). The Eleusinia and the Thesmophoria were the two
great festivals held in Attica in honour of Demeter. The Athenian
Thesmophoria, which is the best known festival of the name, was solemnised
exclusively by women at the time of seed-sowing in October in honour of
Demeter Thesmophoros. The many points of interest attaching to the festival,
over and above the fact that Aristophanes has written an amusing comedy on
the subject, will perhaps justify a somewhat lengthened discussion on its
nature and significance.
1. Demeter Thesmophloros.
The idea in θεσμοί, θέμιστες
(cf. Hesych. sub voce
), and words derived
therefrom, is ordinances as the expression of the will of a divinity,
enactments or injunctions invested with the halo of religion, θεσμὸν τὸν μοιρόκραντον ἐκ θεῶν δοθέντα
as Aeschylus says (Eum.
391); and as such the term is sometimes applied even to written laws, e.
g. Draco's (Plut. Sol. 19
; cf. Grote,
3.76) and Solon's own (Solon, Frag.
36 , 16, which
shows that Aelian, Ael. VH 8.10
is in error). We have been taught by
Sir H. Maine (Ancient Law,
p. 4 ff.) that the very
earliest notion of law was the θέμιστες
of Homer, strictly individual (cf. Phot. 87, 16) judgments or
“dooms,” supposed to be imparted by Θέμις
to the king, who was a judge, not a
lawgiver. The θεσμοὶ
we are now
referring to are somewhat more universal than these. The θεσμοί,
says Preller (Demeter und
350), were ordinances given by each god inside
his own sphere, so θεσμὸς Ἀδραστείας
(Plut. de Fato,
4 = 2.570). They were the
law of the early patriarchal ages; and a patriarchal system of rule was
the first which emerged when mankind, arrived at the agricultural stage,
came to follow a settled mode of life and live in communities. Now,
Demeter was the divinity who presided over agriculture and all the
settled laws and customs, the civilisation in fact, which it involved
28); the Athenians boasted that corn and
laws, πυροὺς καὶ νόμους.
introduced into their land (Aristot. in D. L.
): Demeter it was who taught men to sow the earth and reap
the fruits: Demeter it was who was reported to have founded marriage,
itself a kind of husbandry (ἐπ᾽ ἀρότῳ παίδων
as ran the Athenian formula of marriage: Lucian,
17: cf. Aesch. Theb.
753; Soph. O. T. 1498
; Eur. Phoen. 18
; Plat. Menex. 238; the
to whom sacrifice
was offered before marriage, Plut. adv. Colot.
2.1119: and the metaphor is retained even in English, cf. Shakespeare's
Ant. and Cleop.
2.2, 233), to have thus raised men
above the life of savages, to have been the founder of the family, and
thus to have rendered the foundation of cities possible, “et leges
sanctas docuit et cara jugavit Corpora conubiis et magnas condidit
urbes,” as the Roman poet Calvus sang (ap. Serv. ad Aen. 4.58
). As such Demeter
(Verg. A. 4.58
). The priestess of Demeter
imparts the πάτριος θεσμὸς
bridegroom and bride in the nuptial chamber (Plut. Praecep.
init. = 2.138; cf. also Ael. VH
); a woman guilty of illicit connexion was said ἀθέσμως συγγενομένη
(Schol. to Aristid. p.
22), opposed to γάμος ἐπὶ παισὶν
(Heliod. 1.25); the consummation of marriage is
certainly meant by θεσμὸς
)), where Ulysses and
Penelope after all their troubles ἀσπάσιοι
λέκτροιο παλαιοῦ θεσμὸν ἵκοντο
(no matter what Ameis
says); the matrons swore by the goddesses of Eleusis to remain faithful
to their marriage vow (Alciphr. 3.69); the young girls prayed to Demeter
for a husband (ib. 2.2, 6). At the Thesmophoria many references were
made to the fruitfulness of marriage; and the invocation (Aristoph. Thes. 296
) of γῆ
and Calligeneia (see below, § 3 h
) has a similar reference.
The fundamental principles, then, of an agricultural and therefore
settled life, and of the constitution of the family, are the θεσμοὶ Δήμητρος.
Little different are the
“laws of Triptolemus,” who was reputed one of the most
ancient lawgivers (Porphyr. de Abstin.
4.22, p. 387),
which are veritable θεσμοί,
honour one's parents, to delight the gods with an offering of the crops,
and not to ill-treat the domestic animals (Paus.
). Another θεσμὸς
of Demeter, ἢν μὴ καθάρῃς κἀλέσῃς οὐ μὴ φάγῃς
5.17: said to be from the Triptolemus
Sophocles, but not given by Dindorf and placed by Nauck, Frag.
p. 868, among the Adespota), recalls the scriptural (2
Thess. 3.10) “if any would not work, neither should he
eat,” and that earliest and justest of θεσμοί
(Gen. 3.19), “In the sweat of thy face
shalt thou eat bread.” Similar laws of Buzyges have been
before alluded to under AROTOI HIEROI
Finally, to give some indirect evidence that
Demeter was the goddess of laws and civil society, it was in her temple
that the Amphictyonic assembly at Thermopylae was held (Hdt. 7.200
), and meetings of the Achaean
League were held under her auspices at Aegium (Paus. 7.24
); a pig was
sacrificed to Demeter at Athens by the περιστίαρχοι
before the assembly opened (Schol. on Aristoph. Ach. 44
), and Demeter was one
of the goddesses by whom oaths were taken (Demosth.
p. 747.151; Calipp.
for she was patroness of the assembly of the people.
The expression of reverence which the Greeks felt towards Demeter for all
these blessings is well set forth by Diodorus (5.5
) in a passage which deserves quotation: οὐκ ἄξιον δὲ παραλιπεῖν τῆς θεοῦ ταύτης τὴν
ὑπερβολὴν τῆς εἰς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους εὐεργεσίας. χωρὶς γὰρ
τῆς εὑρέσεως τοῦ σίτου τήν τε κατεργασίαν αὐτοῦ τοὺς
ἀνθρώπους ἐδίδαξε, καὶ νόμους εἰσηγήσατο καθ᾽
[p. 2.830]οὓς δικαιοπραγεῖν
εἰθίσθησαν. δι᾽ ἣν αἰτίαν φασὶν αὐτὴν θεσμοφόρον
ἐπονομασθῆναι : τούτων δὲ τῶν εὑρημάτων οὐκ ἄν τις
ἑτέραν εὐεργεσίαν εὕροι μείζονα : καὶ γὰρ τὸ ζῆν καὶ τὸ
καλῶς ζῆν περιέχουσι.
