Resounding mysteries

Sound and silence in the Eleusinian soundscape


  • Georgia Petridou University of Liverpool



Demeter, Eleusis, Kore, Mysteries, Silence, sound, soundscape


The term ‘soundscape’, as coined by the Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer at the end of the 1960s, refers to the part of the acoustic environment that is perceivable by humans. This study attempts to reconstruct roughly the Eleusinian ‘soundscape’ (the words and the sounds made and heard, and those others who remained unheard) as participants in the Great Mysteries of the two Goddesses may have perceived it in the Classical and post-Classical periods. Unlike other mystery cults (e.g. the Cult of Cybele and Attis) whose soundscapes have been meticulously investigated, the soundscape of Eleusis has received relatively little attention, since the visual aspect of the Megala Mysteria of Demeter and Kore has for decades monopolised the scholarly attention. This study aims at putting things right on this front, and simultaneously look closely at the relational dynamic of the acoustic segment of Eleusis as it can be surmised from the work of well-known orators and philosophers of the first and second centuries ce.

Author Biography

Georgia Petridou, University of Liverpool

Georgia Petridou is a Lecturer in Ancient Greek History at the University of Liverpool. She is the author of Divine Epiphany in Greek Literature and Culture (OUP 2015) and the co-editor of Homo Patiens: Approaches to the Patient in the Ancient World (with Chiara Thumiger, Brill 2016) and Beyond Priesthood. Religious Entrepreneurs and Innovators in the Imperial Era (with Richard Gordon and Jörg Rüpke, DeGruyter 2017). Her current research focuses on the intersections of ancient medicine and religion.


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How to Cite

Petridou, G. (2018). Resounding mysteries: Sound and silence in the Eleusinian soundscape. Body and Religion, 2(1), 68–87.