj ah ovbfJMTO. Hacridty, Ka\i) Kai 'Eixfrpoo-tivr], rbv 5 diKaa-avra Kpivon Ka\i]v TT\V KaX^, rjv /ecu 777/4(11 rov "H0cu<rr(w. He goes on to say that Kale married Arachnos in Crete and that Arachnos fjuytvra avxeiv rfj ' AQpodirr] fjLtyrjvai.


The ' Judgment of Paris '


myth of the daughters of Pandareos, but this time they are not rivals ; and with them comes a fourth, Artemis, whose presence is significant. Homer tells the story by the mouth of Penelope 1 :

'Their father and their mother dear died by the gods' high doom, The maidens were left ophans alone within their home ; Fair Aphrodite gave them curds and honey of the bee And lovely wine, and Hera made them very fair to see, And wise beyond all women-folk. And holy Artemis Made them to wax in stature, and Athene for their bliss Taught them all glorious handiworks of woman's artifice.'

The maiden goddesses tend the maidens, but to Homer the Maiden above all others is Artemis, sister of Apollo, daughter of

FIG. 82.

Zeus 2 . He puts the story into the mouth of Penelope as part of a prayer to Artemis.

1 Horn. Od. xx. 67.

2 I follow Prof. Kidgeway (J.H.S. 1898, p. xxxiv) in holding that Artemis with her father Zeus and her brother Apollo are immigrants from the North, divinities of the Achaean stock. Hence their dominance in Homer.

300 The Making of a Goddess [CH.

It is curious and significant that the early vase-painter, in dealing with the story of the daughters of Pandareos, knows of three goddesses only. The design in fig. 82 is from the lid of a pyxis, of early black-figured style, in a private collection at Athens 1 . The vase- painter is concerned mainly with the story of the theft of the great golden dog of Crete. He makes the dog of supernatural size, with a splendid high-curled tail. Pandareos has stolen it, and the theft has been discovered by Hermes, who comes hurriedly up to seize the prize. Pandareos' 2 is just making off in eager haste. His two daughters, quaintly enveloped in one cloak to show their close relationship, stand by. Behind Hermes, with his huge kerykeion, come in familiar procession the three ancient maidens Aphrodite with a wreath, her hair arrayed in a quaint twisted pigtail ; Hera with a ram-headed sceptre ; Athene with a helmet nearly as big as herself. The goddesses have come a little proleptically ; Pandareos is still there, the maidens are not yet ' alone within their home,' but the vase-painter wants to tell all he knows, and, not being inspired by Homer, he is faithful to the old three goddesses. Artemis is nowhere 3 .

But, owing to the influence of Homer and the civilization he represented, the figure of Artemis waxes more and more dominant, and this especially by contrast with the Kore of the lower stratum, Aphrodite. In the Hippolytus of Euripides they are set face to face in their eternal enmity. The conflict is for the poet an issue of two moral ideals, but the human drama is played out against the shadowy background of an ancient racial theomachy, the passion of the South against the cold purity of the North.

Belonging as she does to this later Northern stratum, the figure of Artemis lies properly outside our province, but to one of the ancient maiden trinity, to Athene, she lent much of her cold, clean strength. An epigram 4 to her honour in the Anthology is

1 Published and discussed by M. P. Perdrizet, Bull, de Corr. Hell. 1898, p. 584.

2 Tradition variously ascribed the theft to Tantalos and Pandareos. Here the presence of the two daughters points to Pandareos as the offender. The sources for the myth of the theft in its various forms, which do not here immediately concern us, are collected in Eoscher's Lexicon, s.v. Pandareus, see also p. 226.

3 On only one vase representing the ' Judgment ' does Artemis so far as I know appear, viz. the very late amphora in the Naples Museum. (Heydemann, Cat. 2870.)

4 Anthol. Palat. vi. 280 ; the play on /c6/>a in the lines

ras re /c6/>as, Ai/j.vaTi Kbpq., /c6pa, ws

&v0TO Kal ra Kopav cannot be rendered in English.

vi] Athene 301

worth noting, because it shows, clearly and beautifully, how the maidenhood of the worshipper mirrors itself in the worship of a maiden, whether of the South or of the North :

' Maid of the Mere, Timarete here brings,

Before she weds, her cymbals, her dear ball

To thee a Maid, her maiden offerings,

Her snood, her maiden dolls, their clothes and all,

Hold, Leto's Child, above Timaretk

Thine hand, and keep her virginal like thee.'

It would be a lengthy though in some respects a profitable task to take each maiden form that the great matriarchal goddess assumed and examine it in turn, to enquire into the rise and development of each local Kore, of Dictynna, of Aphaia, of Callisto, of Hecate, of Bendis and the like. Instead it will be necessary to confine ourselves to the three great dominant Korai of the ' Judg- ment,' Hera, Athene and Aphrodite.


The doubt has probably long lurked in the reader's mind, whether two of the three, Hera and Aphrodite, have any claim to the title maiden. Happily in the case of Athene no such difficulty arises. She is the Parthenos, the maiden; her temple is the maiden-chamber, the Parthenon; natural . motherhood she stead- fastly refuses, she is the foster-mother of heroes after the old matriarchal fashion ; Ge, the real mother, bears Erichthonios, and Athene nurtures him to manhood ; she bears the like relationship to Herakles, she is the maiden of Herakles ( ( Hpa/c\eovs /copy *).

Moreover it has been frequently observed that the early form of her name Athenaia is purely adjectival 2 , she is the Athenian one, the Athenian Maid, Pallas, our Lady of Athens. Plato 3 in the Laws sees clearly that Athenaia is but the local Kore, the incarnation of Athens, though, after the fashion of his day, he inverts cause and effect ; he makes the worshipper in the image of the worshipped. Speaking of the armed Athene, he says, 'and methinks our Kore and Mistress who dwells among us, joying her

1 Dilthey, Arch. Zeit. 1873.

2 Pauly-Wissowa s.v. Athena, p. 1941, 50.

3 Plat. Legg. 796 ij 5e av TTOV wap' y/juv K6pij Kal 5tffiroii>a...a 8i) irdvTws fj.ifj.e'icrdat. irptirov av dy Kdpovs re afj.a Kal /c6/>as.

302 The Making of a Goddess [CH.

in the sport of dancing, was not minded to play with empty hands, but adorned her with her panoply, and thus accomplished her dance, and it is fitting that in this our youths and our maidens should imitate her.' It was she who imitated her youths and maidens, she who was the very incarnation of their life and being, dancing in armour as they danced, fighting when they fought, born of her father's head when they were reborn as the children of Reason and Light.

Athene's other name, Pallas, tells the same tale. If Athene is the Kore of the local clan of the Athenians, Pallas is the Kore of the clan of the Pallantidae, the foes of Athenian Theseus ; later their male eponym was Pallas 1 :

' Pallas had for lot

The southern land, rough Pallas, he who rears A brood of giants.'

The very name Pallas means, it would seem, like Kore, the maiden. Snidas in defining the word says, 'a great maiden, and it is an epithet of Athene.' More expressly Strabo 2 , in discussing the cults of Egyptian Thebes, says, ' To Zeus, whom they worship above all other divinities, a maiden of peculiar beauty and illus- trious family is dedicated ; such maidens the Greeks call Pallades? This local Pallas had for her dominion the ancient court of the Palladium ; her image as Pallas, not as Athene, was carried in pro- cession by the epheboi 3 ; but with the subjection of her clan her figure waned, effaced by that of Athenaia. Pallas became a mere adjectival praenomen to Athene, as Phoebus to Apollo. It may be conjectured that this ancient image of Pallas was resident on the Areopagos, home of the ancient Semnae, a place probably of sacred association to a local clan long before the dominance of the Acropolis ; it is by her name of Pallas that the Semnae 4 hail the

goddess :

' I welcome Pallas' fellowship.'

In such a matter a poet might well have been instinctively, though unconsciously, true to fact.

1 Soph. frg. ap. Strabo 392. That Pallas was the eponymous hero of the Pallantidae was first pointed out by Diincker, Hist, of Greece, vol. i. p. 113.

2 Strab. xvil. 46 816 Trapdevos teparcu as KaXovaiv ol "EXX^ves TraXXdSas : see A. Fick, Indogerm. Beitrdge 1896.

3 C.I. A. II. 470. 10 ffvve^riyayov 5e (oi ty-rjBoi) IlaXXdSa yuera TUV yevvr)T&v Kal iraXiv eiffyyayov fiera Traces eu/cocr/aias.

4 Aesch. Eum. 916.

vi] Athene 303

To tell the story of the making of Athene is to trace the history of the city of Athens, to trace perhaps, in so far as they can be severed, its political rather than its religious developement. At first the maiden of the elder stratum, she has to contend for supremacy with a god of that stratum, Poseidon. Poseidon, the late Mr R. A- Neil 1 has shown, was the god of the ancient aristocracy of Athens, an aristocracy based, as they claimed descent from Poseidon, on patriarchal conditions. The rising democracy not unnaturally revived the ancient figure of the Kore, but in reviving her they strangely altered her being and reft from her much of her beauty and reality. They made her a sexless thing, neither man nor woman ; she is laden with attributes like the Parthenos of Pheidias, charged with intended significance, but to the end she remains manufactured, unreal, and never convinces us. She is, in fact, the Tyche, the Fortune of the city, and the real object of the [/ worship of the citizens was not the goddess but the city herself, ' immortal mistress of a band of lovers 2 ' :

'The grace of the town that hath on it for crown But a head-band to wear Of violets one-hued with her hair,

For the vales and the green high places of earth hold nothing so fair And the depths of the sea know no such birth of the manifold births they bear,'

a city,

'Based on a crystalline sea Of thought and its eternity.'

Nowhere is this artificiality, this unreality of Athene as distinct from Athens so keenly felt as in the famous myth of her birth from the brain of Zeus. A poet may see its splendour :

'Her life as the lightning was flashed from the light of her Father's head,'

but it remains a desperate theological expedient to rid an earth- born Kore of her matriarchal conditions. The Homeric Hymn 3 writer surrounds the Birth with all the apparatus of impressive- ness, yet it never impresses; the goddess is manifestly to him Reason, Light and Liberty ; she is born at the rising of the Sun :

'Hyperion's bright son stayed His galloping steeds for a space.'

1 The Knights of Aristophanes, p. 83.

2 See Mr Gilbert Murray, Ancient Greek Literature, p. 178.

3 Horn. Hymn, xxvm., translated by Mr D. S. MacColl.


The Making of a Goddess


The event is of cosmic import :

' High Olympus reeled

At the wrath in the sea-grey eyes and Earth on every side Rang with a terrible cry, and the Deep was disquieted With a tumult of purple waves and outpouring of the tide Suddenly.

Fear takes hold of all the Immortals, and ' the Councillor Zeus is glad/ but the mortal reader remains cold. It is all an unreal, theatrical show, and through it all we feel and resent the theo- logical intent. We cannot love a goddess who on principle forgets the Earth from which she sprang ; always from the lips of the Lost Leader we hear the shameful denial 1 :

'There is no mother bore me for her child, I praise the Man in all things (save for marriage), Whole-hearted am I, strongly for the Father.'

Politics and literature turned the local Kore of Athens into a non-human, unreal abstraction. It is pleasant to find that the art of the simple conservative vase-painter remembered humbler beginnings. The design in fig. 83 is from a Corinthian alabastron in the Museum at Breslau 2 . In the centre of the design, Herakles is en- gaged in slaying a Hydra with an un- usually large number of heads. lolaos comes up from the right to engage some of the heads, .the charioteer of lolaos, Lapythos, waits in the chariot.

Fm. 83.

Throughout the design all the figures are carefully and legibly inscribed in early Corinthian letters, dating about the beginning of the 6th century B.C. ' Athena,' the Maiden of Herakles, has also come up (to the left) in her chariot to help her hero. Just behind her, perched on the goad, is a woman-headed bird. Had

1 Aesch* Eum. 736.

2 Rossbach, Griechische Antiken des arch. Museums in Breslau, Festgruss 40 d. Philologen (Gorlitz, 1889), Taf. i.

vi] Athene 305

there been no inscription we should at once have named it a ' decorative Siren/ but against the woman-headed bird is clearly written FoO?. At first sight the inscription does not seem to help much, but happily the lexicographers enable us to explain the word 1 . The Etymologicon Magnum tells us that by Trcovyye? are meant aWviai, and that another form of the word was ffovyyes. Hesychius merely states that the TTWVJ; is 'a kind of bird,' and refers us to Aristotle 2 ' On Animals.' Our text of Aristotle gives the form </>&>uf. It seems clear that the FoO? of the Corinthian vase is a variant form of a name given to the Diver-bird.

The inscriptions prove the vase to be Corinthian, and Corinth is not far remote from Megara. Pausanias 3 , in discussing the genealogies of Athenian kings, tells us that Pandion fled to Megara. There he fell sick and died, and by the sea in the territory of Megara is his tomb, on a cliff which is called the cliff of Athene Aithuia, i.e. Athene the Diver-bird. Bird myths haunt the family of Pandion : Procne, Philomela, Itys and Tereus 4 all turn into birds, and Tereus, the hoopoe, had a regular cult at his grave. There, they say, the hoopoe first appeared, and the story looks like a reminiscence of a bird soul seen haunting a grave. Lycophron knows of a maiden goddess, a Diver-bird ; he makes Cassandra in her prophetic madness foresee the outrage of Ajax and her own empty prayers 5 :

' In vain shall I invoke the Diver-Maid.'

Returning, with this evidence in our minds, to the woman- headed bird in fig. 83, the conclusion seems inevitable that we have in her an early local form of Athene. The vase-painter had advanced to an anthropomorphic conception of the goddess, so he draws her in full human form as Athene, but he is haunted by the remembrance of the Megarian Diver, Aithuia, so he adds her figure, half as the double of Athene (hence the parallelism of attitude), half as attendant, and calls her pofc. Athene on the

1 The meaning of the woman-headed bird and of her name was first seen by Dr Max Mayer, ' Mythhistorica,' Hermes xxxvii.

2 Ar. Hist. Anim. ix. 18, p. 617 a 9.

3 P. i. 5. 3 and i. 41. 6; see Dr Frazer ad loc. 4 P. i. 41. 9.

5 Lye. Ale. 359. In connection with Lycophron's account it is curious to find that in the earliest known representation of the rape of Cassandra in vase- paintings (J.H.S. 1884, PI. XL.) behind the figure of Athene stands a large human- headed bird, but this may be a mere coincidence.

H. 20


The Making of a Goddess


Acropolis had another attendant bird, the little owl that still at evening haunts the sacred hill and hoots among the ruins of the Parthenon. Whatever bird was locally abundant and remarkable would naturally attach itself to the goddess, and be at first her vehicle and later her attribute : at seaside Megara the diver, at Athens the owl. The vase-painter remembers Athens as well as Megara, and adds for completeness a little owl.

The design in fig. 84 is from a black-figured lekythos in a private collection in Sicily 1 . The scene represents Cassandra

FIG. 84.

flying from Ajax and taking refuge at the xoanon of Athene. To the left stands old King Priam, in helpless anguish. The notable point about the scene is that Athene, who, statue though she be, is apparently about to move to the rescue, has sent as her advance guard her sacred animal, a great snake. The snake is clearly regarded as the vehicle of the wrath of the goddess. Just such a snake did Chryse, another local Kore, send out against the intruder Philoctetes 2 , and the snake of Chryse, Sophocles ex- pressly tells us, was the secret guardian of the open-air shrine. This ' house-guarding snake/ we may conjecture, was the earliest form of every earth-born Kore. At Athens, in the chryselephantine statue of Pheidias, it crouched beneath the shield, and tradition said it was the earth-born hero Erichthonios, fostered by the god- dess. But almost certainly this guardian snake was primarily the

1 0. Benndorf, Griechische und Sicilische Vasenbilder, pi. 51. 1.

2 Soph. Phil. 1327.




guardian genius and fate of the city, before that genius or fate emerged to the status of godhead. When the Persians besieged the citadel, Herodotus 1 says, the guardian snake left the honey cake that was its monthly sacrificial food untouched, and, ' when the priestess told this, the Athenians the more readily and eagerly forsook their city, inasmuch as it seemed that the goddess had abandoned the citadel.'

The design in fig. 85 is from a late red-figured lekythos in the National Museum at Athens 2 . The scene represented is a

FIG. 85,

reminiscence of the Judgment of Paris, but one goddess only is present, Athene, and by her side, equal in height and majesty, a, great snake. The artist seems dimly conscious that the snake is somehow the double of Athene 3 . To the left is the figure of a woman, probably Helen; she seems to be imploring the little xoanon of Athene to be gracious. Eros is apparently drawing the attention of Paris away from Athene to Helen.

Athene, by the time she appears in art, has completely shed her animal form, has reduced the shapes she once wore of snake and bird to attributes, but occasionally in black-figured vase- paintings she still appears with wings. On the obverse of the

1 Herod, vin. 41.

2 Collignon et Couve, Gat. 1942. Jahrbuch d. Inst., Anzeiger, 1896, p. 36.

3 Since the above was written I learn that Mr Evans has discovered at Cnossos the figure of a goddess with a snake in either hand and a snake or snakes coiled about her head. She may prove to be the prototype of Athene, of the Erinys and of many another form of Earth-goddess.



The Making of a Goddess


black-figured cup 1 in fig. 86 the artist gives her wings : but for her helmet we might have called her an Erinys. In the Eumenides

FIG. 86.

of Aeschylus, a play in which Athene is specially concerned to slough off all traces of primitive origin, she lays suspicious emphasis on the fact that she can fly without wings 2 :

'With foot unwearied haste I without wings, Whirred onward by my aegis' swelling sail.'

On the reverse of the vase she is wingless : the artist has no clear conviction. The vase is instructive as showing how long the art type of a divinity might remain in flux.


The next of the three ' Maidens ' to be considered is Aphrodite. A doubt perhaps arises as to her claim to bear the name. Kore she is in her eternal radiant youth : Kore as virgin she is not. She

1 Coll. Faina. Rom. Mitt. 1897, xn. pi. 12. Another instance of a winged Athene occurs on the fine vase published by Mr A. de Bidder, Cat. Bibl. Nat. No. 269, p. 173, fig. 23. Athene flies over the sea carrying the dead body of a hero. Here she performs the office of Eos or of a Death-Siren or Harpy.

2 Aesch. Eum. 407.

vi] Aphrodite 309

is rather Nymphe the Bride, but she is the Bride of the old order ; she is never wife, never tolerates permanent patriarchal wedlock. In the lovely Homeric hymn it is clear that her will is for love, not marriage. Admitted to the patriarchal Olympus, an attempt foolish and futile is made to attach her to one husband, the craftsman Hephaistos, and, significantly enough, her other name as his bride is Charis 1 . She is the Charis of physical beauty incarnate.

In Homer it is evident that she is a new-comer to Olympus, barely tolerated, an alien, and always thankful to escape. Like the other alien, Ares, she is fain to be back in her own home. Her Homeric titles, Kypris and Kythereia, show that originally and locally she is goddess of the island South, never really at home in the cold austere North, where Artemis loved to dwell. She has about her too much of the physical joy of life ever to find an abiding home far from the sunshine.

Another note of her late coming into Greece proper is that she is in Homer a departmental goddess, having for her sphere one human passion. The earlier forms of divinities are of larger import, they tend to be gods of all work. When the fusion of tribes and the influence of literature conjointly bring together a number of local divinities, perforce, if they are to hold together, they divide func- tions and attributes, i.e. become departmental. Poseidon, who locally was Phytalmios, is narrowed down to the god of one element; Hermes, who at home had dominion over flocks and herds and all life and growth, becomes merely a herald.

Some such process of narrowing of functions has, we may suspect, gone on in the shaping of the figure of Aphrodite. It would be rash to assert that she was primarily an earth -goddess, but certain traits in her cult and character show clearly that she had analogies with the 'Lady of the Wild Things/ Fertile^ animals belong to her, especially the dove and the goat, the dove probably from very early days. In the Mycenaean shrine recently discovered by Mr Arthur Evans, one of the figures of goddesses, a quaint early figure with cylindrical body and upraised hands, bears on her head a dove. Such a figure, dating more than a thousand/ years B.C., may be the prototype of Aphrodite. About the cylindrical bodies of other similar figures snakes are coiled, as

1 II xvm. 382.


The Making of a Goddess


though to mark an earth-goddess. In those early days differentia- tion was not sharply marked, and as yet we dare not give to these early divinities Olympian names.

At Pompeii the excavations have recently brought to light the charming relief in fig. 87 J , a relief which from its style must date

FIG. 87.

about the turn of the oth and 4th centuries B.C. A goddess is seated Demeter-like upon the ground, and holds her sceptre as Queen. Worshippers approach, man and wife and children. The offerings they bring, a sheep and a dove, mark the goddess as Aphrodite.

The myth of her birth from the sea a myth which probably took its rise in part from a popular and dubious etymology seems, at first sight, to sever Aphrodite wholly from the company of the earth-born Korai. And yet, even here, when we come to examine the art-forms of the myth, it is at once manifest that the Sea-birth is but the Anodos adopted and adapted.

The design in fig. 88 is from a red-figured hydria 2 now in the museum of the Municipio at Genoa. It dates about the middle of the 5th century B.C. and is, so far as I know, the only instance of the birth of Aphrodite in a vase-painting. In the centre of the

1 From a photograph. The slab is now in the Museum at Naples.

2 E. Petersen, Rom. Mittheil. 1899, pi. vn. p. 154.




picture a goddess, clad only in a chiton, rises up from below, but whether from sea or land the vase-painter is apparently not concerned to express. Had he wished to utter his meaning

FIG. 88.

more precisely nothing would have been easier than to represent the sea by the curved lines that in his day were the con- ventional indication of waves. But he is silent and I think significantly. The goddess on the vase-painting is received by a slender winged Eros; she uplifts her hands to take the taenia with which he greets her. Eros is here grown to young manhood and his presence at once makes us think of Aphrodite; but we are bound to remember that on the Ashmolean amphora already discussed (fig. 72) it is the Anodos of Pandora, not of Aphrodite, that is greeted by the Love-god with a taenia. Moreover, it must also be remembered that on the Berlin krater (fig. 69) a Love-god greets the rising of an Earth-goddess, be she Ge or Kore or Semele 1 .

So far then all that can safely be said is that on the Genoa

1 Some further instances of the rising of an Earth-goddess greeted by Erotes will be discussed in Chapter xii., and see p. 570.

312 The Making of a Goddess [CH.

h} 7 dria we have the Anodos of a goddess greeted by Eros. But to the right of the picture, behind the rising goddess, stands another figure, a woman, and she holds out a piece of drapery with which she is about to clothe the rising goddess. This is a new element in the Anodos type and it is this element that inclines me, with certain reservations and qualifications, to call the goddess Aphrodite, though I am by no means sure that the vase-painter conceives her as rising from the sea.

On two occasions, according to ancient tradition, Aphrodite is received and decked by her women attendants, be they Charites or Horae, on her Birth from the Sea and after her sacred Bath in Paphos. Of the Bath we hear in the lay of Demodocus 1 . He tells how after the joy and terror of her marriage with Ares she uprose

'And fast away fled she,

Aphrodite, lover-of-laughter, to Cyprus over the sea, To the pleasant shores of Paphos and the incensed altar-stone, Where the Graces washed her body, and shed sweet balm thereon, Ambrosial balm that shineth on the Gods that wax not old, And wrapped her in lovely raiment, a wonder to behold.'

Of the bedecking at the Birth we learn in a Homeric Hymn 2 :

'For the West Wind breathed to Cyprus and lifted her tenderly And bore her down the billow and the stream of the sounding sea In a cup of delicate foam. And the Hours in wreaths of gold Uprose in joy as she came, and laid on her fold on fold Fragrant raiment immortal, and a crown on the deathless head.'

The two events, the ritual Bath and the Sea-birth, are not I think clearly distinguished, and both have somehow their counterpart in the making and decking of Pandora. The ritual bath 3 Aphrodite shared with the two other Korai, Athene and Hera. Callimachus devotes a Hymn to the ' Bath of Pallas.' Pallas in her austerity, even when she contends for the prize of beauty, rejects the mirror and gold ornaments and mingled unguents; but, because she is maiden goddess, year by year she must renew her virginity by the bath in the river Inachus. The renewal of virginity is no fancy. Pausanias 4 saw at Nauplia a

1 Horn. Od. vm. 270.

2 Horn. Hymn vi. 2, trans, by Mr Gilbert Murray.

3 At Sekyon, though we are not expressly told of a bath of Aphrodite, she had a maiden-priestess who was called Loutrophoros, see P. n. 10. 4. The Orphic Hymn to Aphrodite (LV. 19) joins together the notions of bath and birth: AlytirTov

iepys yov iyu,u>5ea \ovrpd.

4 P. n. 38. 2.

vi] Aphrodite 313

spring called Canathus and the Argives told him that every year Hera bathed in it and became a virgin. He adds significantly, 'this story is of the mysteries and is their explanation of a rite which they celebrate to Hera.' Virginity was to these ancients in their wisdom a grace not lost but perennially renewed, hence the immortal maidenhood of Aphrodite.

The artist of the Genoa hydria probably knew of the birth of Aphrodite from the sea, he certainly knew of her reception by Eros; but that he remembered also the ritual bath is, I think, clear from the fact that the scene is laid in a sanctuary, indicated in the vase-painter's fashion by the altar and sacred palm-tree standing to the right just below the handle. Probably the sanctuary at Paphos is intended.

The Genoa hydria is of great importance because it helps to the understanding of another monument, earlier and far more beautiful.

The design in fig. 89 is from a sculptured slab 1 , one of three that served to decorate the so-called 'Ludovisi Throne' now in the Boncompagni collection in the Museo delle Terme at Rome. Again we have manifestly an Anodos, again the like uncertainty as to who the goddess is and whence she uprises. The two women who support her, and to whom in her uprising she clings, stand on a sloping bank of shingle. Between the edges of the banks is no indication of the sea, simply a straight line. Is the goddess rising from earth or sea or sacred river or ritual bath ? Archaeologists offer explanations apparently the most diverse, and it is this doubt and diversity that instruct. One sees in the design the Birth of Aphrodite from the Sea, another a ceremonial Bath at

1 Eeproduced from a photograph. The relief is published and fully discussed by Dr Petersen, Rom. Mittheilungen, 1892, Taf. n. p. 32. The relief with two other slabs manifestly belonging to the same structure came to light on a Sunday during the summer of 1887, during the absence of the official inspector, in the piece of ground formerly belonging to the Villa Ludovisi and now bounded by the Vie Boncompagni, Abbruzzi e Piemonte. It is said to have been found in an upright position, but as no other monuments came to light, though the ground was examined to a depth of 50 metres, the reliefs were probably not in situ. Dr Petersen thinks they formed the three sides of a throne of Aphrodite. They may, however, have formed part of the decoration of the mouth of a well. That they were in some way connected with Aphrodite is practically certain from the design on the two other reliefs (not figured here). These represent respectively a nude woman playing on the double flutes, who, from the analogy of similar representations on vase-paintings, is certainly a hetaira, and a woman draped and veiled bringing incense who is probably a bride. The various interpretations and restorations of the monument are given by Dr Helbig, Fiihrer Rom n. p. 128, and Antike Denk- maler d. K. Arch. Inst. vol. n. PI. 6 and 7, p. 3.


The Making of a Goddess


the lesser mysteries of Agrae, another the Anodos of Kore. No one, so far as I am aware, sees that the artist is haunted by, is as

FIG. 89.

it were halting between, reminiscences of each and all. Or rather the Anodos, the Bath, the Birth are as yet undifferentiated. By their articulation and separation we have immeasurably lost.

One other point remains. On the Ludovisi relief we have no Eros. The relief is archaic. The straight folds of the drapery, the delicate over-long feet, the strong chin, the over-emphasis of the lovely breasts, all remind us vividly of red-figured vases of the severe style ; they belong to the last bloom of archaism just before the perfect utterance of Pheidias. Pheidias 1 on the pedestal of the image of Zeus at Olympia sculptured ' Eros receiving Aphro- dite as she rises from the sea and Peitho crowning Aphrodite/ Pheidias was much, perhaps over, inspired by Homeric tradition, hence a certain sense of literary chill in his conceptions. He forgets the ritual Bath, and remembers the mythological Birth. The artist of the Genoa hydria is very near to his tradition, but

1 P. v. 11. 8.

vi] Aphrodite 315

the drapery held by Peitho, the altar and the palm-tree, recall rather the Bath than the Birth. But the sculptor of the relief embodies a tradition more theological, less mythological, than either Pheidias or the vase-painter. He is inspired by the Anodos 1 and the Bath, which was but one of its ritual humanized forms, and a form that we may venture to call matriarchal. What he is concerned to show is the birth and re-birth of Aphrodite, Aphro- dite untouched of Eros, eternally virgin, central figure of a Trinity of Maidens and, as Ourania, She of the Heavens.

Aphrodite as island queen comes to have a birth from the sea, but a poet remembers that, though she is of the sea and of the air, she is of earth also :

'We have seen thee, Love, thou art fair, thou art goodly, Love, Thy wings make light in the air as the wings of a dove; Thy feet are as winds that divide the stream of the sea, Earth is thy covering to hide thee, the garment of thee. 3

Aphrodite the earth-born Kore is also sea-born, as became an island Queen, but more than any other goddess she becomes Ourania, the Heavenly One, and the vase-painter sets her sailing through heaven on her great swan 2 . She is the only goddess who in passing to the upper air yet kept life and reality. Artemis becomes unreal from sheer inhumanity ; Athene, as we have seen, becomes a cold abstraction ; Demeter, in Olympus, is but a lovely metaphor. As man advanced in knowledge and in control over nature, the mystery and the godhead of things natural faded into science. Only the mystery of life, and love that begets life, remained, intimately realized and utterly unexplained ; hence Aphrodite keeps her godhead to the end. For a while, owing to special social conditions, and, as will be seen, owing to the impulse of Orphism, her figure is effaced by that of her son Eros, but effaced only to re-emerge with a new dignity as Mother rather than Maid. In the image of Venus Genetrix 3 we have the

ii er/


1 Since the above was written I see that M. Joubin (La Sculpture Grecque entre les guerres mediques et Vepoque de Pericles, p. 204) has anticipated me in using the Genoa vase as evidence to show that the uprising woman in the Ludovisi relief is Aphrodite. But unfortunately M. Joubin fails to see that Aphrodite is also Kore ; he says, 'D'autres archeologues avaient identifie le personnage figure a mi-corps avec Kore ou Ge ; mais la decouverte du vase de Gnes coupe court toutes ces interpretations.' This is to my mind to miss the real religious significance of the figure ; but M. Joubin is, of course, mainly concerned with artistic criticism.

2 Brit. Mus. Cat. D 2. The best reproduction of this beautiful vase is plate xv. of White Athenian Vases in Brit. Mus. 3 Lucret. i. 1.

316 The Making of a Goddess [CH.

radiance of Aphrodite, but sobered somehow, grave with the hauntings of earlier godheads, with shadows about her cast by Ourania, by Harmonia, by Kourotrophos, by Eirene, by each and every various form of the ancient Mother of Earth and Heaven :

1 Of Rome the Mother, of men and gods the pleasure, Fostering Venus, under heaven's gliding signs Thou the ship-bearing sea, fruit-bearing land Still hauntest, since by thee each living thing Takes life and birth and sees the light of the sun.

Thee, goddess, the winds fly from, thee the clouds And thine approach ; for thee the daedal earth Sends up sweet flowers, the ocean levels smile, And heaven shines with floods of light appeased.

Thou, since alone thou rulest all the world Nor without thee can any living thing . Win to the shores of light and joy and love, Goddess, bid thou throughout the seas and land The works of furious war quieted cease. 3


The figure of Hera remains. At first sight she seems all wife, not maiden; she is the great typical bride, Hera Teleia, queen in Olympus by virtue of her marriage with Zeus; their Sacred Marriage is the prototype of all human wedlock. This is true for Homeric theology, but a moment's reflection on the facts of local cultus and myth shows that this marriage was not from the beginning. The Hera who in the ancient Argonautic legend is queen in Thessaly and patron of the hero Jason is of the old matriarchal type ; it is she, Pelasgian Hera, not Zeus, who is really dominant ; in fact Zeus, is practically non-existent. In Olympia, where Zeus in historical days ruled if anywhere supreme, the ancient Heraion where Hera was worshipped alone long predates the temple of Zeus. At Argos the early votive terra-cottas 1 are of a woman goddess, and the very name of the sanctuary, the Heraion, marks her supremacy. At Samos, at the curious festival of the Tonea 2 , it is the image of a woman goddess that is carried

1 As long ago as 1857, H. D. Miiller in his remarkable book Mythologie der Griechischen Stamme, pp. 249 255, saw that Zeus and Hera belonged to stocks racially distinct, and that in the compulsory marriage of Hera to Zeus is reflected the subjugation of a primitive race to Achaean invaders. In discussing the American excavations at Argos I followed his leading, see 'Primitive Hera- Worship,' Cl Review, Dec. 1892, p. 474, and 1893, p. 44.

