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My Favourite Planet > English > People > Demeter and Persephone

back Demeter and Persephone Part 1 of 2
Demeter and Persephone

Part 1

Sections on this page

Sanctuaries of Demeter and Persephone:

Eleusis        Athens         Corinth and Isthmia

Macedonia and Thrace         Pella, Macedonia

Selinous (Selinunte), Sicily         Pergamon

Demeter / Ceres in Rome


See also:

Part 2
Depictions of Demeter, Persephone and
related deities in Greek and Roman art


The mother goddess Demeter (Δημήτηρ), the daughter of Cronus and Rhea and sister of Zeus and Hera, was one of the twelve Olympians, the major deities of the Greek pantheon. Her Roman equivalent was Ceres (the origin of the word cereal).

She was associated with harvests and credited with the gift of agriculture to humans. She was given the epiphets Sito (Σιτώ, She of the Grain) as the giver of corn, and Thesmophoros (Θεσμοφόρος, Law Bringer; from Θεσμός, thesmos, divine order, law, and φόρος, phoros, bringer, bearer) for her part in agricultural society in which civilization and the rule of law developed.

Along with her daughter Persephone (Περσεφόνη, she who destroys the light; to the Romans Proserpina), also known as Kore (Κόρη) and Despoina (Δέσποινα), the Maiden [1], who was abducted by Plouton (Πλούτον, also known as Pluto or Hades, ᾍδης or Ἁιδης), Demeter was associated with the underworld and the cycle of the seasons, life and death. In the Homeric Hymns she is referred to as "rich-haired Demeter, awful goddess", and "Queenly Demeter, bringer of seasons and giver of good gifts". [2]

As with other ancient Greek deities and mythological figures, the tales and traditions concerning Demeter and Persephone varied in different parts of Greece from prehistoric times, and the age, history and nature of their religious significance continue to be subjects of debate. And as ever, many theories have been developed, questioned and refuted. Even their names, attributes and roles in myths, as well their relationships to other deities, particularly Zeus, Poseidon, Plouton, Dionysus and Hekate, remain uncertain. The confusion is deepened by the deliberate secrecy which surrounded the cults of the chthonic (underworld) gods (for example at Samothraki) and the Euleusian Mysteries.

The name Da-ma-te in Mycenaean Greek inscriptions, written in Linear B script, appears to refer to Demeter, and some scholars believe she may have even been a Great Goddess of Minoan religion. In modern times she has been seen as primarily an agricultural deity, worshipped by farmers as the goddess who taught humans the arts of crop-growing. However, the relationships of Demeter and Persephone to other deities as forces of nature above, on and beneath the earth, point to more essential, pre-agricultural questions of existence, such as the workings of nature, the cycle of the seasons and life beyond death.

The various stories, beliefs and practices from across the Greek world, with influneces from other cultures, were adapted and developed over centuries or even millenia. The earliest literary mentions of Demeter and Persephone appeared from the time of Homer and Hesiod, and the Homeric and Orphic hymns, while most information is provided by writers of the Roman period, such as Pausanias.

The local stories of Demeter and Persephone differ in several details, but the generally accepted narrative of classical Greece is that Demeter was responible for seasonal growth and regeneration on the earth. Persephone was the virgin daughter of Demeter and Zeus, although in some places Poseidon was believed to be her father (see below). She was abducted by Plouton, perhaps with the collusion of Zeus, and taken to his underworld kingdom. Unaware of this, Demeter searched for her missing daughter above the earth without success, and as she grieved she neglected her duties; the progression of the seasons and the growth of plants ceased, and all life was threatened with extinction.

Eventually, Zeus intervened and sent Hermes to persuade Plouton to release Persephone. Plouton agreed, on condition that she returned to spend part of each year with him in Hades. According to some versions of the myth, Persephone ate, or was tricked into eating by Plouton, a number of pomegranate seeds on her return from the underworld, and was bound to remain there each year for one month for each seed eaten. On Persephone's return, Demeter once again allowed the seasonal growth to continue.

Thus Persephone represented the fecundity of the earth, and while she was above ground with her mother plant-life thrived, but during her period in the underworld growth ceased. Although the latter period has been thought by some to be winter, it may have been the dry summer months, when in Greece and around the Mediterranean many plants wither and die. Modern Greek farmers have to artificially water plants in summer, a luxury option unavailable to their ancient counterparts, and many of the crops which are now grown through the summer months, such as maize, tomatoes, tobacco and cotton, were not cultivated in ancient Greece.

According to other tales, while Demeter was searching for her daughter and in despair, she was offered hospitality in Eleusis by King Keleos (Κελεός) and Queen Metaneira (Μετάνειρα), in return for which the goddess taught their son Triptolemos (Τριπτόλεμος) the secrets of grain cultivation and sent him on a winged chariot with the mission of spreading the knowledge to humanity (see Part 2). Such stories also feature other characters included in the Eleusinian Mysteries, such as Demophon and Eubouleus (see Part 2).

Worship of Demeter and Persephone included a mystery cult, particularly popular among women, which had its most important centre at Eleusis, northwest of Athens (see below). Most of the details of the cult are unknown since initiates were sworn to secrecy. As the Greek historian Herodotus wrote of the Thesmophoria, the annual festival of secret rituals traditionally connected with fertility and marriage customs, and intially attended only by women:

"And of the mystic rites of Demeter, which the Hellenes call Thesmophoria, of these also, although I know, I shall leave unspoken all except so much as piety permits me to tell." [3]

Over 500 years later the travel writer Pausanias, when describing Eleusis, also declined to reveal details of the interior of the sanctuary or what went on there:

"My dream forbade the description of the things within the wall of the sanctuary, and the uninitiated are of course not permitted to learn that which they are prevented from seeing." [4]

The cult spread throughout the Greek world from at least the Archaic period, and sanctuaries were established as far afield as Dion, Pella (see below) and Amphipolis in Macedonia, Megara Hyblaia and Selinous, Sicily, and particularly at Gela on the south coast of Sicily (see Part 2), an important cult centre. [5]

As in the case of other Olympian gods, Demeter's cult probably assimilated the worship of more ancient local deities such as the Phrygian mother goddess Kybele at the Greek cities of Anatolia (Asia Minor).

In myth and worship, Demeter and Persephone were in many cases inseparable, and of the many extant statues, figurines, busts and reliefs associated with their cult it is often impossible to say whether the mother or daughter is depicted due to the lack of distinguishing attributes.

Demeter is often shown seated (enthroned) with Persephone attending her, standing with a long torch. However, according to variations on the myth, Hekate took the place of Persephone while the latter was in the Underworld. Some representations of this scene have been interpreted as seated Artemis attended by Hekate (for example, a votive relief dedicated by Attic Launderers, see below).

 
References to Demeter
on My Favourite Planet
 
The sanctuaries of Demeter and Isis
in Dion, Macedonia, Greece:

Dion: the garden of the gods
at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Demeter at the Eleusinian Mysteries at My Favourite Planet

Demeter at the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Detail of the "Ninnion Tablet" from Eleusis.

See Further details below.
Persephone at the Eleusinian Mysteries at My Favourite Planet

Persephone at the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Detail of the "Ninnion Tablet" from Eleusis.
Marble statue of Demeter from the sanctuary at Eleusis at My Favourite Planet

An over-lifesize marble statue of Demeter
from Eleusis. Thought to have made in
the workshop of Agorakritos of Paros,
circa 420 BC.

Pentelic marble. Height 180 cm.

The goddess wears a sleeveless Ionic
chiton and a Doric peplos, and was
probably lifting the edge of her peplos
over her left shoulder with her left
hand, as in the relief below.

Eleusis Archaeological Museum.
Inv. No. 5076.
Marble statue of Persephone at My Favourite Planet

Marble statue of Persephone.

Pentelic marble. Work of the school of
Agorakritos of Paros, circa 420-410 BC.
Found on the hill of Mounychia, Piraeus.

The goddess would have originally
held a torch in each hand.

National Archaeological Museum,
Athens. Inv. No. 176.


See more depictions of Demeter,
Persephone and related deities in
Demeter, Persephone Part 2.
 
Sanctuaries of Demeter and Persephone

Eleusis
Part of the seating area of the Telesterion in Eleusis, Greece at My Favourite Planet

Part of the seating area of the Telesterion in the Sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone at Eleusis.

Eleusis (Ἐλευσίς; today Elefsina, Ελευσίνα), on the west coast of Attica, northwest of Athens, was the centre of the mystery cult of Demeter and Kore, and the main focus of the annual festival of the Greater Mysteries. The Telesterion (Τελεστήριον, thank-offering for success), the temple of Demeter and Persephone, was an enormous hypostyle hall in which initiation to the Mysteries took place. According to ancient authors, the rituals of the initiation, which included the recital of sacred texts and the display of sacred objects (hiera) by the Hierophant, the high priest of the cult, produced a transcendental experience and encouraged a positive view of life after death.

"... among the many excellent and indeed divine institutions which your Athens has brought forth and contributed to human life, none, in my opinion, is better than those mysteries. For by their means we have been brought out of our barbarous and savage mode of life and educated and refined to a state of life and educated and refined to a state of civilization; and as the rites are called 'initiations', so in very truth we have learned from them the beginnings of life, and have gained the power not only to live happily, but also to die with a better hope."

Cicero (1st century BC), De legibus, 2.14.36.

The hall was gradually increased in size over centuries, and expanded around the Anaktoron, the original 7th century BC cult building. There were tiers of seating on all four sides of the hall from which initiates observed the rituals. In the photo above are the remains of the northwest corner of the building, with seats carved from the rock of the foot of the acropolis hill. The Roman architect and author Vitruvius (circa 80–70 - circa 15 BC) placed the Telesterion among four renowned temples of outstanding quality in the Graeco-Roman world, and named Iktinos (mid 5th century BC) and later Philon of Eleusis (mid-late 4th century BC) as two of the architects who enlarged the building.

"There are, in fact, four places possessing temples embellished with workmanship in marble that causes them to be mentioned in a class by themselves with the highest renown. To their great excellence and the wisdom of their conception they owe their place of esteem in the ceremonial worship of the gods ...

At Eleusis, the cella of Ceres and Proserpine, of vast size, was completed to the roof by Ictinus in the Doric style, but without exterior columns and with plenty of room for the customary sacrifices.

Afterwards, however, when Demetrius of Phalerum was master of Athens, Philo set up columns in front before the temple, and made it prostyle. Thus, by adding an entrance hall, he gave the initiates more room, and imparted the greatest dignity to the building."

Vitruvius, Ten Books on Architecture, Book 7, Introduction. At Project Gutenberg.

The final building burned down in 170 AD and was reconstructed by Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

See also the "Ploutonion" in the sanctuary at Eleusis in Part 2.
 
Part of the entablature of the Lesser Propylaia in Eleusis, Greece at My Favourite Planet

Part of the inscribed marble entablature of the outer facade of the Lesser Propylaia,
the inner gateway of the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore at Eleusis, built circa 50-48 BC.

Eleusis archaeological site. Inv. No. 1039. Inscription: Corpus inscriptionum latinarum I 619.

The Roman period Lesser Propylaia, protected by a fortification wall, replaced the Archaic north gate, the main entrance to the sanctuary, built in the 6th century BC during the Peisistratid period. The sanctuary was later extended northwards to the Greater Propylaia (an exact copy of the central section of the Propylaia of the Athenian Acropolis), built by Emperor Marcus Aurelius (reigned 169-180 AD).

The triglyphs of this fragment are decorated with a relief of a sheaf of wheat (left), a symbol of Demeter, and the sacred kiste, the container in which the sacred objects of the Mysteries were kept. The metope has a relief of a rosette, thought to be a stylized poppy, another symbol of Demeter. Unusually for Eleusis, the inscription is in Latin rather than Greek, due to the gateway's dedication by Appius Claudius Pulcher, who was Consul in Rome in 54 BC. Pulcher died before the propylaia was built, and it was completed by his nephews Claudius Pulcher and Marcius Rex.

The roof on the inner facade, on the side facing the Telesterion, was supported by two kistephoros caryatids. Each of the sculpted female figures wears crossed bands around the shoulders, supporting a Gorgoneion (head of the Gorgon Medusa) between the breasts. On each head is a cylindrical kiste decorated with reliefs of a kernos, ears of corn, poppies and rosettes. One of the caryatids is now in the Eleusis Archaeological Museum (see photo, right). The other, not so well preserved caryatid was removed from Eleusis by Edward Daniel Clarke in 1801, and is now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, Inv. No. GR.1.1865 (see the note on the Medusa page).
 
A caryatid from the Lesser Propylaia, Eleusis at My Favourite Planet at My Favourite Planet

A caryatid (or kistephoros) from the
facade of the Lesser Propylaia.

Pentelic Marble. Circa 50 BC.
Height 196 cm, width 150 cm.

Eleusis Archaeological Museum.
Inv. No. 5104.
Marble votive statue of a piglet from the sanctuary at Eleusis at My Favourite Planet

Marble votive statue of a piglet from the sanctuary at Eleusis.

Roman period. Pentelic marble. Length 40 cm.

Eleusis Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 5053.

Each initiate to the cult of Demeter (μὐστης, mystis; plural, μὐσται, mystai) was obliged to sacrifice a small pig at the beginning of the celebration of the Greater Mysteries (Μεγάλα Ελευσίνια, Megala Elefsinia). In the early morning of the second day all participants, who were still in Athens after the celebration of the Lesser Mysteries (Μικρά Ελευσίνια, Mikra Elefsinia), would shout, "To the sea, o Mystai!" and travel to the seaside (perhaps Phaleron or Piraeus) to cleanse themselves and their pig in the sea as part of the purification process. After bathing each had to sacrifice their own pig, probably after they had returned to Athens.

