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τὰ Νέμεα or Νέμεια). The Nemean Games; one of the four Greek national festivals, which was celebrated in the valley of Nemea in the territory of the Argive town Cleonae. In historic times the festival was held in honour of Zeus, who had here a temple with a sacred grove. Originally it is said to have consisted of funeral games, instituted by the Seven during their expedition against Thebes (Apollod. iii.6.4), in memory of the boy Archemorus as an ἀγὼν ἐπιτάφιος. (See Seven against Thebes.) Heracles afterwards changed it into a festival in honour of Zeus. From about B.C. 575 on wards, athletic competitions were added to the festival, after the model of those at Olympia; and, like the latter, it was only gradually that it developed into a general Hellenic celebration. It was held twice in a period of four years—once in August, every fourth year; once in winter, every second or first Olympic year. It is more probable, however, that the so-called “Winter Nemea” were only local games held in Argos, and that the Panhellenic Nemea were celebrated in alternate years at the end of every first and third Olympic year, at a time corresponding to our July. The question is discussed by Unger in the Philologus (xxxiv. 50), but Droysen, in Hermes (xiv. 1), considers it still unsettled. The management of the festival was originally possessed by the Cleonaeans, but soon passed, together with the possession of the sanctuary, into the hands of the Argives. The games, which lasted more than one day (Livy, xxvii. 31), consisted of gymnastic, equestrian, and musical contests (for the two former, see Olympia); the prize was a palm-branch and a garland of fresh σέλινον, often rendered “parsley,” but more probably identical with the “wild celery.” See Krause, Pythien, Nemeen, und Isthmien, and the scholiasts on Pindar.

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