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OSCHOPHO´RIA (ὀσχοφόρια or ὠσχοφόρια), an Attic festival, which as a vintage festival paid honour to Dionysus and Athena, the givers of wine and oil, and at the same time honoured the memory of Theseus, and according to some of Ariadne also (Plut. Thes. 23). The time of its celebration was the 7th and 8th of the Attic month Pyanepsion (Plut. Thes. 22). It is said to have been instituted by Theseus. Its name is derived from ὦσχος, ὄσχος, or ὄσχη, a branch of vines with grapes, for it was a vintage festival; and on the day of its celebration two youths, called ὀσχοφόροι, whose parents were alive, and who were elected from among the noblest and wealthiest citizens (Schol. ad Nicand. Alexiph. 109), carried, in the disguise of women, branches of vines with fresh grapes from the temple of Dionysus in Athens, to the ancient temple of Athena Sciras in Phalerus. These youths were followed by a procession of persons who likewise carried vine-branches, and a chorus sang hymns called ὠσχοφορικὰ μέλη, which were accompanied by dances (Athen. 14.681). In the sacrifice which was offered on this occasion, women also took part; they were called δειπνοφόροι, for they represented the mothers of the youths, carried the provisions (ὄφα καὶ σιτία) for them, and related stories to them. During the sacrifice the staff of the herald was adorned with garlands, and when the libation was performed the spectators cried out ἐλελεῦ, ἰοὺ ἰού (Plut. Thes. 22). The ephebi taken from all the tribes had on this day a contest in racing from the city to the temple of Athena Sciras, during which they also carried the ὄσχη, and the victor received a cup filled with five different things. (πεντάπλοος, πενταπλόα, or πενταπλῆ), viz. wine, honey, cheese, flour, and a little oil (Athen. 11.495). According to other accounts, the victor only drank from this cup. The story which was symbolically represented in the rites and ceremonies of this festival, and which was said to have given rise to it, is related by Plutarch (Plut. Thes. 22, 23) and by Proclus (p. 388, ed. Gaisford). (Compare Bekker's Anecdot. p. 318; Etymol. Magn. and Hesych. sub voce Ὦσχοι; Suidas, s. v. Ὠσχοφόρια and ὠσχοφόρος; Preller, Griech. Myth. 1.165; Bötticher, Baumcultus, p. 399; A. Mommsen, Heortol. p. 271.)


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