a festival celebrated in honour of Artemis Brauronia, in the Attic town of
Brauron (Hdt. 6.138
), where, according to
), Orestes and Iphigeneia, on their return from Tauris,
were supposed by the Athenians to have landed, and left the statue of the
Taurian goddess. (See Müller, Dor.
1.9, § § 5 and 6.) It was held every fifth year, under the
superintendence of ten ἱεροποιοί
8.9, 31) ; and the chief solemnity consisted in the circumstance that the
Attic girls between the ages of five and ten years, dressed in
crocus-coloured garments, went in solemn procession to the sanctuary
(Suidas, s. v. Ἄρκτος
; Schol. on Aristoph. Lys. 646
), where they were
consecrated to the goddess. During this act the ἱεροποιοὶ
sacrificed a goat, and the girls performed a
propitiatory rite in which they imitated bears. This rite may have arisen
simply from the circumstance that the bear was sacred to Artemis, especially
in Arcadia (Müller, Dor.
2.9.3); but a
tradition preserved in Suidas (s. v. Ἄρκτος
) relates its origin as follows :--In the Attic town of
Phauidae a bear was kept, which was so tame that it was allowed to go about
quite freely, and received its food from and among men. One day a girl
ventured to play with it, and, on treating the animal rather harshly, it
turned round and tore her to pieces. Her brothers, enraged at this, went out
and killed the bear. The Athenians now were visited by a plague; and when
they consulted the oracle, the answer was given that they would get rid of
the evil which had befallen them if they would compel some of their citizens
to make their daughters propitiate Artemis by a rite called ἀρκτεύειν,
for the crime committed against the
animal sacred to the goddess. The command was more than obeyed; for the
Athenians decreed that from thenceforth all women, before they could marry,
should have taken part once in this festival, and have been consecrated to
the goddess. Hence the girls themselves were called ἄρκτοι,
the consecration ἀρκτεία,
the act of consecrating ἀρκτεύειν,
and to celebrate the festival ἀρκτεύεσθαι.
(Hesych. and Harpocrat. s.v.
Schol. on Aristoph. l.c.
) But as the girls when they
celebrated this festival were nearly ten years old, the verb δεκατεύειν
was sometimes used instead of
(Comp. C. F. Hermann,
§ 62, note 9.)
There was also a quinquennial festival called Brauronia, which was celebrated
by men and dissolute women, at Brauron, in honour of Dionysus. (Aristoph. Peace 870
, with the note of the
Scholiast; and Suidas, s. v. Βραυρών.
Whether its celebration took place at the same time as that of Artemis
Brauronia (as has been supposed by Müller, Dor.
2.9.5, in a note, which has, however, been omitted in the
English translation), must remain uncertain, although the very different
characters of the two festivals incline us rather to believe that they were
not celebrated at the same time. According to Hesychius, whose statement
however is not supported by any ancient authority, the Iliad was recited at
the Brauronian festival of Dionysus by rhapsodists. (Comp. Hemsterh.
9.74; Welcker, Der Epische
p. 391; A. Mommsen, Heortologie,