tegea

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PLACES IN THE ANCIENT WORLD: Tegea

TEGEA was an ancient Greek city-state or polis in the southeast of Arcadia in the Peloponnese. The city participated in wider Greek affairs such as the Persian Wars of the early 5th century BCE and was a valuable ally of Sparta during the Peloponnesian War at the other end of the same century. The city was the site of an important sanctuary to the goddess Athena Alea, which had a large 4th century BCE Doric temple.

In mythology, the town was founded by Tegeates (son of Lycaon, the king of Arcadia) or Aleus (another legendary Arcadian king). The archaeological record shows that Tegea was first settled in the Neolithic period and was an important Mycenaean site. 

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Article by Mark Cartwright || Photos by Dan Diffendale on AHE

Persephone Epithets

Azesia- “of the Dried Fruits” and/or “Who Seeks”. The epithet is shared with her mother, Demeter. It is possible the double meaning is intended to link them while referring to their separate aspects.

Brimo- “the Angry” or “the Terrifying”. An alternative interpretation places the meaning as “of the Crackling Fire.” This epithet was most commonly shared by Persephone, Demeter, Hekate, and Cybele. However, many Goddesses are known to be called by this name. The interpretation of “the Crackling Fire” refers to Hekate bearing the torches during the initial search for Persephone.

Carpophorus- “Bringer of Fruit”. This epithet was specific to Persephone in the role of Kore. She shared it with Demeter. This was a common epithet used at their temple in Tegea. 

Chthonia- “of the Earth” or “Subterranean”. This is an epithet common to any deity who journeys to the Underworld. Notably, it is shared by Hades, Persephone, Demeter, Hekate, Hermes, and Dionysus.

Daeira- “Knowing One”. Demeter’s and Persephone’s Mystery traditions were one of the first and most well-known. Persephone comprehended the mysteries of living and death. She knew the mechanisms of the Earth.

Deione- “Daughter of Demeter”.

Despoena- “The Ruling Goddess” or “The Mistress.” This epithet is shared by Persephone, Demeter, and Aphrodite.

Eleusina- “of Eleusis”. This epithet is shared by Persephone and Demeter. The main area of their worship was the town of Eleusis in Attica.

Epaine- “the Fearful”. It is not that Persephone herself was afraid, but her worshipers praised her because of how they feared her.

Hagne- “Pure” or “Holy One”.

Hercyna- “of the Stone Enclosure”. This is a poorly understood epithet. In my opinion, it refers to her domain in the Underworld.

Kore- “The Maiden”. This is an alternate name for Persephone and was her original name before joining Hades in the Underworld. It can be used for her at any time.

Leptynis- There is no solid interpretation of this epithet. Leptins were small Greek coins used in ancient times, so I often think this means “of the Coins.” This would work because her husband was Hades, Lord of Riches and coins were used as payment to enter the Underworld.

Megala Thea- “Great Goddess”.

Melitodes- “Sweet as Honey”. Persephone, as seen above, was considered to be a terrifying Goddess. This epithet was used as a way of invoking her softly, with compliments.

Praxidike- “Bringer of Justice”.

Protogone- “First Born”. This is another poorly understood epithet. I interpret it as a nod to Persephone as Demeter’s first-born child. (Zeus had many Goddesses he considered to be his Queen. Demeter was one of them, and Persephone is often considered to be their child from this time.)

Soteira- “Savior”. An epithet shared by many Goddesses including Artemis, Persephone, Athena, and Eunomia. In Laconia and Arcadia, this was commonly used by worshipers of Persephone. A similar epithet is shared by Hades and Dionysus, as well as many other Gods.

(Source: theoi.com- Titles of Demeter & Kore: Ancient Greek Religion)

I hope this is a helpful list for anyone interested in worshiping Persephone. These are her main epithets. I took out alternate spellings and epithets which had the same meanings but were less widely known than the ones shown here. If you are interested in ideas on when to use these epithets or inspiration based on them, shoot me an ask!

Votive relief:

Depiction of Pluto enthroned, holding a sceptre and cornucopia. Persephone stands in front of him with a sceptre and Demeter with a bowl and torch. Two women worshipers are shown at the right. Found at Tegea*, in Arkadia. (ca later 4th- early 3rd B.C)

*Tegea was the home city of one of the “nine earthly muses” of the antiquity; the poetess and author of 22 surviving epigrams, Anyte of Tegea.

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Coming up: The Nekromanteion of Acheron:

According to literary tradition the river Acheron was the river Hermes lead the souls of the deceased through to board on Charon’s boat that would take them to the underworld. The nekromanteion of Acheron- in the contemporay village of Mesopotamos- was an important sanctuary to which people travelled to get in touch with the spirits of their deceased friends and relatives.

So many times Kleino’s mother, on her daughter’s grave has fallen apart crying and moaning for the beloved child that died so young; Philaenida’s soul embracing with her mourning, who never having experienced the joys of marriage, sailed up Acheron’s leafy stream”

an epigram by Anyte of Tegea.

