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Brauron


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Site of a sanctuary of Artemis on the east coast of Attica. In the sanctuary itself there is a temple built in the 6th cent. and an architecturally innovative Pī‐shaped stoa with dining‐rooms built in the later part of the 5th cent. Cult activity at Brauron was esp. associated with the arkteia, a ritual, known also at the sanctuary of Artemis Munichia in Piraeus, in which young girls between the ages of 5 and 10 ‘became’ bears. The aetiological myth for the arkteia related that this service was required of all Athenian girls before marriage because of an incident in which a bear belonging to the sanctuary had been killed after becoming savage with a young girl. Modern scholars suggest that the ritual was a rite of passage which marked the physical maturation of pubescent girls and prepared them for taming by marriage by stressing their wildness. The sanctuary included a cave sacred to Iphigenia, and dedications were also made in celebration of successful childbirth. The Brauronia was a quadrennial festival involving a procession from Athens out to Brauron.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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