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p98 Anthesphoria

Article by Leonhard Schmitz, Ph.D., F.R.S.E., Rector of the High School of Edinburgh
on p98 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

ANTHESPHORIA (ἀνθεσφόρια), a flower-festival, principally celebrated in Sicily, in honour of Demeter and Persephone, in commemoration of the return of Persephone to her mother in the beginning of spring. It consisted in gathering flowers and twining garlands, because Persephone had been carried off by Pluto while engaged in this occupation (Pollux, I.37). Strabo (VI p256) relates that at Hipponium the women celebrated a similar festival in honour of Demeter, which was probably called anthesphoria, since it was derived from Sicily. The women themselves gathered the flowers for the garlands which they wore on the occasion, and it would have been a disgrace to buy the flowers for that purpose. Anthesphoria were also solemnized in honour of other deities, especially in honour of Hera, surnamed Ἀνθεία, at Argos (Paus. II.22 § 1), where maidens, carrying baskets filled with flowers, went in procession, whilst a tune called ἱεράκιον was played on the flute (comp. Etym. Gud. p57). Aphrodite, too, was worshipped at Cnossus, under the name Ἀνθεία (Hesych. s.v.), and has therefore been compared with Flora, the Roman deity, as the anthesphoria have been with the Roman festival of the Florifertum, or Floralia.


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