Occasionally I will post questions that have been asked on my Curious Cat page (where you can ask me all kinds of questions anonymously). These will be exactly as they appear on the Curious Cat page, but I may expand on my answers slightly in separate posts, or below the original answer.
Where do you think the field of Greek religon is moving after polis religion?
This is a very loaded question, and you will get as many different answers as scholars of ancient Greek religion.
The first thing to say is there are a lot of good things about the polis religion model, and it has helped us over the last 25 years advance the study of Greek religion immensely. It has become, and I think will continue to be, a starting point for new scholars of Greek religion - certainly until there is a new model as widely accepted and used as polis-religion.
To my mind, polis religion has two major flaws: it doesn't account for 'marginal' personal religious practices (this has been really well-explored by scholars like Esther Eidinow and Julia Kindt), and it doesn't account for personal religious experiences: the simple fact that people are different, experience things differently, think about things, believe things all differently.
That's why I think the future of the field (and my own work) will lay in materialism as a theoretical framework (in fact, I am planning to write an article about this very thing, and how it can be used in ancient history!).
Materialism is closely linked to sensory studies, but not quite the same (though they are highly complementary!). It can allow us to conduct ethnographic studies through 'lived' experience, objects, practices, traditions, and spaces in a place where we cannot conduct direct ethnography. When applied to the study of religion, this means that we look at how people encounter in their ‘everyday world’, as well as the sensations and feelings of everyday life, focused through the lens of religious practice. It can be focused through other lenses, and even in the study of religion, it's important to take civic, political, social, and economic lenses into account (this is another question, about religious embeddedness!).
I want to be very clear that this is not THE way forward. The future of the study of Greek religion will be, I think, a patchwork of interweaving and overlapping methodological and theoretical frameworks for which my part will, I hope, be the introduction of Materialism. There is already wonderful work being done in and through sensory studies and cognitive approaches (Jenifer Larson's recent Understanding Greek Religion is an excellent introduction to this).
And, I think that it will be quite a while before we can move on from polis religion and the influence of Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood.
Exciting news when I got into the office this morning! My offering to Routledge's God and Heroes of the Ancient World series is being contracted! It will surprise no one to hear that my contribution is on Hades, the shadowy god of the Underworld.
In line with the rest of the series, this book will cover the mythology and cult representation of Hades in the ancient world and look at what happens to the god after antiquity.
Update: Below you can see the original proposal that I sent - there are a few changes that were made (reflected in the table of contents above) after review, but no major changes were made to the content.
There lay the elaborately wrought robes, the work of Sidonian
This passage from Homer’s Iliad is interesting to think about what the purpose and nature of Greek religion actually is. I came across the passage today while looking through texts that might hint at the emotionality of weaving Athena’s peplos (I will post more on the peplos another time). Given the women who dedicate the robe in the passage are not the weavers it wasn’t very much use for that, but what it did make me think about was the connection between people and gods in early Greece.
Basically, what’s happening here is that a group of Trojan women, led by Athena’s priestess* Theano, are dedicating a robe to Athena. They didn’t weave the robe themselves, but Paris (here Alexandros) brought it back with him when he returned with Helen, and a group of women from Sidon (the presumed weavers of the robe). Theano and the Trojans lay the robe across Athena’s lap and they prayed for the destruction of Diomedes. But… Athena wasn’t really having it, so she denied their request.
Relationships with the gods were multidirectional, in that they were meant to be beneficial in every direction (god-individual-family-community), and offerings and dedications played a large part in that benefit (after all, beyond ‘existence’ what really are the gods getting out of this arrangement if not dedications, offerings, and veneration?!?). But, this isn’t a system of direct and immediate benefit (you give me x, I’ll give you y, and we’re square). Athena had already (in book 5) given Diomedes advice and assistance, so we know that she’s inclined towards him (although presumably the Trojans don’t know this, otherwise they might have skipped to the next god on the list).
The kinds of relationships that are built up are, instead, like the relationships you might form with any other (mortal) person: I’ll do a favour for you now, and you might do one for me later. That’s the point of ongoing worship for the gods, to build up goodwill so that when you do come and say ‘If you get Diomedes out of the way then we’ll give you a dozen cows, and to show we mean business have this robe’ then the god(dess) gets Diomedes out of the way. But, this passage from Homer goes to show that doesn’t always work. In that way, Greek religion is much like modern life – sometimes you do everything right and you still don’t make it out on top. It doesn’t mean you stop trying, you just move on to the next thing.
