Johann Joachim Eschenburg.

Manual of classical literature : from the German of J.J. Eschenburg, with additions online

. (page 36 of 153)
Online LibraryJohann Joachim EschenburgManual of classical literature : from the German of J.J. Eschenburg, with additions → online text (page 36 of 153)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

to propose his questions mostly in writing, and allow himself to be qualified
for receiving the answer by many mystic rites. The answer was commonly
so enigmatical and ambiguous (}.o^6i, hence Ao|t'aj), that it would apply to any
result that might happen; and whenever it was clear and definite, the priests
had informed themselves of all the preliminary circumstances and the proba-
bilities respecting the issue. — The Delphic oracle was suspended at various
times, and became finally silent soon after the death of the emperor Julian.

Originally, there was one Pylhia {or -pofnns) only at Delphi; but after the oracle
became more frequented, the number was increased to three, chosen from among the
uneducated inhabitants of Delphi, and bound to the strictest temperance and chastity.
They ofHciated by turns, and sometimes lost their lives in the paroxysms of the in-
spiration. Those, who pretended to form into sentences their incoherent exclamations,
three in number, were called Trpocprirai ; who always took care to ascertain previously
much about the history and characters of those consulting the oracle. The prophets
were aided in the sacriices and ceremonies, which preceded the placing of the Pythia
on the tripod, by five priests called omoi, wno were under a chief called oo-iwnjp. — The
irepiriynTcu. were guides to those who visited the temple, employed particularly in point-
ing out to themits curiosities. A great number of persons were required for the va-
rious services of the temple and oracle. — See the Plate facing page v.)

On this oracle of Apollo, see Bardicm, Oracle de Delphes, in the Mem. Acad. Inscr. vol. iii. p. 137.— C. F. Wditer, De Religione
et Oraculo Apollinis Delphici. Hafn. Mil —K. D. HiUlmanru, WUrdisung des Delphischen Orakels. Bonn, IS37.— fF. Go'Jc,
Das Delpbische Orakel, in seinem politischen, religiosen, und sittlicheu Einfluss. Leipz. 1839.— /J. H. Klausen, in Ersch iind
Gruler, Encyclopadie, under Orahel.

§ 74. There were in Greece various other oracles less celebrated. The more
important of them were the following: the oracle of Apollo at Didyma, which
was called also the oracle of the Branchidee ; those of Delos, Abae, Claros,
Larissa, Tegyrae and other minor cities ; where answers were also given from
Apollo ; the oracle of Trophonius at Lebadea in Boeotia, in a subterranean
cave, said to have been the residence of Trophonius, into which inquirers des-
cended, after performing solemn ceremonies, in order to receive a revelation of
the future by dreams or oracles ; and the oracle of Amphiaraus in the vicinity
of Oropus in Attica, where the answers were imparted to the initiated by
dreams. — The number of the ancient oracles amounted to two hundred and

1. The oracle of rropAonius is described chiefly by Pausanias (ix. 37% who says he entered
the cave. The oracle was upon a mountain, where was a grove, temple, and statue of Tropho-
nius. Within an inclosure made of white stones, upon which were erected obelisks of brass,
was an artificial opening like an oven; here by a ladder the person consulting the oracle
descended, carrying in his hands a certain composition of honey. On returning, the person was
required to write down what had been seen or heard.— In Plate XIX. is a representation of this
oracle — As there was a story that a visitor to the cave never smiled after his return, it became
common to describe a gloomy person by saying he hftd been to the cave of Trophonius ; see an
amusing application of this, in Jiddison's Spectator, No. 559.

The cave is still pointed out to travelers ; also the two fountains Mittmotyne and Lethe.— Set Clarke, Travels, kc.—PouquemVe,
Voyage, &c. vol. iv. p. 171.

2. There were numerous oracles of Asclepius or .Esculapius ; of which the most celebrated
was at Epidaurus. Here the sick sought responses and the recovery of their health by sleeping
(ivcubatio) in the temple. It was imagined by F. A. Wolf, that what is now called animal mair-
fietism or Mesmerism was known to the priests uf those temples where the sick spent one or more
nights for the purpose of recovering their health.