See also a figurine of a pig from the Pella Thesmaphorion below.

Pausanias relates a strange custom concerning piglets in the megara of the sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone at Potniae, near Thebes:

"Across the Asopus, about ten stades distant from the city, are the ruins of Potniae, in which is a grove of Demeter and the Maid. The images at the river that flows past Potniae ... they name the goddesses. At an appointed time they perform their accustomed ritual, one part of which is to let loose young pigs into what are called 'the halls' (megara). At the same time next year these pigs appear, they say, in Dodona. This story others can believe if they wish."

Pausanias, Description of Greece, Book 9, chapter 8, section 1. At Perseus Digital Library.
 
Votive relief depicting Demeter and Persephone, Eleusis, Greece at My Favourite Planet

Marble votive relief depicting Demeter enthroned, and
Persephone (Kore) or Hekate standing with two torches.

From Eleusis. First quarter of the 5th century BC.
Height 78 cm, width 56 cm, thickness 9-12 cm.

Eleusis Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 5085.

This is the oldest surviving sculptural representation of Demeter from Eleusis. According to George Mylonas [6] and others, the figure on the right may be Hekate, or even a priestess, rather than Persephone. There are several variations on the myth of Demeter and Persephone. In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, Hekate assists Demeter in her search for Persephone who has been abducted by Hades, and later becomes Persephone's attendant in the Underworld.  
The Great Eleusinian Relief of Demeter, Persephone and Triptolemos, from Eleusis at My Favourite Planet

"The Great Eleusinian Relief", a marble stele from Eleusis with
a votive relief showing Demeter, Triptolemos and Persephone.

Pentelic marble, circa 440-430 BC. Found in Eleusis in 1859.
Height 218 cm, width 152 cm, depth 21.5 cm, depth of relief 3 cm.
The figures are slightly over life-size.

National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Inv. No. 126.

This relief shows a scene central to the cult of Demeter and Persephone, the myth of how Demeter (left, holding a sceptre) gave ears of wheat to the young Triptolemos (Τριπτόλεμος, threefold warrior), son of the Eleusinian King Keleos, as the gift of agriculture to mankind (see photos in Part 2 and note 10). The wheat and the goddess's crown are not visible on the relief and were probably attachments or painting. Demeter's daughter Persephone, standing to the right with a torch, blesses Triptolemos by placing her right hand over his head.

It has been suggested that the boy may be Iakchos, Ploutos, Demophon, Eumolpos, Initiate from Hearth, Nisos or even an ordinary initiate.

The discovery of the stele was a chance find; it had been reused as a paving stone on the floor of the Church of Saint Zacharias (Άγιος Ζαχαρίας), outside the sanctuary. [7]
 
Votive relief depicting Demeter sitting on a rock, receiving her devotees at My Favourite Planet

Fragment of a marble votive relief depicting Demeter as an old woman sitting
on the "Mirthless Stone" (Agelastos Petra), approached by six worshippers:
three men, a woman and a girl carrying a basket on her head.

From Eleusis. 4th century BC. Length 46 cm.

Eleusis Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 5066.
The relief on the Rhetoi decree stele in Eleusis at My Favourite Planet

The upper part of the Rhetoi decree stele, an inscribed marble stele with a decree
concerning the building of a bridge over the Rhetoi lake at Eleusis, 421-420 BC.

The relief at the top of the stele shows four female figures, from left to right:
Demeter, Persephone and the personification of the Demos of Eleusis
clasping hands with Athena. Height of stele 90 cm, width 57 cm.

Eleusis Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 5093. Inscription IG I(3) 79.
The Ninnion Tablet, a terracotta votive plaque dedicated to Demeter and Persephone at Eleusis at My Favourite Planet

The "Ninnion Tablet", a terracotta votive pinax (painted plaque) [8], dedicated by a
woman named Ninnion to Demeter and Persephone at Eleusis. The pinax, in the form
of a naiskos (small temple), depicts the religious rites of the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Made in Attica, dated to around 370 BC. Found in Eleusis in 1895.
Height 44.5 cm, width 33 cm.

National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Inv. No. 11036.

The "Ninnion Tablet" was found in nine fragments, to the south of the Telesterion at Eleusis, during excavations directed by the Greek archaeologist Andreas Skias (Ανδρέας Σκιάς, 1861-1922). The four holes in the pinax indicate that it was hung on a wall, perhaps at the Telesterion itself.

The inscription on the base states that the pinax was dedicated by a woman named Ninnion to the "two goddesses": ΝΙΝΝΙΟΝ ΤΟΙΝ ΘΕ[ΟΙ]Ν Α[ΝΕΘΗΚΕN] (NINNION TOIN THEOIN ANETHIKEN). It was scratched on the ceramic surface after it had been fired, and it has been suggested that the pinax was sold ready-made and then dedicated by the purchaser.

It is generally agreed by scholars that the pinax is unique in depicting one or more rituals of the secret Eleusinian Mysteries (Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια). However, the very secrecy surrounding the Mysteries and the puzzling iconographies of surviving ancient artworks associated with them have so far made an entirely convincing interpretation of the persons, objects, symbols and activities painted on the plaque impossible. There have been several attempts to decipher exactly who and what is represented, whether the main scene depicts one ritual or two separate phases of the rites, or whether the action takes place at the Lesser or Greater festival. [6]

Below is an attempt to describe the paintings on the pinax, roughly following the museum labelling, with caveats, probablys and maybes.
 
The pediment of the Ninnion Tablet from Eleusis at My Favourite Planet

Detail of the pediment (gable) of the naiskos on the "Ninnion Tablet".

The pediment of the naiskos is topped by an akroterion in the form of an ancathus leaf.

The painting on the pediment may depict participants at the pannychis, the sacred all-night feast. The central figure, perhaps a deity, priestess or initiate, wearing a wreath and with a kernos (a sacred vessel) fastened to his/her head, is surrounded by four figures, also wreathed. The two outside figures are youths; the female figure left of the central figure appears to be playing pipes (the surface is too damaged to be certain); the bearded male figure to the right holds a jug or cup.

The central figure is too indistinct to make a certain identification, and the depiction of the faces of the figures in the main scene (see below) too similar to make a comparison. White has been used for all the female figures on the pinax, except Demeter, whereas all the males are completely red. The facial features, hairstyle and garment (white with a pattern of black dots) of this figure are very similar to those of the female torch-bearer in the main scene. It is, then, most likely a female (Persephone or Hekate?), although it has been suggested that it could be Dionysus, who was associated with the Mysteries. The archaeologist George E. Mylonas [6] was of the opinion that Dionysus does not appear on the pinax.

Below this is a row of what appear to be lunar discs and crescents in various positions. It is not known whether these have an astronomical significance, but they may be related to the myth of Demeter and Persephone or the rites and festivals.
 
The main scene of the Ninnion Tablet at My Favourite Planet

The main scene of the "Ninnion Tablet".

The main scene appears to depict the arrival of initiates to the sacred rites, and their meeting with Demeter and other deities.

The figures are arranged in two rows. At the top right Demeter, seated on the "secret cista" and holding a staff in her left hand. Left of her Persephone, holding two torches, and below her Iakchos (Ἴακχος) the torch-bearer, receive a procession of men and women initiates arriving at the sanctuary, all crowned and holding blossoming branches and staffs. Each woman has a kernos, a sacred vessel (see photos below), fastened to her head.

In the centre of the lower row are the wreathed omphalos above intersecting bakchoi (a bakchos was a mystic myrtle staff), symbols of the mystery rites. The seated female figure at the bottom right may be a deity, a priestess of Demeter or Ninnion herself.

Alternatively, The female figure with the torches to the left of Demeter may be the goddess Hekate, and the seated figure below may be Persephone.
 
A replica of the Ninnion Tablet by Thomas Kotsigiannis, Eleusis Archaeological Museum at My Favourite Planet

A modern copy of the "Ninnion Tablet" in the museum at Eleusis.

The replica was commissioned by the Greek Ministry of Culture,
and made in 2009 by Thomas Kotsigiannis.

Another replica of the pinax was made by the Swiss artist
Émile Gilliéron (1850–1924) shortly after its discovery.

The copy has the advantage of not being displayed behind glass,
and therefore it is easier to look at without reflections or shadows.

Eleusis Archaeological Museum.
Relief showing Eleusinian initiates in a procession at My Favourite Planet

Fragment of a statue base with a relief showing Eleusinian initiates in
a procession, each carrying a bakchos (βάκχος), the mystic myrtle staff.

Pentelic marble. Roman period, around 150 AD,
during the reign of Antinonus Pius (138-161 AD).

Outside the Eleusis Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. E 1143.

This is one of two fragments of the statue base displayed unlabelled outside the Eleusis museum. The base supported a now lost bronze portrait statue of Lucius Nummius Nigreinos from the Attic deme of Gargettos (Γαργηττός), who served as a sacred herald (ἱεροκῆρυξ, hierokerys) in the Eleusinian Mysteries, probably erected in the sanctuary shortly after his death. It was decorated on three sides by similar low reliefs of male and female bakchos-bearing initiates of the Eleusinian mysteries. The reliefs may represent the Great Procession of intitiates from Athens to Eleusis led by priests and cult officials. It has also been argued that they are repetitions of a single scene rather than a continuous tableau, and that Nummius Nigreinos himself appears on all three. The best preserved relief, in the photo above, may show him in the centre of the front row

The subject of the statue was identified by the dedicatory inscription at the top of the base, which is now broken off and lost, but which was copied by both Jacob Spon and George Wheler in 1676.

Νού[μμιος] Νιγρεῖνος ἱεροκῆρυξ

Inscription IG II(2) 3574 (I.Eleusis 462).

From George Wheler, A journey into Greece, pages 428-429. London, 1682.

See: Iphigeneia Leventi, The relief statue base of Nummius Nigreinos, sacred herald of the Eleusinian mysteries. The iconography of Eleusinian cult initiates and officials in Roman Imperial times. In: Cristina-Georgeta Alexandrescu (editor), Cult and votive monuments in the Roman provinces. Proceedings of the 13th International Colloquium on Roman Provincial Art, 2013, pages 63-72. Mega Publishing House, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, 2015. At academia.edu.

The illustrated article discusses the reliefs, also with reference to the "Ninnion Tablet" (see above) and the hierophant relief from the Olympieion in Athens (see below). Includes a bibliography.
 
Black-figure krater stand depicting Apollo and a goddess on a chariot at My Favourite Planet

Black-figure krater stand with a depiction of a goddess (Demeter?)
on a four-hourse chariot. Apollo, holding a kithara, offers her a flower.

Found in Pyre B', the Telesterion, Eleusis. Made in the workshop
of the Madrid Fountain Painter, around 520-510 BC.

The other side shows Artemis (?) and Hermes.

Eleusis Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 468.
 

Statue of a fleeing maiden from Eleusis at My Favourite Planet

Statue of a fleeing maiden from the pediment
of the Sacred House in Eleusis. 490-480 BC.
Height 64.5 cm.

The relief on the pediment depicted the
abduction of Persephone, and this figure may
represent one of the daughters of Okeanos.

Eleusis Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 5235.
 
A decree concerning the Eleusinian first fuits for Demeter and Kore at My Favourite Planet

Marble stele inscribed with an Athenian
decree concerning the Eleusinian first
fruits of the harvest (ἀπαρχαί, aparchai)
for Demeter and Kore. [9]

From Eleusis. Circa 422 BC.
Height 133 cm, width 50 cm, depth 9.5 cm.

Epigraphical Museum, Athens.
Inv. No. EM 10050. Inscription IG I(3) 78.
 
Sanctuaries of Demeter and Persephone

Athens
Votive relief of Demeter, Kore, Iakchos and worshippers from City Eleusinion, Athens at My Favourite Planet

Marble votive relief of Demeter, Kore, Iakchos and worshippers, from the City Eleusinion, Athens.

Late 4th century BC. Found 11 June 1947 at the west foot of the Areopagus.
Pentelic marble. Height 21.8 cm, width 31.2 cm.

Agora Museum, Athens. Inv. No. S 1251.

Demeter, enthroned left, holds out a phiale (φιάλη, libation bowl; Latin, patera) in her right hand, and a staff in her left. Right of her stand Persephone, holding a long torch diagonally, and Iakchos (Ἴακχος: also referred to as Iacchos), carrying the infant Ploutos (Wealth) who holds a cornucopia. On the right are three smaller worshippers, a woman, a man and a child, probably the dedicators of the relief. The detailing of the low relief is much finer than can be seen under the flat lighting in the museum.

The sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone in Athens was known as the City Eleusinion (Ελευσίνιον), in which the sacred cult objects (ἄρρητα ἱερά, arreta hiera) were kept during the first four days of the celebration of the Greater Mysteries. Located to the southeast of the Athenian Agora, along the Sacred Way up to the Acropolis, it had a temple of Demeter and Persephone and a temple of Triptolemos. [10]
 
Marble head of a goddess, probably Persephone from the Agora, Athens at My Favourite Planet

Marble head of a goddess,
probably Persephone.

From the Athens Agora. 2nd century AD,
copy of an early Classical work.

Agora Museum, Athens. Inv. No. S 547.
 

Terracotta figurine of an enthroned goddess at My Favourite Planet

Terracotta figurine of an enthroned
goddess, possibly Demeter or Hera.

Made in Athens, around 500 BC.

British Museum.
Inv. No. GR 1966.3-28.19.
 
Marble relief of Demeter and Persephone from the Acropolis, Athens at My Favourite Planet

Part of a marble relief of Demeter
and Persephone from the Athenian
Acropolis. Late 5th century BC.

