by Melissa

(17 Boedromion) This is a festival of Asklepios in the middle of the Eleusinian Mysteries.  In theory, it commemorates the late arrival of Asklepios, the god of Healing (with his sacred snake and daughter Hygieia, “Health”) from Epidauria to the Mysteries, which then had to be repeated in a rushed form on the fourth day of the observances, the day in which the initiates spent the entire day indoors, perhaps meditating to bring themselves to the right state of mind to observe the following two solemn days. Thus the day seemed a bit of a lull after the first three days of activity and was an ideal time to introduce a new cult and observances. The Epidauria included a procession with women carrying offerings and a banquet with a couch for the god. In reality, this festival was likely contrived by a clever priesthood working with the Athenian authorities, as it occurs exactly six months after the other festival of Asklepias, which occurs at the same time as the other festival of Athens to which foreigners could come and participate: the City Dionysia. Observances of Asklepios became important after the plague in Athens in 430 BCE. (Parke 63-65)


Parke, H.W., Festivals of the Athenians, 1977