Semiotic Review 2: Monsters - article published June 2014

The Symbolism of the Exotiká

Charles Stewart

Abstract:The Devil actively opposes “the good” in Christian cosmology, by tempting people to swerve from the path of virtue. Formally, Satan and his fellow fallen angels, the demons, controvert the aesthetic and moral values of society: they are dark, smelly, malign and monstrous. The exotiká in Greece, a broad category of at least thirty morally ambiguous creatures, are local extensions and variations of the Orthodox Christian idea of demons and the Devil. Local communities have developed detailed narratives of these demonic figures, which far exceed the information found in scripture. Based on field research in the mountain village of Apeíranthos on the Cycladic island of Naxos, and supplemented by comparative accounts from throughout the Greek-speaking world, I study the symbolism of the exotiká in order to produce a grammar and lexicon of moral opposition. This analysis allows a new perspective on Greek values, and the struggle to realize them in practice, by following a via negativa and considering in detail the semiotics of ambiguity and evil.

Keywords: Greece, exotiká, Naxos, via negativa, semiotics, ambiguity, evil

Preface by the Author

Greek communities such as the one I studied on the Cycladic island of Naxos, embrace a theologically well-defined religion elaborated over the centuries by the Eastern Orthodox Church. At the same time, they also entertain a panoply of spirits that are not part of the Orthodox Christian canon. Some of these, such as the nereids (neráïdes), seductive but malicious female spirits, or the gelló, a child-stealing demon, may be traced back to Greek antiquity. Others, like vampires, or the disease-bearing daoútis and smerdáki, probably developed later. The name exotiká (pronounced without the initial ‘e’ as xotiká in Greek) generically gestures at this broad congeries of supernatural figures. What we have, then, is a relationship in Greece between a standardized Christianity and what it designates as “superstition” and this is what I studied in Demons and the Devil by three main approaches: 1) fieldwork in the village of Apeíranthos in the mountains of Naxos to see how the exotiká surfaced in everyday life in the present; 2) examining the ideas of the Church regarding the Devil and demons, and also scouring the ethnographic literature from throughout Greece to understand the full variety of exotiká; 3) analyzing rituals from evil eye unbewitching to baptism, which deal with demons and/or the Devil. The chapter presented here comes from section 2) and it explicates the socio-cultural semiotics of the exotiká on the way to considering them to be an active expression of the moral imagination; a vocabulary for discussing ambiguous danger and human misfortune.

The central argument of Demons and the Devil maintained that, although the Church considers the exotiká to be superstitions, the laity do not always distinguish them from legitimate Christian Orthodox ideas about the Devil and the legion of evil-minded angels who were cast down to earth with him – the demons. Another generic name for the exotiká is, in fact, “demons” (daímones, or daimoniká). In daily life there is an uncertain boundary, a revolving door, between Christianity and its exterior “superstition”. The Devil in Christianity developed and was shaped in antiquity on the basis of existing ideas about lowly and sometimes malicious chthonic, or earth spirits such as Pan, the Gorgon or serpents known as drákoi. This same body of cultural ideas hung around in local cultural repertoires – folk traditions – even as Christianity took on sharper definition and began to oppose local heterodoxy. This could not change the fact that the Devil and what came to be known as the exotiká had grown from the same body of ideas, the same cultural fabric. They resembled each other formally as this chapter and the other chapter in section two of my book showed. Both, alike, gave people the terms for conceptualizing immorality and misfortune, and also for expelling it in exorcisms and spells. In order to indicate this continuum between Greek Orthodox Christianity and its designated superstition I entitled the book Demons and the Devil, rather than “The Devil and the Exotiká”. The “Devil” in either case stands for the doctrinal, accepted Christian idea of Satan. With the term “demons” I wanted to capture the heart of the problem, namely that we do not always know whether the entities referred to are inside or outside of Christianity. My conclusion was that from an ethnographic perspective, Greek religion was broader than official Orthodoxy. Greek cosmology aligns with and takes significant orientation from Orthodox Christianity, but it also extends beyond it on certain points. In her recent magnum opus on Greek Orthodoxy, Juliet du Boulay (2010) has elaborated a similar contention with extraordinary ethnographic detail and extensive theological reference. Du Boulay’s study provides a new perspective and original materials enabling further thought on the matters of religion and “superstition” raised in Demons and the Devil.

du Boulay, Juliet. 2010. Cosmos, Life, and Liturgy in a Greek Orthodox Village. Limni (Evia, Greece): Denise Harvey.

The article presented here, “The Symbolism of the Exotiká” originally appeared as a chapter in Demons and the Devil: Moral Imagination in Modern Greek Culture (Princeton, 1991) and is reprinted here by permission of the Princeton University Press.

Στέρησις ἄρα ἐστὶ τὸ κακόν, καὶ ἔλλειψις, καὶ ἀσθένεια, καὶ ἀσυμμετρία, καὶ ἀμαρτία, ἄσκοπον, καὶ ἀκαλλές, καὶ ἄζωον, καὶ ἄνουν, καὶ ἄλογον, καὶ ἀτελές, καὶ ἀνίδρυτον, καὶ ἀναίτιον, καὶ ἀόριστον, καὶ ἄγονον, καὶ ἀργόν, καὶ ἀνδρανές, καὶ ἄτακτον, καὶ ἀνόμιον, καὶ ἄπειρον, καὶ σκοτεινόν, καὶ ἀνούσιον, καὶ αύτὸ μηδαμῶς μηδαμῆ μηδὲν ὄν.

Thus evil is a privation, lack, weakness, non-symmetrical, failure, non-intention, non-beauty, non-life, non-logos, non-intellect, noncomplete, unfounded, non-cause, undefined, unborn, inactive, weakness, dissimilar, unlimited, obscure, non-being and in itself being in no manner whatever at all. – Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, The Divine Names

Taxonomy and Culture

The tendency among scholars in the past has been to examine the exotiká individually, as separate beings (Polítis 1871, 1874; Kyriakídis 1922). This is helpful insofar as informants often do use distinct names to denote apparently individual exotiká. Furthermore, this makes sense in local communities that have settled upon their own consistent representations of these independent demonic forces. It is when the analysis is broadened to a Panhellenic scale that inconsistencies arise, mainly because unrelated communities often divide the range of demonic beings differently and use idiosyncratic nomenclatures. For example, the characteristics attributed to nereids in the Cyclades are assumed by maïssádes among Asia Minor Greeks.1

The widespread use of euphemisms to refer to various exotiká is another factor adding to the confusion and intermingling among supposedly discrete characters. Lawson (1910: 132) lists no fewer than eight different euphemistic expressions for the nereids. Among these are "the ladies" (ai kyrádes), "our maidens" (ta korítsia mas), "the good queens" (ai kalés arkhóndisses), and "the kind-hearted ones" (oi kalókardes). In many cases other exotiká may be referred to by the same euphemism. One example may be cited from Mykonos, where the gialoúdes (standard Demotic singular gelló) are known as "good ladies" (kalés kyrádes).2 In the face of these various euphemisms, only a familiarity with particular local traditions can enable us to know which exotikó is being referred to. In some localities, such euphemistic expressions have completely supplanted any reference to the original exotikó. On Naxos the neráïdes were almost exclusively referred to as "good ladies," while among the Sarakatsanoi of northern Greece they are usually called "lucky ones" (kalótykhes), "evil women who, although human in form, frequently have snakes for hair and the majority of whom are half beast and half human" (Khatzimikháli 1957: ρλθ-ρμ.).

Virtually no single community, and certainly no individual besides a folklorist, actively masters and productively deploys the full range of exotiká. Thus the attempt to rigorously define and delimit the characteristics of any single exotikó on a Panhellenic scale inevitably encounters difficulties because of the degree to which each image blends into a larger body of ideas (Stewart 1985). That informants habitually refer to the same demon interchangeably by a specific name (e.g., neráïda) or by generic terms (e.g., daimoniká, oi ex' ap' edó) further confirms and causes convergence. Analysis of the exotiká as an interrelated set of ideas and features is thus more fruitful than a concentration on separately named demons.

The folklorists' concern with careful taxonomies and elaborate definitions of individual exotiká (e.g., Oikonomídis 1965, 1973, 1975) no doubt facilitated their attempt to show continuity with similarly named ancient gods or demons. Yet even when continuity is not directly the issue, Greek folklorists still display a marked classifying tendency, as Herzfeld (1980b) and Beaton (1981) have both pointed out with respect to the "category" of so-called Akritic songs. Such a taxonomic orientation has been endemic to folklore studies generally. Samples of oral tradition are often pursued exclusively as if they were texts in need of classification vis à vis other texts, thus giving rise to rigid notions about genre. In turn these various genres (i.e., Sagen, Märchen, Lieder), the boundaries of which are not always recognized by the folk in question, are then reified and assigned a determining force over the types of data that they may include or exclude. In this respect, the establishment of names and identities for the various exotiká was crucial for situating them in one genre (i.e., paradóseis, "traditions"--Sagen) rather than another (i.e., paramýthia, "fairy tales"--Märchen). And Greek folklorists occasionally emended the "anomalous" name of an exotikó so that it would accord with the designated genre of the surrounding story.3

There is no denying that certain accounts are sung, others are dramatically performed; some are long and prosaic, others are short and in verse. Such differences do constitute criteria for genre distinctions. Yet it must be borne in mind that a single narrative motif may be transmitted equally through various genres. Such motifs are general to the society; they derive from cultural knowledge that is expressed now in one form, now in another. Genre, especially insofar as it arises in a social or ritual context, is the form in which knowledge is communicated, but it does not radically affect the nature of the message itself (Dundes 1976: 82). The very same narrative may become a fairytale when told to children, a "tradition" or folktale when related to a mature audience, and a popular song (dimotikó tragoúdi) when sung at festive occasions.4 These genres, which are closely linked to if not determined by their performative contexts, only account for the form of the message; they do not determine the message itself.

The effect of resolving the array of independently named exotiká into a pool of interchangeable features is to treat these demonic creatures as a category of culture rather than as a category of folklore.5 The task becomes one of understanding them as products of cultural knowledge, as reflexes of Greek ideology where this is brought to bear on moral issues. In representations of the exotiká basic cultural conceptions of space, time, and form are marshaled, sometimes transformed, and then pressed together.