2 Athen. 672.

vi] Hera 317

out of the town and bound among the bushes, and Strabo 1 tells us that in ancient days Samos was called Parthenia, the island of the Maiden. At Stymphalus, in remote Arcadia, Pausanias 2 says that Hera had three sanctuaries and three surnames : while yet a girl she was called Child, married to Zeus she was called Complete or Full-Grown (reXe/a), separated from Zeus and returned to Stymphalus she was called Chera (Widow). Long before her con- nection with Zeus, the matriarchal goddess may well have reflected the three stages of a woman's life ; Teleia, full-grown, does not necessarily imply patriarchal marriage.

Homer himself was dimly haunted by the memory of days when Hera was no wife, but Mistress in her own right. Otherwise, unless the poet was the lowest of low comedians, what means her ceaseless turbulence and the unending unseemly strife between the Father of Gods and Men and the woman he cannot even beat into submission ? What her urgent insistent tyranny over Herakles whom Zeus loves yet cannot protect ? Is the tyrannous mistress really made by the Greek housewife even of Homeric days in her own image ? The answer is clear : Hera has been forcibly married, but she is never really wife, and a wife's submis- sion she leaves to the shadowy double of Zeus, who echoed his nature and (significant fact) took his name, she who was the real Achaean patriarchal double Dione 3 .

Once fairly married, Zeus and Hera became Sharers of one Altar (o//,o/3&)7uot), and against the conjunction the older women divinities are but too often powerless. In the designs 4 in figs. 90 and 91 we have a curious instance of the ruthless fashion in which the Olympian pair extrude the objects of an ancient local cult. In fig. 90 we have a votive relief to the Nymphs of the familiar type: three maiden figures linked together. That the figures are Nymphs is certain, for above is the inscription, ' To the Mistress Nymphs (Kvpicus Nu/^at?).' The relief, one of a large

1 Strab. 637.

2 P. vin. 22. 2. The sources for the cult of Hera are well collected by Mr Farnell in his Cults of the Greek States, p. 211, but with Mr Farnell's main thesis ' that her association with Zeus is a primitive factor in the Greek worship of Hera ' I am still as he then notes (p. 199) completely at issue.

3 Again acutely observed by H. D. M uller, Mythologie d. Gr. Stamme, pp. 254, 255, where the identity of Dione and Juno is noted.

4 These reliefs are now in the Museum at Sofia : there were discovered in all ninety-two of the same type. Bull, de Corr. Hell. xxi. 1897, p. 130, fig. 12 ; p. 138, fig. 17.

318 The Making of a Goddess [CH.

series found together at Orochak and now in the local Museum

FIG. 90.

at Sofia, is of late Roman style. The design in fig. 91 shows a theological shift. The two dominant Olympians, of large

FIG. 91.

stature to mark their supremacy, occupy the forefront ; they hold each an expectant phiale for libations ; to them only is sacrifice to

vi] Superposition of the Olympians 319

be made. It is they who hold the sceptres. Humbly in the background, minished and all but effaced, are the three ancient Maidens. The local peasant is conservative 1 , and we may hope they too had their meed of offering.

The intrusion of Zeus 2 and Hera on the local cultus of the Nymphs brings to mind a story preserved by Diogenes Laertius 3 in his Life of Epimenides. Theopompus in his 'Wonderful Things ' told how when Epimenides was preparing the sanctuary of the Nymphs a voice was heard from heaven saying, ' Epimenides, not of the Nymphs, but of Zeus.' Perhaps Epimenides went further than the orthodox Olympian religion could tolerate in the matter of the revival of ancient cults. To him, as has been already seen (p. 241), was credited the founding of the sanctuary of the

FIG. 92.

Semnae ; he introduced ceremonies of purification brought from Crete, and wholly alien to Olympian ritual. It was time for Zeus to reassert himself.

1 The survival of the type of the ' Three Sisters ' in mediaeval days has been well traced by Miss Eckenstein, Woman under Monasticism, p. 40 ff.

2 Since the above was written Mr A. B. Cook has with great kindness and generosity allowed me to read in proof his article on ' Zeus, Jupiter and the Oak,' shortly to be published in the Classical Review. Mr Cook believes that the worship of Zeus was indigenous in Greece and that Zeus, Poseidon and Hades are three forms of one primaeval god. His contention is supported by an immense mass of evidence. I am at present unconvinced, but space forbids my entering on the controversy here.

3 Diog. Laert. Vit. Epim. xi.


The Making of a Goddess


The conflict of theological conceptions is very clearly seen in the design in fig. 92, from a votive relief 1 found at Eleusis and now in the National Museum at Athens. The general type of the design, which belongs to the class known in English as ' Funeral Banquets/ will be discussed more in detail later, when we come to hero-worship. For the present it is enough to note that on the left side of the relief we have the two Goddesses of Eleusis, the old matriarchal couple, seated side by side as equals, on the right a patriarchal couple, man and wife, the man reclining at the banquet and holding a great rhyton, the wife submissively seated by his side. In naming them it is safest at present not to go beyond what is written. The artist has inscribed over their heads the non-committal words, * To the God/ and ' To the Goddess/

It was not only the Olympian Father Zeus who victoriously took over to himself the cult of the Earth-Mother and the Earth- Maidens. Even more marked is the triumph of the Olympian Son, Apollo 2 . The design in fig. 93 is from a rather late red-

FIG. 93.

figured amphora in the Naples Museum 3 . A wayfarer, possibly Orestes, has come to Delphi to consult the god; he finds Mm

1 'E0. 'Apx- 1866, pi. 3. The 'patriarchal couple' are, I incline to think, rightly explained by Dr Svoronos (Journal cL'Archeol. et Num. 1901, p. 503) as Asklepios and Hygieia, but as for my purpose it is not necessary to name them, and as the evidence is too detailed to be resumed here, I prefer not to go beyond the inscription.

2 I follow Prof. Eidgeway in holding that Apollo and his sister Artemis belong to the immigrant Achaean stock, see p. 31, note 1.

3 Heydemann, Cat. 108. Baoul Rochette, Mon. Ined. pi. 37.


Superposition of the Olympians


seated on the very omphalos itself, holding the laurel and the lyre in his hands. So Hermes found him in the prologue to the Ion of

Euripides 1 :

'To Delphi, where

Phoebus, on earth's mid navel o'er the world Enthroned, weaveth in eternal song The sooth of all that is or is to be. 3

The vase-painter knows quite well that it is really a priestess who utters the oracles. Only a priestess can mount the sacred tripod, and he paints her so seated, the laurel wreath on her head and the sacred taenia in her hand, but he knows also that Apollo is by this time Lord of All.

In the Eumenides of Aeschylus, where the contest is between the old angry ghosts, the Erinyes envisaged as merely the spirits of the blood feud, and the mild and merciful god, our sympathies

FIG. 94.

are at least in part with the new-comer. But even here, so stately and yet so pitiful are the ancient goddesses that our hearts are sore for the outrage on their order. And on the vase-painting, when we remember that the omphalos is the very seat and symbol of the Earth-Mother 2 , that hers was the oracle and hers the

1 Eur. Ion 5.

2 The evidence for this I have collected elsewhere, see Omphalos, J.H.S. 1899, xix. 225.


'Delphika,' B. The 21

322 The Making of a Goddess [OH. vi

holy oracular snake that Apollo slew, the intrusion is hard to bear.

The triumph of the Olympian order is still more clearly pre- sented in the design in fig. 94, from a votive relief 1 in the local Museum at Sparta. The centre of the design is occupied by the omphalos on a low basis. It looks very humble and obscure. At either side of it are perched new guardians, the great eagles of Olympian Zeus. The story 2 said that starting from either end of the world they met at Pytho, at the omphalos. The birds were variously said to be swans or eagles. Neither swans nor eagles have anything to do with the Earth-goddess ; they are Ouranian eagles for Zeus or swans for Apollo, and, standing over the omphalos, they mark the dominion of the Father and the Son. But the artist has uttered his meaning still more emphatically. Towering over the omphalos is the great figure of Apollo with his lyre. He holds out a cup, and libation to him is poured by his sister Artemis. The Olympian victory is complete.

So far we have dealt with the Making of a goddess ; we have seen one woman-form take various shapes as Mother and Maiden, as duality and trinity ; we have seen these shapes crystallize into Olympian divinities as Athene, as Aphrodite, as Hera, and as it were resume themselves again into the great monotheistic figure of Venus Genetrix. We have noted evidence, very scattered and fragmentary, of earlier animal forms of the goddess as bird and snake. But it has been obvious enough that the weak point in the argument is just this transitional phase. The goddesses, when they first come into our ken, are goddesses, fully human and lovely in form, figures whose lineaments have been fixed and beautified by art, and of mythological rather than of ritual content. In a word links are wanting in the transition from ghost or snake or bogey to goddess. Two reasons may be suggested. The full development of the women divinities seems to have been earlier accomplished, the sublimation earlier complete, and hence the early phases of that development are more effaced; and next these goddess figures became more completely material for poetic treatment. In the Making of a god we catch in some figures the process at an earlier stage, and many missing links in the passage from ghost and snake to Olympian will thereby become manifest.

1 A. Mitt. 1887, Taf. xn. 2 Plut. de defect, orac. 1.



' loo Oeoi Neoyrepoi, TTAAAIOYC NOMOYC

FREQUENTLY, in his wanderings through Greece, Pausanias came upon the sanctuaries of local heroines, and these sanctuaries are almost uniformly tombs at which went on the cultus of the dead. At Olympia 1 inside the Altis he noted the Hippodameion or sanctuary of Hippodameia, a large enclosure surrounded by a wall. Into this enclosure once a year women were permitted to enter to sacrifice to Hippodameia and do other rites in her honour. The tomb of Auge 2 was still to be seen at Pergamos, a mound of earth enclosed by a stone basement and on the top the figure of a naked woman. At Leuctra 3 in Laconia there was an actual temple (vaos) of Cassandra with an image ; the people of the place called her Alexandra, ' Helper of Men.' At Sparta 4 Helen had a sanctuary, and in Rhodes she was worshipped as She of the Tree, ' Dendritis/ and to her as Dendritis, if we may trust Theocritus 3 , maidens brought offerings. At her wedding they sing :

' fair, gracious maiden, the while we chant our lay, A wedded wife art thou. But we, at dawning of the day, Forth to the grassy mead will go, to our old racing place, And gather wreaths of odorous flowers, and think upon thy face, Again, again, Helen, on thee, as young lambs in the dew Think of the milk that fed them and run back to mother ewe. For thee the first of Maidens shall the lotus creeping low Be culled to hang in garlands where the shadowy plane doth grow; To thee where grows the shadowy plane the first oil shall be poured, Drop by drop from a silver cruse, to hold thy name adored : And letters on the bark be wrought, for him who goes to see, A message graven Dorian-wise : " Kneel ; I am Helen's tree." '

1 P. vi. 20. 7. 2 P. vm. 4. 9.

3 P. in. 26. 5. 4 P. m. 15. 3. 5 Theocr. Id. xvm. 38.



The Making of a God


Helen as local heroine had, it would seem, not only a sanctuary and a sacred tree but a very ancient image. The design in figs. 95 and 96 is from a lekythos 1 in the Louvre, of the kind usually known as ' proto-Corinthian.' Its style dates it as not later than the 7th century B.C., and it it our earliest extant monument of 'the rape of Helen.' The subject seems to have had a certain popularity in archaic art, as it occurred on the throne of Apollo at Amyclae 2 . In the centre of the design stands a woman-figure of more than natural size. Two men advance against her from the right ; the foremost seizes her by the wrist. In his left hand he holds a sceptre. He is Theseus, and behind him comes Peirithoos, brandishing a great sword. To FlG 95

the left of Helen are her two brothers, the

horsemen Kastor and Polydeukes. It is important to note 'that Helen is here more image than living woman. Dr Blinkenberg,


who rightly interprets the scene as the rape of Helen, says 'ses mains levees expriment la surprise et I'effroi,' but since the discovery of the early image of the Mycenaean goddess with uplifted hands 3 it will at once be seen that the gesture is hieratic rather than human. This early 7th century document suggests that 'the rape of Helen' was originally perhaps the rape of a xoanon from a sanctuary, rather than of a wife from her husband.

1 Inv. G.A. 617. Published by M. L. Couve, Revue Archeologique, 1898, p. figs. 1 and 2, and discussed by Dr Blinkenberg, 1898, p. 398.

2 P. m. 18. 15.

3 Dr S. Wide, PI. xii.

213, Mykenische Gotterbilder und Idole,' A. Mitt. 1901, p. 247,

vii] Local Heroine-worship 325

Be that as it may, the great dominant hieratic figure on the vase is more divine than human.

For Homer, poet of the immigrant Achaeans, Helen of the old order of daughters of the land is a mortal heroine, beautiful and sinful, yet in a sense divine. To the modern poet she is altogether goddess, for she is Beauty herself :

' Light and Shadow of all things that be, O Beauty, wild with wreckage like the sea,

Say, who shall win thee, thou without a name? Helen, Helen, who shall die for thee?'

Hebe, another local heroine, has at Phlius 1 a sacred grove and a sanctuary, ' most holy from ancient days.' The goddess of the sanctuary was called by the earliest authorities of the place Ganymeda, but later Hebe. Her sanctuary was an asylum, and this was held to be her greatest honour that ' slaves who took refuge there were safe and prisoners released hung their fetters on the trees in her grove.' That a sanctuary should be an asylum is a frequent note of antiquity. When the immigrant conqueror reduces the whole land to subjection, he, probably from super- stitious awe, leaves to the conquered their local sanctuary, the one place safe from his tyranny. Hebe-Ganymeda, female corre- lative of Ganymedes, is promoted to Olympus, but significantly she is admitted only as cupbearer and wife of Herakles. Olympus here as always mirrors human relations. Hera by marriage with Zeus is admitted to full patriarchal citizenship, her shadowy double Hebe is but her Maid of Honour.

As a rule then the local heroine remains merely the object of a local cult. Where she passed upward to the rank of a real divinity, the steps of transition are almost wholly lost. We feel inwardly sure that Hera and Aphrodite were once of mere local import, like Auge or Iphigeneia, but we lack definite evidence. In the case of Athene the local origin, it has been shown (p. 301), is fairly clear.

The reason why the local heroine failed to emerge to complete godhead is sometimes startlingly clear. Her development was checked midway by the intrusion of a full-blown goddess of the Olympian stock. Near to Cruni in Arcadia Pausanias 2 saw the grave of Callisto. It was a high mound on which grew trees,

1 P. ii. 13. 3. 2 P. viii. 35. 8.

326 The Making of a God [OH.

some of them fruit-bearing, some barren. ' On the top of the mound/ Pausanias adds, ' is a sanctuary of Artemis with the title Calliste.' Nothing could be clearer. Over the tomb of the old Bear-Maiden, Callisto, daughter of Lycaon, Artemis the Northerner, the Olympian, has superposed her cult, and to facilitate the shift she calls herself Calliste, the Fairest. Possibly here, as at Athens under the title of Brauronia, she kept up the ancient bear- service 1 .

The passage from ghost to goddess is for the most part lost in the mists of time, but of the analogous process from ghost to god the steps are still in historical times clearly traceable. The reason is clear. The intrusion of the patriarchal system, the practice of tracing descent from the father instead of the mother, tended to check, if it was powerless wholly to stop, the worship of eponymous heroines. Conservatism compelled the worship of old established heroines, but no fresh canonizations took place. The ideal woman of Pericles was assuredly not the stuff of which goddesses were made. If we would note the actual process of the manufacture of divinity, it is to /*ero-worship we

must turn 2 .



The design in fig. 97 is from an archaic relief 3 of the sixth century B.C., now in the local Museum at Sparta. It forms one of a series of reliefs found near Sparta, all of which are cast approximately in the same type. A male and a female figure are seated side by side on a great throne-like chair. The female figure holds her veil, the male figure a large cantharus or two- handled cup, as if expecting libation. Worshippers of diminutive

1 For the bear-service of Artemis and the bear dedicated to her, see Myth, and Mon. Anc. Athens, p. 403.

2 The materials for the study of hero-worship are well collected in Boscher's Lexicon, s.v. Heroes, and for English readers there is an excellent survey in Mr W. H. D. Eouse's Greek Votive Offerings, c. i. In the pages that follow I confine myself for the most part to such aspects of hero-worship as affect my main argument, and to certain evidence from art which seems to me to have been neglected, or misunderstood. I must also note that, advisedly, I only deal with the ' Making of a God ' in so far as the god developes out of the hero. The most important and far more difficult question of the relation between totemism and god-making, a problem for the solution of which Greek tradition provides but scanty material, I leave for the present untouched. It can only be decided by much wider anthropo- logical investigation than is within my scope.

3 A. Mitt. 1877, pi. xxn.


The Hero as Snake


size approach with offerings a cock and some object that may be a cake, an egg or a fruit. The reliefs are, for the most part, uninscribed, but on some of rather later date names are written

FIG. 97.

near the figure, and they are the names of mortals, e.g. "TimoclesV It is clear that we have in these monuments representations of the dead, but the dead conceived of as half divine, as heroized hence their large size compared with that of their worshipping descendants. They are Kpe'n roves, l Better and Stronger Ones.'

The artist of the relief in fig. 97 is determined to make his meaning clear. Behind the chair, equal in height to the seated figures, is a great curled snake, but a snake strangely fashioned. From the edge of his lower lip hangs down a long beard ; a

1 For the ' Timocles ' relief and for the whole class in general, see Myth, and Mon. Anc. Athens, p. 590, where I have discussed the influence of the typography of these hero-reliefs on Attic gravestones.

328 The MaUng of a God [CH.

decoration denied by nature. The intention is clear; he is a human snake, the vehicle, the incarnation of the dead man's ghost. Snakes lurk about tombs, they are uncanny-looking beasts, and the Greeks are not the only people who have seen in a snake the vehicle of a ghost. M. Henri Jumod 1 , in discussing the beliefs of the Barongas, notes that among this people the snake is regarded as the chikonembo or ghost of a dead man, usually of an ancestor. The snake, so regarded, is feared but not worshipped. A free- thinker among the Barongas, if bored by the too frequent re- appearance of the snake ancestor, will kill it, saying ' Come now, we have had enough of you.'

Zeus Meilichios, it has been seen (p. 18), was worshipped as a snake. If we examine the great snake on his relief in fig. 1 (p. 18) it is seen to be also bearded. The beard in this case is not at the end of the lip, but a good deal further back.

The addition of the beard was no doubt mainly due to frank anthropomorphism ; the snake is in a transition stage between animal and human, and human for the artist means divine. He gives the snake a beard to mark his anthropomorphic divinity, just as he gave to the bull river-god on coins a human head with horns. The further question arises, ' Was there anything in nature that might have acted as a possible suggestion of a beard ? ' An interesting answer to this question has been suggested to me by an eminent authority on snakes, Dr Hans Gadow, and to him I am indebted for the following scientific particulars.

The snake represented in fig. 1 (p. 18) Dr Gadow believes to be the species known as Coelopeltis lacertina. It occurs from Spain to Syria and specimens of 6 ft. long are not uncommon. The creature's head, according to Dr Gadow, is reproduced with ad- mirable fidelity ; the name lacertina is due to the lizard-like, instead of snake-like, depressed head. Moreover this species is really poisonous, but only to its proper prey, e.g. mice, rats, lizards, etc., while it is practically harmless to man, on account of the position of the poison fangs, which are far back in the mouth instead of near the front. This is a somewhat exceptional arrange- ment and probably well known to the ancients. In fact the Coelopeltis lacertina is a snake with poison that does not ordinarily strike. On occasion it could bite a man's hand, i.e. if it opened 1 H. Jumod, Les Barongas, p. 396, and see 'Delphika,' J.H.S. xix. 1899, p. 216.


The Hero as Snake


its mouth very wide, as wide as a striking cobra. This position of the dropped jaw, according to Dr Gadow, is very noticeable and must have been observed by the ancients. The angle of the dropped jaw is just that of the beard on the snake in fig. 1 (p. 18). It seems possible and even highly probable that the dropped jaw, seen at a distance, might have suggested a beard, or that an artist representing an actual dropped jaw may have been copied by another who misinterpreted the jaw into a beard. In any case the scheme of the dropped jaw would be ready to hand and would help to soften the anomaly of the bearded snake 1 .

In snake form the hero dwelt in his tomb, and to indicate this fact not uncommonly on vase-paintings we have a snake depicted on the very grave mound itself. The design in fig. 98, from a black-

FIG. 98.

figured lekythos 2 in the Museum at Naples, is a good instance. The funeral mound which occupies the centre of the design is, on the original vase, white, and on it is painted a black snake ; the mound itself is surmounted by a black stele : whether the vase- painter regards his snake as painted actually outside the tomb or as representing the snake-hero actually resident within, is not

1 Mr F. M. Cornford kindly points out to me that the bearded snake is not unknown to Greek literature. He is one of the many 6av/j.a,Ta that meet us in the life of Apollonius of Tyana, see Philostr. Vit. ApolL in. 7 and 8. These snakes belong to the wonder land of India.

2 Published and discussed, 'Delphika,' J.H.S. xix. 1899, p. 229, figs. 9 and 10.


The Making of a God


easy to determine. The figure of a man on the left of the tomb with uplifted sword points probably to the taking of an oath, it may be of vengeance.

In the curious design in fig. 99, from a kotylos also in the Naples Museum 1 , we have again a funeral mound, again decorated

FIG. 99.

with a huge snake, this time represented with dropped jaw and beard. The tomb seems to have become a sort of mantic shrine. Two men are seated watching attentively the portent of the eagle and the snake. On the reverse of the vase, to the right, the tomb- mound is decorated with a stag, and the portent is an eagle devouring a hare.

Herodotus 2 notes that among the Libyan tribe of the Nasa- mones tombs were used for two purposes, for the taking of oaths and for dream oracles. 'In their oaths and in the art of divination they observe the following practice : they take oaths by those among them who are accounted to be most virtuous and excellent, by touching their tombs, and when they divine they regularly resort to the monuments of their ancestors, and having made supplication they go to sleep, and whatever vision they behold of that they make use.' Herodotus like many travellers was more familiar, it would seem, with the customs of foreigners than with those of his own people. He notes the two customs as though they were alien curiosities, but the practice of swearing on a

1 Cat. 2458. J.H.S. 1899, p. 227, figs. 7 and 8. I have here discussed and rejected a possible mythological interpretation.

2 Herod, iv. 172.


The Hero as Snake


tomb must have been familiar to the Greeks. The slave in the Choephori says to Electra 1 :

'Reverencing thy father's tomb like to an altar, Mine inmost thoughts I speak, doing thy best.'

By the hero Sosipolis at Olympia 2 oaths were taken 'on the greatest occasions' by Sosipolis who in true hero-fashion was wont to appear in snake-form. That these oaths were taken on his actual tomb we are not told, but the sanctuary of a snake-hero can scarcely in its origin have been other than his tomb. Almost every hero in Greece had his dream oracle. Later as the hero was conceived of as in human rather than animal shape the connection between hero and snake is loosened, and we get the halting, confused theology of Aeneas 3 :

' Doubtful if he should deem the gliding snake The genius of the place, or if it were His father's ministrant.'

In fig. 100 we have an altar to a hero found in Lesbos 4 , not the old primitive grave mound which was the true original form, but a late decorative struc- ture such as might have served an Olym- pian. It is inscribed in letters of Roman date, 'The people to Aristandros the hero, son of Cleotimos/ and that the service is to a hero is further emphasized by the snakes sculptured on the top round the hollow cup which served for libations. There are two snakes; it is no longer realized that the hero himself is a snake, but the snake reminiscence clings.

FIG. 100.

If the question be raised, 'why did the Greeks image the dead hero as a snake?' no very certain or satisfactory answer can be offered. Aelian 6 in his treatise on ' The Nature of Animals ' says that the backbone of a dead man when the marrow has decayed turns into a snake. The chance, sudden apparition of a snake near a dead body may

1 Aesch. Choeph. 105. 2 P. vi. 20. 3. Ve rg. Aen. v. 95.

4 A. Conze, Eeise in der Insel Lesbos. PI. iv. fig. 5, p 11

5 Ael. Hist. An. i. 51.

332 The Making of a God [OH.

have started the notion. Plutarch 1 tells how, when the body of Cleomenes was impaled, the people, seeing a great snake wind itself about his head, knew that he was ' more than mortal ' (/cpetTTovos). Of course, by the time of Cleomenes, the snake was well established as the vehicle of a hero, but some such coinci- dence may very early have given rise to this association of ideas. Plutarch adds that ' the men of old time associated the snake most of all beasts with heroes.' They did this because, he says, philosophers had observed that 'when part of the moisture of the marrow is evaporated and it becomes of a thicker consistency it produces serpents.'

The snake was not the only vehicle. As has already been noted (p. 305), the spirit of the dead could take shape as a human- headed bird or even perhaps, if a bird happened to perch on a tomb, as a mere natural hoopoe or swallow. Between the bird- souls and the snake-souls there is this difference. So far as we know, the human-headed bird was purely a creature of mythology, whereas the bearded human snake was the object of a cult. Also the bird-soul, though sometimes male, tends, on the whole, to be a woman ; the snake, even when not bearded, is usually the vehicle of a male ghost ; as such he is the incarnation rather of the hero than the heroine. So close is the connection that it gave rise to the popular expression ' Speckled hero,' which arose, Photius' 2 explains, because snakes which are speckled are called heroes. Of these snake-heroes and their cultus Homer knows absolutely nothing, but the belief in them is essentially primitive and recrudesces with other popular superstitions.

1 Plut. Vit. Cleom. 39.

2 Phot. s.v. rjpws TrotK/Xos. After Christian days the notion started by the Olympian religion that the snake was bad was strengthened by association with the ' old serpent ' of Semitic mythology. Mr K. C. Bosanquet kindly drew my attention to a curious survival of the belief that a bad soul takes the form of a snake in the account of the life and miracles of the fifth century saint, St Marcellus (Boll. Acta Sanctorum 1 3, vol. LXIII. of the whole series, pp. 259 and 267). It was related that a certain matron of noble family, but bad character, died and was buried with great pomp. 'Ergo ad consumendum ejus cadaver coepit serpens immanissimus frequentare, et, ut dicam clarius, mulieri, cujus membra bestia devorabat, ipse draco factus est sepultura.' St Marcellus subdued the snake by striking it thrice with his staff and putting his prayer-book on its head. To the present day among the Greeks an unbaptized child, who is not yet quite human (KpiffTiavfc), is sometimes spoken of as a snake-monster (dp&Kos) and is apt to disappear in snake form. For the fyd/cos see Abbott, Macedonian Folklore, p. 261.

vii] The Cultm-Titles 333


The great snake, later worshipped as Zeus Meilichios, was, we have already seen (p. 21), not Zeus himself, but an under- world being addressed by the title Meilichios, gracious, kindly, easy to be in treated. It will now be evident that his snake form marks him as the vehicle or incarnation of a ghost, a local hero. He was only one of a large class of local divinities who were invoked not by proper names but by adjectival epithets, de- scriptive of their nature, epithets which gradually crystallized into cultus-titles. That these titles were really adjectival is shown sometimes by the actual word, e.g. Meilichios, which re- tains its adjectival sense, sometimes by the fact that it is taken on as a distinguishing epithet by an Olympian, e.g. Zeus-Amphiaraos. These cultus-titles mark an important stage in the making of a god and must be examined somewhat more in detail.

Herodotus 1 in discussing the origins of Greek theology makes the following significant statement : ' The Pelasgians formerly made all sorts of sacrifice to the gods and invoked them in prayer, as I know from what I heard in Dodona, but they gave to none of them either name or eponym, for such they had not yet heard : they addressed them as gods because they had set all things in order and ruled over all things. Then after a long lapse of time they learnt the names of the other gods which had come from Egypt and much later that of Dionysos. As time went on they inquired of the oracle at Dodona about these names, for the oracle there is held to be the most ancient of all the oracles in Greece and was at that time the only one. When therefore the Pelasgians inquired at Dodona whether they should adopt the names that came to them from the barbarians, the oracle or- dained that they should use them. And from that time on they sacrificed to the gods making use of their names.'

If the gods were in these primitive days invoked in prayer, some sort of name, some mode of address they must have had. Is it not at least possible that the advance noted by Herodotus is the shift from mere cultus-title, appropriate to any

1 Herod, n. 51 0eous tin /c6<r/<cy dtvres. Herodotus according to the fashion of his day derives 6eoi from the root 0e, to put in order.

334 The Making of a God [OH.

and every divinity, to actual proper name which defined and crystallized the god addressed ? Any and every hero or divinity might rightly be addressed as Meilichios, but a single individual personality is caught and crystallized in the proper name Zeus. When an epithet lost its adjectival meaning, as is the case with Amphiaraos, then and not till then did it denote an individual god. Apollo, Artemis, Zeus himself, may have been adjectival to begin with, mere cultus epithets, but their meaning once lost they have become proper and personal.

It is significant that the shift is said to have taken place owing to an oracle at Dodona. There, accepting Prof. Ridge way's 1 theory, was the first clash of Pelasgian and Achaean, there Zeus and his shadow- wife Dione displaced the ancient Earth- Mother with her dove-priestesses ; there surely the Pelasgians with their c nameless ' gods, their heroes and heroines addressed by cultus epithets, met and mingled with the worshippers of Zeus the Father and Apollo the Son and Artemis his sister, and learnt to fix the personalities of their formless shifting divinities, learnt the lesson not from the ancient civilized Egyptians but from the northern ' barbarians.'

The word hero itself is adjectival. A gloss in Hesychius 2 tells us that by hero was meant ' mighty/ ' strong/ ' noble/ ' venerable.' In Homer the hero is the strong man alive, mighty in battle ; in cultus the hero is the strong man after death, dowered with a greater, because a ghostly, strength. The dead are, as already noted, Kpeir- roves, ' Better and Stronger Ones.' The avoidance of the actual proper name of a dead man is an instructive delicate decency and lives on to-day. The newly dead becomes, at least for a time, ' He ' or ' She ' ; the actual name is felt too intimate. It is a part of the tendency in all primitive and shy souls, a tendency already noted (p. 214), to remove a little whatever is almost too close, to call your friend ' the kind one,' or ' the old one/ or ' the black one/ and never name his silent name. Of course the delicate instinct soon crystallizes into definite ritual prescription,

1 Prof. Eidgeway, Early Age of Greece, vol. i. p. 339. Aristotle distinctly states that the region round Dodona was ' ancient Greece,' see Ar. Meteor, i. 12. 9 avrrj 5e ' " '

(17 'EXXas 77 dpxala) ^o"rlv i] irepi TTJV Awd&vrjv /ecu rbv ' A.xe\$ov...$Kovv yap of SAXot evravda KO.I ol Ka\oijfJi.evoi r6re ^v TpaLKol vvv 5^ "EXX?7ve$, see Prof. Bury, J.H.S. xv. p. 217.

2 Hesych. s.v. tfpw Swaros, i<rxvpfa, yewcuos, (re/j,v6s.

vii] The ' Nameless' Aigisthos 335

and gathers about it the practical cautious utilitarianism of de mortuis nil nisi bene.

It is often said that the Greeks were wont to address their heroized dead and underworld divinities by ' euphemistic ' titles, Eumenides for Erinyes, ^p^crre, ' Good One,' when they meant 'Bad One.' Such is the ugly misunderstanding view of scholiasts and lexicographers. But a simpler, more human explanation lies to hand. The dead are, it is true, feared, but they are also loved, felt to be friendly, they have been kin on earth, below the earth they will be kind. But in primitive days it is only those who have been kin who will hereafter be kind ; the ghosts of your enemies' kin will be unkind ; if to them you apply kindly epi- thets it is by a desperate euphemism, or by a mere mechanical usage.

Of such euphemism Homer 1 has left us a curious example. Zeus would fain remind the assembled gods of the blindness and fatuity of mortal man :

'Then spake the Sire of Gods and Men, and of the Blameless One, Aigisthos, he bethought him, whom Agamemnon's son, Far-famed Orestes, slew.'

Aigisthos, traitor, seducer, murderer, craven, is 'the Blameless One.' The outraged morality of the reader is in instant protest. These Olympians, these gods ' who live at ease,' go too far.

The epithets in Homer are often worn very thin, but here, once the point is noted 2 , it is manifest that aiivpwv, ' the Blame- less One,' is a title perfectly appropriate to Aigisthos as a dead hero. Whatever his life on the upper earth, he has joined the company of the Kpeirroves, 'the Stronger and Better Ones.' The epithet a^v^wv in Homer is applied to individual heroes, to a hero's tomb 3 , to magical, half-mythical peoples like the Phaea- cians and Aetbiopians 4 who to the popular imagination are half canonized, to the magic island 5 of the god Helios, to the imaginary, half-magical Good Old King 6 . It is used also of the 'convoy 7 ' sent by the gods, which of course is magical in character; it is never, I believe, an epithet of the Olympians themselves. There

1 Horn. Od. i. 29.

2 I owe this explanation of d/Ai//*aw entirely to Mr Gilbert Murray.

a Horn. Od. xxiv. 80, 4 II. i. 423.

5 Od. xii. 261. 6 Od. xix. 109. 7 II. vi. 171.

336 The Making of a God [CH.

is about the word a touch of what is dead and demonic rather than actually divine.

