The priestesses of the goddess were rrap6Evoc (i.e.
Epiphanius says quite distinctly that they were woman-elders and not priestesses in any sense of the term, and that their mission was not to interfere with the functions allotted to priests but simply to perform certain offices in connexion with the care of women.
Of Hellanicus, the Greek logographer, who appears to have lived through the greater part of the 5th century B.C., and who drew up a chronological list of the priestesses of Here at Argos; of Ephorus, who lived in the 4th century B.C., and is distinguished as the first Greek who attempted the composition of a universal history; and of Timaeus, who in the following century wrote an elaborate history of Sicily, in which he set the example of using the Olympiads as the basis of chronology, the works have perished and our meagre knowledge of their contents is derived only from fragmentary citations in later writers.
This position, we see, can be reached by various paths: the priest may become indispensable through the growth of ritual observances and precautions too complicated for a layman to master, or he may lay claim to special nearness to the gods on the ground, it may be, of his race, or, it may be, of habitual practices of purity and asceticism which cannot be combined with the duties of ordinary life, as, for example, celibacy was required of priestesses of Vesta at Rome.
A series of forty-four mummies of priests and priestesses of the XXIst Dynasty furnished the material for an important monograph.