Religion and Integration

Thracian Bendis and her Worshippers in Classical Athens

von: Sara M. Wijma MA, MPhil
veröffentlicht am


[1] Around 342 B.C. [2], Apollodoros, son of Pasion, argued in court against the alleged citizenship of Neaera and her daughter Phano. He cited a decree by which the Plataeans were granted citizenship in 427 to show what it did mean to be an Athenian. The decree reads that ‘it is decreed that the Plataeans shall be Athenians from this day, that they shall have full rights as citizens, that they shall share in all the privileges in which the Athenians share, kai hierôn kai hosiôn’ ([Dem.] 59.104). The term hiera kai hosia is difficult to translate; in this paper I will use it in the most accepted and general translation as ‘the things belonging to the gods and the things relating to a good order among men as sanctioned by the gods’, as discussed most importantly by Connor. [3]

There are many references to sharing or partaking in ta hiera of the polis when Athenians formulate what it meant to be an Athenian. [4] Thus, an important privilege of the members of Athenian society consisted of the sharing in the religious obligations of the polis. But this sharing in ta hiera was not only perceived as an important privilege, it was also an important means to demonstrate that one was in fact an Athenian, since it was the only public activity in which everybody participated. [5] The importance of religious acts to demonstrate membership is not only clear from several court cases on citizenship; it is also shown by the fact that all important transitions in an Athenian’s life were marked by religious acts by which the community could publicly accept or reject a new member.It is the main hypothesis of the project in which I participate, that in ancient Greece religious activities were the basic means to organize society and articulate membership to polis society. Instead of focusing solely on political participation and legal rights for the definition of Athenian citizenship, we should pay attention to religious participation, creating a gliding scale of membership to the Athenian community. Under the supervision of Ancient History professor Josine Blok at the University of Utrecht, the project aims to redefine Athenian citizenship and citizen status. [6] Less theoretical, my PhD thesis aims to show how religious activities were organized to incorporate and define the membership to the Athenian community of ‘foreign’ groups, for example of the general group of metics or of the more specific group of Thracians.

Focusing on political and legal activities, scholars have arrived at a too narrow and anachronistic conceptualisation of Athenian citizenship often equating ‘the Athenians’ with politically and legally privileged adult male Athenians. This modern view on Athenian citizenship has been influenced most importantly by Aristotle’s description of the Athenian community as a politico-polis (especially Ath. Pol. 1275a). But recently Ober has stressed that Aristotle also uses the word ‘polis’ to describe a community in a more inclusive sense, the so-called geo-polis; describing a community in the sense of the territory and its inhabitants, including those who were not full-fledged citizens. [7] I propose that looking at the religious activities of different social groups offers a more multifaceted view on the Athenian community as a geo-polis.

This hypothesis leads to numerous questions: who could be perceived as members of Athenian society? If women were accepted as ‘Athenians’ through their religious participation, what about metics? Who could be perceived as ‘citizens’ and how were they differentiated from mere ‘members’? And by which means could the Athenians regulate religious activities to create and reflect membership of various social groups? The means available to polis authorities were numerous and applicable to many levels. For instance the hieropoioi, who were in charge of public sacrifices and meat distribution –through which differences in status could be created– were sent not only to large polis festivals like the Panathenaia but also to the smaller Eleusinia, where a more select group participated. The polis had control over part of the finances of numerous cults, as is shown in the inventories of the Other Gods (e.g.IG I³ 383) but also in several cult specific regulations. And many cults were regulated in detail by official decree; from the organisation of a procession to the salary to be paid to a priest. In the following some of these questions will be addressed in the context of the cult of the Thracian goddess Bendis and her Thracian worshippers.

Bendis: some preliminary remarks

In the following I will discuss the introduction and organization of the official polis cult of Bendis in Attika. I will show by which means the Athenian demos could control the integration of a social group, namely the Thracians, by regulating its worshipping activities. Although we have few, and sometimes fragmentary, sources, we get a clear picture of the gradual –and never full– acceptance of Bendis and her Thracian worshippers into the Athenian community.

