DAMIA was the Hora (season) goddess of the fertile earth. The Argives worshipped her together with the goddess Auxesia (Spring Growth), and described the pair as Kretan maidens who received divine status after they were wrongfully stoned to death.
She was probably the same as the goddess Karpo who was worshipped beside Auxo by the Athenians. Damia was also a title of Demeter as the goddess of the fertile earth, while Auxesia was her daughter Persephone in the guise of the goddess of spring growth.
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 and Auxesia, 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 Aigina 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 Phalerum.
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 2. 30. 4 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"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 Aiginetans, but say that they were maidens 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."
Suidas s.v. Azesia (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek Lexicon C10th A.D.) :
"Azesia: Kore the Maiden [i.e. Persephone], 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, Guide to Greece - Greek Travelogue C2nd A.D.
- Suidas - Byzantine Greek Lexicon C10th A.D.