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The Nyktophylaxia of Delos

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 February 2012

A. Schachter
McGill University


In 426/425 BC the Athenians purified the island of Delos: they removed all the graves, and for the future forbade either dying or giving birth there; those involved were to be removed to Rheneia. They also instituted the penteteric Delia after the purification. Whatever the Athenians' initial motivation, the interdiction on burial seems to have been taken seriously, for there were few if any licit burials on the island for the rest of antiquity. It must have been very difficult for the people of Delos to conform to this law, as it affected both the burial of the dead, and the performance of the regular, customary, rites of tendance of family tombs. This paper suggests how they may have found a way to adapt normal Greek practice to fit the circumstances peculiar to Delos.

Shorter Contributions
Copyright © The Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies 1999

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