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My Favourite Planet > English > People > Demeter and Persephone

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Demeter and Persephone

Ancient Greek mythology, religion and 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 (σίτος: wheat) as the giver of corn, and Thesmophoros (θεσμοφόρος, Law Bringer; from θεσμός, thesmos, divine order, law) 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), 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 fom 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 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 Mycenean 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. Her virgin daugter Persephone was abducted by Plouton who took her 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 to return her to her mother 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 now are now grown through the summer months, such as maize, tomatoes 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 and Queen Metanera, in return for which the goddess taught their son Triptolemos the secrets of corn cultivation and sent him on a winged chariot with the mission of spreading the knowledge to the rest of humanity (see photos below). Such stories also feature other characters included in the Eleusinian Mysteries, such as Demophon and Eubouleus (see below).

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 Athenian festival of secret rituals traditionally connected with 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 [5], Megara Hyblaia in Magna Graecia, southern Italy, and particularly at Gela on the south coast of Sicily, an important cult centre.

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

Head of the Greek goddess Demeter at My Favourite Planet

Head of Demeter.

From the cult statue group by the sculptor
Damophon in the temple of Despoina
(Persephone) at Lykosoura, Arkadia.
190-180 BC.

The head is partly covered by her
himation (a rectangle of woollen cloth
worn as an outer garment).

National Archaeological Museum,
Athens. Inv. No. 1734.
 
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.
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.

See a statue of Persephone
also attributed to the school of
Agorakritos of Paros below.
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, the temple of Demeter and Persephone, was an enormous hypostyle hall in which initiation to the Mysteries took place. According to ancient texts, 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 final building burned down in 170 AD and was reconstructed by Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
 
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.

See a photo of a caryatid from the Lesser Propylaia on the Medusa page.
 
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 was obliged to sacrifice a small pig at the beginning of the celebration of the Greater Mysteries. In the early morning of the second day all participants, who were still in Athens after the celebration of the Lesser Mysteries, 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.
 
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 [7] 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 below and note 9). 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. [6]
 
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 in Eleusis at My Favourite Planet

The upper part of an inscribed marble stele with a decree
concerning the bridge over the lake of Rhetoi at Eleusis, 421 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 shaking hands with Athena.

Eleusis Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 5093.
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. [7]

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, preistess 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 [7] 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, 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.
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.

Pentelic marble. Late 4th century BC. Found 11 June 1947 at the west foot of the Areopagus.
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 (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. [9]
 
Fragment of a base with a relief showing worshippers carrying torches at My Favourite Planet

Fragment of a base with a relief showing worshippers carrying torches.

Outside the Eleusis Archaeological Museum.
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.

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 a decree
concerning the Eleusinian first fruits
for Demeter and Kore. Circa 422 BC.

Epigraphical Museum, Athens.
Inv. No. EM 10050. Inscription IG I(3) 78.
 

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 Attic Launderers.

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

Altes Museum, Berlin. Inv. No. Sk 709.
Acquired by 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 into three horizontal 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.

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, perhaps a local hero or patron of the launderers, is depicted at the same scale as the goddesses. He stands before an altar with a horse. 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.

Height 40.5 cm, width 44 cm, depth 10 cm.
 
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, where now free to marry.

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

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.
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." [10]

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 Persphone.

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. 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. [11]
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 (statuettes, incense busts, lamps, ceramic vessels) of types known from other sanctuaries of Demeter in Sicily. 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 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), 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, 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, a propylon leading to a small temple and an altar.


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.
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, variously
identified as: Demeter, Persephone and Hekate; the Fates; the Cariti; or Persephone
with two companions collecting flowers before her abduction by Plouton. The objects
held by the two figures on the right have been seen as ears of wheat, and it has
also been suggested that the scene is a ritual of the Eleusinian Mysteries.

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

Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum, Palermo, Sicily.

The six surviving small metopes and a dozen fragments of others had been reused in the Hellenistic fortifications of the city (known as Hermocrates’ wall) of the 4th - 3rd century BC. 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 in 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, Selene and Apollo, have also been suggested.

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

Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum, Palermo, Sicily.
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, 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 (megara, dwelling place) of Demeter, in which the bones of young pigs and goats were found.

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 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 were buried in the megara to decompose and mix with the fertilizing forces of nature. The remains were later removed from the pits by female religious officials known as bailers (anteltriai) and placed on the altar, where they were mixed with seeds and other fertility-related offerings before being scattered over the fields.
 
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.
 

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.
Plaster cast of the Demeter Cherchel statue, Pergamon Museum, Berlin at My Favourite Planet   Detail of the cast of the Demeter Cherchel statue at My Favourite Planet
Plaster cast of a "Demeter Cherchel" type statue. Height without base 233 cm.

Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (SMB).

The marble original in the Altes Museum, Berlin (Inv. No. Sk 83) is thought to be a Roman period copy, made around 150 AD, of a lost work of circa 450 BC. It is one of a number of similar, over-lifesized statues of the type named after the two examples discovered in Cherchel (now in the Archaeological Museum of Cherchell, Algeria).

The cast does not include the modern lower arms and attributes which were added to the statue in the Altes Museum during restorations in the 18th and 19th centuries. The original was recorded in 1549/1550 as standing in the garden of the Palazzo Soderini, Rome. It was purchased in Rome by Bianconi in 1766 for Frederick the Great (Friederiche der Grosse) who placed it outside the Neue Palais, Potsdam.
 
Colossal marble statue of Demeter, Capitoline Museums, Rome at My Favourite Planet   Detail of the statue of Demeter, Capitoline Museums, Rome at My Favourite Planet
Colossal marble statue of Demeter.

Pentelic marble. Roman period copy after a Greek original of the 5th century BC.
Found in 1876 in the area of the Auditorium, in the Horti Maecenatiani (Gardens
of Maecenas), Rome. The statue probably stood in a devotional site in the gardens.
Several ancient artefacts have been discovered at this location, including a number
associated with the worship of Dionysus (see the Dionysus page).

Palazzo dei Conservatori, Capitoline Museums, Rome. Inv. No. 905.
Marble bust of Demeter wearing a diadem and veil, Palazzo Altemps, Rome at My Favourite Planet

Marble bust of Demeter wearing a diadem and veil.

Coarse marble. A 2nd century AD, Roman copy after 5th and 4th century Greek prototypes.
It may be an idealized portrait of a member of the Roman imperial family. The diadem was
originally decorated with small pearls, now lost. The tip of the nose has been restored.

Palazzo Altemps, National Museum of Rome, Italy. Inv. No. 8596.
Ludovisi Collection, from the Cesi Collection.
Marble statue of enthroned Demeter from the sanctuary of Demeter, Knidos at My Favourite Planet   Detail of the statue of Demeter from Knidos at My Favourite Planet
Life-size marble statue of enthroned Demeter, known as "Demeter of Knidos". 350-330 BC.

Excavated in 1858 by the British archaeologist Sir Charles Thomas Newton (1816-1894),
in the sanctuary of Demeter at Knidos, Caria (near Bodrum, Turkey). [12] Height 152 cm.

The head was sculpted separately from the body. The lower arms and hands are missing.
She probably held a libation bowl or torch. The goddess is depicted as the epitome of
Greek womanhood, serene, mature, motherly and modestly veiled. It is thought that
a statue of her daughter Persephone may have stood next to her.

British Museum. Inv. No. GR 1859.11-26.26 (Sculpture 1300).
 

Marble statue of priestess of Demeter at My Favourite Planet

Marble statue, perhaps
a priestess of Demeter.

2nd century BC. From the sanctuary
of Demeter at Knidos, Caria.

A mature woman wearing a himation
over a chiton. The head was sculpted separately and inserted into the body.

British Museum.
Inv. No. GR 1859.11-26.25
(Sculpture 1301).
 
Terracotta head of an old woman, perhaps Demeter, fron Knidos at My Favourite Planet

Terracotta head of an old woman, perhaps
Demeter, made at Knidos around 300 BC.

From the sanctuary of Demeter at Knidos.

The object she carries on her head
may be the kiste, which held the
sacred objects ofthe Mysteries.

British Museum.
Inv. No. GR 1859.12-26.174.
Fragmentary bronze statue of Demeter, Izmir Archaeological Museum at My Favourite Planet

Part of a bronze statue thought to depict Demeter,
found in 1953 by sponge fishermen in the sea near
Bodrum (ancient Halicarnassus), Turkey. [13]

Hellenistic period, 4th century BC. Height 81 cm.

Izmir Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 3544.
Marble relief of Demeter at My Favourite Planet

Marble relief of Demeter. From Kozçeşme village (Biga/Çanakkale),
northwestern Anatolia, Turkey. Late Classical period, 4th century BC.

Istanbul Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 4942 T.
Ceramic bust of Demeter wearing a polos in Catania, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

Ceramic bust of Demeter wearing a polos. 5th century BC.

Museo Civico, Castello Ursino, Catania, Sicily.
Inv. No. 5685. From the Biscari Collection.
Terracotta votive bust of Demeter from Agrigento, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

Terracotta votive bust of Demeter or Persephone wearing a polos.

