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KABIRION Boiotia, Greece.

A sanctuary of the Kabeiroi situated about 8 km W of Thebes on the Thebes-Levadia road. Before the crossroads going to Vagia, Leondari, and Thespies there is a bypath that leads to the site.

The origin of these deities is still unknown. Pausanias says nothing about their nature or their mysteries (9.25.5), merely stating that, according to the Thebans, there was a city whose inhabitants were called Kabeiroi. Demeter, who came to the region, revealed some mystery to Prometheus, one of the Kabeiroi, and Aetnaios, his son. Pausanias could not disclose Demeter's words. The mysteries were one of Demeter's gifts to the Kabeiroi, who had been chased out of their country by the Argives. Demeter's wrath toward men was implacable, as was shown by the punishment of the Persians who came with Mardonios and dared to enter their temple and pillage it, and later, after Alexander seized Thebes, when the Macedonians who had entered the sanctuary of the Kabeiroi were all killed by thunderbolts. The Kabeiroi were said to be guardians of vines and the fertility of animals (over 1400 representations of animals have been found, also over 700 representations of the pais, either the son or an accompanying slave).

The sanctuary was discovered in 1887-88 and excavation was resumed in 1955 and the years following. Today the remains of a rectangular temple have been located, the earliest traces dating to the 6th c. It was followed by two more monuments oriented E-W. A theater of the Hellenistic period was built in the axis of this temple (orchestra: 26 m in diameter). It had no skene, but had 10 kerkides as well as an altar in the middle of the orchestra. The diameter of the theatron is 60 m. Southeast of the theater is a stoa (40 x 6 m) which may possibly have been used in the cult. A circular building from the 4th c., between the stoa and the temple, may have been used for sacrifices.

There was also a Sacred Grove of Demeter Kabeiria and Kore, where Demeter is supposed to have revealed the mysteries.

According to Pausanias (9.22), just near the center of the city of Anthedon NE of Thebes there was a sanctuary of the Kabeiroi related to a cult of Demeter and Kore.


F. Chapouthier, Les Dioscures au service d'une déesse (1936) 155, 170, 175 & n. 2; P. Wolters & Gerda Bruns, Das Kabirenheiligtum bei Theben I (1940)MIP; B. Hemberg, “Die Kabiren” (diss., Upsala 1950); M. P. Nilsson, Gesch. gr. Relig. I (2d ed. 1955); H. P. Drögemiiller, Gymnasium 68 (1961) 219-22MP; Gerda Bruns, “Kabirenheiligtum bei Theben,” Arch.Anz. (1964) 231-65MIP; (1967) 228-73MIP; Pausanias, ed. N. Papachatzis (1969) v 150-59.


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