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Greek Women
written by "Carroll, Mitchell, 1870-1925"
...ne, and especially at the approach of vintage time, and when the vintage was put into the press. There were processions and rustic dances, and all the usual features of the carnival, as the revellers became more and more under the influence of the god. In these revels, women consecrated to this divinity, and called Bacchantes or Mnads, formed a special group. The symbol of their worship was a thyrsus--a pole ending with a bunch of vine or ivy leaves, or with a pine cone and a fillet. At intervals the procession would stop, and one of the revellers would mount a wagon or a platform and recount to those below, disguised as Pans and Satyrs, the adventures of the god of wine and joy. From these rustic masquerades emerged in time both Tragedy and Comedy. Of the festivals in the city, the Anthesteria, or Feast of Flowers, was of most interest to the fair sex. This festival occurred in the spring--when the preceding year's wine was tasted for the first time--and lasted three days. Its principal feature was the Feast of Beakers, which began at sunset with a great procession. Those who took part in it appeared, wearing wreaths of ivy and bearing torches, in the Outer Ceramicus. This festival was in the especial charge of the king-archon, and the wife of that magistrate played the chief role in the ceremonies. Maidens and matrons appeared, disguised as Hor, Nymphs, or Bacchantes, and crowded round the triumphant car on which the ancient image of Dionysus, was conveyed to the town. At a certain stage in the procession, the king-archon's wife, known as the Basilissa, was given a seat in the car, beside the image of Dionysus, for on this day she was the symbolical bride of the god. Thus, on this joyous wedding day, the nuptial procession conducted the car to the temple of the god in Limnai. In the inmost shrine of the temple a mystic sacrifice for the welfare of the State was offered by the Basilissa and the fourteen ladies of honor expressly a...

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