Tuesday, December 29, 2020


Laughing and Jeering as Part of a Religious Festival

Pausanias 7.27.9-10 (tr. W.H.S. Jones):
[9] About sixty stades distant from Pellene is the Mysaeum, a sanctuary of the Mysian Demeter. It is said that it was founded by Mysius, a man of Argos, who according to Argive tradition gave Demeter a welcome in his home. There is a grove in the Mysaeum, containing trees of every kind, and in it rises a copious supply of water from springs. Here they also celebrate a seven days' festival in honour of Demeter. [10] On the third day of the festival the men withdraw from the sanctuary, and the women are left to perform on that night the ritual that custom demands. Not only men are excluded, but even male dogs. On the following day the men come to the sanctuary, and the men and the women laugh and jeer at one another in turn.

[9] Πελλήνης δὲ ὅσον στάδια ἑξήκοντα ἀπέχει τὸ Μύσαιον, ἱερὸν Δήμητρος Μυσίας· ἱδρύσασθαι δὲ αὐτὸ Μύσιόν φασιν ἄνδρα Ἀργεῖον, ἐδέξατο δὲ οἴκῳ Δήμητρα καὶ ὁ Μύσιος λόγῳ τῷ Ἀργείων. ἔστι δὲ ἄλσος ἐν τῷ Μυσαίῳ, δένδρα ὁμοίως τὰ πάντα, καὶ ὕδωρ ἄφθονον ἄνεισιν ἐκ πηγῶν. ἄγουσι δὲ καὶ ἑορτὴν τῇ Δήμητρι ἐνταῦθα ἡμερῶν ἑπτά· [10] τρίτῃ δὲ ἡμέρᾳ τῆς ἑορτῆς ὑπεξίασιν οἱ ἄνδρες ἐκ τοῦ ἱεροῦ, καταλειπόμεναι δὲ αἱ γυναῖκες δρῶσιν ἐν τῇ νυκτὶ ὁπόσα νόμος ἐστὶν αὐταῖς· ἀπελαύνονται δὲ οὐχ οἱ ἄνδρες μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ τῶν κυνῶν τὸ ἄρρεν. ἐς δὲ τὴν ἐπιοῦσαν ἀφικομένων ἐς τὸ ἱερὸν τῶν ἀνδρῶν, αἱ γυναῖκές τε ἐς αὐτοὺς καὶ ἀνὰ μέρος ἐς τὰς γυναῖκας οἱ ἄνδρες γέλωτί τε ἐς ἀλλήλους χρῶνται καὶ σκώμμασιν.
See Jeremy F. Hultin, The Ethics of Obscene Speech in Early Christianity and Its Environment (Leiden: Brill, 2008), pp. 28-40.

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