Attention has already been drawn to the ambivalent position of the exotiká within the field of moral values. Now we turn to the study of how moral ambiguity is interpreted and symbolized in terms of a larger worldview. The exotiká, just as much as the sacra, formulate and represent the society's ethos in terms provided by this worldview and furthermore in a manner consistent with and supportive of it. Following Clifford Geertz (1973: 90), I treat the exotiká as religious symbols that "formulate a basic congruence between a particular style of life and a specific (if, most often, implicit) metaphysic, and in so doing sustain each with the borrowed authority of the other."


Although there is no way of specifying a finite range of places where demons appear, a basic contrast may be noted between their infrequent incursion into inhabited space and their frequent appearance in uninhabited space. Within the Greek worldview generally, inhabited spaces, even if crowded, are much favored over deserted places. When the population of a village declines below a critical number, its imminent abandonment is conceded by everyone. It is a proclivity among Greeks, and a value in itself, to go where there are people. The desire to be alone is little understood. The value of company and social community is so great that there exists no middle ground. As has been pointed out many times, the Greek language contains no abstract noun meaning "privacy" (Pollis 1965); the closest equivalent, monaxiá, means "isolation" or "loneliness." Conceptions of demonic beings are informed by this cultural perception and evaluation of space.

The number of places associated with demons outside the village far exceeds the number within it. Indeed the very names exotiká and ex' ap' edó, both of which mean "things beyond here," could be taken to refer to this feature of spatial exteriority. This situation where the village, with its positive associations, is opposed to a surrounding wilderness inhabited by demons, obtains not only on Naxos, but in other parts of rural Greece as well (Campbell 1964:332). There exists a well-known proverb that, according to some interpretations, expresses this opposition succinctly: "Fear guards the wild" (O phóvos phyláei ta érima).6 The village, by contrast, is known, humanly inhabited, and under the protection of God, whose presence is symbolized by the church that usually stands somewhere near its center.

Figure 1. The spatial distribution of the <em>exotiká</em>.

Figure 1. The spatial distribution of the exotiká.

Throughout Greece local traditions exist recounting the foundation of an important church. As on Naxos, these accounts reinforce the notion that the village is divinely protected and qualitatively distinct from the area outside it, where people struggle against the elements and their own fatigue in the attempt to cultivate a living. The custom of building small chapels in outlying areas may be seen as a continuous attempt to domesticate the wilderness. These chapels form ideal points of reference when giving directions. When not named after a saint, outlying areas are often named after an exotikó, as if the ordinary precivilized, presacralized nature of the wilderness were demonic. Throughout Greece the names of saints alternate with those of exotiká, as in Apeíranthos where the area called Mavromoíres bordered on Ágios Kýrikos which bordered in turn on Ágios Pakhómios.

This theme of sanctifying land and thus wresting it away from the otherwise immanent grip of the exotiká is evident not only at the founding of villages or churches. It is also replicated in the construction of an ordinary house. A special ceremony accompanies the laying of a house's foundation and a cockerel is customarily sacrificed. The prayers read at this ceremony literally equate the founding of the house with the creation of the universe:

The almighty God who made firm the heavens in prudence and founded the earth in its security; He who built the Church by means of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and positioned it steadfast upon the rock of faith; the great architect and builder, O Lord, the provider and preserver of the entire world; oversee us and bless the works of our hands. We lay this foundation stone and beseech Thy power that it be steadfast. (Peristatikaí, p. 45) 7

Yet even though the house is so blessed and under the constant guard of the icons displayed within it, there is still the threat of demonic incursion, and the Large Prayerbook contains a prayer for a household troubled by evil spirits (Εὺχὴ ἐπὶ οἰκίας περιεργαζομένης ὑπὸ πονηρῶν πνευμάτων). It reads in part:

[E]xpel all diabolical power, all satanic incursion, every connivance of the opposed power from this household and from those dwelling within it; those wearing the sign of Thy cross, frightful emblem against demons and those beseeching Thy holy name. Yes, Lord, who expelled the legion of demons and commanded the final departure of the deaf, mute and unclean spirit from the person possessed by it; who destroyed the whole phalanx of our invisible enemies. He judged the faithful and said, "Behold, I give you the power to tread over snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy." Master, protect those before us in this house from all harm and evil influence; from being overcome by night-time fear; from arrows shot by day; from the thing which moves in the night; and from the midday demon. (Evkhológion Méga, pp. 493-94)

The conflict between God and the demons is not one that is resolved the moment one embraces Christianity, lives in a Christian community, and consecrates one's house. It is a continuous struggle.

In many parts of Greece, the village is perceived by its inhabitants to be a divinely protected enclosure or circle.8 In the Greek-speaking South Italian village of Rochudi, the gate facing the areas known as Agriddea and Plache was kept closed so the nereids would not enter the village.9 Nereids were thought to go around by night riding on elder branches. An account from the Peloponnese correlates the protected status of the village with a sacralizing act:

The koukoúdi (bubonic plague) could not come to Panorio because the people had drawn a circle around the village using a plough pulled by twin calves. They chose calves because calves licked Christ when he was born and consequently calves are on good terms with Christianity. They buried those calves alive after they ploughed that circle and koukoúdi didn't come here. In Spathi, St. George and St. Athanassios killed it and in their churches there where you see a monster being cut down under their swords, that monster is the koukoúdi. (Blum and Blum 1970: 104-5)

The association of diseases with the space outside the village is made still more pointedly in the following Thracian account:

Kastaniés [name of village] was hemmed by seven tall trees. Around the village, beyond the houses were seven tall trees. They were old, ancient; the one far from the other. There were walnut trees, two chestnut trees, one askamía [?] and one oak tree. If they heard of disease in the neighboring villages, they would hold an all-night service so that it would not enter Kastaniés. The next morning they would read the liturgy. Afterwards, they brought out the large icons from the church, the síkhna (Lat. signa), and chanting, they made a circuit around the outskirts of the village. While making this circuit (gýro) they would stop at each tree, and the priest would carve out a round piece from the body of the tree using a small knife. He would then afix this to the tree a little bit higher up using wax. Then they would proceed back to the church where the people would disperse. In this fashion the village would close shut (ékleine); by the grace and strength of God, as well as by their own faith. The disease would not go [to them].10

In both accounts the indigenous conception of the human settlement as ringed or encircled by a protective force must not pass unnoticed. As a conceptual device, the image of the circle (kýklos) is evidently very deeply rooted in Greek culture (du Boulay 1982; 1984: 543ff.) and widely attested. The above accounts do not specify the exact manner in which the circles were formed (i.e., whether they were closed by a clockwise or counterclockwise movement). According to du Boulay the latter is auspicious (moving to one's right when facing into the circle) and the former inauspicious. All circular dances in Greece call for right-handed, counterclockwise motion. The procession described in the second account above would almost certainly have been counterclockwise, as this is the direction in which icons are carried throughout Greece at the litaneíes on Easter Sunday or on other religious occasions.

The apotropaic power of the circle arguably derives from the manner in which it creates two distinct spaces. The interior corresponds to inhabited space, the sanctified oikouméni, while the area beyond is conceded to the disease- and misfortune-bearing demons. On Naxos, if one is attacked by exotiká beyond the confines of the village, a wise course of action is to take a black-handled knife and etch a circle into the ground around oneself. Inside this circle one should then carve the sign of the cross. This action effectively creates a miniature replica of the ringed village with its central church. If one remains inside this circle the demons may not penetrate and harm one.11 A Cretan account compactly expresses this principle: "You may sleep at the threshing floor and you needn't fear bewitchment (vistiriá) -- the evil which someone suffers from demons -- because the demons are afraid of the circle" (oi daimónoi phovoúndai ton kýklo; Phrangáki 1949: 43).

The effectiveness of circles is not limited to magical practice but is also discernible in a number of Orthodox rituals; it permeates both doctrinal and local religion in Greece. In the Little Entrance of the standard liturgy, for example, the book of the Gospels is carried counterclockwise through the body of the church. Circular symbolism is especially conspicuous at lifecycle rituals such as marriage. Here the engagement/wedding rings, the crowns placed on the heads of the newlyweds, the circular dance of Isaiah led by the priest around a table set in the nave of the church, and the larger circular dance involving the whole village after the wedding all draw on this common image (Vogiatzídis 1956: 65-73). In these cases it may be argued that the symbolism of the circle indicates completion or fulfillment, an image also present in the standard term for ritual itself, teletí (cf. télos, "end").12 Even our own expression "lifecycle" seems to draw on this pervasive image.

Roadside shrines (proskynitária) furnish another device for marking the difference between sacred and profane space. They are mostly found along roads or paths leading to churches, monasteries, or villages. They mark the perimeters of the sacred, and in the case of a village, the perimeters of habitation (Kyriakídou-Néstoros 1975: 30). In cases where a village is surrounded by four or more of these shrines, Kyriakídou-Néstoros has observed that the first four correspond to the cardinal points. Subsequent shrines usually fill in the circle.

a. Representation of the village with icon shrines at cardinal points. b. Subsequent shrines fill in the circle surrounding the village.

a. Representation of the village with icon shrines at cardinal points.
b. Subsequent shrines fill in the circle surrounding the village.

Villages with shrines at all four cardinal points are called "crossed villages" and like Kastaniés above, these villages were thought to be invulnerable to epidemics such as cholera, which was widespread during the Ottoman period (Kyriakídou-Néstoros 1975: 31). The power of broad spatial representations of the cross is also evident in the district of Pélli in Macedonia. Here it is held that to sleep on the edges of a field is to risk attack from the samovíles. 13 By contrast, the interior of the field is thought to be safe because it is "crossed" by successive ploughings.

