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An ancient carnelian pendant of the Goddess


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These are pictures of a carnelian pendant of the Goddess Vavvóh (Baubo, Βαυβώ). The sculpture is quite tiny, a mere 9/10 of an inch (2.3 cm) tall. It is dated 200 BCE-100 CE.

The most familiar story comes from the Homeric Hymn to Dimítir (Demeter, Δημήτηρ). Unable to find her abducted daughter Pærsæphóni (Persephone, Περσεφόνη), the Goddess Dimítir disguised herself as an old woman and has been granted refuge in the palace of King Kælæós (Celeus, Κελεός). She enters, is seated, and finds herself very sad, veiling her face, but Iámvi (Iambe, Ἰάμβη), with her jesting, caused her to laughThen Metáneira (Μετάνειρα), the wife of the king, offered her wine, but she declined and asked that they serve her kykæóhn (kykeon, κυκεών), a barley-pennyroyal beverage that became associated with the Eleusinian Mysteries. [1]

The Christian Church-father Clement of Alexandria tells a similar story. He says that Vavvóh offered Dimítir refreshment, but the Goddess refused it in her misery, whereupon Vavvóh lifted her dress, exposing her pudenda, causing Dimítir to laugh and accept the drink. While Clement says that Vavvóh exposed her private parts to Dimítir, when he quotes an Orphic text, it is a little different; it states that when she opened her tunic, the child Íakhos (Iacchus, Ἴακχος) was inside and made an obscene gesture with her breasts. [2] Ἴακχος is sometimes a name of Diónysos (Dionysus, Διόνυσος), sometimes a child of Dimítir and Zefs (Ζεὺς), and sometimes yet other deities.

These two stories are the main ancient sources. Since they are very similar, Vavvóh is often identified with Iámvi. There are many statues from antiquity depicting a woman opening her dress, sometimes with a face on her belly. Scholars identify such statues as Vavvóh. Βαυβώ means "belly."

The statue is in the possession of the author who releases all the photos to the Public Domain.


1. Homeric Hymn 2 Εἲς Δημήτραν 184-211, trans. Hugh G. Evelyn-White, 1914:

Soon they came to the house of heaven-nurtured Celeus and went through the portico to where their queenly mother sat by a pillar of the close-fitted roof, holding her son, a tender scion, in her bosom. And the girls ran to her. But the goddess walked to the threshold: and her head reached the roof and she filled the doorway with a heavenly radiance. Then awe and reverence and pale fear took hold of Metaneira, and she rose up from her couch before Demeter, and bade her be seated. But Demeter, bringer of seasons and giver of perfect gifts, would not sit upon the bright couch, but stayed silent with lovely eyes cast down until careful Iambe placed a jointed seat for her and threw over it a silvery fleece. Then she sat down and held her veil in her hands before her face. A long time she sat upon the stool without speaking because of her sorrow, and greeted no one by word or by sign, but rested, never smiling, and tasting neither food nor drink, because she pined with longing for her deep-bosomed daughter, until careful Iambe —who pleased her moods in aftertime also —moved the holy lady with many a quip and jest to smile and laugh and cheer her heart. Then Metaneira filled a cup with sweet wine and offered it to her; but she refused it, for she said it was not lawful for her to drink red wine, but bade them mix meal and water with soft mint and give her to drink. And Metaneira mixed the draught and gave it to the goddess as she bade. So the great queen Deo received it to observe the sacrament

αἶψα δὲ δώμαθ᾽ ἵκοντο διοτρεφέος Κελεοῖο, 
βὰν δὲ δι᾽ αἰθούσης, ἔνθα σφίσι πότνια μήτηρ 
ἧστο παρὰ σταθμὸν τέγεος πύκα ποιητοῖο 
παῖδ᾽ ὑπὸ κόλπῳ ἔχουσα, νέον θάλος: αἳ δὲ πὰρ αὐτὴν 
ἔδραμον: ἣ δ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ἐπ᾽ οὐδὸν ἔβη ποσὶ καὶ ῥα μελάθρου 
κῦρε κάρη, πλῆσεν δὲ θύρας σέλαος θείοιο. 
τὴν δ᾽ αἰδώς τε σέβας τε ἰδὲ χλωρὸν δέος εἷλεν: 
εἶξε δέ οἱ κλισμοῖο καὶ ἑδριάασθαι ἄνωγεν. 
ἀλλ᾽ οὐ Δημήτηρ ὡρηφόρος, ἀγλαόδωρος, 
ἤθελεν ἑδριάασθαι ἐπὶ κλισμοῖο φαεινοῦ, 
ἀλλ᾽ ἀκέουσ᾽ ἀνέμιμνε κατ᾽ ὄμματα καλὰ βαλοῦσα, 
πρίν γ᾽ ὅτε δή οἱ ἔθηκεν Ἰάμβη κέδν᾽ εἰδυῖα 
πηκτὸν ἕδος, καθύπερθε δ᾽ ἐπ᾽ ἀργύφεον βάλε κῶας. 
ἔνθα καθεζομένη προκατέσχετο χερσὶ καλύπτρην: 
δηρὸν δ᾽ ἄφθογγος τετιημένη ἧστ᾽ ἐπὶ δίφρου, 
οὐδέ τιν᾽ οὔτ᾽ ἔπεϊ προσπτύσσετο οὔτε τι ἔργῳ, 
ἀλλ᾽ ἀγέλαστος, ἄπαστος ἐδητύος ἠδὲ ποτῆτος 
ἧστο πόθῳ μινύθουσα βαθυζώνοιο θυγατρός, 
πρίν γ᾽ ὅτε δὴ χλεύῃς μιν Ἰάμβη κέδν᾽ εἰδυῖα 
πολλὰ παρασκώπτουσ᾽ ἐτρέψατο πότνιαν ἁγνήν, 
μειδῆσαι γελάσαι τε καὶ ἵλαον σχεῖν θυμόν: 
ἣ δή οἱ καὶ ἔπειτα μεθύστερον εὔαδεν ὀργαῖς. 
τῇ δὲ δέπας Μετάνειρα δίδου μελιηδέος οἴνου 
πλήσασ᾽: ἣ δ᾽ ἀνένευσ᾽: οὐ γὰρ θεμιτόν οἱ ἔφασκε 
πίνειν οἶνον ἐρυθρόν: ἄνωγε δ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ἄλφι καὶ ὕδωρ 
δοῦναι μίξασαν πιέμεν γλήχωνι τερείνῃ. 
ἣ δὲ κυκεῶ τεύξασα θεᾷ πόρεν, ὡς ἐκέλευε: 
δεξαμένη δ᾽ ὁσίης ἕνεκεν πολυπότνια Δηώ