By the late fifth century, Thracians had long been living in Attika. The first Thracians attested in Athens are the mercenaries accompanying Peisistratos on his return from Thrace to Athens in the 560s (Hdt I.64; Aristl. Ath. Pol. 15.2). From the 560s onwards Thracians formed a clearly identifiable and probably large group in Athens. Among the ‘barbarians’ with funeral monuments the group of Thracians is most numerous. [8] Most of these were of slave status; yet, the ones I could track were working as household slave, wed nurses or teachers: not the lowest class of slaves. [9] Another important group is formed by the Thracians of very high, sometimes royal status, who were married to Athenians, for example the Thracian princess Hegesipyle who was married to Miltiades, the famous Athenian general who fought at Marathon (FRA 2535; Hdt. 6.39.2; 41.2; Plut., Kim.4.1). Between these two extremes we find a large group of Thracians whose social status is not explicitly stated but who are most likely of metic status, like Thraitta (IG II² 11688) who was a perfume mixer or the intriguing Bendiphanes who helped to restore the democracy in 403 (IG II² 10. B12). The worshippers of Bendis most likely belonged to this large group of metic status.

There is some evidence on a thiasos of Bendis on Salamis and on slaves worshipping Bendis in the mining district, but in this paper I will only focus on the officially accepted and officially organized polis cult of Bendis located in Piraeus. I have given the most important sources in the reader. [10] In these we find information about the approximate date when Bendis’ cult started being officially accepted and how this acceptance involved a grant of enktesis to own property and build a shrine We also see how the Athenians organized Bendis’ cult and her festival, the Bendideia, which you probably know from the opening lines of Plato’s Republic (327a). Finally, I suggest we can tell by the terminology used to designate Bendis’ worshippers –that is as orgeones– that those worshippers were recognized and accepted as members of the Athenian community, which fits the fact that they took care of the religious obligations to one of Athens’ polis deities.

In the following I will discuss all these aspects of the integration of Bendis and her worshippers into the polis community. First a preliminary question: Why was this Thracian goddess officially accepted while most foreign deities were destined to be worshipped in smaller, less public thiasoi. The most accepted opinion is the one voiced by Nilsson, who has connected the Athenian acceptance of Bendis with a treaty between Athens and the Odrysian king Sitalkes and the strategic and military help Thrace could offer in the Peloponnesian War. [11] As you will see, I shall suggest a more gradual awareness of the importance and acceptance of the Thracians, yet it is not my aim here to discuss ‘why’ but rather to show ‘how’ the Thracians and their native goddess were accepted in Athens.

The rise of Bendis and the Bendideion

So when do we first meet Bendis in Athenian sources and how is she portrayed? The first references to Bendis are the few surviving fragments of a comedy of Kratinos, with the telling name hai Thraittai. [12] The play was probably performed around 443, since it contains a probable reference to the attempted ostracism of Perikles. In the play Bendis is worshipped. Ancient lexicographers further tell us that Kratinos used words denoting ‘tumultuous’ and ‘possessed by a god or goddess’ to describe the worship of Bendis (cf. Hesychius and Photios s.v. syrbēneus and kybēbon). It seems that, in this period, at least one form of worship of Bendis was performed by Thracians and with a rather exotic nature, at least in Athenian eyes.

We also have three vases depicting Bendis. One shows us the first steps of the integration of Bendis into the Athenian pantheon. On an Attic skyphos of around 425 [13] we see Themis with a kanoun approaching Bendis, almost as to say that it was the ‘customary and natural’ (themis) thing to do, as Folkert van Straten has suggested. [14] The other side of the skyphos is even more telling: there we see a similar picture but this time Artemis is depicted. In the following centuries, Bendis is consistently associated with Artemis, by analogy, in pose, or in the location of her sanctuary near the one of Artemis Mounychia (cf. Xen., Hell. 2.4.11), as to smoothen the transition from Thrace to Athens.

