CLA219H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Erechtheus, Chytri, 8 Women

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10 Nov 2012
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Lecture 8 Women in Ritual
Women had important roles in religious ceremonies
Priestesses were granted a share of the sacrificial animals as well as get paid for their work
Sometimes years were dated based on the priestesses at that time (see Thucydides)
Female deities required female priestesses
Women were also necessary for many tasks at the temple
o Weaving, sewing, etc.
Many choices for women in religion besides being a priestess depending on the age of the girl
o Alteris corn grinder for the goddess
o Kanephoros carries grains, garlands, sacrifices, etc. at the front of a procession
Getting Priesthood
Each order had their own specific requirements
Gentilician priesthoods
o Priesthood restricted to a particular genos (tribe)
Ex. Eteoboutadai Genos worshipped Athena Polias Athena in her role as
guardian of the city
Pandion was an early king of Athens had two sons, Boutes and Erectheus
o When he died, Boutes was given priesthood, Erectheus was given kingship
All priests must descend from Boutes
All kings must descend from Erectheus
Democratic priesthood held by a citizen
o 4 paths:
Inheritance
Allotment drawing a name at random (the gods would guide it)
qualifications wealth and a good family
Election needed to pay a fee once elected
Purchase after which no payouts were needed for wars, etc.
They would also get portions of sacrificial animals
A priest needed to be healthy with a sound body and free from physical defects
o The bodies of the gods are perfect, yours must be as well
Arrhephoria
Early kings were often depicted in artwork with the body of a snake (sign of fertility, connection
with the earth)
Arrhe secrets, phoria carrying
o Carrying of secret things
Two girls between the ages of 7 and 11 would live on the acropolis for a year
o Would help to weave new peplos (robe) for the statue of Athena
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The girls were given a basket full of something unknown
o Carried in to an underground sanctuary for Eros and Aphrodite
o They would leave that basket at the sanctuary and pick up a new one (contents were
still unknown)
Ericthonius born from the ground semen of Hephaestus wiped off by Athena
The daughters of Cecrops (the king of Athens at the time), Herse, Aglaurus, and Pandrosus, were
given a basket by Athena, told not to look inside
o They do, inside is baby Ericthonius and a bunch of snakes
o The daughters are so sacred that they jump off the acropolis to their deaths
This is a festival of sexual initiation
o Snake, basket, and Aphrodite all represent sex
Arkteia
Arktos bear
Celebrated at Brauron (sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia)
Virgin goddess associated with young children and transitions
Brauron was located in Attica, about 20km from Athens
This festival would occur every 4 years, and only daughters of Athenian citizens could participate
They would walk from the acropolis at Athens
o When they arrived there would be dancing and races that occurred
The girls would wear saffron coloured robes and could be seen in artwork wearing bear masks
o The bear was sacred to Artemis
o A girl was playing with a bear, it scratched her and was killed
o Artemis sent a plague that could only be cured if young girls pretended to be bears
Function of this festival was to please/satisfy the gods
Anthesteria
Spring festival lasting 3 days
o Pithoigia
o Choes (chous)
o Chytroi
Slaves were able to participate
Wine and drinking festival for Dionysus
Day 1 Pithoigia
“the opening of the jars”
Dionysus of the Marshes
o Opens jars and taste the new wine
Day 2 Choes
“libations/ vessel used to make libations”
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A day of pollution
The people would paint their doors black and eat together in silence
Each person was given a jar that held 2.5 litres of wine
o children over the age of 3 would get their first pitcher (considerably smaller though)
this represented their initiation into the family
there was the idea of sacrifice associated with the wine (wine=blood)
o Dionysus torn apart by Titans, blood of Dionysus himself
Then the people would decorate their pitchers with wreaths and make a procession to the
temple of Dionysus
14 women called the Gerarai (‘venerable ones’)
o Swore a sacrificial oath binding them together
o They were appointed at the Temple of Dionysus
o Had some sacred functions during the festival
They were led by the Basilinna, the wife of the Archon Basileus (the king magistrate)
o She would have a sacred marriage to Dionysus
Maybe with someone dressed like Dionysus (maybe even her husband)
would have sex with this stand-in Dionysus
Day 3 Chytroi
“cooking pots”
The people would cook grains for Hermes
Association with underworld, therefore a connection to death
Girls would swing on swings
Erigone, daughter of Icarius
o Icarius was the first man given wine by Dionysus
o Shared it with other men, they thought that they were being poisoned (having never
been drunk before) so they killed Icarius
o Erigone finds hims and hangs herself
o Association between swinging and hanging
Adonia
Adonis was the mortal lover of Aphrodite
o Very very attractive
He was gored by a boar
o Went hunting even after Aphrodite told him not to
Bion writes ‘Lament for Adonis’
o Really beautiful and sad
o Aphrodite’s thoughts when she finds out Adonis has been killed
Celebrated in early summer
This was not a formal festival organized by the city
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Document Summary

Women had important roles in religious ceremonies. Priestesses were granted a share of the sacrificial animals as well as get paid for their work. Sometimes years were dated based on the priestesses at that time (see thucydides) Women were also necessary for many tasks at the temple: weaving, sewing, etc. Many choices for women in religion besides being a priestess depending on the age of the girl: alteris corn grinder for the goddess, kanephoros carries grains, garlands, sacrifices, etc. at the front of a procession. Each order had their own specific requirements. Gentilician priesthoods: priesthood restricted to a particular genos (tribe) Eteoboutadai genos worshipped athena polias athena in her role as guardian of the city. Pandion was an early king of athens had two sons, boutes and erectheus: when he died, boutes was given priesthood, erectheus was given kingship. Democratic priesthood held by a citizen: 4 paths: Allotment drawing a name at random (the gods would guide it)

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