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Title: Sacred woods
Original Title: Bois sacrés
Volume and Page: Vol. 2 (1752), p. 310
Author: Denis Diderot (biography)
Translator: Audra Merfeld-Langston [Missouri University of Science and Technology]; Kelly Dunlap [Missouri University of Science and Technology]
Subject terms:
Mythology
Original Version (ARTFL): Link
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. To use this work in a way not covered by the license, please see http://quod.lib.umich.edu/d/did/terms.html .

URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.did2222.0003.182
Citation (MLA): Diderot, Denis. "Sacred woods." The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d'Alembert Collaborative Translation Project. Translated by Audra Merfeld-Langston and Kelly Dunlap. Ann Arbor: Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library, 2015. Web. [fill in today's date in the form 18 Apr. 2009 and remove square brackets]. <http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.did2222.0003.182>. Trans. of "Bois sacrés," Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, vol. 2. Paris, 1752.
Citation (Chicago): Diderot, Denis. "Sacred woods." The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d'Alembert Collaborative Translation Project. Translated by Audra Merfeld-Langston and Kelly Dunlap. Ann Arbor: Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library, 2015. http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.did2222.0003.182 (accessed [fill in today's date in the form April 18, 2009 and remove square brackets]). Originally published as "Bois sacrés," Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, 2:310 (Paris, 1752).

Sacred woods. The woods were the first places destined for worship of the gods. It is in the hollow of the trees and dens, the silence of the woods and the depths of the forests that the first sacrifices were made. Superstition likes the darkness; it raised its first altars in isolated places. When temples were built in the vicinity of towns, superstition added a little horror to them by surrounding them with thick trees. These forests soon became as revered as the temples themselves. People assembled there; they celebrated games and dances. The branches of the trees were full of offerings; the sacred trunks as revered as the priests; the leaves questioned like the gods. It was a sacrilege to break off a branch. One appreciates how much these deserted places were favorable for miracles: many took place there. Apollo had a woods in Claros [1], where never a venomous animal entered. The local deer found a sure refuge there, when they were pursued. The virtue of the god kept the dogs out: they barked from outside his woods , where the tranquil deer grazed. Asclepius had his own near Epidaurus [2]: it was forbidden to let anyone be born or die there. The woods that Vulcan had on Mount Etna was guarded by sacred dogs, who wagged their tails at those dedicated and called there, tore apart those who approached with impure hands, and separated the men and the women who sought a dark retreat there. The furies had a sacred woods in Rome.

Notes

1. Colony off the coast of Ionia founded by ancient Thebans at the request of Apollo, at which a sanctuary was devoted to him.

2. Small 7th-4th century city and birthplace of the son of Apollo, Asclepius, for whom a healing sanctuary was established there.