5th - 4th century BC. From Agrigento (ancient Akragas), Sicily.

Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum, Palermo, Sicily.

One of several similar busts (see photo below) of various sizes and other terracotta votive offerings from the cave sanctuary known as "Demeter's Holy Cave" or S. Biagio's cave sanctuary, at Agrigento. The sanctuary, discovered by chance in the late 19th century, consists of a monumental fountain-reservoir in front of a rock face into which three tunnels had been dug. Two of the tunnels carried water to the city's water supply network, known as "dei Feaci" (of the Phaeacians), dated to the 5th century BC. It is thought that the local water deity Persophone-Nestis, mentioned by the philosopher Empedocles who lived in Akragas, was worshipped here.

Among the many objects found, dated to the 6th - 4th centuries BC, were oil lamps, libation bowls, jugs and wine cups (skyphoi), "piglet offering figures" connected with propitiatory fertility rituals (see photo right) and ceramic sculptures, mostly of feminine figures.

The sanctuary was first investigated by Pirro Marconi in1926, by which time a great number of artefacts had already been looted, sold on the black market, and many smuggled out of Sicily. Some found their way to museums of Agrigento, Palermo and Siracusa. The objects in this group had been dug up by "grave robbers" and sold to antiquities smugglers, and were for some reason delivered in boxes to the Palermo museum on Christmas 1888.
 
A piglet offering figure from Demeter's Holy Cave, Agrigento, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

One of the "piglet offering
figures" from "Demeter's
Holy Cave" in Agrigento.
A terracotta figurine of
a female figure holding
a sacrificial piglet.

Antonino Salinas Regional
Archaeological Museum,
Palermo, Sicily.
Terracotta bust of Demeter from Agrigento at My Favourite Planet

One of the larger and finer terracotta votive busts of Demeter or
Persephone from "Demeter's Holy Cave", Agrigento (see above).

Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum, Palermo, Sicily.
Terracotta bust of Demeter or Persephone from Taranto at My Favourite Planet

Terracotta bust of Demeter or Persephone holding a torch and a pig.

Made in Taranto, Italy around 420-400 BC. From Rubi.

British Museum. Gr 1856.12-26.325 (Terracotta 1276).
Bequeathed by Sir William Temple.
Ceramic bust of the cult of Demeter and Kore, Syracuse, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

Painted ceramic bust of the type belonging to the cult
of Demeter and Kore. Early 4th century BC.

Found in the Well of Artemis, Piazza della Vittoria, Syracuse, Sicily.

Paolo Orsi Regional Archaeological Museum, Syracuse.
Terracotta head of a bust as a votive offering to Demeter and Kore at My Favourite Planet

Terracotta head of a bust as a votive offering to Demeter and Kore.

3rd century BC. From Syracuse, Sicily.

Paolo Orsi Regional Archaeological Museum, Syracuse.
Relief of Demeter from the sanctuary of Isis, Dion, Macedonia, Greece at My Favourite Planet

Marble relief of Isis-Demeter from the facade of the main temple
of the sanctuary of Isis, Dion, Macedonia, Greece. 2nd century BC.

Dion Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 410.
For further information about the relief and
the sanctuaries of Demeter and Isis at Dion,
Macedonia, see:

Dion: the garden of the gods
at The Cheshire Cat Blog.
 
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.
Statuette of Demeter sitting on the sacred kiste, Dion, Macedonia, Greece at My Favourite Planet

Marble statuette of Demeter sitting on the sacred kiste (cista mystica),
from the Sanctuary of Isis, Dion. Late 4th century BC.

Dion Archaeological Museum.
The so-called Ceres, a marble statue of an enthroned goddess at My Favourite Planet

The so-called Ceres, a marble statue of an
enthroned goddess. End of the 1st century AD.

National Archaeological Museum, Naples.
Inv. No. 6263. Farnese Collection.
Cinerary urn with a relief of Demeter, Persephone and Iacchos at My Favourite Planet

Detail of a marble cinerary urn with a relief depicting the
initiation of Herakles into the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Fine-grained white marble. Early Imperial period, inspired by a late
Hellenistic model from Alexandria. Found near the Porta Maggiore, Rome.

Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, National Museum of Rome. Inv. No. 11301.

The side of the finely sculpted urn is decorated all around with narrative scenes concerning the initiation of Herakles into the Eleusinian Mysteries. To the left of the main scene Demeter is shown seated and holding a long torch, with ears of corn in her hand and hair. The god Iakchos stands in front of her, touching the head (or feeding) a snake in her lap. Demeter turns her head to see Persephone (Kore) approaching from behind.

