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Journal of Ancient History

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The Eleusinian Anaktoron of Demeter and Kore

Dedicated to Inscriptiones Graecae on the Occasion of its 200th Anniversary

Kevin Clinton
Published Online: 2016-06-10 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jah-2016-0008


The Anaktoron at Eleusis, mentioned in many literary and epigraphic texts, has been the subject of considerable controversy for well over a century, as to whether the term anaktoron refers to the entire hall of initiation (Telesterion) or an inner sanctum or both. After a brief summary of the history of the controversy, special emphasis is given to the evidence of three large statue bases, most probably originally set up outside the Telesterion. Their epigrams proclaim to visitors that they are standing near a monument called Anaktoron, which clearly should be a building, not a structure within a building. While many of the testimonia concerning the Anaktoron unambiguously refer to a building, no testimonium unambiguously shows that it is not the entire building. Finally, close examination of the context of two difficult passages—a fragmentary text in Aelian (fr. 10) and Plutarch, De prof. virt. 81D–E—shows that both most likely refer to the Telesterion.

Keywords: Eleusis; Sanctuary; Anaktoron; Telesterion; Mysteria


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About the article

Published Online: 2016-06-10

Published in Print: 2016-06-01

Citation Information: Journal of Ancient History, Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 40–54, ISSN (Online) 2324-8114, ISSN (Print) 2324-8106, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jah-2016-0008.

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