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date: 09 December 2023



  • Irad Malkin


Libations, *ritual pouring of *water, *wine, *oil, *milk, or *honey in honour of gods, heroes, or the dead. Libations are an act of surrender, preceding human participation in meals and other acts. They can mark commencements and endings, such as mornings and evenings (Hes. Op. 724–6), perhaps also the boundary between profane and sacred; at the banquet (*symposium), the group pours threefold libations to *Zeus and the Olympians (see olympian gods), to the heroes, and to Zeus Teleios, ‘He who Finishes’, or Zeus Soter, ‘the Saviour’; other fixed orders were also possible. *Dionysus ‘himself’ (i.e. wine) is poured to gain divine favour (Eur. Bacch. 284–5). Libations express blanket-propitiation when associated with the unknown and new: having arrived in foreign *Colchis, the *Argonauts pour a libation of ‘honey and pure wine to Earth (*Gaia) and the gods of the land (epichōrioi) and to the souls of dead heroes’, asking for aid and a favourable welcome (Ap.


  • Greek Myth and Religion

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