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^ Theano, the Pythagorean woman- course at once, after adulterous, never ^**.'

philosopher, on being consulted by a This is the modem and ethical as

woman how soon it was permissible to distinct from the ritualistic view,
enter the Thesmophorion after sexual ^ Vide Hero-cults, R. 335.

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called by the simple personal name of a divinity. It is likely
that the earliest form was the neuter plural, the most frequent
form of festival-names, and Alkiphron "^^ ^ and probably a Sici-
lian inscription give us ra KaAAiy^i^euz*: and this may be
interpreted as the feast of KoXXiycyT/y, a natural appellative of
Demetcr or Kore, to whom alone all throughout the Greek
world the Thesmophoria were consecrated. It is probable that
the fictitious personal Kalligeneia was commonly invoked in
later times, for Plutarch seems to negard the Eretrian festival
as a noteworthy exception, in that the women did not * invoke
Kalligeneia ' in its celebration "^. Now KaXAtyewfy designates
* the goddess of fair offspring,* or the goddess * who gives fair
offspring/ or rather both meanings could combine in the word.
We may suppose then that the women's festival appropriately
closed with the old-time prayer of the women for beautiful
children. And if the prayer was accompanied by the belief
that on this day the mother regained her fair daughter, we
should recognize a stratum of religious thought concerning
Demeter that is older than and alien to the * classical * legend.
For Demeter must be supposed, on this hypothesis, to be
living below the earth as an ancient earth-goddess reunited
with her corn-daughter : we cannot imagine that Kore was
thought to return to the earth to gladden her mother above in
late October^.

There is only one more fact recorded of the Attic Thesmo-
phoria that may prove to be of importance, namely, the
release of prisoners during the festival "'^ °. The same indul-
gence prevailed, apparently, at the Dionysia and Pan-
athenaica®, and it may have been a common practice at
many state-festivals in Greece. The original idea which
suggested it may have been that law and order could be sus-

• C. /. Gr, Sic. It, 205. Vide Demeter, ritual to procure fair ofispring/ and

R. 104. that the Eretrians were merely singular

^ Usener's riew that Kalligeneia is in not having evolved the personal

a mere ' sonder-gottheit,* a primitive KdKXvyivtta from it : but this view need

functional daimon, appears to me very not mean that rd KoKkLfhwa, was origin*

improbable, Gottimamen, p. laa : vide ally a 'godless' ritual, without reference

discussion in chapter on Hero-cults. It to Demeter or her myth,
is possible that rel KdK>j,yh*ia was ^ Vide vol. 5, Dionysos R. lay"*,
originally an impersonal word « * the

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pended during a short period of licence which was especially
common at ceremonies connected with the crops. When once
the release of prisoners became an established rule at these
most ancient festivals, mere civic sympathy and kindness
might lead to the Introduction of it at later feasts of a different
character. Part of the Thesmophoria was joyous, and we hear
of feasting; it is only the third day that was sorrowful. If
this was the day on which the prisoners were released, we may
explain the custom by means of the same explanation as I
have suggested for the curious law that no one might lay
a suppliant bough on the altar during the Eleusinia • ; what-
ever is associated with enmity or strife must be rigidly tabooed
during a piacular and sorrowful ritual.

Before endeavouring to sum up the results of this survey of
Attic ritual, we must see if the records of the Thesmophoria
in other parts of Greece can add any further fact of importance
to the general account, beyond that which has been already
noted, the universal exclusion of men. Of the Eretrian rite
one other detail is known of some anthropological interest ;
the women did not use fire, but the sun's heat, for cooking
their meat. We may gather from this that the more ancient
culinary process of drying meat in the sun survived for sacri-
ficial purposes ^ But probably the Eretrian custom has more
significance than this ; the women must maintain a high degree
of ritualistic purity, and the sun s fire was purer than that of
the domestic hearths It is also possible that in the ancient
period of the Eretrian calendar the .sowing-time was regarded
as the beginning of the new year, and that the domestic fire
was extinguished in obedience to a rule of purification that
was commonly observed at this period. Something too may
be gathered from Pausanias' record of a Megarian ritual"^.
Near their Prytaneum was a rock called *AvaKAiJ^pa, ' the rock of
invocation,* so named, as they said, because here in her wander-
ing search Demeter called out the name of her lost daughter,
*and the Megarian women still do to this day in accordance

* Vide Hibhert Lectures^ P- i'4« act of drying meat in the sun.

