New students who arrived in Athens for study were subjected to an initiation ritual that culminated within a bathhouse in the agora. To date, this ritual has been not been contextualized properly, nor has the abundant evidence been explored fully, despite the fact that it served as the formal means of entry into the student bodies and schools of Athens. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the evidence related to the ritual and a discussion of its structure. It details the ritual’s role in structuring student bodies hierarchically (creating the student “corps”), and it makes a connection between the ritual, paideia (as understood in Athens), and the Eleusinian mysteries. The exemption of Basil of Caesarea is also covered, and the Circus Factions are suggested as a parallel for understanding the nature of student violence in late antique Athens.


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pp. 315-342
Launched on MUSE
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