The first positive evidence for the official acceptance of Bendis comes from the Inventory list of the Treasurers of the Other Gods (IG I³ 383), published in 429/8. The Athenians decided to publish an inventory of the money and valuable items of the public shrines of Attika to remove these to the Akropolis. Among the entries we find a reference to a joint cult of Bendis and the otherwise unknown Adrasteia [15], with an account of 150 drachmas (ll.142-143). This means that by 429 at the latest Bendis had been officially accepted. By ‘officially accepted’ I mean that Bendis was accepted as a deity safeguarding the well-being of the polis with a cult open to large sections of the Athenian population and with some sort of polis control, like control over a treasury. Whether Bendis already had a temple of her own, which Xenophon later refers to (Hell. 2.4.11) is unknown. She must at least have had an altar with a temenos, most likely on the same spot as the later Bendideion, which was located on Mounychia Hill in Piraeus, close to the temple of Artemis Mounychia.

How did a foreign deity like Bendis receive an officially accepted public cult with a temenos and what did this entail for her Thracian worshippers? A glimpse of what happened is given in a late inscription of Thracian orgeones in Piraeus, found near Mounychia Hill and dated to 261 (IG II² 1283). Lines 4-12 read:

‘After the demos of the Athenians had given to the Thracians alone of all the ethne the right to own property (enktesis) and to build a shrine in accordance with the oracular response from Dodona and to send the procession from the Hestia outside the Prytaneion, and now they in the city have decided to build a shrine, there has to be a good cooperation amongst each other. In such a way that the orgeones seem to obey to the law of the city which orders the Thracians to send the procession to Piraeus…’

The grant of enktesis mentioned in this inscription refers to the right to own property with the purpose to build a shrine. This right must have been granted to the Thracians before 429, when Bendis appears on the inventory list of the Other Gods as an accepted polis deity. The occurrence of Dodona and not Delphi as the location of the oracle could point to a date after 431, when Delphi was largely inaccessible to the Athenians because of the Peloponnesian War. [16] In sum, the presence of Thracians and Bendis in Athens for over a century culminated in the grant of enktesis of around 430.

This was a truly revolutionary decision. The right to own real property was and always had been an important indication of membership to the polis community. Traditionally, people who owned considerable property had a say in the running of the community. Owning property or having the right to own property was a significant aspect of being an Athenian. Moreover, the right to use property to build a shrine must have been even more significant. This right was rarely granted. Beside the Thracians we only know of merchants from Kitium on Cyprus, and Egyptians (IG II² 337) who had received this privilege by 332. This can be explained by the importance attached to the building of sanctuaries for the cohesion and definition of a polis community. [17] Founding a cult and building a sanctuary was one of the most important acts a community as a whole could undertake through which it could define itself to both insiders and outsiders, a subject on which my colleague Floris van den Eijnde, who will speak tomorrow, is working. Not having the right to use polis property to build a sanctuary for one’s deities meant being an outsider to the community, which, of course, the Thracians were. By granting them enktesis the Athenians opened the door to the Thracians to be part of the community, even though they could never become full members, as citizens, by descent.

The procession during the Bendideia

So taking care of the ritual obligations for the polis deity Bendis, and thus taking care of and sharing in ta hiera of the polis, meant, as stated in the introduction, that the Thracians were members of the Athenian community. But how was this membership articulated and shaped? What kind of membership did the Thracian worshippers hold? This was an issue to be handled with care.

In the same decree mentioning the grant of enktesis, we also read, in lines 10 to 12, about a law of the polis ordering the Thracians to send a procession from the Hestia outside the Prytaneion to the Piraeus (IG II² 1283. 10-12). We do not know for certain of any other Athenian procession starting from the Prytaneion. Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood has suggested that the procession for Dionysos during the City-Dionysia was a god-welcoming procession, starting from the Prytaneion. She suggests the Prytaneion as the starting point because it would be the ideal place to receive a new god with appropriate rites of guest entertainment, since it was also the place where honoured citizens dined and where foreign guests were formally entertained. [18] The argument is tempting and it could explain why the procession for Bendis started at the Prytaneion. There Bendis and her worshippers were officially welcomed. The acceptance of Bendis and her worshippers could not have been made clearer.

Another reason to send a procession from the Hestia to Piraeus might be that it offered an excellent opportunity to connect the ancient city centre of Athens with the newly developed urban centre on the coast. The older archaic processions going from Athens to the sea, like the procession of initiates who were expected to bath in the sea on the second day of the Great Mysteries or the procession of the Plynteria to bath the cult statue of Athena in the sea, all ended at Phaleron, the ancient port of Attika. There was probably a great need to ritually connect the city with the new port and the procession for Bendis was a great opportunity to do so.

