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Delia

τὰ Δήλια). The name of festivals and games celebrated at the great assemblage in the island of Delos (q.v.), the centre of an amphictyony, to which the Cyclades and the neighbouring Ionians on the coasts belonged (Hymn. in Apoll. 147, etc.) This amphictyony seems originally to have been instituted simply for the purpose of religious worship in the common sanctuary of Apollo, the θεὸς πατρῷος of the Ionians, who was believed to have been born at Delos. The Delia, as appears from the Hymn to Apollo, had existed from very early times, and were celebrated every fifth year (Pollux, viii. 104), and as Boeckh supposes, with great probability, on the sixth and seventh days of Thargelion, the birthdays of Apollo and Artemis. The members of the amphictyony assembled on these occasions (ἐθεώρουν) in Delos, in long garments, with their wives and children, to worship the god with gymnastic and musical contests, choruses, and dances. That the Athenians took part in these solemnities at a very early period is evident from the Deliastae (afterwards called θεωροί) mentioned in the laws of Solon (Athen. vi. p. 234). The sacred vessel (θεωρίς), moreover, which they sent to Delos every year, was said to be the same which Theseus had sent after his return from Crete. The Delians, during the celebration of these solemnities, performed the office of cooks for those who visited their island, whence they were called Ἐλεοδύται (Athen. iv. p. 173).

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