The Kanephoros (Ancient Greek: Κανηφόρος (pl. Κανηφόροι Kanephoroi), latinate plural form Canephorae, "Basket Bearer(s)")[1] was an honorific office given to unmarried young women in ancient Greece, which involved the privilege of leading the procession to sacrifice at festivals; the highest honour was to lead the pompe (πομπή) at the Panathenaic Festival. The role was given to a virgin selected from amongst the aristocratic or Eupatrid families of Athens whose purity and youth was thought essential to ensure a successful sacrifice. Her task was to carry a basket or kanoun (κανοῦν), which contained the offering of barley or first fruits, the sacrificial knife and fillets to decorate the bull,[2] in procession through the city up to the altar on the acropolis.

From Aristophanes’s Lysistrata we have evidence that the office of kanephoros was the last in a sequence of religious duties that an unmarried Athenian girl might undertake; first as an arrhephoros, later an aletris, then as an arktos (ἄρκτος).[3] The passage continues, “[f]inally, when I had grown to be a beautiful girl, I was a kanephoros and wore a necklace of dried figs.[4]” Though the precise age of the kanephoros is not known this suggests the girl was probably between 11 and 15. In such a conspicuous and ritually important office the chosen girl was expected to have a blameless reputation: in 514 BCE the unnamed sister of Harmodios was rebuffed as kanephoros in the Greater Panathenaia; this insult is cited as the cause of her brother’s later assassination of the tyrant Hipparchos which hastened the fall from power of the Peisistratid family.[5][6][7] The cult practice of bearing the basket in a sacrificial procession may date back to the Minoan period; however, the Athenian usage seems to belong to the beginnings of the Panathenaia. The role is also referred to in myth with the abduction of Oreithyia by Boreas. A girl who acted as kanephoros would have advertised the central place of her family in Athenian society, and her own availability for a dynastic marriage.

The depiction of the kanephoros in art presents an interesting problem. Unlike the ephebos there are few representations of such girls, possibly because of the restriction on mentioning the name of honourable women in ancient Greek society.[8] Excluding the Parthenon there are only some 44 images of girls and karoun in the period 550 to 330 BCE. Otherwise she must be identified by her dress since while serving her office the kanephoros wore a distinctive full-length mantle, for example in the kylix by Makron, Toledo, Ohio 1972.55. On the Parthenon Frieze none of the maidens (who may be identified by their long hair) are depicted carrying the kanoun and all of them wear the festival mantle, however Linda Jones Roccos suggests that the maidens wearing both peplos and mantle implies they are kanephoroi, which would be consistent with the evidence of contemporary vase painting and wedding iconography.[9] This would solve the problem of the curious absence of the basket bearers from the processional frieze.

The kanephoros was not exclusive to the Panathenaia or to Athens, she may be found at a number of festival across the Greek world, including: the Country Dionysia of Attica; Mother of the Gods in Athens, and Apollo Pythais, Artemis Brauronia, Asklepios; Demeter and Isis at Eleusis; Zeus Disoterien in Piraeus; Zeus Basileus in Lebadeia; Argive Hera; Xphrodite; Hermes at Salamis; Hekate on Delos; Sarapis and Isis; Herakles; Heros Iatros; Neoptolemos. Arsinoe II is mentioned as kanephoros on the Rosetta stone.

Egastinai frieze Louvre MR825
East frieze of the Parthenon from the so-called Ergastinai (Ἐργαστῖναι "weavers") section, possibly depicting the karephoroi handing the kanoun to the male figure on the extreme left. Louvre, MR825.

See also


  1. ^ Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Canephorae" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  2. ^ L. Deubner, Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics II, 1909, pp. 433–35.
  3. ^ Aristophanes, Lys. 641–47.
  4. ^ Translation by C. Levine in N. Loraux, The Children of Athena, 1993, p. 167, spoken by the chorus of women to Stratyllis.
  5. ^ Thucydides 656.
  6. ^ Aristotle Ath. Pol. 18.
  7. ^ BM Lavelle The Nature of Hipparchos' Insult to Harmondios, AJP107, 1986, pp. 318–31.
  8. ^ M. Golden Names and Naming at Athens:Three Studies, CV 30, 1986, pp. 245–69.
  9. ^ L. J. Roccos, The Kanephoros and her Festival Mantle in Greek Art 1995, pp. 654–59.