*The idea of ‘the priest’ or ‘the priestess’ is a bit moot in early Greece – priest- and priestess-hoods belonged to a particular divinity or cult and (in most cases) they had no authority or official participation in the cults of other gods.
Edited: because in my over-excitement I gave the Trojans a bit too much insight into the workings of the gods... Sorry Trojans and thanks Niels for pointing this out!
I'm happy to say that my pilot project is getting some wings! I'll be presenting some of it next month at the Athena: Sharing Current Research conference at Roehampton on June 3rd. You can book here to attend the whole day, and see a list of speakers here.
The abstract for my paper is below, if you have any thoughts, comments, or interesting connections please do leave a comment or get in touch on Twitter.
Weaving Athena: An object-focused study of girls and women approaching Athena as a poliadic deity
This paper will present an ethnographic study of the lives of the girls and women who were involved in the annual adornment of Athena Polias at the Panathenaia. This will include both those who wove the peplos and members of the wider Athenian community who participated in the festival. Therefore, this study will include the young arrhephoroi, the Ergastinai (‘weavers’) who were maidens of marriageable age, the Priestess of Athena Polias, and the Athenian and metic girls who participated in the procession – in other words, a representation of every female belonging to the Athenian population. Through this study, I will discuss what the physical act of worship (the production of a specific object and the act of processing) can tell us about how individuals approached Athena as the goddess of their city, and how this was expressed specifically for women and girls. This study will articulate the specific influence that Athena had, both as a ‘female god’ and a poliadic divinity, in the lives of the individual females who were involved in her worship. Thus, it will comment on Athena as a living goddess to her worshipers.
Last Friday I gave a paper at the Institute of Classical Studies’ ‘Early Career Seminar’, titled ‘‘Well-played, Fluttershy…’: Defeating Discord and Dragons in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’. I started this little project because I thought it would be fun, and challenging, to do something that has nothing to do with my ‘real research’. With Greek religion I am on pretty stable ground – never more than a few shaky steps from shore, but here I was in the middle of a lake on a rapidly melting layer of ice. Without wanting to give too much away, I ended the paper by talking about my personal feelings about taking on a topic like this – broadly classical influences in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic – and that I felt it was probably not the right thing to look at. Now that I’ve done it, I don’t think deconstructing My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic as a reception of classical mythology is a valid thing to do.
Let me explain: there is no doubt that there are classical influences in the show. Not only is that obvious from watching the show, but also from listening to interviews with creator Lauren Faust, who talks explicitly about classical mythology as an influence. But, if you were to actually look properly at the way the show was made there’s a lot more to say about other influences. A show like My Little Pony gives children the beginning of their cultural vocabulary, and that it includes classical mythology is important, but I’m not sure it’s the point. What makes a show like this important for building cultural vocab is the sheer myriad of influences incorporated into the show (just have a look at the ‘List of Allusions’ on the MLP wiki!).
Part of what I took away from the experience of doing this work was that I couldn’t divorce myself from my ideas about what was happening on the show. I notice the classical influence because I am an ancient historian – that is what I am trained to do. If I were a geologist, I might be thinking about the Pie’s rock farm. What at the beginning of the project had felt like the important parts of the show were, in fact, very unimportant to the wider cultural scaffolding that is built around the show.
It has made me think more closely about the scholarly desire to divorce yourself from the research – summed up really well in Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood’s 1978 article ‘Persephone and Aphrodite at Locri: A Model for Personality Definitions in Greek Religion' in JHS:
Too often in the study of Greek divine personalities assumptions about deities’ nature and development have been reflected in the methodology adopted and have thus introduced distortions, forcing the evidence into inflexible interpretative frameworks which may be logical without being correct. I believe we must aim at a ‘neutral’, bias-free approach which does not allow the operator’s convictions to distort the evidence by casting it into a preconceived mould.
Is it possible to adopt a ‘’neutral’, bias-free approach’? I am starting to believe that it’s not, and perhaps it’s not desirable to remove oneself from the equation. If we acknowledge our own cultural biases, rather than attempting to hide them behind neutrality, then at least we start from a position of openness.
What?!? Yes, it’s all true. No matter what you've been told, or read, the ‘katabasis’ of in Odyssey 11 is not an actual katabasis!
A katabasis is a descent. In this context it’s a descent into the Underworld, but it doesn't necessarily have to be. And there are a bunch of famous katabases that we all know and love: Herakles going down to steal Kerberos, Orpheus heading down to rescue Eurydike, Theseus and Perithous’s attempt on Persephone. But, Odysseus isn't one of them. Katabasis stories involve physical travel into the Underworld, not realistic religious rituals. And the dead are not used as intermediaries. Odysseus's so-called 'katabasis' does involve a religious ritual and he interacts with the dead.