In the main scene the initiate sits with a lionskin covering his head and shoulders, while a priestess holds a wicker screen (liknon) above his head. To the right a priest holding a bowl and a jug accepts the offering of a piglet, placed on a low altar by a male figure (also Herakles?).

Unfortunately, the urn is displayed near a wall and it is difficult to view the side scenes which are unlit.
 
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. Ceres was the tutelary deity of the roman plebs and became an instrument
of political proganda during the Roman Imperial period as a symbol of the empire's prosperity.

Baths of Diocletian, National Museum of Rome. Inv. No. 5122.
A tetradrachm of Kyzikos with the head of Demeter at My Favourite Planet

A silver tetradrachm coin of Kyzikos (Κύζικος), Mysia (today Erdek,
Turkey), with the head of Demeter facing left, her hair held up by
a headscarf (sakkos), and wearing an earring in the form of an ear
of wheat. Above right is the inscription "ΣΩΤΕΙΡΑ" (Soteira, Saviour).
Circa 400 BC. Diameter 23 mm, weight 15.15 grams.

Numismatic Collection, Bode Museum, Berlin. Inv. No. 18200339.
A stater coin of Metapont with an ear of corn at My Favourite Planet

A silver stater coin of Metapontium, Magna Graecia, with an
ear of corn representing the cult of Demeter. Circa 375 BC.

The obverse shows the head of Demeter wearing a wreath,
an earring and necklace, and the signature "APIΣTOΞE" of
the die-cutter Aristoxenos, who also made dies for nearby
Herakleia. Diameter 22 mm, weight 7.88 grams.

Metapontium (Μεταπόντιον), on the gulf of Tarentum, Italy,
was an Achaean colony, founded around 700-690 BC.

Numismatic Collection, Bode Museum, Berlin. Inv. No. 18200338.
A tetradrachm coin of Syros with the head of Demeter at My Favourite Planet

A silver tetradrachm coin of the Cycladic island Syros (Σύρος), with
the head of Demeter facing right, wearing a wreath with ears of corn
and an earring. Circa 150 BC. Diameter 31 mm, weight 15.88 grams.

The reverse side shows a laurel wreath surrounding two Kabeiroi
(or Dioskouroi) standing facing, each nude except for a cloak,
holding a sceptre or spear, and surmounted by a star, and the
inscription "ΘEΩN KABEIΡΩN ΣΥΡIΩN" (divine Syrian Kabeiroi).

Numismatic Collection, Bode Museum, Berlin. Inv. No. 18200337.
Roman sestertius showing Demeter sitting on the cista mystica at My Favourite Planet

Roman bronze sestertius coin showing Ceres (Demeter) sitting on the
sacred kiste (cista mystica), holding a torch in her left hand and three grain
stalks in the right. Circa 128-135 BC. Diameter 34 mm, weight 25.16 grams.

One of many coin types issued by Empress Vibia Sabina (83 - 136/137 AD),
wife of Emperor Hadrian. In 128 AD she was awarded the title of Augusta
which allowed her to issue her own coinage.

Numismatic Collection, Bode Museum, Berlin. Inv. No. 18200340.

See more about the Bode Museum Numismatic Collection
in Big Money at the Cheshire Cat blog.
Corinthian terracotta figurines of two females in a cart at My Favourite Planet

Corinthian terracotta figurines of two females,
perhaps Demeter and Persephone, sitting in a cart.

Around 600 BC. Said to be from Thebes.

British Museum. Inv. No. GR 1895.10-29.5 (Terracotta 897).
Terracotta figurines dedicated to Demeter and Persephone from Gela, Sicily at My Favourite Planet

Terracotta figurines dedicated to Demeter and Persephone and clay lamps.

Made in Sicily around 500-450 BC. From Gela, Sicily.

The worship of Demeter and Persephone (Kore) was particularly popular in Sicily.
At Gela, on the south coast, there were several major sanctuaries dedicated to
the goddesses at which a large number of terracotta votive offerings and lamps
have been found. The lamps suggest that rituals took place in semi-darkness.

British Museum.
Terracottas: GR 1863,0728.273, 274, 266, 268 and 269.
Lamps: GR 1863,2728.117 and 121.
Part of the display of votive objects from the sanctuary of Demeter and Kore, Ariccia at My Favourite Planet

Part of the display of statues and votive objects found at the
sanctuary of Demeter and Kore (Persephone) at Casaletto, in the
territory of Ariccia, Lazio, Italy, in the Baths of Diocletian, Rome.

End of the 4th - first half of the 3rd century BC. The sanctuary
was discovered by chance in 1927 by farm workers.

