previous next


DAE´DALA (δαίδαλα), a festival, celebrated in Boeotia in honour of Hera, surnamed Νυμφευομένη or Τελεία (Paus. 9.2.5). Its origin and mode of celebration are thus described by Pausanias (9.3.1, &c.):--Hera was once angry with Zeus, and withdrew herself to Euboea. Zeus not being able to persuade her to return, went to Cithaeron, who then governed Plataeae, and was said to be unequalled in wisdom. He advised Zeus to get a wooden statue, to dress and place it upon a chariot, and to say that it was Plataea, the daughter of Asopus, whom he was going to marry. Zeus followed the advice of Cithaeron, and no sooner had Hera heard of her husband's projected marriage than she returned. But when, on approaching the chariot and dragging off the coverings, she saw the wooden statue, she was amused with the device, and became reconciled to Zeus. In remembrance of this reconciliation the Plataeans solemnised the festival of the daedala, which owes its name to Δαίδαλα, the name by which rough-hewn statues were designated. (See preceding article.) Pausanias was told that the festival was held every seventh year, but he believes that it took place at shorter intervals, though he was unable to discover the exact time.

This festival was observed by the Plataeans alone, and was called the lesser Daedala (Δαίδαλα μικρά); it was celebrated in the following manner:--In the neighbourhood of Alalcomene was the greatest oak-forest of Boeotia, and in it a number of oak trunks. Into this forest the Plataeans went, and exposed pieces of cooked meat to the ravens, attentively watching upon which tree any of the birds, after taking a piece of the meat, would settle; and the trees on which any of the ravens settled, were cut down and worked into daedala.

The great Daedala (Δαίδαλα μεγάλα), in the celebration of which the Plataeans were joined by the other Boeotians, took place every sixtieth year; because at one time, when the Plataeans were absent from their country, the festival had not been celebrated for a period of sixty years. At each of the lesser Daedala fourteen statues were made in the manner described above, and distributed by lot among the towns of Plataeae, Coroncia, Thespiae, Tanagra, Chaeroneia, Orchomenos, Lebadeia, and Thebes; the smaller towns took one statue in common. The Boeotians assembled on the banks of the Asopus; here a statue of Hera was adorned and raised on a chariot, and a young bride led the procession. The Boeotians then decided by lot in what order they were to form the procession, and drove their chariots away from the river and up mount Cithaeron, on the summit of which an altar was erected of square pieces of wood, fitted together like stones. This altar was covered with a quantity of dry wood; and the towns, persons of rank, and other wealthy individuals offered each a heifer to Hera and a bull to Zeus, with plenty of wine and incense, and at the same time placed the daedala upon the altar. For those who did not possess sufficient means, it was customary to offer small sheep, but all their offerings were burnt in the same manner as those of the wealthier persons. The fire consumed both offerings and altar, and the immense flame thus kindled was seen far and wide.

The account of the origin of the daedala given by Pausanias agrees in the main points with the story related by Plutarch (apud Euseb. de Praeparat. Evang. iii. p. 83, and Fragm. p. 759, &c. ed. Wyttenb.), who wrote a work on the Plataean daedala: the only difference is that Plutarch represents Zeus as receiving his advice to deceive Hera from Alalcomenes; and that he calls the wooden statue by which the goddess was to be deceived Daedala, instead of Plataea. Plutarch also adds some remarks respecting the meaning of the festival, and thinks that the dispute between Zeus and Hera had reference to the physical revolutions to which [p. 1.594]Boeotia, at a very remote period, had been subject, and their reconciliation to the restoration of order in the elements. (See Creuzer, Symbol. und Mythol. ii. p. 280, and Müller's Orchom. p. 216, &100.2nd edit.)


hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: