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Ancient Greek Festivals

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Pamboeotia, (Pamboiotia),

Athena festival in the Boeotia region

Panamerea, dedicated to Zeus Panemeros (or Panemerios), a hellenized local god of the Carians in the town Panamara

Panathenaea (also Great Panathenaea), from Athenaea extended to Panathenaea (Lesser and Greater) (Παναθήναια)

Dedication: Athena

City : Athens

Date : Mid-August

Theseus was the Athenian Moses. He was an heir of the Cecropidae (the descendants of the hero Cecrops) who united twelve local tribes under the common worship of "Pallas Athena." She was not the same cunning trickster celebrated by Homer but a new Political Athena, a goddess of awesome military power and virgin motherhood (that is, non-biological or symbolic motherhood: the members of her congregation were related by the blood of their enemies, not by their own blood). Theseus founded Athens by establishing in that place the festival celebration of the Panathenaea, or all-Athenian sacrifice. Gary Gutchess

[Theseus] then dissolved all the distinct statehouses, council halls, and magistracies, and built one common state-house and council hall on the site of the present upper town, and gave the name of Athens to the whole state, ordaining a common feast and sacrifice, which he called Pan-Athenaia, or the sacrifice of all the united Athenians...Plutarch: The Life of Theseus

A festival where animals were sacrificed to Athena. At first, the festival was held annually, but around the mid-5th century, a larger festival was held every four years, like the Olympic Games. The larger festival, called Great Panathenaea, lasted five days, while the smaller festivals held in the other years, lasted for only 2 days. The festival usually begins with a procession (πομπή), with people bringing in sacrificial animals. After the sacrifices, there were recitals of parts of epic poems, but this was later replaced by music contests at the time of the statesman Pericles (fl. mid-5th century BC). Commemoration was also held for those who had fought in the Battle of Marathon (490 BC). There was also smaller version of the athletic competitions. At night, there was a procession in where the people bore torches as they moved towards the temples on the Acropolis.

From a lecture: HELLANIKOS of Lesbos, Information about Panathenaea:

Demosthenes in the Philippics [4. 35]: a twofold Panathenaia is held at Athens, one each and every year, and another in every fifth year, which are also called "the Great [Panathenaia]". Isocrates in the Panathenaic Oration [12, 17]: Erichthonios the son of Poseidon was the first to celebrate the festival, as Hellanikos remarks, and Androtion as well [Androtion, FGrH #324 F2], each of them in Book I of his Atthis. Before this time it was called the Athenaia, as Ister has made clear in Book III of his Attika [Ister, FGrH #334 F4.].

We know by an inscription of 169 oxen being needed for a single Athenian festival

About the peplos:

The images of the gods, deified heroes, basket bearers, bearers of libatory vessels, trains of females, persons of every age and sex, men on horseback, victims, charioteers--in short, the whole people were represented in it conveying, in solemn pomp, to this very temple of the Parthenon, the sacred veil (peplos) which was to be suspended before the statue of the goddess within.

"Meursius, in his Panathenaea and Reliquiae Atticae, has collected from ancient authors many particulars concerning this Peplos. It was the work of young virgins selected from the best families in Athens, over whom two of the principal, called Arrephorae, were superintendents. On it was embroidered the battle of the gods and giants; amongst the gods was Jupiter hurling his thunderbolts against the rebellious crew, and Minerva, seated in her chariot, appeared as the vanquisher of Typhon or Enceladus. In the Hecuba of Euripides, the chorus of captive Trojan females are lamenting, in anticipation, the evils which they will suffer in the land of the Greeks. 'In the city of Pallas, of Athena, on the beautiful seat in the woven peplos I shall yoke colts to a chariot, painting them in various different coloured threads, or else the races of the Titans, whom Zeus, the son of Kronos, puts to sleep in fiery all-surrounding flame.' The names of those Athenians who had been eminent for military virtue, were also embroidered on it. This will explain the following allusion in the Knights of Aristophanes, where the chorus says--'We wish to praise our fathers, because they were an honour to this country and worthy of the peplos: in battles by land and in the ship-girt armament conquering on all occasions they exalted this city.' When the festival was celebrated, this peplos was brought from the Acropolis, where it had been worked, down into the city; it was then displayed and suspended as a sail to the ship, which on that day, attended by a numerous and splendid procession, was conducted through the Ceramicus and other principal parts, till it had made the circuit of the Acropolis; it was then carried up to the Parthenon, and there consecrated to Minerva." W. Blanchard Jerrold

Panathenaic Stadium

Peloria (Πελώρια). A Thessalian festival resembling the Roman Saturnalia . In it sacrifices were offered to Zeus Pelorius; banquets open even to strangers were given; and slaves enjoyed the utmost freedom, being waited upon by their masters. See Athen. xiv.

Plynteria (Πλυντήρια)

Date : Around 20th Thargelion?

a festival celebrated at Athens in the month Thargelion, in honour of Athena (Phot. s. v. Kalluntêria: Pint. Alcib. 34; Harpocr., Suid. s. v.). Dodwell (de Cyclis, p. 349) gives the 22nd of the month as the day: A. Mommsen, with more probability, takes the hektêi phthinontos of Plutarch to mean that the 25th was the great day of a festival which lasted several days, probably from the 21st to the 25th, as the 20th was the torch-race of Bendis. (He conjectures a date about three weeks earlier, at the rising of the Pleiads, for the prehistoric Plynteria, as a festival for the beginning of the corn harvest: Heort. p. 11.) The festival, traditionally connected with the death of Agraulos, who had during her life performed these duties for the goddess, was really a rite partly of purification, partly of expiation, at the beginning of the harvest, to propitiate the favour of the goddess. The temple (Erechtheum) was shut off by a rope (Poll. viii. 141, perischoinêsai), to guard it from profane entrance; the sacred image of Athena Polias (to palaion bretas or agalma, to archaion hedos, Müller, Eum. p. 171) was stripped, the praxiergidai taking off the helmet and spear (Hesych. s. v.), and the two female attendants called loutrides or pluntrides (Phot.) removing the dress (peplos), which it was their duty to wash, and covering over the statue in the meantime (cf. Plut. Alcib. 34, where the praxiergidai have the general direction of the whole ceremony). The image itself was bathed,--some think within the Erechtheum, others at the fountain of Callirrhoe--but against this we have the statements of Suidas (s. v. nomophulakes), who says that the nomophylaces arranged the procession hote komizoito to xoanon epi tên thalassan of Xenophon (Hell. i. 4, 12), and of an inscription (Ephem. 4098) cited by Mommsen, which gives Phalerum as the place. The statue and the clothes were taken in a chariot attended by the priests and priestesses and followed by ephebi and the general crowd: late in the evening it was brought back by torchlight. In the procession strings of figs were carried (palathê hêgêtêria or hêgêtoria which may merely symbolise fruitfulness, or may, as Mommsen thinks, have also a more mystical reference to an ancient sacrifice of maidens to Athena, as in the Thargelia the victims were garlanded with figs. The pedestal of the image was washed by a katanêptês (Etym. Mag.). We hear also of a plunth/ria at Paros (C. I. 2265); and we may compare also the Argive loutra Pallados in the Inachus, described by Callimachus, and the later Roman ceremony of the Megalesia. The day of the procession at Athens was one of the hêmerai apophrades (dies nefasti), on which no legal business could be done, as though the city were on that day without its protecting deity. (A. Mommsen, Heort. 436 f.; Preller, Gr. Myth. i. 166.) William Smith A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities

Proerosia or Proarktouria (Προηρόσοια)

Dedication: Demeter

City : Eleusis

Date : September (Pyanopsion)

A festival which involved praying for good harvest, before they begin ploughing and sowing. It was also called Proarktouria, an indication that it was held before the rising of Arcturus

Pyanepsia pyanon epsein" (to boil beans) (Πυανέψια or Πυανόψια)

Dedication: Phoebus, Apollo, Helios and the Horai (the 4 Seasons)

City : Athens

Date : Seventh day of the month of Pyanopsion (October)

Held on the 7th day of Pyanopsion (October). The rite involved hanging a hodgepodge of pulse and a branch of olive or laurel on the gate of the temple of Apollo. The Athenian hero Theseus was said to have began this ritual to thank Apollo and commemorating his victory over the monster, the Minotaur. Children carry an Eiresione (Ειρεσιώνη): a wand of laurel. The go from house to house singing. Gifts are given to the children and they give an Eiresione which brings good luck over the year if fixed above the door.

Pythian Games (Panhellenic)

Ancient Greek Festivals

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