Baubo, Great Goddess and Demeter’s Female Fool in the Eleusinian Mysteries

Baubo, Great Goddess and Demeter’s Female Fool in the Eleusinian Mysteries

In 1898, a group of German archaeologists working in the Demeter sanctuary at Priene unearthed a peculiar set of Hellenistic female figurines. The head of each of these figurines sits directly on her legs. Each figure also has long hair that drapes around her back resembling a lifted veil. These figures represent Baubo, sometimes referred to as Iambe. Homeric legends identify her as a daughter of Pan and Echo.

Terracotta Baubo figurine from Priene. (Public Domain)

Terracotta Baubo figurine from Priene. (Public Domain)

Baubo in the Eleusinian Mysteries

The few lines in the 7th century BC Homeric Hymn to Demeter relating to Baubo provides the background story of the greatest mystery of the ancient world - the Eleusinian Mysteries. Celebrations of these mysteries began at Eleusis (bordering present-day Athens) in about 1450 BC and continued for some 2,000 years until the sanctuary was completely obliterated by the 5th century AD. 


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