Epigraphic Museum, Baths of Diocletian, National Museum of Rome.

Cicero described the municipium of Ariccia as "very old" and "federated", that is semi-independent and allied to Rome. The large number of terracotta votive objects discovered at the sanctuary, including many depictions of deities and worshippers, indicate the strong influence of the art and culture of Magna Graecia and Sicily.

The centre of the museum display is a triangular dais on which stand three ceramic statues of enthroned goddesses: the godddess on the left has not been identified, in the centre is Demeter, and on the right Kore holding a piglet. Behind this triad are a headless female statuette, a bust of Kore and a bust of Demeter (not in photo, see photos below). To the right of the dais, a glass case displays votive ceramic heads from the sanctuary.

At the time the following photos were taken the room was being renovated and some of objects were not on display. The bust of Demeter below, for example, is not the one described in the labelling and illustrated in the museum guide book. [14]
 
Ceramic statue of Demeter from Ariccia at My Favourite Planet   Detail of the statue of Demeter from Ariccia at My Favourite Planet
Ceramic statue of Demeter sitting on a richly decorated throne.
She wears a long chiton (tunic), a cloak, a diadem with ears
of corn and jewellery, and holds ears of corn in her right hand.

From the sanctuary of Demeter and Kore, Ariccia, Lazio, Italy.
Rosy-beige clay. End of the 4th - first half of the 3rd century BC.

Baths of Diocletian, National Museum of Rome.
Ceramic bust of Demeter of Demeter from Ariccia at My Favourite Planet

Partly restored ceramic bust of Demeter wearing a headband decorated
with ears of corn, a chiton, a cloak and rosette earrings with triangular
pendants. Her thick wavy hair is tied back and falls over her shoulders
(some of the hair and the back of the head are missing).

From the sanctuary of Demeter and Kore, Ariccia, Lazio, Italy.
Beige clay. End of the 4th - first half of the 3rd century BC.

Baths of Diocletian, National Museum of Rome.
Ceramic statue of Kore enthroned and holding a votive piglet at My Favourite Planet   Detail of the statue of Kore with a piglet at My Favourite Planet
Ceramic statue of Kore, enthroned and holding a votive piglet in her left hand.
She wears a chiton, a cloak and jewellery similar in style to that of Magna Graecia.

From the sanctuary of Demeter and Kore, Ariccia, Lazio, Italy.
Reddish clay. End of the 4th - first half of the 3rd century BC.

Baths of Diocletian, National Museum of Rome.
Ceramic bust of Kore of Demeter from Ariccia at My Favourite Planet

Ceramic bust of Kore wearing a headdress decorated by
two upright ears of corn and radiating forms which appear
to be snakes, and a high-belted chiton. Her plaits, which fall
over her shoulders, are also decorated with ears of corn.

From the sanctuary of Demeter and Kore, Ariccia, Lazio, Italy.
Beige terracotta. End of the 4th - first half of the 3rd century BC.

Baths of Diocletian, National Museum of Rome.
Limestone relief of two female figures, possibly Demeter and Persephone at My Favourite Planet

Limestone relief of two female figures, possibly Demeter and Persephone.

A metope from a Doric tomb. Made in Taranto, southern Italy around 300 BC.

British Museum. Inv. No. Gr 1873.8-20.746 (Sculpture 793).
Terracotta group of two seated female figures at My Favourite Planet

Terracotta group of two seated female figures,
possibly Demeter and Persephone.

Made in Myrina, northwest Anatolia (Asia Minor),
around 100 BC. Said to be from Asia Minor.

British Museum. Inv. No. Gr 1885.3-16.1 (Terracotta C 529).
 

Small bronze figure holding a torch and a pomegranate at My Favourite Planet

Small bronze figure holding
a torch and a pomegranate,
probably Persephone.

Greek, around 560 BC.
Probably from Athens.

British Museum.
Inv. No. GR 1900.7-27.2.
   
 

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.
 
Marble statuette of Persephone wearing a high polos and holding a pomegranate flower at My Favourite Planet

Marble statuette of Persephone
wearing a high polos and holding
a pomegranate flower.

Around 350-300 BC. Excavated in 1858
by Sir Charles Thomas Newton, in the
sanctuary of Demeter, Knidos, Caria.

The pomegranate played an important
role in the cult of Persephone, since she
had eaten its seeds in the Underworld.

British Museum.
GR 1859.12-26.43 (Sculpture 1302).
The Ploutonion in the Sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone, Eleusis, Greece at My Favourite Planet

The "Ploutonion" (also known as "the sacred precinct of the Mirthless Rock")
in the Sanctuary at Eleusis, at the foot of the northeast slope of the acropolis
hill. In front of the cave, which perhaps represented the gates of Hades, the
small 4th century BC Temple of Plouton replaced the 6th century BC Peisistratid
temple which may have been destroyed during the Persian invasion of 480-479 BC.