Homer himself is ignorant of, or at least avoids all mention of, the dark superstitions of a primitive race ; he knows nothing at least ostensibly of the worship of the dead, nothing of the cult at his tomb, nothing of his snake-shape ; but Homer's epithets came to him already crystallized and came from the underlying stratum of religion which was based on the worship of the dead. And here conies in a curious complication. To Homer, though he calls him mechanically, or if we like ' euphemistically/ the ' Blameless One/ Aigisthos is really bad, though not perhaps so black as Aeschylus painted him. But was he bad in the eyes of those who first made the epithet ? The story of Aigisthos is told by the mouth of the conquerors. Aigisthos is of the old order, of the primitive population, there before the coming of the family of Agamemnon. Thyestes, father of Aigisthos, had been banished 1 from his home ; Aigisthos is reared as an alien and returns to claim his own. Clytaemnestra too was of the old order, a princess of the primitive dwellers in the land, regnant in her own right. Agamemnon leaves her, leaves her significantly in the charge of a bard 2 , one of those bards pledged to sing the glory of the conquering Achaeans, and the end is inevitable : she reverts to the prince of the old stock, Aigisthos, to whom we may even imagine she was plighted before her marriage to Agamemnon. Menelaos in like fashion marries a princess of the land and his too are the sorrows of the king- consort. The tomb of Aigisthos was shown to Pausanias 3 . We hear of no cult ; possibly under the force of hostile epic tradition it dwindled and died, but in old days we may be sure ' the Blame- less One ' had his meed of service at Argos, and the epithet itself remains as eternal witness.

Salmoneus to the Achaean mind was scarcely more 'Blameless ' than Aigisthos and yet he too bears the epithet. In the Nekuia 4 Odysseus says :

'Then of the throng of women-folk first Tyro I did see, Child of Salmoneus, Blameless One, a noble sire he.'

1 Aesch. Choeph. 1586. Prof. Bidgeway, Early Age of Greece, vol. i. p. 97, has pointed out that Agamemnon and Menelaos were new-comers, and that Helen was of the indigenous stock. I venture to suggest that Aigisthos and Clytaemnestra belong also to the 'Pelasgian' stratum.

2 Horn. Od. in. 267. 3 P. n. 16. 7. 4 Horn. Od. xi. 235.

vii] Euphemistic Epithets 337

The case of Salmoneus is highly significant. He too belongs to the old order, as indeed do all the Aeolid figures connected with the group of dead heroines, and more, in his life he was in violent opposition to the new gods. To Hesiod 1 he is 'the Unjust One * (aiKo<$). He even dared to counterfeit the thunder and lightning of Zeus, and Zeus enraged slew him with a thunderbolt. The vase-painting already discussed (p. 60) is the very mirror of the picture drawn by Vergil 2 of the insolent king :

'Through the Greek folk, midway in Elis town In triumph went he; for himself, mad man, Honours divine he claimed.'

To every worshipper of the new order his crime must have seemed heinous and blasphemous, but among his own people he was glorious before death and probably ' Blameless ' after.

The case of Tityos, Son of Earth, presents a close parallel, though Tityos never bore the title of 'Blameless.' To the orthodox worshipper of the Olympians he was the vilest of criminals ; as such Homer 3 knew him :

'For he laid hands on Leto, the famous bride of Zeus, What time she fared to Pytho through the glades of Panopeus.'

And for this his sin he lay in Hades tortured for ever. This is from the Olympian point of view very satisfactory and instructive, but when we turn to local tradition Tityos is envisaged from quite another point of view. Strabo 4 , when he visited Panopeus, learnt that it was the fabled abode of Tityos. He reminds us that it was to the island of Euboea that, according to Homer 5 , the Phaeacians conducted fair-haired Rhadamanthys that he might see Tityos, Son of Earth. We wonder for a moment why the just Rhadamanthys should care to visit the criminal. Homer leaves us in doubt, but Strabo makes the mystery clear. On Euboea, he says, they show a ' cave called Elarion from Elara who was mother to Tityos, and a hero-shrine of Tityos, and some kind of honours are mentioned which are paid to him.' One 'blameless'

  • Hes. frg. ap. Schol. Find. Pyth. iv. 253.

2 Verg. Aen. vi. 585. Hygin. Fab. 61. Salmoneus, not Athamas, is I think represented on the Chicago vase (fig. 8) as holding the thunderbolt of Zeus ; the vase has been rightly explained by Mr A. B. Cook, Cl. Rev. July 1903, p. 276. It will later (Chap, xi.) be shown that the canonical Hades was peopled by these heroes of an early racial stratum.

3 Od. xi. 576. 4 Strab. ix. 3 423. 5 Od. vn. 323.

H. 22

338 The Making of a God [CH.

hero visits another, that is all. Golden-haired Rhadamanthys found favour with the fair-haired Achaeans ; but for Tityos, the son of Earth, there is no place in the Northern Elysium.

We may take it then that the 'euphemistic' epithets were applied at first in all simplicity and faith to heroes and under- world gods by the race that worshipped them. The devotees of the new Achaean religion naturally regarded the heroes and saints of the old as demons. Such was in later days the charitable view taken by the Christian fathers of the Olympian gods in their turn. All the activities that were uncongenial, all the black side of things, were carefully made over by the Olympians to the divinities they had superseded. Only here and there the un- conscious use of a crystallized epithet like ' Blameless ' lets out the real truth. The ritual prescription that heroes should be worshipped by night, their sacrifice consumed before dawn, no doubt helped the conviction that as they loved the night their deeds were evil. Their ritual too was archaic and not lacking in savage touches. At Daulis 1 Pausanias tells of the shrine of a hero-founder. It was evidently of great antiquity, for the people of the place were not agreed as to who the hero was ; some said Phocos, some Xanthippos. Service was done to him every day, and when animal sacrifice was made the Phocians poured the blood of the victim through a hole into the grave ; the flesh was consumed on the spot. Such plain-spoken ritual would go far to promote the notion that the hero was bloodthirsty.

Sometimes a ritual prescription marks clearly the antipathy between old and new, between the hero and the Olympian. Pausanias 2 describes in detail the elaborate ceremonial observed in sacrificing to Pelops at Olympia. The hero had a large temenos containing trees and statues and surrounded by a stone wall, and the entrance, as was fitting for a hero, was towards the west. Sacrifice was done into a pit and the victim was a black ram. Pausanias ends his account with the significant words: ' Whoever eats of the flesh of the victim sacrificed to Pelops, whether he be of Elis or a stranger, may not enter the temple of Zeus! But we are glad to know from Pindar 3 that no spiteful

1 P. x. 4. 10. 2 P. v. 13. 3.

3 Pind. 01. i. 90 schol. ad loc.

vii] Heroes and Olympians 339

ritual prescription of the Olympian could dim the splendour of the local hero :

'In goodly streams of flowing blood outpoured Upon his tomb, beside Alpheios' ford,

Now hath he still his share; Frequent and full the throng that worship there.'

The scholiast comments on the passage : ' Some say that it was not (merely) a tomb but a sanctuary of Pelops and that the followers of Herakles sacrificed to him before Zeus.'

At yet another great Pan-Hellenic centre there is the memory, though more faded, of the like superposition of cults. The scholiast on Pindar 1 says that the contest at Nemea was of the nature of funeraf games (eV^ra^o?) and that it was in honour of Archemoros, but that later, after Herakles had slain the Nemean lion, he ' took the games in hand and put many things to rights and ordered them to be sacred to Zeus.'

More commonly there is between the Olympian and the hero all appearance of decent friendliness. A compromise is effected ; the main ritual is in honour of the Olympian, but to the hero is offered a preliminary sacrifice. A good instance of this procedure is the worship of Apollo at Amyclae 2 superposed on that of the local hero Hyakinthos. The great bronze statue of Apollo stood on a splendid throne, the decorations of which Pausanias describes in detail. The image itself was rude and ancient, the lower part pillar-shaped, but for all that the god was a new-comer. 'The basis of the image was in form like an altar, and they say that Hyakinthos was buried in it, and at the festival of the Hyakinthia before the burnt sacrifice (OvaLa^ to Apollo, they devote offerings (eva^i^ovonv) to Hyakinthos into this altar through a bronze door.'

Apollo and Hyakinthos established a modus vivendi. Apollo instituted his regular Olympian sacrifices (dvcriai) and left to Hyakinthos his underworld offerings (eva^io-fjiara). But not every Olympian was so successful. Ritual is always tenacious. So too at Delphi, Apollo may seat himself on the omphalos, but he is still forced to utter his oracles through the mouth of the priestess

1 Schol. ad hyp. Nem. '0 ayuv (T&V Ne/^wj/) ewiTdfaos tirl '

viKr)<ras "H.paK\TJs...4Trefj.e\'fidTf] TOU ay&vos ra iro\\a avopduffdnevos Kal Atos elvai

2 P. in. 19. 3.


340 The Making of a God [OH.

of Gaia. Zeus, we have seen, arrogated to himself the title of Meilichios ; he had the old snake reliefs dedicated to him, but he was powerless to change the ritual of the hero, and had to content himself, like an underworld god, with holocausts. All that he ceuld do was to emphasize the untruth that he, not the hero, was Meilichios, Easy to be intreated.

All that could be effected by theological animus was done. It has been seen (p. 9) how in the fable of Babrius the hero- ancestor is positively forbidden to give good things, and meekly submits; and, long before Babrius, the blackening process had set in. The bird-chorus in Aristophanes 1 tells of the strange sights it has seen on earth :

'We know of an uncanny spot,

Very dark, where the candles are not;

There to feast with the heroes men go

By day, but at evening, oh no !

For the night time is risky you know. If the hero Orestes should meet with a mortal by night, He'd strip him and beat him and leave him an elegant sight.'

Orestes was of course a notable local thief, but the point of the joke is the ill-omened character of a hero. The scholiast says that ' heroes are irascible and truculent to those they meet and possess no power over what is beneficial.' He cites Menander as his authority, but adds on his own account that this explains the fact that 'those who go past hero-shrines keep silence.' So easy is it to read a bad meaning into a reverent custom. So possessed are scholiasts and lexicographers by the Olympian prejudice that, even when the word they explain is dead against a bad interpretation, they still maintain it. Hesychius 2 , explaining tcpeiTTovas, ' Better or Stronger Ones,' says ' they apply the title to heroes, and they seem to be a bad sort of persons ; it is on this account that those who pass hero-shrines keep silence lest the heroes should do them some harm.' Among gods, as among mortals, one rule holds good : the king can do no wrong and the conquered no right.

1 Ar. Av. 1482, schol. ad loc. Athenaeus (xi. 4 461) gives the same account of the character of heroes : ^oXeron'S yap /cat TrX^sras robs fipwas vofj.lov(Ti.

2 Hesych. s.v. KpeLrrovas.

yn] Heroes of Healing 341


Heroes, like the ghosts from which they sprang, had of course their black angry side, but, setting aside the prejudice of an Olympianized literature, it is easy to see that in local cultus they would tend rather to beneficence. The ghost you worship and who by your worship is erected into a hero is your kinsman, and the ties of kinship are still strong in the world below. * In almost all West African districts,' says Miss Mary Kingsley 1 , 4s a class of spirits called " Well-disposed Ones " and this class is clearly differentiated from " Them," the generic term for non-human spirits. These " Well-disposed Ones " are ancestors and they do what they can to benefit their particular village or family fetish who is not a human spirit or ancestor.' So it was with the Greek ; he was careful not to neglect or offend his local hero, but on the whole he relied on his benevolence :

'When a ,man dies we all begin to say The sainted one has passed away, he has 'fallen asleep,' Blessed therein that he is vexed no more. And straight with funeral offerings we do sacrifice As to a god and pour libations, bidding Him send good things up here from down below 2 . 5

The cult of heroes had in it more of human ' tendance ' than of demonic c aversion.'

The hero had for his sphere of beneficence the whole circle of human activities. Like all primitive divinities he was of necessity a god-of-all-work ; a primitive community cannot afford to departmentalize its gods. The local hero had to help his family to fight, to secure fertility for their crops and for them- selves, act as oracle when the community was perplexed, be ready for any emergency that might arise, and even on occasion he must mend a broken jug. But most of all he was adored as a Healer. As a Healer he rises very nearly to the rank of an Olympian, but through the gentleness of his office he keeps a certain humanity that prevents complete deification. A typical instance of the Hero-Healer is the god Asklepios.

We conceive of Asklepios as he is figured in many a Greek and Graeco-Roman statue, a reverend bearded god, somewhat of

1 West African Studies, p. 132. 2 Ar. Tagenist. frg. 1.


The Making of a God


the type of Zeus, but characterized by the staff on which he leans and about which is twined a snake. The snake, our hand-books tell us, is the ' symbol of the healing art,' and hence the attribute of Asklepios, god of medicine.

The design in fig. 101, from a votive relief 1 found in the Asklepieion and now in the National Museum at Athens, gives

FIG. 101.

cause for reflection. The god himself stands in his familiar attitude, waiting the family of worshippers who approach with offerings. A little happy honoured boy is allowed to lead the procession bringing a sheep to the altar. Behind the god is his attribute, a huge coiled snake, his head erect and level with the god he is. Take away the human Asklepios and the scene is yet complete, complete as on the Meilichios relief in fig. 2, the great hero snake and his worshippers.

1 Gat. 1407, from a photograph. For permission to publish this relief and those in figs. 102, 105, 106, my grateful thanks are due to Mr Kabbadios, Ephor of Anti- quities at Athens.




The relief in fig. 101 is under a foot in length, the offering probably of some poor man who clung to his old faith in the healing snake-hero. It forces us in its plain-spoken simplicity to face just the fact that the dedicator of the next relief 1 (fig. 102) is so anxious to conceal. This second relief is the

FIG. 102.

offering of a rich man, the figures are about half life-size ; it was found in the same Asklepieion on the S. slope of the Acropolis. Asklepios no longer stands citizen-fashion leaning on his staff : he is seated in splendour, and beside him is coiled a very humble attributive snake. Behind are two figures, probably of a son and a daughter, and they all three occupy a separate chapel aloof from their human worshippers.

In token of his humble birth as the ghost of a mortal the snake always clings to Asklepios, but it is not the only evidence. An essential part of his healing ritual was always and everywhere the eyKoi^rja-i^, the 'sleeping in' his sanctuary. The patient who came to be cured must sleep and in a dream the god either healed him or revealed the means of healing. It was the dream

1 Cat. 1377, from a photograph

2 For the whole subject of duo.

see L. Deubner, De Incubations capitula

344 The Making of a God [CH.

oracle sent by Earth herself 1 that Apollo the Olympian came to supersede. All the strange web of human chicanery that was woven round the dream cure it would here be irrelevant to examine : only the simple fact need be noted that the prescribed ritual of sleep was merely a survival of the old dream oracle of the hero. It was nowise peculiar to Asklepios. When men came to the beautiful little sanctuary of Amphiaraos 2 at Oropus they purified themselves, sacrificed a ram, and spreading the skin under them they went to sleep ' awaiting a revelation in a dream.'

The dream oracle remained always proper to the earth-born heroes ; we hear of no one sleeping in the precinct of Zeus, or of Apollo, and the belief in the magic of sleep long outlasted the service of the Olympians. To-day year by year on the festival of the Panagia a throng of sick from the islands round about make their pilgrimage to Tenos, and the sick sleep in the Church and in the precinct and are healed, and in the morning is published the long list of miraculous cures (Oavfjiara). It is only the truth and the true gods that lived. The Panagia has taken to herself all that was real in ancient faith, in her are still incarnate the Mother and the Maid and Asklepios the Saviour. Like most primitive faiths the belief in the dream cure appealed to some- thing very deep-down and real, however misunderstood and per- verted, something in the secret bidding of nature that said, that always will say :

'Sleep Heart, a little free

From thoughts that kill. Nothing now hard to thee

Or good or ill. And when the shut eyes see

Sleep's mansions fill, Night might bring that to be

Day never will.'

The worship of Asklepios, we know from the evidence of an inscription 3 , was introduced at Athens about 421 B.C. : it was still no doubt something of a new excitement when Aristophanes wrote his Plutus. But Athens was not left till 421 B.C. without a Hero-Healer. Asklepios came to Athens as a full-blown god,

1 Eur. Iph. in T. 1261. 2 P. i. 34. 5.

3 A. Mitt. 1893, p. 250. The introduction of the healer of Epidauros may have been connected with the great plague at Athens.

vn] Amynos and Dexion 345

came first from Thessaly, where he was the rival of Apollo, and finally from his great sanctuary at Epidauros, and, when he came, we have definite evidence that his cult was superimposed on that of a more ancient hero. 'Affiliated' is perhaps the juster word, for when a hero from without took over the cult of an indigenous hero there is no clash of ritual as in the case of an Olympian, no conflict between Bva-Lau and eva^icr^oi^ both heroes alike are

content with the simple offering of the pelanos.

In the course of the ' Enneakrounos ' excavations Dr Dorpfeld came upon a small sanctuary consisting of a precinct, an altar, and a well 1 . The precinct wall, the well and the conduit leading to it were clearly, from the style of their masonry, of the date of Peisistratos. Within and around the precinct were votive offerings that pointed to the worship of a god of healing, reliefs repre- senting parts of the human body, breasts and the like, a man holding a huge leg marked with a varicose vein, reliefs of the usual ' Asklepios ' type, and above all votive snakes. Had there been no inscriptions the precinct could have been at once claimed as ' sacred to Asklepios,' and we should have been left with the curious problems, ' Why had Asklepios two precincts, one on the south, one on the west of the Akropolis ; and, if the god had already a shrine on the west slope in the days of Peisistratos, why did he trouble to make a triumphant entry into Athens on the south slope in 421 B.C. ? '

Happily we are left in no such dilemma. On a stele found in the precinct we have the following inscription 2 : ' Mnesiptoleme on behalf of Dikaiophanes dedicated (this) to Asklepios Amynos.' If the inscription stood alone, we should probably decide that Asklepios was worshipped in the precinct under the title of Amynos, the Protector. Whatever the original meaning of the word Asklepios and we may conjecture it was merely a cultus- title it soon became a proper name, and could therefore easily be associated with an adjectival epithet.

A second inscription 3 happily makes it certain that Amynos was not merely an adjective, but an adjectival title of a person

1 A. Koerte, 'Bezirk eines Heilgottes,' A. Mitt. 1893, p. 237, and 1896, p. 311.

2 Koerte, op. cit. M.vr)ffnrTo\tfj.Tj virep AiKaio(f>dvovs 'A<rK\T)irL(f} 'A/uifay av^dfjKf.

3 Koerte, op. cit. avdpes Skcuoi ye\yov\a<n irepi ra KOIVO, TUV opyeibvuv rov 'A/uvvov Ko.1 rov 'A<rK\r]TrLov Kal rov Ae^o^oj tiraivtvai. KT\.

346 The Making of a God [CH.

distinct from Asklepios. It runs as follows : ' Certain citizens held it just to commemorate concerning the common weal of the members of the thiasos of Arnynos and of Asklepios and of Dexion.' Here we have the names of three personalities manifestly separate and enumerated in significant order. We know Asklepios and most fortunately Dexion. The author of the Etymologicon Magnum 1 , in explaining the word Dexion, says: 'The title was given by the Athenians to Sophocles after his death. They say that when Sophocles was dead the Athenians, wishing to give him added honours, built him a hero-shrine and named him Dexion, the Receiver, from his reception of Asklepios for he received the god in his own house and set up an altar to him.' For the heroization of Sophocles we have earlier evidence than the Etymologicon Magnum. The historian Istros 2 (3rd cent. B.C.) is quoted as saying that the Athenians ' on account of the man's virtue passed a vote that yearly sacrifice should be made to him.'

It seems an extraordinary story, but, if we do not press too hard the words of the panegyrist, the explanation is natural enough. Sophocles was not exactly canonised ' because of his virtue.' He became a hero, officially, because he had officially received Asklepios, and the ' Receiver' of a god, like the 'Founder' of a town, had a right to ritual recognition. 'Dexion' is the Receiver of the god, and from the fact that the inscription with his name is set up in the little precinct on the west slope of the Acropolis we may be sure his worship went on there. It was in that little precinct, we may conjecture, that he served as priest. This conjecture is made almost certain by the fact that a later inscription 3 (1st cent. B.C.), with a dedication to Amynos and Asklepios, is dated by the priesthood of a ' Sophocles,' probably a descendant of the poet. Sophocles as a hero was not a success, probably he was too alive and human as a poet ; he was in his own precinct completely submerged by the god he ( received.'

The theological history of the little precinct is quite clear. The inscription preserves the ritual order of precedence. The sanctuary began, not later than Peisistratos, as an Amyneion, shrine of a local hero worshipped under the title of Amynos,

1 Etym. Mag. s.v. Aelwv. It seems possible that by the olida, in which Sophocles received Asklepios is meant the Amyneion.

2 Istr. frg. 51.

3 Koerte, op. cit.

vn] HeraJdes 347

Protector. At some time, probably owing to the recent pestilence which the local hero had failed to avert, it was thought well to affiliate a Healer-god who had attained enormous prestige in the Peloponnesus. The experiment was quietly and carefully tried in the little Amyneion before the foundation of the great Asklepieion on the south slope. It was a very simple matter. A sacred snake would be sent for 1 from Epidauros, to join the local snake of Amynos. Both were snakes, both were healers; the same offerings served for both, the votive limbs, the pelanoi. Sophocles the human Receiver, who had introduced Asklepios in due course, naturally enough dies, and a third healing hero is added to the list. Dexion fades, and Asklepios gradually effaces Amynos and takes his name as a ceremonial title.

Because Athens alone is really alive to us, because we know Sophocles as human poet, Asklepios as divine Healer, the case of Amynos, Asklepios, Sophocles seems specially vital and convincing. But we must take it only as one instance of the ladder from earth to heaven that had its lowest rungs planted in every village scattered over Greece a ladder that reached sometimes, but not always or even often, up to high Olympus itself. Whether a local hero became a god depended on a multitude of chances and conditions, the clue to which is lost. If a local hero became famous beyond his own parish the Olympian religion made every effort to meet him half-way. Herakles was of the primitive Pelasgian 2 stock. His name, if the most recent etymology 3 be accepted, means only the young dear Hero the Hero par ex- cellence. No pains were spared to affiliate him. He is allowed the Olympian burnt sacrifice 4 , he is passed through the folds of Hera's robe to make him her child by adoption 5 , he is married in Olympus to Hebe, herself but newly translated, the vase-painter 6

1 Cf. P. vm. 8. 4, ii. 10. 3, m. 23. 7. Prof. Ridgeway, The Early Age of Greece, vol. i. p. 640.

3 Usener, Die Sinflutsagen, p. 58, draws attention to the hypocoristic form HpikaXos, see Hesych. s.v. rbv 'Hpa/cX&x Su>0pa' vTroKopurriKus, and supposes an old Greek diminutive /caXoj = Lat. culus, homunculus, Herculus.

4 See p. 12.

5 Diod. Sic. iv. 40 TTJV "Hpav avaj3ao-av tirl K\ivr)v Kal rbv "H.paic\ta TrpoffXa irpbs TO <r&[j.a dia r&v Ivbv^arwv a<f>eii>ai irpbs TTJV yrjv ^ifjiov^vrjv rty a\tjdi.vT)v 8-rrep ^xp<- rod vvv iroteiv rovs fiapfidpovs orav derby vlbv Troiewdat jSotfAawrat.

6 Rosch. Lex. s.v. Herakles, 'Apotheose,' p. 2239.


The Making of a God


diligently paints his reception into Olympus, he is always elaborately entering, yet he is never really in, he is too much a man to wear at ease the livery of an Olympian, and literature, always over-Olympianized, makes him too often the laughing- stock of the stage.

FIG. 103.

More often it is the fate of a hero to become locally a divinity of healing, but never to emerge as a Pan-Hellenic god. In the


The Hero-Healers


design in fig. 103 we have a good instance from a vase 1 found in Boeotia and now in the National Museum at Athens. On the obverse a bearded man, wearing a wreath, reclines at a banquet. A table with cakes stands by his couch. An enormous coiled snake is about to drink from the wine-cup in his hand. On the reverse a woman-goddess holding a sceptre is seated, a girl brings offerings an oinochoe, cakes, a lighted taper. Above are hung votive offerings a hand, two legs, such as hang in the shrines of saints in Brittany and Italy to-day. An interpreter unversed in the complexity of hero-cults would at once name the god with the snake on the obverse Asklepios, the goddess with the votive limbs on the reverse Hygieia ; but to these names they have no sort of right. Found as the vase was in Boeotia, the vase-painter more probably intended Amphiaraos, or possibly Trophonios, and Agathe Tyche. All we can say is that they are a couple of healing divinities hero and heroine divinized.

The vase is of late style, and the artist has forgotten that the snake is the hero ; he makes him a sort of tame attributive pet, feeding out of the

wine-cup. The snake / ^

is not bearded, but he

has a touch of human

unreality in that he is

about to drink out of

the wine-cup. These

humanized snakes are

fed with human food ;

their natural food

would be a live bird

or a rabbit. DrGadow

kindly tells me that

a snake will lap milk,

but if he is to eat

his sacrificial food, the

pelanos, it must be

made exceedingly thin ;

anything of the nature of a cake or even porridge he could not

swallow. And yet the snake on the Acropolis had for his monthly

'Apx- 1890, PI. vn.

FIG. 104.

350 The Making of a God [OH.

due a ' honey cake,' and at Lebadeia 1 in the shrine of Trophonios, where it was a snake who gave oracles, the inhabitants of the country 'cast into his shrine flat cakes steeped in honey.'

Representations of the hero reclining at a feast occur very frequently on votive reliefs of a class shortly to be discussed. They appear very rarely on vases and only on those of late style.. A good instance is the design in fig. 104 from a late red-figured krater in the Berlin Museum 2 . The attempt to give a name to the recumbent man is quite fruitless : the great snake marks him as a dead hero. The woman and boy can scarcely be said to be worshippers, though the boy brings cakes and fruit ; it is rather the feast that went on in life figured as continuing after death.

It remains to examine some of the class of votive reliefs closely analogous to the vase-painting in fig. 104, reliefs usually known as ' Hero-Feasts ' or ' Funeral Banquets.' They are monuments especially instructive for our purpose, because nowhere else is seen so clearly the transition from hero to god, and also the gradual superposition of the Olympians over local hero-cults.


Plato 3 in the Laws arranges the objects of divine worship in a regular sequence : first the Olympian gods together with those who keep the city : second the underworld gods whose share are things of unlucky omen ; third the daemons whose worship is characterized as 'orgiastic'; fourth the heroes ; fifth ancestral gods. He concludes the list with living parents to whom much honour should be offered. As early as Hesiod 4 theology attempted some differentia- tion between heroes and daemons; daemons being accounted divine in some higher sense. Of all this minute departmentalism ritual

1 Schol. ad Ar. Nub. 508 iv AeftaSeig. iepov tarl fpotpuvlov tiirov 6<pis yv 6 navrevb- $ oi KaroiKovvTes ir\a.Kovi>Tas gfiaXXov /xAiri dedevofifvovs. The women in the

fourth Mime of Herondas (v. 90) offer a pelanos to the snake of Asklepios.

2 Berl. Cat. 3155. Jahrb. d. Inst., Anzeiger, 1890, p. 89.

3 Plat. Legg. 717 A. The Olympian gods do not here concern us, but it may be worth noting that the gods who keep the state roi)s TTJI> ir6\iv lx OI/7 " as Qevs, who are classed with the Olympians as of the first rank, seem to correspond with the a<rTwo/j.oi and ayopcuoi of Aeschylus (Ag. 90) who take rank with the ovpavioi. Some gods wherever found were Olympian, e.g. Zeus and Apollo ; others though not Pan- Hellenically recognised took rank as such locally, e.g. Demeter.

4 Hes. Erg. 109.


The l Hero-Feasts'


knows nothing. The only recognized distinction is that burnt offerings are the meed of the Olympians, offerings devoted (eva- yia/jLol) of the chthonic gods. Between the chthonic gods and the whole class of dead men, heroes and daemons, the only distinction observed is, as already noted, that certain chthonic gods from sheer conservatism reject the service of wine, whereas it is apparently acceptable to dead men, to heroes and to daemons not fully divinized.

In like fashion votive reliefs of the type known as Hero- Feasts draw no distinction between hero and daemon, nor indeed do they clearly distinguish between ordinary dead man and hero. As a rule the ' Hero-Feasts ' are depicted on reliefs set up in sanctuaries rather than graveyards, but they occur sometimes on actual tombstones 1 set up in actual cemeteries.

The ' Hero-Feast ' is found broadcast over Attica, the Pelopon-

FIG. 105.

nese and the islands ; there is scarcely a local museum that does not contain specimens. The design in fig. 105 is from a relief in

1 There are several instances in the National Museum at Athens and 'Hero- Feasts ' have been carved on sarcophagi which are still in the courtyard of the local museum at Paros.


The Making of a God


the local museum at Samos 1 . Three heroes are lying at the banquet ; one holds a large rhyton. A snake coiled about a tree is about to drink from it. Snake and tree mark a sanctuary, otherwise the scene is very homelike and non-hieratic. Of the inscription only two letters remain, and they tell nothing. The round shield and the horse's head and the dog tell us. we have to do with actual heroes, but who they were it is impossible to say.

The relief in fig. 106 is also from Samos 2 . It is of the usual

FIG. 106.

type the recumbent man, the seated woman, the boy about to draw wine. The field is full of characteristic tokens; for the man, the horse's head, the cuirass, helm, shield and greaves ; for the woman, the work-basket of the shape so often occurring on

1 Inv. 55, see Dr Wiegand, 'Antike Sculpturen in Samos,' A. Mitt. 1900, p. 176.

2 Inv. 60.

vii] The 'Hero-Feasts' 353

Athenian grave-reliefs, and, it may be, the tame bird which stands on the casket pecking at a fruit. The snake is for both, for both are dead. The inscription at first surprises us ; it is as follows : ' Lais daughter of Phoenix, heroine, hail.' There is no mention of the hero, but on examination of the stone it is seen that a previous inscription has been erased 1 . Some one cared more for Lais than for her husband, hence the palimpsest.

These two specimens from Samos have been selected out of countless others because in them it is quite certain that heroized mortals are represented. The earliest specimens of the 'Hero- Feast ' discovered had no inscriptions, and though horse and snake were present an attempt was made to interpret them as sacred to Asklepios ; the snake was ' the symbol of healing,' the horse that mysterious creature the ' horse of Hades 2 .' The most ardent devotee of symbolic interpretation can scarcely make mythology out of the greaves and the work-basket.

Reliefs of the ' Hero-Feast ' type are all of late date. The earliest one is doubtfully assigned to the end of the 5th century ; the great majority are much later. The reason is not far to seek. In the fine period of Greek Art, the period to which we owe most of the grave-reliefs found at Athens, hero-worship is submerged. It is a time of rationalism, and the funeral monuments of that time tend to represent this life rather than the next. I have tried elsewhere to show that early Attic grave-reliefs are cast in the type of the Sparta hero-reliefs, but nowhere in Attic grave- reliefs of the 5th century do we find the dead heroized. But once the age of reason past, hero-worship re-emerged, and it would seem in greater force than before.

In the fine period of art hero-reliefs do exist, but not as funeral monuments. One of the earliest and finest 3 we possess is represented in fig. 107. It is not at all of the same type as the 'Hero-Feast,' and is figured here partly for its beauty and interest, partly to mark the contrast. A hero occupies the central place, leading his horse, followed by his hound. That he is a

1 See Dr Wiegand, op. cit. p. 180.

2 See Dr Verrall, 'Death and the Horse,' J.H.S., xvm. 1898, p. 1.

3 Roscher, s.v. Heros, p. 2559, No. 5. A better reproduction in phototype has been published by Dr Chr. Blinkenberg, 'Et Attisk Votivrelief,' Festskrift til J. L. Ussing, Kopenhagen, 1900. I follow Dr Ussing's view (kindly translated for me by Dr Martin Nilsson).

H. 23


The Making of a God


hero we are sure, for in front of him is his low, omphalos-like altar, and to the left a worshipper approaches. Unhappily there

FIG. 107.

is no inscription, but yet we are tempted to give the hero a name.

Horse and horseman are set against a rocky background. The marble of which the relief is made is Pen-telic, the style Attic, with many reminiscences of the Parthenon marbles. It is therefore not too bold to see in the rocky background a slope of the Acropolis. To the right above the hero is a seated figure, with only the lower part of the body draped. Zeus is so represented and Asklepios. Zeus has no shrine in the slopes of the Acropolis, nor is it probable he would be depicted on a relief of this date seated in casual fashion as a spectator. The figure is almost certainly Asklepios. Given that the figure is Asklepios, the narrative of Pausanias 1 supplies the clue to the remaining figures. 'Approach- ing the Acropolis by this road, next after the sanctuary of Asklepios is the temple of Themis, and in front of this temple is a mound upreared as a monument to Hippolytos.' Then Pausanias tells the story of Phaedra and Hippolytos; he does not actually mention the sanctuary of Aphrodite, but he says ' the old images were not there in my time, but those I saw were the work of no obscure artists.' Images of course presuppose a sanctuary, and such a sanctuary we now know from inscriptions

1 P. i. 22. 1 3, see Dr Frazer ad loc., and Myth, and Mon. Anc. Athens, p. 328.

YII] Hippolytos 355

and votive offerings found on the spot to have existed, and that it was dedicated to Aphrodite Pandemos. The figures on the relief exactly correspond to the account of Pausanias. To the right, i.e. to the East, the figure of Asklepios; next Themis with her temple, clearly indicated by the two 'columns between which she stands; immediately in front of her Hippolytos with his sacred altar-mound. Above it Aphrodite, literally ' over Hippolytos ' ( t l7T7roA,i'T&> 8' eTTi). It is as Euripides 1 knew it:

'And Phaedra then, his father's Queen high born, Saw him, and as she saw her heart was torn With great love by the working of my will. And there, when he was gone, on Pallas' hill Deep in the rock, that Love no more might roam, She built a shrine and named it Love-at-Home. And the rock held it, but its face always Seeks Trozen o'er the seas.'