The tension and opposition between inhabited and deserted places may also be viewed through shepherds' accounts of healing disease among their flocks. Such diseases are often attributed to the exotiká. In Attica, the strínglos was thought to be a personification of anthrax: "In the old days people said it was the Strínglos who rode on the sheep and caused their death. Today we know it is anthrax that causes it and vaccination which saves us" (Blum and Blum 1970: 98; see Codellas 1945: 242f.). There are many variants throughout Greece. The Sarakatsánoi refer to the creatures that bring disease to their animals as daoútides, although the "lucky ones" may also attack sheep (Khatzimikháli 1957: ρμ-ρμα). In other parts it is the smerdáki (Codellas 1945) or the devil (Polítis 1904 1: 314ff.). When his flocks are afflicted with such a disease, a shepherd does well to take them -- in some cases after having muted or removed their bells -- to a small secluded chapel and to lead them around it three times (Polítis 1904 1: 347, in the Peloponnese). This practice appeals to the power of the particular church and the circle without involving the human inhabitants of the village. Another account elaborates:

Sometimes the smerdáki descends upon the sheepfolds and brings a great calamity. On occasion they see him as a hound and at other times as a harrier. He mounts the sheep and all those he mounts die.

In order to save their sheep from the smerdáki the shepherds must pass their flocks, by night, through the center of a village. There they will leave the disease. They stop up the bells so the villagers will not hear anything. They would kill if they found out. Yet humans come to no harm if the smerdáki should stay. Sometimes, however, he attacks the cattle and other animals of the village.

When they are unable to pass through a village they take the priests with the Sacraments and circle around the boundaries of the grazing land. Whenever they stop they make a cross. In this manner the evil is crossed (stavrónetai, "crucified'). (Polítis 1904 1:316)

Whether the animals are brought to a "sacred" space or a sacred space is created around the animals, the principle remains the same. Circumscribed or crossed spaces separate the holy (and the human) from the demonic and create a protective area. The preceding conceptions of physical space direct us to notions of social space and it is important to include these latter in our consideration of demonic symbolism. Beyond the divinely protected circle of the village lurk more than just the exotiká and the immediate fields where people work. Farther on there are other villages whose inhabitants, although known to some degree, are not entirely trusted. It has been noted by virtually all anthropologists who have studied Greece that the world is divided into people who are "one's own" (dikoí mas) and those who are "strangers" (xénoi; Campbell 1964: 316; Herzfeld 1980a). As in the case of spatial interiority/exteriority, we may point to this distinction between social insiders/outsiders as a cognitive ordering principle that influences the representation of the exotiká. Just as a variety of spatial locations may convey the concept of exteriority (mills, threshing floors, rivers, etc.), so the identity of social outsiders is also variable. Just who is a xénos is a matter decided according to context.

Janet Hart (1989: 11) reports the story of a Greek woman who left her local community in the late 1940s to fight in the ranks of the resistance forces (EAM). When she returned after this combat absence and a lengthy prison confinement, people in her village, most of whom had sympathized with the government, treated her as a bogey (baboúlas) and were afraid to speak to her for fear of being labeled communist sympathizers.

In the following account from Attica, even brides brought from neighboring villages are considered strangers:

I know there have been strangers who have tried to harm the village; there are many stories about it. My grandmother has told me since our village began -- which was back about 490 B.C. -- no evil has been able to invade the village; that is, nothing contagious has been able to get in because Panorio is fenced with an invisible fence which was built by magic; it is this fence which has kept the illness out. Many times they (the men) have brought brides from other villages, brought them there on horseback; it has happened that a new bride who was being brought here by her groom dropped dead the moment she arrived where the St. Demetrios church is. She was bringing a disease into the village but the unseen fence would not let her enter. I don't know what the disease was; in those days there were often epidemics of one sort or another, as for example, the pest. (Blum and Blum 1970: 40-41)

Foreigners (i.e., other nationalities) and members of other religious groups are strangers par excellence. In the Dodecanese (Kos and Kalymnos), Jews were said to worship the head of an ass and to wander about between Christmas and Epiphany in search of Moses. They were regularly confused with the kallikántzaroi, who also appear at this time, although the former were tellingly labeled savvatianoí, "Saturday beings" (Rouse 1899: 176). On Cyprus, "The Beauty of the Jews" (I Kalí ton Ovkón) was a separate demon, similar to the "Beauty of the Mountains" (I Kalí ton Oréon) who is the leader of the nereids in other places (Polítis 1904 1: 394; Alexiou 1974: 76). The Jew who appeared to a Messenian man and offered to make him rich if he would stay away from church for three years was said to be a metamorphosis of the Devil (Karavitós 1885: 132), while in the vicinity of Leonidi, Jews are said to guard treasures like arápides (Kostákis 1984: 85ff.).

Figure 2. Representation from a 15th-century manuscript (Delatte 1927: 600) where it bears the title, 'This is the table of the Beauty of the Mountains.' In the accompanying text one is instructed to make offerings of honey and sweets to the Beauty on the first of August. She will be pleased and grant one's wish.

Figure 2. Representation from a 15th-century manuscript (Delatte 1927: 600) where it bears the title, 'This is the table of the Beauty of the Mountains.' In the accompanying text one is instructed to make offerings of honey and sweets to the Beauty on the first of August. She will be pleased and grant one's wish.

The arápis is a good example of a foreigner directly informing the image of an exotikó. Apparently from the word for "Arab," this character is imaged as a black man who smokes a long pipe (Lee 1951: 307). In a similar vein the arménides, who sometimes appear as flashes of light or else snatch people at rivers where they celebrate weddings, clearly derive from Armenians. According to the Chian folklorist, Víos (1921: 446), the Armenians were especially hated because they served the Turks, and on some parts of the island arménis is not an exotikó but just a nasty name to call someone.

This section has opened the discussion of demonic symbolism by drawing attention to various Greek figures of thought related to space in both the physical and social senses. It should be emphasized that the very principles found in the composition of the exotiká are discernible in other ideas and practices across the breadth of Greek culture. If, for example, we call attention to the relation among magic circles, dancing, and circling as part of Orthodox ritual, this is not done in order to assert that one or another instance of circling is primary and in some way determines the others. The three should rather be viewed as homologues, all equally the result of fundamental Greek conceptions of space and motion brought to bear on separate issues. By gathering these various reflexes together we not only approach a more detailed understanding of Greek ideology itself, but we also come to grasp the degree to which the exotiká are its product.


From the perspective of Western science, time is a continuum. Yet, at the local level, it is regularly viewed as a series of successive increments, steps, or cycles. It is with breaks in the flow of time that the demonic is most associated in Greece. For Hans Peter Duerr (1985: 123) these temporal interstices are cracks through which people may slip beyond normal time. They are analogous to physical spaces such as crossroads, bridges, and caves, which are "betwixt and between" spatially.

The exotiká appear most commonly either at midday or midnight, designations that in Greece do not mean literally 12 A.M. and 12 P.M. but broadly the middle of the day or late at night.14 At these times people should be inside sleeping or resting. In Apeíranthos, parents seem to have introduced a special bogey, o mesimerís (the midday thing), who expressly attacks little children who do not nap in the afternoon. Around Koróni, in the southern Peloponnese, one should not swim at midday because the lámia, a beautiful creature, half-woman, half-fish, will appear and drown one.15 In Aidonokhóri in the vicinity of Kardítsa, women used not to go near the well at noon because that was when a beautiful white-clad woman would sit there washing and combing her long hair.16

Adults who roam about in the afternoon or late at night are sometimes said to be keeping appointments with the exotiká. Or they may be casting magical spells that require contacting the demons at midnight at a crossroads. A Cretan taxi-driver working in Athens once told me that his brother loosed a binding spell that had rendered him impotent by going to a crossroads at midnight. He carried with him seven skulls taken from the local ossuary and drew a circle around himself with a black-handled knife. The army of the demons came by, leaving him unharmed but restoring his potency (he went on to have six children).

Since people are not generally about during hot summer afternoons or late at night, these present excellent opportunities for clandestine love affairs or thieving. The exotiká are thus at once a sanction against such moral breaches and, as was seen earlier, a cover for those who nonetheless perpetrate them. The very representations of the exotiká as beautiful abductors/abductresses give form to the issues at stake.17 It is also possible that in many instances these images are arrived at and experienced wholly through dreams or reveries, which are also likely to occur at night or during an afternoon nap. Events seen in dreams are often treated as reality, as we saw earlier in the examination of miracles on Naxos.

The appearance of the exotiká at liminal temporal points is also evident if one considers the cycle of the year. The exotiká are mainly associated with three times in the calendar year: the first days of March, the first days of August, and the twelve days after Christmas. In Greece, March is notionally the beginning of summer and August the beginning of winter (Mégas 1963: 79, 145; Herzfeld 1977). At each of these times one is subject to attacks from the drýmes, a sort of fairy. In many parts, in fact, the first few days of these months are themselves called drýmes. One should not swim, wash clothes or one's hair, or cut wood during these times.18

The end of the calendar year is perhaps the most important break in the annual cycle. In any case, the greatest number and variety of demonic beings manifest themselves at this time. Children born in the forty-day period leading up to Christmas, but foremost on Christmas Day, are said to become kallikántzaroi, neráïdes, stríngles, or gelloúdes, depending on which part of Greece you are in.19 During the twelve days of Christmas, kallikántzaroi or paganá (pagan beings), as they are sometimes called, emerge to plague people. They pollute food that is left out and extinguish the hearth fire by urinating on it. Like many of the exotiká, they are not wholly evil, but ambiguous. When the priest comes to sprinkle the houses with holy water on Epiphany they are expelled, along with any other exotiká in their company. An epiphany song from Kephalliniá goes:

Ήλθανε τα φώτα και ο φωτισμός,Epiphany has come and illumination;
κ'η χαρά η μεγάλη και ο αγιασμός.and great joy and the blessing of water.
Ήλθε ο κύριος μασ εισ την πηγήν,Our Lord has come to the spring,
και τον άï Γιάννη παρακαλεί.and he beseeches St. John.
Μέγα μου άï Γιάννη και Βαπτιστή,"My great St. John the Baptist,
Έλα να βαπτήσης θεού παιδί.--come and baptize the child of God."
Τούτο πως να κάμω δεν εμπορώ"I don't know how to do that;
Να βαπτήσω εσένα οκ τον ουρανόνto baptize you from heaven;
που ήλθες να συντρίψης τα είδωλαwho has come to crush the idols
Να καταπατήσης τον Δαίμονα.and to conquer the demon."
 (Tommaseo 1842 3: 401).