Acropolis Museum, Athens.
Inv. No. Acr. 1348.
A marble votive relief dedicated by Attic Launderers at My Favourite Planet

Marble votive relief dedicated by an association of Attic launderers,
men and women who washed clothes at the Ilissos river, Athens.

350-340 BC. Found in 1759 at the Panathenaic Stadium, Athens.
Pentelic marble. Height 40.5 cm, width 44 cm, depth 9 cm.

Altes Museum, Berlin. Inv. No. Sk 709.
Acquired by Gustav Friedrich Waagen in 1841 from the Museum Nani, Venice.

The findspot of the Panathenaic Stadium suggests that the relief came from a sanctuary on the nearby Ilissos river, where there was a sanctuary of Pan, Hermes and the Nymphs, a sanctuary for the Eleusinian Mysteries, and the Temple of Artemis Agrotera (Artemis of the Fields).

The front of the marble slab is divided vertically into three areas, with a relief above and below the dedicatory inscription. The relief was dedicated to "the nymphs and all gods" by twelve male and female launderers (10 washermen and 2 washerwomen) whose names are thought to be those of slaves.

οἱ πλυνῆς Νύμφαις εὐξάμενοι ἀνέθεσαν καὶ θεοῖς πᾶσιν
Ζωαγόρας [Ζ]ωκύπρου, Ζώκυπρος Ζωαγόρου, Θάλλος, Λεύκη
Σωκράτης Πολυκράτους, Ἀπολλοφάνης Εὐπορίωνος, Σωσίστρατος,
Μάνης, Μυρρίνη, Σωσίας, Σωσιγένης, Μίδας.

Inscription IG II(2) 2934.

The scene above the inscription is set in a cave and shows Hermes leading a procession of three Nymphs towards a mask of the river god Acheloos on the far left. On the right Pan sits cross-legged playing his syrinx (pan pipes).

On the right of the lower scene a seated goddess, either Demeter or Artemis, is attended by a standing deity, either Persephone (Kore) or Hekate, holding a long torch. On the left a bearded male figure, depicted at the same scale as the goddesses, stands before an altar with a horse. He is perhaps a local hero or patron of the launderers. It has been suggested that he may be Demophon (Δημοφῶν), son of King Keleos and Queen Metaneira of Eleusis. He wears a short chiton (tunic) and a chlamys (short riding cloak) and holds in his right hand an object which is now broken and unidentifiable.
 
Replica of an Athenian votive relief of Demeter, Persephone and a hierophant at My Favourite Planet

Cast of an Athenian marble votive relief of Demeter, Persephone and a hierophant (ἱεροφάντης,
Eleusinian high priest) from the Attic deme of Hagnous, southeast of Athens. According to the
inscription on the lower edge of the frame, the hierophant, referred to only as "Hagnousios",
dedicated the relief to the goddesses of the Thesmophoria festival.

Classicizing work of the Roman period, 2nd century AD. Found in 1959 during excavations
by John Travlos north of the Olympieion, Athens. Height 63 cm, width 67.5 cm.

In situ at the findspot, in the archaeological site of the Olympieion and Ilissos Shrines, Athens.

The original is in storage in the Agora Museum, Athens.
Third Ephorate of Antiquities, Athens Collection. Inv. No. L 13114.
Statue base dedicated to Demeter and Kore and signed by Praxiteles at My Favourite Planet

Inscribed statue base dedicated to Demeter and Kore and signed by Praxiteles.

Pentelic marble. Early 4th century BC. Found in May 1936
in the Athenian Agora, north of the Hephasteion.

In the lower colonnade of the Stoa of Attalus,
Agora Museum, Athens. Inv. No. I 4165.

The two statues stood on the base: the first, by Praxiteles, depicted Kleiokrateia, daughter of Polyeuktos of Teithras; the second portrayed her husband Spoudias of Aphidnai. The signature of the sculptor of the second statue, "(..)usicles" is incomplete. The Praxiteles signature is written in letters much smaller than the rest of the inscription, and not so deeply cut, so that it is difficult see except when lit from the side (mid-late afternoon).

The base probably had a poros limestone core faced with marble slabs, parts of which were found reused in a 1st century BC wall, between the Hephaisteion and the Stoa of Zeus Eleutherius, and on a wall of a modern canal.

In the late 360s Demosthenes wrote an oration (Oration No. 41) against Spoudias, who was in dispute with Kleiokrateia's family over the repayment of a loan. It has been suggested that the couple were at this time in financial difficulties, and thus may have commissioned the statues at an earlier date when they had been better off. [11] They were probably set up in the sanctuary of Demeter and Kore, also known as the City Eleusinion, southeast of the Agora.
 
 
Sanctuaries of Demeter and Persephone

Corinth and Isthmia

Terracotta female figure holding a piglet at My Favourite Planet
 
Terracotta female figure holding a piglet and a torch at My Favourite Planet
Terracotta figurines of females, each wearing a polos and holding a piglet in her
right hand. The figure on the right also holds a conical torch in her left hand.

From the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore at Ancient Corinth. Around 320-200 BC.

Corinth Archaeological Museum.

Left: Inv. No. MF-70-26 (cat. H401 *). Height 15.8 cm.

Right: Inv. No. MF-10325 (cat. H395 *). Height 10.9 cm.

The remains of the large Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore at Corinth (Κόρινθος) are on the north side of the steep road up from the ancient city to Acrocorinth. It was once one of the most important sanctuaries, perhaps the most important, in Corinth, and one of the largest in the Greek world. Until the late Classical period the sanctuary consisted only of a small Archaic temple (oikos, from οἶκος, a house, a dwelling), an elevated terrace with a sacrificial altar and around forty rooms for ritual dining.

In the 4th century BC a new temple was built as well as a Doric propylon (monumental gateway) and a small theatre, carved out of the rock of the slope, which seated around a hundred people. The Archaic temple was replaced by a stoa. The sanctuary was not used after the destruction of Corinth by the Roman consul Lucius Mummius Achaicus in 146 BC, but was revived in the late 1st century BC. In the 1st century AD it was redesigned and three small Ionic temples were built. One of the ritual dining areas near the propylon was converted into a Roman cult building where katadesmoi (curses, from κατάδεσμος, katadesmos, curse) were dedicated.

The sanctuary was briefly mentioned in the 2nd century AD by the Greek travel writer Pausanias, who merely noted:

"The temple of the Fates and that of Demeter and the Maid have images that are not exposed to view."

Description of Greece , Book 2, chapter 4, section 7.

It was abandoned towards the end of the 4th century AD, and from the 6th century part of the area was used as a cemetery.

As at other sanctuaries of Demeter and Persephone, thousands of votive offerings have been unearthed here, including ceramic statues, figurines, vessels and inscribed plaques, as well as terracotta models of likna (λίκνα, winnowing trays) containing cakes and breadstuffs (see photo below). The small (but fine) Corinth Archaeological Museum has space only for a few of these finds, and as at other museums, researchers have been unable to discover whether the ceramic female figures depict Demeter, Persephone, some other deity, priestesses or worshippers.

Today the area of the sanctuary is overgrown, there is not much to see there and it is not even signposted, nor is it mentioned in the glossy guidebooks to Ancient Corinth.

* Catalogue numbers of the figurines from:

See: Gloria S. Merker, Corinth, Vol. 18, No. 4, The Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore: Terracotta Figurines of the Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman Periods. The American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA), 2000. At jstor.org.

A terracotta mask of Dionysus and two inscribed ceramic plaques dedicated to Dionysus were also found in the sanctuary.

See other artefacts from Corinth related to Demeter
and Persephone in Part 2: here, here and here.

Read more about "piglet-offering figures" in Part 2.
 
Terracotta figurine from the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore, Corinth at My Favourite Planet

Terracotta female figure with
a piglet from the Sanctuary of
Demeter and Kore, Corinth.

Corinth Archaeological Museum.
Inv. No. MF-11785 (cat. H10 *).
Terracotta votive offerings from the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore, Corinth at My Favourite Planet

Terracotta votive offerings from the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore at Corinth.
Two of the hundreds of model likna (λίκνα, winnowing trays) with cakes and
breadstuffs excavated at the sanctuary. Votive likna were dedicated there
from at least the early 6th century BC until the 2nd century BC.

Archaic period, 6th century BC.

Corinth Archaeological Museum.

See: Allaire Brumfield, Cakes in the Liknon: Votives from the Sanctuary of Demeter
and Kore on Acrocorinth
. Hesperia, Vol. 66, No. 1 (Jan. - March 1997), pages 147-172.
The American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA). At jstor.org.
 

A ceramic figurine of two girls playing ephedrismos at My Favourite Planet

A ceramic figurine of two girls playing
ephedrismos, a piggyback game. [12]

From Ancient Corinth.

Corinth Archaeological Museum.
Inv. No. MK 8250.

 
An ephedrismos figurine from the Rachi, Isthmia at My Favourite Planet

A fragmentary terracotta ephedrismos
figurine from the Rachi, Isthmia.

350-300 BC. Found among a large quantity
of ceramics in a well in the Early Hellenistic
settlement on the Rachi ridge, Isthmia,
during excavations in 1955-1956. [13]
Height 11.5 cm.

Isthmia Archaeological Museum.
Inv. No. IM 955.
The ephedrismos (ἐφεδρισμός) figurine in the Corinth Archaeological Museum is displayed in a group of various artefacts themed "Beloved toys, favorite games" with no specific information about the individual objects or where they were found. It appears that it was either found at or associated with the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore at Corinth.

The fragments of a similar figurine were found in the area of the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore at Rachi in nearby Isthmia (see below), where the Isthmia Archaeological Museum's labelling points out that such finds were "associated with the worship of female divinities" and "similar to offerings that have been found at the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore on Acrocorinth".
 
Statue of a child with a goose from the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore, Isthmia at My Favourite Planet

Fragments of a marble statue of a seated child (Kleo) with
a goose on a plinth inscribed with a dedication to Demeter.

ΚΛΕΩ:ΘΑΣΙΔΟΣ:ΔΑΜΑΤΡΙ

"Kleo, daughter of Thasis, to Demeter"

A chance find in 1956 from the area of the Sanctuary of
Demeter and Kore at the Sacred Glen, Isthmia. 350-325 BC.

Isthmia Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. IS 254. Inscription ΙΣ 316.

At Isthmia (Ισθμία), 16 kilometres east of Ancient Corinth there was another sanctuary of Demeter and Kore which is thought to have been in use from the 6th to the 4th century BC. Temples of Demeter and Kore, Dionysus and Artemis were located in the Sacred Glen (Ιερά Νάπη, Iera Nape), near the ridge known as the Rachi (Ράχη, at the modern village of Kyras Vrysi), 300 metres southwest of the Temple of Poseidon, the patron deity of Isthmia (see Niobe).

An inscribed limestone stele of the 2nd century AD lists the benefactions of P. Licinius Priscus Iuventianus, archiereus (ἀρχιερεύς, high priest for life) of the imperial cult in the Achaean League, who built and refurbished several temples and sanctuaries at Isthmia. According to the inscription, he built a peribolos (περίβολος, enclosed court, in this case a temenos or sanctuary area) with a temple of Demeter and temples of Dionysus and Artemis in the Sacred Glen (also referred to as Sacred Grove). He also provided the statues and ornaments for the temples and restored the Plutoneion (or Ploutonion). The exact dating of the stele is uncertain, but arguments have been made both for before and after the reign of Hadrian (117-138 AD). In 1676 the travellers Jacob Spon and George Wheler were at Isthmia and recorded the inscription which is now in the Museo Lapidario Maffeiano in Verona (inscription IG IV 203). [14]

The Sacred Glen was identified by the Swedish American archaeologist Oscar Broneer (1894-1992), who directed excavations at Isthmia 1959-1967 for the University of Chicago, and who discovered the Temple of Poseidon there in 1952. No remains of temple structures have yet been discovered in the glen, which may be at least partly due to the fact that the area around the Rachi had been used a quarry, and the stones of ancient buildings and monuments were reused elsewhere. However, large quantities of votive ceramics and metal objects found in the area indicate religious practice there.

The remains at the Sacred Glen site are scant, and the archaeological finds from the area of the sanctuaries, although typical of votive offerings to these deities, are not particularly exciting or enlightening, particularly compared with the treasures in the Corinth museum. However, the location, overlooking the southern end of the Corinth Canal, is evocative and the area and museum are well worth visiting. From here it is a 10 minute walk to the canal, where there are good tavernas with terraces on either side, each with a good view of the wonderful submersible road bridge and the passing ships and boats. Immediately to the south of the bridge the canal meets the Saronic Gulf with some small islands visible in the distance. To the north a pleasant footpath leads along the west side of the canal towards the motorway (over which is a footbridge), the older road bridge and the Isthmia bus station.
 
A cast made from an ancient mould for producing terracotta figurines at My Favourite Planet

The bust of a veiled female wearing a polos, perhaps Demeter. A modern
plaster cast made from a Hellenistic mould for producing terracotta figurines.

From the area of the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore at Isthmia. 375-270 BC.

Isthmia Archaeological Museum. Mould, Inv. No. IM 1026.
 
Sanctuaries of Demeter and Persephone

Macedonia and Thrace
A boundary marker from the sanctuary of Demeter Hekatompedos, Galepsos, Thrace at My Favourite Planet   A horos from the sanctuary of Demeter in ancient Galepsos, Macedonia, Greece at My Favourite Planet
Two horoi (boundary markers) from a sanctuary of Demeter Hekatompedos
in ancient Galepsos (Γαληψός), Thrace (today Macedonia, Greece), a colony
of the Thasian-Parians. The inscriptions are written in the Parian alphabet.
Late 6th - early 5th century BC.