Odysseus starts in the living world, he digs a pit in the earth and pours his offerings into it. The dead rush up to greet him. This all shows that Odysseus is performing a necromantic rite, but there is a little bit more. So, let’s have a look at the actual necromancy itself (Homer’s Odyssey 11.20-47). This translation is from the Chicago Homer, where you can also find the original Greek.
We beached our ship when we got there, unloaded 20
the sheep, and went back ourselves along Ocean's stream
until we reached the place Circe had described.
“There Eurylochus and Perimedes held the sacred victims,
and I drew my sharp sword from beside my thigh,
dug a pit a cubit's length this way and that, 25
and poured a libation to all the dead about it,
first with milk and honey, thereafter with sweet wine,
a third time with water, then sprinkled white barley groats upon it.
I repeatedly entreated the helpless heads of the dead,
that when I got to Ithaca I'd offer a cow that's not yet calved, 30
my best one, in my palace, then I'd fill the pyre with good things,
and that I'd sacrifice separately, to Teiresias alone,
a solid-black ram, that stands out among our sheep.
After I'd implored with prayers and vows the tribes of corpses,
I took the sheep and cut their throats 35
and the cloud-dark blood flowed into the pit. Up out of Erebus
they gathered, the souls of the dead who'd died,
brides, young men never married, old men who'd suffered much,
tender maidens with hearts new to sorrow,
and many wounded by bronze spears, 40
men killed in battle, holding armour stained with gore.
They stalked about the pit in throngs from one place and another
with an awful screeching, and green terror seized me.
Then at that moment I urged and ordered my comrades
to skin and burn the sheep that lay there slaughtered 45
by ruthless bronze, and to pray to the gods,
to mighty Hades and dread Persephone.
Offerings to the Olympic gods were (usually) upward focused. Sacrifices were burnt with the smoke rising up, and prayer conducted with arms raised into the sky. It makes sense that it happened this way – the gods are up, so offerings need to go up. So too with Underworld gods, except they are down and the offerings need to go down. In this section of the Odyssey, Odysseus digs a pit with his sword, and pours his offerings into it – including the blood of his sacrifice – and they sink down through the earth to the Underworld gods. The same thing happens in historical supplication to Hittite Underworld gods, where there is evidence for temporary, downward facing altars made by digging a pit in the earth. Sometimes this happened on a riverbank, and there’s evidence that pits might have been dug out with daggers (see Collins 2002, linked above). While there’s a strong link here, there’s a stronger link to Greek necromantic rites.
Odysseus is told, by Kirke, to go and find answers about his journey home from a dead seer, Tiresias. The place she sends him to matches the location of the Oracle of the Dead near the Acheron, in Thesprotia. Pausanias, much later of course, tells us that Homer knew that he was writing a description of the site at Ephyra (Od. 10.508-514):
But when you drive through Ocean with your ship,
there will be a rough headland and groves of Persephone,
tall poplars and willows losing their fruit. 510
Land your ship at that spot, by deep-eddying Ocean,
but go yourself to the dank house of Hades.
There Pyriplegethus and Cocytus, which is a branch
of the water of the Styx, flow into Acheron
Much later Pausanias (1.17.5) says that Homer had been to the Nekyomanteia here and used it in his description:
I think Homer had seen these places and boldly ventured to describe Hades’s realm in his poem and further named the rivers after those in Thesprotia.
Of course, ‘Homer’ himself doesn't say anything on the subject, but the topographical and archaeological evidence suggests that where Odysseus goes is indeed the location of the historical Oracle of the Dead. Homer could have included this because there was a cult of Hades close by (but that’s a story for another time).
Although this is only a short exposition of the issue, the two main points certainly illustrate that Odysseus doesn't descend into the Underworld. He isn't described as being in the Underworld, but the dead are described as rushing up, out of the Underworld, to him. And the site described by Homer is the site of an Oracle of the Dead.
I have been putting off writing this post because it wasn’t hugely relevant, since many of these thoughts came after the second time I went to see the Almeida Theatre’s production of Oresteia, which was right at the end of the season. But, with the news that Robert Icke’s adaptation of Aischylos’s trilogy is being moved to the West End, it has indeed become relevant again. Some notes on spoilers: there will be some. Not so much in the sense that I think anyone reading this will not already be familiar with Aeschylus’s story, but that I am going to discuss things from Icke’s script and the Almeida staging.
