Identities of Gods and Heroes: Athenian Garden Sanctuaries and Gendered Rites of Passage

Jan N. Bremmer and Andrew Erskine

in The Gods of Ancient Greece

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780748637980
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670758 | DOI:
Identities of Gods and Heroes: Athenian Garden Sanctuaries and Gendered Rites of Passage

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Among the many places of worship that could be found in the territory of the city of Athens and its chôra during the classical period, several offer remarkable configurations of nature: the sanctuary of Aphrodite of the Gardens on the slope of the Acropolis with its flowery meadow, the green field in Eleusis for the celebration of the Eleusinian Mysteries in honour of Demeter and Persephone, the olive tree sacred to Athena near the Erechtheion, groves and running water at Brauron where young Athenian girls played the bear in honour of Artemis, etc. Often actualised in the tragedies of Euripides, the aetiological legends that constitute the foundations of these cults help to associate the relevant divinity with a hero or heroine. This combination is the starting point of a discussion of the identities of the gods in a polytheist system and their modifications through the association of a heroic partner.

Keywords: Gardens sanctuaries; Rites of passage; Heroes; Athens; Artemis; Eleusinian Mysteries; Aphrodite; Athena; Brauron; Polytheism

Chapter.  11061 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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