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Eleusinian Mysteries

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  The Eleusinian Mysteries were secretive ceremonies of initiation into the cult of Demeter and Kore (Demeter’s daughter Persephone), whose main sanctuary lay in Eleusis, west of Athens.  Demeter was the goddess of agricultural abundance, and Persephone, Demeter’s daughter was the goddess of the Underworld and of fertility of the earth.  

Demeter and Kore, as well as Dionysus, god of wine and ritual ecstasy – were central figures in the Eleusinian Mysteries, which represented the foremost mystery cult in ancient Greece.  The low and frequently overlooked ruins lying beside the path that leads down the northern slope of the Acropolis into the Agora are the crumbling walls and terraces of a building complex that once played a major role in ancient Greek religious life – the City Eleusinion.  Archaeological traces of the once-celebrated rites stretch across the Attic landscape from the Athenian Agora and the ancient cemetery of Kerameikos to the intriguing sanctuary of Demeter at Eleusis.  Athens Plus (23.10.2009): Secrets of Eleusinian Mysteries still confound (p.12)   Photo: Demeter and Persephone stand on either side of a nude youth. Fragments of the Great Eleusinian Relief (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)


Must See in Greece

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The island of Samothraki in the North Aegean lies some 29 nautical miles southwest of the Thracian city of Alexandroupolis. Far from being a typical Greek island, it ressembles a mountain surrounded by sea. Its highest peak, Mount Fengari, rises to almost 1,700 metres. Samothraki is one of the truly virgin islands, where one can bathe in the shade of sycamore trees. Its singular mountain terrain, its abundance of crystal clear water, its archaeological finds along with an intangible mysticism that hovers in the air, offer the visitor an exotic holiday. To the north of the main town, Hora, is Paleopolis, the archaic and Hellenistic centre of the island, where there are still ruins of the Ancient City and the Sanctuary of the Great Gods. This is where the Cabeiri Rites took place, mystical ceremonies of equal importance to the Eleusinian, probably aiming to secure life after death. The island’s most famous artistic treasure is the 2.5-metre marble statue of Nike, now known as the Winged Victory of Samothrace, dating from about 190 BC. It was discovered in pieces on the island in 1863 and is now displayed in the Louvre museum in Paris.