2. The origin of Thesmophoric worship.
The worship of Demeter was said to have been introduced into Attica by
the Gephyraeans (cf. Hdt. 5.57
; Preller, Demeter und
pp. 391-5). These stated themselves that they came
from Eretria originally, but Herodotus thinks that they were
Phoenicians. They lived at Tanagra in Boeotia, which had been formerly
). When the rest of the Cadmeans were driven out by the
Argives and went to the Encheleis, the Gephyraeans remained in Boeotia
at first; but later, being expelled by the other inhabitants of that
country, they turned to Athens. The Athenians made them citizens on
special terms, ἐπὶ ῥητοῖς
were probably to maintain in repair the bridges over the river Cephisus
(Lyd. de Mens.
viii. p. 45; Etym.
s. v. Γεφυρεῖς
), for that
art was considered recondite in early times (cf. Fr. Lenormant,
Voie Sacrée Éleusinienne,
247); and with injunctions to keep aloof from the other citizens in many
respects. They had temples and rites special to themselves (though these
cannot have long remained secret: cf. Schol. on Aristoph. Ach. 708
), and among these
the temple and rites of Demeter Achaea (Herod. l.c.
This Demeter Achaea, the mater dolorosa
ancients, was so called from her mourning (ἄχος
), not from the ἦχος
of cymbals used in search for Cora (for amongst other reasons the A in
is short), and corresponds
to the Ceres deserta
mentioned by Virgil
2.714: cf. Plut. de Isid. et
69; Lobeck, Aglaoph.
1225, note x).
Welcker (Griech. Gotterl.
1.359) thinks the original
derivation is from γαῖα
prosthetic a, and that it refers to Demeter's character as
Earth-goddess; and he compares such forms as βαθυχάϊος, εὐχάιος, τριχάϊξ.
But the derivation is
probably onomatopoeic, and similar to that of the obsolete Hebrew
“to cry ah! ah!” whence comes “owls,”
in Isaiah 13.21. We are, of course,
not necessarily to derive
the Greek from the
Hebrew. Indeed, none of the attempted Semitic derivations have much to
support them (cf. Mommsen, Heort.
29, note); but it may
be mentioned that Hitzig and Fr. Lenormant identify the Gephyraeans with
the Geshurites of Josh. 13.13, 1 Sam. 27.8. “and are constantly
interchanged in Semitic, θ
in Greek,” says
Lenormant (La légende de Cadmus
Annales de Philosophic chrétienne,
(1867), 79), though they draw opposite conclusions, Hitzig maintaining
that the Geshurites were Aryans, Lenormant that the Gephyraeans were
Again, the worship of Demeter Thesmophoros is connected with Cadmus of
Thebes, both of them “orderers.” The temple of the goddess
had formerly been the house of Cadmus (Paus.
). Cadmus and indeed the whole
grouping of the city-divinities of Thebes bespeak a Cabirian origin. In
Aristoph. Thes. 300
, among the
divinities specially connected with Demeter we find Hermes and the
Charites. Now, Κάδμος λέγεται ὁ
as Etym. Gud.
(s. v.) says; he is the
attendant on the Great Goddesses,. like the Cadmilus of Samothrace: and
if the Charites (cf. also C. I. A.
5) take the place of
Harmonia, that is only parallel to the Lemnian nymphs taking the place
of Harmonia in the Cabiric worship of Corinth (Schol. on Pind. O. 13.74
). Now, Cadmus is a
character partly Pelasgic, partly Phoenician (cf. Maury, 3.234-253;
Lenormant, op. cit.
). Further, Herodotus (2.59
followed by Diodorus (1.13
himself quite decidedly to the effect that Demeter-worship originally
came into Greece from the Isisworship of the Egyptians: and he is of the
same opinion about the rites of the Thesmophoria (2.171). He relates
that the daughters of Danaus taught these mysteries to the Pelasgian
women; that on the Doric conquest of Peloponnesus these rites vanished
except among the Arcadians who were not dispossessed by the warrior
Dorians. So we find Thesmophoric worship traced back through Thebes to
the Cabiri of Samothrace, and then further to the East, Phoenicia or
Egypt; but into these dark regions we cannot now follow it.
3. The Athenian Festival
lasted for five days, and was conducted partly at Halimus on the coast of
Attica, partly in the city. We shall first see who took part in the
festival, then describe its various parts, and finally discuss its date.
) The participants in the
--It was to Demeter, chiefly as the goddess
presiding over marriage, that the Thesmophoria was celebrated. It was a
festival embracing many mystic and secret rites (Aristoph. Thes. 472
443), in which women alone could take part; but it
was open to all free women of respectable character. Accordingly it was,
as Maury says (2.223), the national and popular Demeter-festival, in
contrast to the Eleusinia, which was the mystical and aristocratic one.
From the very nature of the feast to the goddess presiding over
marriage, neither slaves (Aristoph. Thes.
) nor courtesans were allowed to attend; and Lucian
2, 1) is to be explained by supposing
that Myrtium watched the procession, not that she took part in the
ceremonies. But it is not so certain that unmarried girls took no part,
as is assumed by Preller (Dem. u. Pers.
p. 580 of his ed. of the Thesm.;
2.483). For it is explicitly stated that
did take part in the
Thesmophoria at Athens (cf. Schol. on Theocr. 4.25; Lucian, l.c.;
Prol. 36). At
Catana Demeter was worshipped “per mulieres et virgines”
(Cic. Ver. 4.45, 99
); and at Algonus (Strabo, 1.60)
also appear to have taken
part. Nor is there any reason why they should not, when we remember that
young girls, παρθένοι τ᾽ ἔτ᾽
took part in the Bacchic revels (Eur.
