Appendix 8. The Avdemi Songs

In relation to the Avdemi songs it may not be entirely far-fetched to envisage even a ritual basis loosely comparable to the ancient Adonia, which were celebrated during the Dog Days. Detienne, [1] as supplemented by Winkler, [2] has shown that such technical contrasts as male "withering"/sterility and female moistness/hyper-fertility were a feature of the festival's informal δρώμενα ('actions') and λεγόμενα ('utterances'). Another plausible setting for distichs (or generally songs) of the type sung at Avdemi is the predominantly or often exclusively female gatherings, or "work-ins" organized by day or night throughout the year until recently. [3] Local village women met, for instance, to spin and sew (especially on winter evenings) or helped each other to strip maize husks while engaging in song and dance and conventional αἰσχρολογία. These were occasions for women to become more "mobile" than usual and for older women to relate ribald tales or jokes or sing love-songs with a view to initiating younger girls into sexual matters: cf. the Thracian love-songs recorded at νυχτέρια in Θρᾳκικά 11 (1939), 95-98, and Loukatos 1977.201.
Ancient women must have had access to comparable gatherings, and Hesiod may well have known this. [4]


[ back ] 1. Detienne 1972, especially 215-226.
[ back ] 2. Winkler 1990, especially 202-209.
[ back ] 3. For descriptions mainly of νυχτέρια (work sessions held in winter by the fireplace at night or in summer outdoors by a bonfire), with bibliography, consult Loukatos 1982. 116-121; further, Papathanasiou 1953. 282-283; D. A. Petropoulos 1941-1942. 159-160, who notes that in eastern Thrace men are strictly barred from νυχτέρια and, as a result, often obstreperously intrude on the proceedings.
[ back ] 4. Cf. Winkler 1990. 206: "The many religious-social gatherings of ancient Greek women, so few of which were noted by men, are the obvious location for sharing knowledge about male adequacy—or inadequacy."