Phikola, a mysteries goddess at Phyla

Journal article

Litwa, M. David. (2016). Phikola, a mysteries goddess at Phyla. Religion in the Roman Empire. 2(2), pp. 279 - 293.
AuthorsLitwa, M. David

A gnostic Christian writer (called 'Sethian' by the author of the Refutation of All Heresies) describes a painting showing an old man with an erect penis chasing a dogshaped or dog-faced woman (Refutation 5.20.7). For a long time in scholarship the old man has been identified with the Orphic god Phanes. In contrast, this paper presents evidence for identifying him as a form of Hermes. In turn, the woman (called 'περεη Phikola') is identified with a Thessalian version of the goddess Hekate (Einodia). Accordingly, it is suggested that περεη should be emended to φεραίη, the Pheraian goddess. The sexual encounter of the Thessalian Hekate and Hermes (the 'Word') proved useful for depicting the Word's entry into the dark and watery womb in Sethian soteriology.

KeywordsHermes; Hekate; Brimo; Hippolytos; Gnosis (Gnosticism); Sethians; Orphism; mysteries; Thessaly (ancient); Phyla
JournalReligion in the Roman Empire
Journal citation2 (2), pp. 279 - 293
PublisherMohr Siebeck
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Page range279 - 293
Research GroupInstitute for Religion and Critical Inquiry
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Place of publicationGermany
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