694), and that the ancients in large measure held
that to the pure all things were pure (cf. ἀλλ᾽
ἐν τῇ φύσει τὸ σωφρονεῖν ἔνεστιν ἐς τὰ πάντ᾽
ib. 315). Fritzsche explains away the passage from
Lucian by referring it to a κανηφόρος
who took part in the procession, but not in the mysteries: but the
Stenia was not the least coarse part of the festival. We should rather
assume that all free adult women could take part in the ceremonies; and
if Aristophanes (Aristoph. Thes.
) calls them [p. 2.831]δὐγενεῖς γυναῖκες,
he only means that they were fall
citizens, as does Plut. Sol. 8
calls them τὰς πρώτας γυναῖκας.
--During the first nine nights of Pyanepsion the
women who were to take prominent part in the festival were required to
observe the strictest chastity (Ov.
); and all sorts of strange
customs are related as to the particular kinds of herbs the women used
to eat or to lie on so as to allay sexual desire (Schol. on Theocr.
Schol. on Nicand. Theriaca,
Plin. Nat. 24.59
Hesych. sub voce
s. v. σκόροδον
). The prohibition to eat the pomegranate (Clem.
100.12=p. 16 ed. Pott.) belongs generally to
Demeterworship; and we have found it already at Eleusis. [ELEUSINIA
Prior to the beginning of the festival proper, each deme chose two of its
richest and most important women, who were required to perform the
necessary sacrifices, and also to prepare a feast for their
fellow-demes-women (Isaeus, Ciron. hered.
the expense was borne by the husbands, and was of the nature of a
§ 80). Accordingly the wives of the richest
only were chosen as presidents; and Aristophanes (Aristoph. Thes. 834
) proposes an
alteration in this custom, urging that this post of high honour be
bestowed on women who have borne sons who have signally benefited the
) The Stenia.
--This is to be
considered as the beginning of the festival proper. The women appear to
have gone down during the night of the 10th in small bands to Halimus
(cf. A. Mommsen, Heortologie,
296); probably the women of
each deme went together under the leadership of their presidents. As
they went they exchanged with one another those kinds of jokes and abuse
(Phot. 538; Hesych. sub voce
) which characterised so many
Greek festivals, especially those in honour of Demeter. The abuse and
jokes appear to have been very coarse (Cleomed. Cycl.
ii. p. 91, ed. 1605; cf. Apollod.
, Diod. 5.4
, of the festival of Demeter at Syracuse). The
derivation of the name στήνια
uncertain. Schömann (l.c.
) supposes it
from the haltingplaces of the companies, where the abuse no doubt was
peculiarly rife; Preller (op. cit.
339, note 19)
from an actual place of that name on the road to Halimus, and he
compares the γεφυρισμοὶ
at the bridge
over the Cephisus in the Eleusinia. The place Στήνια
is hypothetical, but the resemblance to the
) The Mysteries at
--Halimus was a village near Phalerum and Colias, on the
west coast of Attica. There was a temple there to Demeter Thesmophoros
), and also one at Colias (Hesych. sub
). Arnobius (adv.
5.28) refers to the mysteries at Halimus in these words:
“Alimontia mysteria quibus in Liberi honorem patris phallos
subrigit Graecia et simulacris fascinorum territoria cuncta
florescunt” --a passage written about A.D. 295, when all the
mysteries of Greece had become confused. In order to properly
understand, as far as we can, the mysteries of Halimus, we must turn to
St. Clement of Alexandria (Protrept.
11=p. 14, 21, ed.
Pott.) says: “Do you wish me to tell of Pherrephatta's
flower-gathering and her basket and of her rape, how the earth split
in sunder and the swine of Eubulus were swallowed up with the
disappearing deities--the reason wherefore at the Thesmophoria they
‘encrypt’ swine and cast them therein
)? This story the women celebrate, in their
feasts under varied forms, Thesmophoria, Scirophoria, Arretophoria,
all in one. shape or another giving a dramatic representation of the
Rape of Pherrephatta.” [We have. coined a word to express
“to put into crypts (μέγαρα
),” as with us. “pit” can mean
“to put into pits,” &c. It appears to have been
a ritualistic word, as it is, found in Epiphanius, and in connexion too
with, the Thesmophoria: αἱ μεγαρίζουσαι καὶ
quoted by Lobeck
832), whose conjecture, μεγάροις ζῶντας,
though brilliant and
widely adopted, is unnecessary.]
Even this passage was very obscure till E. Rohde (Rhein. Mus.
25.548 ff.) published a valuable scholion on
Lucian (Dial. Meretr. ii.
1) from a Vatican codex. The
scholion is very long, but it is of such capital importance that we must
reproduce it at length. “The θεσμοφορία
(accented paroxytone) is a festival of the
Greeks containing certain mystic rites, and these rites are also
called Scirophoria (σκιροφόρια
is solemnised on the basis of the somewhat mystical story, that when
Cora, as she was gathering flowers, was carried off by Pluto, there
at that very place a certain swineherd named Eubuleus was herding
his swine, and that they were swallowed up in the chasm (along with
the deities). It is in honour of this Eubuleus that swine are cast
into the chasms (χάσματα
Demeter and Cora. When the bodies of the swine which have been cast
into the crypts (μέγαρα
decayed, certain women who are called ἀντλητρίαι,
after purifying themselves for three
days, descend and bring them up. They go down into the sacred
), bring up the
remains, and place them on the altar; and they believe that the man
who takes of this offering and mixes it with his seed-corn will have
a good crop. Moreover, they say that there are serpents also below,
all about in the chasms (χάσματα
and that these serpents. eat the greater part of what is cast in:
wherefore too a rattling is made when the women draw up (ἀντλῶσιν
) the bodies and when they put
back again those well-known figures (τὰ
), so that the serpents, which they
believe to be the guardians of the sacred caverns (ἀδύτων
), may retire before them. This
ceremony is called ‘the carrying of things
which must not be spoken of’ (ἀρρηντοφόρια,
), and is performed as equally
efficacious for the productiveness of the fruits of the ground and
for the generation of human kind. Moreover, too, they bring there
sacred emblems which must not be spoken of (ἄρρητα ἱερά
) made of dough in the image of
serpents and the male organs of generation (ἀνδρῶν σχημάτων
).” [This is the
interpretation given by Rohde, p. 552, comparing the μύλλοι
at Syracuse (Ath. 14.647
a): but even so there is no need to emend
It would seem as if we should read
but the passage from
Arnobius quoted [p. 2.832]
above makes for Rohde's
interpretation: cf. Clement, op. cit.
