Pilgrims and Pilgrimage in Ancient Greece
by Matthew Dillon.
Pilgrimage was clearly a highly organised affair,
taken very seriously both by the organising state and attending states.
who were received by
festivals were announced and states invited to send official delegations;
another set of
from states who wanted to be represented at the pilgrimage site.
The phenomena of the
gave pilgrimage an institutional framework.
... Sacred truces guaranteeing the safety of pilgrims, both those representing their states and ordinary individuals, encouraged pilgrimage activity and were an essential factor in attracting pilgrims to a particular celebration. " [p. 26]
The safety of pilgrims in the Greek world was linked with the general adherence
to the provisions of the various sacred truces which operated in the Greek world,
for a religious occasion in itself could not guarantee the safety of the participants.
It was the panhellenic nature of the various festivals that inspired truces which
would enable all Greeks to participate if they wished.
The fact that there were sacred truces implies that they were thought to be necessary
for the well-being of pilgrims and the success of festivals,
as well as giving an official framework and formality to the celebrations.
... The fact that these truces, the inviolability of sacred sites, and the safety of those attending were generally if not always observed helps to account for the continuing popularity of the major religious festivals and for pilgrimage as a popular institution in the Greek world. " [p. 58-59]
The healing sanctuaries: "Of all the reasons for which pilgrims undertook pilgrimage, one of the most popular was the pilgrimage in search of a cure." Sanctuaries described are:
Oracular centers described ["Delphi, Dodona and Siwah are mentioned by Aristophanes and Plato as being on the same footing. " [p. 94] ] are:
|"The pious need for initiations, cures and oracles drew Greeks to panhellenic sanctuaries where they invoked the gods to meet their particular needs. The wide range of questions asked at oracles, the cures sought at healing sanctuaries, and the need for reassurance about the life after death, indicate the very great degree to which the Greeks viewed the gods as intervening in the lives of individuals and in the affairs of the state. " [p. 98]|
|Year 1||Isthmia (April/May)
|Year 2||Nemea (July/August)|
|Year 3||Isthmia (April/May)
|Year 4||Nemea (July/August)|
"The festivals and accompanying contests were religious events
... The cult framework of all the panhellenic festivals is undeniable: they were held in honor of the gods, there were sacrifices and processions, and the contests were a prominent part of the festivals. The fruits of victory were often dedicated to the gods,
... and victory was so important that athletes could pray for it -- or death." [p. 122-123].
|"There were a number of pilgrimages in the Greek world which were restricted to people of particular ethnic groups, and generally these festivals were of great antiquity. These religious celebrations were open only to Greeks of a specific ethnos ('race'; plural ethne)." [p. 124]|
Pilgrims to sacred sites clearly had various cult rituals to perform.
The success of their pilgrimage depended on the observance of these rituals,
and rules covered the various rites to be carried out in the cults.
... There were also rules which could be said to be 'secular' in nature, not dealing with the ritual of the cults, and there were also many ritual laws concerning women." [p. 182]
"Although there were some rites in which they were not permitted to participate,
the majority of religious activities did allow for the presence of women,
and sometimes for their active participation."
"As pilgrims, women often travelled for hundreds of kilometres for religious purposes." [p. 182]
"The cost of pilgrimage should not be overstated:
when so many people travelled on foot, had a simple diet, and slept in the open or in tents,
wealth should not be considered as a prerequisite for pilgrimage.
"Certain cults were restricted to women. Only women could enter the temple of Dionysos at Bryseai (Lakonia); the same applied to the temple of Dememeter, near Megapolis, while the sanctuary of Kore at Megalopolis could be entered by women at any time, but men could only go in once a year." [p. 186]
|"Several of the prohibitions placed on pilgrims had a religious motivation. These included dietary restrictions, sexual abstinence, and the general need for ritual purity on the part of the worshipper, and they were an important part of the cult ritual in which the pilgrims were involved at sacred sites. Other regulations and restrictions were of a non-religious nature, and included important prescriptions determining the way in which pilgrims were expected to behave at the sanctuary." [p. 204]|
Glossary: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z.
|Copyright © 2007-2016 by J. Zimmerman (except for quotations).|