*» Frazer, Golden Bough ^ i, p. 339, • Qt another example of this idea in
gives other instances of the ritualistic Apollo-cult, R. 128^.
FAKxcLL. in u

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with the myth.' We can scarcely doubt but that this was
part of the Megarian Thesmophoria, especially as he mentions
a temple of Demeter Thesmophoros not far from the Pryta-
neum ; and that the ritual here, as at Athens, contained
a mimetic element •. We know nothing more of the Laconian
Thesmophoria ®* except that it lasted three days, which perhaps
was the rule in the later period at Athens as we may gather
from Alkiphron. And of the ritual in other places, where
Thesmophoria are definitely attested, it remains to notice only
the following facts: at Delos the^ festival appears to have
been consecrated in part to the 'goddess of sorrow*^,' and
to have possessed an agrarian character, for certain loaves
baked for a celebration called MeyaAapna were consecrated to
al d€(Tfxo<t>6poi, (^eat), and the Delian offering to Demeter of the
pregnant sow suggests that the object of the festival was
the same here as at Athens, to secure the fertility of the
human family, of the flocks and of the crops •^r at Rhodes
we hear the * purifications before the Thesmophoria,' and
doubtless these were of the same kind and of the same
ritualistic value as at Athens^*: at Miletos a doubtful citation
in Stephanus seems to point to a local practice of placing the
pine-bough under the beds of the Thesmophoriazusae, we
should suppose for the same purifying purpose as that for

* The sacred character of the stone
itself may be a relic of Mycenaean stone-
worship when the deity was inroked
to come to the stone; but the mi-
metic fashion of aiding Demeter in the
search by calling out the name of her
daughter may have been a real feature
of the Thesmophoria : cf. the citations
from Semos about the ritual of the
matrons at the cross-roads (R. 107*):
the first points to meetings of married
women with torches in their hands at
the cross-roads calling on Kore, and
this suggests a Thesmophorian rite :
the second citation is coniused — rustici
who have no place in the Thesmophoria
take the place of matrwuu — and Arte-
mis ( « Hekate) is joined with Demeter.

But the latter point is' not difficult to
explain : the matrons with torches meet
at the cross-roads before they start on
their ceremonious march over the fields;
but the cross-roads, where the way was
doubtful, would be the natural place for
Demeter in her seardi to call aloud the
name of her daughter: the cross-roads
also were sacred to Hekate Tp<o&>r, who
also carried torches — hence Hekate
comes into the ' Homeric ' story of the
quest The matrons' ritual may have
originated in pure religious magic; it
would become fufof^is as the myth grew
and absorbed it : but it is hazardous to
assume a period of the Thesmophoria
so called when Demeter was not in it.
^ Vide supra, p. 71.

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.which the willow was used at Athens, only that, according to
Lucian's scholiast, the pine-bough was a symbol of generation
rather than a help to chastity ^^i at Ephesos an inscription of
the Roman period speaks of a yearly sacrifice offered by the
associates of a mystery to Demeter Thesmophoros and Karpo-
phoros, suggesting that here also the goddess under the former
title was worshipped as the divinity of the fruits of the earth ^®.
Finally, certain details are given us of the Syracusan Thesmo-
phoria^®*, from which we gather that part of the ritual at
least closely resembled the Athenian : the feast was a ten
days' celebration, during which the women seem to have
retired to a house on the Acropolis *. Again, we hear of the
aiaxpokoyCa, the ceremonious ribaldry, and of certain indecencies
of ritual, cakes moulded to resemble the pudenda muliebria
being carried prominently in the procession ; the aicrxpoAoyta
was here also explained by reference to the story of lambe,
and the festival fell about the time of the autumn sowing;
according to Diodorus, an ancient fashion of dress prevailed
during the period.

In the catalogue of Greek Thesmophoria I have ventured
to include certain local ceremonies where there is no explicit
record of the festival-name, but the details recounted make
for believing thjtt it was that with which we are dealing. For
instance, Pausanias gives us a singular account of the ritual in
the temple of Demeter ^\v<ria at Pellene®^ a name that may
designate the goddess of * mystic ' cult ; on the third day of
a nine-days* celebration^ the men retired from the temple,
leaving the women alone, who then performed certain religious
functions by night ; the exclusion of males was so absolute
that even the male dog was tabooed, as in the palace of
Tennyson's * Princess ' ; * on the next day the men returned,

* Diodorus, if his rather vagne words ^ The number nine points to Thesmo-

are to be pressed, implies that the whole phoria: in Ovid's account of the Cypriote

city (and the male sex) took part in it : Thesmophoria the period of parity lasts

this wonld be quite possible, and may nine days ; and in the Homeric Hymn,

have often happened withont infringing which reflects certain features of the

the principle that the inner mystery of Thesmophoria, Demeter*s search lasts

the Thesmophoria was exclusively the nine da}'S.
privilege of the women.

