#1  #2  Eleusinian Relief      Description of #2     Cult statue

#1   Description:

From Ellen D. Reeder, Pandora: Women in Classical  Greece (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995),  page 290, fig. 85.

On this bell-shaped krater (bowl for mixing wine and water), which is the only vase attributed to the "Persephone  Painter," Persephone returns to her mother from the  Underworld. Hermes and Hecate accompany Persephone  and help her to effect the transition from the rocky earthen  terrain beneath which lies the Underworld, to reunion with  her mother, Demeter. Persephone is dressed as a bride and  raises her hand in greeting. Hecate, holding torches like  those used in the bridal procession, guides Persephone  toward Demeter, who stands waiting solemnly, grasping  the scepter that marks her status as goddess and queen,  divine mistress of agriculture and growth.  (ca. 440  BCE) New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fletcher  Fund 1928, inv. no. 28.57.23.

THE GIFT OF GRAIN    #1  Description   #2


Pausanias 8.25.5:

[5] When Demeter was wandering in search of her daughter, she was followed, it is said, by Poseidon, who lusted after her. So she turned, the story runs, into a mare, and grazed with the mares of Oncius; realizing that he was outwitted, Poseidon too changed into a stallion and enjoyed Demeter.

[6] At first, they say, Demeter was angry at what had happened, but later on she laid aside her wrath and wished to bathe in the Ladon. So the goddess has obtained two surnames, Fury because of her avenging anger, because the Arcadians call being wrathful “being furious,” and Bather (Lusia) because she bathed in the Ladon. The images in the temple are of wood, but their faces, hands and feet are of Parian marble.

Pausanias 8.42.2:

 [1] The second mountain, Mount Elaius, is some thirty stades away from Phigalia, and has a cave sacred to Demeter surnamed Black. The Phigalians accept the account of the people of Thelpusa about the mating of Poseidon and Demeter, but they assert that Demeter gave birth, not to a horse, but to the Mistress, as the Arcadians call her.

[2] Afterwards, they say, angry with Poseidon and grieved at the rape of Persephone, she put on black apparel and shut herself up in this cavern for a long time. But when all the fruits of the earth were perishing, and the human race dying yet more through famine, no god, it seemed, knew where Demeter was in hiding,

[3] until Pan, they say, visited Arcadia. Roaming from mountain to mountain as he hunted, he came at last to Mount Elaius and spied Demeter, the state she was in and the clothes she wore. So Zeus learnt this from Pan, and sent the Fates to Demeter, who listened to the Fates and laid aside her wrath, moderating her grief as well. For these reasons, the Phigalians say, they concluded that this cavern was sacred to Demeter and set up in it a wooden image.

[4] The image, they say, was made after this fashion. It was seated on a rock, like to a woman in all respects save the head. She had the head and hair of a horse, and there grew out of her head images of serpents and other beasts. Her tunic reached right to her feet; on one of her hands was a dolphin, on the other a dove. Now why they had the image made after this fashion is plain to any intelligent man who is learned in traditions.
     They say that they named her Black because the goddess had black apparel.

[5] They cannot relate either who made this wooden image or how it caught fire. But the old image was destroyed, and the Phigalians gave the goddess no fresh image, while they neglected for the most part her festivals and sacrifices, until the barrenness fell on the land. Then they went as suppliants to the Pythian priestess and received this response: —

                           Azanian Arcadians, acorn-eaters, who dwell
                           In Phigaleia, the cave that hid Deo [Deo = Demeter], who bare a horse,
                           You have come to learn a cure for grievous famine,
                           Who alone have twice been nomads, alone have twice lived on wild fruits.
                           It was Deo who made you cease from pasturing, Deo who made you pasture again
                           After being binders of corn and eaters  of cakes,
                           Because she was deprived of privileges and ancient honors given by men of former times.
                           And soon will she make you eat each other and feed on your children,
                           Unless you appease her anger with libations offered by all your people,
                           And adorn with divine honors the nook of the cave.

DEMETER AMONG THE EGYPTIANS according to Herodotus

THE CULT OF DEMETER  (see Rituals of Demeter)

ELEUSIS  (From Perseus):

The city of Eleusis is located 22 km W of Athens on a ridge above the bay  of Eleusis and at the S side of a large plain. The site has been occupied since the  Early Bronze Age and the acropolis fortified at least as early as the Late Bronze Age. The location  commands the land routes from Athens to the Peloponnese and NW Greece.

The sanctuary of Demeter is located within the city walls of Eleusis, occupying the  area between the  E slope of the acropolis and the E fortification wall, and is isolated from the rest of  the city by a  separate cross-wall at the NE. Within the sanctuary another cross-wall, breached by  the Lesser  Propylaia divides the N area of the priests' dwellings and administration buildings from the sacred inner space. The main architectural features of the inner sanctuary are the  Kallichoron or sacred  well, the cave of Pluto adjacent to a triangular court and the Telesterion of Demeter  (an almost square building that could seat 3000) where the secret initiation rites were completed  and entrance to the uninitiated was forbidden on pain of death. An anaktoron or separate shrine was  maintained within the Telesterion. From the outer sanctuary the Greater Propylaia opened onto  the grand  Sacred Way which joined the sanctuary to Athens.


According to tradition, Mycenaean Eleusis was the home of an early cult of Demeter  and one of the twelve Attic cities to unite in the Synoecism formed by Theseus of Athens. Although the  association with  Demeter is not definite, remains of a Mycenaean shrine have indeed been found  under the later  sanctuary of the goddess.

In the Geometric period (at ca. 750 B.C.) the earliest Telesterion (the building where  the mysteries were conducted) was built. At ca. 600 B.C. a larger Telesterion, known as the  Solonian was built and  the Eleusinian Mysteries became a Panhellenic cult.

In the 2nd half of the 6th century B.C., under the influence of Peisistratos and his  sons, the size of  the sanctuary doubled and new walls and an enlarged Telesterion were constructed.  The Peisistratean  Telesterion was destroyed during the Persian War. The new Telesterion was built during the Periklean  age in the 2nd  half of the 5th century B.C. and the sanctuary became one of the most renowned in  Greece.

 The  fame of the Mysteries spread beyond the Greek borders.   During the Peloponnesian War (431-404) the sanctuary was respected by the warring  states. In the  2nd half of the 4th century the sanctuary of Demeter and the city of Eleusis  increased in size to  attain its greatest extend.

The Roman Emperors favored the sanctuary and the city of Eleusis. When the Telesterion of Perikles was burnt in 170 B.C., it was rebuilt and slightly enlarged by Marcus  Aurelius. Many  Roman officials (including Hadrian in 125 A.D.) were initiated into the Mysteries.  The destruction  of the sanctuary by the Visigoths in 396 A.D. and the anti-pagan decree of  Theodosius ca. 390 A.D.  ended religious activity at the sanctuary.

Kallikhoron (Sacred well) at Eleusis