I saw the Oresteia at the Almeida twice, once during the previews and once right at the end. There were several things which struck me about the production the first time and (somewhat shamefully?) a huge amount that I didn’t really pick up on until the second viewing. I think this had a lot to do with how I approached the experience. I wrote my (50,000 word research) MA thesis on the subtext of Orestes’s coming-of-age in Aischylos’s Eumenides, so I am quite familiar with Aischylos’s script, although I haven’t looked at it in great detail since finishing my MA. Prior to the Almeida, the only other time I had seen the Oresteia staged was Sydney Theatre Company’s 2010 production, which was surreal and weird, and to me it felt very disassociated from Aischylos. I really did not want these things to colour my potential enjoyment of this production (how naïve of me!) and so I attempted to watch this production ‘fresh’. I’m not sure it was entirely successful but I didn’t try to connect what I was seeing on the stage to the background in my own head. My immediate impression at the end was ‘I want to read the script’, and then ‘I must see this again’. I don’t think I enjoyed that first viewing, but something stayed with me. I was moved and overwhelmed.
The second time I was alone, and it was the end of a very long, very tense, very emotional day, and the last thing I wanted to do was spend four hours watching a play I had already seen. But off I went (actually, I ran from Angel tube to the theatre, so sorry to anyone who I may have bumped into). I arrived at the moment the door closed, and so I watched the first act on a tiny screen in the foyer of the Almeida. Actually, I am infinitely grateful for this. The screen closed in on Iphigeneia’s face as she slowly slipped away into death, and it was moving and breath-taking and beautiful to watch. Agamemnon was very secretive about it, insisting that it should never get out that he had killed Iphigeneia. He even says: ‘I don’t want it public. We cover it up. We bury it down so no one ever finds out.’ In Euripides’s Iphigeneia at Aulis it becomes clear when Klytaimestra and Iphigeneia arrive in Aulis that the throngs of Greeks don’t know about the prophecy. They, like the two women, assume that Iphigeneia is to be offered to someone in marriage, but then it becomes clear that the truth is about to come out:
Agamemnon: ‘… we have reached the point where we are forced to commit the bloody murder of my daughter’
And then Agamemnon lays out that Klytaimestra should not find out about the plan until Iphigeneia is dead. There is a marked difference between this girl and the one who appears in Icke’s play. The very young child of Icke’s Oresteia would not have been called for a wedding, this is partly taken care of by staging – the sacrifice occurs at ‘home’ (wherever that might be) rather than away in a military camp, but for those who had preconceived ideas about what is happening in the ancient tradition and what’s going happening on the Almeida stage there is a very large disconnect. It heightens the connection between father and daughter, perhaps, because of her absolute reliance on him – this connection is repeated several times in Euripides’s play, and also in Aischylos. The chorus in Agamemnon quotes him as calling Iphigeneia ‘the delight of my house’ (Aisch. Ag. 207), so there is certainly the assumption of closeness from our perspective.
In Aischylos, it becomes clear that everyone knows that Agamemnon was involved in Iphigeneia’s death. After Agamemnon’s slaughter, Klytaimestra accuse the Argive elders of unjust judgement, throwing out at them: ‘but you didn’t show any opposition at all to this man at the former time, when, setting no special value on her – treating her death as if it were the death of one beast out of large flocks of well-fleeced sheep – he sacrifices his own child, the darling offspring of my pangs.’ (Ag. 1415-1418). At this stage, Klytaimestra isn’t shy about shouting out about Agamemnon’s crime against her. This is not the impression that Icke’s Klytemestra gives off, she is not a raging, mad woman even when she spits out so fiercely after the actual killing of Agamemnon (the script includes the stage direction Klytemnestra is entirely rational, quiet, collected, forceful, and Lia William’s beautiful, poignant, empathetic Klytemnestra is all these things, but there is a moment that she falls apart. It is just a moment, and then she is again recollected.)
I got the strong impression that the trial was the first time that all of this background came out. For full disclosure, I actually am not completely sold on the end of Icke’s version of the play. The first time I saw the Almeida Oresteia I actually quite strongly didn’t like it. But, I think it serves a wonderful purpose in creating the openness of Aischylos’s trilogy, which necessarily takes place outside the palace doors. Icke’s play predominantly takes place inside, in a sparse and alienating home. The public knowledge of Iphigeneia’s death mirrors this internal/external dichotomy perfectly, and creates an anticipation that really swept me, as an onlooker – more than an audience member – into the action of the play in a memorising and thoughtful way.
