Vari Pan and Nymphs cave (Attica) 1 Vari - Σπήλαιο Πανός και Νυμφών

Σπήλαιο Πανός και Νυμφών - Vari Nymphs, sanctuary cave with inscriptions and statues, near Vari in Attiki prefecture of Attica
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Works: 1
Latitude: 37.858140
Longitude: 23.801850
Confidence: High

Greek name: Σπήλαιο Πανός και Νυμφών
Place ID: 379238CPan
Time period: ACHR
Region: Attica
Country: Greece
Department: East Attiki
Mod: Vari

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Modern Description: Following the dirt track NE from the new cemetery of Ano Voula, after 1.4 km keep an eye out for a battered metal cage 20 meters below (S) of the track. The gate to the cave may be unlocked, but legal access requires prior permission from the archaeological ephoria. Descent without a rope and proper lights is dangerous and should not be attempted, certainly not alone. The remains of rock-cut steps lead to a series of niches, carvings, inscriptions, and stalactites. One inscription, in letters of the 5th c. BCE, explains, "Archedemos the Theraian, the nympholept (seized by the nymphs and by them gifted with oracular powers) crafted this grotto by the guidance of the Nymphs." A crude relief shows Archedemos with his hammer and gouge, his name carved twice beside him. A double altar is beside him, labeled "of Apollo" and "of Hermes". An empty niche is labeled "of Pan". A headless seated statue probably represents Apollo (the flat chest, braids, and lack of lions renders the old identification with Cybele dubious). At the bottom is a water basin, possibly fed by a now-dry spring. A crude rhyming inscription reads, "Purge the innards outside, cleanse the hands inside". The cave was explored in 1903 by the American School of Classical Studies. Votive reliefs of Hermes, Pan, and the nymphs are in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, along with lamps and other offerings. Coins and other finds suggest use in the 5th and 4th c. BCE, and then a resurgence in the 4th c . CE, possibly connected with neo-Platonist cult. Scholars such as Paul Kalligas have noted that the cave is a nice match with the cave described in the Odyssey book 13.100, with the stalactite clusters forming the looms of the nymphs whereon they weave their purple cloth. The gods worshipped in the cave are a good match with a tale told of Plato, most completely in Olympiodorus's commentary on the Alcibiades: (tr. M. Griffin) Now they say that a vision (phasma) of Apollo coupled with his mother Perictione, and appeared to Ariston in the night, instructing him not to have intercourse with Perictione until she gave birth, and he acted accordingly. And when Plato was born, his parents took the newborn and placed him on Mount Hymettus, wishing to make sacrifices on his behalf to the gods there, Pan, the Nymphs, and Shepherd (Nomios) Apollo. And as he lay there, the bees approached and filled his mouth with honey from their honeycombs, so that the saying came true of him, "from whose tongue flows speech sweeter than honey."
Wikidata ID: Q5054943
Trismegistos Geo: 37812

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