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DIA´SIA

DIA´SIA (διάσια), a great festival celebrated at Athens, without the walls of the city (ἔξω τῆς πόλεως), in honour of Zeus, surnamed Μειλίχιος (Thuc. 1.126). It was the greatest of the Athenian festivals of Zeus, before the time of Solon, and was of a propitiatory character. The whole people took part in it, and the wealthier citizens offered victims (ἱερεῖα), while the poorer classes burnt such incense as their country furnished (θύματα ἐπιχώρια), which the scholiast on Thucydides erroneously explains as cakes in the shape of animals. (Compare Xen. Anab. 7.8, § 4; Lucian, Tim. 7; Aristoph. Cl. 402, &c.) The diasia took place on the 23rd of the month of Anthesterion (Schol. ad Aristoph. l.c.) with feasting and rejoicings, and was, like most other festivals, accompanied by a fair. (Aristoph. Cl. 841.) It was this festival at which Cylon was enjoined by an oracle to take possession of the acropolis of Athens; but he mistook the oracle, and made the attempt during the celebration of the Olympian games. (Compare Pollux, 1.26; Suidas, s. v.) The etymology of διάσια given by most of the ancient grammarians (from Διὸς and ἄση) is false; the name is a mere derivative from Διός, as Ἀπολλώνια from Ἀπόλλων. See A. Mommsen, Heortologie, p. 19 ff.

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