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[22] And when the first maidens died, they sent others; and they entered into the city by night, lest, being seen outside the precinct, they should be put to the sword; but afterwards they sent babes with their nurses. And when the thousand years were passed, after the Phocian war they ceased to send suppliants.1


1 The story of the custom of propitiating Athena at Troy by sending two Locrian virgins to her every year is similarly told by Tzetzes, who adds some interesting particulars omitted by Apollodorus. From him we learn that when the maidens arrived, the Trojans met them and tried to catch them. If they caught the maidens, they killed them and burned their bones with the wood of wild trees which bore no fruit. Having done so, they threw the ashes from Mount Traron into the sea. But if the maidens escaped from their pursuers, they ascended secretly to the sanctuary of Athena and became her priestesses, sweeping and sprinkling the sacred precinct; but they might not approach the goddess, nor quit the sanctuary except by night. Tzetzes agrees with Apollodorus in describing the maidens during their term of service as barefoot, with cropped hair, and clad each in a single tunic. He refers to the Sicilian historian Timaeus as his authority for the statement that the custom was observed for a thousand years, and that it came to an end after the Phocian war (357-346 B.C.). See Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 1141. The maidens were chosen by lot from the hundred noblest families in LocrisPolybius xii.5); and when they escaped death on landing, they served the goddess in the sanctuary for the term of their lives (Plut. De sera numinis vindicta 12), or, at all events, till their successors arrived (Suidas, s.v. κατεγήρασαν). For other references to this very remarkable custom, which appears to be well authenticated, see Strab. 13.1.40; Scholiast on Hom. Il. xiii.66; Iamblichus, De Pythagorica vita, viii.42; Suidas, s.v. ποινή (quoting Aelian); Serv. Verg. A. 1.41. Servius, in contradiction to our other authorities, says that only one maiden was sent annually. Strabo appears to affirm that the custom originated as late as the Persian period (τὰς δὲ λοκρίδας πεμφθῆναι περσῶν ἤδη κρατούντων συνέβη). This view is accepted by Clinton, who accordingly holds that the custom lasted from 559 B.C. to 346 B.C.(Fasti Hellenici, i.134ff.).

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