Although Plouton was a central figure in the myth of Demeter and Persephone,
his role in the Mysteries themselves is considered to have been relatively minor.
A votive relief depicting Persephone and Pluto with suppliants at My Favourite Planet

Marble votive relief depicting Hades (Pluto), Persephone and suppliants.

From Eleusis, Greece. 4th century BC.

Hades reclines on a kline (couch), resting on his left elbow.
In his right hand he holds a drinking horn, and in his left a
phiale (libation bowl). Persephone sits next to him on the couch.

Eleusis Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 5122.
Votive relief depicting Hades and Persephone, Eleusis, Greece at My Favourite Planet

Marble votive relief depicting Hades (Pluto), Persephone,
a suppliant with a theatre mask, and a wine pourer.

From Eleusis, Greece. Early 4th century BC.

Eleusis Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 5172.
Votive relief, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford at My Favourite Planet

Persephone and Plouton?

Marble votive relief described by the museum labelling as
"A banqueting hero reclining on a couch and raising a drinking
horn is approached by a family of worshippers. 400-201 BC."

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Inv. No. ANMichaelis. 145.
Plouton (Hades) chasing Persephone at My Favourite Planet

Detail of an Attic red-figure column krater with a god chasing a female,
possibly Plouton (Hades) and Persephone, or Zeus and a maiden.
The other side of the krater shows a female figure with a torch.

Attributed to the Borea Painter. 470-460 BC. One of five Attic kraters
found in 1841 in the necropolis of Akragas (Agrigento), Sicily (see below).

Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum, Palermo.
Terracotta plaque showing Persephone seated at My Favourite Planet

Fragment of a terracotta plaque showing Persephone
seated (beside Hades, now missing).

Made in Medma, southern Italy, around 470 BC.

British Museum. GR 1889.5-21.5 (Terracotta 1220).
Attic red-figure amphora showing Triptolemos and Demeter at My Favourite Planet

Detail of a small Attic black-figure amphora showing
the "apostole", the mission of Triptolemos.

By a painter of the Leagros Group. Excavated from
Tomb L, Osteria necropolis, Rome. 530-510 BC.

Demeter bids farewell to a bearded Triptolemos, seated in his
chariot with a sceptre and sheaf of corn, who is about to set
off on his mission to teach humans the art of cultivation.

National Etruscan Museum, Villa Giulia, Rome.
Attic red-figure amphora showing Persephone, Triptolemos and Demeter at My Favourite Planet

Detail of an Attic red-figure amphora showing Persephone (Kore), Triptolemos and Demeter.

By a painter of the Polygnotan Group. Third quarter of the 5th century BC. Provenance unknown.

A youthful Triptolemos, seated in his winged chariot with a sceptre and phiale (libation bowl),
about to set off on his mission to teach humans the cultivation of corn. Persephone, left, holds
a torch and an oinochoe (wine jar) for the departure libation. Demeter, right, holds a sceptre.

National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Inv. No. 1166.
Attic red-figure krater showing Persephone, Triptolemos and Demeter, Palermo Archaeological Museum at My Favourite Planet

Detail of an Attic red-figure bell krater showing Persephone (Kore), Triptolemos and Demeter,
with King Keleus of Eleusis (Triptolemos' father) and Hippothoon standing at the sides.

Attributed to the Orithyia Painter. 470-460 BC.

Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum, Palermo, Sicily.

The largest of five kraters, which had been used as cinerary urns, discovered in a field, the site of a burial complex at Agrigento (ancient Akragas), Sicily in 1841 by Domenico Cardillo (the owner of the field), Gerlando Alletto and Giovanni Gentile. The kraters were given as a gift to King Ferdinand II of Bourbon who donated them to the Museum of the Royal University of Palermo.

The other side of the krater shows Zeus arbitrating in a dispute between Achilles and Memnon.
 
Triptolemos standing by his chariot on an Attic lekythos at My Favourite Planet

Detail of an Attic red-figure lekythos (oil jar) showing
Triptolemos standing by his winged chariot.

Attributed to the Eucharides Painter.
500-450 BC. Found in Gela, Sicily.

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Inv. No. AN1891.683.
Votive relief depicting Triptolemos being sent on his mission at My Favourite Planet

Votive relief depicting Triptolemos being sent on his mission.

From Eleusis. Early 4th century BC. Found in two pieces
by Demetrios Philios in 1885. Height 75 cm, width 123 cm.