Plato gives us further information about the procession. Sokrates is visiting Piraeus to pay his devotions to Bendis and to witness the first celebration of the Bendideia. Sokrates ‘thought the procession of the citizens (the epichorioi) very fine, but it was no better than the show, made by the marching of the Thracian contingent’ (Rep. 327a). Together the Thracians and the Athenians could and should pay their devotions to Bendis and take care of her polis cult, but at the same time they were publicly, visibly separated. It is not the question whether the separation of the Thracians was emphasised or the communal participation; both were.

Sokrates also mentions a torch-race. Usually torch-races were on foot, like at the Prometheia or the Hephaisteia; yet the one during the Bendideia was on horseback, as Sokrates comments in amazement. Since the Thracians were most famous for their horses, this torch-race on horseback was probably their responsibility. In this torch-race the Thracians could –or rather should– demonstrate their ethnic identity at the gaze of the Athenians.

In the fourth century the Thracians still put their mark on the Bendideia in this way. On a relief of the late fourth century we see ten men approaching Bendis from the left. [19] Most probably, we see the goddess honouring the two front men because they were the trainers of the winning team, standing behind them, of the torch-race on horseback during the Bendideia. That the Bendideia was still very popular in the fourth century is also apparent in the so-called skin sale records (IG II² 1496.86). These records list the state income from the sale of the hides of public sacrifices. These sacrifices were paid for by the demos. In 334/33 the Bendideia are accounted with 457 drachmas, which comes down to the sale of hides of approximately one hundred animals, a hecatomb that was supplied by the demos. In the same year, only the sacrifices at the City Dionysia and the Olympia surpass this number.

The Bendideia and a fragmentary decree

But let us return to the early organization of the Bendideia. We have a very fragmentary but also very informative decree regulating different aspects of the cult and festival of Bendis (IG I³ 136). Ever since the fragments have been published in 1941 the decree has been the subject of great controversy. Several scholars have described it as part of the treaty with Sitalkes. [20] However, this is nowhere explicitly stated. Let us take a close look at what is explicitly stated and discuss which elements of the cult are regulated and in what way, and most importantly what this tells us about the way in which the Athenians were concerned with the position of Thracians in Athens.

The Athenian boule decreed to regulate the cult and festival of Bendis, this much is clear from the inscription. Bendis herself is named in line 13 and the date of her festival, the 19th of Thargelion, is mentioned in line 28. The date of the decree is unknown. However, the kolakretai, a board of Athenian financial officials are mentioned in line 36 and therefore the decree must be dated before 411 when this board was abolished. On the other hand, there is a reference to ‘ho polemios’ in line 6, which most likely refers to the enemies of Athens during the Peloponnesian War, which dates the decree post 431.

In the beginning of the decree a procession is referred to, with the enigmatic diapompeion (ll. 3-4). It seems to me that this has to do with the movement of a procession, but suggestions to its meaning are very welcome. A few lines later the ten Athenian tribes, the phylai,are mentioned and they, or probably men selected from them, are each to perform a rite, possibly a sacrifice (l. 5). The mention of the phylai shows that the Athenians were carefully integrating the cult into the official structure of the polis. We should compare this with the phyle-structure superimposed onto ancient festivals after 508, like at the City Dionysia where the dithyrambic agones were organized on a phyle-basis. In these festivals the unity of the Athenian polis was emphasized through the presence of most of its social and administrative subdivisions. The presence of the ten phylai at the Bendideia stressed the unity of the polis community of which the Thracians had now become members. In turn, the separate Thracian contingent in the procession and the Thracian torch-race articulated them as very different from the ‘real’ Athenians, the epichorioi as Plato’s Sokrates calls them.

In the inscription on the Bendideia, after the mention of the phylai, we come across references to a cult statue (agalma, l. 8) and a stele (l. 9), perhaps the one carrying the enktesis grant. There is also a vague allusion to Thracian women (l. 15), but the state of the inscription is so fragmentary in this part that I do not dare to venture on any suggestion about their role. Next, the decree treats upon the financing of the recently established polis cult through the collection of eparchōn (ll. 20 and 22). [21] Probably because the cult had no traditional means of income, the demos imposed a fee upon a group of people connected with the cult of Bendis, perhaps all people worshipping her and bringing her sacrifices. Control over finances was a common way for the Athenian demos to control a cult. Some scholars have even viewed this as the main aspect to designate a cult as public. However, as we have already seen and will see, there were many more ways for the Athenians to shape and control a cult and its participants.