*The savy among you might have noticed that this post contains two different spellings of Klytaimestra/Klytemnestra. The first relates to Aischylos's character, whose name does not include the nu. Icke's Klytemnestra includes an 'n', and so I have included it here (particularly given my Twitter rant about reviews of Icke's play calling the character 'Clytemnestra' when it was obvious from a quick glance at the website - not to mention actuallyon screen during the show - that this wasn't what Icke has called her at all...).
 P. 46 of the Oberon Classics printing of the script, which was available for purchase from the Almeida during the run (and now available on Amazon). Translations from Euripides are David Kovaks 2002 Loeb, and Aischylos is Alan Sommerstein’s 2008 Loeb.
 Which, of course, is not cited in Icke’s adaptation but must have, at least in part, influenced Act One of his play. Icke does mention Euripides’s version of Iphigeneia’s sacrifice in the talkback session that was held after the performance on June 29. There’s a transcript available here: http://www.almeida.co.uk/oresteia-talkback
(Plato's) Socrates, in Cratylus, argues that Persephone should correctly be called something like Pherepapha (404c-e), because her real name (cited, confusingly, as Pherrephatta, shows that she is wise:
For since things are swept along (φερόμενα), wisdom is the power to grasp (ἐφαπτόμενον), comprehend, (ἐπαφῶν), and to follow (ἐπακολουθεῖν) them. Thus it would be correct to call this goddess ‘Pherepapha’ or something like that, because of her wisdom, that is to say, her power to comprehend what is being swept along (ἐπαφὴ τοῦ φερομένου). (Plat. Crat. 404c-d, trans. Reeve.)
Fear, Socrates explains, leads to wilful errors of naming and the employment of alternative spellings in an effort to disguise the true meaning of the name. The correctness (or, more accurately, the incorrectness) of Plato’s etymology does not alter the point: people were afraid of the goddess and changed her name to make her somehow more palatable. Persephone is near-interchangeable with Kore, and the chorus of Euripides’s Helen calls Persephone the ἀρρήτου κούρας (‘unspoken girl’ Eur. Hel. 1306-1307; cf. fr. 63 (Kovaks)); these all add up to the same affect: renaming the goddess changes her power in some way. Rudolf Wachter argued that the ‘original’ name we should look for is more like Φερρῶφαττα (with either an omega or omicron in place of the epsilon), for which there are nine attestations. Seven of these are found on fifth-century Attic vases, by individual painters. This shows an etymology with ‘she who threshes ears of corn’, but this does not directly presuppose a Frazer-esque Corn Maiden. Perrophatta is not an embodiment of corn, but an intermediary between Demeter and the people, ensuring agriculture – her mother’s gift – is received. When Pherrephatta retreats beneath the earth, seeds also retreat. Here, both goddess and seeds mature and grow, before sprouting forth to bring life to the people. In this incarnation, Persephone is not a submissive and deferential divinity, hiding behind her mother or husband. She is an active participant in the life-cycle of grain, and therefore of the earth and its population.
There is an interesting parallel her to Hades, who is also mention by Socrates (Crat. 403a), although here we find Hades being renamed as another god - Plouton. Hades was an absent god - he's almost absent from cultic life (the notable exception is his cult in Elis). The etymology of 'Hades' points to something like 'unseen one' or 'the invisible'. Although Hades is obviously not the only god who is unseeable to mortals, since many Olympic gods appear invisible, and are often not directly seeable in cult as well. But other gods make themselves invisible and Hades is (nearly) always invisible. Not, I should note, imperceptible, but that under certainly conditions (namely, being alive) he is concealed. One may see him clearly but only after death.
This reputation might have been perpetuated by his mythic 'cap of invisibility' - first found in Homer, when Athena uses it to hide herself from Ares (Il. 5.8.44-845.) According to pseudo-Apollodoros, the Kyklopes gave 'Plouton' (note the renaming) when he gave Zeus the thunderbolt and Poseidon the trident, which would mean that it was an inextricable part of his character (Bibl. 1.2.1.). Hesiod also mentions the cap, but here it does not make the wearer invisible, but cloaks him with the νυκτὸς ζόφον αἰνὸν (‘awful gloom of night’ Sh. 227.). Night and darkness are well associated, particularly in Homer were dying heroes are described as having night or darkness descend upon them or cover their eyes (e.g. Hom. Il. 5.659). The juxtaposition between dark and light is the same as the juxtaposition between the living and the dead: the living man sees and the dead man is shrouded in darkness. Darkness is a natural attribute of invisibility. The Underworld - and therefore Hades - is shrouded in darkness, and the dead are invisible to the living.