Cf. F. A. Wulf, Beytrag zur Gesch. des Somnambulismus aus dem Allerthum ; in his Vermischtt Schrifien.

§ 75. The pretended revelation of the future mediately (cf. § 70), or by means
of some system or art of divination {fiavtixri), was effected in various ways.
The most important was by theomancy (^jo^iavr'jta), an art possessed by a
class of persons who were called ^ao^av-ffts, and claimed to be under divine
inspiration. This class comprised three varieties; some were considered as




interpreters of the demons by whom they were possessed, and called 6al^lovo'
Kr;Hrot, or Ttv'^u/vii; Others were called tv'^wjiantaC or tv'^faonxoC, aud enjoyed
only the intimations of some particular divinity ; and others still were termed
fxcjrarcxot, and boasted of high discoveries obtained durinj/ a wholly superna-
tural state of rnind, which they sought to render credible by the pretext of a
long trance, insensibility, or sleep.

Besides what was termed in general fhcrnnnnry, there were several methods of
divination, of which the following were the principal. — 1. By dream k, 6i/ufm:oXia. 'J he
(JreekH ascribed very much to dreams as supernatural, and viewed them either a^
revelations and warnings from the gods or from demons, or as pictures and images of
future events. 'J'he expounders oi dreams were called 6vtif/jK(iiT<n, wupuaKOTtot, or ivn'
(mroXoi. Three varieties of the dream are named ; xc^jiaTiaitd^, when a god or spirit
converned with one in his sleep; ofxnia, when one saw a vinion of future occurrences;
dvcij/Ji, in which the future was set forth by types and figures ('iXXnyopiKfTti). 'i"wo other
varieties are also mentioned, iinmviov and <j)avTaa)ta, but are not considered as affording
much help in divination ; itpiaXTrn, iitcuhvK, night-mare, was supposed sometimes to
indicate the future. Dreams were supposed to be sent from the god of sleep (F. II.
^ 113); and from Jufiiter {Jlom. U. i. 63). A goddess called Brizo {fiplsuv, to ghcp)
was thought to preBide over the interpretation of dreams, and was worshiped particu-
larly in Delos. Dreams which occurred in the morning were most regarded in

See Artnnidonu, »% cite^ P. V, § 2fiT.—Jlurigny, Soogez, fcc. in Ibe Mem. dt I'Acad. <k* Inter, vol. zzxviii. p. H.— Theory nf
Dreamt, ciXtAV. U.S 113.

2. By Kdcriftceit. This was called JJiernmnnr.^ {'ttpofiauTua) or JTieroxropy ('(rpovKovia).
It comprehended the observations of many particulars connected with the offering of
a victim, as portending good or ill. One of the principal things was the inspection of
the entrails, especially the liver (hraTorjK'mia), ami the heart. The fire of sacrifice was
also noticed (Trpo^af/Tti'a) ; likewise the smoke (KixTTfoyia»Tdti), the wine (dii/onai/Ttia), and
the water {v'^^Miiavrda, TrriyopavTrAa). 'i'here were, in short, various kinds or forms of this
divination according to the different victims or materials of the sacrifices and the dif
ferent rites ; e. g. there was uKfixiiAaunia, by the flower or rneal used ; ixB-Mnavrcia, by
the entrails of fishes ; omxo^ia, by eggs.

3. By hirdn, diwviiTiKh. Thofe, who observed and interpreted omens by birds, were
called 6pvto<jK6moi, dpviOoftdvrcif. Some birds were observed with respect to their /j>//«
(TafimTcpoyei) ; Others in respect to their ginsinp (oyjiKut). Unlucky birds, or those of ill
omen, were called i^''>Xaifioi, pernijcinus, ana KoyhmKol, hindering from designed under-
takings, and by similar epithets; among this class were the hawk, the buzzard, and,
except at Athens, the owl ; the dove and swan, on the other hand, were considered
as lucky birds; and the crowing of the cock was auspicious. When the observer of
the flignt of birds was watching for omens he looked towards the north, and appear-
ances in the east, which was on his right, were considered as favorable ; hence the
use of k'^t'ii, right, to signify fortunate. — Omens were also drawn from insects and
reptiles, and various animals. Toads, serpents, and boars were of ill omen. Bees
and ants were often thought to foretoken good.

