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Cretan Eileithyia

  • R. F. Willetts (a1)
Extract

The links between Eileithyia, an earlier Minoan goddess, and a still earlier neolithic prototype are, relatively, firm. The explanation is as simple as it is important. The continuity of her cult depends upon the unchanging concept of her function. Eileithyia was the goddess of childbirth; and the divine helper of women in labour has an obvious origin in the human midwife. To Homer she is ‘goddess of the pains of birth’. When Leto gave birth to Apollo in Delos, was in attendance, and so were a number of other goddesses who bathed the god-child and wrapped him in his swaddling-clothes.

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1 II. 11. 270, 16. 187, 19. 103.

2 H. Ap. 115–22.

3 Allen-Halliday, , Homeric Hymns (2nd ed.) p. 219; Baur, , Philol. viii, Sup., pp. 481 f. Farnell, , Cults of the Greek States, ii. 613–14Thomson, , Studies in Ancient Greek Society, i (2nd ed.), 245. For the plural see Il. 11. 270, 19. 119. On the votive terracottas to Eileithyia at Lato in Crete see Demargne in B.C.H. liii. 382.

4 19. 188.

5 Nilsson, Minoan-Mycenaean Religion (2nd ed.), p. 73.

6 Hazzidakis in 10. 349; Halbherr, , Antiquary, xxvii. 112; Marinatos, (1929), 94, (1930), Cf. B.C.H. liii. 520 n. 5; Arch. Az. (1930), p. 156; Hirschfeld in R.E. s.v. Amnisos; Nilsson, , op. cit., p. 58; Guarducci, , Inscr. Cret. i. 2.

7 Malten, , Jahrb., pp. 2839; Wilamowitz, , Berl. Sitz. (1908), p. 331; Wackernagel, cited by Nilsson, , op. cit., p. 521.

8 It is attested at Athens, Megara, Corinth, Achaia, Arcadia, Messenia, Sparta, Delos, Tenos, Paros, Naxos, Thera, and Astypalaia. Jessen, in R.E. v. 2101; Nilsson, , op. cit., p 518.

9 Pi. P. 3. 9, N. 7. 1, S.I.G. 602 (Delph.), I.G. iii. 1320; I.G. xii (3). 192 (Astypalaia); I.G. xii (5), 197 (Paros prob.), Call. Del. 132, A.P. 6. 200 (Leon.), Paus. 2. 5. 4; (Ion.—íη) G.D.I. 4584 (Hippola), I.G. xii (5). 187 (Paros); Lacon. I.G. v (1). 236; Boeot. I.G. vii. 2228, 3410. For other variations cf. Nilsson, , op. cit., p. 519 n 43.

10 Inscr. Cret. 1. xvi (Lato), 2. 31, 3. 18, 4A 13, 5. 48, 75, 15. 35. 26. 8 (cf. 27. 3 explained by the common Cretan change of ∈v to ov: Bechtel, , Griech. Dial. ii. 661); ibid. 2. 3 (Aptera), 22; ibid. 4 (Gortyna), 174. 60, 76.

11 Wackernagel, cited by Nilsson, , op. cit., p. 521.

12 Nilsson, , op. cit., pp. 519, 521. The termination occurs in other pre-Greek place-names: Kretschmer, , Einl. in die Gesch. der griech. Sprache, p. 405; Fick, , Vorgriech. Ortsnamen, p. 87.

1 Inscr. Cret. 1. xvi, 4A 8, 5. 3. On the change from ∈v to ov see p. 221, n. 10.

2 Inscr. Cret. 1. vi (Biannos), 2. 39, and Guarducci, ad loc.: supplendum est, cum Eleusinius mensis etiam Olunte occurrat.'

3 Test. Epict. 2. 7, 3. 3.

4 H. Cer. 266, Hdt. 9. 57.

5 Hsch., Lib. Or. 11. 109.

6 I.G. iv. 955. 14 (Epid.).

7 And. 1. 110, I.G. i2. 6. 129.

8 I.G. i2. 5, ii2. 847. 24, Hyp. fr. 112, Paus. 4. 33. 5.

9 3. 14. 6, 17. 1, 20. 5.

10 The village (Kalyvia Sochas) is therefore presumably the site of the sanctuary mentioned by Pausanias: Prott, Von, Ath. Mitt. xxix. 8; B.S.A. xvi. 12; Nilsson, , Griech. Feste, p. 334, Min.-Myc. Rel., p. 520, n. 50.

11 I.G. v (1). 607. 28.

12 I.G. v (1). 213. 11. On the assimilation of ι to v in (cf. also the month ) and the change of intervocalic s to spiritus asper see Buck, , Greek Dialects, pp. 26, 55.

13 Nilsson, , Min.-Myc. Rel., p. 523.

14 See Guarducci, , Epigraphica, vii. 72.

15 This evidence is considerable, but not accepted as conclusive by Wackernagel: Nilsson, , Min.-Myc. Rel., p. 522.

16 D.S. 5. 77. 3–5. See further Persson in Arch.f. Religionswiss. (1922), p. 287; Religion of Greece in Prehistoric Times, pp. 149–50.

17 Inscr. Cret. 2. iii (Aptera), 22 and Guaducci, ad loc.

18 See p. 222, notes 1 and 2 above.

19 Inscr. Cret. 1. xvipraef. Nomen.

1 Inscr. Cret. 2. xiipraef. Nomen, Res Sacrae.

2 Ibid. I. xvi. 2. 31, 15. 35.

3 Ibid. 3. 18, 4A 13.

4 Ibid. 5. 48.

5 Ibid. 5. 75.

6 Ibid. 26. 8. Cf. 27. 3.

7 Ibid.praef. Nummi; Head, Hist. Num (2nd ed.), p. 470.

8 Inscr. Cret. 4. 174. 61, 76.

9 Ibid. 1, pp. 98, 280, ibid. 4, p. 244.

10 E.M. s.v. Call. fr. 168.

11 St. Byz., s.v. .

12 Inscr. Cret. 1, p. 98.

13 A.R. 3. 876, Nonn. D. 8. 115, 13. 251.

14 Str. 10. 476; Paus. 1. 18. 5; Hsch. s.v. Also, as an epithet of Eileithyia, (Ruf. Onom. 229), with which cf. = inner membrane surrounding the foetus: Sor. 1. 58, Gal. U.P. 15. 4, Hippiatr. 14, Emp. 71. In Od. 3. 444 a bowl in which the blood of victims was caught.

15 St. Byz., s.v. .

16 Even at Paros, where Eileithyia was not a goddess of childbirth, but a healing goddess, she had a sacred well: I.G. xii. 5. 185 ff.

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