It is worth noting that the relief, now in the Torlonia Museum at Rome, was found not far from Aricia, where the hero Virbius, the Latin equivalent of Hippolytos, was worshipped.

It is possible that in the tragedy of the wrath of Aphrodite against the hero who worshipped Artemis, and in the title of the goddess ' over Hippolytos,' later misunderstood as ' because of/ 'for the sake of Hippolytos, we have a reminiscence of a super- position of cults that the actual contest was between a local hero and Aphrodite who had waxed to the glory of an Olympian. Such a view can however scarcely be deduced from the relief in question, which seems to present relations merely topogra- phical and perfectly peaceful.

The design in fig. 108, from a relief in the Jacobsen 2 collection at Ny Carlsberg, Copenhagen, shows a clearer case of super- session. The design is not earlier than the 4th century B.C. and of the usual type of ' Hero-Feast ' ; we have the reclining man, seated wife, attendant cupbearer, and, to make the scene quite complete,

1 Eur. Hipp. 26 ff., trans. Mr Gilbert Murray. For Aphrodite Endemos, Love-at-Home, see Dr Verrall, Cl. Rev., Dec. 1901, p. 449. Dr Svoronos makes the interesting suggestion that the sanctuary founded by Phaedra may have been on the site later occupied by the temple of Nike Apteros, and that the Wingless Victory may have been a title rather of Aphrodite than the Athene. See Journal Inter- national d'Archeologie, 1901, p. 459.

2 Cat. 95, published and fully discussed by Prof. Furtwangler, 'Ein sogenanntes Todtenmahlrelief mit Inschrift,' Sitzungsberichte d. k. Bay. Ak. d. Wissenschaften, Philos.-Philolog. Klasse 1897, p. 401.



The Making of a God


three worshippers of smaller size. The procession of worshippers is a frequent, though not uniform, element in the reliefs repre- senting 'Hero-Feasts/ When present they serve to show very clearly that the hero and his wife are objects of worship. As a

FIG. 108.

rule it is, we have seen, safest not to name the hero. In the cases so far where he or the heroine is inscribed, the name has been that of a mortal. In the present case the inscription has a surprise in store for us. Assuredly no one, without the inscrip- tions, would have ventured to conjecture the inscribed names. The inscription runs as follows :

  • Aristomache and Theoris dedicated (it) to Zeus Epiteleios Philios, and

to Philia the mother of the god, and to Tyche Agathe the wife of the god.'

Philia, the Friendly One, is mother not wife of Zeus Philios, 'Zeus the Friendly'; it is the old matriarchal relation of Mother and Son (p. 273). But the dedicators, wedded themselves no doubt after patriarchal fashion, seem to feel a need that Zeus Philios should be married ; they give him not his natural shadow-wife Philia she has been used up as mother but Tyche Agathe, ' Good

vii] Zeus Philios 357

Fortune.' In the procession of worshippers there are two women with a man between them : probably they are his mother and wife and wish to see their relation to him mirrored in their dedication. But they are content with the traditional type of Hero-Feasts, possibly the only type that the conservative workman kept in stock in his workshop.

It is worth noting that this interesting relief came from a precinct of Asklepios in Munychia down at the Peiraeus, the same precinct which yielded the snake reliefs (figs. 1 and 2) dedi- cated to Meilichios. There were also found the relief in fig. 4, several reliefs adorned with snakes only, some reliefs representing Asklepios, and various ritual inscriptions. The precinct seems to have become a sort of melting-pot of gods and heroes. Tyche we know at Lebadeia as the wife of the Agathos Daimon, the Good or Rich Spirit, and it is curious to note that Zeus on the relief holds a cornucopia, symbol of plenty. His other title Epi- teleios points the same way. Hesychius 1 tells us that the word eTrtreXetaxTt? means the same as av^rjo-is, 'increase,' and Plato 2 gives the name eTrtreXetcocrefc?, ' accomplishments/ to family feasts held in thanksgiving for the birth and welfare of children.

It seems obvious that the precinct once belonged to a hero, worshipped under the form of a snake, and as Meilichios, god of the wealth of the underworld a sort of Agathos Daimon or Good Spirit. He must have had two other titles Epiteleios, the Accomplished, and Philios, the Friendly One. At some time or other Asklepios took over the shrine of Meilichios, Philios, Epite- leios, as he took over the shrine of Amynos, but Zeus also put in a claim and the two divided the honours of the place. The old snake-hero was forgotten, overshadowed by the Olympian and the great immigrant healer; but the Olympian does not wholly triumph. He cannot change the local ritual, and he must consent to a certain interchange of attributes.

This is quaintly shown in the two reliefs placed side by side in fig. 109 3 . The larger one to the left shows a seated god holding a cornucopia ; beneath his chair is an eagle. In deference to this

1 Hesych. s.v. 2 Plat. Legg. vi. 784 D.

3 Both reliefs are reproduced from photographs kindly given me by the German Archaeological Institute. The relief to Zeus Philios was found near the Hill of the Nymphs at Athens (C.I.A. n. 1330), that to the Agathos Daimon at Thespiae (C.I.A. i. 1815).


The Making of a God


characteristically Olympian bird we should expect the dedication to be to Zeus. We find it is to the 'Good Spirit.' In the smaller

FIG. 109.

relief a similar bird is perched below the chair, and a humble pig is the sacrifice, as it is to Zeus Meilichios ; the inscription tells us that ' the Club-men dedicated it to Zeus Philios in the archonship of Hegesios.' The relief is dated by this archonship as set up in the year 324/3 B.C. The Friendly Zeus was the god of good fellow- ship and was of wide popularity 1 . To cheerful, hilarious souls it was comforting to think that there was another Zeus, less remote,

1 vri rbv $l\iov was a popular oath, cf. Ar. Acharn. 730. The omission of the proper name is significant.

vii] Zeus Philios 359

more of the cornucopia and less of the thunderbolt, and that he was ready to join a human feast. The diner-out needs and finds a god in his own image, and Zeus Zeus with his title of Philios, accustomed as he was to Homeric banquets, was ready for the post. So the comic parasite reasons 1 :

1 1 wish to explain clearly

What a holy orthodox business this dining-out is An invention of the gods ; the other arts Were invented by men of talent, not by the gods. But dining-out was invented by Zeus the Friendly, By common consent the greatest of all the gods. Now good old Zeus comes straight into people's houses In his free and easy way, rich and poor alike. Wherever he sees a comfortable couch set out And by its side a table properly laid, Down he sits to a regular dinner with courses, Wine and dessert and all, and then off he goes Straight back home, and he never pays his shot.'

The fooling is obviously based on ritual practice in the ' Hero- Feast ' that developed into the Feasts of the Gods, the Theo- xenia.

Our argument ends where it began with Zeus Meilichios, an early chthonic stratum of worship, a later Olympian supersession. The two religions, alien in ritual, alien in significance, never more than mechanically fused. We have also seen that the new religion was powerless to alter the old save in name ; the Diasia becomes the festival of Zeus, the ritual is a holocaust offered to a snake ; Apollo and Artemis take over the Thargelia, but it remains a savage ceremony of magical purification.

It might seem that we had reached the end. In reality, for religion in any deep and mystical sense, we have yet to watch the beginning ; we have yet to see the coming of a god, who came from the North and yet was no Achaean, no Olympian, who belonging to the ancient stock revived the ancient ritual, the sacrifice that was in its inner content a sacrifice of purification, but revived it with a significance all his own, the god who took over the ritual of the Anthesteria, Dionysos.

1 Diod. Sinop. frg. ap. Athen. vi. 2396. Meineke, F.C.G. in. p. 543.


The Making of a God



The passing from the old to the new is very curiously and instructively shown in the two designs in figs. 110 and 111. The design in fig. 110 is from a relief found in the harbour of Peiraeus and now in the National Museum at Athens 1 . The material is Pentelic marble ; in places the surface has suffered considerably from the corrosion of sea-water. The fine style of the relief dates it as probably belonging to the end of 5th century B.C.

The general type of the relief is of course the same as that of the ' Hero-Feast 2 / A youth on a couch holds a rhyton, the

FIG. 110.

usual woman is seated at his feet, the usual procession stands to the left. But it is a ' Hero-Feast ' with a difference. The group of ' worshippers ' are not worshippers ; they are talking among themselves, they hold not victims or other offerings, but the implements of the drama a mask, a tambourine. This is

1 Cat. 1500. Both designs in figs. 110 and 111 are reproduced from photographs.

2 The most recent account of this much discussed relief is by Dr Studniczka, 'Ueber das Schauspielerrelief aus dem Peiraeus,' in Melanges Perrot, p. 307. The relief was first published A. Mittheilungen 1882, Taf. 14, p. 389: see also Hermes 1887, p. 336. A. Mitt. 1888, p. 221. Eeisch, Weihgeschenke, p. 23. Jahrbuch d. Inst. 1896, p. 104. A. Mitt. 1896, p. 362.

YII] Dionysos on Hero-reliefs 361

clearly seen in the case of the middle figure, a woman 1 . The worshippers are tragic actors. This prepares us for the fact disclosed by the inscriptions beneath the figures of the youth and the attendant woman. Under the youth is written quite clearly Dionysos : under the woman was an inscription of which only two certain letters remain, the two last, la. These inscriptions, it should clearly be noted, are later than the relief itself, probably not earlier than 300 B.C. The name of the woman attendant cannot certainly be made out: the most probable conjecture is (Paid)ia, Play, a natural enough name for a nymph attendant on Dionysos.

The name of the god is certain, and, though the inscription is an afterthought, it certainly voices the intention of the original artist. It is to the honour of Dionysos, not to that of a hero, that the actors with their masks assemble to his honour rather than to his definite worship. But none the less there remains the significant fact that the god has taken over the art-type of the ' Hero-Feast.'

The second relief 2 in fig. Ill tells in slightly different and more elaborate form the same tale. The design is from a relief in the Museum at Naples, and is an instance of a type long known as the ' Ikarios reliefs.' Its style dates it as about the 2nd cent. B.C. It clearly presents a blend of the ' Hero-Feast ' to the left and the triumphal entry of Dionysos, drunken, elderly, attended by a train of worshippers to the right. The immigrant god is received by the local hero. What local hero receives him we cannot say. Legend tells of such receptions by Ikarios, by Pegasos, by Amphictyon, by Semachos. The hero must remain unnamed; anyhow he plays to Dionysos the part played by Sophocles, he is Dexion, Receiver, Host. It is a Theoxenia, a feasting of the god. The ' Ikarios ' reliefs are late, and, in the

1 Dr Studniczka (op. cit. supra) has made a very close examination of the objects held, and attempts, I do not think successfully, to deduce therefrom the dramatic characters impersonated. The object held by the last figure to the left as well as his face is obliterated. It is sufficient for our purpose that it is clear from the middle figure they are actors.

2 From a photograph. There are similar reliefs not quite so well preserved in the Louvre and in the British Museum (Cat. 176). A complete list of those extant is given by Hauser, Die Neu-attischen Reliefs, Anhang, p. 189. The earliest specimen, more nearly approaching the 'Hero-Kelief,' and so marked by the presence of a snake, is published Arch. Zeit. 1882, Taf. xiv., and I have already discussed it, Myth, and Mon. Anc. Athens, p. xlv, fig. 7.


The Making of a God


euphemistic manner of the time, the representation is all peace and harmony. The hero, be he who he may, receives in awe and reverence and gladness the incoming divine guest. But Herodotus tells another tale a tale of the forcible wresting of the honours

FIG. 111.

of the hero to the glory of the god. In telling the early history of Sekyon under the tyrant Cleisthenes he 1 makes this notable statement : ' The inhabitants of Sekyon paid other honours to Adrastos and they celebrated his misfortunes by tragic choruses, for at that time they did not honour Diouysos, but honoured Adrastos. Now Cleisthenes transferred these choruses (from Adrastos) to Dionysos, but the rest of .the sacrifice he gave to Melanippos.' It is a sudden glimpse into a very human state of affairs. To put down the cult of Adrastos, the hero of a family alien to his own, Cleisthenes introduced the worship of a Theban hero Melanippos. He dared not for some reason give the tragic choruses to Melanippos; rather than the local enemy should still have them he hands them over to a popular immigrant god, Dionysos.

The recumbent hero in the ' Hero-Feasts ' is usually repre-

1 Herod, v. 67. I owe this important reference to the article Heros in Eoscher's Lexicon, p. 2492, but Dr Deneken calls no attention to its significance in relation to Dionysos.


Dionysos on Hero-reliefs


sented as reclining at a feast and as drinking from a large wine- cup, attended by a cupbearer. It may be conjectured that this type, which does not appear till late in the 5th century, came in with the worship of Dionysos. The idea of future bliss as an 'eternal drunkenness' came, it will later be seen (Chap. XL), with the religion of Dionysos from the North. By an- ticipation we may note a curious fact. On the late Roman coins of the Bizuae 1 , a Thracian tribe, the type of the Hero-Feast occurs. An in- stance is given in fig. 112. A hero is represented of that we are sure from the cuirass suspended on the tree, from the horse and from the snake but a hero, I would conjecture, conceived of as transfigured into the feasting god, Dionysos himself.

To the examination in detail of the cult of Dionysos we must now turn.

1 J.H.S. v. p. 116. Prof. Percy Gardner explains the coin as belonging to Asklepios: my suggestion is made with the utmost diffidence as differing from so great an authority on numismatics.

FIG. 112.





So far the formula for Greek theology has been, ' Man makes the gods in his own image.' Mythological development has proceeded on lines perfectly normal, natural, intelligible. In so far as we understand humanity we can predicate divinity. The gods are found to be merely magnified men, on the whole perhaps better but with frequent lapses into worse, quot homines tot sen- tentiae, quot sententiae tot dei.

"As man grew more civilized, his image, mirrored in the gods, grew more beautiful and pari passu the worship he offered to these gods advanced from 'aversion' (a-rrorpoTrri) to 'tendance' (OepaTreia). But all along we have been conscious that some- thing was lacking, that even these exquisite presentations of the Nymphs and the Graces, the Mother and the Daughter, are really rather human than divine, that their ritual, whether of ignorant and cruel ' aversion ' or of genial ' tendance/ was scarcely in our sense religious. These perfect Olympians and even these gracious Earth-goddesses are not really Lords over man's life who made them, they are not even ghosts to beckon and threaten, they are lovely dreams, they are playthings of his happy childhood, and when full-grown he comes to face realities, from kindly sentiment he lets them lie unburied in the lumber-room of his life.

Just when Apollo, Artemis, Athene, nay even Zeus himself, were losing touch with life and reality, fading and dying of their own luminous perfection, there came into Greece a new religious

CH. vin] Dionysos an Immigrant 365

impulse, an impulse really religious, the mysticism that is em- bodied for us in the two names Dionysos and Orpheus. The object of the chapters that follow is to try and seize, with as much precision as may be, the gist of this mysticism.

Dionysos is a difficult god to understand. In the end it is only the mystic who penetrates the secrets of mysticism. It is therefore to poets and philosophers that we must finally look for help, and even with this help each man is in the matter of mysticism peculiarly the measure of his own understanding. But this ultimate inevitable vagueness makes it the more imperative that the few certain truths that can be made out about the religion of Dionysos should be firmly established and plainly set forth.


First it is certain beyond question that Dionysos was a late- comer into Greek religion, an immigrant god, and that he came from that home of spiritual impulse, the North. These three propositions are so intimately connected that they may con- veniently be dealt with together.

In the face of a steady and almost uniform ancient tradition that Dionysos came from without, it might scarcely be necessary to emphasize this point but for a recent modern heresy. Anthro- pologists have lately recognized 1 , and rightly, that Dionysos is in one of his aspects a nature-god, a god who comes and goes with the seasons, who has like Demeter and Kore, like Adonis and Osiris, his Epiphanies and his Recessions. They have rashly concluded that these undoubted appearances and disappearances adequately account for the tradition of his immigration, that he is merely a new-comer year by year, not a foreigner ; that he is welcomed every spring, every harvest, every vintage, exorcised, expelled and slain in the death of each succeding winter. This error is beginning to filter into handbooks.

A moment's consideration shows that the actual legend points to the reverse conclusion. The god is first met with hostility,

1 Mr A. G. Bather in an interesting article on ' The Problem of the Bacchae ' (J.H.S. xiv. 1894, p. 263) concludes that the myths of the introduction of Dionysos ' do not find their origin in any introduction of the god from without, but in the yearly inbringing of the new statue.'




exorcised and expelled, then by the compulsion of his might and magic at last welcomed. Demeter and Kore are season-goddesses, yet we have no legend of their forcible entry. Comparative an- thropology has done much for the understanding of Dionysos, but to tamper with the historical fact of his immigration is to darken counsel.

Ancient tradition must be examined, and first as to the lateness of his coming.

In Homer Dionysos is not yet an Olympian. On the Parthenon frieze he takes his place among the seated gods. Somewhere between the dates of Homer and Pheidias his entry was effected. The same is true of the indigenous Demeter, so that this argument alone is inadequate, but the fact must be noted.

The earliest monument of art showing Dionysos as an actual denizen of Olympus is the curious design from an amphora 1 now in the Berlin Museum. The scene depicted is the birth of Athene

FIG. 113.

and all the divinities present are carefully and sometimes curiously inscribed. Zeus with his thunderbolt is seated on a splendid throne in the centre. Athene springs from his head. To the right are Demeter, Artemis, Aphrodite, and last of all Apollo. To the left Eileithyia, Hermes, Hephaestos, and last Dionysos holding his great wine cup.

From the style of the inscriptions the design can scarcely date later than the early part of the sixth century. The position and

1 Berlin, Cat. 1704. Mon. d. Inst. 1873 vol. ix. PL LV. W. Helbig, Annali 1873, p. 106. The curious inscriptions do not here concern us.

vm] Dionysos received into Olympus 367

grouping of the different gods is noteworthy. Of course someone must stand on the outside, but Dionysos is markedly aloof from the main action. Hermes seems to come as messenger to the furthest verge of Olympus to tell him the news. At the right, the other Northerner, Apollo, occupies the last place.

Moreover on vase-paintings substantially earlier than the Parthenon marbles the scene of his entry into Olympus is not infrequent. As we have no literary tradition of this entry, the evidence of vase-paintings is here of some importance. The design selected (fig. 114) is from a cylix signed by the potter Euxitheos 1 and can be securely dated as a work executed about the turn of the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. On the obverse is an

Fm. 114.

assembly of the Olympians all inscribed ; Zeus himself with his thunderbolt and Ganymede about to fill his wine cup, Athene holding helmet and lance, Hermes with a flower, Hebe, Hestia with

1 Wiener Vorlegebldtter, Serie D, Taf. 1 and 2. The vase is now in the Municipal Museum at Corneto.

368 Dionysos [CH.

flower and a branch, Aphrodite with dove and flower, Ares with helmet and lance. We might not have named them right but for their inscriptions. Hera and Poseidon are absent, Demeter not yet come. At this time the vase-painter is still free to make a certain choice, the twelve Olympians are not yet canonical. On the obverse the gods are seated waiting, and on the reverse the new god is coming in all his splendour in his chariot with vine and wine-cup in his hand. With him, characteristically, for he is never unaccompanied, come the Satyr Terpes playing on the lyre and the Maenad Thero with thyrsos and fawn and snake, and behind the chariot another Maenad Kalis with thyrsos and lion and a Satyr Terpon playing on the flute. At the close of the sixth century when Pratinas and Choirilos and Phrynichus were writing tragedies in his honour, the gates of that exclusive epic Olympus could no longer be closed against the people's god, and the potter knew it. But there had been a time of doubt and debate. We do not have these entries of Athene or Poseidon or even Hermes.

Homer is of course our first literary source and his main notice of Dionysos is so characteristic it must be quoted in full. The fact that the passage stands alone elsewhere through all Homer Dionysos is of no real account has led critics to suspect that it is of later and local origin. Be that as it may, the story glistens like an alien jewel in a bedrock of monotonous fighting. Diomede 1 meets Glaucus in battle, but so great is the hardihood of Glaucus that Diomede fears he is one of the immortals and makes pious, prudent pause :

'I, Diomedes, will not stand 'gainst heavenly Gods in war. Not long in life was he of old who raised 'gainst gods his hand Strong Lycoorgos, Dryas' son. Through Nysa's goodly land He Dionysos' Nursing Nymphs did chase, till down in fear They cast their wands upon the ground, so sore he smote them there, That fell king with the ox-smiter. But Dionysos fled, And plunged him 'neath the salt sea wave. Him sore discomfited Fair Thetis to her bosom took. Great fear the god did seize. With Lycoorgos they were wroth, those gods that dwell at ease, And Kronos' son did make him blind, and he was not for long, The immortal gods they hated him because he did them wrong.'

Homer is somewhat mysterious as to the end of Lycurgus ' Not long in life was he.' Sophocles 2 is more explicit, both as to his

1 II. vi. 129. 2 Soph. Ant. 955.

viu] Dionysos a Thracian 369

nationality and his doom. He is a Thracian king, son of Dryas, and he was 'rock-entombed/ When Antigone is going to her death the chorus sing how in like fashion others had been forced to bend beneath the yoke of the gods, Danae, Lycurgus, the sons of Phineus, Oreithyia three of them Thracians ; and of Lycurgus they tell :

'He was bound by Dionysos, rock-entombed, Dryas 3 son, Edonian king ; swiftly bloomed His dire wrath and drooped. So was he wrought To know his blindness and what god he sought With gibes mad-tongued. Yea and he set his hand To stay the god-inspired band, To quell his women and his joyous fire And rouse the fluting Muses into ire.'

The loss of the Lycurgus trilogy of Aeschylus is hard to bear. One scene at least must have been something like a forecast of the Bacchae of Euripides. The dialogue between Lycurgus arid the stranger-god captured and brought into his presence, is parodied by Aristophanes in the Thesmophoriazusae and the scholiast 3 tells us that the words:

' Whence does the womanish creature come ? '

occurred in the Edonians.

Neither Homer nor Sophocles knew anything of the murder of the children. Who first piled up this fresh horror we do not know. Vase-paintings of the rather late red-figured style (middle of the fifth century B.C.) are our first sources. The punishment of sin was to the primitive mind always incomplete unless the offender was cut off with his whole family root and branch, and the murder of the children may have been an echo of the story of the mad Heracles. It is finely conceived on a red-figured krater 2 . On the obverse is the mad Lycurgus with his children dead and dying. He swings a double axe (/3ov7r\^). The 'ox-feller' of Homer is probably a double axe, not a goad. It is the typical weapon of the Thracian, and with it the Thracian women regularly on vases slay Orpheus (p. 463). Through the air down upon Lycurgus swoops a winged demon of madness, probably Lyssa herself, and smites at the king with her pointed goad. To the left, behind a hill, a Maenad smites her timbrel in token of the

1 Ar. Thesm. 135, schol. ad loc.

2 Naples. Heydemann, Cat. 3237. Myth, and Mon. Anc. Athens, pp. 260, 261, figs. 11 and 12.


370 Dionysos [CH.

presence of the god. On the reverse of the vase we have the peace of Dionysos who made all this madness. The god has sent his angel against Lycurgus, but no turmoil troubles him or his. About him his thiasos of Maenads and Satyrs seem to watch the scene, alert and interested but in perfect quiet.

The exact details of the fate of Lycurgus, varying as they do from author to author, are not of real importance. The essential thing, the factor which recurs in story after story, is the rage against the dominance of a new god, the blind mad fury, the swift sudden helpless collapse at the touch of a real force. This is no symbol of the coming of the spring or the gathering of the vintage. It is the mirrored image of a human experience, of the passionate vain beating of man against what is not man and is more and less than man.

The nature and essence of the new influence will be in part determined later. For the present the question that presses for solution is ' whence did it come ? ' ' where was the primitive jseat of the worship of Dionysos ? '

The testimony of historians, from Herodotus to Dion Cassius, is uniform, and confirms the witness of Homer and Sophocles. Herodotus 1 tells how Xerxes, when he marched through Thrace, compelled the sea tribes to furnish him with ships and those that dwelt inland to follow by land. Only one tribe, the Satrae, would suffer no compulsion, and then come the significant words :

  • The Satrae were subject to no man so far as we know, but down

to our own day they alone of all the Thracians are free, for they dwell on high mountains covered with woods of all kinds and snow-clad, and they are keenly warlike. These are the people that possess an oracle shrine of Dionysos and this oracle is on the topmost range of their mountains. And those among the Sati who interpret the oracle are called Bessi ; it is a priestess wh< utters the oracles as it is at Delphi, and the oracles are nothing more extraordinary than that.' Herodotus is not concerned with the religion of Dionysos ; he does not even say that the religion of Dionysos spread southward into Greece, but he states the all-important fact that the Satrae were never conquered. They received no religion from without. Here among those splendid

1 Herod, vn. 110.

YIII] Dionysos and the Bessi 371

unconquerable savages in their mountain fastnesses was the real home of the god.

Herodotus speaks of the Bessi as though they were a kind of priestly caste among the Satrae, but Strabo 1 knows of them as the wildest and fiercest of the many brigand tribes that dwelt on and around Mt. Haemus. All the tribes about Mt. Haemus were, he says, 'much addicted to brigandage, but the Bessi who possessed the greater part of Mt. Haemus were called brigands by brigands. They are the sort of people who live in huts in very miserable fashion, and they extend as far as Rhodope and the Paeonians.' He mentions the Bessi again 2 as a tribe living high up on the Hebrus at the furthest point where the river is navigable, and again emphasizes their tendency to brigandage.

The evil reputation of the Bessi lasted on till Christian days, till they bowed beneath the yoke of a greater than Dionysos. Towards the end of the fourth century A.D. the good Bishop of Dacia, Niketas, carried the gospel to these mountain wolves and, if we may trust the congratulatory ode written to him by his friend Paulinus, he carried it not in vain. Paulinus celebrates the conversion of the Bessi as follows :

' Hard were their lands and hard those Bessi bold, Cold were their snows, their hearts than snow more cold, Sheep in the fold from roaming now they cease, Thy fold of peace.

Untamed of war, ever did they refuse To bow their heads to servitude's hard use, 'Neath the true yoke their necks obedient Are gladly bent.

They who were wont with sweat and manual toil To delve their sordid ore from out the soil Now for their wealth with inward joy untold Garner heaven's gold.

There where of old they prowled like savage beasts, Now is the joyous rite of angel feasts. The brigands' cave is now a hiding place For men of grace 3 .'

1 Strabo vn. 318. 2 Strabo frg. vn.

3 Paulinus Nol. carm. xxx. de reditu Niket. Episc. in Daciam.

Nam simul terris animisque duri

et sua Bessi nive duriores

nunc oves facti duce te gregantur pacis in aulam.

quasque cervices dare servituti

semper a bello indomiti negarant

nunc iugo veri domini subactas sternere gaudent.

24 2

372 Dionysos [CH.

Thucydides 1 in his account of Thracian affairs is silent about the Bessi and his silence surprises us. It is probably accounted for by the fact that in his days the Odrysae had complete supremacy, a supremacy that seems to have lasted down to the days of Roman domination. The autochthonous tribes were necessarily obscured. He mentions however certain mountain peoples who had retained their autonomy against Sitalkes king of the Odrysae and calls them by the collective name Dioi. Among them were probably the Bessi, for we learn from Pliny 2 that the Bessi were known by many names, among them that of Dio-Bessi. It seems possible that to these Dio-Bessi the god may have owed one of his many names.

In the face of all this historical evidence, it is at first a little surprising to find that, in the Bacchae of Euripides, Dionysos is no Thracian. He is Theban born, and comes back to Thebes, after long triumphant wanderings not in Thrace but in Asia, through Lydia, Phrygia to uttermost Media and Arabia. On this point Euripides is explicit. In the prologue 3 Dionysos says:

  • Far now behind me lies the golden land

Of Lydian and of Phrygian far away The wide, hot plains where Persian sun-beams play, The Bactrian war- holds and the storm-oppressed Clime of the Mede and Araby the blest, And Asia all, that by the salt sea lies In proud embattled cities, motley- wise Of Hellene and Barbarian interwrought, And now I come to Hellas, having taught All the world else my dances and my rite Of mysteries, to show me in man's sight Manifest God.'

Dionysos is made to come from without, not as an immigrant

nunc magis dives pretio laboris Bessus exultat, quod humi manuque ante quaerebat, modo mente caeli colligit aurum.

mos ubi quondam fuerat ferarum,

nunc ibi iritus viget angelorum

et latet Justus quibus ipse latro

vixit in antris.

For this and many other valuable references about the Bessi, I am indebted to Dr Tomaschek's article 'Ueber Brumalia und Eosalia,' Sitzungsber. d. K. Akad. d. Wissemchaften, Phil.-Hist. Kl., Wien 1868, p. 351.

1 Thucyd. n. 96.

2 Plm.'tf.JEr. iv. 18. 11. 40. 3 Eur. Bacch. 13.

vm] Dionysos in the ' Bacchae' 373

stranger but as an exile returned. Moreover, if historical tradition be true, he is made to come from the wrong place. He comes also attended by a train of barbarian women, Asiatic not Thracian. They chant their oriental origin 1 :

'From Asia, from the day-spring that uprises, From Tmolus ever glorying we come,'

and again 2 :

' Hither, fragrant of Tmolus the golden.'

Yet Euripides wrote the play in Macedonia and must have known perfectly well that these Macedonian rites that so im- pressed his imagination were from Thrace ; that, as Plutarch tells us 3 , ' The women called Klodones and Mimallones performed rites which were the same as those done by the Edonian women and the Thracian women about the Haemus.' He knows it perfectly well and when he is off his guard betrays his knowledge. In the epode of the third choric song 4 he makes Dionysos come to bless Pieria and in his coming cross the two Macedonian rivers, the Axios and Lydias :

'Blessed land of Pierie, Dionysos loveth thee,

He will come to thee with dancing, Come with joy and mystery, With the Maenads at his best Winding, winding to the west;

Cross the flood of swiftly glancing Axios in majesty, Cross the Lydias, the giver

Of good gifts and waving green, Cross that Father Stream of story Through a land of steeds and glory Rolling, bravest, fairest River

E'er of mortals seen.'

Euripides as poet can afford to contradict himself. He accepts popular tradition, too careless of it to attempt an irrelevant con- sistency. It matters nothing to him whence the god came 5 . The Theban birth-place, the home-coming were essential to the human

1 Eur. Bacch. 65. 2 16. 152.

3 Plut. Vit. Alex. 2. * Eur. Bacch. 565.

To Euripides in the Bacchae Dionysos is the god of the grape. The vine probably came from Asia, though about this experts do not seem to be agreed, see Schrader, Real-lexicon-, but Dionysos, as will later be shown, is earlier than the coming of the vine.

374 Dionysos [CH.

pathos of his story. But for that we should have missed the appeal to Dirce 1 :

'Achelous' roaming daughter, Holy Dirce, virgin water, Bathed he not of old in thee The Babe of God, the Mystery?' and again 2 :

'Why, Blessed among Rivers,

Wilt thou fly me and deny me ? By his own joy I vow, By the grape upon the bough, Thou shalt seek him in the midnight, thou shalt love him even now.'

He came unto his own and his own received him not.

When we examine the evidence of art, we find that the simple vase-painter accepts the fact that Dionysos has become a Greek, and does not raise the question whence he came. In black and early red figured designs Dionysos is almost uniformly dressed as a Greek and attended by Greek Maenads. Later the artist becomes more learned and dresses Dionysos as a Thracian or occasionally as an Oriental. The vase-painting 3 in fig. 115, from a late aryballos

1 I *W ' .\t*



Fra. 115.

in the British Museum, has been usually interpreted as repre- senting the Oriental triumph of Dionysos. Rightly so, I inclii to think, because the figure on the camel is attended not onlj by Orientals but by Greek maidens playing on cymbals. Their free upward bearing contrasts strongly with the strange abject fantastic posturings of the Orientals. It must however

1 Eur. Bacch. 519. 3 Ib. 530.

3 B.M. Cat. E 695. Mon. d. Inst. 1833 tav. L.

vm] Dionysos a Phrygio-Thracian 375

distinctly borne in mind that the figure on the camel carries no Dionysiac attributes and cannot be certainly said to be the god.

The question remains why did popular tradition, accepted by Euripides and embodied occasionally in vase-paintings, point to Asia rather than to the real home, Thrace ? The answer in the main is given by Strabo 1 in his important account of the pro- venance of the orgiastic worships of Greece. Strabo is noting that Pindar, like Euripides, regards the rites of Dionysos as substantially the same with those performed by the Phrygians in honour of the Great Mother. ' Very similar to these are,' he adds, 'the rites called Kotytteia and Bendideia, celebrated among the Thracians. Nor is it at all unlikely that, as the Phrygians themselves are colonists from the Thracians, they brought their religious rites from thence.' In a fragment 2 of the lost seventh book he is still more explicit. He is mentioning the mountain Bernicos as formerly in possession of the Briges, and the Briges, he says, were ' a Thracian tribe of which some portion went across into Asia and were called by a modified name, Phrygians.'