4. By signs in the heavens (-Jio-rr/^ita) and other phyxical vhenomena. Comets,
eclipses, and earthquakes were all unluckv signs. Thunder ancl lightning were lucky
if observed on the right hand ; but unlucKy if on the left. To be struck with thun-
der (fipovTTiTOi) was unlucky ; in places thus struck, altars were erected and oblations
made to appease the gods, after which none dared to approach fhern.

.*>. By lots. I'he two principal modes were those termed cTixofiavTrJa and xXriponavreia ;
in the former little pieces of paper, having fatidical lines (tHjcoj) written upon them,
were drawn from an urn, and were supposed to indicate the prospects of the person
by or for whom they were drawn out ; in the other, various small articles, as beans
black and white, pebbles, dice, and the like, which were all called xXripoi, and were
considered as being of different significancy, were drawn from an urn or other vessel.

-Other modes were (i'x(i?!fjnat>rtia, by rods, and PtXoi/avrtia, by arrows, in which the
lot was decided by the manner in which they fell from an erect posture or from the
quiver. Another was by the use of the ttiVa^ dY^'pTiK6{, on which certain prophetic
verses were inscribed, and the fate was indicated by the verse on which the dice fell.

6. By magical arttt. These were said to have originated in Persia among the Mag:,
H(iyoi. The degree of attention given among the Greeks to these arts (ncpuf/ya) la
evinced by a striking fact recorded in the Bible (Acta, xix. 19), which seems to imply
that a great number of books were composed on the subject. A few only of the
various modes need be named ; vtKpOfAavrda, axtopaurcia, and Ti/vxonatnda, in which the
dead were supposed to appear or speak ; yanTpofjavrda, in which demons were ima-
gined to speak from the bellies of men, or omens were drawn from the appearancei?
of water in the middle part (yurrpn) of certain glass vessels surrounded with lighted
torches : Knuouavrda, in which the performers observed the forms assumed by drop*


of melted wax ; there were numerous other modes. — The aXsKTpvoptavTcia was a sort of
divination by lot, yet classed among the magical arts; the letters of the alphabet were
written in a circle ; a grain of wheat or barley was laid upon each letter ; a cock was
placed in the center ; and the desired information was obtained by putting together
the letters from which the cock picked the grains. — It is proper to mention here some
of the magical arts, by which mysterious eflects were supposed to be wrought ; as,
6. g., 'liapnaKcia, in which medicated herbs, minerals, and the hke {ipapjxaKa) were used ;
and PaaKavia, which was a sort of fascination or malign influence wliich certciin per-
sons were supposed to exert.

See Bonamy and Lt Blmtd, &c. as cited § 227. — On diTination by the aip, cf. Class. Jaum. x. 232.

7. Finally, divination was also made from various things included under the general
name of omens {(rvnlioXa). One class of these consisted of such as were drawn from
the person himself, as ttoXhoI, palpitations of some part of the system ; jioiilio^, a ringing
of the ears ; Trrapjxol, sneezings, &c. Another class consisted of those drawn from
objects external to the person; as the meeting of certain objects or animals on the
road {cvd^ia (rii/j|t?oXa), or certain occurrences at home (rd diKoaKOTTiKdv). Certain words
were also ominous; such were called orrai, KXri^oveg, (p^iiai. The Greeks, especially the
Athenians, sought to avoid words of ill omen, carefully substituting others, as, e. g.
'E"/i£i'Wff instead of 'Epivi^vcg, and (pi'Xarhi instead of kXsktt];.

On the ancient art of divination, see Cicero, De Divinatione. — Cf. IVachsmuth, Historical Antiquities, as cited § 13. — Potter,
Archsol. Grac. bk. ii. ch. 12-18.