The clustering of the exotiká around liminal moments of the annual calendar suggests an involvement with transition. Yet it would be difficult to argue, as we have done for the times of day, that such moments by themselves arouse a sense of danger or otherwise call for any specific type of social (or antisocial) relations. Perhaps the demons principally mark time. They serve a chronometric function by calling attention to its passage (Leach 1971).

Lifecycle and Gender

Moments of transition in the lifecycle render one vulnerable to attack from the exotiká. Most attacks occur between birth and marriage, during which period there are several transitions: birth, churching, baptism, puberty, and marriage. Not all of these (e.g., puberty) are accompanied by set rituals. Yet clearly the number of transitions in youth far exceed those in middle and old age. This is not to say that middle-aged people never encounter the exotiká, only that demonic attacks against them are usually motivated by reasons other than lifecycle transitions. Young people, on the other hand, may be attacked precisely on account of their youth and beauty.

The actual physical vulnerability of infants and young children would no doubt have called forth explanations in terms of supernatural attack, especially in pre-World War II Greece when the general population was not familiar with biomedical models of illness. Miscarriages, infant mortality, and devastating childhood illnesses were all frequently blamed on the exotiká, especially the gelló. It is worth noting that many diseases are grammatically feminine in Greek (e.g., kholéra, panoúkla, vlogiá, thérmi, and gastéra; and sometimes imaged as independent, animate female exotiká (Skoutéri-Didaskálou 1988:55). Both gelloúdes and nereids also attacked the mother, sometimes drying up her milk. Such attacks on the mother also impede her transition into full womanhood, since the successful birth of children sets the final seal on marriage.

  The transition from unmarried to married status is socially the most important rite of passage in Greek culture, and it is around this time that exotiká attacks are most prevalent. Through accounts of such attacks the culture probes and tests its own ideals. And it does so by creating a picture of an antithetical demonic community outwardly similar to human society and yet morally its inverse.

Figure 3. The <em>exotiká</em> and the lifecycle.

Figure 3. The exotiká and the lifecycle.

In the period before marriage, females are referred to as "girls" (kopélles, korítsia) and males as "lads" or "youths" (pallikária, néoi). The time leading up to marriage, especially between engagement and marriage, is of crucial importance not only to the young men and women but to their wider families. A corporate reputation hangs in the balance at these moments. Males and females exhibit very marked and stylized gender traits during this period: the ideals of manhood and womanhood reach their most refined individual expressions. Men should be strong and intelligent (if not cunning) and women should be pure and modest. At marriage they are finally called "men" and "women" (ándres and gynaíkes) as if being initiated into a complete maturity that in turn equates with a full realization of their respective gendered natures.

From the perspective of men, the most prized attributes of manhood--virility, intelligence, verbal dexterity, honor--are most threatened by the nereids and other female exotiká. These wild, exotic women seduce young men. In modern Greek this action comports the idea of destroying their ability to reason, literally taking their brains away (xelogiázei, xemyalízei). They lead the young men out into the wilds and dance and sleep with them. Some pallikária never recover but remain in a daze, sometimes deaf, mute, or both. On Samos, impotent men are said to have been snatched away earlier in their lives by nereids (Polítis 1904 1: 389). Others spend excessive amounts of time pursuing the beautiful exotiká, who are sometimes said to have long blond hair and lovely voices. Thus they waste their own time and energy, burdening the family that depends on their labor.

Sometimes the young men are said to marry nereids and they may settle down and have children that are called "nereid-engendered" (Lawson 1910: 134). These offspring are thought to be exceptionally beautiful and talented. In performing wifely tasks the nereids are without mortal equal, and in some parts it is still said of a woman skilled at cookery that she cooks like a nereid. But such marriages usually end unhappily, for the nereid stays only against her will, restrained by her husband's holding some token of hers such as a scarf (Víos 1921: 428). If she is able to recover this scarf, which the man keeps hidden, then she may escape.

Women often report seeing or hearing nereids, but they do not have the same type of contact with them. It is said that on some occasions the nereids will exact retribution from a young woman who had the audacity to marry a particular youth whom they fancied. Otherwise they may be responsible for engendering despondency in young women, as the following account a priest's wife from Attica) reveals:

I had a daughter, a little girl, between twelve and thirteen years old, who showed a very strange disposition. Though we all treated her kindly, her mood was always melancholy, and whenever she got the chance she ran off from the village up the wooded spurs of the mountain. There she would roam about all day long, from early morning till late evening; often she would take off some of her clothes and wear one light garment, so as to be less hindered in running and jumping. We dared not stop her, for we saw quite well that the nereids had allured her, but we were much distressed. It was in vain that my husband took her time after time to the church and read prayers over her. The Panagía was powerless to help. After the child had been thus afflicted a considerable while, she fell into yet deeper despondency, and at last died--a short time ago. When we buried her, the neighbors said, "Do not wonder at her death; the nereids wanted her; it is but two days since we saw her dancing with them." (Trans. Lawson 1910: 141)

For the most part the nereids exhibit a licentiousness that exactly opposes the reserve and decorum that young maidens should ideally display. In other respects, however, the nereids closely resemble young women and, as in the story above, they readily accept them into their own community. The nereids are often described as brides (nýphes), 20 dressed in white, wearing crowns, 21 and celebrating weddings in the wilds. As brides, the nereids are an image of the culturally defined goal of young women. The difference is that females in society are controlled by men; their father decides to give them in marriage to a husband who will then watch over them. The nereids, on the other hand, are not dominated by any power. They freely select whichever man they please and dispense with him when they become bored (Skoutéri-Didaskálou 1988: 64).

Nereids do not directly encourage sexual license in females. They are only a model for free sexuality. If a young woman shames her family by entering into premarital sexual relations, blame falls squarely on another exotikó, the devil. This connection between women and the devil is drawn throughout Greece as we shall see below.

In rural communities, where male honor depends not only on a man's actions--courageous or otherwise--but on his ability to safeguard the chastity of his female relations, female sexuality becomes a male issue (Peristiany 1965). A male model of female (mis)conduct has thus been elevated to the status of accepted cultural wisdom throughout Greece. Even if actual cases of promiscuity among local women have been rare in village communities, the trenchant preconception is that women may either be scheming sexual mischief or inviting advances through shameless conduct.

Women are frequently represented as weaker, more susceptible to sensual urges, and less intelligent than men, who must therefore protect them. "Women: long on hair and short on mind," says a Macedonian proverb (Abbott 1903: 344), while a South Italian saying goes, "Stars in winter, clouds in summer, words of a woman and donkey's farts--all the same thing."22 Other widely diffused proverbs connect women with the devil: "Woman has the devil inside her," "Woman has the devil in her underpants," and "Woman put the devil in the bottle and stopped it. Woman is the bottled devil.'23

The Genesis story of Adam and Eve is regularly drawn on in support of gender conceptions. Woman is not only secondary to man, but she was the one who, under the influence of the Devil, caused his fall (1 Tim. 2:14; Topping 1983). The Old Testament thus furnishes a grand parallel for the misfortune that female misconduct may cause the latter-day man of honor. Commenting on gender relations in a Euboean village, Juliet du Boulay (1974: 102) notes: "[M]an is seen symbolically as standing on the right-hand side of the woman, while she on his left is 'from the Devil' (από το Δαίμονα), his weak link, the aspect of his creation and his nature through which he becomes vulnerable to evil and may be drawn away from his true purpose." According to some accounts, woman is entirely the Devil's creation: "All women are the sperm of the Diavolo; all men come from God. Women are born bad, all the sin is theirs. In them is everything that is bad-that is the devil' s. Men are good--the sperm of God" (Blum and Blum 1970: 99). The gender of the informant of this account is not specified and it may conceivably have been a woman. The ideology of male dominance is so pervasive that women in Greece have long accepted and internalized it (du Boulay 1986).

Given these conceptions of women as diabolical beings, some writers have asserted that female exotiká such as the nereids are a projection of male anxiety about women (Blum and Blum 1970: 218). Could they not equally be the products of female fantasies of freedom? In any case it is perhaps more valuable to view the female demons as a collective representation that inverts the normal order of human society. The community of nereids represents an imaginary social structure that reverses the positions of women and men alike.

Right and Left

The auspiciousness of movement toward the right in religious processions was briefly noted above. To this many more contexts may be added.

At the threshing floor, animals drawing sledges are/were invariably led around to the right. Likewise, in circular dances such as the syrtós or kalamatianós, movement is always around toward the right when facing into the circle.24 In ritual contexts such as funeral lamentation, the keening women circle slowly to the right around the bier. Any object that requires passing from hand to hand should also be handed to the right. If it were to pass around to the left, or worse, across the body, the soul of the deceased would be disturbed in its journey to heaven and could possibly return as a vampire (du Boulay 1982: 220ff.).

When one enters a church this should be done right foot first. At baptism the priest makes certain that godparents hold the child on their right arm when they receive it from the font. During the wedding ceremony the man stands to the right of the woman facing the priest. When a newly married husband leads his wife back to his family's house or to their own new home, it is important for her to step across the threshold right foot first. The widely stated reason is so that the marriage and the household will be well founded (kaloríziko).

In practice one sees the distinction between right and left drawn every day in Greek life. All greetings and salutations are ideally performed with the right hand. The word for "the right, the right hand (side)" is dexiós. By extension this word also means "clever," a sense further validated by a variety of derivatives: epidéxios (dextrous) and dexiótita (skillfulness, dexterity).

The word for "left" is the euphemistic aristerá (from áristos, "best"; in the New Testament sometimes evónymos, "good name") but negative connotations are present in the synonym zervós (zervá, "awry").