Pott.] “And they take boughs of pine (κώνου
), for that tree is prolific; and into the crypts,
as these sacred caverns are called (es ἐς τὰ
μέγαρα οὕτως καλούμενα ἄδυτα
), these offerings
i. e. both the sacred
emblems and the pine-branches) and the swine, as we have already
mentioned, are cast, these latter as being so prolific, in order
thereby to symbolise the generation of fruit and of human kind--and
all as a thank-offering (χαριστηρία
) to Demeter, for she gave us her corn and
civilised (ἥμερον ἐποίησεν
race of men. The account of the feast given above is the mythical;
the one before us is the rationaldstic (δ̔ δὲ
). The name θεσμοφορία
(paroxytone) arises from the epithet
applied to Demeter,
because she laid down the law or rather her divine injunction
(νόμον ἤτοι θεσμόν
man is bound to provide for himself and to get by his own labour his
daily sustenance (τὴν τροφὴν πορίζεσθαί τε
).” Rohde supposes that the
Scholiast, finding in his text an allusion to the θεσμοφόρια
(proparoxytone), looked up in some book of
ritual and copied down what he found under θεσμοφορία
(paroxytone). Now, this latter was the name
of the day of the mysteries at Halimus, according to the right reading
in Photius, 87, 21 (compare with Schol. on Aristoph. Thes. 80
), wrongly altered by Porson to θεσμοφόρια
: cf. Fritzsche, p. 578.
Accordingly, in the description by the Schoiliast on Lucian, we have an
account of that part of the Thesmophoria which consisted of certain
mysteries solemnised by the women at Halimus,--mysteries both striking
in themselves and instructive in more points than one.
First of all, let us call to mind other similar sacrifices offered
elsewhere to Demeter and Persephone. We read that there was a hole
) sacred to Demeter Erinnys
at Onceum, near Thelpusa in Arcadia, into which live pigs were cast
; cf. Lycophr. Alex.
1225, λωβαῖσιν αἰκισθέντας Ὀγκαίου βόθρου
). The people
of Potniae in Boeotia (Paus. 9.8
) used to throw into “crypts as they are
called” (ἐς τὰ μέγαρα
) young pigs, and they relate that these pigs
emerged again [ “at Dodona,” says Pausanias. We do not see
how ἐν Δωδώνη
can stand, and
hesitatingly with Lobeck (Aglaoph.
829, 830) read
: for a verb is
certainly required, and what connexion are the Potnians likely to have
had every year with distant Dodona?] at the same season of the ensuing
year. At the fountain of Cyane, near Syracuse, a live bull was
precipitated, in honour of Cora, into a hole where it was supposed that
she had disappeared (Diod. 5.4
). Into a gulf
near Argos, at certain periods, torches were thrown in honour of Cora
Next, as regards these crypts, or μέγαρα,
as they were technically called, Eustathius (on
) says, ἰδικῶς μέγαρα κατάγεια
οἰκήματα ταῖν θεαῖν ἤγουν Δήμητρος καὶ
with the addition of Ael. Dionysius, εἰς δ̔̀ τὰ μυστικὰ ἱερὰ κατατίθενται
cf. Hesych. sub voce
Especial interest attaches
to them, as Sir Charles Newton opened one at Halicarnassus. It had been
originally circular in form, and amongst its contents were discovered
“certain small figures of pigs in marble, and at the very
bottom the bones of swine and of some other animals.” Taken
in connexion with the scholion to Lucian and the passage from St.
Clement, it may reasonably be inferred that Sir C. Newton discovered an
actual crypt used in the mystic ceremonies of the Thesmophoria. The
Scholiast tells both of the live pigs driven down into the crypts and of
the images (πλάσματα
), probably of
pigs, which were placed in the crypts after the flesh of the real swine
was removed; and both these were actually discovered at Halicarnassus.
(See Newton, Halicarnassus,
422; cf. Plate lviii.)
But the most interesting point of all is the reason given by the
Scholiast for the sacrifice. They believed that the flesh of the swine
so offered to Demeter would, if mixed with the seed-corn, magically add
to its fertility. We seem to be very far from civilised Periclean Athens
here. We are away back in savage times and their magic rites. In savage
and even bestial forms Demeter appears elsewhere in Greek religion, e.
g. Demeter Erinnys (Paus. 8.25
), Demeter Melaina (ib. 42, 1-4); but that
would be too wide a subject to enter on now. It is more relevant to show
by comparison that the custom of mixing blood with the seed-corn
a savage custom; and that has been
done by Mr. Andrew Lang in an article “Demeter and the Pig”
21.563, April 1887: cf.
Myth, Ritual, and Religion,
2.260-276), in which he
adduces the examples of the Pawnees of America, who used to mix the
blood of a human victim with the seed-corn, and of the Khonds in the
hillregion of Goomsar, who sacrificed both a pig and a man for the same
and further Mr. Lang shows how, in the two discoveries of Sir C.
Newton at Halicarnassus, “the whole character of Greek religion,
its humane and rational, and its wild and magical aspects, are thus
combined in the lovely Cnidian statue of Demeter (cf. Newton, op. cit.
p. 399; cf. Plate lvi.), and in the
fragments of bones of sacrificed swine and images of pigs which lay
in her subterranean cell.”
But though these savage rites came soon, under the wondrous alchemy of
the Greek imagination, to be transmuted into parts of a poetical drama;
still their savage character remained to the end, intertwined with the
beautiful legend of Demeter and her lost daughter. For the mysteries at
Halimus were a more or less complete dramatic representation of a
portion of that story, as is expressly stated by St. Clement, probably
the portion which described the rape of Proserpina (Rohde, p. 557). He
seems to preserve even the very order of the representations. We think
that here, too, the mysterious ceremony called δίωγμα
took place (Hesych. sub
), it being a pursuit after the ravished Proserpina; but
this is rendered uncertain by the article in Suidas under Χαλκι
[p. 2.833]δικὸν διωγμα,
viz. Θεσμοφορίοις Ἀθήνησί τι νόμιμον ἐν
πολέμῳ γυναικῶν εὐξαμένων διωχθῆναι τοὺς πολεμίους καὶ
συνέβη φυγεῖν δἰς Χαλκίδα.
