To continue with the blog series (that is hiccupping along!) I had begun last year. Click here to have a quick refresher of the infographic I created as an overview of the locations featured in my book The Labyrinthine Journey. In this post, we will be heading to Eleusis, renowned for the ‘mysteries’, and where the legend of Demeter and Persephone was ignited.
Eleusis was established circa 1900 BCE, during the Mycenaean Bronze Age. Fortifications were built, as the site was considered a strategic location on the Saronic Gulf. It was the ‘gateway’ between Attica (Attika) and the Peloponnese. The town got its name from a mythical hero, Eleusis. According to mythology, Eleusis was the father of Triptolemus and when Demeter arrived in town looking for her daughter, she was hired by Cothonea, Eleusis’ wife, to look after their son. While ‘taking care’ of the baby, Demeter decided she would make him immortal by dipping the boy in fire. You can imagine the horror for the parents, and when Eleusis confronted her, Demeter did what most Greek gods did to mortals—she killed him.
Regardless of what Demeter did, the town of Eleusis then became the centre of worship for her and her daughter, Persephone and resulted in the Eleusinian Mysteries.
c. 1,900 BCE: First recorded settlement at Eleusis.
c. 1,500 BCE: First temple to Demeter & Persephone built at Eleusis.
c. 600 BCE: The Eleusinian Mysteries become part of the official Athenian religious calendar.
c. 479 BCE: Eleusis is destroyed by the Persians.
c. 450 BCE: Pericles oversees a significant rebuilding programme at Eleusis.
c. 360 BCE: Eleusis is again expanded and new fortifications added.
170 CE: Eleusis is destroyed by the Costobocs.
170 CE – 180 CE: Marcus Aurelius oversees a rebuilding programme at Eleusis which includes a new propylaeum.
379 CE: Theodosius I orders the closure of all Greek pagan sites.
395 CE: Eleusis is destroyed in the Visigoth invasion.
Source: Cartwright, M. (2015, January 14). Eleusis. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/Eleusis/
Why did Evan and his companions go to Eleusis? After a near death experience and a long trek from Delphi, it was a good place to stop and rest. Plus, it was not far from Athens, their main destination.
I had written articles about Demeter, Persephone and on the Eleusinian Mysteries. You can click on the links below for more information on each.
Thank you for your continued support and as always, I look forward to your comments and will respond.