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Panathenaea

τὰ Παναθήναια). The most ancient and most important of Athenian festivals. It was celebrated in honour of Athené, the patron deity of Athens. Related to have been founded in early times by Erichthonius, it is said to have been originally named only Athenaea, and to have first received the name of Panathenaea at the time when Theseus united all the inhabitants of Attica into one body. In memory of the union itself was kept the festival of the συνοικία, or συνοίκησις, on the 16th of Hecatombaeon (July-August), which may be regarded as a kind of preparatory solemnity to the Panathenaea. There was a festival of the ordinary or lesser Panathenaea celebrated every year, and from the time of Pisistratus, the great Panathenaea held every fifth year, and in the third year of every Olympiad, from the 24th to the 29th of Hecatombaeon. Pisistratus, in the year B.C. 566, added to the original chariot and horse-races athletic contests in each of the traditional forms of competition. He, or his son Hipparchus, instituted the regulation that the collected Homeric poems should be recited at the Feast of Rhapsodes. In 446 Pericles introduced musical contests, which took place on the first day of the festival, in the Odeum, which he had built. Competitions of cyclic choruses and other kinds of dances, torch-races and trireme-races added to the splendour of the festival. The care and direction of all these contests were committed to ten stewards (ἀθλοθέται), who were elected by the people for four years, from one great Panathenaic festival to the next (Pollux, viii. 93). In the musical contests the first prize was a golden crown; in the athletic, the prize was a garland of leaves from the sacred olive-trees of Athené, together with large and beautiful vases filled with oil from the same trees. Many specimens of these Panathenaic vases have been found in Italy, Sicily, Greece, and at Cyrené. They have the figure of Athené on one side and a design indicating the contest for which they are awarded on the other. Most of them belong to the fourth century B.C., 367-318; the so-called “Burgon Vase,” in the British Museum, to the sixth century. The tribe whose ships had been victorious received a sum of money, part of which was expended upon a sacrifice to Poseidon.

The culminating-point of the festival was the 28th day of the month, the birthday of the goddess, when the grand procession carried through the city the costly, embroidered, saffron-coloured garment, the peplus (πέπλος). This had been woven in the preceding nine months by Attic maidens and matrons, and was embroidered with representations from the battle of the gods and giants. It was carried through the city, first of all, as a sail for a ship moving on wheels, and was then taken to the Acropolis, where it adorned one of the statues of Athené Polias. The procession is represented in a vivid manner in the well-known frieze of the Parthenon. It included the priests and their attendants, leading a long train of animals festally adorned for sacrifice; matrons and maidens bearing in baskets the various sacrificial implements (see Canephori); old men in festal attire, with olive-branches in their hands, whence came their name, θαλλοφόροι; warriors, with spear and shield, in splendid array; young men in armour; the cavalry under the command of both the ἵππαρχοι; the victors in the immediately preceding contests; the festal embassies of other States, especially of the colonies; and, lastly, the aliens resident in Athens. Of these last the men bore behind the citizens trays with sacrificial cakes, the women water-pots, and the maidens sunshades and stools for the citizens' wives; while on the freedmen was laid the duty of adorning with oak-leaves the market-places and streets through which the procession moved. The feast ended with the great festal sacrifice of a hecatomb of oxen, and with the general banqueting which accompanied it. At the yearly minor Panathenaea, on the 28th and 29th of Hecatombaeon, contests, sacrifices, and a procession took place, but all in a more simple style, under the direction of the ἱεροποιοί. (See Hieropoei.) In later times the festival was removed to the spring, perhaps in consequence of Roman influence, in order to make it correspond to the Quinquatrus (q.v.) of Minerva. All the ancient authorities are collected by Michaelis in his work, Der Parthenon, pp. 318-333 (1875); see also Mommsen, Heortologie der Athener, pp. 116-205 (1875); and H. A. Müller, Panathenaica (1837); with the articles Lampadedromia; Pyrrhica; Skiadaphoria.

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