was a political festival, which the Athenians had in common with all the
Greeks of the Ionian name (Hdt. 1.147
), with the
exception of those of Colophon and Ephesus. It was celebrated in the month
of Pyanepsion, and lasted for three days. The origin of this festival is
related in the following manner:--About the year 1100 B.C., the Athenians were carrying on a war against the Boeotians,
concerning the district of Cilaenae, or, according to others, respecting the
little town of Oenoe. The Boeotian Xanthios, or Xanthos, challenged
Thymoetes, king of Attica, to single combat; and when he refused, Melanthos,
a Messenian exile of the house of the Nelids, offered himself to fight for
Thymoetes, on condition that, if victorious, he should be the successor to
Thymoetes. The offer was accepted; and when Xanthios and Melanthos began the
engagement, there appeared behind Xanthios a man in the τραγῆ,
the skin of a black goat. Melanthos
reminded his adversary that he was violating the laws of single combat by
having, a companion; and while Xanthios looked around, Melanthos slew the
Xanthios. From that time, the Athenians
celebrated two festivals,--the Apaturia, and that of Dionysos Melanaegis,
who was believed to have been the man who appeared behind Xanthios. This is
the story related by the Scholiast on Aristophanes (Aristoph. Ach. 146
). This tradition has
given rise to a false etymology of the name ἀπατούρια,
which was formerly considered to be derived from
to deceive. All modern
critics, however (Müller, Dorians,
1.5, 4; Welcker,
p. 288), agree that the name is composed
which is perfectly consistent
with what Xenophon (Xen. Hell. 1.7.8
of the festival: Ἐν οἷς
) οἵ τε
πατέρες καὶ οἱ συγγενεῖς ξύνεισι σφίσιν αὐτοῖς.
According to this derivation, it is the festival at which the phratriae met,
to discuss and settle their own affairs. But, as every citizen was a member
of a phratria, the festival extended over the whole nation, who assembled
according to phratriae.
p. 200), on account of the prominent part which
Dionysos takes in the legend respecting the origin of the Attic Apaturia,
conceives that it arose from the circumstance that families belonging to the
Dionysian tribe of the Aegicores had been registered among the citizens.
The first day of the festival, which probably fell on the eleventh of the
month of Pyanepsion, was called δορπία
; Hesych. and Suid. s. v.); on which every citizen went in
the evening to the phratrium, or to the house of some wealthy member of his
own phratria, and there enjoyed the supper prepared for him. (Aristoph. Ach. 146
.). That the cup-bearers
) were not idle on this
occasion, may be seen from Photius (Lexic. s. v. Δορπία
The second day was called ἀνάρρυσις
), from the sacrifice offered
on this day to Zeus, surnamed Φράτριος,
and to Athena, and [p. 1.135]
sometimes to Dionysos
Melanaegis. This was a state sacrifice, in which all citizens took part. The
day was chiefly devoted to the gods, and to it must, perhaps, be confined
what Harpocration (s. v. Λαμπάς
from the Atthis of Istrus, that the Athenians at the apaturia used to dress
splendidly, kindle torches on the altar of Hephaestos, and sacrifice and
sing in honour of him. Proclus on Plato (Tim.
p. 21 B), in
opposition to all other authorities, calls the first day of the Apaturia
and the second δορπία,
which is, perhaps, nothing more than a
slip of his pen.
On the third day, called κουρεῶτις
), children born in that year, in the
families of the phratriae, or such as were not yet registered, were taken by
their fathers, or in their absence by their representatives (κύριοι
), before the assembled members of the
phratria. For every child a sheep or goat was sacrificed. The victim was
and he who sacrificed it
). It is said that the victim was not allowed to
be below (Harpocrat., Suid., Phot. s. v. Μεῖον
), or, according to Pollux (3.52), above, a certain
weight. Whenever any one thought he had reason to oppose the reception of
the child into the phratria, he stated the case, and, at the same time, led
away the victim from the altar. (Dem. c. Macart.
If the members of the phratria found the objections to the reception of the
child to be sufficient, the victim was removed; when no objections were
raised, the father, or he who supplied his place, was obliged to establish
by oath that the child was the offspring of free-born parents and citizens
of Athens. (Isaeus, De Haered. Ciron.
p. 100.19; Dem.
p. 1315.54.) After the victim was sacrificed,
the phratores gave their votes, which they took from the altar of Jupiter
Phratrios. When the majority voted against the reception, the cause might be
tried before one of the courts of Athens; and if the claims of the child
were found unobjectionable, its name, as well as that of the father, was
entered in the register of the phratria, and those who had wished to effect
the exclusion of the child were liable to be punished. (Dem. c.
p. 1078.82.) Then followed the distribution of wine, and
of the victim, of which every phrator received his share; and poems were
recited by the elder boys, and a prize was given to him who acquitted
himself the best on the occasion. (Plat. Tim.
p. 21 B.) On
this day, also, illegitimate children on whom the privileges of Athenian
citizens were to be bestowed, as well as children adopted by citizens, and
newly created citizens, were introduced; but the last, it appears, could
only be received into a phratria when they had previously been adopted by a
citizen; and their children, when born by a mother who was a citizen, had a
legitimate claim to be inscribed in the phratria of their grandfather, on
their mother's side. (Platner, Beiträge,
p. 168.) In
later times, however, the difficulties of being admitted into a phratria
seem to have been greatly diminished.
Some writers have added a fourth day to this festival, under the name of
and Simplicius on
iv. p. 167, a
); but this is no particular day of the festival, for ἔπιβδα
signifies nothing else but a day
subsequent to any festival. (See Ruhnken, Ad Tim. Lex. Plat.
p. 119: comp. Schömann, Griech. Alt.
vol. ii. p.
485; A. Mommsen, Heortologie,
p. 302 ff.)