After the mention of the fee and a fragmentary allusion to a sacrifice we come across the most intriguing but also most puzzling lines of the inscription: lines 29 to 31. The mention of ‘hiereos-’ and ‘Athenaion hapanton’ brings to mind the decree regulating the appointment of a priestess for Athena Nike (IG I³ 35) dated either to the 440s or the 420s. Lines 4-6 of this decree read that ‘For Athena Nike a priestess being chosen by lot from all Athenian women is to be appointed’. It was a radical democratic decision to elect a priestess by lot from all Athenians (ekhs Athenaion hapason).

Traditionally, only members of Attic gene filled the priesthoods of Athens’ public cults. As Josine Blok has argued, the decision to open up priesthoods to all Athenians can be explained from the perspective that the Athenian demos increasingly tried to control religious activities and consequently undermine and take over archaic privileges. One could even say that it was the icing on the cake of Athenian democracy. After the reforms of Kleisthenes and Ephialtes, the decision to appoint a priestess from all Athenians undermined the last vestige of archaic power held by the gene in their monopoly over priesthoods and redistributed it over all Athenians. [22] The important offices in Athens were now open to all Athenians, not only to all Athenian men but in the case of the priesthood of Athena Nike also to all Athenian women.

The decree regulating the cult and priesthood of Bendis, however, shows some anomalies compared to the Athena Nike decree. In the Bendis decree the decision on how to appoint a priestess has not yet been made. It actually states that an embassy has to be sent as quickly as possible, to seek advice from an oracle (ll.30-31). The question to be asked, as I read it, was: either 1) ‘whether it is necessary that a woman who is to be priestess and a man who is to be priest be chosen from the Thracians or from all Athenians’, as has already been partly suggested by Robert Parker (1996, 172) or: 2) ‘whether it is necessary that a woman who is to be priestess has to answer to a certain qualification or not’. In the second option, the embassy to be sent to the oracle is to be selected from all Athenians instead of the priestess and priest. In sum, it cannot be said whether this regulation for the priesthood of Bendis was as democratic as the one for the priesthood of Athena Nike. What it does tell us is that the Athenians struggled with the question how the priesthood of Bendis should be organized.

After this early organization of the cult of Bendis, we come across decrees of two groups of orgeones: one Thracian and one Athenian group of worshippers. Both groups of orgeones are ordered by polis law to run the cult and organize the festival in good order. Both groups deal with the same cult and with the same priestess and priest. There seems to have been a careful division of privileges and responsibilities and the question of how the priesthood should be organized and who should fill the priesthoods could be considered as the most difficult issue. Most likely then, the Athenians wondered whether Thracians or Athenians should fill this priesthood. It must have been a difficult question. After the Athenians had opened up priesthoods to all Athenians only a few decades before, thereby creating one large Athenian genos, they now were faced with the possibility that the priests of a public polis cult could be Thracians. A careful consideration was asked for and divine support was sought.

Let me conclude this rather detailed examination of this enigmatic decree. Its main concern was to regulate the cult of Bendis and the Bendideia in the most official way possible and to carefully integrate the cult and her worshippers in the religious structure of Attika. This is completely in line with the previous arrangements granting the Thracians enktesis and ordering them to send a procession from the Prytaneion to Piraeus. In the decree, the phyle-structure was imposed, an oracle was to be consulted on the question of the priesthood and the possibility of a Thracian priestess, and in the final most formulaic part of the decree the hieropoioi, the prytaneis and the kolakretai are mentioned and were each to play a part in the cult.

