Women’s Festivals: <i>Thesmophoria</i> and <i>Adonia</i>

Robert Parker

in Polytheism and Society at Athens

Published in print March 2007 | ISBN: 9780199216116
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191705847 | DOI:
Women’s Festivals: Thesmophoria and Adonia

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Aside from oaths, festivals are another expression of the separateness of the female religious sphere in ancient Greece. In Athens, as in most regions of Greece, much the most important member of that class was the Thesmophoria. For a married citizen woman, participation in the festival was a defining experience. The rite was, it seems, celebrated by all the wives of Athenian citizens (with their little children), and by them only. Even if not all married women participated every year, the point remains that they had the right, and were apparently expected, to attend. The Thesmophoria must have been the most striking interruption of the year in the routine of women's lives. Another festival that women of all types were free to attend was the Adonia. During the festival, seeds of quick-growing plants (lettuce and fennel) were planted on large potsherds to create the so-called gardens of Adonis.

Keywords: ancient Athens; festivals; women; Thesmophoria; Adonia; Adonis; rituals; cults; agriculture; fertility

Chapter.  10243 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical History

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