a festival celebrated at Athens in the month Thargelion, in honour of Athena
(Phot. s. v. Καλλυντήρια:
Plut. Alc. 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 ἕκτῃ φθίνοντος
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:
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. 8.141, περισχοινήσαι
), to guard it from profane
entrance; the sacred image of Athena Polias (τὸ
or ἄγαλμα, τὸ
p. 171) was stripped, the πραξιεργίδαι
taking off the helmet and spear (Hesych. sub voce
), and the two female attendants
(Phot.) removing the dress (πέπλος
), which it was their duty to wash, and covering over
the statue in the meantime (cf. Plut. Alc.
, where the πραξιεργίδαι
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. νομοφύλακες
), who says that the nomophylaces arranged the
procession ὅτε κομίζοιτο τὸ ξόανον ἐπὶ τὴν
of Xenophon (Xenoph. Hell.
), and of an inscription
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 (παλάθη ἡγητηρία
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 κατανήπτης
). We hear
also of a plunth/ria
at Paros (C. I.
2265); and we may compare also the Argive λουτρὰ
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 ἡμέραι ἀποφράδες
), 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.