19 January 2021 Start
19 January 2021 End
17.00 (Athens time)  Time
Zoom lecture


Evidence for the Initiation of Children into Orphic-Bacchic Mystery Cults

Tuesday January 19, 2021

The Swedish Institute at Athens is happy to announce the program for the Athens Greek Religion Seminar Spring 2021. All seminars will take place at 17h (Athens time) via Zoom until further notice. To participate, send an email to [email protected]. Links will be available one week ahead of each seminar.

The first seminar will be presented by Colleen Kron, Ohio State Uni­ver­sity/​Stock­holm Uni­ver­sity, who will give a talk en­titled “Children in the thiasos?” Evidence for the Initiation of Children into Orphic-Bacchic Mystery Cults.


A wide range of iconographical, epigraphic, and literary sources have been
interpreted as evidence for the amorphous Greco-Roman “Orphic” or “Bacchic”
mystery cults. This paper evaluates the multi-disciplinary sources for the specific
participation of children in such cults and establishes that children were indeed
initiated. In light of this background for child initiation, I propose that one of the socalled “Orphic” gold lamellae from Pelinna in Thessaly should be associated with the
burial of a child. The two ivy-shaped Pelinna tablets (Graf-Johnston nos. 26A and B)
are typically considered as nearly-identical copies of the same archetypal ritual text,
both belonging to the adult woman buried in the sarcophagus from which the tablets
were recovered. However, the sarcophagus also contained the burial of a child,
whose remains were enclosed in a bronze kados. I argue that material and
paleographical micro-variations between the tablets suggest that the longer “A”
tablet should be associated with the initiation of this child. This identification of a
child μύστης provides further insight into the perplexing realm of Orphic-Bacchic
mystery cults.

To participate, please contact [email protected] (registration is obligatory).

Warmly wel­come!