The solution is simple and is indeed almost a geographical necessity. If the Thracians dwelling in the ranges of Rhodope and Haemus went south at all, they would inevitably split up into two branches. The one would move westward into Macedonia, across the Axios and Lydias into Thessaly and thence downwards to Delphi, Thebes and Attica; the other eastward across the Bosporus or the Hellespont into Asia Minor. Greek colonists in Asia Minor would recognize in the orgiastic cults they found there elements akin to their own worship of Dionysos. Wise men are not slow to follow the star that leads to the east, and it was pleasanter to admit a debt to Asia Minor than to own kinship with the barbarous north. Similarity of names, e.g. Lydias and Lydia, may have helped out the illusion and most of all the Theban legend of the Phoenician Kadmos 3 .

But mythology is too unconscious not to betray itself. Herodotus 4 says that the Thracians worship three gods only : Ares, Dionysos and Artemis. Between Ares and Dionysos there

1 Strabo x. 3 470. 2 Strabo frg. 25.

3 For the orientalism of the Theban character and legends, see Mr D. G. Hogarth, Philip and Alexander, p. 34.

4 Herod, v. 7.




would seem to be but little in common, but in one current myth their kinship comes out all unconsciously. It is just these un- conscious revelations that are in mythology of cardinal importance. The story is that known as c the bonds of Hera ' ("Upas Seo-fjuoi). Hephaistos, to revenge himself for his downfall from heaven, sent to his mother Hera a golden throne with invisible bonds. The Olympians took counsel how they might free their queen. None but Hephaistos knew the secret of loosing. Ares 1 vowed he would bring Hephaistos by force. Hephaistos drove him off with fire- brands. Force failed, but Hephaistos yielded to the seduction of Dionysos and was brought in drunken triumph back to Olympus. It was a good subject for broad comedy, and Epicharmus used it in his ' Revellers or Hephaistos.' It attained a rather singular popularity in art; the subject occurs on upwards of thirty vase- paintings black and red figured. Earlier than any literary source

FIG. 116.

for the myth is unquestionably the famous Fra^ois 2 vase (early sixth century B.C.) in the Museo Civico at Florence, where the scene is depicted in broad epic fashion and with some conscious

1 Sappho, frg. 66.

2 Wiener Vorlegeblatter, Serie n. Taf. iii., iv.

Corinthian vase published by Dr Loschke, A. Mitt. 1894, p. 524, Taf. viii.

An even earlier source is the

vm] Dionysos and Ares 377

humour. All the figures are inscribed. Zeus is there and Hera, seated on the splendid, fatal throne. Dionysos leads the mule on which sits the drunken Hephaistos. Up they come into the very presence of Zeus with three attendant Silenoi carrying respectively a wine-skin, a flute, a woman. It is the regular revel rout. Be- hind the throne of Hera crouches Ares in deep dejection, on a sort of low stool of repentance, while Athene looks back at him with scorn. Why are Ares and Dionysos thus set in rivalry? Not merely because wine is mightier than war, but because the two, Ares and Dionysos, are Thracian rivals, with Hephaistos of Lemnos for a third. It is a bit of local mythology transplanted later to Olympus.

The diverse fates of these two Thracian gods are instructive. Ares was realized as a Thracian to the end. In Homer he is only half accepted in Olympus, he is known as a ruffian and a swashbuckler and like Aphrodite escapes 1 to his home as soon as he is released :

  • Straightway forth sprang the twain ;

To savage Thrace went Ares, but Kypris with sweet smile Hied her to her fair altar place, in pleasant Paphos' isle.'

The newly admitted gods, such as Ares and Aphrodite, are never really at home in Olympus. Dionysos, as has already been seen (p. 366), has no place in the Homeric Olympus, but, once he does force an entry, his seat is far more stable. In the Oedipus Tyrannos Sophocles 2 realizes that Dionysos and Ares are the great Theban divinities, but Ares is of slaughter and death, Dionysos of gladness and life. He makes his chorus summon Dionysos to banish Ares his fellow divinity:

'0 thou with golden mitre band, Named for our land, On thee in this our woe I call, thou ruddy Bacchus all aglow

With wine and Bacchant song.

Draw nigh, thou and thy Maenad throng, Drive from us with bright torch of blazing pine The god unhonoured 'mong the gods divine.'

Sophocles just hits the theological mark, Ares is a god but he fs unhonoured of the orthodox gods, the Olympians.

1 Od. vm. 265. 2 Soph. Oed. Tyr. 209.

378 Dionysos [CH.

Euripides 1 too lets out the kinship with Ares. He knows of

  • Harmonia, daughter of the Lord of War,'

Harmonia, bride of Kadmos, mother of Semele, and though his Dionysos is at the outset all gentleness and magic, his kingdom scarcely of this world, Teiresias 2 knows that he is not only Teacher, Healer, Prophet, but

'of Ares' realm a part hath he. When mortal armies mailed and arrayed Have in strange fear, or ever blade met blade, Fled, maddened, 'tis this god hath palsied them,'

and though the panic he sends is from within not without, yet the mention is significant. Dionysos, for all his sweetness, is to the end militant, he came not to bring peace upon the earth but a sword, only in late authors his weapons are not those of Ares. On vase-paintings he is not unfrequently depicted doing on his actual armour, but Polyaenus 3 , in the little treatise on mytho- logical warriors with which he prefaces his Strategika, notes the secret armour of the god, the lance hidden in ivy, the fawn-skin and soft raiment for breastplate, the cymbals and drum for trumpet. To the end the god of the brigand Bessi was Lord of War.

Art tells the same tale, that the Thracian Dionysos succeeded where the equally Thracian Ares failed. Among the archaic seated gods on the frieze of the treasury of Cnidos recently dis- covered at Delphi 4 Ares has found a place, but a significant one, at the very end, on a seat by himself, as though naively to mark the difference. Even on the east frieze of the Parthenon, where all is softened down to a decent theological harmony, there is just a lingering, semi-conscious touch of the same prejudice. Ares is admitted indeed, but he is not quite at home among these easy aristocratic Olympians. He is grouped with no one, he leans his arm on no one's shoulder ; even his pose is a little too consciously assured to be quite confident.

It is abundantly clear that the remote Asiatic origin of Dionysos is emphasized to hide a more immediate Thracian provenance. The Greeks knew the god was not home-grown,

1 Eur. Bacch. 1356. 2 Ib. 302. 3 Polyaen. Strat. i. 1.

4 This remarkable frieze is in the local museum at Delphi and is not as yet completely published.

vm] Dionysos and Nysa 379

but he was so great, so good, so all-conquering, that they were forced to accept him. But they could not bear the truth, that he came from their rough north-country kinsmen the Thracians. They need not have been ashamed of these Northerners, who were as well born as and more bravely bred than themselves. Even Herodotos 1 owns that 'the nation of the Thracians is the greatest among men, except at least the Indians.'

Once fairly uprooted from his native Thracian soil, it was easy to plant Dionysos anywhere and everywhere wherever went his worshippers. His homeless splendour grows and grows till by the time of Diodorus his birthplace is completely apocryphal. In Homer, as has been seen (p. 368), Nysa or as it is called Nyseion, whether it be mountain or plain, is clearly in Thrace, home of Lycurgus son of Dryas. But already in Sophocles 2 , in the beautiful fragment preserved by Strabo, wherever it may be, it is a place touched by magic, a silent land which

' The horned lacchus loves for his dear nurse, Where no shrill voice doth sound of any bird.'

Euripides 3 never expressly states where he supposes Nysa to be, but the name comes to his lips coupled with the Korykian peaks on Parnassos and the leafy haunts of Olympus, so we may suppose he believed it to be northwards. As the horizon of the Greeks widened, Nysa is pushed further and further away to an ever more remote Nowhere. Diodorus 4 with much circumstance settles it in Libya on an almost inaccessible island surrounded by the river Triton. It mattered little so long as it was a far-off happy land.

Convinced as he was of this remote African Nysa and of the great Asiatic campaign of Dionysos, it is curious to note that even Diodorus cannot rid his mind of Thrace. He knows of course the story of the Thracian Lycurgus and mentions incidentally that it was in a place called Nysion that Lycurgus set upon the Maenads and slew them, he knows too of the connection between Dionysos and Orpheus 5 and never doubts but that Orpheus was a Thracian, a matter to be discussed later. Most significant of all, when he is

1 Herod, v. 3.

2 Soph. frg. 782 ap. Strab. xv. 687. 3 Eur. Bacch. 556. 4 Diod. m. 4. s j&. 65.

380 Dionysos [CH.

speaking 1 of the trieteric ceremonies instituted in memory of the Indian expedition, he automatically records that these were celebrated not only by Boeotians and the other Greeks but by the Thracians. Thrace is obscured by the glories of Phrygia, Lydia, Phoenicia, Arabia and Libya, but never wholly forgotten.


Dionysos then, whatever his nature, is an immigrant god, a late comer, and he enters Greece from the north, from Thrace. He comes not unattended. With him are always his revel rout of Satyrs and of Maenads. This again marks him out from the rest of the Olympians ; Poseidon, Athene, Apollo, Zeus himself has no such accompaniment. As man makes the gods in his own image, it may be well before we examine the nature and functions of Dionysos to observe the characteristics of his attendant worship- pers, to determine who and what they are and whence they come.

The Satyrs first they are (what else should they, could they be ?) the Satrae* ; and these Satrae-Satyrs have many traits in common with the more mythological Centaurs. The evidence of the coins of Macedonia is instructive. On the coins of Orreskii 3 , a centaur, a horse -man, bears off a woman in his arms. At Lete close at hand, with a coinage closely resembling in style, fabric, weight the money of the Orreskii and other Pangaean tribes, the

FIG. 117.

type is the same in content, though with an instructive difference of form a naked Satyr or Seilenos with the hooves, ears and tail

1 Diod. iv. 3.

2 This was first, I believe, observed by Dr Head (Hist. Num. p. 176). In discussing the coinage of Lete in Macedonia he says : ' The coin types all refer to the orgiastic rites practised in the worship of the mountain Bacchus, which originated in the country of the Satrae or Satyrs' (Herod, vn. 111).

3 Prof. Eidgeway (Early Age of Greece, vol. i. p. 343) identifies the Orreskii of the coins with the Orestae of Strabo ( 434). He thinks the slight difference in form is due to a copyist's mistake of T for K.

viu] Satyrs and Centaurs 381

of a horse seizes a woman round the waist. These coins are of the sixth century B.C. Passing to Thasos, a colony of the Thracians and like it rich in the coinage that came of gold mines, we find the same type. On a series of coins that range from circ. 500 411 B.C. we have again the Satyr or Seilenos bearing off the woman. An instance, for clearness' sake one of comparatively late date 1 , is given in fig. 117.

This interchange of types, Satyr and Centaur, is evidence about which there can be no mistake. Satyr and Centaur, slightly diverse forms of the horse-man, are in essence one and the same. Nonnus 2 is right: 'the Centaurs are of the blood of the shaggy Satyrs.' It remains to ask who are the Centaurs ?

There are few mythological figures about which more pleasant baseless fancies have been woven; woven irresponsibly, because mythologists are slow to face solid historical fact ; woven because, intoxicated by comparative philology, they refuse to seek for the origin of a myth in its historical birthplace. The Centaurs, it used to be said, are Vedic Gandharvas, cloud-demons. Mythology now-a-days has fallen from the clouds, and with it the Centaurs. They next became mountain torrents, the offspring of the cloud that settles on the mountain top. The Centaurs have possession of a wine-cask, the imprisoned forces of the earth's fertility are left in charge of the genius of the mountain. The cask is opened, this is the unlocking of the imprisoned forces at the approach of Herakles, the sun in spring, and this unlocking is the signal for the mad onset of the Centaurs, the wild rush of the torrents. Of the making of such mythology truly there is no end.

Homer 3 knew quite well who the opponents of Peirithoos were, not cloud-demons, not mountain torrents, but real wild men (cfrrjpes), as real as the foes they fought with. He tells of the heroes Dryas, father of Lycurgus, and Peirithoos and Kaineus :

'Mightiest were they, and with the mightiest fought, With wild men mountain-haunting.'

1 Head, Hist. Num. p. 176.

2 Nonnus, Dionys. xm. 43

/cat \aatuv Zartipwv Kevravpidos afyta a II. i. 262

Kdpricrroi fji-ev 2<rav /cat KaprlffTOLS

382 Dionysos [CH.

No one has, so far as we know, reduced the mighty Peirithoos, Dryas and Lycurgus to mountain torrents or sun myths. Why are their mighty foes to be less human ?

Again in the Catalogue of the Ships 1 we are told how Peirithoos

1 Took vengeance on the shaggy mountain-men, Drave them from Pelion to the Aithikes far.'

In the name of common sense, did Peirithoos expel a storm- cloud or a mountain torrent and force it to leave Pelion and settle elsewhere ? The vengeance of Peirithoos is simply the expulsion of one wild tribe by another.

In these passages from the Iliad the foes of Peirithoos are simply a tribe of wild men, Pheres. In the Odyssey, Homer 2 calls these same foes by the name Kentauri, and implies that they are non-human. Speaking of the peril of * honey-sweet wine ' he


'Thence 'gan the feud 'twixt Centaurs and mankind.'

For the right understanding of this later non-humanity of the Centaurs the development of their art type is of paramount importance.

We are apt to think of the Centaurs exclusively somewhat as they appear on the metopes of the Parthenon, i.e. as splendid horses with the head and trunk of a man. By the middle of the fifth century B.C. in knightly horse-loving Athens the horse form had got the upper hand. In archaic representations the reverse is the case. The Centaurs are in art what they are in reality, men with men's legs and feet, but they are shaggy mountain men with some of the qualities and habits of beasts ; so to indicate this in a horse-loving country they have the hind-quarters of a horse awkwardly tacked on to their human bodies.

A good example is the vase-painting in fig. 118 from an early

black-figured lekythos in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Vases

of this style cannot be dated later than the beginning of the

sixth century B.C. and may be somewhat earlier 3 . The scene

1 ii. ii. 711

rovs 6' tK TlrjXiov <3<re Kal AldiKeacri Trt\affffev.

2 Od. xxi. 303 ^ ou KevTatipouri Kal avdpdfft. VCIKOS eTi/xd^l-

3 Boston, Inv. No. 6508. American Journal of Archaeology 1900, pi. vi. p. 441. The vase belongs to the class usually called 'proto-Corinthian.' Mr J. C. Hopkins prefers to call it 'Argive.'


Satyrs and Centaurs


represented is the fight of Herakles with the Centaurs. To the left is a Centaur holding in his right hand a branch, the primitive

Fm. 118.

weapon of a primitive combatant. He is figured as a complete man with a horse-trunk appended. In the original drawing the horse-trunk is made more obviously an extra appendage from the fact that the human body is painted red and the horse-trunk black. Herakles too is a fighter with rude weapons ; he carries his club, which in this case is plainly what its Greek name indi- cates, a rough hewn trunk or branch or possibly root of a tree. The remainder of the design is not so clear and does not affect the present argument. The man with the sword to the right is probably lolaos. The object surmounted by the eagles I am quite unable to explain.

The next stage in the development of the Centaur is seen in the archaic gem from the British Museum 1 in fig. 120. Here the notice- able point is that the Centaur, though he has still the body of a man, is beginning to be more of a horse. He has hoofs for feet. He is behaving just like the Satyr on the coin in fig. 117, or the aggressor on the Fra^ois FlG 12 o.

vase (fig. 116), he is carrying off a

1 J.H.S. vol. i. p. 130, fig. 1, published and discussed with other art representa- tions by Mr Sidney Colvin.

FIG. 119.




woman. It is the last step in the transition to the Centaur of the Parthenon, i.e. the horse with head and trunk of a man. I Between Satyr and Centaur the sole difference is this : the Centaur, primarily a wild man, became more and more of a horse, the Satyr resisted the temptation and remained to the end what he was at the beginning, a wild man, with horse adjuncts of ears, tail and occasionally hoofs. Greek art, as has been already seen in discussing the Gorgon, was liberal in its experiments with monster forms, the horse Medusa failed (p. 179), the horse Centaur prevailed 1 .

The Parthenon type of the Centaur, the type in which the horse-form is predominant, obtains later in red-figured vase- paintings for all Centaurs save one, the virtuous Cheiron. Cheiron always keeps his human feet and legs and often wears a decent cloak to mark his gentle civilized citizenship. Pausanias 2 when examining the chest of Kypselos at Olympia, a monument dedicated in the seventh century B.C., noted this peculiarity: ' And the Centaur has not all his feet like a horse, but the front feet are the feet of a man/ Pindar 3 does definitely in the case of Cheiron identify <j>ijp and Kevravpos, but art kept for Cheiron the more primitive and human type to emphasize his humanity, for he is the trainer of heroes, the utterer of wise saws, the teacher of all gentle arts of music and medicine, he has the kind heart of a man.

The charming little design in fig. 121 is from an oinochoe in

FIG. 121.

1 It is, it would seem, a mere chance that we have not what might be called a 'fish Centaur.' On an early black-figured vase (R. Mitt. n. 1887, Taf. viii.) we have a series of men represented as completely human, not with the body ending in fish tails, but with an extra fish tail added to the complete human body. These are the natural monster-forms of a people dwelling on the sea-coast.

2 P. v. 19. 9. 3 Find. Pyth. in. 5.

vm] Satyrs and Centaurs 385

the British Museum 1 . Though the technique is black-figured the delicate soft style is archaistic rather than archaic and the vase is probably not older than the middle of the fifth century B.C. The good Cheiron is a quaint blend of horse and middle-aged citizen. The tree branch he still carries looks back to the primitive habits he has left far behind, and the little tree in front marks the woodland home. But there is nothing shaggy about his neat decorous figure. Even the dog who used to go hunting with him is now alert to give a courteous welcome to the guest. A father is bringing his child, a little miniature copy of himself, to be reared in the school of Cheiron. Father and son are probably Peleus and Achilles, but the child might be Jason or even Asklepios. It is the good Centaur only who concerns us. How has he of the mountains, fierce and untameable, come to keep a preparatory school for young heroes ? The answer to this question is interesting and instructive.

Prof. Ridge way 2 has shown that in the mythology of the Centaurs we have a reflection of the attitude of mind of the conquerors to the conquered. This attitude is, all the world over, a double one. The conquerors are apt to regard the conquered with mixed feelings, mainly, it is true, with hatred and aversion, but in part with reluctant awe. 'The conquerors respect the conquered as wizards, familiar with the spirits of the land, and employ them for sorcery, even sometimes when relations are peaceable employ them as foster-fathers for their sons, yet they impute to them every evil and bestial characteristic and believe them to take the form of wild beasts. The conquered for their part take refuge in mountain fastnesses and make reprisals in the characteristic fashion of Satyrs and Centaurs by carrying off the women of their conquerors.'

Nonnus is again right, it was jealousy that gave to the Satyrs their horns, their manes, tusks and tails, but not, as Nonnus supposed, the jealousy of Hera, but of primitive conquering man who gives to whatever is hurtful to himself the ugly form that utters and relieves his hate 3 . It should not be hard for us to

1 B.M. Gat. B 620. J.H.S. vol. i. pi. ii. p. 132.

2 Early Age of Greece, vol. i. p. 177.

3 An analogous case to the Satyrs and Centaurs has already been noted (p. 172), i.e. the Keres, regarded as Telchines, and of monstrous forms ; and still more clear is the case of the Kyklopes (p. 190), barbarous monsters yet builders and craftsmen.

H. 25

386 Dionysos [CH.

realize this impulse ; our own devil, with horns and tail and hoofs, died hard and recently.

Most instructive of all as to the real nature of the Centaurs and their close analogy to the Satrai-Satyroi is the story of the opening of the wine cask. Pindar 1 tells how

'Then when the wild men knew The scent of honeyed wine that tames men's souls, Straight from the board they thrust the white milk-bowls With hurrying hands, and of their own will flew

To the horns of silver wrought,

And drank and were distraught.'

Storm-clouds and mountain torrents, nay even four-footed beasts do not get drunk, the perfume of wine is for the subduing of man alone. The wild things (ffipes) are all human, ' they thrust with their hands.'

The scene is a favourite one on vases. One of the earliest representations is given in fig. 122 from a skyphos in the Louvre 2 . It dates about the beginning of the sixth century B.C. The scene is the cave of the Centaur Pholos. The great pithos or

FIG. 122.

wine jar is open. Pholos himself has a large wine-cup in his hand. Pholos is sober still, he is a sort of Cheiron, but not so the rest. They are mad with drink and are hustling and fighting in wild confusion. Herakles comes out and tries to restore order. Wine has come for the first time to a primitive population unused to so strong an intoxicant. The result is the same all over the world. A like notion comes out in the popular myth of the wedding feast of Peirithoos ; the Centaurs taste wine and fall to fighting and in Satyr fashion seek to ravish the bride. These stories are of para- mount importance because they point the analogy between two sets of primitive worshippers of Dionysos, the Centaurs and the Satrai-Satyroi.

1 Find. frg. 44.

2 J.H.S. i. PI. ii. Engelmann, Bilder-Atlas, 110.

vm] Satyrs and Centaurs 387

To these Satrai-Satyroi we must now return. It is now sufficiently clear that, whatever they became to a later imagi- nation, to Homer and Pindar and the vase-painters these horse- men, these attendants of Dionysos, were not fairies, not 'spirits of vegetation/ though from such they may have borrowed many traits, but the representatives of an actual primitive popula- } tion. They owe their monstrous form, their tails, their horses' ears and hoofs, not to any desire to express ' powers of fertiliza- tion ' but to the malign imagination of their conquerors. They are not incarnations of a horse-god Dionysos 1 such a being never existed they are simply Satrai. It is not of course denied that they ultimately became mythological, that is indeed indicated by the gradual change of form. As a rule the Greek imagination tends to anthropomorphism, but here we have a reverse case. By lapse of time and gradual oblivion of the historical facts of conquest, what was originally a primitive man developes in the case of the Centaurs into a mythological horse-demon.

The Satyrs undergo no such change, they remain substantially human. The element of horse varies but is never predominant.

FIG. 123.

The form in which there is most horse is well shown in fig. 123. This picture is from the reverse of the cylix in the Wlirzburg Museum 2 , on which is depicted the feast of Phineus already

1 The animal form assumed by Dionysos was (as will later be shown, p. 432) that of a bull. Had his own worshippers invented the monstrous Satyrs, they would probably have chosen the bull shape. With the horse Dionysos, unlike his attendants, has no affinities.

2 Wiirzburg, No. 354. Hon. d. Inst. x. 8 a. Myth, and Mon. Ancient Athens, p. Ixxix.


388 Dionysos [CH.

discussed (p. 225). The fact is worth noting that both repre- sentations come from a Thracian cycle of mythology. Phineus is a Thracian hero, Dionysos a Thracian god. Dionysos stands in a chariot to which are yoked a lion and a stag. By his side is a woman, probably a goddess, but whether Ariadne or Semele cannot certainly be determined, nor for the present argument does it matter. The god has stopped to water his steeds at a fountain. Satyrs attend him, one is drawing water from the well basin, another clambers on the lion's back. Some maidens have bathed at the fountain, and are resting under a palm tree, one is just struggling back into her clothes. Two prying Satyrs look on with evil in their hearts. They are wild men with shaggy bodies, rough hair, horses' ears and tails, and they have the somewhat exceptional addition of hoofs ; the human part of them is closely analogous to the shaggy Centaurs of fig. 122.

The Satyrs are not pleasant to contemplate ; they are ugly in form and degraded in habits, and but for a recent theory 1 it might not be needful to emphasize so strongly their nature and functions. This theory, which has gained wide and speedy popularity, main- tains that the familiar horse-men of black and red figured vases are not Satyrs at all. The Satyrs, we are told, are goat-men, the horse-men of the vases are Seilenoi. This theory, if true, would cut at the root of our whole argument. To deny the identity of the horse-men with the Satyrs is to deny their identity with the Satrai, i.e. with the primitive population who worshipped Dionysos.

Why then, with the evjdence_ of countless vase-paintings to support us, may we not call the horse-men who accompany Dionysos Satyrs ? Because, we are told, tragedy is the goat-song, the goat-song gave rise to the Satyric drama, hence the Satyrs must be goat-demous, hence they cannot be Aorse-demons, hence '"'," the horse-demons of vases cannot be Satyrs, hence another name must be found for them. On the Fran9ois-vase (fig. 116) the horse-demons are inscribed Seilenoi, hence let the name Seilenoi be adopted for all /torse-demons. Be it observed that / the whole complex structure rests on the philological assumption that tragedy means the goat-song. What tragedy really does or

1 The literature of this controversy is fully given and discussed by Dr K. Wernicke, 'Bockschore und Satyrdrama,' Hermes xxxn. 1897, p. 29.

L VtUr f

vni] The Maenads 389

at least may mean will be considered later (p. 421) ; for the present the point is only raised because I hold to the view now discredited 1 that the familiar throng of idle disreputable vicious horse-men who constantly on vases attended Dionysos, who drink and sport and play and harry women, are none other than

Hesiod's 2

'race Of worthless idle Satyrs.'

That they are also called Seilenoi I do not for a moment deny. In different lands their names were diverse.


It is refreshing to turn from the dissolute crew of Satyrs to the women-attendants of Dionysos, the Maenads. These Maenads are as real, as actual as the Satyrs ; in fact more so, for no poet or painter ever attempted to give them horses' ears and tails. And yet, so persistent is the dislike to commonplace fact, that we are repeatedly told that the Maenads are purely mythological creations and that the Maenad orgies never appear historically in Greece.

It would be a mistake to regard the Maenads as the mere female correlatives of the Satyrs. The Satyrs, it has been seen, are representations of a primitive subject people, but the Maenads do not represent merely the women of the same race. Their name is the corruption of no tribal name, it represents a state of mind and body, it is almost a cultus-epithet. Maenad means of course simply * mad woman,' and the Maenads are the women-worshippers of Dionysos of whatever race, possessed, maddened or, as the ancients would say, inspired by his spirit.

Maenad is only one, though perhaps the most common, of the many names applied to these worshipping women. In Macedonia Plutarch 3 tells us they were called Mimallones and Klodones, in Greece, Bacchae, Bassarides, Thyiades, Potniades and the like.

1 Since the above was written I see with great pleasure that Dr Emil Keisch in his article 'Zur Vorgeschichte der attischen Tragodie' (Festschrift Theodor Gomperz 1902, p. 459) reasserts the old view that the horse-demons of the vases are Satyrs.

2 Hes. frg. cxxix.

3 Plut. Vit. Alex. 2. For many references as to the Maenads I am indebted to the articles by Dr A. Kapp, ' Die Maenade in gr. Cultus in der Kunst und Poesie,' Rhein. Mus. 1872, pp. 1 and 562, and for references to the Thyiades to Dr Weniger's Das Collegium der Thyiaden.

390 Dionysos [CH.

Some of the titles crystallized into something like proper names, others remained consciously adjectival. At bottom they all ex- press the same idea, women possessed by the spirit of Dionysos. Plutarch in his charming discourse on Superstition 1 tells how when the difchyrambic poet Timotheos was chanting a hymn to Artemis he addressed the daughter of Zeus thus:

-}fe 'Maenad, Thyiad, Phoibad, Lyssad.'

The titles may be Englished as Mad One, Rushing One, In- spired One, Raging One. Cinesias the lyric poet, whose own songs were doubtless couched in language less orgiastic, got up and said : 'I wish you may have such a daughter of your own.' The story I is instructive on two counts. It shows first that Maenad and Thyiad were at the date of Timotheos so adjectival, so little ! crystallized into proper names, that they could be applied not merely to the worshippers of Dionysos, but to any orgiastic i divinity, and second the passage is clear evidence that educated people, towards the close of the fifth century B.C., were beginning ,1 to be at issue with their own theological conceptions. Cultus practices however, and still more cultus epithets, lay far behind educated opinion. It is fortunately possible to prove that the epithet Thyiad certainly and the epithets Phoibad and Maenad probably, were applied to actually existing historical women. The epithet Lyssad, which means 'raging mad,' was not likely to prevail out of poetry. The chorus in the Bacchae 2 call them- selves ' swift hounds of raging Madness,' but the title was not one that would appeal to respectable matrons.

We begin with the Thyiades. It is at Delphi that we learn most of their nature and worship, Delphi where high on Parnassos Dionysos held his orgies. Thus much even Aeschylus, though he is ' all for Apollo,' cannot deny. To this he makes the priestess 3 in her ceremonial recitation of local powers bear almost reluctant

witness :

'You too I salute,

Ye nymphs about, Kory Ida's caverned rock, Kindly to birds, haunt of divinities. And Bromios, I forget not, holds the place, Since first to war he led his Bacchanals, And scattered Pentheus, like a riven hare.'

1 Plut. de Superstit. x.

M.aivd5a Qvidda 3>oi/3dda Au<r<rd5a.

2 Eur. Bacch. 977. 3 Aesch. Sum. 22.


The Maenads


Aeschylus 1 , intent on monotheism, would fain know only the two divinities who were really one, i.e. Zeus and

' Loxias utterer of his father's will,'

the Father and the Son, these and the line of ancient Earth- divinities to whom they were heirs. But religious tradition knew of another immigrant, Dionysos, and Aeschylus cannot wholly ignore him. On the pediments of the great temple were sculptured at one end, Pausanias 2 tells us, Apollo, Artemis, Leto and the Muses, and at the other 'the setting of the sun and Dionysos with his Thyiad women.' The ritual year at Delphi was divided, as will later be seen, between Apollo and Dionysos.

The vase-painting in fig. 124 from a krater in the Hermitage Museum at St Petersburg 3 is a brief epitome of the religious

FIG. 124.

history of Delphi, marking its three strata. In the foreground is the omphalos of Gaia covered with fillets :

'First in my prayer before all other gods . I call on Earth, primaeval prophetess 4 ,'

Gaia, of whom her successors Themis and Phoebe are but by- forms. Higher up in the picture are other divinities superimposed on this primitive Earth-worship. Apollo and Dionysos clasp hands while about them is a company of Maenads and Satyrs. It is

1 Aesch. Eum. 19.

3 Hermitage, Cat. 1807.

2 P. x. 19. 3.

4 Aesch. Eum. 1.

392 Dionysos [CH.

perhaps not quite certain which is regarded as the first comer, but the balance is in favour of Dionysos as the sanctuary is already peopled with his worshippers. His dress has something of Oriental splendour about it as compared with the Hellenic simplicity of Apollo. Each carries his characteristic wand, Apollo a branch of bay, Dionysos a thyrsos.

In this vase-painting, which dates about the beginning of the fourth century B.C., all is peace and harmony and clasped hands. The Delphic priesthood were past masters in the art of glossing over awkward passages in the history of theology. Apollo had to fight with the ancient mantic serpent of Gaia and slay it before he could take possession, and we may be very sure that at one time or another there was a struggle between the followers of Apollo and the followers of Dionysos. Over this past which was not for edification a decent veil was drawn 1 .

A religion which conquered Delphi practically conquered the whole Greek world. It was probably at Delphi, no less than at Athens, that the work of reforming, modifying, adapting the rude Thracian worship was effected, a process necessary to commend the new cult to the favour of civilized Greece. If then we can establish the historical actuality of the Thyiads at Delphi we need not hesitate to believe that they, or their counterparts, existed in the worship of Dionysos elsewhere.

Pausanias 2 when he was at Panopeus was puzzled to know why Homer spoke of the ' fair dancing grounds ' of the place. The reason he says was explained to him by the women whom the Athenians call Thyiades. He adds, that there may be no mistake, ' these Thyiads are Attic women who go every other year with the Delphian women to Parnassos and there hold orgies in honour of Dionysos. On their way they stopped to dance at Panopeus, hence Homer's epithet.' Of course this college of sacred women, these Thyiades, were provided with an eponymous ancestress, Thyia. She is mythological. Pausanias 3 says in discussing the origin of

1 See Dr Verrall, Euripides the Rationalist, p. 223. The same theological

euphemism is observable in the Hymn to Dionysos recently discovered at Delphi

I and which will be discussed later (p. 417). Here there is a manifest attempt to fuse the worship of Apollo and Dionysos. Dionysos even adopts the characteristic Apolline title of Paean.

2 P. x. 4. 2. 3 P. x. 6. 2.

vm] The Maenads 393

Delphi that 'some would have it that there was a man called Castalius, an aboriginal, who had a daughter Thyia, and that she was the first priestess of Dionysos and held orgies in honour of the god, and they say that afterwards all women who were mad in honour of Dionysos have been called Thyiades after her ' TW kiovvcrto /jualvovrac vida$ KoXelcrOai $acnv VTTO If 'those who are mad in honour of Dionysos' are not substantially Maenads, it is hard to say what they are. It is fortunate that Pausanias saw and spoke to these women or else his statement 1 that they raved upon the topmost peaks of Parnassos in honour of Dionysos and Apollo would have been explained away as mere mythology.

Plutarch was a priest in his own Chaeronea and intimately acquainted with the ritual of Delphi, and a great friend of his, Klea, was president (dpxyyos) of the Thyiades at Delphi 2 . He mentions them more than once. In writing to Favorinus 3 on ' the First Principle of Cold ' he argues that cold has its own special and proper qualities, density, stability, rigidity, and gives as an instance the cold of a winter's night out on Parnassos. ' You have heard yourself at Delphi how the people who went up Parnassos to bring help to the Thyiades were overtaken by a violent gale with snow, and their coats were frozen as hard as wood, so that when they were stretched out they crumbled and fell to bits.' The crumbling coats sound apocryphal, but the Thyiades out in the cold are quite real. You do not face a mountain snow-storm to succour the mythological ' spirits of the spring.'