The superiority of right over left is analogous to the relationship obtaining between men and women, as du Boulay has pointed out (1974: 102). In most Orthodox churches it is customary for men and women to stand apart. Men normally proceed to the right side of the nave upon entering, women to the left. The two sexes stand thus segregated for the duration of the liturgy.25

The relation of right to left is also analogous to the relation of good to evil and thus of God to the Devil. The following folk account from Chios vividly makes the connection:

On our right shoulder stands an angel and on our left (tzervín) stands a demon (oxapodó). The angel directs us toward good and the demon toward evil. When we listen to the angel the oxapodó constricts from fear. If we listen to the oxapodó the angel flees from us and the Devil rules our actions once more. (Víos 1932: 173)

Similar accounts relate that it is Christ himself who stands on a man's right shoulder. The devil on the left shoulder continually struggles with him and even places wagers in order to wrest away control of the individual. An exorcism text dating from the sixteenth century records how the devil was sworn out of all parts of the body and ordered to descend into the big toe of the left foot, where presumably, it would be alright to remain (Mýlonas and Koúkas 1978:24).

Just as the story of Adam and Eve furnishes the mythic exemplum illustrating conceptions of feminine evil, so the New Testament story of the judgment of the nations (Matt. 25:31ff.) is crucial for understanding the symbolic associations of right and left. Here the righteous are placed on Christ's right side, destined to inherit the kingdom of heaven, while the evil are ranged on his left, consigned to "the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels" (τὸ πῦρ τὸ ἡτοιμασμένον τῷ διαβόλῳ καὶ τοῖς ἀγγέλοις αὐτοῦ). Passages such as these do not by themselves create the ideology (on the contrary, they are already creatiοns of it), but they do perpetuate it in a commonly known form, thus influencing the terms of its future expression. Like the miracle narratives examined earlier, the view of right and left does not arise simply from the knowledge of an influential external religious text or custom; it is something internalized and subsequently inherent in experiences such as dreams (Turner 1986: 33). The revolutionary war hero, General Makrygiánnis, recorded three apparently separate26 dreams that involve a vision similar to the last judgment. The following vision is also reminiscent of the dream of a woman who was ill and similarly saw an image of the last judgment.

One evening I was sleeping among the icons (I had set up my pallet there) and Her Grace told me what Christ had told her. I was awake but drowsy like a drunkard. They conveyed me to an old church which was divided into many vaulted chambers. In one vault there was a ring in the middle with a chain, and a youth was hanging from it, and he was agonizing to release his soul. I saw him and was afraid and saddened. On account of my sorrow I went outside and they took me up, to a plain (pediáda); yet it was a very sad place. Readers, may I be cursed if I am making this up.

Arriving in this field was our Master (aphéndis); on his right, Christ, and to the right of Christ the Mother of God and twelve saints (I well recognized John the Baptist). And they were all dressed in black; the Master and all the others. They were also seated.

On the left side were all those who had committed many crimes and all those who had baptized children and then had committed some sin with their koumbáres; and all those who had deflowered virgins as well as many other criminals. These last were in the forefront.

Then a marble cart appeared, with marble wheels and it was filled with rocks. It was similar to the very largest caissons and they were yoked, pulling it and suffering. Then something appeared before the place of judgment: the largest and wildest beast with its mouth wide open. And various kinds of flames bellowed out of its mouth, like minarets, coming closer. Then the koumbároi and koumbáres stood forth. The saints and their own fathers held the children. My brothers, I knew many of them. I will not record their names. May the Lord have mercy. (Makrygiánnis 1983: 141-42)

After the sinners are thrown to the beast, the king, queen, and Makrygiánnis's political enemy, Kolettis, are also consigned to hell-fire after first having been stripped naked. In subsequent dreams Makrygiánnis sees his wife placed on the left while he is selected to stand on the right. This is a vision that, he says, he suppressed (from telling her or anyone else?) because he did not dare even to contemplate it (1983: 202). Still later we learn that Makrygiánnis is crowned by the Master who also hands him a cross, placing it in his right hand with His right hand (μοῦ τὸν δίνει εἰς τὸ χέρι μου τὸ δεξὶ μὲ τὸ δεξί του χέρι; 1983: 203).

The symbolism of right and left is best summed up by the Greek ethnographer Kavadías (1965: 266), who conducted his research among the Sarakatsanoi:

Demons belong to the "left part," or the evil part of our bipartite world. The right corresponds to the religious-and the Sarakatsanoi, like all Greeks, shoot off their pistols at the Mass for Christ's Resurrection by pulling the trigger with their right hand-and the left to the magical. To fire a shot with the left hand is a gesture of "inversion"; and it is reserved for the demon who is an "inverted" being. According to the shepherds, order, the positive and the good are all represented by the right.


To a greater extent than the other categories examined above, monstrosity is a relative concept. It does not imply just anything that is "not human." Animals are not ipso facto monsters. Typically, monstrosity involves a combination of animal and human features. As applied below, the monstrous is an appropriate subversion of whatever the society holds to be aesthetic. Importantly, monstrosity involves more than just form. It entails an affront to the moral order (Babcock 1978: 32; Beidelman 1980: 34), in this case Greek society's ideal of what is good as well as that which is simply beautiful. The "good" and the "beautiful" have always been closely linked in Greek thought. Since ancient times the two concepts have been covered by a single noun, (to) kaló(n) (το καλό[ν]).

Monstrosity may, in some instances, be represented by direct symbolic inversion. For example, various exotiká are said to have limbs that are literally reversed (gyrisména, gyristá).27 Stríngles, maïssádes, and kallikántzaroi are all said to have reversed limbs, usually feet. The following account from Chios describes nereids:

I, my child, have never in my life seen such things. I've only heard about them from my grandmother; that the geragídes, far and away from here, are some women dressed in white with some of their fingers turned around, with some of their palms turned the other way around, and with some feet backwards; the front in back and the back in front.28

The feet are, in fact, the most frequently distorted part of the body. Numerous exotiká are said to have animal legs; those of a mule, donkey, duck, or even a fish tail replacing the legs altogether. One proverb calls particular attention to this: "The devil has many feet" (O diávolos ékhei pollá podária; i.e., he works evil in many ways). The following account regarding lámies comes from the village of Arákhova (near Delphi):

The lámnia is a tall woman with a beautiful body. That's why when people want to point out that a girl is lissom and graceful, they say that she has the body of a lámnia or that she walks like a lámnia. She has one great defect however. Her feet are not two human ones, but three or more, and of different sorts. The one may be of copper, the other a donkey's, the other a cow's or a goat's or human or whatever else. (Polítis 1904 1: 491)

The word for foot in Greek, pódi, actually means both foot and leg, everything from the toes to the hip socket. It is unlikely that only one significance attaches to such a large segment of the body.

The thighs, through their proximity to the genitals, may well be endowed with a sexual symbolism. This aspect of the legs is usually detectable in the context of a particular account such as that above, where walking like a lámia has erotic connotations. In numerous accounts it is said that nereids have long legs.29 Various references to distorted sexual organs alert us to the erotic symbolism of elongated or enlarged legs: "Monóvyza was a member of the race of Hellenes [mythical inhabitants of Greece in a distant past]. She had only one breast, but this was so large that it dragged along the ground. That's why Monóvyza carefully tossed it behind her back" (Kakridís 1967: 19-20; from Epirus, Arcadia, Khalkidikí, and Kos). And "Mantrakoúkos or koútsos or khólos is the last of the demonic collection and the leader of the kallikántzaroi. He appears as a lame, short, fat, goat-footed, bald-headed monster. He has a very large penis (which is why many times the penis is called a mantrakoúko)" (Polítis 1904 1: 343).

Another way of viewing the feet is in contrast with the head, which is sacred, the part of the body nearest the heavens. The feet, on account of their contact with the earth, may be thought of as polluted or dirty. Both call for special care and attention. In rural Greece the head and the feet are the two most frequently washed parts of the body (Campbell 1964: 287). In villages on Naxos, Saturday night is by far the busiest time of the week for the barber. The grooming of the head as well as the washing of the feet are almost certainly preparatory to entering the church on Sunday.

The devil is said to be crippled in the legs. This story from Kozani gives one version of how this came to be:

When God moulded man, the devil shaped the wolf. But he wasn't able to get the wolf to come to life. So as to teach the rebel a lesson, God coerced the wolf to come alive and eat its creator. But the wolf only had time to devour one foot. For this reason the devil is crippled and they call him one-footed (monopódi) and wolf-gobbled (lykophagoméno). (Polítis 1904 1: 516)

Many other exotiká are also thought to be crippled. The nereids, for example, were said to select crippled girls and make nereids out of them. These crippled nereids were the dangerous ones; the real nereids were said not to harm people (Polítis 1904 1: 387-88,419-20). Kallikántzaroi are also deformed and it is said that each has

[a]t least one defect, just as do their flocks. Some are crippled, others blind, others one-eyed, one-footed, club-footed, or with a gnarled mouth, deformed face, crooked nose, lame hands, out of place joints or feeble limbs. To make a long story short, you may find all manner of disability and defect among them. (Polítis 1904 1: 333)

Physical deformity or crookedness contrasts with the straight and the well- formed, both expressed ideals in the Greek conception of physical beauty. As folksongs suggest, men and women should be tall, firm, and straight like cypress trees. They should also attempt to cultivate an intellectual sensibility and aspire to a degree of moral sensitivity that distinguishes them as morphoménoi, educated (lit. "formed"). The very word for beautiful in modern Greek is ómorphos, meaning literally "well-formed" (from AGrk. εὔμορφος; cf. MGrk. áskhimos, "ugly," lit. "without form").

Crippled persons may be sources of shame and embarrassment for their families and relatives (Blum and Blum 1965: 64). Such a person is considered to have reduced social "worth," a judgment that may relate to the reduced economic productivity of the handicapped. This is evident in the increased difficulty that crippled people encounter in contracting a marriage. A woman will have to offer a larger than normal dowry while a man, if he can find a suitable partner at all, may be constrained to accept a bride with only a small dowry.

Physically abnormal individuals are, in addition, morally suspect, as the following report from Crete reveals:

The spanós(beardless man) is regarded as being of a perverse and treacherous nature just as those having any other kind of bodily defect, especially if it is a birth defect. About them the following phrase is said, "God marks evil people so that they will be recognized," as well as the following distich:

From river and rain, from lightning and snow
From beardless one and wretched one may God save us.