§ 76. The festivals formed an important part of the religious worship of the
Greeks. Their establishment and support was partly for the sake of honoring
and supplicating the gods, and commemorating persons of merit, and partly
for the sake of rest, recreation, union, and harmony of social feeling. Their
number greatly increased with the multiplication of the gods and the progress
of luxury and wealth; the variety and splendor of the accompanying ceremo-
nies increased in the same proportion. Especially was this the case at Athens.
They were mostly held at the public expense, the means being drawn from
various sources.

See M. G. Hermarm, Die Feste von Hellas historisch-philosophisch bearbeitet und zum erstenma! nach ihrem Sinn und Zweck
erlautert. Berlin, 1^03. 2 Th. 8.

§ 11 1. Some of the most important festivals have been mentioned (P. TI.)
in the history of particular gods, under the head of Mythology. A slight
notice of them here must suffice. The principal out of an almost countless
multitude, will be named in alphabetical order, and then some particulars added
respecting a few of these.

\ u. 'A ypto'j 1^1 a, a nocturnal festival instituted in honor of Bacchus. 'A.6u,via,

dedicated to Venus and the memory of Adonis. 'AX w a, to Bacchus and Ceres. ■

'AvBeariipia, observed at Athens three days, also in honor of Bacchus. 'ATi-a-

Tovpia, at Athens, in commemoration of a victory obtained by Melanthus, through
stratagem, over the Boeotian king Xanthus, likewise in honor of Bacchus, and other

gods. 'A4>poSicria, a festival of Aphrodite or Venus, particularly on the island of

Cyprus. -Bpavpuv la, sacred to Diana, in Attica, celebrated every fifth year. —

Aaipvrt(p6pia, to Apollo in Bceotia, only every ninth year. A>7X la, also to Apollo,

on the island of Delos, every fifth year. A r] ixfirpia, sacred to Demeter or Ceres.

A ( i'TTo Xft a, an Athenian festival, instituted in honor of Jupiter, as tutelary god of the
city {Uo\i£Vi). -A 10 vvo- 1 a, to Dionysus or Bacchus ; a greater and more solemn festi-
val in the chies ; and a lesser one in the country ; the same that was called by the Ro-
mans Bacchanalia. There were innumerable forms of this festival. 'E kuto pi/3 aia,

dedicated by the Argives to Juno, to whom they sacrificed a hecatomb on the first day

of this festival. 'EXevaivi a, the most celebrated festival of Ceres, a greater and

smaller, connected with the well known mysteries. ^"E pp.aia,vi festival of Mercury,

in Elis, Arcadia, and Crete. 'E^eo-ta, a festival of Diana atEphesus. "Hpai'a, a

festival of Juno at Argos. 'Yl<pa iareia, sacred to Vulcan at Athens, accompanied

by races with torches. Qea iio(p6pia, the festival of legislation in honor of Ceres, at

Athens and other Greek cities. KapvEia, sacred to Jupiter and Apollo, almost

throughout all Greece, for nine days. KvKaia, an Arcadian festival in honor of

Jupiter, instituted by Lycaon. [But this term usually designates a festival of Pan

corresponding to the Roman Lupercal. Cf. P. II. % 80.] '0<TKO(p6p la, a festival

of the Athenians instituted by Theseus, and so called from the custom of carrying

branches about on the occasion. Uavadrjvaia, one of the most solemn festivals

at Athens, dedicated to Minerva. The lesser was celebrated annually ; the greater

every fifth year. Both were connected with various contests and games. IlsXw-

pia, a. Thessalian festival dedicated to Jupiter, having some resemblance to the Sa-
turnalia of the Romans. 'D^paTa^a general name applied to solemn sacrifices.


y ^








which were brought to the gods in the different seasons, with a view to secure good

For a more complete enunneration and description, cf. Potter, Archseol. Graeca, bk. ii. ch. 20. — Cf. Larcher, on certain Greek
festivals, in tie Mem. Acad. Inscr. vol. xlv. p. 412; and xlviii. p. 252.