It may have been from his friend Klea that Plutarch learnt the pleasant story of the Thyiades and the^ women of Phocis, which he records in his treatise on the ' Virtues of Women 4 .' ' When the tyrants of Phocis had taken Delphi and undertook against them what was known as the Sacred War, the women who attended Dionysos whom they call Thyiades being distraught wandered out of their way and came without knowing it to Amphissa. And

1 P. x. 32. 7.

2 De Is. et Os. 35. Herodotus (vn. 178) mentions an altar of the winds at Delphi in a place called Thyia, which was the temenos of the heroine, who may herself have been a raging wind. The same precinct, we know from an inscription found at Delphi, was called Thyiai. See E. Bourguet, Melanges Perrot, p. 25.

Plut. de prin. frig. xvm. 4 Plut. de mul. virt. xin.

394 Dionysos [CH.

being very weary and not yet having come to their right mind they flung themselves down in the agora and fell asleep anyhow where they lay. And the women of Amphissa were afraid lest, as their city had made an alliance with the Phocians and the place was full of the soldiery of the tyrants, the Thyiades might suffer some harm. And they left their houses and ran to the agora and made a ring in silence round them and stood there without dis- turbing them as they slept, and when they woke up they severally tended them and brought them food and finally got leave from their husbands to set them on their way in safety as far as the mountains.' These Thyiades are the historical counterparts of the Maenads of countless vases and bas-reliefs, the same mad revelry, the same utter exhaustion and prostrate sleep. They are the same too as the Bacchant Women of Euripides 1 on the slopes of Cithaeron :

'There, beneath the trees

Sleeping they lay, like wild things flung at ease In the forest, one half sinking on a bed Of deep pine greenery, one with careless head Amid the fallen oak-leaves.'

In the reverence shown by the women of Amphissa we see that though the Thyiades were real women they were something more than real. This brings us to another of the cultus titles enumerated by Timotheos, ' Phoibad.' Phoibas is the female cor- relative of Phoebus, a title we are apt to associate exclusively with Apollo. Apollo, Liddell and Scott say, was called Phoebus because of the purity and radiant beauty of youth. The epithet has more to do with purity than with radiant beauty ; if with beauty at all it is ' the beauty of holiness.' Plutarch in discussing this title of Apollo makes the following interesting statement 2 : ' The ancients, it seems to me, called everything that was pure and sanctified phoebic as the Thessalians still, I believe, say of their priests when they are living in seclusion apart on certain pre- scribed days that they are living phoebically.' The meaning of - this passage, which is practically untranslateable, is clear. The v root of the word Phoebus meant ' in a condition of ceremonial purity, holy in a ritual sense,' and as such specially inspired by

1 Eur. Bacch. 683.

2 Plut. de Ei apud Delph. xx. 1 $oipov 5e 5^ wov rb KaOapbv /cat ayvov ol iraXaiot irav uvofAafyv ws TI OeovraXoi TOI)S iep^as ev TCUS airotypaffiv -rj^pais avrovs e^> eavrwv w SiarpifiovTas olfj-ai (poi^ovofj-eicrdai, see J.H.S. xix. p. 241.

vm] The Maenads 395

and under the protection of the god, under a taboo. Apollo probably took over his title of Phoebus from the old order of women divinities to whom he succeeded. Third in order of succession after Gaia and Themis 1 :

'Another Titaness, daughter of Earth, Phoebe, possessed it, and for birthday gift To Phoebus gave it, and he took her name.'

Apollo, we may be sure, did not get his birthday gift without substantial concessions. He took the name of the ancient Phoebe, daughter of earth, nay more he was forced, woman-hater as he always was, to utter his oracles through the mouth of a raving worn an -priestess, a Phoibas. Herodotus in the passage already quoted (p. 370) justly observed that in the remote land of the v *.-.-./ Bessi as at Delphi oracular utterance was by the mouth of a priestess. Kassandra was another of these women-prophetesses of ' Gaia. She prophesied at the altar-omphalos of Thymbrae, a shrine Apollo took over as he took Delphi 2 . Her frenzy against , Apollo is more than the bitterness of maiden betrayed ; it is the wrath of the prophetess of the old order discredited, despoiled by the new; she breaks her wand and rends her fillets and cries 3 :

' Lo now the seer the seeress hath undone.'

The priestess at Delphi, though in intent a Phoibas, was called the Pythia, but the official name of the priestess Kassandra was, we know, Phoibas 4 :

'The Phoibas whom the Phrygians call Kassandra,'

and the title, ' she who is ceremonially pure/ lends a bitter irony to Hecuba's words of shame.

The word Phoibades is never, so far as I know, actually applied to definite Bacchantes, though I believe its use at Delphi to be due to Dionysiac influence, but another epithet Potniades points

1 Aesch. Eum. 6.

' 2 On a curious 'Tyrrhenian' amphora (Gerhard, Auserlesene Vaseribilder 220), the scene of the slaying of Troilos is represented. This took place according to tradition in the Thymbraean sanctuary. The sanctuary is indicated by a regular omphalos covered by a fillet and against it is inscribed 8w/j,6s.

3 Aesch. Ag. 1275.

4 Eur. Hec. 827

TJ <l>oij3as -

396 Dionysos [CH.

the same way. In the Bacchae 1 , when the messenger returns from Cithaeron, he says to Pentheus :

' I have seen the wild white women there, king, Whose fleet limbs darted arrow-like but now From Thebes away, and come to tell thee how They work strange deeds. 5

I The ' wild white women ' are in a hieratic state of holy mad- ness, hence their miraculous magnetic powers. Photius 2 has a curious note on the verb with which ' Potniades ' is connected. He says its normal use was to express a state in which a woman 'suffered something and entreated a goddess' and 'if any one used the word of a man he was inaccurate.' By ' suffering some- thing' he can only mean that she was possessed by the goddess (ei>0eo5 or fcdro^o^), and he may have the Maenads and kindred worshippers in his mind. Madness could be caused by the Mother of the gods or by Dionysos, in fact by any orgiastic divinity.

. , It may possibly be objected that Maenads are not the same as either Thyiades or Phoibades. My point is that they are. The substantial basis of the conception is the actual women- worshippers of the god ; out of these were later created his mythical attendants. Such is the natural order of mythological genesis. Diodorus 3 like most modern mythologists inverts this natural sequence, and his inversion is instructive. In describing

the triumphal return of Dionysos from India he says : ' And the Boeotians and the other Greeks and the Thracians in memory of the Indian expedition instituted the biennial sacrifices to Dionysos and they hold that at these intervals the god makes his epiphanies to mortals. Hence in many towns of Greece every alternate year Bacchanalian assemblies of women come together and it is customary for maidens to carry the thyrsos and to revel together to the honour and glory of the god, and the married women worship the god in organized bands and they revel, and in every

1 Eur. Bacch. 664

TTorviddas el<rid<*>v, at rija-de yijs

XfVtfbv K&XOV ^Kf)VTLffO.V.

Mr Murray's translation preserves the twofold connotation of the word, purity and inspired madness.

2 Phot. Bibl. v. 533 b 6'rt rb TroTviao-dai KvpiuTcpov (iri yvvaiKas rdTTerat fyyaiv orav

TI TrdffxV xal drjXflav iKeretjrj 6fbv. iroTinw/u.evot' 5e avdpa av TIS eiTrri dfj-aprdvet,

3 Diod. iv! 3.

vm] The Maenads 397

way celebrate the presence of Dionysos in imitation of the Maenads who from of old, it was said, constantly attended the god.' Diodorus is an excellent instance of mistaken mytho- logizing. Mythology invents a reason for a fact, does not base a fact on a fancy.

It is not denied for a moment that the Maenads became mythical. When Sophocles sings 1 :

'Footless, sacred, shadowy thicket, where a myriad berries grow. Where no heat of the sun may enter, neither wind of the winter blow, Where the Reveller Dionysos with his nursing nymphs will go,'

we are not in this world, and his nursing nymphs are ' goddesses ' ; but they are goddesses fashioned here as always in the image of man who made them.

The difficulty and the discrepancy of opinion as to the reality of the Maenads are due mainly to a misunderstanding about words. Maenad is to us a proper name, a fixed and crystallized personality; so is Thyiad, but in the beginning it was not so. Maenad is the Mad One, Thyiad the Rushing Distraught One or something of that kind, anyhow an adjectival epithet. Mad One, Distraught One, Pure One are simply ways of describing a woman under the influence of a god, of Dionysos. Thyiad and Phoibad obtained as cultus names, Maenad tended to go over to mythology. Perhaps naturally so ; when a people becomes highly civilized madness is apt not to seem, save to poets and philosophers, the divine thing it really is, so they tend to drop the mad epithet and the colour- less Thyiad becomes more and more a proper name.

Still Maenad, as a name of actual priestly women, was not wholly lost. An inscription 2 of the date of Hadrian, found in Magnesia and now in the Tschinli Kiosk at Constantinople, gives curious evidence. This inscription recounts a little miracle-story. A plane tree was shattered by a storm, inside it was found an image of Dionysos 3 . Seers were promptly sent to Delphi to ask what was to be done. The answer was, as might be expected,

1 Oed. Col. 670, trans, by Mr D. S. MacColl.

2 First published by Kondolleon, Ath. Mitt. xv. (1890) p. 330, discussed by E. Maass, Hermes xxvi. (1891) p. 178, and S. Keinach, Rev. des Etudes grecques in. (1890) p. 349, and 0. Kern, Beitrdge zur Geschichte der griechischen Philosophic und Religion, Berlin 1895.


398 Dionysos [OH.

the Magnesians had neglected to build ' fair wrought temples ' to Dionysos ; they must repair their fault. To do this properly they must send to Thebes and thence obtain three Maenads of the family of Kadmean Ino 1 . These would give to the Magnesians orgies and right customs. They went to Thebes and brought back three ' Maenads ' whose names are given, Kosko, Baubo and Thettale; and they came and founded three thiasoi or sacred guilds in three parts of the city. The inscription is of course late ; Baubo and Kosko are probably Orphic, but the main issue is clear : in the time of Hadrian at least three actual women of a particular family were called ' Maenads/

We are so possessed by a set of conceptions based on Periclean Athens, by ideas of law and order and reason and limit, that we are apt to dismiss as ' mythological ' whatever does not fit into our stereotyped picture. The husbands and brothers of the women of historical days would not, we are told, have allowed their women to rave upon the mountains; it is unthinkable taken in conjunction with the strict oriental seclusion of the Periclean woman. That any woman might at any moment assume the liberty of a Maenad is certainly unlikely, but much is borne even by husbands and brothers when sanctioned by religious tradition. The men even of Macedonia, where manners were doubtless ruder, did not like the practice of Bacchic orgies. Bacchus came emphatically not to bring peace. Plutarch 2 conjectures that these Bacchic orgies had much to do with the strained relations between the father and mother of Alexander the Great. A snake had been seen lying by the side of Olympias and Philip feared she was practising en- chantments, or worse, that the snake was the vehicle of a god. Another and probably the right explanation of the presence of the snake was, as Plutarch tells us, that ' all the women of that country had been from ancient days under the dominion of Orphic rites and Dionysiac orgies, and that they were called Klodones and Mimallones because in many respects they imitated the Edonian and Thracian women round about Haemus, from whom the Greek word Bprfcriceveiv seems to come, a word which is applied to excessive and overdone ceremonials. Now Olympias was more

1 6'0/ra Ma/a5as ai yeveys Elvovs d-rro

al 5' vfuv dd)<rov<ri Kal opyta /cat vb/JLi^ e<rd\a.

2 Plut. Vit. Alex. 2.


The Maenads


zealous than all the rest and carried out these rites of possession and ecstasy in very barbarous fashion and introduced huge tame serpents into the Bacchic assemblies, and these kept creeping out of the ivy and the mystic likna and twining themselves round the thyrsoi of the women and their garlands, and frightening the men out of their senses'

However much the Macedonian men disliked these orgies, they were clearly too frightened to put a stop to them. The women were possessed, magical, and dangerous to handle. Scenes such

FIG. 125.

as those described by Plutarch as actually taking place in Mace- donia are abundantly figured on vases. The beautiful raging Maenad in fig. 125 from the centre of a cylix with white ground




at Munich 1 is a fine example. She wears the typical Maenad garb, the fawn-skin over her regular drapery; she carries the thyrsos, she carries in fact the whole gear {cncevrf) of Dionysos. When Pentheus would counterfeit a Bacchant he is attired just so ; he wears the long trailing chiton and over it the dappled fawn- skin, his hair flows loose, in his hand is the thyrsos. For snood (fjiiTpa) in her hair the Maenad has twined a great snake. Another Maenad 2 is shown in fig. 126. She is characterized only

FIG. 126.

by the two snakes she holds in her hand. But for her long full drapery she might be an Erinys.

The snakes emerging from the sacred cistae are illustrated by the class of coins 3 known as cistophoroi, a specimen of which

FIG. 127.

is reproduced in fig. 12,7. These coins, of which the type is uniform, originated, according to Dr Imhoof, in Ephesus a little

1 Munich. Jahn, Cat. 382. Greek Vase Paintings, J. E. Harrison and D. S. MacColl, pi. xv. Baumeister, Ab. 928.

2 J.H.S. xix. p. 220, fig. 6.

3 Head, Hist. Num. p. 461, fig. 287.

vm] The Maenads 401

before B.C. 200, and spread through air the dominions of Attalos the First. They illustrate a phase of Dionysos worship in Asia Minor closely akin to that of Macedonia.

Macedonia is not Athens, but the reforms of Epimenides allow us to divine that Athenian brothers and husbands also had their difficulties. Plutarch 1 again is our informant. Athens was beset by superstitious fears and strange appearances. They sent to Crete for Epimenides, a man beloved of the gods and skilled in the technicalities of religion, especially as regards enthusiastic and mystic rites. He and Solon made friends and the gist of his religious reforms was this : ' he simplified their religious rites, and made the ceremonies of mourning milder, introducing certain forms of sacrifice into their funeral solemnities and abolishing the cruel and barbarous elements to which the women were addicted. But most important of all, by lustrations and expiations and the found- ings of worships he hallowed and consecrated the city and made it subserve justice and be more inclined to unity/ The passage is certainly not as explicit as could be wished, but the words used Karopyidaas and Kado(7iwaa<; and the fact that Epimenides was an expert in ecstatic rites, that they gave him the name of the new Koures, the special attention paid to the rites of women, though they are mentioned in relation to funerals, make it fairly clear that some of the barbarous excesses were connected with Bacchic orgies. This becomes more probable when we remember that many of Solon's own enactments were directed against the excesses of women. 'He regulated/ Plutarch 2 tells us, 'the out- goings of women, their funeral lamentations and their festivals, forbidding by law all disorder and excess/ Among these dreary regulations comes the characteristically modern touch that they are not to go out at night ' except in a carriage and with a light before them/ It was the going out at night that Pentheus could not bear 3 . When he would know what were the rites of Dio- nysos he asks the god :

1 P. How is this worship held, by night or day? D. Most oft by night, 'tis a majestic thing

The Darkness.

P. Ha, with women worshipping ?

? Tis craft and rottenness/

1 Plut. Vit. Sol. xn. Epimenides is as it were a historical Orpheus. Coming from Crete, he, like Orpheus (p. 460), modified Dionysiac ritual.

2 Plut. Vit. Sol. xxi. 3 Eur. Bacch. 485.

H. 26

402 Dionysos [CH.


The Maenads then are the frenzied sanctified women who are devoted to the worship of Dionysos. But they are something more ; they tend the god as well as suffer his inspiration. When first we catch sight of them in Homer (p. 368) they .are his ' nurses ' (rWijvat). One of the lost plays of Aeschylus bore the title ' Rearer of Dionysos,' and Sophocles 1 , here as so often inspired by Homer, makes his chorus sing :

1 There the reveller Dionysos with his nursing nymphs doth go.'

In Homer and Aeschylus and Sophocles, though Dionysos has his goddess nurses, he is himself no nursling. A child no longer, he revels with them as coevals. Mythology has half forgotten the ritual from which it sprang. Fortunately Plutarch 2 has left us an account, inadequate but still significant, of the actual ritual of the Thyiades 3 , and from it we learn that they worshipped and tended no full-grown god, but a baby in his cradle.

Plutarch is speaking of the identity of Osiris and Dionysos, both being embodiments according to him of the ' moist principle.' < You, Klea,' he says, ' if any one, should know that Osiris is the same as Dionysos, you who are leader of the Thyiades at Delphi and were initiated by your father and mother into the rites of Osiris.' After pointing out various analogies, he adds : ' For the Egyptians, as has been said, point out tombs of Osiris in many places, and the Delphians hold that they possess the relics of Dionysos buried by the side of their oracular shrine ; the Hosioi make a secret sacrifice in the sacred precinct of Apollo when the Thyiades raise up Liknites.' It will later (p. 483) be seen that Dionysos was represented in ritual as slain and dismembered; from this passage it is clear that there was some sort of resur- rection of the god, a new birth as a little child. Liknites can be none other than the babe in the cradle. Hesychius in commenting on the word Liknites says : ' a title of Dionysos from the cradle in which they put children to sleep/ In primitive agricultural days,

1 Oed. Col. 674, see p. 369.

2 De Isid. et Os. xxxv. /cot 66ov<riv ol "0<not 6v<rla.v d-jrdpprjTov tv ry iepf rov 'AToXXwvos OTO.V ai OuidSes eyelpbxri. rov AiKvlTTjv.

3 The verb 0viu is used of the excited beating of the heart under strong emotion, e.g. Ap. Ehod. in. 754

d ol KpadLrj art]Qk(av ZvroaQev

vm] Dionysos Liknites 403

the liknon, a shovel-shaped basket, served three purposes : it was a ' fan ' with which to winnow grain, it was a basket to hold grain or fruit or sacred objects, it was a cradle for a baby. The various forms of likna and the beautiful mysticism that gathered round the cradle and the winnowing fan, will be considered when Orphic ceremonial is discussed (p. 518). For the present it is enough to note that the ceremony of raising or waking Liknites marks clearly the worship of a child-god.

The worship by women of Liknites, of the child in the cradle, reflects a primitive stage of society, a time when the main realized function of woman was motherhood and the more civilized, less elemental, function of wedded wife was scarcely adventured. It is at once a cardinal point and a primary note in the mythology of Dionysos that he is the son of his mother. The religion of the Mother and the Daughter is already familiar (p. 271) ; it reflected, as has been seen, primarily not so much the relations of mother and daughter as the two stages of woman's life, woman as maid, and woman as mother. If we are to have the relation of parent I V and child mirrored in mythology, assuredly the closest relation is not that even of mother and daughter but of mother and son. | Father and son, Zeus and Apollo, reflect a still further advance in civilization.

Before leaving the Thyiades, it is important to note that they had a cult not only of Liknites, the child in the cradle, but of the mother who bore him, Semele, and this too at Delphi. Plutarch is again our authority. In his Greek Questions 1 , he treats of the three great enneateric festivals of Delphi, the Stepterion, Herois and Charila. Of the Herois he says : ' Its inner meaning is for j the most part mystical as is known to the Thyiades, but from the rites that are openly performed one may conjecture that it is a Return of Semele.' Plutarch's conjecture was undoubtedly right. The Herois was a resurrection festival, with rites of Return and Uprising, such as have been already (p. 276) fully discussed in relation to Demeter and Kore.

The relation of Dionysos to his father Zeus was slight and artificial. He is, as aforesaid, essentially the son of his mother,

1 Pint. Q. Gr. xn. TT/S d 'H/>wl?5os TO, TrXeZoTa IJ.V<JTLKOV ^x L ^yo v &? focuriv ai , IK 5 TUV dpuptvuv <t>a.vepG)s ZeywA^s av rts avaywyty etKcurete.


404 Dionysos [CH.

'child of Semele 1 .' The meaning of the fatherhood of Zeus and the strange hieratic legend of the double birth will be discussed later : the question must first be asked ' Who is Semele ? '


Dionysos, we have seen, was a Thracian ; if his mother can be shown to be Thracian too, each will confirm the other. The certain remains of the Phrygio-Thracian tongue are but scanty, happily however they suffice for the certain interpretation of the name Semele.

Prof. Ramsay in his Phrygian explorations 2 has brought to light a number of inscriptions from tombs which run after this fashion :

These various permutations and combinations are followed by a curse formulary as follows : to? erenow /cvovfjbavei KCUCOVV a eTiTTeTi/cfjievos eiTov, which is Phrygian for 09 TOVTM (rc5) /caKov eTreOijfce viroicardparo^ eVrco, ' Cursed be he that does any damage to this tomb.' The inscriptions which all date after the Christian era belong to a time when the well-to-do classes spoke and wrote Greek, but, in the case of a curse, it was well to couch your inscription in a tongue understanded of the people. //,e and Srj would appear to be affirmative curse particles ; //,e has for cognates /xa, IJLTJV and possibly /Ltei>, as well as the Latin me in me Hercle, me Dius Fidius. Srj is cognate not only to the ordinary affirmative Greek 77 but also to the de of the Latin oath e-de-pol. The divinities sworn by remain to be considered. STJ Sicos can scarcely be other than vrj A La, ( by Zeus.' %/jL6\co at once brings

1 Eur. Bacch. 375 rbv

rbv SeyueXay. v. 580

6 Ai6s TTCUS. v. 278 6 ZeyuAifs y6fo>.

2 Eamsay, Journal of Asiatic Soc. xv. 1883, pp. 120 ff., and Latischew, Fur vergleichende Sprachforschung, vol. xxvm. pp. 381 ff. The inscriptions are explained and discussed in relation to Semele by Dr Paul Kretschmer, ' Semele und Dionysos,' in Aus der Anomia (Berlin 1890), and to him I owe entirely the view adopted in the text.


Dionysos Son of Semele


Semele to mind. But who and what is Semele ? Phrygian and Thracian are now admitted to belong to the Indo-European family of languages, and a conjoint consonantal characteristic of the two is that they replace the palatals g and gh (Greek 7 and %) by a spirant ; this spirant the Greeks rendered indifferently by their nearest equivalents f and cr. The Phrygian fe//-e\&> is the Greek yfj (earth) appearing in nasalized form as %a//.at, %#a//,aXo?, %#ewz;, in Latin as humus, humilis, homo, in Sclavonic, to quote only a familiar and convincing instance, in Nova Zembla, 'new earth.' The Greek form <yrj looks remote but we have also its nasalized form XafjLvwr) (Lit. Zemyna). At Elis Pausanias 1 saw, opposite the place where the umpires stood, an altar of white marble. On that altar sat the priestess of Demeter Chamyne, to behold the Olympic games. ' She of the Ground ' was probably at Olympia long before the coming of Zeus.

^ \J

Semele, mother of Dionysos, is the Earth. This the vase- painter knew well. In dealing with the Earth-Mother (p. 276) a number of vase-paintings have been considered, in which Kore, the

FIG. 128.

earth in her young form as maiden, has been seen represented as rising out of the actual earth she really is. To these as counter- part must now be added the curious vase-painting in fig. 128, now

1 P. vi. 20. 9.

406 Dionysos [OH.

in the Hope collection at Deep-dene 1 . Out of the earth-mound rises a youthful figure, a male Kore ; he holds a sceptre as king and is welcomed, or rather heralded, by a little winged Nike. His worshippers await him: a Maenad with thyrsos and tray of offerings to the right, a Satyr also with thyrsos to the left. The rising figure can be none other than the child of Semele, the earth-Dionysos himself. It is rash, I think, to give the rising god any special name, to call him lacchos or Brimos ; all we can be sure that the vase-painter meant was that the god is earth-born.

The same notion comes clearly out in the second design in fig. 129 from a kalpis in the British Museum 2 . Here the familiar type 3 of. the birth of Erichthonios from the earth is taken over and adapted to the birth of Dionysos. The vase-painter thus in

FIG. 129.

instructive fashion assimilates the immigrant stranger to his own heroic mythology. Ge is rising from the earth ; she presents, not Erichthonios, but another sacred child to a foster-mother, Athene. It is practically certain that the child is Dionysos, not Erichthonios,

1 I regret to be obliged to reproduce the publication of Tischbein (Greek Vases i. 39). As regards style it is obviously inadequate. The vase has been examined by Mr Cecil Smith (Jahrbuch d. Inst. 1891, p. 120, note 17) and the reproduction of Tischbein is pronounced by him to be as regards subject-matter substantially correct.

2 B.M. Cat. vol. in. E 182, cf. C. Eobert, Archdologische Mdhrchen 161. Dr Kobert explains the vase as the birth of Dionysos from the well-nymph Dirce, but vase-paintings offer no analogy to the representation of a well-nymph as a figure rising from the ground.

3 Cf. Myth, and Mon. Anc. Athens, p. xxxix.


Dionysos Son of Semele


for the maiden who in such familiar fashion leans on the shoulder of Zeus in inscribed 'Wine-bloom/ Oinanthe. Zeus himself with his thunderbolt is a reminiscence of the thunder-smitten birth. On authentic representations of the birth of Erichthonios, Hephaistos, his putative father, is present, not Zeus. As in fig. 128 the new- born hero is welcomed by a winged Victory, who brings a taenia to crown him. It is clear that the vase-painter wants to make the new-born child as Athenian as possible, almost to substitute him for the autochthonous Erichthonios; he is welcomed and received not by Satyrs and Maenads, his own worshippers and kinsfolk, but by his new relations, Athene and Athenian Victory.

The third vase-painting in fig. 130 from a cylix in the Museum at Naples 1 is a much earlier piece of work. It dates about the

FIG. 130.

middle of the sixth century, and is free from any specifically Athenian influence. Out of the ground rise two great busts inscribed severally Atoz/vcro? (Dionysos) and Se/^eX?; (Semele). Even without the inscriptions there could be no doubt as to Dionysos. The vase-painter in his primitive eager fashion makes assurance doubly sure. The god holds aloft with pardonable pride his characteristic high-handled wine-cup, the kantharos ; behind him and Semele a great vine is growing, up one side of which a Satyr is clambering. Dionysos is not Liknites here ; he

1 Heydemann, Cat. St Angela Coll. 172. Gerhard, Ges. Abh. Taf. LXVIII. The authenticity of the inscriptions has been questioned. I examined them last year in the Naples Museum and see no ground for suspicion.

408 Dionysos [CH.

is in the full bloom of his youth, not elderly though bearded, coeval with fair Semele.

At Thebes the legend of the birth of Dionysos took on a special form. He is not only son of Semele, of Earth 1 , but son of Semele as Keraunia, Earth the thunder-smitten.

This aspect of Semele as Keraunia is familiar in classical literature. Sophocles 2 has ' thou and thy mother, she of the thunder.' To Euripides 3 in the Hippolytus Semele thunder- smitten is the stuff of which is made perhaps the most splendid poetry he ever wrote :

1 mouth of Dirce, god-built wall

That Dirce's wells run under ; Ye know the Cyprian's fleet foot-fall, Ye saw the heavens round her flare When she lulled to her sleep that Mother fair Of Twy-born Bacchus and crowned her there

The Bride of the bladed thunder :

For her breath is on all that hath life, and she floats in the air Bee-like, death-like, ;i wonder.'

And this splendid poetry is based, it seems, not merely on mythology but on a local cult, a cult of thunder and a place thunder-smitten. The prologue 4 of the Bacchae, spoken by Dionysos, opens thus, with a description of the sanctuary of Semele :

' Behold god's son is come unto this land Of Thebes, even I, Dionysos, whom the brand Of heaven's hot splendour lit to life, when she Who bore me, Cadmus' daughter Semele, Died here. So, changed in shape from god to man, I walk again by Dirce's stream, and scan Ismenus' shore. There by the castle side I see her place, the Tomb of the Lightning's Bride, The wreck of smouldering chambers and the great Faint wreaths of fire undying, as the hate Dies not that Hera held for Semele.

Ay Cadmus hath done well : in purity He keeps this place apart, inviolate His daughter's sanctuary, and I have set My green and clustered vines to robe it round.'

Nor again is this merely the effective scenic setting of a play.

1 An inscription of the 5th century B.C. recently discovered shows that at Thebes there was an actual sanctuary of Earth. It runs as follows : iapbv Tds MctKaipas Te\e<ro-06po. The titles fj.aKa.Lpa and TeXe<r06pos are applied to Ge in the Orphic Hymn (xxvi. 1 and 10). See Bull, de Corr. Hell. 1901, p. 363.

2 Soph. Ant. 1139. 3 Eur. Hipp. 555. 4 Eur. Bacch. 1.

vm] Semele as Keraunia 409

Any place that was struck by lightning was regarded as specially v sacred 1 . If the place was the tomb of a local heroine there was a double sanctity. Such a tomb there unquestionably was at Thebes. Pausanias 2 asserts the fact though he does not state that he actually saw the tomb : ' There are also the ruins of the house of Lycus and Semele's monument.' Primarily of course the sanctity of a thunder-smitten place was more of the nature of a taboo than of consecration in our sense of the word. It would lend itself easily to a legend of judgment on a heroine or of a divine Epiphany. The figure of the great Earth-goddess Semele faded before the splendour of Zeus.

Possibly the cult of these thunder-smitten places may serve to answer a question asked by Plutarch 3 'Who among the Boeotians are the Psoloeis (Smoky Ones) and who the Aioleiai?' Plutarch tells a confused story of the daughters of Minyas who went mad with desire for human flesh and slew the child of one of them. The dreadful deed was commemorated by a ' flight ceremony ' that formed part of the Agrionia, in which the priest of Dionysos pursued with a sword the women of the clan in which the men were called Psoloeis and the women Aioleiai, and if he caught one, had leave to slay her. Zoilos, a priest in the time of Plutarch, actually availed himself of the permission. Bad luck followed. Zoilos sickened and died, and the priesthood ceased to be hereditary and became elective. The story is very obscure, but Lydus 4 in discussing thunderbolts says there are two kinds, the one is swift and rarefied (ftavos) and fiery and is called apytfs, the other is slow and smoky and is called ^oXoet?. The family of the Smoky Ones may have been worshippers of the smoky kind of thunder- bolt.

Be this as it may, the cult and mythology of Dionysos are haunted by reminiscences of lightning and sudden fiery apparitions that are probably not merely poetical but primitive. In the Bacchae not only is Dionysos fire-born and attended by the light of torches, but his Epiphany is marked by a manifest thunder-

1 Such places were, if we may trust the Etymologicon Magnum, called

which at least in popular etymology was believed to mean 'Places of Advent.' They are thus defined: ivri\t<na. \eyerat els a Kepavvbs eio-pefirjKev a icai Ait /cdTcu/SaTTj /ecu X^yercu ddvra /cat #/3ara.

2 P. ix. 16. 7. 3 Plut. Q. Gr. xxxvm. 4 Lydus, de mens. iv. 96.

410 Dionysos [OH.

storm, a storm that takes the shape of a resurgence of the flame on Semele's tomb. A voice is heard 1 :

' Unveil the Lightning's Eye, arouse The fire that sleeps, against this house.'

And the chorus make answer :

'Ah saw ye, marked ye there the flame

From Semele's enhallowed sod Awaken'd ? Yea the Death that came Ablaze from heaven of old the same

Hot splendour of the shaft of God.'

And again on Cithaeron 2 there is not only the mysterious voice and the awful silence, but the manifestation of the pillar of fire :

'So spake he and there came 'Twixt earth and sky a pillar of high flame : And silence took the air, and no leaf stirred In all the forest dell. Thou hadst not heard In that vast silence any wild thing's cry.'

The Epiphany by fire is of course com mon to many theologies ;

we have the Burning Bush and the Pentecostal tongues, but it is

interesting to find that, in far-away Thrace, the favour of Dionysos

was made manifest by a great light. The evidence comes from

Aristotle 3 . He says : ' There is in the same place (i.e. in Krastonia

! near the district of the Bisaltae) a large and beautiful sanctuary

of Dionysos, in which it is reported that at the time of the festival

and the sacrifice, if the god intends to send a good season, a great

blaze of fire appears, and this is seen by all those whose business

is in the temenos; but if the god intends a barren season, the light

does not make its appearance, but there is darkness on the place

( as on other nights.' It would be vain to ask what natural fact,

whether of summer lightning or burning bush, caused the belief ;

the essential point is the primitive Epiphany by fire, an Epiphany

not vengeful but beneficent.

Dionysos is then the son of an ancient Thracian Earth-goddess, Semele, and she is Keraunia, thunder-smitten, in some sense the bride, it would seem, of our old sky and thunder-god, a sort of Ouranos later effaced by the splendour of the Hellenic Zeus. If

1 Eur. Bacch. 594. 2 Eur. Bacch. 1082.

3 Aristot. irepi Qavfj.. 122.

vm] Semele as Keraunia 411

some such old nature-god existed as is probable in the far back- ground of primitive mythology, the affiliation of Zeus and Dionysos would be an easy matter.

In this connection it is interesting to note that not only Zeus himself was associated with the thunder and the lightning, but also the ancient ' Mother of the Gods.' Pindar 1 , who all through the third Pythian has in his mind the sore sickness of Hieron, not only bethinks him of Cheiron the primitive Healer but also sings :

' I would pray to the Mother to loose her ban, The holy goddess, to whom and to Pan Before my gate, all night long, The maids do worship with dance and song.'

