AUXESIA was the Hora (Season) or Kharis (Grace) goddess of spring growth. The Athenians worshipped her alongside the Horai Hegemone (Queen) and Karpo (Fruit). The Argives, on the other hand, paired her with the goddess Damia (Of the Land), describing the two as Kretan maidens (probably priestesses) who were elevated to divine status following their martyrdom at the hands of local peasants.
Auxesia was also a title of Persephone, the goddess spring growth, just as Damia was her mother Demeter, as the goddess of the fertile earth.
AUXE′SIA (Auxêsia), the goddess who grants growth and prosperity to the fields, a surname of Persephone. According to a Troezenian legend, there came once during an insurrection at Troezen two Cretan maidens, Auxesia and Damia, who was probably Demeter, and who, in our editions of Pausanias, is called Lamia (perhaps only an incorrect reading for Damia). During the tumult, the two maidens were stoned to death, whereupon the Troezenians paid divine honours to them, and instituted the festival of the Lithobolia. (Paus. ii. 32. § 3.) According to an Epidaurian and Aeginetan tradition, the country of Epidaurus was visited by a season of scarcity, and the Delphic oracle advised the Epidaurians to erect statues of Auxesia and Damia, which were to be made of olive-wood. The Epidaurians therefore asked permission of the Athenians to cut down an Attic olive-tree. The request was granted, on condition that the Epidaurians should every year offer up sacrifices to Athena Agraulos and Erechtheus. When the condition was complied with, the country of Epidaurus again bore fruit as before. Now when about B. C. 540 Aegina separated itself from Epidaurus, which had till then been regarded as its metropolis, the Aeginetans, who had had their sacra in common with the Epidaurians, took away the two statues of Auxesia and Damia, and erected them in a part of their own island called Oea, where they offered sacrifices and celebrated mysteries. When the Epidaurians, in consequence of this, ceased to perform the sacrifices at Athens, and the Athenians heard of the statues being carried to Aegina, they demanded their surrender of the Aeginetans. The islanders refused, and the Athenians threw ropes round the sacred statues, to drag them away by force. But thunder and earthquakes ensued, and the Athenians engaged in the work were seized with madness, in which they killed one another. Only one of them escaped to carry back to Athens the sad tidings. The Aeginetans added to this legend, that the statues, while the Athenians were dragging them down, fell upon their knees, and that they remained in this attitude ever after. (Herod. v. 82-86; Paus. ii. 30. § 5 ; Hom. Hymn. in Cer. 122; comp. Müller, Dor. ii. 10. § 4, note f., iv. 6. § 11, Aeginet. p. 171.)
AUXO (Auxô). 1. [comp. Horae.] 2. An ancient Attic divinity, who was worshipped, according to Pausanias (ix. 35. § 1), together with Hegemone, under the name of Charites.
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
Herodotus, Histories 5. 82. 1 ff (trans. Godley) (Greek historian C5th B.C.) :
"This was the beginning of the Aiginetans' long-standing debt of enmity against the Athenians. The Epidaurians' land bore no produce. For this reason they inquired at Delphoi concerning this calamity, and the priestess bade them set up images of Damia (Of the Land) and Auxesia (Growth), saying that if they so did their luck would be better. The Epidaurians then asked in addition whether they should make the images of bronze or of stone, and the priestess bade them do neither, but make them of the wood of the cultivated olive. So the men of Epidauros asked the Athenians to permit them to cut down some olive trees, supposing the olives there to be the holiest. Indeed it is said that at that time there were no olives anywhere save at Athens.The Athenians consented to give the trees, if the Epidaurians would pay yearly sacred dues to Athena, the city's goddess, and to Erekhtheus (Erechtheus). The Epidaurians agreed to this condition, and their request was granted. When they set up images made of these olive trees, their land brought forth fruit, and they fulfilled their agreement with the Athenians.