2. "The festival called 'A (5 wi'i a was celebrated in most of the cities of Greece.
The solemnity continued two days. On the first, certain images or pictures of Adonis
and Venus were brought forth with all the pomp and ceremonies used at funerals; the
women tore their hair, beat their breasts, and counterfeited other actions usual in
lamenting the dead. This lamentation was called dcwviaafidi or dcuvta, and hence acojiiav
ayeiv signifies the same as "AcW(v xXaiEiv, to weep for Adonis; and the songs on this
occasion were denominated uAjfiVia. With the images were also carried shells filled
with earth, in which grew several sorts of herbs, particularly lettuces; in memory
that Adonis was laid out on a bed of lettuces. These were called Kr,Troi, gardens ; and
hence 'Aowviro; kv-oi were proverbially applied to things unfruitful and fading, because
those herbs were sown only so long before the festival as to be green at that" time, and
were presently cast out into the water. The flutes used on this day were called
yiyyptai from yiyypns, the Phoenician name of Adonis; the music, ytyyfao-^id; ; and the
songs were called yiyypavrd. The sacrifice was denominated Ka9icpa, because the days
of mourning were called by that name. The second day was spent in all possible
demonstrations of joy and merriment ; in memory, that by the favor of Proserpine,
Venus obtained that Adonis should return to life, and dwell with her one-half of every
year. This fable is applied to the sun which produced the vicissitudes of summer and

Cf. p. n. § 47.— Bonier, Cnlte d'Adonis, in the Mem. de VAcad. des Inscr. vel. iii. p. 98.

3. " The Aiovvcria were sometimes called by the general name of "Opyia, which,
though sometimes applied to the mysteries of other gods, more particularly belonged
to those of Bacchus. They were also sometimes denominated Baioc^.Ta. They were
observed at Athens with greater splendor, and with more ceremonious superstition,
than in any other part of Greece ; the years were numbered by them ; the chief
archon had a share in their management ; and the priests who officiated were honored
with the first seats at public shows. At first, however, they were celebrated whhout
splendor, being days set apart for public mirth, and observed only with the following
ceremonies : — a vessel of wine adorned with a vine branch, was brought forth ; next
followed a goat ; then was carried a basket of figs ; and after all, the phaUi. — At some
of them, the worshipers in their garments and actions imitated the poetical fictions
concerning Bacchus ; they put on fawns' skins, fine linen, and miters ; carried thyrsi,
drums, pipes, flutes, and rattles; crowned themselves with garlands of ivy, vine, fir,
and other trees sacred to Bacchus. Some imitated Silenus, Pan, and the Satyrs, and
exhibited themselves in comic dresses and antic motions ; some rode upon asses ; and
others drove goats to the slaughter. In this manner persons of both sexes ran about
the hills and deserts, dancing ridiculously, personating men deranged in their intel-
lects, and crying aloud, Eioi Y.apot, JLioi Ba/c,\f, oj ''laxxc, 'l6/3aKxe, or 'loj Bukxc

The great festival, Atovvcta nzyaKa, was sometimes called cio-rooa, or ra kut' Iuttv, be-
cause celebrated within the city of Athens, in the beginning of spring, in the month
'EXa'liripo\i6v. It was sometimes by way of eminence called Aioimia, because it was
the most celebrated of all festivals of Bacchus at Athens, and was probably the same

as Aiovvaia dp\a<.6repa.

The less, Aiovvcia puKpa, was sometimes called ra kut dypovj , because it was observed
in the country. It was a sort of preparation to the former and greater festival, and
was celebrated in autumn, in the month Uoaeikiiv or Ya^nKiow. Some are of opinion,
that it was the same as Awivaia \r]vaia., which received its name from Xj/vo? , a wine-

There appear to have been four Attic festivals in honor of Bacchus ; the Aiovvaia
KOT dypov;, the Afivaia, the 'Afdearvpia, and the Aioyv<7ia kut aarv. Other festivals in his
honor are also named.

In our Plate XXV. fig. e, we have a Bacchante trancing with a thyrsus in one hand and a wine
cup in the other ; in fig. /, another Bacchante with some musical instrument in each hand, per-
, haps the crotula. A male reveler is seen on the altar of Bacchus, given in the Sup. Plate 30.

