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Ancient Eleysina

eleysina

According to Greek mythology Pluto, Lord of the Underworld, abducted Persephone, daughter of the goddess Demeter, and took her down into his kingdom with the intention to wed her.

Demeter desperately looked for her for nine whole days until she finally arrived in Elefsina.

Here she worked as a governess in the palace of King Keleos, but eventually, when her identity was discovered, she asked that a temple be built in her honour, where she locked herself up for a whole year mourning the loss of her daughter.

During these twelve months not a single seed germinated. Much concerned, Zeus sent his messenger Hermes down to Pluto to see if the situation could be resolved.

It was finally agreed that Persephone would stay half the year in the Underworld with her husband and the other half in the world above with her mother.

When this compromise was reached Demeter allowed the earth to bear fruit again.

The best cereal crops have always grown on the Thriasio Pedio – otherwise known as the Plain of Elefsina.

The Eleusinian Mysteries, held each year at Eleusina fourteen miles northwest of Athens, were so important to the Greeks until the arrival of the Romans.

The Sacred Way (the road from Athens to Eleusis) was the only road, not a goat path, in all of central Greece.

The mysteries celebrated the story of Demetra and Persephone but, as the initiated were sworn to secrecy on pain of death as to the details of the ritual, we do not know what form this celebration took.

We do know, though, that those who participated in the mysteries were forever changed for the better and that they no longer feared death.
Modern-day visitors can admire the hill with its ancient remains and the museum in the city centre. Traces of the Sacred Way which joined Elefsina and Athens can still be seen.

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