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The Hyacinthia fell in the Spartan month Ἑκατμοβεύς. They followed shortly after the Isthmian games (Xen. Hell. iv. 5. 1 f.), which took place in the early summer (Thuc. viii. 3, 9, 10). Apparently they usually fell in Thargelion (May), but this year, through intercalation in the Spartan Calendar, in Skirophorion (June); Busolt, ii. 722, n. 2. This prae-Dorian festival was celebrated annually at Amyclae in honour of Apollo and of Hyacinthus, the beautiful youth whom he had slain accidentally by a cast of his quoit. Hyacinthus seems to personify the vegetation dried up by summer's heat. On the first day the offerings of the dead were made to Hyacinthus; his urn, which was behind a closed iron door beneath Apollo's altar, was opened, and his ashes drenched with wine and milk (Paus. iii. 19. 3). Abstinence and melancholy marked the day; no garlands were worn, no paeans sung, and only plain unleavened cakes were eaten. The second day was a joyful festival sacred to Apollo; boys celebrated the praises of Apollo in anapaestic measures to the accompaniment of cithara and flute; there was a horse race of boys and a solemn procession of maidens in chariots. Probably the robe woven by Spartan women (Paus. iii. 16. 2) was then presented to the god. Of the third day no details are known; the importance of the whole festival is shown by the anxiety of all Spartans and especially the Amyclaeans to return home to keep it even in time of war (Xen. Hell. iv. 5. 11; Paus. iii. 10. 1, iv. 19. 4).
ἦγον. For parallel cases cf. v. 63. 2 n.; vi. 106. 3; vii. 206. 1. τὸ τεῖχος: cf. viii. 71; ix. 10 n. τοὺς ἐφόρους: cf. ch. 8. 1, 9. 2, and for the significance of the fact App. XVII. 2.
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