We confess to have no
proper notion what this means: Welcker (Griech.
2.498) supposes that on one occasion
of battle the prayer of the women assembled for the Thesmophoria
effected the flight of the enemy to Chalcis. For the calathus
sacred in the rites of Proserpina, see Claudian,
139, and Spanheim ad Callim.
p. 652; it was worn also as a head-dress in
the rites of Demeter (Saglio in Dict. des Antiq.
As to the functions of the ἀντλητρίαι,
Rohde (p. 554) thinks that they were performed after
the festival, as otherwise the flesh of the swine would not
have had time to putrefy; but from the complexity and detail observed as
regards the drawing up of the flesh, and the subsequent consecration of
it on the altars and the mixing it with the seed-corn, we are led rather
to suppose that these are the ceremonies performed by the assembled
women, and that the casting of the swine into the crypt took place some
the actual mysteries were
celebrated. Mr. Frazer (op. cit.
p. 45) holds
that the rotted remains of the pigs were not taken up till the next
annual festival; and refers to this feature in the ceremony at Potniae
to which allusion has been made (Paus. 9.8
). This is possible: but it is not
likely that, in a scholion which is so explicit, such an important point
would have been omitted.
Lastly, it is to be noticed that the pig was the animal especially
sacrificed to Demeter. Why it was so different explanations are given.
(1) The mythologists said that when Triptolemus first sowed his crop a
pig destroyed his work (λυμαντικός,
Schol. on Aristoph. Frogs 338
therefore did he seize it, place the fruits on its head, and sacrifice
it to the goddess (Serv. on Verg. G.
3.118). Or, again, they tell that the
pig effaced the track of Proserpina as she was being carried away
4.405). (2) The Symbolists find in the pig
an emblem of fecundity (διὰ τὸ
Schol. on Lucian). Hence is to be explained the
many votive offerings to Demeter of pigs with children on their backs.
They are offered to the goddess by parents if haply she will grant them
children (Gerhard, Akademische Abhandl.
2.340, note 36).
The female womb was called χοῖρος
(Aristoph. Ach. 780
1353); cf. porcus
in Varro, R. R.
2.4, 10. (3) But, besides, the pig was a
common and effective purificatory
(Aesch. Eum. 283
), especially at
Eleusis; accordingly, both in statues (e. g. that of Demeter Eleusinia
in the Louvre: Fr. Lenormant in Dict. des Antiq.
1321) and coins (Cohen, Méd. Cons.
8, Vibia gens) Demeter appears with a purificatory torch and
a pig. Each of the initiates at Eleusis
sacrificed a pig on the 17th of Boedromion, the day of the Great
Eleusinia, which was called θυά
(Hesych. sub voce
), and so apparently on the
same day did each family at Athens (C. I. G.
There is a good picture of a family offering a pig to Demeter and
Persephone in Baumeister's Denkmäler,
fig. 457 = D. and S. i. fig. 1310. (4) Mr. Frazer (op. cit.
2.44 ff.) considers that the pig used in the rites of
Demeter was nothing else but the goddess herself in animal form (cf. p.
27): for in European folk-lore, as he argues at length (pp. 26 ff.), the
pig is the common embodiment of the corn-spirit; the goddess is
sacrificed to herself on the ground that she is her own enemy, as was
the case with Dionysus. At the Thesmophoria swine's flesh appears to
have been eaten (Schol. on Aristoph. Frogs
), and Mr. Frazer considers that “the meal must have
been a solemn sacrament or communion of worshippers partaking of the
body of the god.” We cannot help thinking that the Scholion
is too vague and unreliable to base on it such a large conclusion.
) The Anodos
), sometimes called κάθοδος
(Phot. 87; Schol. on
585).--On this day, the 12th, the women returned
to Athens in procession; and, says the Schol. on Theocr. 4.25, they
carried on their heads the sacred books of the ordinances of Demeter,
and, as it were praying, went off to Eleusis (καὶ
ὡσανεὶ λιτανεύουσαι ἀπήρχοντο εἰς Ἐλευσῖνα
Schol. on Thesm.
585 says that the name ἄνοδος
came from the wonen going up to the
Thesmophorion, for it lay on a height. We are to explain the strange
allusion of the Scholiast on Theocritus to Eleusis, by supposing that
the Eleusinion was the goal of the procession (Mommsen, op. cit.
p. 300), and that either the Eleusinion
was originally called the Thesmophorion, or, more probably, the
Thesmophorion was part of the Eleusinion (cf. Milchhöfer in
1.198-9). The carrying
of the books of the laws on their heads was an old custom with the women
(Aristoph. Eccl. 222
). It was for a long time supposed
that Demeter with a volume of laws was represented on one of the metopes
of the Parthenon; but this view is given up by Michaelis (Parthenon,
p. 134, metope xx.). However, there
is no doubt that in a vasepainting (Tischbein, IV xxxvi., reproduced by
Fr. Lenormant in Dict. des Antiq.
i. fig. 1296) Demeter
Thesmophoros does appear holding an open roll of laws.
) The Scira
).--Returned to Athens, still on the
12th (Mommsen, op. cit.
299), the women met for
the secret conclave called Σκίρα,
which Aristophanes represents them as passing resolutions
18); at any rate there was a president
834). We cannot tell what the nature of the
deliberations were; but that the Scira belonged to the Thesmophoria
seems certain. Besides the two passages just quoted, we find in the
Scholiast to the latter that the Scira were τὰ
γινόμενα ἱερὰ ἐν τῇ ἑοτῇ ταύτῃ
Thesmophoria) Δήμητρι καὶ Κόρη.
Such is the opinion maintained by Mommsen as to the position in the
Thesmophoria of the part called Scira; and in deference to his authority
we have placed it here, but with much hesitation. That Mommsen (287-289)
has proved that the Scira belonged to the Thesmophoria, and not to the
Oschophoria as is held by K. F. Hermann (Gottesd. Alt.