The Thracian orgeones of Bendis

Let us now turn to the last attested step in the acceptance and integration of Bendis and her worshippers as members of the Athenian community. Unlike most foreigners in Athens worshipping native deities, the Thracian worshippers of Bendis were not called thiasotai but orgeones. It seems that for the first time in Athenian history foreigners were called orgeones. The subject of orgeones is a rather difficult one. [23] As with many associations in ancient Athens, it is not entirely clear what their origin, purpose, and status within the polis was. In the most general sense, they can be described as a group of people privately organized to worship, who had some public responsibility, and who were in turn publicly accepted. These groups probably already existed in the sixth century; we have a ‘Solonian’ law vaguely alluding to orgeones (Digest XLVII 22.4, mentioned by Seleukos in his commentary on the axiones, 341 F I).

In the context of this paper, a law mentioned by Philochoros (Atthis 4, frg. 94; cf. Suda s.v. orgeōnes) is especially interesting. The law states that‘phratries are required to admit both orgeones and homogalaktes, whom we call gennetai’. The phratries were archaic territorial communities that, still in classical times, controlled access to the citizen body by checking descent. [24] They were now ordered to accept orgeones. What does this information tell us about the status of orgeones in general and of the Thracian orgeones in particular?

Philochoros mentions the ‘law’ in his accounts of the late fifth century. However, in the standard work on orgeones, Ferguson is of the opinion that this date cannot be correct since by that time foreigners could be orgeones, notably the Thracian orgeones of Bendis; and, as Ferguson stresses, ‘aliens were debarred from being phratry members’. [25] He states that it was impossible for the phratries to accept metics in their midst and Ferguson therefore distinguishes two classes of orgeones: class A) of citizens honouring a hero and class B) of foreign orgeones honouring a minor deity. He subsequently dates the regulation to the sixth century, when orgeones were citizens worshipping a hero who were to be automatically accepted in phratries.

But why were the Thracian worshippers called or allowed to call themselves orgeones? This seems an extraordinary departure from traditional usage of the term. I would like to suggest that the term ‘orgeonesshould not be subdivided into different classes as Ferguson has done but that the term rather denoted an official and public recognition of privately organized worshippers who served a public cult –not only the citizen orgeones but also the foreign ones. Ronda Simms already suggested that the Thracians were perhaps granted this privileged name because they were ordered by polis law to send a procession from the Hestia and therefore performed a sort of state function. [26] As we saw earlier the Thracians not only performed this ‘state function’ but they were also publicly and officially recognized as members of the Athenian community in other ways: not only by granting them certain privileges, like enktesis, but also though the official organization of the Bendideia. To call the Thracian worshippers orgeones is in agreement with this ritual language: they were publicly recognized members of Athens’ religious structure and were endowed with certain ritual obligations to safeguard the well being of the polis.

If we define orgeones as publicly recognized members of the religious community of Athens, we no longer have to see the decision to call the Thracian worshippers orgeones as an extraordinary departure from traditional usage and we no longer have to distinguish two classes of orgeones, one of Athenians and one of foreigners, a distinction the Athenians never made. The only change was that members of Athens’ religious community could now be metics, a group of people not recognized as such in the sixth century and therefore absent among orgeones. In this way, the law Philochoros mentions does not need to be dated to the sixth century.

Recently, scholars have connected the law with Perikles’ citizenship law of 451, seeing it as an additional attempt to regulate access to the civic community of Athens. [27] Yet, a good reason for dating it to the late fifth century could be that the unwritten agreement that orgeones were automatically admitted by phratries had become an issue by the late fifth century, since meticscould now be orgeones. To think the unthinkable, the phratries, as gatekeepers to Athens’ religious community, had to be ordered by law to receive all orgeones, both citizens and metics. In sum, by the name orgeones the Thracians were denoted as officially accepted members of the Athenian community.


Starting from the preposition that sharing in the religious obligations of the polis was a defining aspect of being a member of Athenian society, we have looked at the organization of the cult of Bendis to see how the Athenians shaped the membership of the Thracian worshippers. Granting the Thracians enktesis, ordering them to send a procession from the Prytaneion, imposing the phyle-structure on the Bendideia, sending polis officials to organize the festival in good order and granting the Thracian worshippers the name orgeones all point to an official acceptance of Thracians as members of the Athenian community. In turn, Thracians were to process in a different contingent, they held a torch-race in an unusual manner, the priesthoods were perhaps not to be filled by Thracians and the Athenian and Thracian worshippers are initially organized in two separate groups. All these aspects contributed to the integration and definition of the membership of the Thracians to the Athenian community.