Cf. Scmn, Hist. Litt. Grecque, vol. ii. p. 5, as cited P. V. § 7. 9.— Ou festivals of Bacchus, see also P. II. § 59 : P. IV. § 66. 2 —See
Spalding, in the AbhandL der Berl. Acad. 1811 ; and A. Bockh, Vom Uuterschiede der Attiscben Lenaen, Anthesterieu, &c. in the
Abhandl. der Berl. Ac. 1819.

4. " The 'EXevo-r i/( a was a solemnity observed by the Celeans and Phhasians
every fourth year; by the PheneataB, the Lacedasmonians. Parrhasians, and Cretans,
but more especially by the Athenians, every fifth year, at Eltusis, a borough town of
Attica. It was the most celebrated solemnity in Greece, and was, therefore, by way of
eminence, called Ta fi^arfipia, the mysteries, and teXetj?. It is said by some to have been
insthuted by Ceres herself, when she had supplied the Athenians with corn in a time
of famine. Some say that it was instituted by king Erectheus ; and others, bv

22 P


It was divided into the fiiKph and ns:Ya'>^<^ nmTfipia, lesser and greater mysteries ; and
then the latter were in honor of Ceres, the former in that of her daughter Proserpine.
Mix-pa nvarfipia, the lesser mysteries, were observed in the month ' AvOearripi'jiv at Agrae,
a place near the river Ihssus ; and the pLsydXa fnarnpia, greater mysteries, were cele-
brated in the month Boricponwiv, at Eleusis, a borough-town of Attica, from which Ceres
was called Eleusinia. In later ages the lesser festival was used as a preparation to
the greater, in which they could not be initiated till they had been purified at the

About a year after purification at the lesser, they sacrificed a sow to Ceres, and
were admitted to the greater mysteries, the secret rites of which (with the exception
of a few known only to the priests) were op'enly revealed to them, and hence they
were called ^opoi and bTonrai, inspectors. Persons of both sexes and of all ages were
initiated at this solemnity. To neglect the initiation into these mysteries was consi-
dered a crime of a very heinous nature, and formed a part of the accusation for which
Socrates was condemned to death.— All the Greeks might claim initiation into the
mysteries ; but the people of every other nation were excluded by an ancient law ;
and persons convicted of sorcery or of any atrocious crime, and especially if they
had committed homicide, even though involuntarily, were debarred from these

The manner of initiation was as follows. The candidates, being crowned with
myrtle, were admitted by night into a place called n^crrtKo; crjKdg, the mystical temple,
or nv(7To56icog 6ondg, which was an edifice very capacious (P. II. § 63). At their entrance
they washed their hands in holy water, and at the same time were admonished to
present themselves with minds pure and undefiled, without which the external clean-
ness of the body would not be accepted. After this, the holy mysteries were read to
them out of a book called ^irpw^ua, from Trerpa, a stone, because the book was only two
stones cemented together. Then the priest who initiated them, and who was called
hpo^afTri;, proposed to them certain questions, to which they returned answers. Soon
after, they beheld strange and frightful objects: sometimes the place, in which they
were, appeared bright and resplendent with light and radiant fire, and instantly was
covered whh pitchy darkness ; sometimes a hollow sound was heard, and the earth
seemed to groan beneath their feet. The being present at these sights was called
avro-lia, intuition. I'hey were then dismissed in these words, K6)'J, ''Opnra^. The gar-
ments in which they were initiated were deemed sacred, and efficacious in averting
evils and incantations.

The hierophantes had three assistants : the first was called i^a^ovxos, torch-bearer, to
whom it was permitted to marry ; the second, xiipvl, the crier ; and the third, 6 l-rrl
Poifio), from his ministering at the ahar. 'hpofavTns is said to have been a type of the
Great Creator of all things; 6a6ovxos, of the sun; Knpv^, of Mercury; and 6 im jSmjio},
of the moon.

There were also certain public officers whose business consisted in seeing that all
things were performed according to custom. Of these was PaaiXcvg, the king, who

Online LibraryJohann Joachim EschenburgManual of classical literature : from the German of J.J. Eschenburg, with additions → online text (page 36 of 153)