  • Brulé, Pierre (translated by Antonia Nevill). Women of Ancient Greece. Edinburgh University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-7486-1643-8, 2003.
  • Dillon, Matthew. Girls and Women in Classical Greek Religion. Routledge, 2003, ISBN 0-415-31916-1.
  • Goff, Barbara E. Citizen Bacchae: Women’s Ritual Practice in Ancient Greece. University of California Press, 2004, ISBN 0-520-23998-9.
  • Roccos, Linda Jones. "The Kanephoros and her Festival Mantle in Greek Art", American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 99, No. 4, October 1995, pp. 641–666.
Apple of Discord

An apple of discord is a reference to the Golden Apple of Discord (Greek: μῆλον τῆς Ἔριδος) which, according to Greek mythology, the goddess Eris (Gr. Ἔρις, "Strife") tossed in the midst of the feast of the gods at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis as a prize of beauty, thus sparking a vanity-fueled dispute among Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite that eventually led to the Trojan War (for the complete story, see The Judgement of Paris). Thus, "apple of discord" is used to signify the core, kernel, or crux of an argument, or a small matter that could lead to a bigger dispute.


In Greek mythology, Argo (; in Greek: Ἀργώ) was the ship on which Jason and the Argonauts sailed from Iolcos to Colchis to retrieve the Golden Fleece.


Arrhephoria was a feast among the Athenians, instituted in honor of Athena. The word is derived from the Greek term Ἀρρηφόρια, which is composed of ἀρρητον, "mystery", and φέρω, "I carry". This feast was also called Hersiphoria, from Herse, the daughter of Cecrops, on whose account it was established.

On the Athenian Acropolis two girls aged between seven and eleven were elected to live for a year at a time as arrhephoroi, tending the sacred olive tree and weaving, with the help of other women, the new robe for Athena. Proud parents commemorated their daughters' service by making dedications on the Acropolis. At the annual festival of the Arrhephoria the girls (according to Pausanias) placed on their heads what the priestess of Athena gives them to carry. Neither the priestess knows what it is she is giving them, nor do the girls. In the city there is a sacred precinct not far from that of Aphrodite in the Garden and through it runs a natural underground passage. Here the virgins descend. Down below they leave behind what they have brought and take something else and carry it, veiled as it is. These two virgins are discharged forthwith and others are taken up to the Acropolis in their place.Interpretation of the festival is difficult because of the lack of sources, but it is clear that the virginal arrhephoroi are chosen from the noblest families of the city and are deployed in a context of impregnation (dew), sexual power (Aphrodite and Eros), and birth (Erichthonios). The word "arrhephoros" etymologically probably means "dew carrier", which at first sight does not help. The arrhephoroi were charged with weaving the peplos (garments) for Athena. The aletrides ground the grain for Athena. The arkios were the priestesses who celebrated a rite intended to forgive an offense against Artemis. The kanephorai were the girls who carried the baskets with all of the offerings to the festival.Archaeological evidence reveals that from near the Erechtheion a secret stairway led off the Acropolis past a small rock-cut shrine of Eros and Aphrodite, near which was the precinct to which they were going. The mythical associations of the arrhephoroi are with their starting-point the Erechtheion. Kekrops, the first king of Athens, whose tomb was in the complex, had three daughters, Aglauros, Herse, and Pandrosos. The mystery revolves around innocence, obedience, and fecundity. They were given a closed basket by Athena who forbade them to open it. One night Aglauros and Herse gave in to curiosity, opened the basket, and saw Ericthonios, the mysterious child of Hephaestus. Snakes also appeared out of the basket, and in terror the two girls jumped off the Acropolis to their deaths. The sanctuary of Aglauros lies at the foot of the cliff; it may have been the precinct to which the arrhephoroi descended. Pandrosos, who did not succumb to this fatal curiosity, has a shrine next to the sacred olive tree on the Acropolis itself.

In the fifth century B.C. Aristophanes wrote Lysistrata which explained the stages of the women during this festival:

"When I was just seven, I was arrephoros, then at ten, I was aletris for the archegetis, then I carried the orange robe as arkios (bear) at Brauronia, and finally, having become a beautiful girl, I was kanephoros, with a necklace of dried figs."

These stages have certain tasks which display the ancient system that all girls must go by when reaching puberty. The stages of this "initiation" are as follows. The arrhephoroi comes first, and is a time when the girl dresses in white and begins to weave for the offering to Athena. This is an art that was frequently performed by women during the time, and therefore must be taught at a young age. The second stage is to teach the girl how to bake, specifically, how to bake bread. The third step is considered a symbol of death and resurrection. The girl must attend and participate in the festival with the older women. These stages are all tasks that the girl will use for the rest of her life, and therefore are held with high importance and expectation.