                                    (Kalaïsákis 1885: 331)

Of the different animals associated with evil and the demonic, goats figure most frequently. The goat, like the wolf, is thought to be a creature of the Devil, as the following story relates:

The devil created the she-goat but as her legs did not bend she always remained upright, and all the goats were dying. One day he showed her to Christ and told him, "I made something, but I can't seem to make it sit, and it's dying on me." Then Christ took out his seal, and he stamped her on the knees, after which she sat immediately. That's why on their front two knees goats have seals. (Korýllos 1883: 355, from Kalávryta, Peloponnese)

As in the cases of other figures of thought, the evil symbolism of the wolf or goat and the benevolent image of sheep may be traced to passages in Scripture. At the last judgment the evil are explicitly likened to goats, the just to sheep (Matt. 25:32f.). In another passage there is a warning to be careful of false prophets who present themselves as sheep but are in fact voracious wolves (Matt. 7:15). As in earlier cases, the appearance of these animals must not be attributed exclusively to influential texts. Ina number of Mediterranean societies the elaborate symbolic associations of goats with women and the devil, and sheep with men and Christ, may arise from the detailed knowledge of the particular traits of these animals gained through the practice of herding (Campbell 1964; Blok 1981). Goats are notoriously difficult to manage. They are much less docile than sheep and less profitable as well. According to an informant from the area around Ioannina, "the goat which catches its horns in the bushes above precipices was created by Satan. Sheep are blessed. Goats have a seal on their knees. They say that Satan stamped this seal there."30

The khamotsároukhos is one particular goat-descended demon that has horns and attempts to stab pregnant women in the stomach (Polítis 1904 1: 527). Lámies, nereids, and kallikántzaroi are each on occasion imaged with goat's limbs (usually feet) or else goat's horns (note emphasis on either the head or the feet).31


Often an exotikó will appear wholly transformed. It is said of phandásmata that "they appear sometimes as humans and sometimes as a variety of animals; either as cattle, donkeys, goats, female goats, dogs, cats and at other times as soul-less beings" (Mandzouránis 1913: 470). Phandásmata are among the most ethereal of the exotiká and are sometimes associated with dreams. Many demonological treatises of late antiquity and the Middle Ages dwell on the unstable nature of images in dreams sent by the Devil. At 2 Corinthians l1:13f., Paul announces: "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the Apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." Porphyry (De abstinentia 39.1) considered evil demons to be invisible and of no stable form, but always assuming a variety of shapes, while Diádokhos of Photikí (Kephálaia Gnostiká, chap. 36) considered dreams sent by demons to be recognizable through the very feature of constant metamorphosis and instability. By the time of Pseudo-Psellós (14th cent.) this view had attained the following refined expression:

This [the argument of a certain Mark] asserts that by nature there is no male or female type of demon. This is because gender is the property of complex beings whereas the body of demons is simple. But they are malleable and supple and capable of assuming all forms. Just as one sees clouds taking on the form of humans, bears, dragons, or other things, so it is with the bodies of demons. Except that clouds take on various forms through the effect of the winds which work externally, while demons, by contrast, select the form of the body they will assume. Sometimes they contract to a very small volume and at other moments they expand to a very large size, much as earth worms are able to do on account of their soft and flexible substance.

It is not just size which they are capable of altering in many fashions, but form and color as well. The demonic body is capable of two transformations. In so far as it is malleable it may take on any pattern, as it is ethereal it may take on all types of color as air does. Yet, while air takes on color from some exterior source, this body receives it from its own illusory activity, which transmits varieties of color into it. If our cheeks show pallor when we have been frightened, or blush red when we are embarrassed this comes from our soul, which, experiencing this feeling or that one, transmits those impressions. Demonic reactions should be considered in the same way. From within themselves they also send color to their bodies. Thus, each of them--having assumed a selected form, and having colored this form in some way--may appear now as a man, now as a woman, or change form into an angry lion, or appear as a leaping panther or a wild boar charging. And if it ever thinks this advisable it may adopt the forms of a leather bag or a yapping puppy if it wishes. It alternates between these forms incessantly, not maintaining anyone of them. Actually, the demonic body is not consistent enough to preserve any of these various assumed forms. What happens with air and water when you add color and trace a pattern, is that it at once dissolves and diffuses. One may also observe this effect with demons: they all lose color, shape and form, whichever entity they may be. (De daemonibus II. 480-513 in Gautier 1980: 164-65)

Figure 4. <em>Daoútis</em>, the shadowy one, an <em>exotikó</em> that attacks flocks of sheep and goats. (Picture by P. Tetsis, courtesy of T. Velloúdios.)Figure 4. Daoútis, the shadowy one, an exotikó that attacks flocks of sheep and goats. (Picture by P. Tetsis, courtesy of T. Velloúdios.)

Figure 5. The goat-footed <em>kallikántzaros</em> urinating on a tray of Christmas sweets. (Picture by G. Gliatas, courtesy of T. Velloúdios.)Figure 5. The goat-footed kallikántzaros urinating on a tray of Christmas sweets. (Picture by G. Gliatas, courtesy of T. Velloúdios.)

Figure 6. Metamorphosis is a characteristic of the demonic. Fresco by Pagónis from the church of Agía Marína, Kissós, Pílion (1802), entitled 'It is the Devil who adorns those who love diabolical metamorphosis'--in other words, women who make themselves up perform a diabolical practice. (Photo by K. A. Makris, courtesy of A. Xydis.)Figure 6. Metamorphosis is a characteristic of the demonic. Fresco by Pagónis from the church of Agía Marína, Kissós, Pílion (1802), entitled 'It is the Devil who adorns those who love diabolical metamorphosis'--in other words, women who make themselves up perform a diabolical practice. (Photo by K. A. Makris, courtesy of A. Xydis.)

Khourmoúzis (1842: 69f.) records the story--later made famous by continuity theorists who deemed it a survival of the ancient legend of Peleus and Thetis (Kakridís 1957)--of a youth who captured a nereid. The young man was advised by an old woman to grab her by the hair just before cockcrow and to hold on no matter what form she might assume. He did as instructed and the nereid metamorphosed into a dog, a snake, a camel, and then fire, at which point dawn broke and the other nereids disappeared, leaving him to take her away and marry her.

At certain times of the day (around midday) or night (after dark) it can be extremely inauspicious to come across animals, especially dogs and cats. On Crete they speak of sphantakhtá, manifestations of the devil in the form of old men, dogs, beasts, or horses with sparks shooting out from their hooves (Kalaïsákis 1885: 122).32 The following account elaborates the Cretan view:

Bersím Agás was going on horseback to Stérnes. On the road he met a goat, all white, with two white kid goats. He liked them and so dismounted and took one and sat it upon his knee. There in the road he fondled it and and spoke to it, "I rejoice in you my little kid." At that point the kid turned and said to him, "And I rejoice in you my little Agás." The Agas realised that it was a supernatural being (ox' ap' edó) and he shouted, "oukhroúts-billákh" (leave). But as much as he pushed the kid to throw it off, so much longer did its feet grow until they reached the ground. After it disappeared from before him. When he arrived home the Agás had swallowed his tongue from fear. He fell ill and in a few days was lost to the upper world." (Kalaïsákis 1885: 124)

In the period when Crete was still occupied by the Turks it was thought that Turkish vampires transformed themselves each Thursday evening (the night before the Muslim Sabbath) into howling black and white dogs (Kalaïsákis 1885: 123). In the Greek-speaking areas of Asia Minor there were also numerous accounts of Turks returning from the dead in the form of dogs or cats. The following is an account given by refugees now living in Macedonia:

One day, Mr. Kalaidópoulos' father, a cobbler, stayed longer than usual at his workplace. When he finally finished working and at about 10 P.M. was going home he met three white dogs, which followed behind him, barking. When he reached home he closed the animals – they wouldn't leave him – in the cellar and lay down for the night. The following morning he wanted to have a look at them but he was unable to open the cellar door. Finally he had to break it down with force. When he descended the stairs into the basement he suddenly saw the corpses of three Turks and understood then that this was a case of vampires (vrykólakas). He went immediately to the Hodja and explained what had happened. The Hodja listened to all of this very calmly and then advised him to leave the door open during the following night. Said and done! In the evening the cobbler opened the cellar door and waited until around midnight when the corpses transformed themselves back into dogs. Yelping loudly they trotted away. Our trusted informant saw them with his own eyes.33 (Eckert and Formózis 1943: 6)

Numerous circumstances may lead to a person becoming a vampire (Lawson 1910: 407ff.). One such condition is lack of a proper Christian burial. As Muslims, the Turks could always have qualified for vampirism in the eyes of the Orthodox Greeks.34 I doubt, however, if this was the only operative rule of selection. No Greek ever needed the religious pretext of vampirism in order to call a Turk a dog.

As representatives of the oppressive political force that ruled over the Greeks for some four hundred years, the Turks were and still are quintessential enemies. Even in the best of times the Turks are not thought to share much in common with the Greeks, and in times of strife such as the Cyprus crisis of 1974 they are not even conceded the status of human being. From information gathered on Rhodes (around the time of the Cyprus crisis), Herzfeld (1980a: 298) writes: "When a Turk has died, Pefkiots [the Rhodian villagers] use psófise (animal-died), rather than péthane (human-died), and explain this on the grounds that the Turks do not profess the true religion: they are a 'godless' people."

Symbolic Classification and Ideology

The diffusion throughout Greece of Christian representations of God and the Devil hardly requires demonstration. As almost all Greeks are members of the Orthodox Church, this can be assumed without any elaborate examination of evidence. The exotiká pose a different problematic. They are not the subject of any systematic theology, nor are they exclusive objects of prayer or iconic representation. Nonetheless, I have contended that they are a set of Panhellenic collective representations. The foregoing body of material from diverse places amply attests to this. Furthermore it has become apparent through this analysis that the images of the exotiká draw upon cultural figures of thought in their composition.

