CLAS 203 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Eleusinian Mysteries, Acropolis Of Athens, Olive Oil

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4 Aug 2016
Department
Course
Class 6:
Midterm:
This Thursday
Will take up the entire class, although he doubts it will take that long)
15 short identification questions
One essay question (3 choices, choose one)- i.e. Discuss the dual nature of Zeus.
Thesmophoria Festival
Continued from last class
Not much else is known about it, since only women were able to attend (at the time,
most writing was done by men)
Eleusinian Mysteries
Mystery cults (most famous of all in Antiquity)
We dont know what the ritual entailed, it was meant to be kept a secret, the penalty for
sharing the secret was death.
Aristotle says in mystery one does not learn anything, but rather experiences it
Lasted 8 days, would carry secret objects in containers (may have been statutes of
Demeter)
Those who were going to be initiated had to go to the sea with a piglet, wash the pilot
in it and sacrifice it. The day of the festival there were usually hundreds of initiates
carrying piglets (over 24 kilometres). Then they would enter the Telosterion (temple),
drank a special non alcoholic drink. Initiates were promised a happier after life. We
have instances of many historical figures who were initiates.
Alcibiades
Athenian general
During the Peloponnesian War, Alcibiades changed his political allegiance several
times.
Left the Athenian fleet against Sicily
Profanation of the mysteries (at every corner in Athens were statues that were connect-
ed with the mysteries), they had been mutilated in various ways
The Athenians thought of calling him a religious sacrilege
Alcibiades avoided trial, ran away to Sparta.
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Hestia
Goddess of the hearth, home and family
Not always included in the 12 Olympians (sometimes replaced by Dionysus)
Chose to remain a virgin (although was approached by many gods)
Libation- offering of drink (and sometimes food), pouring wine or honey to honour a
God. Hestia was offered the first and last libations of a feast.
Athena
Daughter of Zeus, goddess of Wisdom, crafts and strategy in war
In some accounts, Athena springs from Zeus skull, fully armed, in other accounts Hep-
haestus cracks Zeus skull open to allow Athena to come out.
Carries the Aegis- a shield or a piece of animal skill (see below), it is something that
protects, representing benevolent protection.
Associated with wisdom, intelligence, cunning in strategy in war, rather than violent
killing
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She is not interested in relationships, she is a virgin
Absence of a mother - not even had contact with a woman since she was born from
Zeus head
Represents female virtue- modesty, obedience
Contest between Poseidon and Athena
Story: Athenian king was looking for a patron deity for the city, called Athena and Po-
seidon (both wanted to be the patron of the city), the king created a contest- both gods
had to give gifts to the city.
Poseidon struck the ground with his trident and a stream appeared, but the water was
salty
Athena created an olive tree, and won the contest. Olive oil was very important in
Athens- used not only for cooking, food preservation, but also lighting.
Great Panathenaea
One of the biggest public festivals in Athens, dedicated to Athena
Sacrificing of 100 wolves, meat was used for gigantic banquets on the final night
Included athletic competitions, winner rewarded with olive oil
Also included various musical contests
Mourning Athena
Marble relief of Athena, appears to be mourning the losses suffered by the citizens in
the war.
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