Now at this time, as before it, the Aiginetans were in all matters still subject to the Epidaurians and even crossed to Epidauros for the hearing of their own private lawsuits. From this time, however, they began to build ships, and stubbornly revolted from the Epidaurians. In the course of this struggle, they did the Epidaurians much damage and stole their images of Damia and Auxesia. These they took away and set them up in the middle of their own country at a place called Oea, about twenty furlongs distant from their city. Having set them up in this place they sought their favor with sacrifices and female choruses in the satirical and abusive mode. Ten men were appointed providers of a chorus for each of the deities, and the choruses aimed their raillery not at any men but at the women of the country. The Epidaurians too had the same rites, and they have certain secret rites as well.
When these images were stolen, the Epidaurians ceased from fulfilling their agreement with the Athenians. Then the Athenians sent an angry message to the Epidaurians who pleaded in turn that they were doing no wrong. ‘For as long,’ they said, ‘as we had the images in our country, we fulfilled our agreement. Now that we are deprived of them, it is not just that we should still be paying. Ask your dues of the men of Aigina, who have the images.’
The Athenians therefore sent to Aegina and demanded that the images be restored, but the Aiginetans answered that they had nothing to do with the Athenians.
The Athenians report that after making this demand, they despatched one trireme with certain of their citizens who, coming in the name of the whole people to Aigina, attempted to tear the images, as being made of Attic wood, from their bases so that they might carry them away. When they could not obtain possession of them in this manner, they tied cords around the images with which they could be dragged. While they were attempting to drag them off, they were overtaken both by a thunderstorm and an earthquake. This drove the trireme's crew to such utter madness that they began to slay each other as if they were enemies. At last only one of all was left, who returned by himself to Phaleron.
As for the Argives and Aiginetans, this was the reason of their passing a law in both their countries that brooch-pins should be made half as long as they used to be and that brooches should be the principal things offered by women in the shrines of these two goddesses. Furthermore, nothing else Attic should be brought to the temple, not even pottery, and from that time on only drinking vessels made in the country should be used."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 35. 2 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"The Athenians from of old have worshipped two Kharites (Charites, Graces), Auxo (Growth) and Hegemone (Queen). [The third] Karpo (Carpo, Fruit) is the name, not of a Kharis (Charis, Grace), but of a Hora. The other Hora is worshipped together with Pandrosos (All-Dewy) by the Athenians, who call the goddess Thallo (New Shoots)."
[N.B. Auxo and Hegemone were probably Horai rather than Kharites.]
Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 30. 4 :
"The story of Auxesia and Damia, how the Epidaurians suffered from drought, how in obedience to an oracle they had these wooden images made of olive wood that they received from the Athenians, how the Epidaurians left off paying to the Athenians what they had agreed to pay, on the ground that the Aiginetans had the images, how the Athenians perished who crossed over to Aigina to fetch them--all this, as Herodotos has described it accurately and in detail, I have no intention of relating, because the story has been well told already; but I will add that I saw the images, and sacrificed to them in the same way as it is customary to sacrifice at Eleusis."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 32. 2 :
"Of Damia and Auxesia, for the Troizenians, too, share in their worship, they [the people of Troizen] do not give the same account as the Epidaurians and Aeginetans, but say that they were maidens [priestesses?] who came from Krete (Crete). A general insurrection having arisen in the city, these too, they say, were stoned to death by the opposite party; and they hold a festival in their honor that they call Stoning."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 183 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"The names of the Horae . . . Auxo (Growth), Eunomia (Order), Pherusa (Substance), Carpo (Fruit), Dice (Justice), Euporia (Abundance), Irene (Peace), Orthosie (Prosperity), Thallo (Green-shoots)." [N.B. These appear to be three distinct groupings of three Horai.]
Suidas s.v. Azesia (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek Lexicon C10th A.D.) :
"Azesia: Kore the Maiden, whereas Demeter is Amaia. And a proverb: Amaia looked for Azesia. Applied to those taking a long time in searches."
[N.B. Here Damia and Auxesia are named Amaia and Azesia and equated with Demeter and Persephone.]
- Herodotus, Histories - Greek History C5th B.C.
- Pausanias, Description Greece - Greek Travelogue C2nd A.D.
- Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Suidas - Byzantine Greek Lexicon C10th A.D.