H 2

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and both sexes indulged in ridicule and ribaldry in turn, the
one against the other.' We cannot be quite sure that this was
the Thesmophoria, for partial exclusion of men and a cere-
monious kind of ribaldry we have found in the Attic Haloa
also, but the nightly performance of the nine- days* rites at
Pellene somewhat justifies the belief. Again, the ritual that
Pausanias describes as performed in a grove called YlvpaLa
(perhaps a name of the wheat-goddess), and the temple of
Demeter rTpooracrui* and Kore on^the road to Phlius near
Sicyon, may possibly have been a local form of the Thesmo-
phoria'^^: the men held a feast in this temple, but another
sacred building was given up to an exclusive festival of the
women, and there stood in it statues of Demeter, Kore, and
Dionysos, all of which were muffled except the faces. If this
ritual were the Thesmophoria, which is of course uncertain, those
whohold that the name designates the goddess of marriage might
quote this record as countenancing their theory, for the place
where the women's ceremony occurred was called the Nu^^wi':
but this should not be interpreted as the ' house of the goddess
of marriage,' but merely as the * house of the bride,' just as
' Parthenon ' is the ' house of the maid.' This interesting fact
is surely better interpreted by the supposition that the bride
was Persephone, who was united in this building to Dionysos
in a U/oos ydfxoj, though it must remain uncertain whether it
was this sacred marriage that the women acted on that night
of their mystery.

For nowhere in the accounts of the Thesmophoria is there
any express statement found concerning any dramatic repre-
sentation of a marriage. Theogamiae, or rituals commemo-
rating the union of Persephone and the god of the lower
world, certainly occurred in the Greek states : and are especially
attested for Sicily and the neighbourhood of Tralles ^**' "* ;
and from Greece it penetrated Roman ritual in the form of
the marriage of Orcus and Ceres, a ceremony in which wine
was rigorously excluded, and which may have been associated

* The goddess who * stands before ' cf. the two meanings, local and quasi-
the granary or corn-field, and therefore immaterial, of Apollo nparraTfipiot.
the goddess who * protecu from harm ' :

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with the Ludi Tarentini mentioned by Varro as instituted in
accordance with a Sibylline oracle in honour of Dis Pater and
Proserpine ^•••. The latter lasted three nights, and dark-
coloured victims were offered. Now much of the ritual in
honour of Flora and Bona Dea reminds us vividly of the
Thesmophoria, the exclusion of men, the sexual licence, the
beating with rods, and yet may be old Italian*. Nevertheless,
we are expressly told that the whole service of Ceres in Rome
was Greek, administered by Greek priestesses and in the
Greek language '^^. Dionysius of Halikamassos, under the
influence of the legend of Pallas and Pallantion, traces
the Roman Ceres-cult back to Arcadia, mentioning that in
Rome, as in Greece, the administration was in the hands of
women, and that the ritual excluded wine : but Cicero with
more caution and truth connects it with Naples — where we find
mention of a priestess of Demeter Thesmophoros — or Velia ^®",
and another record affirms its association in the times of the
Gracchi with the cult of Henna, in which the same exclusion
of the male sex was the rule ^^^. And the Bona Dea herself
borrowed — probably through Tarentum — part at least of her
ritual directly from a Greek cult-centre, for the name *Damium *
applied to her sacrifice, ' Damia ' to the goddess, ' Damiatrix '
to the priestess ^ point surely to the Epidaurian-Aeginetan
worship ^•. With these proofs of strong Greek influence, we
cannot avoid the belief that the Thesmophoria itself, the oldest
and most universal of the Greek Demeter- feasts, was intro-
duced into the Roman state ; and though the name does not
occur in the calendar of the Roman religion, we have sufficient
proof of the rite as a Roman ordinance in the celebration of
the ' leiunium Cereris,' the fast of Ceres, falling on the fourth
of October, and corresponding in name and more or less in
time to the Attic Niyoreia®. Nevertheless, the marriage of
Orcus and Ceres could have been no part of a Roman
Thesmophoria, for this was celebrated by the Pontifices, and

• Vide W. Fowler, Roman Festivals^ feel that this hypothesis so naturally

pp. ioa-io6. applies to the facts as the theory of

*» Fowler, op. dt p. io6, suggests importation from Greece,

as possible ' an Italian origin for " Vide Roscher, Lcxikon^ i, p. 863 ;

the whole group of names.* I do not Livy 36. 37 : it lasted nine days.

