Eleusis (Elefsina)
Eleusis Top

The archaeological site of Eleusis is now surrounded by modern port town of Elefsina and its industrial buildings. It is connected with Athens by city bus. The site is within the modern town that has nothing interesting to see, but one can easily find svraki shops and cafeteria.

Practical Information (of Summer 2009)

The ancient Eleusis, once an independent city-state, was incorporated by Athens in the 7th century (around 675) BCE. The importance of Eleusis lied in its sanctuary of Demeter of panhellenic importance.

Demeter was the goddess of agriculture and crops, and her daughter Persephone (also called simply Kore, meaning "young woman") was also venerated. According to the myth, the reason why Eleusis became the centre of the cult is as follows. The god of the underworld Hades fell in love with Persephone, and snatched her. Demeter travelled all around the world looking for her daughter. Arriving at Eleusis, exhausted, took some rest near a well. Celeus, the king of Eleusis, and his daughters showed her hospitality. The goddess revealed her identity to the Eleusinians, and they constructed a temple for her. Demeter retreated to the temple and negotiated with Zeus her daughter's return. While she was hiding the earth lost fertility. Zeus, bewildered, agreed to make Hades return her daughter for two third of the year. Demeter, before returning to Olympus, sowed for the first time the grain in the Rharian plain, and told her"mysteries" to the king Celeus.

The picture here is the entablature of the Lesser Propylaia, with the grain and grain containers, attributes of Demeter.

Eleusis was inhabited already in the 18-17 century BCE. The most ancient trace of cult building date back to the Late Helladic period, but it is not certain if it was dedicated to Demeter.


Related Links

Greek Ministry of Culture: Archaeological Site of Eleusis

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