The scholiast tells us how it came that Pindar prayed to the Mother for healing. One day while Pindar was teaching a pupil on a mountain, possibly Cithaeron itself, ' there was heard a great noise, and a flame of lightning was seen descending, and Pindar saw that a stone image of the Mother had come down at their feet, and the oracle ordained that he should set up a shrine to the Mother.' The story is transparent a thunderstorm, lightning and a fallen aerolite, the symbol of the Mother, surely of Keraunia. And the Mother, the scholiast further tells us, ' had power to purify from madness.' She had power to loose as well as to bind. In this she was like her son Dionysos. The magical power for purification of aerolites and indeed of almost any strange black stone is attested by many instances 2 . Orestes 3 was purified at Trozen from his madness, mother-sent, by a sacred stone. Most curious of all, Porphyry 4 tells us that Pythagoras when he was in Crete met one of the Idaean Dactyls, worshippers of the Mother, and was by him purified with a thunderbolt.

With a mother thunder-smitten, it was not hard for Dionysos to become adopted child of the Hellenic Zeus, God of the Thunderbolt. Theologians were ready with the myth of the double birth. Semele fell into partial discredit, obscured by the splendour of the Father. Matriarchy pales before the new

1 Find. Pyth. HI. 77 and schol. ad loc.

2 I have collected and discussed some instances of these in my article 'Delphika,' J.H.S. xix. 1899, p. 238.

3 P. vm. 31. 4, and at Gythium, P. m. 22. 1.

4 Porph. Vit. Pyth. xvii.




order of patriarchy, and from henceforth the name Dionysos 1 , 'son of Zeus/ is supreme.


The fatherhood of Zeus is charmingly set forth by the lovely little vase-fragment in fig. 131 from a red-figured cylix 2 , found in the ex- cavations on the Acropolis and now in the National Museum at Athens. Zeus with his sceptre holds the infant Dithyramb and displays him proudly to the other Olympians. Semele is ignored, perhaps half forgotten. Dio- nysos in the new order is ' all for the father.'

The all-important question is forced upon us why did Zeus adopt him ? Dionysos is the child of the Earth -goddess, but why was this par- ticular earth-child adopted ? Why did his worship spread everywhere with irresistible might, overshadowing at

the end even the cult of his adopted father? Kore too is daughter of Earth, she too in awkward fashion was half affiliated to Zeus, yet he never takes her in his arms and her cult though wide-spread has no militant missionary aspect.

Zeus holds the infant Dionysos in his arms, and Dionysos

1 Dr Kretschmer (Aus der Anomia p. 23) has shown that in all probability the second half of the name Dionysos (-vvcros) means 'son' or 'young man': it is the cognate of Lat. nurus and of Gr. vis^t], which in the compound Kan6i>vfji<t>os (Eur. Ale. 206, 990) appears in masculine form. On the fragment of an early black- figured vase signed by Sophilos, three nymphs appear with the inscription NDo-cu which seems equivalent to K6pai or vijfj.<f>ai or irapdtvoi (A. Mitt. xiv. Taf. i.). Aristophanes seems to have vaguely felt or imagined some connection between the last half of the word and Nysa, the birthplace of the god, in his Nva-r/iov Aids Ai6w(roi> (Ran. 215) echoed by Apollonius Rhodius in At6s Nvffritov via (Arg. rv. 1132). Dionysos then is practically either AidcrKovpos, a term of wide application, or possibly child of the tribe of Dioi (see p. 372). Dr Kretschmer further points out that the fluctuation in inscriptions between t and e (Ae6j/u<ros and Aibiswos) is best accounted for by Thracian origin, as the Thracians appear to have had a vowel which was not exactly either, and was indifferently rendered in Greek by both. Probably then, though not certainly, Dionysos brought his name with him from the North.

2 Jahrbuch des Inst. 1891, Taf. i. Sufficient fragments of the vase remain to show that the scene represented was the presentation of Dionysos to the Olympians.

FIG. 131.


vm] Dionysos Son of Zeus 413

holds in his the secret of his strength, the vine with its great bunch of grapes. But for that bunch of grapes Zeus would never have troubled to adopt him. To the popular mind Dionysos was always Lord of the Vine, as Athene was Lady of the Olive. It is by the guerdon of the grape that his Bacchants appeal to Dirce 1 :

'By his own joy I vow, By the grape upon the bough.'

It is by his great gift of Wine to sorrowful man that his kingdom is established upon earth 2 :

'A god of Heaven is He,

And born in majesty,

Yet hath he mirth in the joy of the Earth And he loveth constantly Her who brings increase, The Feeder of children, Peace.

No grudge hath He of the great, No scorn of the mean estate, But to all that liveth, his Wine he giveth, Griefless, immaculate. Only on them that spurn Joy may his anger burn.'

It is the usual mythological inversion, he of the earth is trans- lated to heaven that thence he may descend.

Dionysos as god of the grape is so familiar that the idea needs no emphasis. It is more important to note that the vine as the origin of his worship presents certain difficulties.

It has clearly been seen that Dionysos was a Northerner, a Thracian. Wine is not the characteristic drink of the North. Is it likely that wine, a drink characteristic to this day of the. South, is the primitive essence of the worship of a god coming into Greece from the North ?

The answer to this difficulty is an interesting one. The main distinguishing factor of the religion of Dionysos is always the cult of an intoxicant, but wine is not the only intoxicant, nor in the North the most primitive. Evidence is not wanting that the cult of the vine-god was superimposed on, affiliated to, in part developed out of, a cult that had for its essence the worship of an early and northern intoxicant, cereal not vinous.

To this conclusion I have been led by the consideration of the cultus titles of the god.

1 Eur. Bacch. 535. 2 Eur. Bacch. 416.

414 Dionysos [OH.


Dionysos is a god of many names ; he is Bacchos, Baccheus, lacchos, Bassareus, Bromios, Euios, Sabazios, Zagreus, Thyoneus, Lenaios, Eleuthereus, and the list by no means exhausts his titles. A large number of these names are like Lenaios, ' He of the Wine- Press/ only descriptive titles ; they never emerge to the dignity of proper names. Some, like lacchos and probably Bacchos itself, though they ultimately became proper names, were originally only cries. lacchos was a song even down to the time of Aristophanes 1 , and was probably, to begin with, a ritual shout or cry kept up long after its meaning was forgotten. Such cries from their vagueness, their aptness for repetition, are peculiarly exciting to the religious emotions. How many people attach any precise significance to the thrice repeated, stately and moving words that form the prooemium to our own Easter Hymn ?

'Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.'

They are a homage beyond articulate speech. Then, as now, these excited cries became sacred titles of the worshippers who used them : ' Evian women ' (evt,oi ywalices) were the ancient and more reverent counterpart of our ' Hallelujah lasses.'

The various titles of the god are of course of considerable use in determining his nature, for they all express some phase of emotion in the worshipper, and it is of these phases that a god is compounded. Certain names seem to cling to certain places. Sabazios is Thracian, Zagreus Cretan, Bromios largely Theban, lacchos Athenian. Some of the epithets have unquestionably shifted their meaning in the course of time. The Greeks were adepts at false etymology, and an excellent instance of this is a title of the first importance for our argument, Bromios.

The title Bromios has to our modern ears a poetical, some- what mystical ring 2 . It never occurs in Homer, nor in Sophocles. Pindar and Aeschylus both use it, Euripides often. The poets, by their usage, clearly show that they connect the title with the

1 Ar. Ban. 331.

2 Preller (3rd ed. p. 665) goes so far as to say 'Bp6/uos scheint nur poetisches Beiwort zu sein.'

vm] Dionysos as Bromios 415

verb ftpefjio), which means ' to make a confused sound.' Pindar in a dithyrambic fragment 1 says:

'We hymn thee Bromios and Him of the loud cry.'

The address it may be noted is to the Cadmean Dionysos.

Sometimes the association is definitely with thunder (/Spovrri). Thus in the second Olympian 2 we have :

  • High in Olympus lives for evermore

She of the delicate hair, Semele fair, Who died by the thunder's roar.'

Here the title Bromios can scarcely have been remote from Pindar's mind, though he does not care to press the allusion. In the Bacchae there seems no consciousness of etymology. The titles Dionysos and Bromios come haphazard, but throughout the play Dionysos is in some degree a god of thunder as well as thunder-born, a god of mysterious voices, of strange, confused, orgiastic music, music which we know he brought with him from the North.

Strabo 3 has preserved for us two fragments from the lost Edonians of Aeschylus which deal with this music of orgy and madness. Aeschylus, he says, speaks in the Edonians of the goddess Kotys and the instruments of her worship, and imme- diately introduces the worshippers of Dionysos, thus :

'One on the fair-turned pipe fulfils His song, with the warble of fingered trills The soul to frenzy awakening. From another the brazen cymbals ring. The shawm blares out, but beneath is the moan Of the bull-voiced mimes, unseen, unknown, And in deep diapason the shuddering sound Of drums, like thunder, beneath the ground.'

Of the 'bull-voiced mimes' we should have been glad to know more details, but the fragment, obscure as it is, leaves at least the impression of weird exciting ceremonial, and most of all of mysterious music.

All this must have helped to make of Bromios the god of

1 Find. frg. 45

rov Bpbfuov rbv 'E/n/36ai' re Ka\ofJ.ev.

2 Find. 01. n. 27

Kepavvov ravvtdeipa Se/x^Xa. 3 Strabo x. p. 470.

416 Dionysos [CH.

sounds and voices ; yet it is probable, indeed almost certain, that the title had another origin, simpler, less poetical. We owe the clue to this primitive meaning to the Emperor Julian.

Julian in his northern campaign saw and no doubt tasted with compunction a wine, made not from the grape but from barley. After the fashion of his age he wrote an epigram 1 to this new, or rather very old, Dionysos. From the number of instructive puns it contains this epigram is almost untranslateable, but as its evidence is for our purpose of paramount importance it may be roughly Englished as follows:

To wine made of barley*.

1 Who and whence art thou, Dionyse? Now, by the Bacchus true Whom well I know, the son of Zeus, say 'Who and what are you?' He smells of nectar like a god, you smack of goats and spelt, For lack of grapes from ears of grain your countryman the Celt Made you. Your name's Demetrios, but never Dionyse, Bromos, Oat-born, not Bromios, Fire-born from out the skies.'



The emperor makes three very fair puns, as follows : oats, {3p6fjuo<$ of the thunder ; Trvpoyevfj wheat-born, Trvpiyevr) fire- born ; rpdyos goat and rpdyos an inferior kind of wheat, spelt.

1 Anthol. Pal. ix. 368

E/s olvov dirb Kpidrjs. Ts ; irbdev els At6vvo~e ; fjtd yap TOV dXrjdta Ba/cxov

ov <r' dirty tyv<i)o~K<i)' TOV Atos oT5a (j.6vov. KCIVOS vtKTap 6'5w5e, <rv de Tpdyoif 77 pa o~e KeXroi

Trj irevtrj fioTpvuv rev^av di Tig ffe xpb Ka\tetv &rjfj.r)Tptov t ov TTVpoyevij fj.d\\ov Kal /3p6/j.ov ov

The epigram is discussed and the play on irvptyevr), Trvpoyevrj, j8/)6/ios and rightly observed by Hehn (Kulturpflanzen, 6th ed. p. 147), and to his book and Schrader's Reallexicon I am indebted for many references. Hehn misses the point of Tpdyos but it was noted long ago by Couring in the Thesaurus of Stephanos (2342 B) s.v. Tpdyos. He remarks apropos of the epigram : ' non hircum sed ex olyra et tritico confectum panem.' See also Dr W. Headlam, Cl. Rev. 1901, p. 23.

2 Mr Francis Darwin kindly tells me that Tpdyos is said to be a kind of wheat known now as triticum amylaeum. It is akin to spelt, triticum spelta, the ancient fela. /Sjo6/xo$ is some form of oats, in modern Greek (Spuny. It is of interest to note that in the 4th century B.C. /3p6yu,o$ was an important cereal accounted as more wholesome than barley. This is clear from the words of the physician Dieuches : ylveTat 5 d\((>tTov Kal dirb TOV fipbiiov. (ppvyeTai oe crvv T dxvpw irdv. awon

T Kal TplfieTai Kal ^otf/cercu Kaddirep Kal Tb Kpidivov d\<ptTov. TOVTO Tb d\<piTov Kal d<pv(ruTep6v dffTt TOV Kpidivov (xxi. veter. et clar. medic. Grace, var. opusc. ed. F. de Matthaei, Mosquae 1808, p. 39 ; see Hehn, Kulturpfl. 7th edit. p. 553). By the time of Galen it seems to have fallen into comparative disuse, displaced pro- bably by the richer cereals. He says (de aliment, facult. i. 14) : Tpo<f>rj 5' tffrlv viro^vyiw OVK dv6pd}TT<i)v, el yn?? TTOTC apa Xt/x,t6rro^res eo~xdr(i}s dvayKaffdelev, CK TOVTOV TOV ffwfpfjia.Tos. The modern history of oats presents a close analogy. Displaced in the south by the richer wheat it remains the staple food of the northern Scot, and is the food of cattle only in the south.

vm] Dionysos as Braites 417

The gist of the third pun will be considered more fully at a later stage of the argument. For the present it is sufficient to note that all three have the same substantial content, there is a Dionysos who is not of heaven but of earth. Julian propounds as an elegant jest the simple but illuminating mythological truth that the title Bromios points to a god born not of the lightning and thunder but of an intoxicant made from the cereal j3p6/j,os. Bromios is Demetrios, son of Demeter the Corn-Mother, before he becomes god of the grape and son by adoption of Olympian Zeus.

Julian is not precise in his discrimination between the various edible grasses. His epigram is headed, ' To wine made of barley (tepidly ; the god, he says, smacks of spelt (rpdyos), he is wheat- born (TTvpoyevrj) and he is of oats (ppbfjuos). It matters to Julian nothing, nor is it to our argument of first importance, of what particular cereal this new-old Dionysos is made. The point is that it is of some cereal, not of the grape. The god is thus seen to be son of Semele, Earth-goddess in her agricultural aspect as Demeter, Corn-Mother. We shall later (p. 518) see that he was I worshipped with service of the winno wing-fan, and we shall ] further see that, when he-of-the-cereal-intoxicant became he-of- , the-wine-of-grapes, the instrument that had been a winnowing-fan '. became a grape-basket.

The possibility of this simple origin of Bromios grows when we consider another epithet of the god. In the Paean to Dionysos recently discovered at Delphi 1 there occurs the title hitherto unexplained Braites. The hymn opens thus with a string of cultus epithets :

'Come, Dithyrambos, Bacchos, come, Euios, Thyrsos-Lord, Braites, come,

Bromios, come, and coming with thee bring Holy hours of thine own holy spring.'

Nowhere else does the title Braites occur ; but the hymn, as

1 H. Weil, Bull, de Corr. Hell xix. p. 401

[AeOp' &va AJifltfpctjUjSe, Bct/cx'?

e[tfie dvp(TTJ]pS, Bpcu- rd, Bp6yui(e), T)piva[is IKOV Tat<r5(e)] tepcus ev wpcus.

Dr Weil suggests "faut-il le rattacher a f 'pala = palw et 1'expliquer 'celui qui frappe et qui brise ' ? "

H. 27

418 Dionysos [CH.

an actual ritual composition, inscribed and set up at Delphi, is an important source. Braites has been Explained as the Breaker or Striker, but this is scarcely a happy epithet for the Spring-god. In the light of Bromios it may be suggested that the epithet is connected with the late Latin word braisum, which means 'grain prepared for the making of the beer braisum 1 .' Braites would then like Bromios be an epithet derived from a cereal intoxicant.

An examination of the title^S&bazios leads to results more certain and satisfactory. The name Sabazios has a more foreign sound than Dionysos, even than Bromios. Sabazios was never admitted even to the outskirts of Olympus. In the time of Demosthenes 2 his rites were regarded by the orthodox as foreign, outrageous, disreputable. One of the counts in the unmannerly attack of Demosthenes on Aeschines is that Aeschines had been instructed by his mother in mysteries and rites that were certainly those of Sabazios, that having performed various degrading cere- monials he 'led those admirable thiasoi about the streets, they being crowned with fennel and poplar, and gesticulated with great red snakes, waving them over his head and shouting Euoi Saboi.' The Saboi were the worshippers of Sabazios as the Bacchae of Bacchos. Of course Demosthenes is grossly unjust. The cere- monies of Sabazios could be closely paralleled by the perfectly orthodox ritual of Dionysos, but they passed under another name, were not completely canonical, and above all things were still realized as foreign. That pious men of good repute might quietly worship Sabazios is clear from the account of the ' Superstitious Man' in Theophrastos 3 . Against his moral character nothing can be urged, but that he was a little over-zealous, and ' whenever he chanced to see a red snake he would invoke Sabazios.'

Down to Christian days the snake was an important feature in the cult of Sabazios. Clement and Arnobius 4 both state that one of the ' tokens ' of the mysteries of Sabazios was ' the god (gliding) through the bosom.' The snake was of course associated also with Dionysos he may have inherited it from the earlier god but his more characteristic vehicle was the bull. Sabazios

1 Ducauge s.v. braisum : grana ad conficiendam braisum cerevisiam praeparata.

2 Dem. de Cor. 313.

3 Theophr. Char. LXXVII.

4 Clem. Al. Protr. n. Arnob. c. gent. v. p. 170.

vin] Dionysos as Sabazios 419

seems always to have been regarded as more primitive and savage than Dionysos. Diodorus 1 , puzzled by the many forms of Dionysos, says : ' Some people fable that there was another Dionysos very much earlier in date than this one, for they allege that there was a Dionysos born af Zeus and Persephone, the one called by some Sabazios, whose birth and sacrifices and rites they instance as celebrated by night and in secret on account of shameless cere- monies attending them.' These last words probably refer to the mystic marriage of the god with the initiated (p. 535).

The symbolism of the snake has already (p. 326) been discussed. A god whose vehicle was the snake would find easy affiliation in Greece, where every dead hero was a snake.

Sabazios is left unsung by tragic poets, but the realism of comedy reflects the popular craze for semi-barbarian worship. The temper of Demosthenes was not, if Strabo 2 be right, character- istically Athenian. 'As in other matters,' Strabo says, 'the Athenians were always hospitable to foreign customs, so with the gods. They adopted many sacred customs from abroad and were ridiculed in comedies for doing so, and this especially as regards Phrygian and Thracian rites. Plato mentions the Bendidean, and Demosthenes the Phrygian, rites in his accusation against Aeschines and his mother on the count that Aeschines joined his mother in her rites and went about in a thiasos and cried aloud Euoi Saboi and Hyes Attes, for these cries are of Sabazios and the Mother.'

It is then to comedy, to Aristophanes, that we owe most of our references to Sabazios, hints of his real character and his inner kinship with Dionysos. In an untranslateable pun in the Birds z he tells us that Sabazios is a Phrygian, and from the Lysistrata 4 ' we learn that his worship was orgiastic and much affected by women. The ' deputation man ' exclaims :

'Has the wantonness of women then blazed up, Their tabourings, Sabazios all about, Their clamour for Adonis on the roofs? 3

But most instructive of all is the mention of Sabazios in the

1 Diod. iv. 4. 2 Sfcrab> x 3 47L

3 Ar. Av. 875

tppvylXq Sa/3aft'y /ecu arpovd^

dfCjv Kal avdpuirwv. 4 Ar. Lys. 388.


420 Dionysos [CH.

opening of the Wasps\ The two slaves Sosias and Xanthias are watching over their master Bdelycleon. They know he is a dangerous monster and they ought to keep awake.

' Xan. I know, but I do want a little peace.

Sos. Well, chance it then. Some sweet and drowsy thing Is falling drop by drop upon my eyes.

Xan. What? Are you clean mad or a Korybant?

Sos. No, a sleep holds me from Sabazios.

Xan. And I too herd the same Sabazios.

Just now a very Mede of a nodding sleep Came down and made an onset on my eyes.'

Sabazios is here clearly not so much the god of ecstasy and orgy as of compelling irresistible sleep. And why ? A late historian gives the simple answer.

Ammianus Marcellinus 2 tells us that, when the Emperor Valens was besieging Chalcedon, the besieged by way of insult shouted to him ' Sabaiarius.' He adds in explanation ' sabaia is a drink of the poor in Illyria made of barley or corn turned into a liquor/ 'Sabaiarius' is then 'Beer-man,' beer-drinker or brewer. S. Jerome, himself a Dalmatian, says in his commentary on Isaiah 3 that 'there is a sort of drink made from grain and water, and in the provinces of Dalmatia and Pannonia it is called, in the local barbarian speech, sabaium.' To the wine-drinker the beer-drinker seemed a low fellow. Wine was in itself a rarer, finer beverage, probably at first more expensive. Even to-day in some parts of beer-drinking Germany to drink beer at the solemn midday dinner is almost a vulgarity. Sabazios, god of the cheap cereal drink, brings rather sleep than inspiration.

The testimony of Sabazios is now added to that of Bromios and Braites. Separately the conjectured etymology of each epithet might fall far short of conviction, but the cumulative force of the three together offers evidence that seems conclusive.

1 Ar. Vesp. 5 12. The word |3ou/coXet$ (v. 6) points to the /3oujt6Xot, priests or attendants of the bull-Dionysos.

2 Ammian. Marcell. 26. 8. 2 : est autem sabaia ex ordeo vel frumento in liquorem conversis paupertinus in Illyrico potus. 0. Schrader, Reallexikon p. 89, points out that the derivation of Sabazios from sabaia is possible, if the view of Kretschmer (Einleitung p. 195) be accepted that Sabazios represents an earlier Savadios ; he compares the old Gallic divinity Braciaca 'God of Malt.' Mr A. B. Cook kindly drew my attention to the remark of De Vit in his edition of Forcellini's Lexicon, s.v. sabaia: ' unde etiam zabaion vulgo apud nostrates ' (Venetos?).

3 Hieron. Com. 7 in Is. cap. 19: quod genus est potionis ex frugibus aquaque confectum et vulgo in Dalmatiae Pannoniaeque provinciis gentili barbaroque sermone appellatur sabaium.

vm] Tragedy the Spelt-song 421

A fourth link in the chain still remains. The emperor Julian's third pun rpdyos, goat, and rpdyos, spelt, has yet to be con- sidered :

' He smells of nectar like a god, you smack of goats and spelt.'

The word rpdyos is usually rendered ' goat/ and the meaning 'spelt' ignored. There is of course a reference to the time- honoured jest about the animal, but that the primary reference is to grain, not the goat, is clear from the words that immediately follow :

'For lack of grapes from ears of grain your countryman the Celt Made you.'

In translating I have therefore used both the meanings; the formal pun is untranslateable.

It is an odd fact that the ancients seem to have called certain wild forms of fruits and cereals by names connecting them with the goat 1 . The reason is not clear, but the fact is well-established. The Latins called the wild fig caprificus ; Pausanias expressly tells us that the Messenians gave to the wild fig-tree the name rpdryos, goat. Vines, when they ran wild to foliage rather than fruit, were said rpayav. I would conjecture that the inferior sort of spelt called rpdyos, goat, owes its name to this unexplained linguistic habit. It is even possible that the beard with which spelt is furnished may have helped out the confusion. Tragedy I believe to be not the ' goat-song,' but the * harvest-song ' of the cereal rpdyos, the form of spelt known as ' the goat.' When the god of the cereal, Bromios-Braites-Sabazios, became the god of the vine, the fusion and confusion of rpaywBia, the spelt-song, with rpvyay- 8ta, the song of the winelees 2 , was easy and indeed inevitable. The TpaywSoi, the * beanfeast-singers,' became TpvytpSoi or * must- singers.'

The difficulties in the way of the canonical etymology of tragedy are acknowledged to be great 3 . In discussing the Satyrs it has

1 This was first observed by Grimm (Geschichte d. d. Sprache p. 66), see Hehn, Kulturpflanzen, 7th edit. p. 550, but Hehn's explanation of the custom does not seem satisfactory. Our custom of calling inferior varieties of plants by dog-names, e.g. Dog-Eose, Dog- Violet, seems analogous.

2 For the group of words denoting 'dregs' e.g. O.P. dragios, with which rpvyydia is connected, see Schrader, Prehistoric Antiquities p. 322, and Hehn, Kulturpflanzen p. 159.

3 For the literature of this protracted controversy see U. v. Wilamowitz, Eur. Her. i. p. 32; A. Korte, Jahrbuch d. Inst. 1893, vm. p. 61: Loschke, A. Mitt. xv.

422 Dionysos [CH.

already been shown that the primitive followers of Dionysos are mythologically conceived of not as goat-men, but as horse-men. The primitive 'goat-song' we are asked to believe, was sung by a chorus of horse-men. The case in fact stands thus. We are confronted on the one hand by the undoubted fact that on countless vase-paintings of the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. the attendants of Dionysos are horse-men, while goat-men attend the Earth-goddess (p. 277) ; on the other hand we have the supposed fact that tragedy is the goat-song. But this supposed fact is merely an etymological assumption. If another etymology be found for tragedy, the whole discrepancy disappears. Such an etymology is, I think, offered by rpdyos 'spelt,' with the further advantage that it contains in itself a hint of how the goat mis- understanding arose.

A fragment of Aeschylus cited, but I think erroneously, as evidence of a goat chorus remains to be examined. Jn a lost tragedy 1 a Satyr on the stage sees for the first time fire just given to mortals, and he runs to kiss her as though she were a beautiful maiden. Prometheus warns him : if you do this

  • You'll be a goat mourning his beard.'

The passage is used as evidence for the goat form and dress of the Satyric chorus. Surely such an inference is needless; the point of the jest is the morals and manners of the Satyr. To reconstruct a goat-chorus out of a casual joke is labour in vain.

We have then found four several titles, Bromios, Braites, Sabazios and tragedy, for which the supposition of a cereal drink affords a simple, satisfactory explanation. It remains to show that, though the words bromos, braisum, sabaia and tragos have become to us dim and almost forgotten in the lapse of time, a cereal drink such as they imply was widely in use in ancient days, and that among Northern nations.

The history of fermented drink in Europe seems to have been

1894, p. 518 ; K. Wernicke, Hermes 1897, p. 290 ; Bethe, Proleg. p. 48. My own view was first suggested in the Classical Rev. July 1902, p. 331.

1 Aesch. frg. 190 ap. Plut. Mor. p. 86 TOV 5e <rarvpov TO irvp cJs TTP&TOV &'oi' <t>i\7J<rai /ecu irepCkaftelv 6 Hpo/j.T)detis

T pay os ytveiov apa wv0^ffei$ <rtye.

viil] Cereal Intoxicants 423

briefly this. Never, so far back as we can look into mythology, was miserable man without some rudimentary means of intoxication. Before he had advanced to agriculture he had a drink made of naturally fermented honey, the drink we now know as mead, which the Greeks called pedv or /jbeOr). The epithet ' sweet ' which they constantly apply to wine surprises us, but as a characteristic of 'mead' it is natural enough. This mead made of honey appears in ancient legends. When Zeus would intoxicate Kronos he gave him not wine, Porphyry 1 says, for wine was not, but a honey-drink to darken his senses. Night says to Zeus :

' When prostrate 'neath the lofty oaks you see him Lie drunken with the work of murmuring bees, Then bind him,'

and again Plato 2 tells how when Poros falls asleep in the garden of Zeus he is drunk not with wine but with nectar, for wine was not yet. Nectar, the ancient drink of the gods, is mead made of honey; and men know this, for they offer to the primitive earth-god libations of honey (/^eX/crTroz/Sa). The gods like their worshippers knew the joys of intoxication before the coming of the grape- Dionysos. Plutarch 3 says mead (pedv) was used as a libation before the appearance of the vine, and ' even now those of the bar- barians who do not drink wine drink honey-drink' (/jiekLreLov). The nephalia are but intoxicants more primitive than wine.

Next in order came the drinks made of cereals fermented, the various forms of beer and crude malt spirit. These gave to the Thracian Dionysos his names Bromios, Braites, Sabazios, but they never seem to have found a real home in Greece. Mention of them occurs in classical writers, but they are always named as barbarian curiosities, as drinks in use in Thrace, Armenia, Egypt, but never like mead even in primitive times the national drink of Hellas. Isis in Egypt is addressed as not only Our Lady of Bread but also Our Lady of Beer 4 , but Bromios when he comes to Greece forgets the oats from which he sprang.

The first beer was probably a very rude product, like the drink mentioned by Xenophon 5 as still in use among the Armenians of his day ; the grain was pounded and allowed to ferment with the

1 Porph. de antr. nymph. 7. 2 Plat. Symp. 203.

3 Plut. Symp. iv. 6.

4 Brugsch, Religion und Mythologie d. alien Eyypter, p. 647.

5 Xen. Anab. iv. 5. 26 evTJ<rav de /ecu avral ai Kpida.1

424 Dionysos [OH.

grains still floating about in the drinking-cups. The Lithuanians in the Middle Ages are said to have made their beer over-night and drunk it next morning 1 . Beer of this primitive kind was best sucked up through a pipe. Archilochus 2 alludes to the practice :

'As through a reed Phrygian and Thracian men Suck up their brew.'

The name given to the drink, ftpvrov, means simply some- thing brewed or fermented. Aeschylus 3 in his Lykurgos makes some one, probably Lykurgos the Thracian, drink ffpvrov :

'Thereat he drank the bruton and waxed strong And boasted thus within the hero's halls. 3

Athenaeus, in the passage in which he quotes Archilochus, cites quite a number of authorities about the making of these rude cereal drinks. According to Hellanicus in his Origins, bruton could be made also of roots. ' Some people/ he says, ' drink bruton made of roots as the Thracian drink is made of barley/ Hecataeus in his Journey round Europe notes that the Paeon ians drank bruton made from barley and an admixture of millet and endive.

Another name for this drink made from grain was zythos. Diodorus 4 draws a lamentable picture of the straits to which the peoples of Gaul were put because 'from the excessive cold and intemperate character of the climate, the land could not bring forth either wine or oil. Bereft of these products the Gauls make of barley the drink that is called zythos ; they likewise wash out their honeycombs with water and use the rinsings. They had only imported wine, but to this they were excessively addicted (Karoivoi), they drank it intemperately and either fell asleep dead drunk or became stark mad/ Here we have the living historical prototype of the Centaurs, the uncivilized men who cannot support the taste of wine, the lamentable story of imported in- toxicants told in all ages all the world over.

The number of primitive beers cervisia, korma, sabaia, zythos

1 Lasicius, De Diis Sarmagitarum, p. 44.

2 Archil, frg. ap. Athen. x. 67 447. Bergk 32

uffirep trap' cwXy fipvrov r) Qprjit; dvijp rj 4>/>u 1^3/oi/fe.

3 Aesch. frg. 123 ap. Athen. loc. cit.

4 Diod. v. 26.

vm] The Coming of the Vine 425

is countless and it would be unprofitable to discuss them in detail. / All have this in common, and it is sufficient for our purpose, that they are spirituous drinks made of fermented grain, they appear with the introduction of agriculture, they tend to supersede mead, and are in turn superseded by wine. To put it mythologically the worship of Bromios, Braites and Sabazios pales before the Epiphany of Dionysos. Sabazios is almost wholly left behind, a foreigner never naturalized 1 . Bromios is transformed beyond recognition ; to the old name is given a new meaning, a new etymology.

It is important to note that had there been only Sabazios, had Bromios never emerged from himself, both would probably have remained in Thracian obscurity. The Thracians never conquered Greece; there was, therefore, no historical reason why their god / V should impose himself. His dominance is unquestionably due to the introduction and rapid spread of the vine. Popular tradition enshrined as it usually does a real truth the characteristic gift (%^/ fc< ?) f Dionysos by which he won all hearts was wine, wine made not of barley but of the juice of the grape. A new, in- coming plant attaches itself to the local divinity, whoever and whatever he be. The olive attached itself to Athene who was there before its coming, and by the olive the prestige of Athene was sensibly increased ; but the olive, great glory though it was and though a Sophocles sang its praises, had never the divine omnipotence of the vine. Olive oil over all the countries of Southern Europe supplanted the other primitive grease, butter 2 . Butter is hard to keep fresh in hot countries, as every traveller finds to his cost in Italy and Greece to-day. But the supersession of butter by oil was a quiet, unnoticed advance, not a triumphant progress like the Coming of the Vine.

We are now at last in a position to say what was the characteristic essence of the worship of Dionysos. The fact however repugnant

1 In the north as to-day the Beer-god retained his supremacy. It is interesting to note that the British saint, St Brigida, re-performed the miracle of Cana with the characteristically northern modification that she turned the water into excellent beer : Christi autem ancilla videns quia tune illico non poterat invenire cerevisiam, aquam ad balneum portatam benedixerit et in optimam cerevisiam conversa est a Deo et abundanter sitientibus propinata est. Acta SS. Febr. I. Vita iv. S. Brigidae cap. iv. quoted by Hehn, op. cit. p. 149. In the Egyptian Book of the Dead (Chap, ex.) the desire of the soul is for cakes and ale.

