Anagogia, Katagogia et les colombes d’Éryx

Beatrice Lietz


In Greek religion, doves are connected with the cult of Aphrodite. Two authors compiling all sort of extravagant anecdotes between the end of the 2nd and the beginning of the 3rd century CE, the Greek Athenaeus of Naucratis and the Roman Claudius Aelianus, mention these animals with reference to the sanctuary of Eryx, in western Sicily. According to their testimony, numerous doves lived around this sanctuary, signalling Aphrodite’s presence. However, in the period between two festivals called Anagogia (departure) and Katagogia (return), the birds disappeared for nine days, before spectacularly flying back from Africa. This was seen as one of many signs that the goddess herself had taken the journey. Reexamining the evidence, this article aims to clarify the role of these animals in the ritual, in light of the most recent studies about « advent festivals ».

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