§ 56, 7), is certain: but it is not at all clear that the Scira
was not part of the ceremony at Halimus. In the first place, we should
wish to refer back ( § 3 d
) to the
passage of St. Clement (Protr.
11), where he speaks of
where the first probably, [p. 2.834]
and the third certainly, refer to the mysteries at Halimus,
and therefore we may presume that the second does too. Again, the
scholion on Lucian says that the θεσμοφορία
is also called σκιροφορία.
[Of course, there is no allusion to the
Scirophoria held on the 12th of Scirophorion, about the end of June; it
is a mere mistake of St. Clement and the Scholiast, Scirophoria for
Scira.] Further the scholion on Thesm.
οἱ δὲ ὅτι ἐπίσκυρα θύεται τῆ
: for the corrupt ἐπίσκυρα
Fritzsche (op. cit.
323) conjectures ἐπὶ Σκίρῳ τῆ
as in Steph. Byz. s. v. Σκίρος,
though the usual form is indeed Σκιράδι Ἀθηνᾷ
). For Athena
Sciras, see Preller, Griech. Myth.
i.3 167 if. The temple of Athena Sciras at Phalerum was quite close
to Halimus (Paus. 1.36
); and it was natural that, as the primitive
Demeter-worship of Halimus came gradually into connexion with the
worship of Athena till it was finally adopted into the Athenian
statereligion, it should get especially blended with just that side of
Athena-worship which expressed gratitude for the gifts of the Earth (cf.
Welcker, Gr. Götter.
2.283), and with just that
temple of Athena, namely the temple of Athena Sciras at Phalerum, where
her worship existed long before it was introduced into the city
(Mommsen, 54). In a similar manner the Demeter-worship of the
Gephyraeans became blended with the worship of Athena and Poseidon
; Preller, de Via Sacra,
and Demeter-worship in Cyprus became blended with the presiding national
divinity, Aphrodite (Engel, Kypros,
ii. p. 654;--Paus. 2.34
indeed it had a certain connexion with the worship of Aphrodite Colias
and of Genetyllis (Lobeck, 630), even in Attica (Preller, Dem. u.
344; cf. Gr. Myth.
) took place on the 13th. “At the
Thesmophoria,” says Cornutus (Nat. Deor.
“the women fast in honour of Demeter; either it is that they
honour her by a peculiar kind of sacrifice, in that they abstain for
one day from the gifts which she has given unto them, or it is in
heedful commemoration of the need that in days gone by fell upon men
at the hands of this goddess.” Seated on the ground and in
the deepest gloom, the women fasted, and they did not even offer any
sacrifice (Plut. de Isid. et Osirid.
69; cf. Aristoph. Birds 1517
they appear to have uttered wild mourning and lamentations, κομμοὶ και ορῆνοι
100.27, p. 262, ed. Kiessl.). These lamentations
point to introduction from the East (cf. Hdt.
), and partook of that piercing (σκληρὸν
) and Oriental, unmeasured and intemperate
expression of grief which Solon and Epimenides (Plut. Sol. 12
) tried to
put down; and in this sense perhaps the solemn words of the Homeric Hymn
to Demeter, 479, are to be understood: [ὄργια
δ᾽] οὔπως ἐστι παρεξίμεν οὔτε πυθέσθαι ἀχέειν, μέγα γάρ
τι θεῶν ἄχος ἰσχάνει αὐδήν.
Most scholars after Plutarch (de Isid.
30) place this fast in connexion with the
fast of nine days which the initiates at Eleusis observed, in imitation,
as is supposed, of the fast of Demeter in her grief for the loss of her
daughter--and rightly too in part, though we must remember that
Persephone did not play any very prominent
part in Thesmophoric worship generally, and that the lamentations and
fasting point also in part to the fact that probably the worship of
Demeter as a θεὸς χθόνιος
had got in
some degree mingled with that of the goddess in her other aspects;: and
it is to an earth-goddess that Iamblichus refers the κομμοὶ καὶ θρῆνοι
before alluded to, The
statement made by Lenormant (Dict. des Antiq.
i. p. 1059,
note 1182) that the reference was to the miserable state of humanity
prior to the possession of the gifts of Demeter is in some measure borne
out by the evidence adduced, viz. Cornut. l.c.,
417 Dindorf. He also
tells us that Cornutus (100.28) refers to the absence of fire in the
Hephaestia at Lemnos as a parallel to the fast of the Thesmophoria, a
point alluded to also by Welcker (op. cit.
2.502, note 19), but we have been unable to find the reference.
In Rome fasts in honour of Ceres were solemnised under Greek influence,
e. g. the jejunium Cereris
order of the Sibylline books. in 191 B.C. (Liv.
) to be held every five
years (cf. Cic. Balb. 24
; Festus, s. v. Graeca
p. 154 M.); also a jejunium
appears in the Calendar of Amiternum for Oct. 4th,
a date which nearly coincides with the Thesmophoria (cf. C. I.
i. pp. 325, 403).
) The Calligeneia
).--This was the name given to
the last day of the festival, the 14th, the day of rejoicing and holiday
after the severe discipline of the previous ceremonies. According to the
Schol. on Aristoph. Thes. 298
was a δαίμων περὶ τὴν Δημήτραν
: Hesych. sub voce
who says she is an ἀκόλουθος.
An important passage of Photius
quoted by Kock (Frag. Corn. Att.
i. p. 481 = Frag.
335) tells us that Apollodorus said that
Calligeneia was the Earth, others a daughter of Zeus and Demeter. while
Aristophanes the comedian represented her as the nurse of Demeter. But
the real fact probably is that καλλιγένεια
is an epithet of the goddess herself as the
mother of a fair child, just as Persephone is the fair child herself
Eur. Orest. 964
But, be that as it may, it is agreed that Calligeneia spoke the Prologue
of the Second Thesmophoriazusae of Aristophanes (Kock, l.c.