It is believed through sources that Attica was one of the first in history to have one of these festivals.Modern followers of Hellenism (religion) celebrate it 3 Skirophorion, in accordance with the Attic calendar.

Athenian festivals

The festival calendar of Classical Athens involved the staging of a large number of festivals each year.


Canephora is a genus of flowering plants in the Rubiaceae family, indigenous to Madagascar.


In classical antiquity, the cornucopia (from Latin cornu copiae), also called the horn of plenty, was a symbol of abundance and nourishment, commonly a large horn-shaped container overflowing with produce, flowers or nuts.


A cup-bearer was an officer of high rank in royal courts whose duty it was to serve the drinks at the royal table. On account of the constant fear of plots and intrigues, a person must be regarded as thoroughly trustworthy to hold the position. He must guard against poison in the king's cup and was sometimes required to swallow some of the wine before serving it. His confidential relations with the king often gave him a position of great influence. The position of cup-bearer is greatly valued and given only to a select few throughout history.

Qualifications for the job were not held lightly but of high esteem valued for their beauty and even more for their modesty, industriousness and courage.

The cup-bearer as an honorific role, for example with the Egyptian hieroglyph for a cup-bearer, was used as late as 196 BC in the Rosetta Stone for the Kanephoros cup-bearer Areia, daughter of Diogenes; each Ptolemaic Decree starting with the Decree of Canopus honored a cup-bearer. A much older role was the appointment of Sargon of Akkad as cup-bearer in the 23rd century BC.

Dragon's teeth (mythology)

In Greek myth, dragon's teeth feature prominently in the legends of the Phoenician prince Cadmus and in Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece. In each case, the dragons are real and breathe fire. Their teeth, once planted, would grow into fully armed warriors.

Cadmus, the bringer of literacy and civilization, killed the sacred dragon that guarded the spring of Ares. The goddess Athena told him to sow the teeth, from which sprang a group of ferocious warriors called the spartoi. He threw a precious jewel into the midst of the warriors, who turned on each other in an attempt to seize the stone for themselves. The five survivors joined with Cadmus to found the city of Thebes.The classical legends of Cadmus and Jason have given rise to the phrase "to sow dragon's teeth." This is used as a metaphor to refer to doing something that has the effect of fomenting disputes.

Galatea (mythology)

Galatea (; Greek: Γαλάτεια; "she who is milk-white") is a name popularly applied to the statue carved of ivory by Pygmalion of Cyprus, which then came to life in Greek mythology. In modern English the name usually alludes to that story.

Galatea is also the name of Polyphemus's object of desire in Theocritus's Idylls VI and XI and is linked with Polyphemus again in the myth of Acis and Galatea in Ovid's Metamorphoses.


The harpē (ἅρπη) was a type of sword or sickle; a sword with a sickle protrusion along one edge near the tip of the blade. The harpe is mentioned in Greek and Roman sources, and almost always in mythological contexts.

The harpe sword is most notably identified as the weapon used by Cronus to castrate and depose his father, Uranus. Alternately, that weapon is identified as a more traditional sickle or scythe. The harpe, scythe or sickle was either a flint or adamantine (diamond) blade, and was provided to Cronus by his mother, Gaia. According to an ancient myth recorded in Hesiod's Theogony, Uranus had cast his and Gaia's children, the Cyclopes and Hecatonchires, down into Tartarus. The enraged Gaia plotted Uranus' downfall. She beseeched each of her sons to rise up against Uranus but was refused by all but the youngest, Cronus. So, Gaia provided him with the weapon, and when Uranus next came to lay with Gaia, Cronus leapt up into action and castrated his father, overthrowing him and driving him away forever. Thus the blade (whether harpe, sickle or scythe) became a symbol of Cronus's power.

Perseus, a grandson of Cronus, is also regularly depicted in statues and sculpture armed with a harpe sword in his quest to slay the Gorgon, Medusa, and recover her head to use against Ceto. Perseus was provided with such a sword by his father, Zeus (Cronus' youngest son and later overthrower).

In Greek and Roman art it is variously depicted, but it seems that originally it was a khopesh-like sickle-sword. Later depictions often show it as a combination of a sword and sickle, and this odd interpretation is explicitly described in the 2nd century Leucippe and Clitophon.


