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PANATHENAEA
Form: Gr.Panathenaia

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The most ancient and most important of Athenian festivals. It was celebrated in honour of Athene, the patron deity of Athens. Claiming to have been founded as early as by Erichthonius, it is said to have been originally named only Athenaea, and to have first received the name of Panathenaea at the time when Theseus united all the inhabitants of Attica into one body. In memory of the union itself was kept the festival of the Synaecia, or Synaecesia, on the 16th of Hecatombaeon (July-August), which may be regarded as a kind of prepatory solemnity to the Panathenaea. There was a festival of the ordinary or lesser Panathenaea celebrated every year, and from the time of Pisistratus, the great Panathenaea held every fifth year, and in the third year of every Olympiad, from the 24th to the 29th of Hecatombaeon. Pisistratus, in the year 566 B.C., added to the original chariot and horse races athletic contests in each of the traditional forms of competition. He, or his son Hipparchus, instituted the regulation, that the collected Homeric poems should be recited at the feast of Rhapsodi. In 446 Pericles introduced musical contests, which took place on the first day of the festival, in the Odeum, which he had built. Competitions of cyclic choruses and other kinds of dances, torch races and trireme races, added to the splendour of the festival. The care and direction of all these contests were committed to ten stewards (athlothetae), who were elected by the people for four years, from one great Panathenaic festival to the next. In the musical contests, the first prize was a golden crown; in the athletic, the prize was a garland of leaves from the sacred olive trees of Athene, together with large and beautiful vases filled with oil from the same trees. Many specimens of these Panathenaic vases have been found [in Italy, Sicily, Greece, and at Cyrene. They have the figure of Athene on one side, and a design indicating the contest for which they are awarded on the other. Most of them belong to the 4th century B.C., 367-318; the "Burgon Vase," in the British Museum, to the 6th century. Cp. Pindar, Nem. x 35]. The tribe whose ships had been victorious received a sum of money, part of which was destined for a sacrifice to Poseidon. The culminating point of the festival was the 28th day of the month, the birthday of the goddess, when the grand procession carried through the city the costly, embroidered, saffron-coloured garment, the peplus (q.v.). This bad been woven in the preceding nine months by Attic maidens and matrons, and embroidered with representations from the battle of the gods and Giants. It was carried through the city, first of all as a sail for a ship moving on wheels, and was then taken to the Acropolis, where it adorned one of the statues of Athene Polias. The procession is represented in a vivid manner in the well-known frieze of the Parthenon. It included the priests and their attendants, leading a long train of animals festally adorned for sacrifice; matrons and maidens bearing in baskets the various sacrificial implements (see CANEPHORI); the most picturesque old men in festal attire, with olive branches in their hands, whence came their name, thallophorae; warriors, with spear and shield, in splendid array; young men in armour; the cavalry under the command of both the hipparchi; the victors in the immediately preceding contests; the festal embassies of other states, especially of the colonies ; and, lastly, the aliens resident in Athens. Of these last, the men bore behind the citizens trays with sacrificial cakes, the women waterpots, and the maidens sunshades and stools for the citizens' wives; while on the freedmen was laid the duty of adorning with oak-leaves the market-places and streets through which the procession moved. The feast ended with the great festal sacrifice of a becatomb of oxen, and with the general banqueting which accompanied it. At the yearly minor Panathenaea, on the 28th and 29th of Hecatombaeon, contests, sacrifices, and a procession took place, but all in a more simple style. In later times the festival was removed to spring, perhaps in consequence of Roman influence, in order to make it correspond to the Quinquatrus of Minerva. [All the ancient authorities are collected by Michaelis, Der Parthenon, pp. 318-333.]

Pictures and Media
PANATHENAIC AMPHORA Inscribed TON ATHNHTEN ATON, "a prize from Athens." (Millengen, Uned. Mon., p1. 1.)
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