). The First Thesmophoriazusae (the play
which we possess intact) had its scene laid on the day of the νηστεία
: the Second Thesmophoriazusae
probably on the Calligeneia (Fritzsche, p. 585). In Ath. 1.29
we read that Demetrius of Troezen called the
Second Thesmophoriazusae Θεσμοφοριάσασαι
(cf. Kock, l.c.
i. e. the women who have
celebrating, the Thesmophoria. But
all the Grammarians call our play the πρῶται
while it may be maintained that Demetrius considered that the really
essential parts of the Thesmophoria were the mysteries and the fasting,
and wished to convey that when they were done the Thesmophoria was
virtually over. During the Calligeneia there was much loose
jollification, plenty of festivity (cf. Hesych.
), sacrifices (Alciphr.
3.39), and we hear of dances κνισμὸς
peculiar to this occasion
(Poll. 4.100: yet cf. Rohde, op. cit.
note), as well as cakes of obscene shapes (κτένας
), like the μύλλος
the Sicilian festival (cf. Lobeck, op. cit.
200); unless the κτένες
actually point to a rite of the nature of phallic
worship, as Theodoretus (quoted by Lobeck) thinks.
) The Zemia
).--The concluding act of the whole
festival at the end of the 14th was called ζημία,
a sacrifice offered ὑπὲρ τῶν
), a kind of sin-offering, probably in atonement for any
offences committed during the festival. As such, and as being the last
Harpocr. 122) of the
festival, it reminds us of the A πλημοχόαι
in the Eleusinia [ELEUSINIA
) The date of the Festival.
Thesmophoria were held in the middle of Pyanepsion (= latter half of
October and first half of November); as to this every one is agreed, but
there is some difficulty as to the actual days. Photius says (87, 21),
Θεσμοφορίων ἡμέραι δ́: δεκάτη
θεσμοφορία, ἑνδεκάτη κάθοδος
: see above, e
), δωδεκάτη νηστεία,
: Hesychius (s. v. ἄνδος
) refers that part of the festival to
the 11th; and the Schol. on Aristoph. Thes.
(ἐπεὶ τρίτη Σ̓τὶ Θεσμοφορίων
) says that the day of the ϝηστεία
(which is the day certainly alluded to) was the
third day counting the Thesmophoria at Halimus, the middle day if you
regard only the Athenian part of the festival (δεκάτῃ ἐν Ἁλιμοῦντι Θεσμοφόρια
) ἄγεται ὥστε
τρίτην μὲν ἀπὸ δεκάτης ιβ́ εἶναι, μέσην δὲ μὴ
συναριθμουμένης τῆς δεκάτης
); and the days are, 10th
Mysteries at Halimus, 11th ἄνοδος,
(on which day the scene of
the Thesmophoriazusae of Aristophanes is laid), 13th καλλιγένεια.
The Schol. goes on to state
that no one can maintain the far-fetched and artificial interpretation
(ἀλλ᾽ οὐδὲ ψυχρεύεσθαί τις
) that τρίτη
as ἑκταία ἑκαταβόλος σελάνα
Nearly all scholars are in
agreement with the scholiast: e. g. Schömann (2.483), Maury
(2.227), Schäfer (Demosthenes und seine Zeit,
3.359). [Of course, the statement Plut. Dem.
, that the νηστεία
was on the
16th, is quite in error.]
But there is much to recommend “the farfetched and
artificial” interpretation, and it is well supported by A.
Mommsen (op. cit.
293 ff.). He holds that
= τρίτη ἐπὶ δέκα.
Not to mention the fact that τρισκαιδεκάτη
would be troublesome to get
into verse and very cumbrous, we know that the days of the month are
often given without the decade to which they belonged being specified
(Aristoph. Cl. 1128
359, § § 58, 59). If
this is so in the present case, the city festival will be on the 12th,
13th, and 14th, and the 13th will be the middle day of the city
festival. Further, this will allow that the nine nights of strict
chastity which were enjoined on the women (see above, b
) should all be in Pyanepsion, the Stenia not beginning
till the 10th. Again, the 13th of months generally was considered an
unluckly day (cf. Hes. Op.
780); no decree is ever found
to have been passed on it; while the fourth day of each decade was a
lucky day for begetting children (ib. 794). Finally the Thesea, which we
know in Roman times were lengthened, will not overlap the Thesmophoria
if we allow that the latter did not in any sense begin till the 10th. We
confess to thinking Mommsen's view the more satisfactory; but must add
that Preller (Gribech. Myth.
1.640, note 1), with that
view before him, deliberately rejects it, though he gives no reasons for
As regards Θεσμοφορίων ἡ μέση
Aristophanes (cf. Ath. 7.307
f, ἡμεῖς νηστείαν ἄγομεν Θεσμοφορίων τὴν
), the day of the νηστεία
appears to have been the middle day of the strict
Athenian festival. For the whole Thesmophoria, as it existed in Attica
in Aristophanes' time, was a blending of the original Mysteries at
Halimus, where Demeter-worship was first introduced into Attica, and an
Athenian festival. The first two days (the Stenia and the Mysteries)
belonged to the former, the last three days to the latter.
We subjoin a table of the dates of the several parts of the festival,
according to the ordinary reckoning and to Mommsen.
||Pyanepsion (=Oct. 22)
|Mysteries at Halimus
||Pyanepsion (=Oct. 23)
|Anodos and Scira
||Pyanepsion (=Oct. 24)
||Pyanepsion (=Oct. 25)
|Calligeneia and Zemia
||Pyanepsion (=Oct. 26)
4. Thesmophoric worship outside Attica.
The house of
Cadmus in Thebes became the temple of Demeter Thesmophoros (Paus. 9.16
Xenophon (Xenoph. Hell. 5.2
) tells us that the Theban women
(ἐν τῆ Καδμείᾳ θεσμοφοριάζειν
(cf. Plut. Pel. 5
). At Drymaea in Phocis
the Thesmophoria was a yearly festival (Paus.
), Megara had a temple
to Demeter Thesmophoros (ib. 1.42, 6), and at Argos the daughters of
Danaus were said to have taught the Pelasgian women the rites of the
goddes (Hdt. 2.171
). The temples of Demeter
at Aegina (Hdt. 6.91
) and Troezen (Paus. 2.32
ceremonies connected with them analogous to those of Demeter in Attica:
for we hear of a λιθοβολία
(ib. § 2), in which probably resembled the βαλλητὺς
of the Eleusinia; and at Aegina of
the ribald abuse (Hdt. 6.83
), which was
characteristic of the γεφυρισμὸς
Eleusinia and of the Stenia in the Attic Thesmophoria. At Troezen,
Epidaurus and Aegina, Demeter and Cora appear under the names of Damia
and Auxesia (Hdt. 5.82
). At Agila in Laconia
there was a temple of Demeter to which women only were admitted (Paus. 4.17
which perhaps points to Thesmophoric worship, and Hesychius (s. v.
