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διαμαστίγωσις). A solemnity performed at Sparta at the festival of Artemis Orthia (Pausan. iii. 16.6). The ceremony was this: Spartan youths (ἔφηβοι) were scourged on the occasion at the altar of Artemis, by persons appointed for the purpose, until their blood gushed forth and covered the altar. The scourging itself was preceded by a preparation by which those who intended to undergo the diamastigosis tried to harden themselves against its pains. Pausanias describes the origin of the worship of Artemis Orthia, and of the diamastigosis, in the following manner: A wooden statue of Artemis, which Orestes had brought from Tauris, was found in a bush by Astrabacus and Alopecus, the sons of Irbus. The two men were immediately struck mad at the sight of it. The Limnaeans and the inhabitants of other neighbouring places then offered sacrifices to the goddess; but a quarrel ensued among them, in which several individuals were killed at the altar of Artemis, who now demanded atonement for the pollution of her sanctuary. From henceforth, human victims were selected by lot and offered to Artemis, until Lycurgus introduced the scourging of young men at her altar as a substitute for human sacrifices.

The diamastigosis, according to this account, was a substitute for human sacrifice, and Lycurgus made it also serve his purposes of education, in so far as he made it a part of the system of hardening the Spartan youths against bodily sufferings (Plut. Lyc. 18).

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    • Plutarch, Lycurgus, 18
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