Triptolemos sits on a throne, at the side of which is a coiled, winged serpent,
"a car with drakones (dragon-serpents) yoked" (Orphic Hymn 40 to Demeter).
Persephone (Kore) stands behind him with two torches, and Demeter stands
in front of him. To the right stand four adult worshippers and two children.

Eleusis Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 5061.
Fragment of a votive relief depicting Triptolemos and Demeter at My Favourite Planet

Fragment of a votive relief depicting Triptolemos and Demeter.

From Eleusis. Early 4th century BC.

As in the relief above, Triptolemos is seated with his left arm raised.
In front of him is a wheel with a serpent coiled coiled around the hub.
Demeter stands behind him and with her left hand pulls the edge
of her peplos over her left shoulder.

Eleusis Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 5060.
Fragment of a votive relief depicting Demeter and Triptolemos at My Favourite Planet

Fragment of a votive relief with traces of paint, depicting
two figures (Triptolemos and Demeter) facing right,
and a torch held by a third figure (Persephone).

Late 5th - early 4th century BC.

Eleusis Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 5059.
Votive relief depicting Persephone holding torches at My Favourite Planet

Fragment of a stele with a votive relief depicting
a female figure (Persephone) holding torches.

Late 5th century BC.

Another fragment shows the left arm of a figure holding
a sceptre (Triptolemos). The inscription on the top of the
stele names the dedicator as Plathis son of Dionysios.

Eleusis Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 5233.
Votive relief depicting Triptolemos being sent on his mission at My Favourite Planet

Fragmentary votive relief, by far the largest relief from Eleusis, depicting
Triptolemos being sent on his mission. Dedicated by the priest Lakrateides
and his family (who are represented on the relief) to the Eleusinian deities.

From Eleusis. 100-90 BC. Most of the more than 60 fragments were found
in the "Ploutonion". Height 180 cm, original width circa 3 metres.

Eleusis Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 5079. Inscription IG II(2) 4701.

Unfortunately, the relief is exhibited in a very confined space, behind a large display
panel, so that it is impossible to stand directly in front of it and view the entire work.
Detail of the Lakrateides relief in Eleusis at My Favourite Planet

Detail of the Lakrateides relief in Eleusis. According to the inscriptions next to the heads
of the two standing figures, they are "Plouton" and "Thea" (Persephone) standing with
sceptres. Both deities appear twice on the relief. In his other appearance, seated to the
right of this depiction of Persephone, Pluto is labelled as "Theos". The pair are thus
described as the god and goddess of the Underworld.
 

Marble head of the so-called Triptolemos at My Favourite Planet

The so-called "Triptolemos" marble head of
a young man, identified as Triptolemos; the
only known head of this type. The features
resemble those of portraits of Antinous,
Emperor Hadrian's deified favourite.

Roman period, 120-140 AD, perhaps a
copy of a Greek Classical type. Allegedly
found near Herculaneum (Italy) in 1750.

Altes Museum, Berlin. Inv. No. Sk 479.
 
Bust of Alexander or Eubouleus, Agora Museum, Athens at My Favourite Planet

Bust of Alexander the Great or Eubouleus
(Εὐβουλεύς, Good Counseller), a god
connected with the Eleusian Mysteries.

Unfinished 2nd century AD copy of a work of
the 4th century BC. Discovered in 1959 by
Dorothy Burr Thompson in the Athens Agora.

The identity of Euboleus is not known, and
was a matter of conjecture even by the time
of Pausanias, who mentioned an Argive
legend and an Orphic poem which named
him as the brother of Triptolemos. [9]
Other ancient sources refer to him variously
as the son of Demeter or Zeus, or as Pluto.
George E. Mylonas suggested he may have
been "the Chthonian (or underworld) Zeus,
an aspect of the Father of Gods and Men
that is somewhat rare". [15]

Agora Museum, Athens. Inv. No. S 2089.
A bearded man and Triptolemos in the presence of Demeter and Persephone at My Favourite Planet

Detail of an Attic red-figure bell krater showing a bearded man
and Triptolemos (?) in the presence of Demeter and Persephone.

Attributed to the Odeon Painter, 425-400 BC.
From a grave at Selinous (Selinunte), Sicily.

Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum, Palermo, Sicily.
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. [16]  
Roman relief depicting the abduction of Proserpina (Persephone) at My Favourite Planet

A Roman marble relief depicting the abduction of Proserpina (Persephone)
by Pluto (Plouton) on a cinerary altar with a tabula without an inscription.

2nd century AD.