With respect to some categories, such as gender and time of day, it was found that features associated with the exotiká were limited (i.e., midday or midnight, male or female). Other lines of enquiry, such as spatial location or physical appearance, revealed an almost limitless number of features that could serve as demonic characteristics. In most of these cases, the wide range of features seemed to be predicated on a simpler principle: that of opposition to Greek social values. The study of those animal features that exotiká are capable of assuming contributed to an understanding of the symbolic values of certain animals (goats, wolves), but more important, it has revealed how zoomorphic compositions characterize monstrosity. These images are antithetical to notions of aesthetic human form. Likewise, the listing of the various places where demons may appear was subsumed in importance by the observation that these locations lie beyond the village. The actual variety of places was not as crucial as the overall opposition between a protected, sanctified, inhabited space and an unprotected, uninhabited wilderness.

The purpose of this presentation has not been to demonstrate the inherence of dual symbolic classification in Greek thought. That much could have been concluded in advance on the basis of studies presented by other scholars (Campbell 1964; du Boulay 1974; Hirschon 1978, 1989). My main object has been rather to study and explicate the symbolism of the exotiká, a category of beings already shown to stand in a position of antithesis within the broader field of Greek cosmology and morality. That a binary oppositional logic should so pervasively inform the composition of demonic images is hardly surprising.35 What this study does reveal, through a kind of via negativa, is the nature of the society's values, for it is these that have stimulated the opposition of the exotiká. The exotiká could thus be said to reflect the very essence of social life. Far from being a residual, peripheral category--as their antithetical symbolism in some way suggests--they speak to the central concerns of Greek thought. They are a means by which Greek society may view its possibilities and contradictions, a task it must always undertake if it is to remain vital. The exotiká very much exemplify what the Africanist T. O. Beidelman (1986: 4,8) has termed "moral imagination."

The decline in the importance of the exotiká as a coherent formal discourse was considered earlier. Yet the concerns and questions that these images have raised in the recent past continue as topics for discussion in the present. Sometimes this discussion is conducted in terms of the exotiká, sometimes in terms of newer occult sciences, sometimes in altogether pragmatic, nonsymbolic modes of discourse. In an urban context, the road has replaced the area outside the village as the place where evil dwells. The exotiká lurk in these dark streets and alleyways like alaniáres ("tramps"; Zákhos s.v. αλανιάρα). They are associated with the dangers of city life, drug addiction and prostitution being conceived as diabolical forces that deflect young people from their proper course (Hirschon 1978: 80). Several of the traditional names have also been kept and applied metaphorically to new urban phenomena. For example, the drákos was traditionally an ogre who lived in a cave and blocked the water supply of a nearby settlement until given the tribute of one young girl, sometimes a princess (Hahn 1864: nos. 26, 58, 64). Nowadays, drákos is a name given to stranglers and rapists such as the one who killed several young women in Athens during a period in 1983/84. The contemporary drákos retains the feature of preying on young women. In a similar vein, the word vrykólakas (vampire, revenant) is used in the city to refer to child molesters (Jackson n.d.: 8).

The strong young lad (pallikári) who struggled with the nereids in earlier stories is now the Greek youth serving his compulsory two years in the army. This is related in recently collected stories (Stewart 1985: 224). Likewise, in a society that is coming increasingly into contact with other cultures whose values differ from their own, one finds foreigners equated with exotiká. I read the following handbill in a village coffee shop on Naxos:


Nudism is a fashion that Satan serves up using degenerate beings from abroad (ékphyla ónda tou exoterikoú) in order to ruin people and cause scandal and spiritual death.

On Crete, local priests told me that blond-haired tourists who swim naked and sleep on the beaches are firmly associated by the local people with the neráïdes and other exotiká.

These same events may no doubt be formulated and interpreted in different ways by various members of the society. Certain issues raised by the exotiká-- questions of the society's boundaries and ideals--nonetheless remain important. Below, I summarize the antithetical features exhibited by the exotiká. Many of these may be accounted for by larger principles (i.e., inside versus outside). Ranged to their right are the features which they oppose, either according to Greek cultural logic or as was directly expressed in one or another account:

Antiethetical features represented by the <em>exotiká</em>Objections have been raised against such lists of binary oppositions, mainly on the grounds that they assert an equality between the terms in each column or that they ingenuously suggest a model for the way people actually associate ideas (Needham 1973: introduction). Here I simply point out that the various features in the left-hand column all emerged directly from the accounts considered earlier. They constitute no more than a summary list of the symbols we have seen to be constitutive of the exotiká. In each account several of these features were variously and unpredictably conjoined to present an image of a particular exotikó. This analysis has, therefore, been more restrained than many accounts of symbolic classification, which collect terms from a wider variety of contexts. In this study the category of the exotiká alone has yielded a rich example of symbolic classification.

Lists such as the above give useful and revealing information about the sorts of ideas and symbols operative in a given culture. It does not, however, say anything about the relative value of these ideas (Dumont 1983: 21Off.). In the case of the exotiká this is a glaring deficiency, since we know they are first and foremost a negatively valued moral category. The Devil does not just oppose God; he is both inferior to and encompassed by God. The same is true for the other terms on the left side, for they are all negatively valued in comparison with the terms on the right. The list is still valid, but in order to take account of relative value we must turn it on its side:

Antiethetical features represented by the <em>exotiká</em>, relative value


ChantraineDictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque, ed. Pierre Chantraine, Paris, 1968-77.
Evkhológion MégaΕυχολόγιον το Μέγα (The Large Prayerbook), Athens: Astír, 1980. (based on 2nd ed., Venice 1862).
KLΚέντρον Ερεύνης της Ελληνικής Λαογραφίας, Athens (Centre for Research on Greek Folklore). References to these archives include manuscript number, page number (specific place of provenance, general indication of the area or region where this place is located), name of collector, and date of collection. When one of these items is missing it means that the information was not available in the index files of the Center.
PeristatkaíΠεριστατικαί (Occasional Services Prayerbook), Athens: Apostolikí Diakonía tis Elládos, 1974.
ZákhoΛεξικό της πιάτσας (Dictionary of Slang), ed. Ζάχος, Athens: Káktos, 1981.



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1. Psykhogioú-Ioannídi (1983) as well as Eckert and Formózis (1943) report that the Pontic Greeks also have a category of neráïdes, but this is much more limited than that of the maïssádes who have taken over most of their characteristics. Note that in most parts of Greece a mágissa is a mortal sorceress while for Asia Minor Greeks she is a wholly supernatural being.

2. KL 957 (Mykonos, Cyclades), I. Vogiatzídis.

3. Polítis (1913: 341-43) objected to this practice in his review of a volume entitled Paramýthia. In this book Dimítris Kamboúroglou (1912) edited a number of folktales collected by his mother, Mariánna, and originally published in the journal Deltíon tis Istorikís kai Ethnologikís Etaireías tis Elládas. (vol. 1, 1883). Polítis noticed that the editor had taken the liberty of emending the name neráïda to kalokyrá in at least one story. He remarked, "That the place of the nereid in Athenian 'traditions' (paradóseis) is taken by the kalokyrá does not really justify the substitution." While rightly registering these objections, Polítis also revealed that he himself was convinced that the figure of a given exotikó "stands for very different things" in the various genres.

4. An example of a narrative motif reflected in more than one genre is the Ballad of the Swimmer. Well-known as a "ballad" (paralogí; cf. Polítis 1978: 133), it may also be told as a "tradition" (e.g., KL 225, p. 113 [Aspropótamos, Tríkkala], A. Khatzigákis, 1948).

5. This move to resolve the exotiká into a pool of common features parallels the approach to Greek folksongs taken by Beaton (1980). While the nature of his subject constrained him to remain at the level of kunstsprache – common themes and formulas as they are encoded in poetic language – the exotiká accounts come expressed in natural language and often communicate deeply held personal convictions or experiences. Thus I am not interested in treating them solely as a literary genre, but as a part of life – something comprehensible against the backdrop of culture, not just in terms of a poetic corpus.

6. Interpretations of this proverb are quite various. The Oxford philologist Peter Mackridge (personal communication) points out that grammatically it must mean "fear protects wild things," possibly animals. This sense was confirmed by a Naxiote agrótis, Vassílis Gratsías, who told me that the proverb referred to animals' instinctive avoidance of dangerous situations. He also extended it to apply to a similar instinct that prevents humans from entering into bad business deals, partnerships, or other risky situations. The folklorist Dimítrios Loukátos (personal communication) interpreted the proverb as explaining why people do not bother things that are not theirs and he gave the example of leaving his personal effects lying on the beach while going in for a swim.

7. A prayer in the Evkhológion Méga (p. 492) praises the Lord in a similar fashion but concludes with the specific plea that he deliver those who will live in the house "from all malice of the enemy" (εκ πάσης επιβουλής του αντικειμένου). The ideas of Eliade (1959: 47-48) are illuminating here:

Since "our world" is a cosmos, any attack from without threatens to turn it into a chaos. And as "our world" was founded by imitating the paradigmatic work of the gods, the cosmogony, so the enemies who attack it are assimilated to the enemies of the gods, the demons, and especially to the archdemon, the primordial dragon.

8. According to Campbell (1964: 332), "his [the devil's] power is immense, and particularly in the wilderness of the mountains and forest outside the circle of men's homes protected by the grace of God, but even these he sometimes enters."
The archetypal Greek city, Constantinople, was also deemed to be divinely protected from the demonic (Turkish) invading forces (Baynes 1955; Diehl 1930; Greenfield 1988: 131).
Boedeker's argument (1974: 50ff.), that the word for village (χωριό) and the word for dance (χορός) may derive from a common IE root *gher, meaning "sacred place, dancing place," fits very well with conceptions of the village in contemporary Greece, as shown above. Of course, etymology does not account for the synchronic meaning and use of a given word. In the study of ideology, however, the semantic history of important words such as khorió and khorós may often illuminate and help direct the enquiry.