Fear may have much to do with the unnaming and renaming of both Persephone and Hades, and they are both stifled of (or stifling of) mortal senses: Hades cannot be seen, and Persephone cannot be heard - this is an obviously simplistic view of naming (unnaming, renaming), but I wanted to get some of these basics down quickly, because in the next few posts I am going to go into some more detail on various aspects of Persephone and Hades (and particularly their unnaming and renaming), so I would be interested to hear any initial thoughts before those posts come out.
I am currently in the process of putting together a short article titled Were There Mystery Rites for Demeter Chthonia in Hermione? (which does what it says on the tin), and I have been reading over some of the research I have done on other Demetrian cults with (potential) Underworld provenance. The vast majority of these come from - surprise surprise - our old friend Pausanias, and two of the more interesting ones related to Persephone's abduction.
Persephone's abduction is a pretty interesting story, and the traditions that run outside what's presented in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter are particularly so. Pausanias offers several different accounts that share common elements, and the main crossovers relate to the traditions associated with Phigaleia (Paus. 8.42) and Thelpousa (Paus. 8.25.)
In Phigaleia, the local version tells of Demeter being raped by Poseidon after Persephone's disappearance. She fell pregnant and had a second daughter - Despoina, 'the Mistress'. Mourning for Persephone and feeling rather wrathful, Demeter retreated into a cave, dressing herself in black. With Demeter's retreat came the inevitable death of vegetation, livestock, and eventually the population. Zeus sent the Moirai to convince Demeter to set aside her anger, and restore the fertility of the land. She did so, and the Phigalians declared her cave-hideaway a sacred site, erecting an unusual statue in her honour:
Pausanias mentions that this unusual statue was burned, around the start of the fifth century BCE. Some time after the loss there was another period of barreness, and the Phigalians went to Delphi to find out why. They were told to dedicate a second statue to Demeter:
Arkadian, Azanian acorn-eaters,
By addressing the Arkadians as 'acorn-eaters' the response resonates with their claim to be the most ancient Greek people - that is, they lived on acorns before Demeter gave them the gift of agriculture, which she had now rescinded because they failed to properly venerate her. There is a lot to say about this 'oracle' alone, but what I want to draw out here is how 'anyone of intelligence with a good memory' would know why the original wooden statue was made in such an unusual way - and the answer can be picked out of the oracle: 'stallion-mated Deo'.
Demeter was raped by Poseidon in another local version of Persephone's abduction as well. Here, in Thelpousa, Demeter tried to rebuff Poseidon by disguising herself as a mare. In response, he turned into a stallion and then raped her. She has two cult epithets here - 'Erinys' because of the fury and anger she felt following the violation, and 'Louisa' - because after she set aside her grief and anger she bathed in a local river.
The horse plays a significant role in the Thelpousan tradition, and its cryptic inclusion in the Phigalian tradition shows a connection (at least to Pausanias) between the two cities. In Thelpousa, Demeter and Poseidon's forced union produces two offspring - the horse Arion and a daughter, whose name cannot be known to the uninitiated. Following the Phigalian tradition, Pausanias calls her Depsoina, and says she was the most worshipped divinity in the region. A daughter of Demeter, with a descriptive pseudonym, whose true identity is hidden to the uninitiated is a familiar trope, but Pausanias quite clearly differentiates between Despoina and Kore (who is unequivocally equated with Persephone by way of Homeric revelation), but he does not give Despoina a(nother) name. Persephone is directly relevant to Despoina's birth: her disappearance facilitates Demeter's rape.
Assuming that a reader of Pausanias's work will start at the beginning and read though to the end, they will have read the Thelpousan tradition, involving the horse-disguises, first, so they would know about this before getting to the Phigalian version and the oracle. This presents an interesting flattery into the text: a reader, who quite recently read the Thelpousan account, will recognise the horsey trope in the Phigalian account and count themselves in the intelligent and good-memoried class of people who understand exactly why the horse is being employed at Phigalia and the link to Telpousa. The stories are told far enough apart that it won't be immediately apparent to the reader why they remember the horse-related story of Demeter and Poseidon.
Or, perhaps I am giving Pausanias a little too much credit...
If you like what I do here, and on YouTube and Twitter, you can buy me a coffee.