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CLA219H1 Lecture Notes - Bona Dea, Anthesteria, Chytri

Course Code
Regina Höschele

of 6
Women and Ritual
** No class next week
** Midterm next week for an hour and then an hour of class
- Starting off with a quote from Euripides: The Captive Melanippe.
o And in divine affairs I think this of the first importance we have the greatest part. For
at the oracles of Phoebus women expound Apollo’s will. At the holy seat of Dodona by
the sacred oak the female race conveys the thoughts of Zeus to all Greeks who desire it.
As for the holy rituals performed for the Fates and the nameless goddess, these are not
holy in men’s hands; but among women they flourish, every one of them. Thus in a holy
service woman plays the righteous role.
Female deities required female priestesses. Also female caretakers provided an analogy between the
home and the temple. Women had to clean and weave and cook for the temples parallel with
responsibilities in the home.
Many roles for women in the temple.
** Typical Greek roles for females in the temple:
Aristophanes, Lysistrate 641-47: Age seven I was an arrephoros, next I was an aletris corn grinder,
Age 10: shed saffron robe for the Foundress; kanephoros carry garland and grains and sacrifices.
Terms to be used in the first segment of lecture:
- Gentilician priesthoods
- Eteoboutadai Genos (Genos meaning clan)
- Athena Polias
- Pandion, Boutes and Erechtheus (Pandion was an Athenian king. His sons were Boutes and
Erechtheus. Boutes was given the priesthood; the clan in descent was therefore the priests)
- Paths to priesthood: inheritance, allotment, election/appointment, purchase {All of these
involved great sums of money; had to be from some sort of high ranking family}
- ** Must be healthy and free from defects and be in sound body
**Second kind of priesthood: democratic priesthood. Demos the general body. Had to be a citizen: not
a slave.
**Priesthoods were a welcome income for wealthy families. You didn’t have to pay general taxes and
you received meat and tithes from the priesthood.
~On to some priesthoods
- Erichthonius : descendants of Hephaestus’ sperm wiped from Athena’s leg and thrown on the
ground; born from the ground.
- Cecrops: daughters Herse, Aglaurus, Pandroses: Athena gave these three daughters a basket:
don’t look inside! They looked. Terrified and jumped off the acropolis.
- An Athenian festival Arrhephoria {Phoria carrying // Arrhe secrets}: the carrying of secret
o Two Athenian girls from good homes, worked with the priests, every year they would
weave a new robe for the statue of Athena.
Every year they would carry a basket from the acropolis to a sanctuary of Eros
and Aphrodite and a different basket back again: wouldn’t know what’s in the
- This festival is like a coming of age, initiation of sexuality.
- A Carving: Athena’s peplos on the Parthenon frieze: depicts a young figure handing a peplos to
an older male figure.
- Brauron; sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia
o Artemis = virginal and transition but therefore associated with young girls. Young girls
came to this.
o Only the young daughters of Athenians
o A procession from Athens to Brauron: 20k.
- Wear Sapphron coloured robes or bear masks.
o Artemis has a sacred bear; the bear was killed for harming a small girl. Artemis sent a
plague. Would only reverse the plague if little girls pretended to be bears
Fesitval was filled with dancing and racing
o Attica: is the region of Greece in which Athens is located (think of it as kind of like a
province, I guess, although the Greeks themselves didn't use that terminology). Brauron,
where the Arkteia was held, is also in Attica
- Arktoi is the Greek word for 'bears' (plural arktoi, singular arktos).
- Spring festival; 3 days.
o Day one: Pithoigia, Day two: Choes, Day three: Chytroi
- Slaves could partake
- Pithoigia (Day 1) The opening of Jars. They would go to a temple of Dionysis, (Dionysis of
Marches) open the jars and taste the wine
- Choes (Day 2) (Chous) Libation; the vessel used to make libations is the Chous. This was the
day of pollution; paint your doors black and eat in silence. Everyone had their own pitcher of
wine. When children were 3 they received their own (albeit smaller) pitcher of wine; wine
represented blood? Once everyone was nice and drunk they put wreaths on their pitchers and
they all processed to Dionysis’s temple. There were14 women, the ‘Geraria’ and the ‘Basilinna’
who had a sacred marriage with Dionysis. (how they enacted this sacred marriage?)
- Basilinna, wife of Archon Basileus
- Geraria, ‘venerable ones’
- Chytroi (Day 3) (means cooking pots; cook up various grains and make an offering to Hermes of
the Dead, this day was about death in some way; On this day girls would swing joyfully on
o Story is about Erigone; Icarius was the first guy Dionysis gave wine to. He shared the
wine with others. They were drunk (thought they were poisoned ) and killed him.
Daughter found his body and hung herself. Therefore all girls must swing joyfully.
Connection with hanging yourself and swinging.
- Erigone, daughter of Icarius
- Adonis the male and mortal lover of Aphrodite; completely gorgeous.
- The story of Adonis: he was gored by a boar; he went out hunting Aphrodite told him not to go
out, but he did.
- Poem called the Lament for Adonis; by Bion
- Festival for Adonis celebrated in early summer
- Not officially done by city
- Celebrated by women
- They would lament for Adonis. They would hang out on rooftops and shout loudly
- They would grow gardens, let them sprout, then deliberately let them die, and then chuck them
into the sea. mock funeral for Adonis
- A sexual appeal to women: mourning over the loss of a gorgeous man; a chance to feel sexual
- Assocaited with pigs; pig sacrifices
- Throw piglets into pits; throw penis cakes into pits let things decompose and then sprinkle the
bits onto garden
- Only celebrated by women
- Aristophanes, Thesmophoriazusae
- Festival for Demeter and Persephone; in the fall: restricted to mature and married women
- Festival of fertility
- Anodos, nesteia, kalligeneia; (Days of the Festivals)
o Anodos: ascent; They climbed to the Pnyx (Area used for political debate; strictly male)
kicked the men out. They all slept in tents
o Nesteia: fasting; Demeter would fast, therefore we shall fast. We all sit around the
statue of Demeter and not eat