9. The original South Italian Greek text is as follows (in the diacritical system employed by Rossi-Taibbi and Caracausi 1959: 301):

I anaráδe issa yinéce me ta póδya še múla. Tin iméra estékai kliméne, ti vvraδía evyénnai na fáu tu χristyanú. Yá’fto sto Riχúdi ti vvradía eklígai tim bórta ston Agriddéa če ste pPláke, če ótu ećine δen esónnai mbéi sto payisi. I anaráδe epigai ankaváddu sti rramíδa še savućil.

The nereids were women with mule's feet. By day they stayed restrained, by night they emerged to eat people. That's why in Rochudi, at night, they would close the gates to Agriddea and Plache so they could not enter the village. The nereids went about riding on elder branches.

10. This text was originally published by Stamoúli-Sarandí (1938: 277f.) and reprinted in Kyriakídou-Néstoros (1975: 32f.).

11. Throughout Greece (and the diaspora) people observe comparable practices. Georges (1980: 147) reports the efficacy of the circle among Greek-Americans from Tarpon Springs, Florida. One of the most famous and widely circulated of all exotiká encounters is the story of the lyre player taught by the nereids. If a lyre player really wants to improve his art, he must go to a deserted crossroads at night and draw a circle with a black-handled knife and sit inside playing. If even the tip of his little finger should protrude beyond the circle, the nereids will cut it off. But if he plays until cockcrow they will dance and in return make him into a great lyre player (Polítis 1904 1: 413).

12. Onians (1954: 443) argued for a root connection between télos and kýklos, which might have been plausible at the time of his writing. In light of the intervening Linear B decipherment such a connection is no longer tenable and two separate roots must be postulated (Chantraine s.v. τέλος).

13. KL 2394, p. 294 (Sosándna, Pélli), G. K. Spyridákis, 1961. Samovíla is a word of Slavonic origin meaning "nymph" (víla).

14. For examples, see Polítis 1904 1: 431, 450, 414; Oikonomídis 1957: 49. Psalm 90 (11.5-6) of the Old Testament mentions the noon-day demon (μεσημβρινόν δαιμόνιον), as did the prayer for a household troubled by evil spirits (Evkhológion Méga, p. 494) cited earlier in this chapter.

15. KL Π59E (Koróni, Pylía), G. Tarsoúli, 1938.

16. KL 2301, p. 83 (Aidonokhóri, Kardítsa), D. Loukátos, 1959.

17. The verb arpázo ("snatch, abduct"; possibly "rape") appears frequently in a variety of accounts. Around Tríkkala there is a particular demon called 'rpagoú (KL 297 [Aspropótamos, Tríkkala], A. Khatzigákis, 1948). The ancient Greek harpy derives from this same root. Boedecker (1974: 71) notes the interrelated diction of snatching and hiding motifs.

18. KL 2339, p. 175 (Milos, Cyclades), K. Víkhou, 1960. See also Mégas 1963: 81, 147. Other exotiká besides the drýmes may also attack in this period. In Lakonía one should not swim on the Metamorphosis of the Saviour (August 6) because the nereids are thick in the water and will drown people. It is said they are looking for their brother Sotiris (Savior) who drowned on that very day (Phrangoúlis 1917: 250).

19. Kallikántzaroi in Argos and on Santorini (Polítis 1904 1: 335, 505); stríngles on Karpathos (Mikhailídis-Nouáros 1932: 246-47); nereids on Léros (KL 2279, pp. 8-9 [Léros], G. K. Spyridákis, n.d.); gelló on Santorini (Polítis 1904 1: 506).

20. Note the etymological relation between the word for bride (nýphi) and the word for nymph (nýmphi). In at least one account from the area of Kónitsa, the relation was explicitly drawn: "xot'kiá is what we call a very beautiful woman as well as a cheerful (évthymos) bride" (Rembélis 1953: 326).

One way of saying "I marry" in Greek is nymphévomai (lit. "I become a nymph/bride"). The most common verb for "to marry" is pandrévomai (lit. "I place myself beneath a man"). Both men and women use this form. On the relation between nymphs and brides in the classical period, see Green 1985.

21. Με πλεγμένα στεφάνια στα μαλλιά τους από κλάδους αμπελού (KL 2042, [Évvia], A. Vlákhou, 1953). On wedding crowns generally, see Andzoulátou-Restíla 1980: 183.

22. The Macedonian proverb is from Abbott (1903: 344): Η γυναίκα μακρυά μαλλιά και γνώμη κοντή. The South Italian saying is from Rossi-Taibbi (1959: 370): Astri tu χimona, sinnofa tu kaločeri, loya to gginekó ce pordi to ggadaró, olo nam prama.

23. Η γυναίκα έει το διάβολο μέσα της (Vogiatzídis 1956: 86). [Η γυναίκα] έει το διάβολο μεσ’ στο βρατσί της (Vogiatzídis 1956: 75). Η γυναίκα έβαλε το ζοδιάβολο στο μπουκάλι και τον ετάποσε. Η γυναίκα το διάβολο μέσα στο μπουκάλι (KL, p. 418 [Vathý, Meganísi, Lefkáda], D. Loukátos, 1958).

24. In the opinion of one specialist on Greek dance (Ted Petrides, personal communication), the counterclockwise, circular motion of the dance originates in dances performed at harvest time in emulation of the threshing action.

25. This fact was also noted by Hocart (1970: 302). St. Cyril of Jerusalem, writing in the fourth century, proclaimed: "And though the church be shut, and all of you within it, yet let there be a distinction of men with men and women with women. Let not the ground of your salvation become a means of destruction. Even though there be good ground for your sitting near each other, yet let passions be away" (trans. Cross 1978: 48-9).

26. Some might argue that these are simply forgetful textual repetitions of one and the same dream (Hal Lidderdale, personal communication).

27. Needham (1983: 93ff.) criticizes the applicability of terms such as "inversion" and "reversal" in comparative studies. This constitutes something of a reversal of his earlier optimism regarding the search for universal, "primordial characters" of thought (particularly 1978: 33-036; 1980 passim; 1981: 32-52). Most recently he has even advocated jettisoning "opposition" as a serious analytic term, since it derives from a confused spatial metaphor (1987: 143ff.).
These strictures seem to apply more to cases of cross-cultural comparison than to a study concentrating on just one society. See note 35 below.

28. The Greek text is as follows: Ακουστά έχω μόνον αφ την κεράμ μου πως οι γεραγίδες, όξω κι αποδώ, εν κάτι γυναίκες ασπροφόρες, με κάτι δάχτυλα γυρισμένα πίσω, με κάτι φούχτες γυρισμένες ανάξστρεφα και με κάτι ποδάργκια γυρισμένα ανάποδα το μπρος οπίσω και το πίσω πρός. Θε μου και φύλαγε (Víos 1921: 432). Other examples include Eckert and Formózis (1943: 16f.; “An ihren nach hinter gerichteten Füßen erkannte man jedoch dass sie Hexen waren”); KL 2449, p. 317 (Ikaría), G. K. Spyridákis, 1962; KL 2456, pp. 270-71 (Volissós, Chios), A. Papamikhaíl, 1962. One Greek-American informant, resident in Tarpon Springs, Florida, expressed physical reversal in the following manner: "An' them ladies [nereids], he was the front, he was in a back, an' the back he was in the front; just turned around. They walk naturally like that, they say" (Georges 1980: 147).

29. Mikhailídis-Nouáros 1932: 246; Eckert and Formózis 1943: 17-18, 24. Desmond Morris (1977: 276) notes the disparity between the actual length of models' legs and their length (much longer proportionately) in pin-up posters.

30. KL 2382, p. 408 (Ellinikó, Ioánnina), D. Oikonomídis, 1961. Campbell (1964: 31) reports this among the Sarakatsánoi:

Goats are unable to resist pain in silence, they are cunning and insatiate feeders. Greed and cunning are important characteristics of the Devil and Sarakatsani will often say that although Christ tamed these animals the Devil still remains in them. Sarakatsani keep some goats to exploit that part of the grazing land which is unfit for sheep. But as animals they are despised and a stani [fold] with too high a proportion of goats to sheep loses prestige.

31. KL 2301, pp. 450-1 (Aidanokhóri, Kardítsa), D. Loukátos, 1951; Polítis 1904 1: 333-34, 427.

32. Other examples of metamorphosis among exotiká are: into a goat (Pio 1879: 70ff.), fox (KL 297 [Aspropótamos, Tríkkala], A. Khatzigákis, 1943), lámia into fire and a dog or cat and goat (KL 2301, p. 413, 450-1 [Aidanokhóri, Kardítsa], Loukatos, 1959), even as a pregnant frog (Spyridákis 1939).

33. Very similar accounts have been collected recently on Crete by Julie Makris (personal communication), once again encouraging the view that a one-hundred-year or longer time span may be considered as a synchronic whole, at least with respect to narrative and imagery.

34. Schmidt (1871: 162) writes:

Sehr begreiflich ist endlich die wohl aller Orten in Griechenland vom Volke gehegte Ansicht, zu deren Verbreitung wiederum die Priester das Ihrige mögen beigetragen haben, dass die der orthodoxen Kirche nicht Angehörenden, zumal die Türken und deren Glaubensgenossen, viel leichter und haüfiger demVampyrismus verfallen als die Griechen.

In an article on vampirism in a mixed settlement in Macedonia (Pontic refugees and autochthonous Bulgarian speakers). Drettas (1985) found the opposite, namely, that in such a mixed community – and the refugee Pontii were viewed as "Turks" in this village – only people in the dominant group, the Bulgarians (who view themselves as Greeks), become vampires. In making his point he refers to a seventeenth-century Catholic priest resident in the Cyclades, Fr. Richard, who was told by a local Orthodox priest that vampires were a good thing, that only Orthodox Christians became such, and that their absence among Catholics and Muslims only indicated the poverty of those two faiths.

35. The word "opposition" should not be taken strictly as a logical ordering device imposed by our analytic framework. Reasoning through resort to polar opposition and analogical connection have long been features of Greek thought (Lloyd 1966). Whereas doubt has been expressed as to the degree to which binary opposition actually inheres in the thought and mythology of small-scale non-Western societies, the same doubt cannot be raised with respect to modern Greece, where binary and analogical thinking are at least as fundamental as they are in Western academic thought.