Appendix 3. On the Fountain, Sexual Mischief, and the Migration of Reapers

The fountain or well was one of the few places where a woman might encounter an unrelated man and consequently a likely locus for sexual mischief: see Richardson, pp. 179-180 on Homeric Hymn to Demeter 98 f. Hesiod's κρήνη may well be a sexual detail, not merely a topographical one. In demotic song the βρύση, as it is called, is the commonest rendezvous point for the sexes. Marriage proposals and even seductions are said to occur here. [1] (In fact, until recently village etiquette discouraged nubile women from going to the village well or fountain except in a group.) In many stories the Neraides—the archetypal seductresses of popular tradition—make their aquatic epiphanies before the βρύση and tempt and even harm men. [2]
Hesiod's κρήνη may, incidentally, be further evidence for the migration of reapers, since travellers would naturally stop at a spring for rest and refreshment: Iliad 2.305 f.; Odyssey 6. 291 f., 9.140 f., 17.204 f., 13.102 f.; Homeric Hymn to Demeter 98-100.


[ back ] 1. Also cf. Richardson 1986. 64-65.
[ back ] 2. As do the Lamies: cf. Stewart 1990. passim.