Baths of Diocletian, National Museum of Rome.
Inv. No. 65197. Formerly in the Kircherian Museum.
Fresco panel of the abduction of Persephone by Hades, Villa Farnesina, Rome at My Favourite Planet

Fresco panel of the abduction of Persephone by Hades on the ceiling of the Room of
the Marriage of Alexander the Great and Roxane, Villa Farnesina, Trastevere, Rome.

The villa and this ceiling were designed by the Sienese architect and painter Baldassare Peruzzi (1481-1536) and built 1506-1511 for the Sienese merchant, banker and mine owner Agostino Chigi (1466-1520). The small ceiling panels depicting mythological scenes were painted by artists from Peruzzi's workshop. The walls of the room, which was Chigi's bedroom, were decorated with frescoes depicting episodes from the life of Alexander the Great, including The Wedding of Alexander and Roxana by Sodoma.  
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 Hephasteion 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. [17] They were probably set up in the sanctuary of Demeter and Kore, also known as the City Eleusinion, to the southeast of the Agora.
 
 
Demeter 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.

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 Tufts.

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 Tufts.

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 Tufts.

5. Sanctuaries of Demeter in Macedonia

Remains of buildings where the thesmophoria rites were practiced have been found at several locations in northern Greece, including Pella and Amphipolis.

6. 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.

7. 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.

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. 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.

Pasuanias 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 Tufts.

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 and Earth; 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 Tufts.

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 Tufts.

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.

10. Pausanias on Demeter Malophorus

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

11. 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.

12. The discovery of the Demeter of Knidos statue

See: Sir Charles Thomas Newton and Richard Popplewell Pullan, A History of Discoveries at Halicarnassus, Cnidus and Branchidae. Day and Son, London, 1863.

13. The discovery of a bronze sculpture near Bodrum

On 9 August 1953 the statue got caught in the net of a sponge fisherman from Bodrum (variously named as Achmet Erbil or Ahmet Erbin), at a depth of 75 metres, off the coast of Arap Adasi, near the Knidian peninsula, south of Bodrum. He left it on the beach of the village of Bitez, just to the west of Bodrum.

It was brought to the attention of Geore Ewart Bean (1903-1977), a British professor of Classics at Istanbul University, who happened to be in Bodrum at the time on one of his many tours of archaeological sites in Turkey. Having examined the sculpture, he arranged to have it transported to the museum in Izmir. His account of the find appeared in The Illustrated London News on 7 November 1953, and his sister Margaret Bean gave a talk about it on BBC radio in 1954.

"Last August some Turkish sponge-fishers brought up in their nets the head of a Greek bronze statue, probably a statue of Demeter of the fourth century BC. It is agreed by all to be among the most important artistic finds of recent years. Miss Bean and her brother, an archaeologist, were the first people, besides the villagers of Bitez, to see the fishermen's catch."

Head of a goddess, a radio talk by Margaret Bean, BBC Home Service, 25 February 1954.

See:

George E. Bean, "A masterpiece from the sea", The Illustrated London News, 7 November 1953, pages 747-749.

Brunilde Sismonodo Ridgway, The Bronze Lady From the Sea. Expedition magazine, Volume 10, Issue 1, pages 2-9. Penn Museum, September 1967.

Jeremy Green, Report on the Demeter Side Scan Sonar Search and the Aslan Burnu Site Survey, Turkey, 2004. Report Number 188, Department of Maritime Archaeology, Western Australian Maritime Museum, 2004.

"Underwater archaeology spreads in Turkey", Hurriyet Daily News, 4 April 1999.

14. Demeter busts in the Baths of Diocletian

See: Baths of Diocletian, guide, pages 18-19. Ministero dei Beni e della Attività Culturali e del Turismo. Mondarori Electa S.p.A., Milano, 2016 (first edition 2011).

The bust illustrated on page 19, and described by the museum labelling as showing Demeter wearing a torque ending in snakes' heads around her neck was not on display during my recent visit (April 2017). The bust in the photo above appears to have been exhibited in its place.

15. Mylonas on Eubouleus

George E. Mylonas, Eleusis and the Eleusinian Mysteries (see note 7 above), page 199.

16. 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.

17. 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.
 
 
Photos on this page were taken during
visits to the following museums:

Germany
Berlin, Altes Museum
Berlin, Bode Museum
Berlin, Pergamon Museum

Greece
Athens, Acropolis Museum
Athens, Agora Museum
Athens, Epigraphical Museum
Athens, National Archaeological Museum
Dion Archaeological Museum, Macedonia
Eleusis Archaeological Museum and site, Attica
Pella Archaeological Museum
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
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

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 (near Bodrum, 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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