) speaks of Thesmophoria
at Sparta (cf. possibly C. I. G.
1435, of a priestess who
served ταῖν Θεαῖν
). About seven miles
from Pellene in Achaea was a temple of Demeter Mysia (Mysius was a man
who had entertained Demeter in her sorrow), in which a festival was held
lasting for seven days. On the third day not only the men, but all male
animals were excluded from the temple, and the women performed mystic
rites during the night (δρῶσιν ἐν τῇ νυκτὶ
ὁπόσα νόμος ἐστὶν αὐταῖς
). The next day the men
came back; and a contest of abuse ensued (Paus.
). In Arcadia Herodotus says (2.171), the old original worship
of Demeter Thesmophoros survived, as it remained unassailed by the
Dorian invaders. No doubt Demeter-worship in Arcadia presented very
striking peculiarities and forms, such as are to be gathered from the
stories told by Pausanias of [p. 2.836]
at Thelpusa (8.25, 4-5) and of Demeter Melaina at Phigalia (ib. 42,
1-4); but these have little affinity with the lawestablishing goddess,
and even the worship in the great temples of Demeter at Acacesion and
Megalopolis show not so much Pelasgian survival as Eleusinian influence;
for we know that a considerable missionary propaganda of the Great
Goddesses spread itself abroad from Eleusis about the time of
Epaminondas (cf. Paus. 8.37
; Lobeck, Aglaoph.
Preller, Dem. u. Perseph.
148 ff.). However, about half a
mile from Megalopolis there was a temple of Demeter in the Marsh
where women alone had the right to enter, which points to Thesmophoric
worship, and about four miles above Pheneus in Arcadia was a temple of
Demeter Thesmia (ib. 15, 4).
) The Islands and the
--With regard to the Thesmophoria at Eretria, Plutarch
31 = 2.298) asks why the women cook
their meat in the sun and not on the fire, and why they do not invoke
Calligeneia （καὶ Καλλιγένειαν οὐ
); and gives the unsatisfactory answer that it was
because the captive Trojan women on the return from Troy were
sacrificing the Thesmophoria there, when suddenly a favourable wind
sprang up and they had to leave the ceremonies uncompleted. Crete was a
very old seat of Demeter-worship [ORPHICA
] (cf. Hom. Hymn. to Demet.
123; Hes. Th. 971
), having among its months two
called Eleusinios and Thesmophorios. From Crete it passed to Paros,
where it was in the highest degree important (Hdt.
): we read that there Timo
was ὑποζάκορον τῶν χθονίων θεῶν,
guarding τὸ ἕρκος θεσμοφόρου
and was accused of having shown to Miltiades
sacred emblems which should not have been disclosed to any one of the
male sex. The archives of Paros were kept in the temple of Demeter
(C. I. G.
2557, 22). Cabarnus, who in the legend was
said to have pointed out to Demeter where Persephone had been carried
off, was the reputed ancestor of the Parian Demeterpriesthood (C.
2384). Perhaps this Parian Demeter-worship was
originally a family one; and when later it became a public worship, the
family retained the chief priesthood of it, like some of the priesthoods
at Eleusis. From Paros it passed to Thasos (Paus.
), if the worship
referred to here is Thesmophoric. At Delos there was certainly a
Thesmophoria (Ath. 3.109
), where a cake
was used (Lobeck, op. cit.
1063); and in Cyprus there was a
Thesmophoria lasting for nine days (cf. Engel, Kypros,
2.653-4). We hear of Thesmophoric worship in Asia Minor at Ephesus
), Miletus (Steph. Byz.
), Laodicea (C. I.
4000, a curious inscription, where see Boeckh's notes),
Smyrna (ib. 3194, 3211), Priene (ib. 2907); in Macedonia (Plb. 15.29
Thrace at Abdera (Diog. 50.9.43); and even so far away as Panticapaeum
(C. I. G.
2106-2108). Demeter-worship came into
Sicily from Greece, and at Syracuse there was a Thesmophoria in spring
(also called Demetria, Diod. 5.4
), at which
cakes of sesame and honey in
the shape of ἐφήβαια γυναικεῖα
eaten (Ath. 14.617
); and a Coreia in
summer, which was a very splendid feast: in it appeared the traditional
). At Catana there was a worship of Demeter
by women only,--her statue was never even heard of by men till Verres
stole it (Cic. Ver. 4.45, 99
); and at Agrigentum there was a
Thesmophoria (Polyaen. 5.1
). In Naples and
the adjoining country the worship of Demeter was widespread (C.
5799, and perhaps 5838 with Boeckh's note). The rites
of Ceres were the only foreign mysteries tolerated by the Romans (Cic. de Leg. 2.9
, 21); but
they readily accepted her rites, making the Greek priestesses of Demeter
(who almost all came from Naples or Velia) Roman citizens (cf. Cic. Balb. 24
). At Cumae to be priestess of Demeter Thesmophoros was the
highest honour to which matrons could aspire (Plut. Virt.
26 = 2.262); and an inscription of a priestess of the same
goddess has been found at Pompeii (C. I. G.
The chief work on the worship of Demeter Thesmophoros is Preller,
Demeter und Persephone,
335-365; also his
639-641. As regards the Athenian festival, see A. Mommsen,
Heortologie der Athener,
287-302; and Fritzsche's
edition of the Thesmophoriazusae.
For further, compare
Welcker, Griechische Götterlehre,
Maury, Histoire des Religions de la Grèce
2.222-229; Schömann, Griechische
2.482-6; K. F. Hermann,
§ 56, 12-27;
Mr. J. G. Frazer, The Golden Bough,
2.44 f., and
(ed. 9), s. v. Thesmophoria;
and, above all, Lenormant's
article on CERES in Daremberg and Saglio's
Dict. des Antiquités,