Δήμητρως ℎώρως εἰμὶ
τὠ κατωνπέδω

Inscription SEG 43 400.

Kavala Archaeological Museum. Invoice numbers Λ1202 and Λ1203.
A marble statue group of Persephone and Demeter from Derveni at My Favourite Planet

A marble statue group of Persephone and Demeter.

From the sanctuary of Demeter, Derveni, area of the ancient Mygdonian
city of Lete (Λητή), near Thessaloniki, Macedonia, Greece, Macedonia.
Late 4th - early 3rd century BC. Height 60 cm.

Demeter was worshipped at the shrine in her two aspects, as a mother
and a virgin. Artemis, the daughter of Leto, after whom the city was
named, was worshipped at the same shrine.

Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 1070.

See also a statue thought to be from the sanctuary of Demeter at Derveni in Part 2.
Inscribed offering table dedicated to Demeter at My Favourite Planet

Inscribed offering table dedicated to Demeter by "Stratto, daughter of Nikostratos, Melis,
daughter of Kleon, and Lysidike, daughter of Antigonos, at the time when Berenikas was
her priestess." The young girls, having served the goddess, were now free to marry.

From the sanctuary of Demeter, Derveni, area of ancient Lete, Macedonia. Late 4th century BC.

Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 1753.
 

Terracotta bust of Demeter from Olynthos at My Favourite Planet

Terracotta bust of a goddess,
probably Demeter, from Olynthos,
Halkidiki, Macedonia, Greece.

End of the 5th century BC. It was
hung on a wall in a private house.

Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum.
 
Gilt bone relief of Persephone holding a torch at My Favourite Planet

Gilt bone plaque with a relief
of Persephone holding a torch.

Part of the decoration of a wooden
couch. From Tomb C, a cist grave at
Sedes, Macedonia, Greece. 320-300 BC.

Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum.
Inv. No. MΘ 19678.
 

Fragment of a marble statuette of a female figure wearing a peplos at My Favourite Planet

Fragment of a marble statuette of a female
figure wearing a peplos, possibly Demeter.
Early 4th century BC. From Agia Kyriaki,
Sochos (Σοχός), Macedonia, Greece.

The ancient settlement of Sochos was near the
modern town of Lagada, east of Thessaloniki
and north of Lake Volvi (the ancient Thracian
area of Bisaltia). Not much is known about its
history. It may have had a sanctuary of Hermes
and have been a centre of pottery production.

Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum.
 
Head of Demeter from the sanctuary of Demeter, Dion, Macedonia, Greece at My Favourite Planet

Marble head of Demeter, discovered
in 1973 in the sanctuary of Demeter,
Dion, Macedonia. 4th century BC.

Dion Archaeological Museum.
Inv. No. 200.

The sanctuary of Demeter in Dion is one
of the oldest places of worship of the
goddess in northern Greece, and temples
for her were built here from at least the
Archaic period. The sanctuary included
smaller buildings and altars for the worship
of other deities associated with fertility and
the underworld. From the 4th century BC
Demeter was worshipped there as
the syncretic deity Isis-Demeter.

For further information about the sanctuaries
of Demeter and Isis at Dion, see:

Dion: the garden of the gods
at The Cheshire Cat Blog.

See also a marble relief of Isis-Demeter
from Dion in Part 2.
 
Sanctuaries of Demeter and Persephone

Thesmophorion, Pella, Macedonia
The Thesmophorion of Pella, Macedonia, Greece at My Favourite Planet

The remains of the Thesmophorion of Pella, Macedonia.

The Thesmophorion (Θεσμοφορίων), on the northeast edge of the modern village of Pella, is a circular enclosure with a diameter of 10.2 metres, built with cut rectangular blocks. It was entered by two sloping ramps leading down from either side, one of which can be seen in the centre of the photo above. In the centre stood an altar, constructed of alternate layers of crushed stone and clay, around which were found a large number of vases and ceramic votive figurines, including figures of deities such as Plouton, Artemis, Dionysus and Pan. Circular and rectangular pits in the ground acted symbolically as the underground chambers (μέγαρον, megaron, dwelling place; plural, μέγαρα, megara) of Demeter, in which the bones of young pigs and goats were found.

The site was excavated 1980-1981 by the Greek archaeologist Dr. Maria Lilimpaki-Akamati who published the results of her investigations in 1996 [15]. The materials and finds suggest that the rural sanctuary was in use between the last quarter of the 4th and the end of the 2nd centuries BC. The three day festival of the Thesmophoria (Θεσμοφόρια) was celebrated every autumn, just before sowing time, when the women of the community took part in rituals and sacrifices, mostly dedicated to Demeter, to ensure the annual regeneration of nature, divine protection of their crops and a successful harvest. The sacrificed animals, as well as pine shoots and bread-dough cakes shaped like snakes and phalluses, were buried in the megara to decompose and mix with the fertilizing forces of nature. The remains were later removed from the pits by women known as "bailers" (ἀντλήτριαι, antletriai) and placed on the altar, where they were mixed with other fertility-related offerings and the grain seeds for sowing before being scattered over the fields. [16]
 
Terracotta votive figurine of a pig from the Thesmophorion, Pella at My Favourite Planet

Terracotta votive figurine of a pig from the area
of the Thesmophorion, Pella, Macedonia.

This Macedonian pig looks wilder and hairer than the chubby,
naked, domesticated animal from Eleusis (see above).

Pella Archaeological Museum.
Terracotta votive figurine of Demeter and Persephone from Pella at My Favourite Planet

Terracotta votive figurine of Demeter and Persephone
from the Sanctuary of the Mother of the Gods and
Aphrodite in Pella, Macedonia. 4th - 1st century BC.

Pella Archaeological Museum.
 
Sanctuaries of Demeter and Persephone

Malophoros, Selinous, Sicily
The Sanctuary of Malophoros, Selinunte, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

The Sanctuary of Demeter Malophoros, Selinous (Selinunte), Sicily.

The ancient Greek colony of Selinous (Σελινοῦς; Latin, Selinus; today, Selinunte), on the southwestern coast of Sicily, was founded around 650-628 BC by Greeks from Megara, on the Isthmus of Corinth, who had founded the Sicilian city of Megara Hyblaea about a hundred years earlier. The centre of the city and its acropolis were on a plateau over 50 metres above the shore, between the rivers Selinos (today the Modione) to the west and the Calici (Gorgo Cottone) to the east, at the mouths of which were the city's two harbours.

It has been suggested that the small Hellenistic temple on the acropolis known as Temple B, previously thought to be a heroon for the philosopher Empedocles, was a temple of Demeter or Asklepios-Eshmun.

On another plateau, known as the East Hill, to the east of the deep valley of the Gorgo Cottone river, and near the entrance to the archaeological site, are the remains of three large Doric temples (Temples E, F and G), built between 560 BC and 409 BC when the Archaic city was destroyed by the Carthaginian general Hannibal Mago, son of Gisco (not to be confused with the later, more famous Hannibal Barca who crossed the Alps with elephants to invade Rome). Temple E, built around 490-450 BC (opinions differ on exact dates) and probably dedicated to Hera, was restored in 1958 and has become the trademark of the Selinunte Archaeological Park, which claims to be the largest archaeological site in Europe.

The area known as Contrada Gaggera, the hill on the west side of the Selinos (Modione) valley, around 1 kilometre west of the acropolis, marked the western limit of the city. Along the east side of the hill facing the river were a number of smaller temples and sanctuaries, including the Sanctuary of Malophoros (see photo and description below).

Malophoros (Μαλοφόρος) as an epiphet of Demeter is known from a mention by Pausanias of the sanctuary of Demeter Malophorus in Megara, the metropolis (mother city) of Megara Hyblaea. The name has been translated as Sheep-bearer, Apple-bearer or Pomegranate-bearer, due to similarites of the words for sheep and apple in ancient Greek.

"When you have gone down to the port [of Megara], which to the present day is called Nisaea, you see a sanctuary of Demeter Malophorus (Sheep-bearer or Apple-bearer). One of the accounts given of the surname is that those who first reared sheep in the land named Demeter Malophorus." [17]

The translation of malo as apple is based on the idea that the goddess was seen as the bringer not just of cereal agriculture to mankind but also the cultivation of fruits such as the apple. The pomegranate is known to have been associated with the myth of Persephone, and another epiphet for Demeter, known from Greek inscriptions at several locations (Athens, Tegea, Ephesus, Pessinus, Aigeai, Pergamon, Sardis), was Karpophoros (Καρποφορος; also Karpotrophos, Καρποτροφος), Fruit-Bringer.

Many of the architectural members, sculptures and other finds from the temples are now in the Palermo Archaeological Museum (see the metopes below), the site's own small museum and the even smaller (one room) Museo Civico in the nearby town Castelvetrano (12 km northwest of Selinunte).
 
The Ephebe of Selinunte at My Favourite Planet

The Ephebe of Selinunte, a
bronze statue of a youth,
found in the area of Ponte
Galera, Selinunte in 1882.
According to a recent theory,
the figure may represent
Dionysus-Iakchos, associated
with the Eleusinian Mysteries.

480-460 BC. Height 84.7 cm.

Museo Civico, Castelvetrano,
Sicily. Inv. No. C/v 938.
A reconstruction drawing of the Sanctuary of Malophoros, Selinunte at My Favourite Planet

An idealized reconstruction of the Sanctuary of Malophoros, Selinous by Jean Hulot, 1910. [18]
Scale model of the Sanctuary of Malophoros, Selinous at My Favourite Planet

Scale model of the Sanctuary of Malophoros, Selinous, viewed from the east side.

Cork model by Paolo Lipari. Scale 1:100.

Baglio Florio Museum, Selinunte Archaeological Park, Sicily.

The Sanctuary of Malophoros, a rectangular area of around 50 x 60 metres, was originally an open-air sanctuary without buildings. The earliest finds are from the 7th century BC, suggesting it was founded soon after the Greek colonists arrived.

Discovered in 1871, the site was excavated by Francesco Saverio Cavallari in 1874, Giuseppe Patricolo in 1888, Antonino Salinas in 1894 and by Ettore Gabrici 1915-1926. Since then archaeological investigations have been intermittent, including "Mission Malophoros" 1983-1985, and mostly the partial restoration of the propylon in 2015, during which the remains were surveyed with a 3D laser scanner as well as by more conventional techniques.

The sanctuary was identified by two inscriptions dedicated to Malophoros and Hekate (see photos below), as well as the enormous number of votive offerings of types known from other sanctuaries of Demeter in Sicily, including bronze statuettes, incense burners, lamps, ceramic vessels, jewellery, iron tools, various objects of bone, ivory and faience, as well as around twelve thousand terracotta figurines, dating from the 7th to the 5th century BC, most depicting a female figure holding an apple or pomegranate.

As with the other buildings and areas of Selinous, little is known of the history or usage of the sanctuary from ancient authors or inscriptions, and many of the conclusions of archaeologists remain subjects of debate.

The history of the site is further complicated by the fact that Selinous was the westernmost Greek colony in Sicily, in an area surrounded by Carthaginian (Punic) and Elymian (indigenous Sicilian) populations. The area around the Gaggera spring may have been sacred to the Carthaginian and/or natives before, and even during and after the arrival of the Greeks. Some of the finds, such as the Punic steles with the heads of deities (perhaps Zeus Meilichios and Pasikrateia, see photos below), are anhellenic (non-Greek), and also include objects from the Byzantine period.

The earliest buildings have been dated to the third quarter of the 6th century BC. The sanctuary was enclosed on three sides (north, west and south) by walls, over 2 metres high. The tops of the north and south walls were stepped due to the gradient of the hill. The east side was enclosed by a row of buildings (from north to south): a stoa (roofed colonnade) open to the outside of the sanctuary, with seats; a Doric propylon (monumental gateway) dated to the mid-late 5th century BC, with two columns in antis at either end; and an almost square building identified as a sanctuary of Hekate. In front of the propylon is a circular stone structure, thought to be the remains of either a well or an altar.

At the back (western end) of the enclosure, the highest part of the sanctuary, were three buildings, the largest of which is thought to have been the temple of Demeter, or megaron, a simple structure, 20.41 metres long and 9.52 metres wide, divided into three rooms: the pronaos, at the north of which was a smaller room, perhaps used for storage; the cella which includes the original megaron; and the adyton with a vaulted niche at the rear. The functions of the two smaller two-room buildings to left (south) of the temple are unknown.

Along the front of these buildings a raised stone water channel ran along the width of the sanctuary, north to south, carrying water from the nearby Gaggera spring, a few hundred metres north of the sanctuary. The channel widens into a small reservoir in front to the temple. This may be a later construction built to carry water to the port of the mouth of the Selinos river. The channel is no longer connected to the spring, whose waters are contained by a large rectangular stone tank which overflows down the footpath in spring.

Almost in the centre of the sanctuary is a large, well-preserved altar of ashlar masonry, 16.3 metres long and 3.15 metres wide, dated to around 540 BC. A smaller altar stands just to the north of the temple and another near the propylon.

It is thought that the sanctuary was a stopping-off point for funeral processions between the city and the necropolis at Macinalunga to the north.

Immediately to the north of the Sanctuary of Malophoros is another enclosed sanctuary dedicated to Zeus Meilichios (Honey-sweet Zeus) and Pasikrateia (Persephone?). The square enclosure, 17 x 17 metres, contains the remains of Archaic structures apparently rebuilt during the Hellenistic period, in the 4th - 3rd century BC, including two porticos and a propylon leading to a small temple and an altar.

Several steles, dating from the second quarter of the 6th to the mid 5th century BC, have been discovered at this sanctuary. Some of the steles, including a herm, are inscribed with dedications to Zeus Meilichios, while others are topped by heads of a divine couple, thought to be either Zeus and Demeter or Plouton (Hades) and Persephone (see photos below).