2. Λόγος παραινέτικος πρὸς Ἕλληνας Chap. 2.31 by Clement of Alexandria, trans. G. W. Butterworth, 1919:

"Baubo, having received Demeter as a guest, offers her a draught of wine and meal. She declines to take it, being unwilling to drink on account of her mourning. Baubo is deeply hurt, thinking she has been slighted, and thereupon uncovers her secret parts and exhibits them to the Goddess. Demeter is pleased at the sight, and now at least receives the draught, — delighted by the spectacle! These are the secret Mysteries of the Athenians! These are also the subjects of Orpheus’ poems. I will quote you the very lines of Orpheus, in order that you may have the originator of the Mysteries as witness of their shamelessness:

“This said, she drew aside her robes, and showed a sight of shame; child Iacchus was there, and laughing, plunged his hand below her breasts. Then smiled the goddess, in her heart she smiled, and drank the draught from out the glancing cup.' "

καὶ δὴ ῾οὐ γὰρ ἀνήσω μὴ οὐχὶ εἰπεῖν̓ ξενίσασα ἡ Βαυβὼ τὴν Δηὼ ὀρέγει κυκεῶνα αὐτῇ: τῆς δὲ ἀναινομένης λαβεῖν καὶ πιεῖν οὐκ ἐθελούσης ῾πενθήρης γὰρ ἦν̓ περιαλγὴς ἡ Βαυβὼ γενομένη, ὡς ὑπεροραθεῖσα δῆθεν, ἀναστέλλεται τὰ αἰδοῖα καὶ ἐπιδεικνύει τῇ θεῷ: ἡ δὲ τέρπεται τῇ ὄψει ἡ Δηὼ καὶ μόλις ποτὲ δέχεται τὸ ποτόν, ἡσθεῖσα τῷ θεάματι. ταῦτ̓ ἔστι τὰ κρύφια τῶν Ἀθηναίων μυστήρια. ταῦτά τοι καὶ Ὀρφεὺς ἀναγράφει. παραθήσομαι δέ σοι αὐτὰ τοῦ Ὀρφέως τὰ ἔπη, ἵν̓ ἔχῃς μάρτυρα τῆς ἀναισχυντίας τὸν μυσταγωγόν: 

ὣς εἰποῦσα πέπλους ἀνεσύρετο, δεῖξε δὲ πάντα σώματος οὐδὲ πρέποντα τύπον: παῖς δ̓ ἦεν Ἴακχος, χειρί τέ μιν ῥίπτασκε γελῶν Βαυβοῦς ὑπὸ κόλποις: ἡ δ̓ ἐπεὶ οὖν μείδησε θεά, μείδης᾿ ἐνὶ θυμῷ, δέξατο δ̓ αἰόλον ἄγγος, ἐν ᾧ κυκεὼν ἐνέκειτο.

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.
Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.
How do we know there are Gods? Experiencing Gods.

The logo to the left is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e. the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The Pætilía (Petelia; Gr. Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kozmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara; Gr. κιθάρα), the the lyre of Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus; Gr. Ὀρφεύς).

PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as mythology, the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally. A literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation.

We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

SPELLING: HellenicGods.org uses the Reuchlinian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, the system preferred by scholars from Greece itself. An approach was developed to enable the student to easily approximate the Greek words. Consequently, the way we spell words is unique, as this method of transliteration is exclusive to this website. For more information, visit these three pages: 

Pronunciation of Ancient Greek        


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