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Headword: *trofwni/ou kata\ gh=s pai/gnia
Adler number: tau,1065
Translated headword: Trophonius' underground games
Vetting Status: high
In Lebadeia[1] there was an oracle, which they used to call the Katabasion [Descent]; for it had so narrow an opening that only the extremities of the feet could get in. So those consulting the god, after keeping themselves pure for a specified number of days and having adorned themselves in a particular sacred manner, took in both hands honeycakes, i.e. cakes soaked in honey, and sat at the narrow mouth, whereupon they were suddenly snatched and conveyed underground. The cakes they used to take in order not to be harmed by the snakes they encountered; instead they gave them these as food. Accordingly many people were immediately sent up again from the narrow opening through which they had descended, but many [stayed underground] for several days.[2] Trophonios was the son of Ersinos[2] and brother of Agamedes; [and this place was] where there was a prophesying snake, to which the inhabitants used to throw pastries.
Greek Original:
*trofwni/ou kata\ gh=s pai/gnia. e)n *lebadei/a| xrhsth/rion h)=n, o(\ *kataba/sion e)ka/loun: sto/mion ga/r ti h)=n, w(s ta\ a)/kra du/nasqai mo/na tw=n podw=n xwrh=sai. oi( ou)=n tw=| qew=| xrw/menoi, a(gneu/santes prw=ton w(risme/nais h(me/rais kai\ kosmh/santes e(autou\s i(erw=| tini sxh/mati, a)mfote/rais tai=s xersi\ melitou/ttas labo/ntes, o(/ e)sti ma/zas me/liti dedeume/nas, ou(/tws e)ka/qizon e)pi\ to\ sto/mion kai\ ai)fni/dion h(rpa/zonto kai\ kate/duon e)pi\ th=s gh=s. ta\s de\ ma/zas e)la/mbanon u(pe\r tou= mh\ a)dikhqh=nai u(po\ tw=n sunantw/ntwn o)/fewn, a)ll' e)kei/nas au)toi=s paraba/llein trofh/n. polloi\ me\n ou)=n kai\ au)qhmero\n a)nepe/mfqhsan di' ou(= stomi/ou kath=lqon, polloi\ de\ kai\ dia\ pleio/nwn h(merw=n. h)=n de\ o( *trofw/nios *)ersi/nou pai=s ta)delfou= *)agamh/dous: o(/pou o)/fis h)=n o( manteuo/menos, w(=| oi( katoikou=ntes plakou=ntas e)/ballon.
The unglossed headword phrase comes from Gregory of Nazianzus, Orations 39.5 (PG 36, 340a). The body of the entry is from the scholia to Aristophanes, Clouds 508, 'going down, as if into Trophonius' [domain]' (web address 1); cf. mu 526, epsiloniota 323. See generally Pausanias 9.39.2-40.2 (web address 2), and A. Schachter in OCD(4) s.v., who calls the procedure 'spectacular, frightening, notorious, and expensive'.
[1] In Western Boiotia (central Greece).
[2] Or re-emerged elsewhere as did Apollonius of Tyana (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius 8.19).
[3] More correctly Erginos (cf. Pausanias 9.37.5: web address 3).
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2,
Web address 3
Keywords: architecture; Christianity; clothing; comedy; ethics; food; geography; mythology; proverbs; religion; rhetoric; zoology
Translated by: David Whitehead on 27 April 2003@06:35:05.
Vetted by:
William Hutton (modified translation of 'katabasion', augmented notes, added links and keywords, set status.) on 20 June 2003@05:31:40.
David Whitehead (corrected my own typo) on 20 June 2003@09:58:22.
David Whitehead (tweak; another keyword) on 25 July 2006@07:19:35.
David Whitehead on 16 January 2014@03:45:13.
David Whitehead (retrieved full array of keywords) on 24 March 2014@07:21:42.
David Whitehead on 5 August 2014@08:34:22.
David Whitehead on 29 May 2016@06:58:18.


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