The Ancient Library

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On this page: Cercyon – Ceralia – Ceres – Ceryx



Cercyon (Gr. Kerkyon), In Greek mytho­logy the son of Poseidon, and father of A16pe, who lived at Eleusis, and compelled all passers-by to wrestle with him. He was conquered and slain by the young Theseus, who gave the kingdom of Eleusis to his grandson, Hippothoon. (See alope, and theseus.)

CfirSalia. See ceres.

C6res. An old Italian goddess of agri­culture. The Ceres who was worshipped at Rome is, however, the same as the Greek Dimeter. Her cultus was introduced under the Italian name at the same time as that of Dionysus and Persephone, who in the same way received the Italian names of Liber and Libera. It was in 496 b.c., on the occasion of a drought, that the Sibylline books ordered the introduction of the wor­ship of the three deities. This worship was so decidedly Greek that the temple dedi­cated on a spur of the Aventine in 490 B.C., over the entrance to the Circus, was built in Greek style and by Greek artists; and the service of the goddess, founded on the Greek fable of Demeter and Persephone, was performed in the Greek tongue by Italian women of Greek extraction. The worshippers of the goddess were almost exclusively plebeian. Her temple was placed under the care of the plebeian aediles, who (as overseers of the corn market) had their official residence in or near it. The fines which they imposed went to the shrine of Ceres, so did the property of persons who had offended against them, or against the tribunes of the plebs. Just as the Patricians entertained each other with mutual hospi­talities at the Megalesian games(April 4-10), so did the Plebeians at the C&rgdlia, or games introduced at the founding of the temple of Ceres. Those held in later times were given by the sediles from the 12th-19th April, and another festival to Ceres, held in August, was established before the Second Punic War. This was celebrated by women in honour of the reunion of Ceres and Proser­pina. After fasting for nine days, the women, clothed in white, and adorned with crowns of ' ripe ears of corn, offered to the goddess the ! firstfruits of the harvest. After 191 b.c. a I fast (ieiUmum CerSru) was introduced by | command of the Sibylline books. This was i originally obssrved every four years, but in ] later times was kept annually on the 4th of October. The native Italian worship of Ceres was probably maintained in its purest form in the country. Here the country ; offered Ceres a sow (pnrca prmcldanea)

before the beginning of the harvest, and dedicated to her the first cuttings of the corn (prcemettum). (See demeter.)

Ceryx (Gr. Keryx). The sou of Pandrosos and Hermes, and the ancestor of the Keryces of Eleusis (see ceryx, 2). Herse (or Erse) was mother, by Hermes, of the beautiful Cephalus (see cephalus). She had a special festival in her honour, the Arrhephdrta (see arrephoria). Agraulos, mother of Al-cippe, by Ares, was said in one story to have thrown herself down from the citadel during a war to save her country. It was, accordingly, in her precincts on the Acro­polis that the young men of Athens, when they received their spears and shields, took their oath to defend their country to the death, invoking her name with those of the Charltes Auxo and Hegemone. According to another story, Athene entrusted Erich-thSnius to the keeping of the three sisters in a closed chest, with the command that they were not to open it. Agraulos and Herse disobeyed, went mad, and threw themselves down from the rocks of the citadel.

Ceryx (Gr. Keryx}. (1) The Greek name for a herald. In the Homeric age the kcryx is the official servant of the king, who manages his household, attends at his meals, assists at sacrifices, summons the assem­blies and maintains order and tranquillity in them. He also acts as ambassador to the enemy, and, as such, his person is, both in ancient times and ever afterwards, inviol­able. In historical times the herald, be­sides the part which he plays in the politi­cal transactions between different cities, appears in the service of the gods. He an­nounces the sacred truce observed at the public festivals, commands silence at reli­gious services, dictates the forms of prayer to the assembled community, and performs many services in temples where there is only a small staff of attendants, especially by assisting in the sacrifices. He has also a great deal to do in the service of the State. At Athens, in particular, one or more heralds were attached to the various officials and to the government boards. It was also the herald's business to summon the council and the public assembly, to re­cite the prayer before the commencement of business, to command silence, to call upon the speaker, to summon the parties in a lawsuit to attend the court, and to act in general as a public crier. As a rule, the heralds were taken from the poor, and the lower orders. At Athens they had a salary,

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