Of course these conclusions inevitably lead to more questions. The importance of the cult of Bendis, as a metic cult, has often been perceived as a strange exception. But just how exceptional was this cult? Can we challenge the exceptional status of the cult of Bendis by looking at other religious activities of metics in Athens during polis festivals like the Panathenaia and the Hephaistia? Metics shared in many hiera of the polis. But how and to what degree were they differentiated from the ‘true’ Athenians, the epichorioi? Of course the same can be asked in the case of female participants, or female metic participants, or young participants. The possibilities are many and only some will be investigated in my PhD. In the end I hope to have shown the ways in which Athenian membership could be shaped and demonstrated through religious activities.

Selected bibliography

Andrewes, A., ‘Philochoros on phratries’, JHS 81 (1961) 1-15.

Bäbler, B., Fleissige Thrakerinnen und wehrhafte Skythen. Nichtgriechen im klassischen Athen und ihre archäoologische Hinterlassenschaft (Stuttgart and Leipzig 1998).

Blok, J. H., ‘Oude en nieuwe burgers’, Lampas 36 (2003) 5-26. (With English summary).

Blok, J. H., ‘Becoming citizens. Some notes on the semantics of citizenship in classical Athens’, Klio 87(2005) 7-40.

Connor, W. R., ‘“Sacred” and “secular”: Hiera kai hosia and the classical Athenian concept of the State’, Ancient Society 19 (1988) 161-188.

Evans, N., ‘Feast, citizens, and cultic democracy’, Ancient Society 34 (2005) 1-26.

Ferguson, W.S., ‘The Attic orgeones’, HThR 37 (1944) 61-130.

Ferguson, W.S., ‘Orgeonika’, Hesperia Supplement 8 (1949) 130-163.

FRA= Osborne, M.J. and S.G. Byrne, The Foreign Residents of Athens: an annexe to the “Lexicon of Greek personal names: Attica” (London 1996).

Garland, R., The Piraeus (2nd ed.) (London 2001).

Garland, R., Introducing new gods: the politics of Athenian religion (New York 1992).

Hartwig, P., Bendis. Eine archaeologische Untersuchung (Leipzig and Berlin 1897).

Lambert, S.D., The Phratries of Attica (2nd ed.) (Ann Arbor 1998).

Nilsson, M.P., ‘Bendis in Athen’, From the collections of Ny Carlsberg Glypothek 3 (1942) 169-188.

Ober, J., ‘The nature of Athenian democracy’, in: Ober, J. (ed.), The Athenian revolution. Essays on ancient Greek democracy and political theory (Princeton 1996) 107-122.

Parker, R., Athenian religion: a history (Oxford 1996).

Peçirka, J., The formula of the grant of enktesis in Attic inscriptions (Prague 1966).

Polignac, F. de, Cults, territory and the origin of the Greek city (Chicago 1995).

Roussel, P., ‘A propos d’un décret attique (relatif à la déesse Bendis)’, REA 45 (1943)

Simms, R.R., ‘The cult of the Thracian goddess Bendis in Athens and Attica’, Ancient World 18 (1988) 59-76.

Sourvinou-Inwood, C., ‘Something to do with Athens: Tragedy and ritual’, in: Osborne, R. and S. Hornblower (eds.), Ritual, finance and politics (Oxford 1994) 272-287.

Van Straten, F., ‘Assimilatie van vreemde goden: archeologisch bronnenmateriaal’, Lampas 9 (1976) 42-50.

  1. This paper was originally written for a seminar held at Cambridge University in 2006 and was not meant to be read but rather to be heard. I have added some slight changes to make it more accessible for readers. A more detailed article on the issue will be published in the future. I would like to thank the Erfurt Univerisity for giving me the opportunity to present my ideas on Bendis and her worshippers at the Erfurt Springschool 2007 and the editors of Archäologie Online for subsequently publishing this paper on their website.

  2. All dates are before Christ unless otherwise stated.

  3. Connor, W. R., ‘“Sacred” and “secular”: Hiera kai hosia and the classical Athenian concept of the State’, Ancient Society 19 (1988) 161-188. Cf. Blok, J. H., ‘Oude en nieuwe burgers’, Lampas 36 (2003) 5-26. (With English summary).

