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Directly in front of the divinity is a female figure, unanimously interpreted as a priestess, and an altar, on which a fire is already burning. Towards this group the many-figured procession is moving, led by a bearded male figure.

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One detail appears interesting here, which illustrates the communication between the divine and human levels by gesture, for the leader of the procession is greeted with a handshake by the priestess, the representative of the divinity and guardian of the sanctuary, and led into the sacral area. Behind the leader of the procession there follow the kanephoros, the group of altar servants with the sacrificial animals, the musicians, a group of three men in long robes and carrying twigs in their hands, three hoplites and a youthful rider.

A single exception between the second and the third hoplite disturbs this image: a single bearded man in a long robe and with a twig in his right hand is looking the other way toward the end of the procession. That he is not simply looking back, but rather has turned his entire body in this direction, is made clear by the direction his legs are taking. Although the statement that Greek religion was a religion without priests, 21 compared to a theocratic system such as the Egyptian, is certainly not wrong per se, one should not assume that the office of priest in Greek religion was merely a routine matter to be taken care of by a state official with more or less mechanical tasks in carrying out rituals.

In this manner they also watched over the communication between men and gods, as mediators. Theano, one of the most famous priestesses in Greek mythology, is described in the Iliad receiving a procession of Trojan women — led by Hekabe — and opening the door of the sanctuary of Athena to them. Priests, on the other hand, are usually attributively declared as such in the images by holding the sacrificial knife.

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Women could very probably carry out slaughter of sacrificial animals in a specific ritual context such as the Thesmophoria. The more active role was then taken on by the priests, who prepared the next level of communication between men and gods by means of the bloody sacrifice. In ancient times there were certain ways of arranging this kind of pseudo-communication. Prior to the sacrifice, the sacrificial animal was sprinkled with water.

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A variant of this method consisted of giving the animal water to drink. These depictions become increasingly frequent from the beginning of the 5 th century BC, until they almost become a medial abstraction standing for the entire sacrificial ritual. At the far left two men are butchering a dead pig.

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Directly beside them, a group of three men is attempting to cut open a goat. Between the two groups, the forequarters of a ram and an animal limb on the tendrils indicate the work already done by these sacrificial servants. The group of persons next to this has a special position within the composition as a whole, for here are the only two clothed men in the entire scene, accompanied by a sacrificial servant. A bearded man in a long robe leads the group; in his right hand he is holding a kantharos, while his left hand is raised in a gesture of adoration.

Perhaps this is a priest who is just performing a libation. The musician could perhaps be interpreted as a spondaulos. To the right of this centre group there are two men busy ladling wine from an amphora and pieces of meat out of a large cauldron. What the next two male figures are doing remains uncertain, as their lower arms disappear within a high, but flattish basin.

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The business of the last two figures also remains unclear, for the object held by the man at the far right cannot be identified. The so-called Ricci hydria does not treat directly of the actual blood sacrifice in this part of its decoration, but rather of the preparation of the communal sacrificial feast with its function of creating identity, so that the animal sacrifice is placed within its proper ritual and most particularly social context, and does not appear as an isolated ritual procedure.

Finds from the sanctuary of Poseidon near the Isthmus of Corinth -dishes, drinking vessels, ash, and animal bones — make it clear that the earliest cult activity in the 11 th century BC consisted of animal sacrifices and communal meals. The suggestions vary from the late 6 th to the late 5th century BC 46 If the earlier date is correct, then this Argive building would be the oldest banqueting hall — in the architectural form mentioned — anywhere in a Greek sanctuary.

With regard to this type of building, the cult caves in the Isthmian sanctuary of Poseidon 47 provide a special architectural feature. At the sanctuary of Demeter and the Kore on the Akrokorinth the communal meal apparently outshone all other ritual actions at this site, for the architectural design of the cult area is impressively dominated by numerous banqueting rooms fig.

For this reason, a closer look at this cult complex is indicated. Despite the great significance of the cult complex for Corinth, and the fact that Pausanias visited it in the 2 nd century AD, 49 the information available from epigraphic or literary sources is extremely scanty. We know of no foundation myths, and the site does not display any special topographical peculiarities which could explain the construction of the sanctuary in such an inaccessible place.

Obviously the Corinthians must have believed in the holiness of this site, for reasons unknown to us, for even the smallest building required considerable terracing measures. Perhaps the existence of a spring, known today as the Haji Mustafa, played a role. As is well-known, Greek colonies generally took over most of the cults of the mother city, and in the case of Syracuse a cult of Demeter and the Kore was already in existence at the time of the second generation of colonists.

The extreme popularity of this type of vessel remained until the city of Corinth was destroyed by the Romans. Kalathoi must, then, have played a very special role in the rituals honouring Demeter and the Kore. Plan ca. To the west of this there was an open space, that can be interpreted as a place of sacrifice, on the evidence of ash remains and animal bones found there. The bones reveal that piglets were the most frequent sacrifice.

Around the mid-6 th century BC at the latest an architectural and probably also functional separation of the middle terrace from the lower was carried out, by means of a wall serving simultaneously as a separating and a supporting wall. In the late 6 th century BC the lower terrace became the centre of construction activity in the sanctuary. From this point in time onward the lower terrace was the scene of communal feasting. At least 16 small buildings have been excavated, and the excavators assume that more must have existed. These are small, modest units with an entry on the north side and continuous low benches running around them, which gave six to seven people room to lie on them.

However, in contrast to other sanctuaries where all participants dined together, the rituals in the sanctuary of Demeter evidently required meals in smaller groups. No kitchen of any kind was found in any of these small rooms. The excavators think that the course of the ritual will have been as follows: first, small groups sacrificed on the middle terrace and prepared the ritual meal there.