“Leafy stream” actually describes Acheron the best. I can’t really put it to more words, but the river Acheron, pleasant as it is, definitely has an eerie quality about it. It certainly is very cold even in the hot greek summer. 

Marble relief depicting Pluto, Persephone, Demeter, and worshippers From Tegea, Arkadia. Late 4th-early 3rd c. BCE. National Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece. Photo by Dan Diffendale, 2008 via Flickr

Eleusinian Mysteries - Day Ten: Epistrophè

Today, 25 Boedromion, the mystae and epoptes took leave of Eleusis. It had been a week in which people of different genders, ages, and classes had joined together as pilgrims. They began the journey home, not in a grand procession, but in small groups. They had seen the revelation of holy things, and their lives had been transformed. Some of them would return to Eleusis to repeat the experience in later years; all would cherish the memory for the rest of their lives.

The officiants of the Mysteries returned along the Sacred Way to Athens. The next day, 26 Boedromion, the Archon Basileus delivered a report of the celebration of the Mysteries and any irregularities that might have occurred to the Council of 500 (Athenian government) at the City Eleusinion. This represented the official conclusion of the Greater Mysteries for that year.

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Scopas or Skopas (Ancient Greek: Σκόπας) (c. 395 BC – 350 BC) was an Ancient Greek sculptor and architect most famous for his statue of Meleager, the copper statue of “Aphrodite” and the head of goddess Hygieia, daughter of Asclepius. Scopas was born on the island of Paros. His father was the sculptor Aristandros. Skopas left Paros at an early age and travelled throughout the Hellenic world. Scopas worked with Praxiteles, and he sculpted parts of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, especially the reliefs. He led the building of the new temple of Athena Alea at Tegea. Similar to Lysippus, Scopas is artistically a successor of the Classical Greek sculptor Polykleitos. The faces of the heads are almost in quadrat. The deeply sunken eyes and a slightly opened mouth are recognizable characteristics in the figures of Scopas.Works by Scopas are preserved in the British Museum (reliefs) in London; fragments from the temple of Athena Alea at Tegea in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens; the celebrated Ludovisi Ares in the Palazzo Altemps, Rome; a statue of Pothos restored as Apollo Citharoedus in the Capitoline Museum, Rome; and his statue of Meleager, unmentioned in ancient literature but surviving in numerous replicas, perhaps best represented by a torso in the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

Pictures 1) Roman marble head of Meleager, after Scopas, on a restored bust (British Museum), 2) Ludovisi Ares. Pentelic marble, Roman copy after a Greek original from ca. 320 BC. Some restorations in Cararra marble by Gianlorenzo Bernini, 1622, 3) Apollo Barberini. The musician god holds in his left arm the “kithara” and in his right one a cup (the right arm and the left front arm were worked separatly). Eyeballs in white stone and lashes in bronze (iris and pupils, lost, were made in colored materials). Probable copy of the cult statue in the temple of Apollo Palatinus in Rome (free reproduction of a work from 4th century BC). 1st–2nd century CE, 4) Pothos, or Desire, was a celebrated and much imitated statue by Scopas. Roman copies featured the human figure with a variety of props, such as musical instruments and fabrics as depicted here, in an example that was in the collection of Cardinal Alessandro Albani.

A Cauldron for Athena

Anthologia Palatina 6.153 = Anyte of Tegea (3rd cent. BCE)

The cauldron is big enough for an ox.
He who dedicated it is Cleobotus, son of Eriaspidas.
His fatherland is Tegea of the broad dancing-ground.
The gift is for Athena.  Aristoteles made it,
A man of Kleitor, with the same name as his father.

 Βουχανδὴς ὁ λέβης· ὁ δὲ θεὶς Ἐριασπίδα υἱός,
    Κλεύβοτος· ἁ πάτρα δ’ εὐρύχορος Τεγέα·
τἀθάνᾳ δὲ τὸ δῶρον· Ἀριστοτέλης δ’ ἐπόησεν
    Κλειτόριος, γενέτᾳ ταὐτὸ λαχὼν ὄνομα.

Urartian cauldron.  Now in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara.  Photo credit: Evgeny Genkin/Wikimedia Commons.

A Promise of Relaxation

Anthologia Palatina 9.313 = Anyte of Tegea (fl. 3rd cent. BCE)

Sit, everyone, beneath the leaves-
Lovely and flourishing- of the laurel tree,
And draw a sweet draft from the charming spring,
So that you may give your dear body a rest
From panting with toils in the summer-time,
As it’s brushed by the gusts of the West Wind.

 Ἵζευ ἅπας ὑπὸ καλὰ δάφνας εὐθαλέα φύλλα
    ὡραίου τ’ ἄρυσαι νάματος ἁδὺ πόμα,
ὄφρα τοι ἀσθμαίνοντα πόνοις θέρεος φίλα γυῖα
    ἀμπαύσῃς πνοιᾷ τυπτόμενα Ζεφύρου.

In the Shade of the Old Oak Tree, Asher Brown Durand (1796-1886)