Bendis was a Thracian goddess of the hunt whom the Greeks identified with Artemis, and hence with the other two aspects of the former Minoan Triple Goddess, Hecate and Persephone. She was a huntress, like Artemis, but was accompanied by dancing satyrs and maenads on a 5th Century red-figure stemless cup (at Verona). More than Olympian Artemis, Bendis remained a night-goddess, which linked her with Hecate .

Her cult was introduced into Attica by immigrant Thracian residents, and became so popular that in Plato's time (ca. 430 BC) its festivities were naturalized as an official ceremonial of the city-state, called the Bendideia. Among the events were nightime torch-races on horseback, mentioned in Plato's Republic, 328:

"You haven't heard that there is to be a torchlight race this evening on horseback in honor of the Goddess?” “On horseback?” said I. “That is a new idea. Will they carry torches and pass them along to one another as they race with the horses, or how do you mean?” “That's the way of it,” said Polemarchus, “and, besides, there is to be a night festival which will be worth seeing."

The 'Bendideia' also featured a solemn joint procession of Athenians and Thracians to the Goddess's sanctuary, located at the harbor of Piraeus. A red-figure cup (skyphos) (at Tübingen University), of ca 440-430, seems to commemorate the arrival of the newly-authorized cult; it shows Themis (representing traditional Athenian customs) and a booted and cloaked Bendis, who wears a Thracian fox-skin cap.

A small marble votive stele of Bendis, ca. 350-325 BC, found at Piraeus, (British Museum) shows the goddess and her worshippers in bas-relief. The image shows that the goddess has been strongly influenced by Athenian conceptions of Artemis: Bendis wears a short chiton like Artemis, but with an Asiatic snug-sleeved undergarment. She is wrapped in an animal skin like Artemis and has a spear, but has a hooded Thracian mantle, fastened with a brooch. She wears high boots.

Elsewhere in Greece, the cult of Bendis did not catch on.

"Just as in all other respects the Athenians continue to be hospitable to things foreign, so also in their worship of the gods; for they welcomed so many of the foreign rites that they were ridiculed for it by comic writers; and among these were the Thracian and Phrygian rites." --Strabo Geography (1st Century AD), 10.3.18.

The "Phrygian rites" Strabo mentioned referred to the cult of Cybele that was also welcomed to Athens in the 5th century.

The Athenians may have been blending the cult of Bendis with the equally Dionysiac Thracian revels of Kotys, mentioned by Aeschylus. Archaic female cult figures that are unearthed in Thrace or Bulgaria now tend to be identified with Bendis.

Modern followers of the Goddess have revived a cult of Bendis.

Artemis Bendis, Apollo and Hermes Louvre G515


Bendis , The Bendis Painter, c. 370–360 BC Red Figure Bell Krater Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


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