In Greek mythology, ichor ( or ; Ancient Greek: ἰχώρ) is the ethereal fluid that is the blood of the gods and/or immortals.

Lotus tree

The lotus tree (Greek: λωτός, translit. lōtós) is a plant that is referred to in stories from Greek and Roman mythology.

The lotus tree is mentioned in Homer's Odyssey as bearing a fruit that caused a pleasant drowsiness, and which was said to be the only food of an island people called the Lotophagi or Lotus-eaters. When they ate of the lotus tree they would forget their friends and homes and would lose their desire to return to their native land in favor of living in idleness. Botanical candidates for the lotus tree include the date-plum (Diospyros lotus), which is a sub-evergreen tree native to Africa that grows to about 25 feet bearing yellowish green flowers, as well as Ziziphus lotus, a plant with an edible fruit closely related to the jujube, native to North Africa and the islands in the Gulf of Gabes such as Jerba.

In Ovid's Metamorphoses, the nymph Lotis was the beautiful daughter of Neptune, the god of water and the sea. In order to flee the violent attention of Priapus, she invoked the assistance of the gods, who answered her prayers by turning her into a lotus tree.The Book of Job has two lines (40:21-22), with the Hebrew word צֶאֱלִים‎ (tse'elim), which appears nowhere else in the Bible. A common translation has been "lotus trees" since the publication of the Revised Version. However it is sometimes rendered simply as "shady trees".

Moly (herb)

Moly (Greek: μῶλυ, [mɔːly]) is a magical herb mentioned in book 10 of Homer's Odyssey.

Necklace of Harmonia

The Necklace of Harmonia was a fabled object in Greek mythology that, according to legend, brought great misfortune to all of its wearers or owners, who were primarily queens and princesses of the ill-fated House of Thebes.

Panacea (medicine)

The panacea , named after the Greek goddess of universal remedy Panacea, is any supposed remedy that is claimed to cure all diseases and prolong life indefinitely. It was in the past sought by alchemists as a connection to the elixir of life and the philosopher's stone, a mythical substance which would enable the transmutation of common metals into gold.

The Cahuilla people of the Colorado Desert region of California used the red sap of the elephant tree (Bursera microphylla) as a panacea.The Latin genus name of ginseng is Panax, (or "panacea") reflecting Linnean understanding that ginseng was widely used in traditional Chinese medicine as a cure-all.A panacea (or panaceum) is also a literary term to represent any solution to solve all problems related to a particular issue. The term panacea is also used in a negative way to describe the overuse of any one solution to solve many different problems especially in medicine.

Parthenon Frieze

The Parthenon frieze is the high-relief pentelic marble sculpture created to adorn the upper part of the Parthenon’s naos. It was sculpted between c. 443 and 437 BC, most likely under the direction of Pheidias. Of the 160 meters (524 ft) of the original frieze, 128 meters (420 ft) survives—some 80 percent. The rest is known only from the drawings attributed to French artist Jacques Carrey in 1674, thirteen years before the Venetian bombardment that ruined the temple.

At present, the majority of the frieze is at the British Museum in London (forming the major part of the Elgin Marbles); the largest proportion of the rest is at the Acropolis Museum in Athens, and the remainder of fragments shared between six other institutions. Casts of the frieze may be found in the Beazley archive at the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, at the Spurlock Museum in Urbana, in the Skulpturhalle at Basel and elsewhere.


Talaria (Latin: tālāria; Ancient Greek: πτηνοπέδῑλος, ptēnopédilos or πτερόεντα πέδιλα, pteróenta pédila) are winged sandals, a symbol of the Greek messenger god Hermes (Roman equivalent Mercury). They were said to be made by the god Hephaestus of imperishable gold and they flew the god as swift as any bird. The name is from the Latin tālāria, neuter plural of tālāris, "of the ankle".


A thyrsus or thyrsos (Ancient Greek: θύρσος) was a wand or staff of giant fennel (Ferula communis) covered with ivy vines and leaves, sometimes wound with taeniae and topped with a pine cone or by a bunch of vine-leaves and grapes or ivy-leaves and berries.

Winnowing Oar

The Winnowing Oar (athereloigos - Greek ἀθηρηλοιγός) is an object that appears in Books XI and XXIII of Homer's Odyssey. In the epic, Odysseus is instructed by Tiresias to take an oar from his ship and to walk inland until he finds a "land that knows nothing of the sea", where the oar would be mistaken for a winnowing fan. At this point, he is to offer a sacrifice to Poseidon, and then at last his journeys would be over.

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