  4. E.g. Xen., Hell. 2.4.21; Dem. 23.65; Dem. 39.35; Dem. 57.4. I owe these references to drs. E. P. van ‘t Wout.

  5. Evans, N., ‘Feast, citizens, and cultic democracy’, Ancient Society 34 (2005) 1-26.

  6. For more information on the project you can check the website:

  7. Ober, J., ‘The nature of Athenian democracy’, in: Ober, J. (ed.), The Athenian revolution. Essays on ancient Greek democracy and political theory (Princeton 1996) 107-122, cf. Blok, J.H., ‘Becoming citizens. Some notes on the semantics of citizenship in classical Athens’, Klio 87 (2005) 7-40.

  8. Bäbler, B., Fleissige Thrakerinnen und wehrhafte Skythen. Nichtgriechen im klassischen Athen und ihre archäoologische Hinterlassenschaft (Stuttgart and Leipzig 1998).

  9. Of course this is not a complete picture. Slaves of very low status, like mining slaves, are more likely to leave fewer traces in the epigraphical and literary record.

  10. Due to copyright it is impossible to reproduce all sources. I have tried to give full references to all sources used in this paper.

  11. Nilsson, M.P., ‘Bendis in Athen’, From the collections of Ny Carlsberg Glypothek 3 (1942) 169-188.

  12. Edmonds, J.M., The Fragments of Attic Comedy vol.1 (Leiden 1957) 45-49, fragments 71-84 concerning Kratinos’ Thracian Women.

  13. Watzinger, C., Griechische Vasen in Tübingen (1924) 59 F2 pl. 41. Now at Tübingen, Universität S/10 1347. (LIMC, s.v. Bendis no. 3).

  14. Van Straten, F., ‘Assimilatie van vreemde goden: archeologisch bronnenmateriaal’, Lampas 9 (1976) 42-50.

  15. Although there is a suggestion that she was depicted on the famous Pergamon Altar. However, this altar is removed from the inventory by several centuries and many miles.

  16. Although it could also point to a Thracian initiative, sending an embassy to an oracle closer to Thrace. There are also few examples of Athenian embassies going to Delphi during the Peloponnesian War (Robin Osborne, personal communication).

  17. Cf. Polignac, F. de, Cults, territory and the origin of the Greek city (Chicago 1995).

  18. Sourvinou-Inwood, C., ‘Something to do with Athens: Tragedy and ritual’, in: Osborne, R. and S. Hornblower (eds.), Ritual, finance and politics (Oxford 1994) 272-287.

  19. Now in London at the British Museum (no. 2155).

  20. E.g. Nilsson, M.P., ‘Bendis in Athen’, From the collections of Ny Carlsberg Glypothek 3 (1942) 169-188; Ferguson, W.S., ‘The Attic orgeones’, HThR 37 (1944) 61-130.

  21. Comparable to the collection telos for the also newly instituted cult of Asklepios, cf. Hesperia 5 (1936) 401 no. 10, ll.142-147.

  22. Blok, J. H., ‘Oude en nieuwe burgers’, Lampas 36 (2003) 5-26. (With English summary).

  23. Cf. Andrewes, A., ‘Philochoros on phratries’, JHS 81 (1961) 1-15; Ferguson, W.S., ‘The Attic orgeones’, HThR 37 (1944) 61-130, and ibid., ‘Orgeonika’, Hesperia Supplement 8 (1949) 130-163.

  24. On the subject of phratries see most importantly: Lambert, S.D., The Phratries of Attica (2nd ed.) (Ann Arbor 1998).

  25. Ferguson, W.S., ‘The Attic orgeones’, HThR 37 (1944) 64-68, op. cit. 68.

  26. Simms, R.R., ‘The cult of the Thracian goddess Bendis in Athens and Attica’, Ancient World 18 (1988) 59-76.

  27. e.g. Andrewes, A., ‘Philochoros on phratries’, JHS 81 (1961) 1-15; Lambert, S.D., The Phratries of Attica (2nd ed.) (Ann Arbor 1998) 44-47.