The subject to be considered is the festival of Hermes Kriophoros in Tanagra. A brief Pausanias’ reference (9.22.1) contains very few but remarkable details of the celebration as it was held in Late Antiquity. All indications concerning the procedure and the content of the festival inferred from Pausanias’s description are analyzed in combination with the attested characteristics and attributes of Hermes, as well as with the religious symbolism universally attached to the ram, the divine shepherd, and ritual circular movement. The ethnographic evidence for similar rituals is also adduced. It is concluded that the Tanagran festival originated in an ancestral communal ceremony of annual territorial lustration. That ceremony was linked to the increase of solar activity in midspring and therefore also included the parallel magical stimulation of the sun’s course. Gradually, that primitive magic ritual would have been elaborated in a more complex seasonal ceremony of stimulation of the generative solar power of the Great Mother-Goddess with the help of a young male ram-god and was eventually transformed into a celebration of the sacred marriage between the Great Mother-Goddess and a young beautiful divine shepherd. In the process of the formation of polis, the festival became a more social celebration, which served to secure the city-state’s secure existence under the protection of Hermes Kriophoros.
The votive relief to Pluto from Nicopolis ad Nestum
Although found more than 130 years ago and thought to be lost in the Bulgarian science, this votive monument from Nicopolis ad Nestum was “re-discovered” by the author in the exposition of the museum in Drama, Greece. The votive with the represented on it gods from the Graeco-Roman Pantheon is devoted to Pluto. The iconography of the monument is of the type Pluto on the throne. According to the inscription, Pluto is not only a chthonic deity of the Underworld, but also as “Πλούτος”–“Plutos” is the god of fertility, abundance and richness. Hermes is also depicted as “Ploutodotes“/“Κερδώος”, while Asclepius is represented as healer, giving strength and restoring, also of possibility of abundance and richness. The dedicators of the votive descent from a rich Thracian family and probably are part of the elite of Nicopolis ad Nestum. Their names reveal that these people have received Roman citizenship with the Constitutio Antoniniana after 212. The votive relief is made of a local marble, and is a work of the local masters, knowing well the iconography of the Graeco-Roman deities and the one of the imperial portraits of Julia Domna and Caracalla from the Severan dynasty.