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The Mysteries of the Goddess of Marmarini

Robert Parker and Scott Scullion
p. 209-266


This paper re-visits in detail the problems raised by the text from Marmarini published in Kernos 2015. We accept J.M. Carbon’s calendrical location (Kernos 2016) of the festivals mentioned in it (Nisanaia, Eloulaia) that derive from month names of the standard Mesopotamian calendar. We discuss: the possible contents of the lost sections; the gods mentioned (we dissociate the patron goddess of the sanctuary from Artemis Phylake); the physical form of the sanctuary (indeterminable in detail); possible Near Eastern ritual influences; the initiations/mysteries of the text in relation to other Hellenistic mysteries; sacrificial terms and procedures, with particular attention to the complex sacrificial vocabulary of the text, sacrifice by ‘the Greek rite’, and the apparent recycling of sacrificial meat within the sanctuary; purity, purifications and abstentions; the general character of the text, which we tentatively suggest may have been issued by a city which had incorporated an imported cult.

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Full text document will be published online on October 2018.


Side A
Side B
The Sanctuary
Near Eastern Ritual Influences
Bird Sacrifice
Holocaust Sacrifice
Table Offerings
Tendance of Images
The Mesopotamian “Washing of the Mouth” Ceremony (mīs pî )
Sacrificial Terms and Procedures
Θύειν and Compounds
Sacrifice “By the Greek Rite”
Sacrificial Novelties
Other Sacrificial Terms
Other Rituals and Ritual Terms
Purity, purifications and abstentions
General character of the text

First lines


The interest for students of Greek religion of the large opisthographic stele published by J.C. Decourt and A. Tziafalias, with commendable speed, in the last issue of Kernos can scarcely be over-estimated. It is datable on palaeographic grounds to the second century BC, perhaps the first half rather than the second,and records in detail the rituals and rules governing the sanctuary of a goddess whose name, we believe, is never given. This sanctuary was of some elaboration: a περίβολος, a ναός, a περίστυλον, a περιστύλιον (if distinct from the preceding), a πρόθυρον, a πρόπυλον, a great altar and other altars are mentioned, though the size and precise character of these features is unknowable. The first twenty one lines of side A are lost. The legible portion begins with day-by-day regulations for a festival called here the Eloulaia (Aloulaia on side B), spread over the 12th to 19th of a month not here named. Side A continues with regulations for Τελετὴ τῆς θεοῦ, probabl...

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Bibliographical reference

Robert Parker and Scott Scullion, « The Mysteries of the Goddess of Marmarini », Kernos, 29 | 2016, 209-266.

Electronic reference

Robert Parker and Scott Scullion, « The Mysteries of the Goddess of Marmarini », Kernos [Online], 29 | 2016, Online since 01 October 2018, connection on 22 February 2018. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/kernos.2399

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About the authors

Robert Parker

New College
Oxford, OX1 3BN

Scott Scullion

Worcester College
Oxford, OX1 2HB

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