The priestesses were called doves (7r XEtac) and Herodotus tells a story which he learned at Egyptian Thebes, that the oracle of Dodona was founded by an Egyptian priestess who was carried away by the Phoenicians, but says that the local legend substitutes for this priestess a black dove, a substitution in which he tries to find a rational meaning.
One of these groups is certainly of non-Jewish origin, as it conceives Mary as living in the temple somewhat after the manner of a vestal virgin or a priestess of Isis.
Before long, however, the overthrow of Astyages by Cyrus cleared Mesopotamia, and Nabonidus (Nabu-naid) was able, drawing on the resources of the whole of Syria for the purpose, to restore the famous temple of Sin at Harran, where a few years later he erected in memory of his mother, who seems to have been a priestess there, the stele published in 1907 by Pognon.
Women could also hold priestly rank, though apparently in early times only in the service of goddesses; priestess of Hathor is a frequent title of well-born ladies in the Old Kingdom.
In the case of Jason and the Argonauts, she plays the part of a kindly, good-natured fairy; Euripides, however, makes her a barbarous priestess of Hecate, while the Alexandrian writers depicted her in still darker colours.
In the 3rd tablet, very imperfectly preserved, Gilgamesh appeals through a Shamash priestess Rimat-Belit to the sun-god Shamash for his aid in the proposed undertaking.
But when it was discovered that he had bribed the Delphian priestess to substantiate his charge he was himself obliged to flee; he went first to Thessaly and then to Arcadia, where he attempted to foment an anti-Spartan rising.
On one occasion, for instance, Heraclea was afflicted with famine, and the Pythian priestess at Delphi, bribed by Heraclides, assured his inquiring townsmen that the dearth would be stayed if they granted a golden crown to that philosopher.
And when in the year 423 B.C., through the negligence of the priestess Chryseis, the old temple was burnt down, the Argives erected a splendid new temple, built by Eupolemos, in which was placed the great gold and ivory statue of Hera, by the sculptor Polyclitus, the Cyclopean wall and below it were found traces of small houses of the rudest, earliest masonry which are pre-Mycenaean, if not pre-Cyclopean.
The senate also elected her chief priestess of the college founded in honour of the deified Augustus.