Only then did the groups go to the dining areas on the lower terrace, where the actual sacrificial feasting took place. On the middle terrace there are absolutely no indications of sacrificial feasts, whereas no remains of victims or of votive deposits have hitherto been discovered on the lower terrace. The number of votive offerings increases considerably, and further banqueting rooms were erected.

Probably changes in the course of the rituals led to an alteration in the architectural design of the banqueting rooms. These are no longer one-roomed buildings, but buildings with a dining room and auxiliary rooms. Some of these annexes functioned quite certainly as a kind of kitchen for the preparation of the meals, others display installations for ritual washing or a low bench along the wall.

Based upon the buildings excavated, one can assume that around BC some participants could dine at the same time on the lower terrace. The sanctuary did recover from this destruction very rapidly, however. New and sometimes larger banqueting buildings were erected on the lower terrace, which remained the centre of ritual feasting. Following this extensive rebuilding, the sanctuary remained for the most part unchanged until the destruction of Corinth in BC. It appears that the sanctuary of Demeter was spared the destructive rage of the Romans, in contrast to the city itself.

But the cult came suddenly to an end, nevertheless, and the sanctuary was abandoned, as was Corinth, for an entire century. It is not clear exactly when the sanctuary was put into use again following the foundation of the Roman Colonia Laus Iulia Corinthiensis in the year 44 BC. The Roman coins from the area of the sanctuary make it probable that this happened quite soon after the founding of the colony. During this time, however, both the religious topography of the sanctuary and the character of the cult changed.

Communal cult feasting clearly no longer plays a role. Only one of the Hellenistic banqueting halls survived, whose function was changed, however, following building alterations during the Empire. On the upper terrace three small temples with identical floor-plans were built during the second half of the 1 st century AD. Very probably the three cult buildings are identical with the temples of Demeter, Kore and the Fates seen by Pausanias in the 2 nd century AD.

This can be observed at other sanctuaries of Demeter in Eretria, Pergamon or Priene too. Perhaps not until the Roman Empire can one reckon with a stronger male presence, after the disappearance of the banqueting rooms as a constitutive element of the sanctuary. A similar development has been described as probable by Chr. Thomas for the sanctuary of Demeter in Pergamon. Women, as at the sanctuary of Demeter in Corinth, strengthened their specific sexual identity and significance, by means of the exclusion of the male sphere; this was achieved by ignoring social norms and boundaries among other things, without any consequences.

Dedications, in addition, were a polyvalent medium for displaying wealth and political power and, by means of the subtlety of the symbolic content, a versatile instrument of communication. The character, too, of this interaction could vary: mediative in the dealings with the divine sphere, usually competitive on the human level. A dedication appealed to the visual senses through its formal structure and its external form, while it appealed to the linguistic-cognitive abilities through the inscriptions accompanying it.

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The inventory lists that have been preserved give us an impression of the numerous votive gifts of precious metals, which certainly must have formed an important part of the image of the acropolis and its effect on the Athenians and foreign visitors, and which Thukydides also sees fit to mention. Linders was able to show so convincingly, Lycourgos did not act solely on grounds of piety; the Athenian politician was obviously strongly oriented towards the glorious period of Athenian history under Pericles and attempted to propagate power by means of the specific demonstration of wealth, although no power was there.

At the same time, virtual communication between the Athens of Lycourgos and that of Pericles took place by means of the recollection of the time before the Peloponnesian War, a communication which was supposed to declare an apparently unbroken tradition as reality. Cult sanctuaries as places of competitive communication with the help of votive objects crystalised during the course of the 8 th century BC, after replacing tombs as sacred places for the deposition of valuables as well as for the demonstration of wealth and power. Hansen has put it.

These epigrams give us an impressive idea of the communicative possibilities of Greek votive gifts. Day was able to show that early Greek epigrams actually invited the visitor in a sanctuary to read the text out loud and thus to interact directly with the dedication, by this means repeating the original ritual of dedication of the votive object.

The visitor is thus no longer an actor, but rather a passive recipient of a written communication. Any sanctuary could become a recipient of dedicated weapons; however, the Panhellenic sanctuaries occupy a special position in this regard. With regard to Olympia, P. Siewert has even conjectured the existence of cult regulations forbidding the consecration of captured weapons. The positioning of larger votive offerings in a sanctuary was never accidental, so that the original position of a votive gift, if known, frequently contributes to a better understanding of it.

The great monuments of victory at Delphi make it clear that they refer to one another and compete with each other. The Spartan votive offering enters into rivalising communication with the Athenian monument near it. Through the ritual of dedication and with the help of visual communication the Spartans, it seems, wished to quite consciously further the ideal and symbolic destruction of their hated opponents and of their glorious past.

About 40 years later, the Arcadian Federation imitated the Lacedaimonians. The Spartans for their part answered this provocation by dedicating two victory monuments in their own sanctuary of Athena Chalkioikos on the Acropolis of Sparta following the victories of Ephesos and Aigospotamoi, monuments which probably took over the motifs of the Nike of Paionios.

Frequently the attempt was quite consciously made to create a connection in content to a previous donor with the help of a dedication, and in this way to present oneself as the successor in ideals.


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This type of procedure can be observed in the dedication of buildings by Attalos I at the sanctuary of Apollon in Delphi fig. Schalles has pointed out, in exemplary fashion, the manifold connections in content of the Attalid foundation with older dedications that refer to the glorious struggles of the Greeks against the Persians and Galatians, among others the hall of the Athenians, the captured shields of Persians and Galatians at the temple of Apollon, and the great hall of the Aitolians.