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Question 12. What was Charila among the Delphians?

Solution. The Delphians solemnized three nonennial feasts in regular order, of which they call one Stepterium, another Herois, and the third Charila. The Stepterium represents by imitation the fight which Apollo had with Python, and both his flight and pursuit after the fight unto Tempe. For some say that he fled, as needing purification by reason of the slaughter; others say that he pursued [p. 269] Python wounded, and flying along the highway which they now call Sacred, he just missed of being present at his death; for he found him just dead of his wound, and buried by his son, whose name was Aix, as they say. Stepterium therefore is the representation of these or some such things. But as to Herois, it hath for the most part a mysterious reason which the Thyades are acquainted with; but by the things that are publicly acted one may conjecture it to be the calling up of Semele from the lower world. Concerning Charila, they fable some such things as these. A famine by reason of drought seized the Delphians, who came with their wives and children as suppliants to the king's gate, whereupon he distributed meal and pulse to the better known among them, for there was not sufficient for all. A little orphan girl yet coming and importuning him, he beat her with his shoe, and threw his shoe in her face. She indeed was a poor wandering beggar-wench, but was not of an ignoble disposition; therefore withdrawing herself, she untied her girdle and hanged herself. The famine hereupon increasing and many diseases accompanying it, Pythia gives answer to the king, that the maid Charila who slew herself must be expiated. They with much ado at last discovering that this was the maid's name which was smitten with a shoe, they instituted a certain sacrifice mixed with expiatory rites, which they yet solemnize to this day every ninth year. Whereat the king presides, distributing meal and pulse to all strangers and citizens (for they introduce a kind of an effigy of the wench Charila); and when all have received their doles, the king smites the idol with his shoe. Upon this the governess of the Thyades takes up the image and carries it away to some rocky place, and there putting a halter about its neck, they bury it in the place where they buried Charila when she had strangled herself.

[p. 270]

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