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the Romans would hardly have been likely to abandon the
rigid Thesmophorian rule of the exclusion of men.

There is one last question about the ritual of the Thesmo-
phoria, to which a certain answer would contribute something
to our knowledge of the goddess ; were the offerings always
vTj<t>a\ia, that is to say, was wine always excluded ? We should
believe this to have been the rule if we believed Dionysius'
statement, who speaks as if the sober sacrifice was the rule of
all the Demeter cults whether in Italy or Greece ^®^. That
he was wrong about Italy we have Vergil's testimony, aided
by Servius*; and he was wrong about Greece: for wine is
explicitly mentioned among the offerings to Demeter at Cos •*,
it was used in ceremonies connected with her feasts ; as at the
Haloa ^^ and in the mystery-rites at Andania 2*®. The jest in
Aristophanes about the flagon of wine dressed up as a baby,
smuggled in by one of the Thesmophoriazusae at the Nij<rr€(a,
only suggests that it was tabooed on this particular day, but
not necessarily throughout the whole festival: on the other
hand, it was specially excluded from the rites of the Despoinae
at Olympia"®. The point is of some interest because the
ordinance against wine was fairly common in the primitive
ritual of the earth-goddess and of deities akin to her®.

We may now endeavour to gather certain results of value
from this tangle of detail. The festival bears about it the
signs of extreme antiquity, while the name 'Demeter/ and
the rule which excluded slaves from any participation in it '*•,
may deter us from regarding it as the heritage of a pre-Hellenic
population in Greece. At no point does it reflect the higher
life of the Greek Polis, or the institution of * Aryan * mono-
gamic marriage. It has been supposed, for reasons that will be
considered below, to show the imprint of a * matriarchal ' type
of society ^ ; but if we confine the question here to its signifi-
cance as a marriage festival, it is difficult to see how either the

* Geffi^. I. 344 with Servios* com- lean to explain the Romtn role, R.

ment. 109% that in the Sacra Cereris the name

^ Geogr. Reg. s. v, of father most never be mentioned : but

^ Vide p. 55; voL i,pp. 88-^9; vol. 2, Servins adds that the daoghter's name

p. 664. note a. was tabooed also, and here the theory

^ The 'matriarchal' theory might at once breaks down.

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patriarchal or matriarchal theory can draw any support from
the ritual of a festival that does not seem to have concerned
itself with any form of marriage whatever. It b obviously
concerned solely with the fertility of the field and the fertility
of the womb. The women ceremoniously marching over the
land with torches are figures of a world-wide agricultural
ritual, intended to evoke the fructifying warmth of the earth
or the personal agency of the earth-spirit * ; it was usual to
kill some one or shed blood on such occasion, and somebody
probably once was killed or blood was shed in the Thesmo-
phoria ; it was usual to strew sacred flesh as religious manure
over the land, and this purpose was served by the decaying
pigs and the functions of the ii^rXr/rpiat : the rules of sexual
abstinence and ritualistic purity enforced upon the Thesmo-
phoriazusae may be explained by the widespread belief that
the ministers of an agrarian ritual should discipline their
bodies beforehand, in order that virtue may the better come
out of them when it is needed. On the other hand, cereal
ceremonies at certain times of the year have been often marked
by wild sexual licence and indulgence, either because by the
logic of sympathetic magic such practices are supposed to
increase the fertilizing strength of the earth, or because a
period of fasting and mortification has preceded, and, the devil
having been thus cast out, the human temperament feels it
may risk a carnival ^. Now there was no sexual indulgence
at the Thesmophoria, for the men were rigorously excluded,
and the Christian fathers would not perhaps have been so
severe in their moral censures, had their knowledge of other
pagan ritual, that Christianity was obliged for a very long