A terracotta apple from the Sanctuary of Malophoros, Selinous at My Favourite Planet

A terracotta apple from the
Sanctuary of Malophoros.

Made in East Greece (western
Anatolia and eastern Aegean islands),
late 6th - early 5th century BC.

Baglio Florio Museum,
Selinunte Archaeological Park,
Sicily. Inv. No. SL 19693.
 
A terracotta kore figurine from the Sanctuary of Malophoros, Selinous at My Favourite Planet

Part of a terracotta kore statuette
from the Sanctuary of Malophoros.

Made in Corinth,
first half of the 6th century BC.

Baglio Florio Museum,
Selinunte Archaeological Park,
Sicily. Inv. No. SL 36705.
See also:

A relief of the Gorgon Medusa on an altar from the Sanctuary of Malophoros, Selinunte

A relief of Perseus, Medusa and Athena on a metope from Temple C, Selinunte

Mistress of Animals on an oinochoe from Selinunte
A votive inscription dedicated to the Malophoros at My Favourite Planet

A base with a votive inscription dedicated to the Malophoros,
from the Sanctuary of Malophoros, Selinous.

"Theullos son of Pyrrias made [this]
dedication to the Malophoros ... (?) at sea"

Calcernite. 475-450 BC.

Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum, Palermo, Sicily.
A votive inscription dedicated to Hekate at My Favourite Planet

A statue base with a votive inscription dedicated to Hekate,
from the Sanctuary of Malophoros, Selinous.

"Alexias son of Xenon made [this] dedication
to the Angelos (Messenger) and to Hekate"

Calcernite. Circa 450 BC.

The precinct in the southeast corner of the Sanctuary of Malophoros was
identified as the sanctuary of Hekate Propylaia on the evidence of this
inscription. Statues or small sanctuaries of Hekate Propylaia were placed
at the entrances of sanctuaries of major deities as a protection against evil.

Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum, Palermo, Sicily.
A relief of Hades abducting Persephone from Selinunte at My Favourite Planet

A limestone votive relief of thought to depict Plouton (Hades)
abducting Persephone, from the Temenos, west of the Propylon
of the Sanctuary of Malophoros, Selinous (Selinunte), Sicily.

End of the 6th century BC.

Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum, Palermo, Sicily.
A kernos from the Sanctuary of Malophoros, Selinous at My Favourite Planet

A small terracotta kernos (multiple lamp) from the Sanctuary of Malophoros, Selinous.
One of a number of kernoi from the sanctuary on display in the Selinunte museum.
6th - 4th century BC.

Baglio Florio Museum, Selinunte Archaeological Park, Sicily. Inv. No. SL 20317.
Part of a kernos from the Sanctuary of Malophoros, Selinous at My Favourite Planet

Part of a larger terracotta kernos from the Sanctuary of Malophoros, Selinous. 6th - 4th century BC.

Baglio Florio Museum, Selinunte Archaeological Park, Sicily. Inv. No. SL 20318.
Stele with heads of a divine couple from the sanctuary of Zeus Meilichios, Selinous at My Favourite Planet   Divine couple from the sanctuary of Zeus Meilichios, Selinous at My Favourite Planet
Two stone steles found at the Sanctuary of Zeus Meilichios (Honey-sweet Zeus)
and Pasikrateia (Persephone?), north of the Sanctuary of Malophoros at Selinous.
Among several steles of the 6th - 5th century BC with heads of a male and a
female deity on top, found inside the peribolos wall. The divine couple is
thought to be either Zeus and Demeter or Plouton (Hades) and Persephone.

Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum, Palermo, Sicily.
A metope relief of three goddesses from Temple Y, Selinunte at My Favourite Planet

A metope from "Temple Y" on the acropolis of Selinunte, also known
as the "Temple of the Small Metopes", with a low relief of three female
figures, perhaps depicting Demeter, Persephone and Hekate.

560-550 BC. Local limestone from Menfi, northeast of Selinute. Height 84 cm.

Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum, Palermo, Sicily.

Each of the three female figures, shown in profile, wears a polos and a peplos. The central figure may also be wearing a cloak. They have been variously identified as: Demeter, Persephone and Hekate; the Horai (the three Seasons); the Fates; the Charites (the Three Graces); or Persephone with two companions, either the Okeanides (sea nymphs) or Athena and Artemis, collecting flowers just before her abduction by Plouton (see the sarcophagus relief in Part 2). The objects held by the two figures on the right have been seen as flowers or ears of wheat, and it has also been suggested that the scene is a ritual of the Eleusinian Mysteries.

The relief has been compared to that on a ceramic altar from Gela (see Part 2), Sicily, also thought to depict Demeter, Persephone and Hekate or Aphrodite.

The six surviving small metopes and a dozen fragments of others had been reused in the Hellenistic fortifications of the city of the 4th - 3rd century BC, known as Hermocrates’ wall. They have been divided into two groups according to the forms of the frames around the blocks. Four of the metopes, including the one above, belong to the first group, while the relief in the photo below is from the second group. It is thought that the latter may have been made later, and either placed on the opposite side of "Temple Y" to the first group, or to have come from another, unidentified building, perhaps the hypothetical "Temple X".
 
A metope relief of two deities on a chariot from Temple Y, Selinunte at My Favourite Planet

A metope from "Temple Y", Selinunte, with a relief of two deities on a
chariot, identified as either Demeter and Persephone, or Hera and Athena.
Other deities, including Helios, Apollo and Selene, have also been suggested.

560-550 BC. Local limestone from Menfi. Height 84 cm.

Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum, Palermo, Sicily.

The chariot is sometimes described as a quadriga (four-horse chariot), however the two rearing horses on either side are clearly not harnessed to the chariot, although they wear bridles. They stand on their rear legs, with perhaps one fore-hoof resting on the chariot, and appear to be greeting or saluting the two figures.

Demeter and Persephone were associated with horses through their connection in myths with Poseidon as Hippios (Ἵππιος, Horse God), a chthonic (underworld) deity of the River Styx. Chased by her brother Poseidon, Demeter transformed herself into a mare and hid among the horses of King Onkios in western Arcadia. But Poseidon, in the form of a stallion, discovered her and mated with her. She subsequently gave birth to Despoina and the immortal horse Areion (Αρειων). It has also been suggested that Mycenaean inscriptions from Pylos in the southwest Peloponnese with dedications "to the two queens and the king" refer to Demeter, Persephone and Poseidon [19].

Pausanias mentioned an ancient xoanon (cult statue) of Demeter at Phigaleia (Φιγαλεία) in Arcadia, southwestern Peloponnese, which had a horse's head and held a dolphin, a symbol of Poseidon. He also related a local version of the Demeter myth, including the intervention of Pan and the Fates, and wrote that when the Phigalians neglected the goddess they suffered from famine until they followed the Delphic oracle to honour her again.

"The second mountain, Mount Elaius, is some thirty stades away from Phigalia, and has a cave sacred to Demeter surnamed Melaine [μελαινη, Black]. The Phigalians accept the account of the people of Thelpusa about the mating of Poseidon and Demeter, but they assert that Demeter gave birth, not to a horse, but to the Mistress [Despoina], as the Arcadians call her.

Afterwards, they say, angry with Poseidon and grieved at the rape of Persephone, she put on black apparel and shut herself up in this cavern for a long time. But when all the fruits of the earth were perishing, and the human race dying yet more through famine, no god, it seemed, knew where Demeter was in hiding, until Pan, they say, visited Arcadia. Roaming from mountain to mountain as he hunted, he came at last to Mount Elaius and spied Demeter, the state she was in and the clothes she wore. So Zeus learnt this from Pan, and sent the Fates to Demeter, who listened to the Fates and laid aside her wrath, moderating her grief as well. For these reasons, the Phigalians say, they concluded that this cavern was sacred to Demeter and set up in it a wooden image.

The image, they say, was made after this fashion. It was seated on a rock, like to a woman in all respects save the head. She had the head and hair of a horse, and there grew out of her head images of serpents and other beasts. Her tunic reached right to her feet; on one of her hands was a dolphin, on the other a dove. Now why they had the image made after this fashion is plain to any intelligent man who is learned in traditions. They say that they named her Black because the goddess had black apparel.

They cannot relate either who made this wooden image or how it caught fire. But the old image was destroyed, and the Phigalians gave the goddess no fresh image, while they neglected for the most part her festivals and sacrifices, until the barrenness fell on the land. Then they went as suppliants to the Pythian priestess and received this response:

'Azanian Arcadians, acorn-eaters, who dwell
In Phigaleia, the cave that hid Deo, who bare a horse,
You have come to learn a cure for grievous famine,
Who alone have twice been nomads, alone have twice lived on wild fruits.
It was Deo who made you cease from pasturing, Deo who made you pasture again
After being binders of corn and eaters of cakes,
Because she was deprived of privileges and ancient honours given by men of former times.
And soon will she make you eat each other and feed on your children,
Unless you appease her anger with libations offered by all your people,
And adorn with divine honours the nook of the cave.'

When the Phigalians heard the oracle that was brought back, they held Demeter in greater honour than before, and particularly they persuaded Onatas of Aegina, son of Micon, to make them an image of Demeter at a price."

Pausanias, Description of Greece, Book 8, chapter 42, sections 1-7. At Perseus Digital Library.

The tale of Poseidon as a horse mating with Demeter to give birth to two children, one in the form of a horse, is similar to the story of Medusa and her children Pegasus and Chrysaor by Poseidon. Pausanias' description of the xoanon in Phigaleia having snakes growing out the head also echoes images of Medusa.

See reliefs of Poseidon and Demeter from Smyrna (Izmir) in Part 2.
 
 
Sanctuaries of Demeter and Persephone

Pergamon
Model of the sanctuary of Demeter on the Pergamon acropolis at My Favourite Planet

Model of the sanctuary of Demeter, on the Demeter terrace
on the south slope of the Pergamon acropolis.

Reconstruction by Dr. C. H. Bohtz, 1977.

Bergama Archaeological Museum.

The remains of the sanctuary of Demeter in Pergamon stand on the south slope of the acropolis, to the east of the theatre and west of the Upper Gymnasium and the sanctuary of Hera.

Little is known about life and religion at Pergamon during the two centuries of Persian rule, before Alexander the Great conquered northwestern Anatolia in 334 BC. Since it was hardly mentioned by writers during this period, it seems to have been an unimportant place controlled by a local Persian-appointed governor who presumably lived in a fortified area on the acropolis.

After the death in 281 BC of King Lysimachus, one of Alexander's successors, his treasurer (gazophylax) Philetaerus effectively became the ruler of Pergamon and the founder of the Attalid dynasty which was to rule until 133 BC (see History of Pergamon). He continued the work begun by his former master to transform Pergamon into a Greek city which was to become one of the most powerful and splendid in the Hellenistic world. Using the great wealth of Lysimachus' war booty, Philetaerus built a palace, new defensive walls, the Temple of Athena Nikephoros, the city's patron goddess, and the temple of Demeter.

Following tradition, the sanctuary of Demeter was built outside the city walls, below the citadel, around an almost level area on the steep south slope of the acropolis. At the time this area was relatively isolated, but later the city expanded down the hill and the sanctuary became surrounded by other buildings. An earlier sanctuary is thought to have existed on the site previously, but later building has destroyed traces of any possible structures, and it is not known which deity may have been worshipped there.

As became the usual construction method on the Pergamon acropolis, a large artificial stone platform, now referred to as the Demeter Terrace, 57 metres long and 21 metres wide, formed a level basis for the temenos (sanctuary) and its buildings (see elevation drawing below). The same principle was employed for the sanctuary of Athena Nikephoros, and in the second century AD in a grander and more sophisticated way for the terrace of the Temple of Trajan.

Construction of the terrace appears to have begun before Philetaerus gained control, but it was during his rule that it was enlarged, its orientation altered by two degrees and its supporting walls strengthened. As well as the temple, he added an altar, a 43 metre long stepped seating area with nine or ten rows of seats built into the hillside along the north side of the terrace, immediately to the west of which was the 41.5 metre long Doric or Aeolic stoa, known as the Lower North Stoa.

The altar (Altar A) from the front of the temple has survived and bears an inscription dedicated by Philetaerus and his brother Eumenes to Demeter, in memory of their mother Boa: "Philetaerus and Eumenes, to Demeter, for their mother Boa." It is thought that the inscription on the temple's andesite architrave, of which only fragments have been found, was identical.

The temple itself stood in the middle of the open sanctuary courtyard, near the west end, oriented like the terrace on an east-west axis, with the entrance (as was usual) at the east end. In style it was Ionic, distyle-in-antis, that is with the side walls continuing along the entire length of the building and forming the antis supporting the sides of the front porch (pronaos) which was also supported at the front by two Ionic columns. At 14.1 x 7.95 metres, it was quite modest in size, usual for temples on the Pergamon acropolis, but quite small compared to those at other important Greek cities, particularly the enormous temples of Ephesus, Didyma, Priene and Sardis.

Like most early Attalid buildings in Pergamon, the Demeter sanctuary and temple were constructed mostly of local stone, primarily andesite. Pergamon did not have local marble quarries, and despite their wealth, for either financial or political reasons, Philetaerus and his successor Eumenes I used imported marble sparingly, for decorative elements and sculpture. The Pergamene kings later owned the nearby island of Proconnesos (today Marmara, Turkey) and its marble quarries, and made lavish use of the brilliant Proconnesian marble.

Over the following centuries several renovations and additions were made to the sanctuary, including an extended marble Corinthian porch added to the front of the temple during renovations in the Roman period. According to an inscription from the architrave, the renovation was carried out in the second half of the second century AD by the prytanis (πρύτανις, local administrative executive, similar to a mayor) Claudius Silianus Aesimus.

