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Antike Griechische Feste

Ancient Greek Festivals

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Daedala (Daidala) , Wooden Image

Dedication: Hera

City : Plataea, Boetian City, Central Greece

Date : Held every seven years

The Great Daedala was held every 59 years, all over Boeotia. The festival involved in a procession of the wooden bride, before this image was burned in a sacrificial fire. This was met to be a festival of reconciliation. The myth surrounding this festival was when Hera left her husband, because she was fed up with his frequent infidelities. They were reconciled when Zeus pretended that he has a new bride and she discovered that her so-called rival was only a wooden statue of a woman, when she ripped off the veil.


Apollo Ismenius or Apollo Chalazius

City : Thebes

Date : Every nine years

Commemorating a Theban victory over the Aeolians and Pelasgians. The festival involved a procession where one person bears an olive branch, with laurel flower and bronze balls were tied to branch. The name derived from Daphne (laurel flower) and phorein (wear).

Delia (Δήλια)

Dedication: Apollo

City : Delos, Apollo's birthplace.

Date : Every 4 or 5 years

Like the Pythian Games, it involved with athletic and music contests, though in a much smaller scale than the Pythian. According to the myth, it was established by the hero Theseus over the victory of slaying the Minotaur in Crete.

Delphinia (Δελφίνεια )

Dedication: Apollo

Date : 6th Mounychion

A festival for Apollo Delphinius (the god of the dolphins from which the Delphi Oracle took its name):

Cities: Athens, Aegina, Chalcis, Eretria, Chios, ...

A festival of the same expiatory character as the Apollonia, which was celebrated in various towns of Greece, in honour of Apollo, surnamed Delphinius, who was considered by the Ionians as their θεὸς πατρῷος. The name of the god, as well as that of his festival, must be derived from the belief of the ancients that in the beginning of the month of Munychion (probably identical with the Aeginetan Delphinius) Apollo came through the defile of Parnassus to Delphi and began the battle with Delphyne. As he thus assumed the character of a wrathful god, it was thought necessary to appease him, and the Delphinia accordingly were celebrated at Athens, as well as at other places where his worship had been adopted, on the sixth of Munychion. At Athens seven boys and seven girls carried olive-branches, bound with white wool (called the ἱκετηρία), into the Delphinium ( Plut. Thes.18).

...and in as much as at the first on the hazy sea
I sprang upon the swift ship in the form of a dolphin,
pray to me as Apollo Delphinius; also the altar itself
shall be called Delphinius and overlooking for ever.

Homer, To Apollo (probably a work of some other poet )


Dedication: Demeter

City: Eleusis


Dedication: Artemis Orthia

A Spartan festival where young boys were whipped before an Altar of Artemis . It was possible that some of the boys did not survive this festival. Probably it was part of the education of Spartans to make them insensible to pains.

Diasia (τὰ Διάσια).

Zeus Mellichios

Date : 23th Anthesterion


A great festival celebrated at Athens, without the walls of the city, in honour of Zeus, surnamed Μειλίχιος. The whole people took part in it, and the wealthier citizens offered victims (ἱερεῖα), while the poorer classes burned such incense as their country furnished (θύματα ἐπιχώρια). The Diasia took place in the latter half of the month of Anthesterion, with feasting, and was, like most other festivals, accompanied by a fair. The etymology of Διάσια given by most of the ancient grammarians (from Διός and ἄση) is false; the name is a mere derivative from Διός, as Ἀπολλώνια from Ἀπόλλων.

Diipolia (τὰ Διϊπόλια, Διϊπόλεια, or Διπόλια).

A festival celebrated in Athens on the 14th Scirophorion (June to July) to Zeus ( Aristoph. Pax, 420) as the protector of the city. It was also called Buphonia, from the sacrifice of an ox connected with it. A labouring ox was led to the altar of Zeus in the Acropolis, which was strewn with wheat and barley. As soon as the ox touched the consecrated grain he was punished by a blow on the neck from an axe, delivered by a priest of a particular family, who instantly threw away the axe and took to flight. In his absence the axe was brought to judgment in the Prytaneum, and condemned, as a thing polluted by murder, to be thrown into the sea. To kill a labouring ox, the trusty helper of man, was rigidly forbidden by custom. In the exceptional sacrifice of one at this festival the ancient custom may be regarded as on the one hand excusing the slaughter, and on the other insisting that it was, nevertheless, equivalent to a murder.


Monthly festival, the 15th day (for Selene)


In Honor of Diocles "ton filopaida" (boy-loving)

A festival celebrated by the Megarians in honour of an ancient Athenian hero, Diocles (gr. Diokles), around whose grave young men assembled on the occasion, and amused themselves with gymnastic and other contests.

We read that he who gave the sweetest kiss obtained the prize, consisting of a garland of flowers. (Theocrit. Idyll, xii. 27, &c.) The Scholiast on Theocritus (I. c.) relates the origin of this festival as fol lows : — Diocles, an Athenian exile, fled to Megara, where he found a youth with whom he fell in love. In some battle, while protecting the object of his love with his shield, he was slain. The Megarians honoured the gallant lover with a tomb, raised him to the rank of a hero, and in commemoration of his faithful attachment, instituted the festival of the Diocleia. See Bockh, ad Pind. Olymp. vii. 157. p. 176, and the Scholiast, ad Aristoph. Acharn. 730, where a Megarian swears by Diocles, from which we may infer that he was held in great honour by the Megarians. (Compare Welcker's Sappho., p. 39, and ad Theogn. p. 79.)

See also : The Sacred Band of Thebes

Dionysia : Small Dionysia (εν &aγροίς Διονύσια ), Great Dionysia (εν &στει Διονύσια)

Dedication: Dionysus

City : Various parts of Greece, southern Italy, including Rome

Date : Dates varied

Small Dionysia end of December ), Great Dionysia (εν &στει &Dιονύσια) ( March, 10/11-14/16 Elaphebolion )

The festival was usually celebrated with food and drinking. There are a number of different kinds of festivals, and the best known was the Great Dionysia where the festival held dramatic performances in the theater. The Little Dionysia was simple, smaller feasts. While Anthesteria, held on the month of Anthesterion (February-March), involved merrymaking and drinking on the second day of the holiday. The Anthesteria was to celebrate the spring and the maturing of wine.

Dionysia (ta kat' agrous and en astei )

On the origins of Dionysus

On Dionysus

Dioscuria (Διοσκούρια or Διοσκούρεια ).

Festivals celebrated in various parts of Greece in honour of the Dioscuri, the heroes Castor and Polydeuces (Pollux). The Spartan Dioscuria, mentioned by Pausanias (iv. 27. 1), were celebrated with sacrifices, rejoicings, and drinking. At Cyrene the Dioscuri were likewise honoured with a great festival (Schol. ad Pyth. v. 629). The Athenian festival of the Dioscuri has been mentioned under Anakeia, where they were worshipped under the name of Ἄνακες. Their worship was very generally adopted in Greece, especially in the Doric and Achaean States (Pausan. x. 33, 3; 38, 3), as we conclude from the great number of temples dedicated to them; but scarcely anything is known respecting the manner in which their festivals were celebrated.

Ancient Greek Festivals

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