* With a like purpose, namely to harvest-festivals, sometimes chastity is

increase the fertiliziDg warmth of the required : cf . the idea that * the breach

earth, lighted torches were flmig into of sexual laws might be punished by

a pit as offerings to Kore at Argos '"*. sterility of the land,' Frazer, Golden

^ The rule of chastity prevailed at Bough*, vol. a, p. 21a. The instances

the Skirra, another agricultural festi- ofsexual indulgence, probably for a cere-

val, see p. 40, note c; cf. Anthrop.Joum, monious purpose originally, in agrarian

190X, p. 307, among the native tribes festivals are too numerous to need

of Manipur sometimes sexual licence quoting,
and drunken debauchery prevail at

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104 . GREEK RELIGION : [chap.

time to tolerate, been wider: but there was alir/^pokoyia^
badinage of an undoubtedly indecent kind, usually among the
women themselves, but sometimes between both sexes ; and
this was no mere casual and licentious yW/ (T esprit, the coarse-
ness of a crowd of vulgar revellers, but a ceremonious duty
steadily performed by matrons whose standard of chastity was
probably as high as ours and ideas of refinement in other
respects very like our own : the object of this, as of all the
rest of the ritual, being to stimulate^i the fertilizing powers of
the earth and the human frame**. Again, the practice of
beating the bodies of the worshippers with wands of some
sacred wood has been often in vogue as a fertilizing charm
which quickens the generative powers for the purposes both
of vegetation-magic and of human productiveness : a salient
instance is the ceremony of the Lupercalia, though there the
beating was with thongs of hide, probably cut from some
sacred animal ; it occurred also in the Greek ritual of Demeter,
probably the Thesmophoria, according to a gloss of Hesychius
who speaks of the rods of plaited bark with which they beat
each other in the Demeter- feast ^.

The divinity or divinities then of the Thesmophoria were
worshipped not as political powers or marriage-goddesses, but
as powers of fertility and vegetation, and — we must also add —
of the lower world. For it is the chthonian idea and its
ghostly associations that explain why so much of the ritual
was performed at night, why one at least of the days was
airo<t>pds or fjuapa so that no public business ® could be done '^\
probably why no crowns of flowers** could be worn by the
Thesmophoriazusae ", and finally why the ceremonial vest-
ments of the goddesses — at least at Syracuse ^ — were purple,
a colour proper also to the Eumenides.

The above analysis of the festival seems finally to rule out

* Cf. 75», 85, 103 : also at the Haloa", another context

and in the worship of Damia and An* ^ Public bosineu was not suspended

xesia**. on ereiy festival day, c£ Dionysos, R.

^ We must distinguish ritualistic 127^.

alcxpokonf'ta from the ritual of cursing, ^ C£ the similar prohibition in the

which has also its place in Greek re- worshipof the Charites at Paros, Ar.oll.

ligion and which will be examined in BibL 3. 15, 7.

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the two usual explanations of Thesmophoros, which refer the
word to the ordinances of the state or of human marriage ;
and the other explanations hitherto noticed do not appear
satisfactory. The most sensible proposed by antiquity is that
given by the unknown scholiast on Lucian or by the excellent
authority whom he reproduces : that she was called $€(TfjLo<i>opo9
because she taught men the Bfo-fioC of agriculture : at least this
interpretation of the word is not in violent conflict with the
ritual of the Thesmophoria, as the others are. Still it is
linguistically most improbable that a deity who taught the
rules of agriculture should have acquired at a very early
period of the language the name of the * Law-Bringer,' simply
from her agrarian teaching. For ^eo-juios in the meaning of
• ordinance * or * rule ' is never found in any specialized sense,
whether religious, social, or utilitarian ».

The appellative is very old, and in the pre-Homeric period
the word $€(tijl6s may have borne different meanings, logically
derivable from its root-significance, but afterwards lost. An
archaic inscription of Olympia ^ presents us with the word in
a peculiar dialect-form, and probably in the signification of
icrij/uta or * landed property * ; and in a Boeotian inscription
of the latter part of the third century B. C. we find riSfxio^
used of money placed out on loan ®. Somewhat akin to these
is the meaning for which Anacreon is quoted as an authority ^
who used 0€a'ix6i as equivalent to Stja-avpos^ that which one
'lays down ' or * piles up.' It is natural to suppose that the
poet preserved an obsolete Ionic usage ; and the ethnography

^ The statement that Homer uses the
word as specialized to mean the marriage-
law, occasionally made in careless ac-
connts of the Thesmophoria, is an inex-
cusable error. Besides the passage in

Online LibraryLewis Richard FarnellThe cults of the Greek states → online text (page 11 of 40)