In ancient Greek religious topography, a Ploutonion (Πλουτώνιον), Latinized as Plutonium, was a sanctuary dedicated to the god Plouton
Pluto (mythology)
In ancient Greek religion and myth, Pluto was a name for the ruler of the underworld; the god was also known as Hades, a name for the underworld itself...

 ("Pluto"), often in a location that produced mephitic emanations and thus representing an entrance to the Underworld
Greek underworld
The Greek underworld was made up of various realms believed to lie beneath the earth or at its farthest reaches.This includes:* The great pit of Tartarus, originally the exclusive prison of the old Titan gods, it later came to be the dungeon home of damned souls.* The land of the dead ruled by the...


At Eleusis, the Ploutonion was located near the north entrance to the sacred district. It was built by Peisistratos in the 6th century BC and rebuilt two centuries later, when the Eleusinian mysteries
Eleusinian Mysteries
The Eleusinian Mysteries were initiation ceremonies held every year for the cult of Demeter and Persephone based at Eleusis in ancient Greece. Of all the mysteries celebrated in ancient times, these were held to be the ones of greatest importance...

 were at the height of their influence. The cave was the traditional site of the birth of the Divine Child
Child (archetype)
The Child archetype, is an important Jungian archetype in Jungian psychology, first suggested by Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung. Recently, author Caroline Myss suggested Child, amongst four the Survival Archetypes , present in all of us...

Ploutos , usually Romanized as Plutus, was the god of wealth in ancient Greek religion and myth. He was the son of Demeter and the demigod Iasion, with whom she lay in a thrice-ploughed field. In the theology of the Eleusinian Mysteries he was regarded as the Divine Child...


The Greek geographer Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

 mentions three sites that have a Ploutonion. One was located on a hill between Tralleis and Nysa; the precinct encompassed a sacred grove
Sacred grove
A sacred grove is a grove of trees of special religious importance to a particular culture. Sacred groves were most prominent in the Ancient Near East and prehistoric Europe, but feature in various cultures throughout the world...

, a temple of Plouton and Persephone
In Greek mythology, Persephone , also called Kore , is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest-goddess Demeter, and queen of the underworld; she was abducted by Hades, the god-king of the underworld....

, and an adjoining cave called the Charonion, after Charon
Charon (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Charon or Kharon is the ferryman of Hades who carries souls of the newly deceased across the rivers Styx and Acheron that divided the world of the living from the world of the dead. A coin to pay Charon for passage, usually an obolus or danake, was sometimes placed in or on...

 ferryman of the dead. According to Strabo, it "possesses some singular physical properties" and served as a shrine for healing and dream oracle (incubation
Incubation (ritual)
Incubation is the religious practice of sleeping in a sacred area with the intention of experiencing a divinely inspired dream or cure. Incubation was practised by many ancient cultures...


The Ploutonion in Hierapolis
Hierapolis was the ancient Greco-Roman city which sat on top of hot springs located in south western Turkey near Denizli....

, Phrygia
In antiquity, Phrygia was a kingdom in the west central part of Anatolia, in what is now modern-day Turkey. The Phrygians initially lived in the southern Balkans; according to Herodotus, under the name of Bryges , changing it to Phruges after their final migration to Anatolia, via the...

, was connected to the local cult of Cybele
Cybele , was a Phrygian form of the Earth Mother or Great Mother. As with Greek Gaia , her Minoan equivalent Rhea and some aspects of Demeter, Cybele embodies the fertile Earth...

. Inhaling its vapors was said to be lethal to all living things except the Galli
A Gallus was a eunuch priest of the Phrygian goddess Cybele, whose worship was incorporated into the state religious practices of ancient Rome.-About the Galli:...

, the goddess's eunuch
A eunuch is a person born male most commonly castrated, typically early enough in his life for this change to have major hormonal consequences...

 priests. During the Roman Imperial era
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, the cult of Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

 subsumed existing religious sites there, including the Ploutonion. Archaeological excacations in the 1960s showed that the Ploutonion had been located within the temenos
Temenos is a piece of land cut off and assigned as an official domain, especially to kings and chiefs, or a piece of land marked off from common uses and dedicated to a god, a sanctuary, holy grove or holy precinct: The Pythian race-course is called a temenos, the sacred valley of the Nile is the ...

 (sacred precinct) of Apollo: "it consisted of a natural opening along a wall of travertine
Travertine is a form of limestone deposited by mineral springs, especially hot springs. Travertine often has a fibrous or concentric appearance and exists in white, tan, and cream-colored varieties. It is formed by a process of rapid precipitation of calcium carbonate, often at the mouth of a hot...

, leading to a grotto
A grotto is any type of natural or artificial cave that is associated with modern, historic or prehistoric use by humans. When it is not an artificial garden feature, a grotto is often a small cave near water and often flooded or liable to flood at high tide...

 in which streams of hot water gushed forth to release a noxious exhalation." This site was also associated with dream oracle; the Neoplatonist Damascius
Damascius , known as "the last of the Neoplatonists," was the last scholarch of the School of Athens. He was one of the pagan philosophers persecuted by Justinian in the early 6th century, and was forced for a time to seek refuge in the Persian court, before being allowed back into the empire...

 dreamed that he was Attis
Attis was the consort of Cybele in Phrygian and Greek mythology. His priests were eunuchs, as explained by origin myths pertaining to Attis and castration...

 in the company of the Great Mother
Cybele , was a Phrygian form of the Earth Mother or Great Mother. As with Greek Gaia , her Minoan equivalent Rhea and some aspects of Demeter, Cybele embodies the fertile Earth...


Strabo further records that Lake Avernus
Avernus was an ancient name for a crater near Cumae , Italy, in the Region of Campania west of Naples. It is approximately in circumference. Within the crater is Lake Avernus .-Role in ancient Roman society:...

 in Italy had been taken as a Ploutonion because the gases it produced were so mephitic that they overwhelmed birds flying overhead. According to earlier sources, he says, this was the oracle of the dead
In ancient Greek cult-practice and literature, a nekyia is a "rite by which ghosts were called up and questioned about the future," i.e., necromancy. A nekyia is not necessarily the same thing as a katabasis...

 (nekumanteion) sought by Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

 in Book 11 of the Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

; Strabo himself seems not to regard Avernus as a Ploutonion.
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