The model in the photo above shows the sanctuary as it would have appeared during the Roman period, by which time it had gained a number of extra features, reflecting the need to accommodate increasing numbers of cult intitiates:

A propylon (monumental gateway) at the entrance at the east side, below which was a cistern, perhaps used for ritual ablutions; the Upper North Stoa along the entire length of the sanctuary, above the seating area and Lower North Stoa; the equally long but much wider South Stoa; and a shorter West Stoa, behind the temple.

Outside the entrance to the sacred area was a forecourt on two levels connected by stairs, around which was an offering area with a 50 cm deep square bothros (sacrificial pit) and a fountain, which was replaced by a large nymphaion (the round construction in the bottom left of the photo above) in the 1st century BC, during the Roman period.

At the north of the forecourt, abutting the wall at the northwest corner of the temenos wall, was a building containing several rooms, identified by an inscription from the architrave of the propylon dedicated by Queen Apollonis (Ἀπoλλωνίς, wife of Attalus I, mother of Eumenes II and Attalus II) as oikoi (small shrines or cult spaces; from οἶκος, oikos, a house, a dwelling), although their functions are not known. The inscription also states that Apollonis built the oikoi and stoas as a gift-offering to Demeter and Kore.

The sanctuary was first excavated by the German archaeologist Wilhelm Dörpfeld 1908-1911 and has since been investigated a number of times. A number of surviving sculptures and architectural elements (see photos below) have helped archaeologists identify the various buildings of the sanctuary, and inscriptions provide proof that it was dedicated to Demeter. However, not much evidence has been found to reveal the nature of the cult practices or which festivals were celebrated, although there are indications that the Thesmophoria and other chthonic cult rituals may have taken place there.

Perhaps surprisingly, there is very little ancient literary evidence concerning the worship of Demeter and other deities in a city which was a dominant political, economic and cultural force in the eastern Mediterranean during the Hellenistic period.

A Pergamene capital from the sanctuary of Demeter, Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

A Pergamene column capital
from the sanctuary of Demeter
in Pergamon. Hellenistic period.

Bergama Archaeological Museum.
 
Statue of a dancing woman fromthe Demeter Terrace, Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

Marble statuette of a dancing
female from the Demeter Terrace,
Pergamon.

Late Hellenistic period,
150-30 BC. Height 65 cm.

Izmir Archaeological Museum.
Inv. No. 608.



Other sculptures found by
archaeologists at the Demeter
terrace, though not necessarily
related to Demeter, include:

Marble portrait head of Augustus
Pergamon gallery 2, page 6

Marble head of Emperor Tiberius
Pergamon gallery 2, page 7

Marble portrait head
of Agrippina the Elder
Pergamon gallery 2, page 8

Marble portrait head of a child
Pergamon gallery 2, page 9

Marble portrait head Hermes
Pergamon gallery 2, page 16
Elevation drawing of the Demeter Terrace, Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

Elevation drawing of the Demeter Terrace on the Pergamon acropolis.

Image source: Alexander Conze et al, Altertümer von Pergamon, Band I,
Text 2: Stadt und Landschaft
, fig. 56, page 221. Georg Reimer, Berlin, 1913.
At University of Heidelberg Digital Library.
Reassembled fragments of the marble architrave from the temple of Demeter, Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

Reassembled fragments of the marble architrave from the temple of Demeter, Pergamon.

2nd third of the 3rd century BC. Height 37 cm.

Bergama Archaeological Museum.
Section of the marble architrave from the temple of Demeter, Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

Section of the marble architrave from the temple of Demeter, Pergamon.

2nd third of the 3rd century BC. Height 37 cm.

Bergama Archaeological Museum.

The nine fragments of the 9.43 metre long architrave found at the site of the temple are now exhibited in the garden of the Bergama Archaeological Museum. The low relief consists of a row of boukrania (ox skulls) joined by garlands of laurel leaves. Each boukranion has a knotted fillet across the forehead, looped around the horns, with the ends hanging on either side of head. Between each boukranion is a phiale (libation bowl) with a central boss. The carving of the boukrania and other details vary in style and are thought to have been made by a number of sculptors.

The reassembled fragments have been set up on the outer wall of the museum, along the sloped ramp up to the entrance. The outer railing of the ramp makes viewing and photographing the entire architrave from the front impossible. Like many of the objects displayed in the garden, the architrave is not labelled.
 
A boukranion on the architrave from the temple of Demeter, Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

A boukranion on the architrave from
the temple of Demeter, Pergamon.
Demeter relief from the Demeter Terrace of the Pergamon acropolis at My Favourite Planet

"Demeter relief" from the Demeter Terrace of the Pergamon acropolis.

Roman period. Height 89 cm, width 172.5 cm, depth 19 cm.

Bergama Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 276.

Found during excavations by Wilhelm Dörpfeld and Hugo Hepding in 1908-1909. In the centre stands a female figure, depicting either Demeter, Persephone or a priestess, wearing a wreath and holding a long torch and a phiale (libation bowl). On the left, a sacrificial bull, standing on two blocks, is tethered by the nose to a ring fixed in the ground. The tree-like object behind it was thought by Hepding to be a cypress. On the right, a large, flaming altar, decorated with akroteria and a garland, next to another long torch standing on a plant-form. [20]  
Relief of a cornucopia on a marble parapet from the Demeter Terrace, Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

Relief of a cornucopia on a marble parapet from the Demeter Terrace, Pergamon.

Roman period.

Bergama Archaeological Museum.
Fragments of reliefs of wheat and poppies from Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

Fragments of marble reliefs of wheat and poppies, found in 1903 on the terrace of the
Middle Gymnasium of Pergamon, probably fallen from the sanctuary of Demeter above.

Source: Franz Winter, Altertümer von Pergamon, Band VII, Text 2: Die skulpturen
mit ausnahme der Altarreliefs
, No. 408, pages 325-326. Georg Reimer, Berlin, 1908.
Marble relief of Cerberus from Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

Fragment of a marble parapet with a relief of Cerberus (Κέρβερος,
Kerberos), the monstrous multi-headed guard dog of Hades,
that prevented the dead from leaving the Underworld.

Roman period. Excavated in 1909 at the Roman
South Stoa of the Demeter Terrace, Pergamon.

Bergama Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 1909, 162.
 
Demeter / Ceres in Rome
Fragment of a marble pediment with a relief of Ceres at My Favourite Planet

Fragment of a marble pediment with part of a relief of Ceres.

Late 1st century AD. Probably from the temple of the gens Flavia which stood
in the area in which the Baths of Diocletian were later built. Found on the
Via XX Settembre, in the area of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Rome.

The goddess wears a chiton (tunic) of a lightweight fabric that leaves her
right breast exposed. She may have been depicted as enthroned or
emerging from a leafy setting. In the background are sheaves of wheat.

Baths of Diocletian, National Museum of Rome. Inv. No. 5122.

The cult of Ceres in Rome was probably introduced from Sicily. The temple of Ceres (Ceres, Liber and Libera) on the north slope of the Aventine Hill, near the west end of the Circus Maximus, outside the pomerium, the ancient walls which marked the sacred boundary of the city. It was built after a vow made to Demeter, Dionysus and Kore by the dictator Aulus Postumius Albus during a famine around 496 BC, and dedicated to Ceres, Liber and Libera by the consul Spurius Cassius Viscellinus around 493 BC, shortly after the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of the Republic around 509 BC.

It was one of the earliest temples dedicated to a Greek deity in the city [24], built in the Greek style and decorated with sculptures and paintings by the Greek artists Damophilus and Gorgasus (Pliny the Elder, Natural history, Book 35, chapter 45). According to Cicero the rites of the goddess were the same as those of the Greeks [25].

Lucius Mummius Achaicus later donated to the temple a painting of Father Liber (Dionysus) by Aristeides of Thebes, one of the many artworks he looted from Corinth in 146 BC (see above), and a painting of Artamene by Aristeides was also to be seen there (Natural history, Book 35, chapter 8 and chapter 36).

The modern term Aventine Triad (also Plebeian Triad and Agricultural Triad) has been given to the joint cult of Ceres, Liber and Libera, who were identified with Demeter, Bacchus (Dionysus) and Proserpine (Persephone), with their Romanized mythologies, rites and mysteries. They were the tutelary deities of the Roman plebeians and became instruments of political proganda during the Roman Imperial period as a symbol of the empire's prosperity.

Vitruvius named the temple of Ceres as an example of araeostyle (from Ancient Greek αραιος, weak or widely spaced, and στυλος, column), low, broad buildings with widely spaced columns supporting timber architraves and pediments decorated with sculptures of terracotta or gilt bronze [26]. It was destroyed by fire around 31 BC, and was replaced by a new temple built by Augustus (reigned 27 BC - 14 AD) and dedicated circa 17 AD by his successor Emperor Tiberius (reigned 14-37 AD).

A number of Roman empresses, deified after their deaths, were associated with Ceres. See, for example, the heads of Livia Drusilla as Ceres Augusta (photos below). In the mid 2nd century AD the wealthy Athenian Herodes Atticus renamed his estate on the Via Appia, just outside Rome, the Triopion, a name associated with the sanctuary of Demeter in Knidos (see Part 2). Atticus' Triopion, dedicated to the gods of the underworld and the funeral cult of his wife Annia Regilla, included a temple dedicated to Demeter and Persephone and the "new Demeter", the deified Faustina Major (Annia Galeria Faustina, circa 100-140 AD), the wife of Emperor Antoninus Pius (see the photos and information on the Herodes Atticus page).

See also a coin of Empress Vibia Sabina showing Ceres in the photo in Part 2.
 
 

Marble head probably depicting Demeter, altered to portray Livia at My Favourite Planet

Marble head, late 2nd - early 1st century BC, probably originally depicting Demeter, later
(after 42 AD) altered to portray Livia Drusilla
(58 BC - 29 AD), wife of Emperor Augustus
and mother of Emperor Tiberius.

From Thessaloniki.

Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum.
 
Marble head of Livia as Ceres at My Favourite Planet

Larger than life-size marble
head of Livia as Ceres.

1st century AD. Height 50.5 cm.

After her death, Livia was deified, and is
here portrayed as Ceres Augusta, with
the hairstyle of the goddess, and a
corona spicea (a crown of ears of grain)
decorated with poppies and laurel.

Berlin State Museums (SMB). Inv. No. Sk 435.
Purchased by Gustav Friedrich Waagen in 1841
from the Nani Collection, Venice.
Marble statuette of Demeter-Ceres of the Poggio Imperiale type at My Favourite Planet   Detail of the Demeter-Ceres statuette in Dresden at My Favourite Planet
Marble statuette of Demeter-Ceres of the Poggio Imperiale type.

Late 4th century AD, after a model of the mid 2nd
century BC. Fine-grained, translucent white marble.
Height 87 cm, width 38 cm, depth 22.0 cm.

Skulpturensammlung, Albertinum, Dresden. Inv. No. Hm 265.
 
 
 
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An Early Cycladic ceramic kernos from Syros at My Favourite Planet

An Early Cycladic ceramic kernos consisting of eight small pyxides (containers),
with painted linear decoration. A unique, complex vessel, probably made for ritual use.

2800-2300 BC, Early Cycladic II period. Found among grave offerings at Chalandri, Syros.

National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Inv. No. 6185.
 
Demeter and
Persephone
Part 1
Notes, references and links

1. Persephone, Kore, Despoina

The name Persephone in Ionic Greek, had variants such as Persephatta and Persephassa in other Greek dialects. It is thought that she may have been referred to by various epiphets for fear of mentioning her actual name. In modern Greek the word despoina (δέσποινα) is still used to address young and unmarried women, as in miss or madamoiselle. However, references to Despoina in ancient Greek are often translated as "Mistress".

2. Homeric Hymn to Demeter

Extracts from Hymn 2 to Demeter:

"I begin to sing of rich-haired Demeter, awful goddess..."

"Hecate, with a torch in her hands, met her, and spoke to her and told her news:
'Queenly Demeter, bringer of seasons and giver of good gifts...'"

Anonymous, The Homeric Hymns and Homerica. English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. and William Heinemann Ltd., London, 1914. At Perseus Digital Library.

3. Herodotus on the mystic rites of Demeter

Herodotus, Histories, Book 2, chapter 171.

The History of Herodotus, Volume I, Book II. English translation by G. C. Macaulay. MacMillan and Co., London and New York, 1890. At Project Gutenberg.

4. Pausanias' dream

Pausanias, Description of Greece, Book 1, chapter 38, section 7. At Perseus Digital Library.

He had mentioned this dream earlier in the same book:

"After I had intended to go further into this story, and to describe the contents of the sanctuary at Athens, called the Eleusinium, I was stayed by a vision in a dream. I shall therefore turn to those things it is lawful to write of to all men."

Pausanias, Description of Greece, Book 1, chapter 14, section 3. At Perseus Digital Library.
 

5. Sanctuaries of Demeter and Persephone

Sanctuaries of Demeter and Persephone are known to have existed all over the Greek and Roman world, including North Africa, Scythia and Asia, from mentions by ancient authors and archaeological evidence, such as the remains of cult buildings, inscriptions and other artefacts associated with their cult. It appears that most, if not all, Greek cities worshipped them in some form, and, appropriate to agricultural deities, there were a number of sanctuaries at small settlements or in the countryside, some way from cities.

"The temple of Ceres should be in a solitary spot out of the city, to which the public are not necessarily led but for the purpose of sacrificing to her. This spot is to be reverenced with religious awe and solemnity of demeanour, by those whose affairs lead them to visit it."

Vitruvius, On Architecture (de Architectura), Book 1, chapter 7, section 2. At Bill Thayer's LacusCurtius website, University of Chicago.