2 Hehn, Kulturpflanzen, 7th edit. p. 154.

426 Dionysos [CH.

must be fairly faced. This essence was intoxication. But by the very nature of primitive thought this essence was almost instantly transformed into something more, something deeper and higher than mere physical intoxication. It was intoxication thought of as possession. The savage tastes of some intoxicant for the first time, a great delight takes him, he feels literally a new strange life within him. How has it come about ? The answer to him is simple. He is possessed by a god (eVtfeo?), not figuratively but literally and actually ; there is a divine thing within him that is more than himself, he is mad, but with a divine madness. All intense sorrow or joy is to him obsession, possession. When in the Hippolytus 1 the chorus see Phaedra distraught with passion, in- stinctively they ask :

' Is this some spirit, child of man, Doth Hecate hold thee perchance or Pan, Doth She of the Mountains work her ban Or the dread Corybantes bind thee V

They utter not poetical imagery but a real belief.

To what beautiful imaginations, to what high spiritual vision this Bacchic cult of intoxication led will best be considered when we come to speak of Orpheus. For the present some other primitive elements in Dionysiac worship remain to be considered, elements essential to the understanding of his cult.


Intoxication is of the essence of the god Dionysos, it is the element that marks him out from other gods, it is the secret of his missionary impulse ; but to suppose that it exhausts his content would be a grave misunderstanding. There go to his making not only this distinctive element of intoxication but certain other primitive factors common to the gods of other peoples.

Thinking people even in antiquity, when the study of com- parative mythology scarcely existed, were struck by analogies between Dionysos and other divinities. Plutarch, who thought much, if somewhat vaguely, on religious matte'rs, was very sensible of this. In the enlightened and instructive parallel that he

1 Eur. Hipp. 141.

vm] Dionysos as Dendrites 427

draws 1 between Osiris and Dionysos, he sees that Dionysos like the gods of many other peoples is a god who in some sense embodies the life of nature that comes and goes with the seasons, dies and rises again with the fruits of the earth. In a passage full of insight he draws attention to the analogies of the diverse cults he had observed. 'The Phrygians think that the god is asleep in the winter, and is awake in summer, and at the one season they celebrate with Bacchic rites his goings to bed and at the other his risings up. And the Paphlagonians allege that in the winter he is bound down and imprisoned and in the spring he is stirred up and let loose.' The passage and others that will later be quoted are as it were a forecast of the whole compara- tive method.

The truth that Dionysos, like many another god, was a god of the impulse of life in nature was not only apprehended by the philosopher, it was also evidenced in cultus. This is seen very clearly in two popular phases of the worship of Dionysos, his worship as a tree-god and his worship as a bull.

The vine is a tree ; but Dionysos is Dendrites, Tree-god, and a plant-god iu a far wider sense. He is god of the fig-tree, Sykites; he is Kissos, god of the ivy; he is Anthios, god of all blossoming things ; he is Phytalmios, god of growth. In this respect he differs scarcely at all from certain aspects of Poseidon, or from the young male god of Attica and the Peloponnese, Hermes. Probably this aspect of the god, at once milder and wider, was always acceptable in Southern Greece and made his affiliation with the indigenous Hermes an easy matter. This affiliation is clearly shown by the fact that in art Hermes and Dionysos appear, as they were worshipped in cultus, as herms; the symbol of both as gods of fertility is naturally the phallos. The young Dionysos, a maturer Likriites, is not distinguishable from Hermes.

On the beautiful cylix by Hieron 2 reproduced in fig. 132, perhaps the most exquisite thing that ancient ceramography has

1 Plut. de Is. et Osir. LXIX. 3>ptyes de rbv Oebv ott/uevoi %et/xo)^os Kctdetideiv, dtpovs 5' eypyyoptvat, r6re ptv K&Tevv cur pots, rbre 5' dveyepaeis /Sa/cxetfoi/res aury TeXoCtri. TI.a.(f>\a.y6i>es de /caraSetcr^at Kal Ka.ddpyvvcrda.1 xeiyuwpos, ijpos 6e Kivei<rdai KCU dva\ijO'0ai <j>A<TKov(ri. The earlier portion of this passage deals with the analogous cult of Demeter (p. 128) already discussed.

2 Berlin, Cat. 2290. Wiener Vorlegeblatter, Serie A, Taf. vi.




left us, this affiliation is clearly shown. In the centre design Dionysos is all vine-god. He holds a great vine-branch in his left hand, in his right his own sceptre the thyrsos ; his worshipper is a horse-Satyr piping on the double flutes. But on the exterior of

FIG. 132.

the cup, a scene of cultus rather than mythology, he is of wider import, he is Dendrites. The god round whom the lovely Maenads dance in circle is a rude pillar or plank draped with a splendid ritual garment. It is a primitive herm decorated with great


Dionysos as Dendrites


bunches of grapes, but also with ivy sprigs and honeycombs and a necklace of dried figs, such as the Greek peasant now-a-days takes with him for food on a journey. He is god of all grow- ing things, of every tree and plant and natural product, and only later exclusively of the vine. He takes to himself ivy and pine and honeycomb. The honey-drink he supersedes, yet honey is sacred to him. Only the olive he never takes, for Athene had it already. Ivy especially was sacred to him ; his Maenads chewed ivy leaves 1 for inspiration, as the Delphic prophetess chewed the bay. Pliny 2 says : ' Even to this day ivy is used to decorate the thyrsos of the god and the helmets and shields used by the peoples of Thrace in their rites/ and this ritual ivy is remembered by Dionysos when he comes to Thebes 3 :

'I cry to Thebes to waken, set her hands To clasp my wand, mine ivied javelin, And round her shoulders hang my wild fawn-skin.'

Very primitive in form but wholly of the vine-god is the xoanon on a krater in the Campana collection of the Louvre 4

Fm. 133.

1 Plut. Quaest. R. cxn. 3 Eur. Bacch. 55.

2 Pliny N.H. xvi. 62. 4 Annali d. Inst. 1862, Tav. d' agg. C.

430 Dionysos [CH.

(fig. 133). The image of the god is a column treated as a herm, and reminds us that Dionysos was called by the name Perikonios, He-about-the-pillar. The two representations in figs. 133 and 132 are characteristically different. The rude Satyrs have but one way of worshipping their god, they fall upon the wine-cup; the Maenads, worshipping the god of life, bend in ritual ecstasy to touch the earth, mother of life ; the wine-jar in Hieron's vase is present as a symbol, but the Maenads revel aloof

The worship of the tree-god was probably indigenous in Thrace long before the coming of the vine. We have evidence that it lingered on there down to Roman times. An inscription on a cippus recently discovered in a mosque at Eski Djoumi 1 and now in the museum at Saloniki affords curious evidence. The cippus marked the grave of a priestess of Dionysos. Her name is lost, but the word priestess (lepeid) is followed by two characteristically Bacchic epithets, Ovo-a and evela. She is priestess of the thiasos of the 'Carriers of the Evergreen Oak' (irpivo^opoi), and she leaves to her guild certain property in vineyards. If they do not fulfil the conditions of the bequest, including the offering of a wreath of roses, the property is to go to another thiasos, that of the 'Carriers of the Oak' (&pot,o(f)6poi), and on the same conditions.

The tree-god was too simple for the philosopher. He wanted to abstract Dionysos, rid him of not only his anthropomorphic but his zoomorphic and phytomorphic shapes. Still he used the tree-god as a stepping-stone to his ' principle of moisture.' Plutarch 2 says the Greeks regard Dionysos as not merely lord and originator of wine, but of the whole principle of moisture. Of this, he adds, Pindar is in himself sufficient witness when he says:

' Of all the trees that are He hath his flock, and feedeth root by root,

The Joy-god Dionysos, the pure star That shines amid the gathering of the fruit.'

Plutarch is fond of this beautiful little bit of Pindar. He

1 Perdrizet, Bull, de Corr. Hell. 1900, p. 322.

2 Plut. de Is. et Os. xxxv. STL 5' ov fjibvov TOV oivov ^.ibvvffov d\\a KO! Traces vypas <f>6<reb}s'"E\\r]ves rjyovvTai Kvpiov KO! apx^y^f dpKei Hivdapos itdprvs elvai \yw

Aevdptw 5 v6/u.ov Ai6t>V(ros iroXvyrjQ'rjs av^dvoi ayi>bi> (ptyyos owtopas.

vm] The ' Principle of Moisture ' 431

quotes it again in his Symposiacs 1 . A friend who is a farmer objects that Plutarch has shut out his calling from the worship of the Muses, whereas he had hoped that at least Thalia, goddess of increase, might be his to worship. Plutarch says the charge is not a just one, for farmers have Dendrites, He-of-the-Trees, and Anesidora, She-who-sends-up-gifts ; and then he quotes his favourite passage. Pindar is of course no evidence for a Prin- ciple of Moisture. Neither poets nor primitive people use any such philosophical jargon ; but all the world over primitive man did and still does welcome the coming and lament the going of the something or someone who makes the trees and plants to grow and beasts and man to bring forth. Later, though they are little the wiser as to what that something is, they will call it the ' Principle of Moisture,' or if they are poets Love or Life.

The ' Principle of Moisture ' was in fashion among theologists long before Plutarch. In the Bacchae of Euripides the new wine of the religion of Dionysos has to be poured into some very old bottles. Teiresias in a typically orthodox fashion, characteristic of the timid and kindly priest all the world over, tries to water it down with weak rationalism. Dionysos, he urges, is not new at all, he is very old, as old and respectable as Demeter herself; she is the Principle of Dryness, he of Moisture, nothing could be more safe and satisfactory. He thus instructs honest Pentheus 2 :

'Two spirits there be,

Young prince, that in man's world are first of worth. Demeter one is named. She is the Earth Call her what name thou wilt ! who feeds man's frame With sustenance of things dry. And that which came Her work to perfect, second, is the Power From Seniele born. He found the liquid shower Hid in the grape 3 . 3

This is the rationalism not of the poet Euripides, but of the priest Teiresias. This is clear, for the poet in the next line breaks clean away from the tiresome Dryness and Moisture and is gone to the magic of sleep and the blood of the God out- poured.

1 Plut. Symp. ix. 14. 4. 2 Eur. Bacch. 274.

3 The doctrine of Teiresias was wide-spread in Greece by the time of Diodorus. He says (iv. 3) : Kad6\ov 5e fjivd o\oy overt T&V 6e&v fj,yi<TTrjs airodoxfy rvyxfoeiv Trap' dvdpwTTois roi)s rcus cvepyeffiais VTrep(3a.\o/ut,tvovs /card TT]V evpecriv r&v ayadu>v kibwabv re KO.I A^fj.'rjTpa, rbv fj,ev TOU irpoffrjveaTaTOv TTOTOV yev6[j.ti>ov evp^r^v, r^v d rrjs ?7/oas Tpo(pTjs r-qv KpaTiaTrjv irapadova'av rip ytvei r&v a

432 Dionysos [CH.

Plutarch quotes Pindar as authority for the Principle of Moisture, and undoubtedly the sap of trees and plants sacred to Dionysos may have helped out the abstraction. But, had Plutarch known it, the notion is associated not so much with Dendrites, the Tree-God, as with a figure perhaps still more primitive, Dionysos the Bull.


Dionysos Dendrites is easy to realize ; he is but a step back from the familiar, canonical Vine-god. The Bull-god Dionysos is harder to accept because we have lost the primitive habit of thinking from which he sprang. The Greeks themselves suffered the like inconvenience. They rapidly advanced to so complete an anthropomorphism that in Periclean Athens the dogma of the Bull-incarnation was, we cannot doubt, a stumbling-block, a faith as far as possible put out of sight.

The particular animal in which a god is incarnate depends of course on the circumstances of the worshippers. If he is in a land lion-haunted his god will be apt to take shape as a lion; later the lion will be his attendant, his servitor. Lions attend the Mountain-Mother of Asia Minor, guard her as has been seen (p. 265) in heraldic fashion, draw her chariot, watch her throne 1 . In like manner Dionysos, son of Semele, who is but one form of the same Earth-Mother, has a chariot drawn by lions (fig. 123), and sometimes, though not so frequently as his Mother, an attendant lion.

In the vase-painting in fig. 134 from an amphora in the British Museum 2 Dionysos, with kantharos and great spreading vine, stands between two great prophylactic eyes. A little lion looks up at him, dog-like, adoring his master. On the reverse Hephaistos with his mallet carries the vine in token of the power of the god. The lion in this picture is losing his reality, because the lion has ceased to be a dominant terror in Greece. The god of a civilized, agricultural people must reincarnate him- self in other animal shapes, in the Snake, in the Kid, most of all in the Bull. The Bull-god may have been too savage for Periclean

1 Myth, and Mon. Anc. A them, pp. 44 50.

2 B.M. Cat. B 264. Gerhard, Auserlesene Vasenbilder, Taf. 38.


Dionysos as Bull-god


Athens, but Euripides must have found him in full force in Macedonia. To a people of goat-herds like the Arcadians the goat is the impersonation of life and generation ; to a people of

FIG. 134.

cow-herds the bull is the more potent and splendid vehicle. In the Bacchae there are Snake-Epiphanies, Lion-Epiphanies, but first and foremost Bull-Epiphanies. At the mystery of the Birth 1

'A Horned 'God was found And a God with serpents crowned.'

In the supreme Orphic mystery, to be discussed later (p. 483), the worshipper before he became ' Bacchos ' ate the raw flesh of a bull, and, probably in connection with this sacrament, the Bull form of the god crystallized into a mystery dogma. When Pentheus has imprisoned the 'Bacchos ' he finds in the manger not the beautiful stranger but a raging bull ; the hallucination was doubtless bred of ancient faith and ritual. Again when in the Bacchae 2 Dionysos

1 Eur. Bacch. 99.

2 Eur. Bacch. 918.



434 Dionysos [CH.

leads him forth enchanted to his doom on Cithaeron, Pentheus in his madness sees before him strange sights :

'Yea and mine eye

Is bright ! Yon sun shines twofold in the sky, Thebes twofold and the Wall of Seven Gates, And is it a Wild Bull this, that walks and waits Before me ? There are horns upon thy brow ! What art thou, man or beast? For surely now The Bull is on thee ! '

and last when at the moment of their uttermost peril the Bacchants invoke their Lord to vengeance, the ancient incarnations loom in upon their maddened minds 1 :

  • Appear, appear, whatso thy shape or name,

Mountain Bull, Snake of the Hundred Heads,

Lion of the Burning Flame ! God, Beast, Mystery, come ! '

All this madness is based not only on a definite faith, but that faith is the utterance of a definite ritual. In discussing the name Bromios we have seen (p. 415) that in the ritual of Dionysos in Thrace there were 'bull-voiced mimes' who bellowed to the god. The scholiast 2 on Lycophron's Alexandra says that the ' women who worshipped Dionysos Laphystios wore horns them- selves, in imitation of the god, for he is imagined to be bull-headed and is so represented in art/ Plutarch 3 gives more particulars. ' Many of the Greeks represent Dionysos in their images in the form of a bull, and the women of Elis in their prayers invoke the god to come to them with his bull-foot, and among the Argives there is a Dionysos with the title Bull-born. And they summon him by their trumpets out of the water, casting into the depths lambs to the Door-keeper; they hide their trumpets in their thyrsoi, as Socrates has told in his treatise on the Hosioi.' A bull-god is summoned and he emerges from water.

It will later (p. 496) be seen to what strange theological uses the Orphics put their bull and lion and snake-shaped Epiphanies ; for the present it must be noted how near akin these were to the shapes that the Southern Greeks gave to their own indigenous

1 Eur. Bacch. 1017

(fravTjdt ravpos 77 iroXijKpavos I5elv

dpaKwv 77 TrvpKpX^yuv opaffffai \t(t}v.

' 2 Schol. ad Lye. Al. 1237 KepaTo<J>opov<ri yap nai avrai Kara plp.ri<nv &IOVIKTOV, Tavp6Kpavos yap {pavrdferai Kal 3 Plut. de Is. et Os. xxxv.


Dionysos as Bull-god


gods. Zeus and Athene and even Poseidon had, by the fifth century B.C., become pure human shapes, but the ministrants of Poseidon at Cyzicus were down to the time of Athenaeus known as Bulls 1 , and lower divinities like rivers still kept their bull shape, witness the pathetic story of Deianeira and Achelolis 2 :

'A river was my lover, him I mean Great Acheloiis, and in threefold form Wooed me, and wooed again ; a visible bull Sometimes, and sometimes a coiled gleaming snake, And sometimes partly man, a monstrous shape Bull-fronted, and adown his shaggy beard Fountains of clear spring water glistening flowed.'

In those old divine days a wooer might woo in a hundred shapes, and a maiden in like fashion might fly his wooing. It is again Sophocles 3 who tells us of the marriage of Pentheus :

'The wedlock of his wedding was untold, His wrestling with the maiden manifold.'

The red-figured vase-painting in fig. 135 looks almost like an illustration of the Trachiniae*. Here is the monster ; but he is

FIG. 135.

man-fronted, his body that of a bull, and from his mouth flows the water of his own stream Acheloiis. Herakles is about to break off his mighty horn, the seat of his strength ; Deianeira stands by unmoved. With odd insistence on his meaning the vase-painter

1 Athen. 425 c. 2 Soph. Track. 9.

4 Archaologische Zeitung xvi. (1883), Taf. 11.

3 Soph. frg. 548. This vase is now in the Louvre.


436 Dionysos [CH.

draws in a horn parallel with the stream to show that the stream is itself a cornucopia of growth and riches. The vase- painting is many years earlier than the play of Sophocles.

I know of no instance where an actual bull-Dionysos is repre- sented on a vase-painting, but in the design in fig. 136 from an

FIG. 136.

amphora 1 in the Wiirzburg Museum his close connection is indicated by the fact that he rides on a bull. From the kantharos in his hand he pours his gift of wine. This representation is of special interest because on the reverse of the same vase Poseidon holding his trident is represented riding on a white bull. This looks as though the vase-painter had in his mind some analogy between the two divinities of moisture and growth.

With the bull-Poseidon and the bull river-god at hand, the assimilation of the bull-shaped Dionysos would be an easy task, the more as he was god of sap and generation and life, as well as of wine. Water and wine were blended in theology as in daily life, and the Greeks of the South lent the element of water.

1 Gerhard, Auserlesene Vasenbilder, Taf. 47.

vm] Dithyrambos and the Dithyramb 437

Dionysos then by his tree-shape and his bull-shape is clearly shown to be not merely a spirit of intoxication, but rather a primitive nature god laid hold of, informed by a spirit of intoxi- cation. Demeter and Kore are nature-goddesses, they have their uprisings and down-goings, but to the end they remain sedate and orderly. Dionysos is as it were the male correlative of Kore, but informed, transfigured by this new element of intoxication and orgy.

This double nature of the god finds expression in one of his titles, the cultus epithet of Dithyrambos, and it is only by keeping his double aspect clearly in mind that this difficult epithet can at all be understood.


The title Dithyrambos given to Dionysos and the Dithyramb,

the song sung in his honour, must be considered together, in fact this title like ' lacchos ' seems to have arisen out of the song.

The epithet Dithyrambos was always regarded by the Greeks themselves as indicating and describing the manner of the birth of the god. Disregarding the quantity of the vowel i in Di they believed it to be derived from A and 6vpa, double door, and took it to mean 'he who entered life by a double door/ the womb of his mother and the thigh of his father. This was to them the cardinal ' mystery ' of the birth. So much is clear from the birth-song of the chorus in the Bacchae 1 :

'Acheloiis' roaming daughter, Holy Dirce, virgin water, Bathed he not of old in thee The Babe of God, the Mystery ? When from out the fire immortal To himself his God did take him, To his own flesh, and bespake him: "Enter now life's second portal, Motherless mystery; lo I break Mine own body for thy sake,

Thou of the Two-fold Door, and seal thee Mine, Bromios" thus he spake "And to this thy land reveal thee.'"

Dithyrambos was 'he of the miraculous birth/ Liknites con-

1 Eur. Bacch. 519.

438 Dionysos [CH.

ceived mystically. The mistaken etymology need not make us distrust the substantial truth of the tradition.

As Dithyrambos is the Babe mystically born, so the Dithyramb was uniformly regarded as the Song of the Birth. Plato states this, though somewhat tentatively, in the Laws 1 . When discuss- ing various kinds of music he says: 'Another form of song, the Birth of Dionysos called, I think, the dithyramb.'

It has already been seen that Dionysos as the principle of life and generation was figured as a bull, it is therefore no surprise to learn from Pindar 2 that the Dithyramb ' drives ' the bull :

'Whence did appear the Charites who sing To Dionyse their king The dithyramb, the chant of Bull-driving?'

The Charites here halt half-way between ritual and poetry. They are half abstract rhythmical graces, half the Charites of an actual cult. The song of invocation to the Bull sung by the women of Elis has been already noted. It is the earliest Dithy- ramb preserved, and happily in his Greek Questions Plutarch 3 has left us a somewhat detailed account. He asks, 'Why do the women of Elis summon Dionysos in their hymns to be present with them with his bull-foot ? ' He goes on to give the exact words of the little ritual hymn:

Hero, Dionysos, come

To thy temple-home

Here at Elis, worshipful

We implore thee

With thy Charites adore Thee,

Eushing with thy bull-foot, come

Noble Bull, noble Bull.'

The fact that 'Hero' precedes ' Dionysos ' in the invocation makes it tempting to conjecture that we have here a superposition of cults, that the women of Elis long before the coming of Dionysos worshipped a local hero in the form of a bull and that

1 Plato Leyg. in. 700 B &\\o etSos (j>5rjs Aiovfoov y{ve<ris, ofy-tcu, Sidupa/j.^ Xeybpevos.

2 Find. 01. xin. 18

ral AiuMo-ov trbdev e&Qavev <rt>v j3or)\a.T(f. ^dpircs 5idvp6.iJ.fiip ;

3 Pint. Q. Gr. xxxvi.

77/00; At6vvtT

es vabv,

ayvbv <rvv "^apiretrffLv s vabv T /3oey irodl Bvwv. "Aie ravpe, #te ravpe.

vm] Dithyrambos and the Dithyramb 439

Dionysos affiliated his cult; but another possibility is perhaps more probable, that Hero is in the hymn purely adjectival. It has already been shown that the word meant to begin with only ' strong ' and then ' strong one/

The mention of the Charites is important. They are the givers of increase (p. 298), who naturally attend the coming of the life- god; they seem here analogous to the nurses of Dionysos, the sober form of his Maenads. They attend alike his coming and his birth.

In the Delphic Paean (p. 417), where the birth of Dionysos in the spring is celebrated, the title Dithyrambos 1 is first and fore- most, before Bacchos, Euios, Braites and Bromios :

  • Come, Dithyrambos, Bacchos, come,

Euios, Th^y sos- Lord, Braites, come,

Bromios, come, and coming with thee bring

Holy hours of thine own holy spring. Evoe, Bacchos, hail, Paean, hail, Whom in sacred Thebes the mother fair, She, Thyone, once to Zeus did bear. All the stars danced for joy. Mirth Of mortals hailed thee, Bacchos, at thy birth.'

The new-born god is Dithyrambos, and he is born at the resur- rection of earth in the spring-time.

The epithet Paean, belonging to Apollo, is here given to Dionysos. At the great festival of the finishing of the temple all is to be harmony and peace; theology attempts an edifying but impossible syncretism. Nothing in mythology is more certain than that the Paean and the Dithyramb were to begin with poles asunder, and it is by the contrast between them that we best understand not only the gist of the Dithyramb itself but the significance of the whole religion of Dionysos.

The contrast between Apollo and Dionysos, Paean and Dithy- ramb, has been sharply and instructively drawn by Plutarch,

)' dva A]t0i//ra/u/3e, e[#te 0vpo-TJ]pes, B/>cu- rd, B/>6/u(e), -fjpLva^s IKOV Tai(r5(e)] iepats dv wpais. Etfot w 16 [EdKx' <5 le IIcua> [d]j> 0iJ|8cus TTOT' dv evtais 7rt)\yi yeivaro] KaAXtTrcus OucW. iravres 5' [affrtp (TC.V, Trdi/res 5e fiporol aav (rcuj], Bd/fxi I have followed throughout Dr H. Weil's version.

440 Dionysos [CH.

himself a priest at Delphi. The comparison instituted by Plutarch between the rites of Osiris and those of Dionysos has been already noted (p. 402). In the discourse about Isis and Osiris 1 , it will be remembered, Plutarch says 'the affair about the Titans and the Night of Accomplishment accords with what are called in the rites of Osiris " Tearings to pieces," Resurrections, Regenerations. The same,' he adds, 'is true about rites of burying. The Egyptians show in many places burial chests of Osiris, and the Delphians also hold that the remains of Dionysos are deposited with them near to the place of the oracle, and the Consecrated Ones (OO-LOL) perform a secret sacrifice in the sanctuary of Apollo what time the Thyiades awaken Liknites.' In a word, at Delphi there were

-^ rites closely analogous to those of Osiris and concerned with the

tearing to pieces, the death and burial of the god Dionysos, and

( his resurrection and re-birth as a child.

In another discourse (On the Ei at Delphi} Plutarch 2 tells us that these ceremonials were concerned with the god as Dithy- rambos, that the characteristic of the Dithyramb was that it sang of these mutations, these re-births, and that it was thereby marked off sharply from the Paean of Apollo. The passage is so in- structive both as to the real nature of Dionysos and as reflecting the attitude of an educated Greek towards his religion that it must be quoted in full. Plutarch has been discussing and con- trasting Dionysos and Apollo apropos of the worship of Dionysos at Delphi, a worship every detail of which he must certainly have

( known. Dionysos, he says, has just as much to do with Delphi as Apollo himself, a statement rather startling to modern ears. Then he begins to work out the contrast between the two gods after the philosophic fashion of his day. Apollo is the principle of simplicity, unity and purity, Dionysos of manifold change and metamorphosis. This is the esoteric doctrine known to experts, cloaked from the vulgar. Among these experts (crocfxarepoi) were probably, as will be seen later (p. 463), Orphic theologians. He goes on to tell how these esoteric doctrines were expressed in popular ritual. He of course inverts the natural order of development. He believes that the doctrine known only to the few gave rise to a ritual intended to express it in popular terms for the vulgar ;

1 Plut. de Is. et Os. xxxv.

2 Plut. de Ei ap. Delph. ix.

vm] Dithyrambos and the Dithyramb 441

whereas of course in reality the ritual existed first and was then by the experts made to bear a mystical meaning. Bearing this proviso in mind Plutarch's account is full of interest. 'These manifold changes that Dionysos suffers into winds and water and earth and stars and the births of plants and animals they enigma- tically term "rending asunder" and "tearing limb from limb"; and they call the god Dionysos and Zagreus and Nyktelios and Isodaites, and tell of certain Destructions and Disappearances and Resurrections and New-Births which are fables and riddles, appertaining to the aforesaid metamorphoses. And to him (i.e. Dionysos) they sing dithyrambic measures full of sufferings and metamorphosis, which metamorphosis has in it an element of wandering and distraction. For " it is fitting," as Aeschylus says, that " the dithyramb of diverse utterance should accompany Dionysos as his counterpart, but the ordered Paean and the sober Muse should attend Apollo." And artists in sculpture represent Apollo as ever young and ageless, but Dionysos they represent as having many forms and shapes. In a word, they attribute to the one uniformity and order and an earnest simplicity, but to the other a certain incongruousness owing to a blend made up of sportiveness and excess and earnestness and madness. They invoke him thus :

"Euios, thou Dionysos, who by the flame of thy rite Dost women to madness incite." '

Plutarch goes on to tell of the division of the ritual year at Delphi between Apollo and Dionysos. Apollo as incoming / L conqueror has taken the larger and the fairer portion.

'And since the time of the revolutions in these changes is not equal, but the one which they call Satiety is longer, and the other which they call Craving is shorter, they observe in this matter a due proportion. For the remainder of the year they use the Paean in their sacrificial ceremonies, but at the approach of winter they wake up the Dithyramb and make the Paean cease. For three months they invoke the one god (Dionysos) in place of the other (Apollo), as they hold that in respect to its duration the setting in order of the world is to its conflagration as three to one.'

Plutarch's use of technical terms, e.g. conflagration (CKTTV- , betrays that he is importing into his religious discussion

442 Dionysos [CH.

philosophic speculations, and especially those of Heraclitus. Into these it is unnecessary to follow him ; the important points that emerge for the present argument are that the Dithyramb was a ritual song sung in the winter season, probably at festivals connected with the winter solstice, of an orgiastic character and dealing with the god as an impersonation of natural forces, dealing with his sufferings, his death and resurrection, and as such con- trasted with the sober simple Paean. In a word the Dithyramb, and with it the title Dithyrambos, resume the two factors that we have detected in the religion of Dionysos, the old spirit of life and generation, and the new spirit of intoxication.

It remains to enquire if any light can be thrown on the difficult etymology 1 of the word.

The popular etymology, that saw in Dithyrambos the god-of- the-double-door, is of course impossible. Dithyrambos, all philo- logists agree, cannot etymologically be separated from its cognate thriambos, which gave to the Latins their word triumphus. The word thriambos looks as if it were formed on the analogy of iambos. It may be that Suidas 2 among his many confused conjectures as to the meaning of the word throws out accidentally the right clue. He says 'they call the madness of poets thriasis.' May not thriambos mean the mad inspired orgiastic measure ? The first syllable with its long i may possibly be referred to the root At already discussed under Diasia (p. 23). At a time when in etymology the length of syllables was wholly disregarded the At in Ato? might help out the confusion, and last some brilliant theologian intent on edification thought of the double doors. Mythology has left us dim hints as to the functions of certain ancient maiden prophetesses at Delphi called Thriae. May they not have been the Mad Maidens who sang the mad song, the thriambos ?

Of the Thriae we are told by Philochoros 3 that they were

1 The suggestion that follows as to the connection of the word Dithyramb with Thriae is only given tentatively. It is also possible that the word Dithyramb may be of foreign origin. Epiphanius (Adv. Haeres. vol. i. bk iii. p. 1093 D) tells of a goddess in Egypt, worshipped with orgiastic rites under the name Ti0pa/j.pos. She was akin to Hecate (ctXXoi 5e TT? Ti0/m/x/3y "EKaTrjv ep^vevo^v^v}. Ti6pa/j.[3os may have come with other orgiastic elements from Crete to Thrace (see p. 460).

2 Suidas s.v. \yovffi yap dpiacriv ryv r&v TronjT&v fj^aviav.

3 Philoch. frg. 125 ap. Zeiiob. prov. cent. v. 75 <i\6xop6s <$rt\<j(.v tin vtifj.<f>ai /care?x o "

vm] The Thriae 443

nymphs of Parnassos, nurses of Apollo. Save for this mention we never hear that Apollo had any nurses, he was wholly the son of his father. Is it not more probable that they were nurses of Dionysos ?

The account of these mysterious Thriae given in the Homeric Hymn 1 to Hermes is strange and suggestive. Hermes is made to tell how his first gift of prophecy came not from Zeus, but from three maiden prophetesses :

'For there are sisters born, called Thriae, maiden things, Three are they and they joy them in glory of swift wings. Upon their heads is sprinkled fine flour of barley white, They dwell aloof in dwellings beneath Parnassos' height. They taught me love of soothsaying, while I my herds did feed, Being yet a boy. Of me and mine my father took no heed. And thence they flitted, now this way, now that, upon the wing, And of all things that were to be they uttered soothsaying. What time they fed on honey fresh, food of the gods divine, Then holy madness made their hearts to speak the truth incline, But if from food of honeycomb they needs must keep aloof Confused they buzz among themselves and speak no word of sooth.'

The Thriae are nurses like the Maenads, they rave in holy madness (Ovtovcnv) like the Thyiades, but their inspiration is not from Bacchos, the wine-god, not even from Bromios or Sabazios or Braites, the beer-gods ; it is from a source, from an intoxicant yet more primitive, from honey. They are in a word 'Melissae,' honey-priestesses, inspired by a honey intoxicant ; they are bees, their heads white with pollen ; they hum and buzz, swarming confusedly. The honey service of ancient ritual has already been noted (p. 91), and the fact that not only the priestesses of Artemis at Ephesus were ' Bees,' but also those of Demeter, and, still more significant, the Delphic priestess herself was a Bee. The oracle of the Bessi (p. 370) was delivered by a priestess, and the analogy with Delphi is noted by Herodotus; may not the priestess of the Bessi have also been a Bee ? The Delphic priestess in historical times chewed a laurel leaf, but when she was a Bee surely she must have sought her inspiration in the honeycomb.

With all these divine associations about the bee, a creature

rbv Ilapvacrffbv rpoQol 'A7r6XXwi'os rpets Ka\oij(jievai. Qpcai, d<' uv al /j.avTiKa.1 if/TJ<poi Opiai KaXovvrai.

  • Horn. Hymn, ad Merc. 551 563. I accept Hermann's reading Qpial for

Mo?/)cu, cf. Gremoll ad loc.

444 Dionysos [CH.

wondrous enough in nature, it is not surprising that she was figured by art as a goddess and half human. In fig. 137 we have such a representation 1 , a woman with high curled wings and a bee body from the waist downwards. The design is from a gold embossed plaque found at Camiros.

When Euripides would tell of the dread power of Aphrodite haunting with her doom all living things, Aphrodite who was heir to all the sacred traditions of the Earth-Mother, the image of the holy bee FIG. 137.

comes to his mind charged with mysterious

associations half lost to us. He makes the chorus of maidens in the Hippolytus sing 2 :

  • O mouth of Dirce, god-built wall

That Dirce's wells run und