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The Eleusinian plain lies south-west of Mount Parnes, being divided from the Attic plain by Mount Poikilon and Daphni, and bounded on the north and west by Cithaeron and the highlands of Megara. It is called Thriasian (ix. 7. β 2; Thuc. i. 114, ii. 19-21) from the important deme of Thria, which lay probably at Kalyvia, three miles east-north-east of Eleusis. The regular route from Thebes, by which the Persian infantry would naturally come, led to the Thriasian plain a little north of Eleusis. Plutarch (Them. 15) puts this vision on the day of the battle, which would thus be on the 20th Boedromion (Plut. Phocion 28, Camill. 19). It is, however, evident that Plutarch derived all the details of his account, except ‘a great light that shone from Eleusis’, from H., and that the historian believed that Dicaeus saw the portent at least a day, and perhaps several days, before the battle. Busolt (ii. 703-4) argues that the battle took place a few days after the 20th Boedromion (= Sept. 22) and some days before the eclipse (Oct. 2, 480), which prevented Cleombrotus from molesting the retreat of Xerxes (ix. 10), probably Sept. 27 or 28.

τρισμυρίων. The number is the conventional estimate for the Athenian citizen-body in the days of H. (v. 97. 2 n.), since citizens were expected to accompany the procession en masse (Plut. Alc. 34). The old temple or hall of initiation destroyed by the Persians was, as is shown by excavations, only about 82 feet square, and could not hold any such number; indeed, even the larger hall begun by Pericles (about 170 feet square) only seems to have provided seats for some 3,000 on the eight tiers of steps round it (Frazer, Paus. ii. 503). Of course, many Athenians were not initiated.

The poetical words, ἀδαήμονα, σίνος, ἀρίδηλα, may be derived from the source used by H. They clearly suit the tone of the story.

The great procession from Athens to Eleusis along the sacred way took place on the 20th Boedromion (Eur. Ion 1076, cf. sup.). It bore the name Iacchus because in it the statue of the child Iacchus, with his cradle and playthings, was borne, escorted by Ephebi and followed by the Mystae bearing torches and singing hymns (Arist. Ran. 398-413). Frequent sacrifices and ceremonies on the road made the procession last from daybreak till late at night. All through the day there was constant invocation of the god (Ἴαγχ᾽ Ἴαγχε, Arist. l. c.).

For the worship of Demeter and Kore at Eleusis cf. Farnell, Greek Cults, iii. 126-98; Harrison, Prolegomena, ch. iv ad fin., ch. x ad fin.

Δίκαιος Θεοκύδεος. This isolated anecdote was surely preserved by oral tradition. It gives no support to P. Trautwein's hypothesis that Dicaeus left memoirs from which H. drew freely (Hermes, xxv. 527-66).

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hide References (4 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (4):
    • Aristophanes, Frogs, 398
    • Euripides, Ion, 1076
    • Plutarch, Alcibiades, 34
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.114
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