Some cult centres became important because of a particular association with aspects of the myths concerning Demeter and Persephone. Lerna in the Peloponnese and Syracuse and Enna in Sicily, for example, were among the places which claimed to be the location of Persephone's abduction by Plouton. Other places particularly honoured the goddesses for help given during a famine, war or other crisis. Pausanias mentioned a sanctuary of Demeter near Sikyon in the Peloponnese, said to have been founded by the mythical king Plemnaeis (Πλημναῖος) in thanks to the goddess who, in the guise of a strange woman, reared his son Orthopolis after all his previous children had died at birth (Description of Greece, Book 2, chapter 5, section 8 and chapter 11, section 2). Some cult centres could boast grand sanctuaries due to financial contributions by the community or state, or patrons such as kings, emperors and wealthy individuals.

Locations of known important sanctuaries include:

 
Central Greece

Athens (Ἀθῆναι), Attica
Eleusis (Ἐλευσίς), Attica
Megara (Μέγαρα), Attica
Munychia (Μουνυχία), Piraeus, Attica
Potniae (Πότνιαι), Thebes
Pyrasos (Πύρασος), Thessaly
Thoricus (Θορικός), Attica

Southern Greece (Peloponnese)

Aegila (Αἴγλλα), Laconia
Argos (Ἄργος), Argolid
Bathos (Βάθος), Arcadia
Celeae (Κελεαί), Phliasia (Φλιασία)
Corinth (Κόρινθος)
Hermione (Ἑρμιόνη), Argolid
Isthmia (Ισθμία), Corinthia
Lerna (Λερνα), Argolid
Lykosoura (Λυκόσουρα), Arcadia
Megalopolis (Μεγαλόπολις), Arcadia
Patras (Πάτραι)
Pheneos (Φενεός, Feneos), Arcadia
Sicyon (Σικυών), Sicyonia
Sparta (Σπάρτα)
Tegea (Τεγέα), Arcadia

Greek islands

Delos (Δήλος)
Mytilene (Μυτιλήνη)
Naxos (Νάξος)
Paros (Πάρος)
Rhodes (Ρόδος)
Samothraki (Σαμοθράκη)
Syros (Σῦρος)
Thasos (Θάσος)

Crete

According to tradition, the cult of Demeter originated in Crete, and a number of sanctuaries have been identified on the island, including at Knossos (Κνωσός), and the remains of a small Roman period temple at Aptera (Ἄπτερα).
  Macedonia and Thrace

Amphipolis (Ἀμφίπολις)
Dion (Δίον)
Galepsos (Γαληψός)
Lete (Λητή)
Mesembria (Μεσημβρία)
Pella (Πέλλα)

East Greece (Anatolia = Asia Minor)

Ephesus (Ἔφεσος), Ionia
Halikarnassos (Ἁλικαρνᾱσσός), Caria
Iasos (Ἴασος), Caria
Knidos (Κνίδος), Caria
Kyzikos (Κύζικος), Mysia
Miletus (Μίλητος), Ionia
Pergamon (Πέργαμον), Aeolia
Priene (Πριήνη), Ionia

Sanctuaries also at Aigeai, Chios, Clazomenae,
Erythrae, Phocaea, Sardis, Smyrna and the Troad

Northern Italy (Etruscan and Roman)

Ariccia, Latium
Gravisca (Etruscan), Lazio
Ostia
Rome

Southern Italy (Magna Graecia)

Metapontion (Μεταπόντιον)
Neapolis (Νεάπολις), Capania (Naples)
Paestum (Παῖστον; earlier Poseidonia, Ποσειδωνία)

Sicily

Akragas (Ἀκράγας)
Catana (Κατάνη)
Enna (Ἔννα)
Gela (Γέλα)
Selinous (Σελινοῦς)
Syracuse (Συράκουσαι)

North Africa

Alexandria (Ἀλεξάνδρεια), Egypt
Cyrene (Κυρήνη), Lybia

Black Sea

Apollonia Pontica (Sozopol, Bulgaria)

6. Literature on Eleusis and the Eleusinian Mysteries

Several books and academic articles have been published on Eleusis, the Eleusinian Mysteries and the artefacts connected with them. One of the best and most readable is still Eleusis and the Eleusinian Mysteries by the Greek archaeologist George Emmanuel Mylonas (Γεώργιος Εμμανουήλ Μυλωνάς, 1898–1988).

First published by Princeton University Press in 1961, Mylonas' substantial, illustrated volume provides an excellent introduction to the history, topography, architecture and archaeology of Eleusis, descriptions of the artefacts discovered at the site, as well as those to be seen at the Eleusis Museum and elsewhere. It also includes discussion of the mythology and worship of Demeter, Persephone and related deities, various aspects of the Mysteries and the phases of the festivals.

Much has changed in the worlds of history, archaeology - and indeed politics - since this book was written; more discoveries have been made, and new viewpoints, ideas and theories have developed. Some of the opinions stated by Mylonas (his own and those of others) have been questioned and superseded. There are also what now seem like notable omissions, such as the question of the use of psychotropic drugs during religious festivals. Still, the scholarship providing the core of the work remains sound and dependable. At over 400 pages it will not provide the kind of general guide required by tourists or casual visitors, but is essential reading for anyone seeking a deeper understanding.

The book was out of print for many years, and several attempts by members of the Archaeological Society of Athens and interested residents of Elefsina (the modern name for Eleusis) to republish the work as well as a Greek translation proved unsuccessful. Finally, in 2010 the small local publishers in Elefsina, Cyceon Tales Publications, brought out editions in Greek and English.

English edition: George E. Mylonas, Eleusis and the Eleusinian Mysteries. Cyceon Tales Publications, Harilaou 94, 192 00 Elefsina, Greece, 2010. Paperback, 492 pages, with 88 illustrations, including maps and plans.

Greek edition: Γεώργιος Εμμανουήλ Μυλωνάς, Ελευσίς και ελευσίνια μυστήρια. Κυκεών Tales, Χαριλάου 94, 192 00 Ελευσίνα, 2010. 492 σελ.

The English edition costs 19 Euros, the Greek edition 23 Euros.

Available at the excellent Bar-Café Cyceon Tales, opposite the entrance to the Eleusis Archaeological Site at Eleusis, every day 08.15 - 02.00.

The books can also be ordered from the Cyceon Tales website www.cyceon.gr (in English and Greek):

English edition            Greek edition

Princeton University Press have now reissued the original edition of the book as part of their Princeton Legacy Library series:

George E. Mylonas, Eleusis and the Eleusinian Mysteries, Princeton University Press, 2015. 416 pages.

While Princeton is to be applauded for finally republishing this valuable book, their edition costs 54 Dollars, more than double the price of the Cyceon Tales edition. We recommend you buy from Cyceon Tales, and thereby support the local economy and the work of local people to foster the culture of Eleusis - ancient and modern.

A shorter, more recent illustrated guide to the site and monuments of Eleusis:

Kalliope Preka-Alexandri, Eleusis. Archaeological Receipts Fund (TAP), Ministry of Culture, Athens. First edition 1991, third edition 2003.

Separate editions in Greek, English and German, available at many museum shops in Greece (but not at Eleusis itself!). Well illustrated with photos, drawings, plans and a map of Attica. A bargain at 5 euros.

English edition, translated by William W. Phelps. 48 pages. ISBN 960-214-102-6.

Publisher's website: www.tap.gr (Greek and English)
 

7. The discovery of the Great Eleusinian Relief and the Agios Zacharias church

According to one account, the Great Eleusinian Relief was discovered by the archaeologist Demetrios Philios (Δημήτριος Φίλιος, 1844-1907) who was to direct excavations at Eleusis 1882-1907.

The small, post Byzantine church of Agios Zacharias was built on the east side of the middle aisle of a 5th century Christian basilica (named by archaeologists after the later church), remains of which can still be seen. The church was used as a provisional storeroom and museum for finds from the archaeological site.

8. Pinakes

In the ancient Greek world, a pinax (πίναξ, literally board; plural πίνακες, pinakes) was a plaque (or tablet) of painted wood, moulded and/or painted ceramic, inscribed marble or cast bronze, placed as a votive offering in a temple, sanctuary or tomb. Some pinakes were inscribed wax tablets or painted cloth. The subject of the pinakes was usually one or more deities, standing or enthroned (sometimes represented only by their symbols), often shown being approached by worshippers carrying sacrifices. The term eventually came to denote a painting, and a pinakotheke a picture gallery (as in the "Pinakotheke" of the Propylaia of the Athens Acropolis).

See also:

A 7th century BC Penteskouphia Pinax from Corinth

A 1st century AD "Campana plate" depicting Female dancers around Palladion

9. Decree concerning Eleusinian first fruits

The inscription, written in stoichedon, records a decree of the Athenian assembly (demos), unusually based on a draft prepared by a committee, concerning the collection of portions of the harvest of wheat and barley (ἀπαρχαί, aparchai, first-fruits) to be dedicated to the two goddesses Demeter and Kore (Persephone). It also includes the stipulation that two copies of the decree are to be inscribed, one to be set up at the sanctuary in Eleusis and the other on the Athens Acropolis. Only a fragment of the latter stele has survived (inscription IG I(3) 78b).

For the Greek text of the Eleusis inscription (also referred to as IG I(3) 78a and I Eleusis. 28a), see:

epigraphy.packhum.org/text/79 at The Packard Humanities Institute.

For an English translation and further information, see:

www.atticinscriptions.com/inscription/IGI3/78a at Attic Inscriptions Online (AIO).
 

10. The City Eleusinion of Athens

See: Margaret M. Miles, The City Eleusinion, The Athenian Agora Vol. 31. The American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1998.

Pausanias made two mentions of a temple of Demeter and Persephone at beginning of his description of Athens, the first when describing the entrance to the city at Kerameikos, before the Agora:

"On entering the city there is a building for the preparation of the processions, which are held in some cases every year, in others at longer intervals. Hard by is a temple of Demeter, with images of the goddess herself and of her daughter, and of Iacchus holding a torch. On the wall, in Attic characters, is written that they are works of Praxiteles."

Pausanias, Description of Greece, Book 1, chapter 2, section 4. At Perseus Digital Library.

He again mentions a temple of Demeter and Persephone and a temple of Triptolemus near the Enneakrounos Fountain (thought to be the "Southeast Fountain House" discovered by archeologists) in the Agora:

"Hard by is a spring called Enneacrunos (Nine Jets), embellished as you see it by Peisistratus. There are cisterns all over the city, but this is the only fountain. Above the spring are two temples, one to Demeter and the Maid, while in that of Triptolemus is a statue of him. The accounts given of Triptolemus I shall write, omitting from the story as much as relates to Deiope.

[2] The Greeks who dispute most the Athenian claim to antiquity and the gifts they say they have received from the gods are the Argives, just as among those who are not Greeks the Egyptians compete with the Phrygians. It is said, then, that when Demeter came to Argos she was received by Pelasgus into his home, and that Chrysanthis, knowing about the rape of the Maid, related the story to her. Afterwards Trochilus, the priest of the mysteries, fled, they say, from Argos because of the enmity of Agenor, came to Attica and married a woman of Eleusis, by whom he had two children, Eubuleus and Triptolemus. That is the account given by the Argives. But the Athenians and those who with them ... know that Triptolemus, son of Celeus, was the first to sow seed for cultivation.

[3] Some extant verses of Musaeus, if indeed they are to be included among his works, say that Triptolemus was the son of Oceanus [Okeanos] and Earth [Gaia]; while those ascribed to Orpheus (though in my opinion the received authorship is again incorrect) say that Eubuleus and Triptolemus were sons of Dysaules, and that because they gave Demeter information about her daughter the sowing of seed was her reward to them. But Choerilus, an Athenian, who wrote a play called Alope, says that Cercyon and Triptolemus were brothers, that their mother was the daughter of Amphictyon, while the father of Triptolemus was Rarus, of Cercyon, Poseidon. After I had intended to go further into this story, and to describe the contents of the sanctuary at Athens, called the Eleusinium, I was stayed by a vision in a dream. I shall therefore turn to those things it is lawful to write of to all men.

[4] In front of this temple, where is also the statue of Triptolemus, is a bronze bull being led as it were to sacrifice, and there is a sitting figure of Epimenides of Cnossus ..."

Pausanias, Description of Greece, Book 1, chapter 14, sections 1-4. At Perseus Digital Library.

Pausanias later relates the Cretan myth in which Eubouleus was the son of Karmanor and the father of Karme, who was the mother of Britomartis (Aphaea) by Zeus.

"In Aegina, as you go towards the mountain of Zeus, God of all the Greeks, you reach a sanctuary of Aphaea, in whose honor Pindar composed an ode for the Aeginetans. The Cretans say (the story of Aphaea is Cretan) that Carmanor, who purified Apollo alter he had killed Pytho, was the father of Eubulus, and that the daughter of Zeus and of Carme, the daughter of Eubulus, was Britomartis."

Pausanias, Description of Greece, Book 2, chapter 30, section 3. At Perseus Digital Library.

This myth was also mentioned by the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus (Διόδωρος Σικελιώτης, Diodoros Sikeliotes) around 60-30 BC:

"Britomartis, who is also called Dictynna, the myths relate, was born at Caeno in Crete of Zeus and Carme, the daughter of Eubulus who was the son of Demeter."

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, Book 5, chapter 76, section 3. At Bill Thayer's website LacusCurtius: Into the Roman World, University of Chicago.

11. Praxiteles's signature on the Agora statue base

See: Antonio Corso, The art of Praxiteles: The development of Praxiteles' workshop and its cultural tradition until the sculptor's acme (364-1 BC), pages 229-231. L'Erma di Bretschneider, 2004.
 

12. Ephedrismos

Ephedrismos (ἐφεδρισμός; from ἐφεδρίζω, I sit on) was apparently a popular game in ancient Greece in which players threw a ball or stone at a pointed stone used as a target (δίορος, díoros). The loser had to carry the winner on their back to the target with their eyes covered by the winner's hands. Athough this has been compared with leap frog and the modern Greek game of long donkey (μακριά γαϊδούρα, makria gaithouri), it was a very different type of game.

The game is the subject of several vase paintings from the Classical period and ceramic figurines of the Hellenistic period. The players depicted include girls, boys, Erotes (cupids), satyrs and silens (see photos below). Children often played with balls during religious festivals, and it is thought that figurines depicting ephedrismos may have had a religious significance.

The only ancient description of the game appears in the Onomasticon, a thesaurus written in the 2nd century AD by Julius Pollux (Ἰούλιος Πολυδεύκης, Ioulios Polydeukes), a Greek grammarian, sophist and rhetorician from Naukratis, Egypt, who was appointed professor of rhetoric at the Academy in Athens by Emperor Commodus. The thesaurus is not organized alphabetically, but arranged in ten books, each a separate treatise on a particular set of topics. The description of the game is in Book 9, Panhellenios (Πανελλήνιος), a speech delivered before the assembled Greeks, dealing with towns, buildings, coins, games and other subjects.

The text in Greek: Erich Bethe (editor), Pollucis Onomasticon: e codicibus ab ipso collatis denuo edidit et adnotavit Ericus Bethe, Volume 2, Book IX, line 119 (page 180). B.G. Teubner, Leipzig, 1931. At archive.org.

13. Excavations at Isthmia

See: Virginia R. Anderson-Stojanović and David S. Reese, A Well in the Rachi Settlement at Isthmia. Hesperia, Vol. 62, No. 3 (July - September 1993), pages 257-302. The American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA). At jstor.org.

There are several academic articles and reports concerning the archaeological excavations at Isthmia. For more information about the sites and recent discoveries, see:

lucian.uchicago.edu/blogs/isthmia/. Excavations at Isthmia by the University of Chicago.

Information about the Rachi settlement: lucian.uchicago.edu/blogs/isthmia/rachi-settlement/
Marble statue group of two young females playing ephedrismos at My Favourite Planet

Marble statue group of two young
females playing ephedrismos.

Greek original, 4th century BC. Pentelic
marble. From the Horti Lamiani, Rome.
Found in 1907 in the Piazza Dante.

Palazzo dei Conservatori,
Capitoline Museums, Rome.
Inv. No. MC 1151.
 

Two youths playing ephedrismos at My Favourite Planet

Detail of an Attic black-figure skyphos
showing two youths playing ephedrismos.

From the Ancient Agora in Athens.
By Theseus Painter, around 500 BC.

Agora Museum, Athens.
 
Ceramic figurine of a silen and a young woman playing ephedrismos at My Favourite Planet

Ceramic figurine of a silen carrying a
young woman, perhaps a nymph or
maenad, in a game of ephedrismos.

From Boeotia or Megara, Greece,
early 3rd century BC. Height 22.3 cm.

Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe
Hamburg. Inv. No. 1927.40.
From the Charles Seltmann Collection.

14. P. Licinius Priscus Iuventianus and the sanctuaries at Isthmia

The inscribed stele was apparently taken to Verona on behalf of the writer, antiquarian and art collector Francesco Scipione, marchese di Maffei (1675–1755) who founded the Museo Lapidario Maffeiano, one of Europe's oldest archaeological museums.

Apart from this inscription, two fragments of another inscribed stele found at Corinth and Isthmia (see below) and other inscriptions which appear to mention him, nothing is known about P. Licinius Priscus Iuventianus. He is decribed on the Verona stele as "P(ublius) Licinius, P(ublius') s(on), (of the) Aem(ilian tribe), Priscus Juventianus, lifelong high priest". He appears to have been a wealthy Roman citizen, perhaps from an influential local Greek family, who, like other elite figures such as Herodes Atticus and Aulus Claudius Charax of Pergamon, flourished during Roman imperial rule and financed public and religious institutions.

See:

Jacob Spon's account of the inscription at Isthmia:

Jacob Spon (1647-1685), Voyage d'Italie, de Dalmatie, de Grèce et du Levant, Tome II, page 294 (in French). Antoine Cellier et fils, Lyon, 1678. At Heidelberg University Library.

Spon and Wheler's transcription of the inscription:

Jacob Spon, Voyage d'Italie, de Dalmatie, de Grèce et du Levant, Tome III Contenant les inscriptions de chaque ville & leur explication, avec quelques Médailles & autres Monumens antiques, pages 225-227. Antoine Cellier et fils, Lyon, 1678. At Heidelberg University Library.

Oscar Broneer (1894-1992), An Official Rescript from Corinth. Hesperia, Volume 8, No. 2 (April - June, 1939), pages 181-190. The American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA). At jstor.org.

Broneer discusses Priscus and his benefactions at Isthmia in the light of part of another inscribed stele which had recently been discovered at Corinth (Corinth, Inv. No. I 2194, see photo, right). There are photos of the new stele fragment and the stele in Verona (IG IV 203).

Daniel J. Geagan, The Isthmian Dossier of P. Licinius Priscus Juventianus. Hesperia, Vol. 58, No. 3 (July - September 1989), pages 349-360. The American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA). At jstor.org.

This article reexamines the inscriptions discussed fifty years earlier by Broneer. In the meantime another fragment of the second stele had been discovered at Isthmia in 1954 (Isthmia, Inv. No. I 261, see photo, right), which includes the information that Priscus was also an agoranomos (ἀγορανόμος, an official who controlled the marketplace) of the Isthmian festival, and that he built a stoa with shops next to the stadium used for the Isthmian games. Geagan discusses evidence which points to Priscus' identity and asks whether the two steles may have been originally set up at the Temple of Poseidon at Isthmia. He includes the original Greek text of the inscriptions and translations as well as a photo of the later fragment from Isthmia.

The Greek text of inscription IG IV 203: epigraphy.packhum.org/text/27699 at The Packard Humanities Institute.

Francesco Camia, IG IV 203: la cronologia di P. Licinius Priscus Iuventianus, archiereus della Lega achea. ASAtene 80 (2002), pages 361-378 (in Italian). Scuola archeologica italiana di Atene. At academia.edu.

Mario Torelli, P. Licinius Priscus Iuventianus e la ricostruzione antonina del Palaimonion di Istmia, in Dialéctica histórica y compromiso social. Homenaje Domingo Plácido, pages 555-582 (in Italian). Madrid, 2010. At academia.edu.
 
An inscription referring to P. Licinius Priscus Iuventianus at My Favourite Planet

Fragments of a limestone stele
with an inscription referring to
P. Licinius Priscus Iuventianus.

2nd century AD.

Corinth Archaeological Museum.

Bottom fragment, found in 1934 in the
colonnade of the South Stoa, Ancient
Corinth. Inv. No. I 2194 (lines 14-32).

Top fragments, found in 1954 in
the Fortress of Justinian, Isthmia.
Inv. No. I 261 (lines 1-14).

15. Archaeology at the Pella Thesmophorion

Μ. Λιλιμπάκη-Ακαμάτη, Το Θεσμοφόριο της Πέλλας (The Thesmophorion of Pella), Ταμείο Αρχαιολογικών Πόρων (ΤΑΠ, Archaeological Receipts Fund, TAP), Ministry of Culture, Athens, 1996. 112 pages, illustrated. 18 Euros. www.tap.gr.

The veteran archaeologist Dr. Maria Lilimpaki-Akamati, now Honorary Curator of Antiquities, has written and co-authored several books and articles on the history and archaeology of Macedonia, including two excellent guides to Pella (see Further reading about Pella). This book, which was described in one review as "a work of pure archaeology", remains the standard work on the Pella Thesmophorion and one of the few which discusses the site in any depth. Unfortunately, it is only available in Greek and its seems unlikely that it will be translated into other languages in the near future.

More recently archaeologist Liana Gelou (presently at the Ephorate of Antiquities of Florina), wrote a fascinating sudy and proposal for the conservation, restoration and presentation the Pella Thesmophorion. This broad-ranging illustrated work discusses the history of Pella, including a description of the Pella archaeological site and its sanctuaries, and examines the worship of Demeter, its rituals and the thesmophoria at various sites around the ancient Greek world. The numerous illustrations include maps, plans, and photos of archaeological sites and finds.

Γκέλου Λιάνα Γεωργίου, Το Θεσμοφόριο της Πέλλας: Μελέτη-Πρόταση Συντήρησης, Αποκατάστασης και Ανάδειξης (The Thesmophorion of Pella: Study and Proposal for its Conservation, Restoration and Presentation), Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 2012. In Greek with an abstract in English. 218 pages, illustrated. PDF document at IKEE, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Library.

While it is vital that archaeologists publish their findings in their own language (Greek, Turkish, Bulgarian, Serbian, Albanian, etc), economical and political considerations often mean that many important works are not translated and their contents remain unknown to reseachers, students and the public in other countries.

16. The Thesmophoria

The annual festival of Thesmophoria (Θεσμοφόρια), held in honour of Demeter Thesmophoros, is thought to have been held in October, at the time of seed-sowing. The best known Thesmophoria is the one held in Athens. The main sources of information on the festival are Aristophanes' comedy Thesmophoriazousai (Θεσμοφοριάζουσαι, Women celebrating the Thesmophoria), first produced in 411 BC, and its scholia (commentaries), and a Byzantine scholion on Dialogues of the Courtesans (Dialogi Meretricii, 2.1) by Lucian of Samosata (circa 125-180 AD, see Aetion), which provides the only description of the secret rites.

See:

Matthew Dillon, Girls and Women in Classical Greek Religion. Routledge, London, 2002.

Allaire Stallsmith, Interpreting the Athenian Thesmophoria. The Classical Bulletin 84 (2009), pages 28-45. Word Document (.docx) at academia.edu.
A discussion of ancient and modern literary sources concerning the Thesmophoria. Includes a translation of the scholion on Lucian's Dialogues of the Courtesans.

Katherine R. L. McLardy, The megara of the Thesmophoria: Reconciling the textual and archaeological records. Chronika, Volume 5, pages 1-6. Institute for European and Mediterranean Archaeology, State University of New York at Buffalo, 2015. PDF at chronikajournal.com.
The article briefly surveys the literary and archaeological evidence (from Eleusis, Mytilene, Priene, Knidos and other sites) for the existence, forms and use of megara in the Thesmophoria.

17. Pausanias on Demeter Malophoros

Pausanias, Description of Greece, Book 1, chapter 44, section 3. At Perseus Digital Library.

18. Jean Hulot and Gustave Fougères on Selinunte

Jean Hulot and Gustave Fougères, Sélinonte: la ville, l'acropole et les temples. Librairie Générale del'Architecture et des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, 1910. At the University of Heidelberg Library.

19. Demeter and Poseidon

See:

George E. Mylonas, Mycenae and the Mycenaean Age. Princeton University Press, 1966.

Demeter Myths: 3 Loves and Areion at theoi.com.

20. The "Demeter relief" from Pergamon

See: Wilhelm Dörpfeld, Hugo Hepding, Die Arbeiten zu Pergamon 1908-1909. Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Athenische Abteilung Band 35, Seiten (pages) 509-511, Tafel (plate) XXIX, 2. Eleutherudakis und Barth, Athens, 1910.
 
 
Photos on the Demeter and Persephone pages were
taken during visits to the following museums:

Germany
Berlin, Altes Museum
Berlin, Bode Museum
Berlin, Pergamon Museum
Dresden, Skulpturensammlung, Albertinum
Hamburg, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe
Potsdam, Neues Palais, Sanssouci

Greece
Athens, Acropolis Museum
Athens, Agora Museum
Athens, Olympieion and Ilissos Shrines archaeological site
Athens, Epigraphical Museum
Athens, National Archaeological Museum
Corinth Archaeological Museum
Dion Archaeological Museum, Macedonia
Eleusis Archaeological Museum and site, Attica
Isthmia Archaeological Museum
Kavala Archaeological Museum, Macedonia
Pella Archaeological Museum, Macedonia
Pella, Thesmophorion archaeological site
Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum, Macedonia

Italy
Naples, National Archaeological Museum
Rome, Capitoline Museums, Palazzo dei Conservatori
Rome, National Etruscan Museum, Villa Giulia
Rome, National Museum of Rome, Baths of Diocletian
Rome, National Museum of Rome, Palazzo Altemps
Rome, National Museum of Rome, Palazzo Massimo
Rome, Villa Farnesina, Trastevere

Italy - Sicily
Castelvetrano, Museo Civico
Catania, Museo Civico, Castello Ursino
Gela Regional Archaeological Museum
Palermo, Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum
Selinunte Archaeological Park
Selinunte, Baglio Florio Museum (Antiquarium)
Syracuse, Paolo Orsi Regional Archaeological Museum

Turkey
Bergama Archaeological Museum
Istanbul Archaeological Museum
Izmir Archaeological Museum
Izmir Museum of History and Art

United Kingdom
London, British Museum
Oxford, Ashmolean Museum

Many thanks to the staff of these museums.

Terracotta comic figure from the sanctuary of Demeter at Knidos at My Favourite Planet

Terracotta comic figure made
at Knidos around 300 BC.

From the sanctuary of Demeter
at Knidos (Yazıköy, Turkey).

The figurine depicts either an
actor, or a buffoon of the type
believed to have played a role
in the Mysteries of Demeter.

British Museum.
Inv. No. GR 1859.12-26.830
(Terracotta C 473).
Photos and articles © David John

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