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Untimely Death For The Young Girl: Etiological Foundations And Initiation Practices In Classical Athens

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Chapter Summary

One might recall that Philochorus may well have taken the opportunity to relate the story of Aglauros' fall to that of the war led by Eumolpus of Thrace against Erechtheus, by inserting one story into the other. In this version, Aglauros, priestess of Athena, threw herself from atop the city wall because she took on (through a death presented as voluntary) the role which other versions of this legendary and foundational war attribute to Erechtheus' daughters and their sacrifice; in answering Apollo's oracular demand, the young girl, through her death, put an end to the war against Eumolpus by ensuring the city's safety. If, through the symbolic death of a young girl, the ritual process of tribal initiation can direct the logic of a 'mythic' narrative, it is to assert more clearly, in a symbolic manner, the political impact of female sexuality in a movement of religious and cultural 'anthrôpopoiêsis'.

Keywords: Aglauros; Apollo; Erechtheus; Eumolpus; human sexuality



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