) is the name of
festivals [p. 1.943]
celebrated in honour of Hera in all the
towns of Greece where the worship of this divinity was introduced. The
original seat of her worship, from which it spread over the other parts of
Greece, was Argos ; whence her festivals in other places were, more or less,
imitations of those which were celebrated at Argos. (Müller,
2.10.1.) The Argives had three temples
of Hera: one lay between Argos and Mycenae, 45 stadia from Argos; the second
lay on the road to the Acropolis, and near it was the stadium in which the
games and contests at the Heraea were held (Paus.
); the third was in the city itself (Paus. 2.22.1
). Her service was performed by the most
distinguished priestesses of the place; one of them was the high-priestess,
and the Argives counted their years by the date of her office. (Thuc. 2.2
.) The Heraea of Argos were celebrated
every fifth year, and, according to the calculation of Boeckh
(Abhandl. der Berl. Akad. von
1818-19, p. 92 ff.), in the
middle of the second year of every Olympiad. One of the great solemnities
which took place on the occasion, was a magnificent procession to the great
temple of Hera, between Argos and Mycenae. A vast number of young men--for
the festival is called a panegyris--assembled at Argos, and marched in
armour to the temple of the goddess. They were preceded by one hundred oxen
whence the festival is also
). The high-priestess
accompanied this procession, riding in a chariot drawn by two white oxen, as
we see from the story of Cleobis and Biton related by Herodotus (1.31
) and Cicero (Tuscul.
The hundred oxen were sacrificed, and their flesh distributed among all the
citizens. (Schol. ad
Pind. O. 7.152
, and ad
10.39.) The sacrifice itself was called λεχέρνα
) or “the bed of twigs.” (Comp. Welcker on
Schwenck's Etymologische Andeutungen,
p. 268.) The games and
contests of the Heraea took place in the stadium, near the temple on the
road to the Acropolis. A brazen shield was fixed in a place above the
theatre, which was scarcely accessible to any one, and the young man who
succeeded in pulling it down received the shield and a garland of myrtle as
a prize. Hence Pindar (Pind. N. 10.41
the contest ἀγὼν χάλκεος.
It seems that
this contest took place before the procession went out to the Heraeon, for
Strabo (viii. p.556
) states that the
victor went with his prizes in solemn procession to that temple. This
contest was said to have been instituted, according to some traditions, by
Acrisius and Proetus (Aelian, Ael. VH 3.24
according to others by Archinus. (Schol. ad
Pind. O. 7.152
; Hermann, Gottesd.
§ 52, n. 1).
The Heraea or Hecatombaea of Aegina were celebrated in the same manner as
those of Argos (see Schol. ad Pind. Isthm.
p. 149; Hermann, Gottesd.
§ 52, n. 19).
The Heraea of Samos, which island also derived the worship of Hera from Argos
), were perhaps the most
brilliant of all the festivals of this divinity. A magnificent procession,
consisting of maidens and married women in splendid attire, and with
floating hair (Asius, ap. Athen. 12.
), together with men and youths in armour (Polyaen.
1.23, 6.45), went to the temple of Hera. After
they arrived within the sacred precincts, the men deposited their armour;
and prayers and vows were offered up to the goddess. Her altar consisted of
the ashes of the victims which had been burnt to her. (Paus. 5.13.5
The Heraea of Elis were celebrated every fifth year, or in the fourth year of
every Olympiad. (Corsini, Dissert.
3.30.) The festival was
chiefly celebrated by maidens, and conducted by sixteen matrons who wove the
sacred peplus for the goddess. But before the solemnities commenced, these
matrons sacrificed a pig, and purified themselves in the well Piera. (Paus. 5.16.5
.) One of the principal solemnities
was a race of the maidens in the stadium, for which purpose they were
divided into three classes, according to their age. The youngest ran first
and the oldest last. Their only dress on this occasion was a χιτών,
which came down to the knee, and their
hair was floating. She who won the prize received a garland of oliveboughs,
together with a part of a cow which was sacrificed to Hera, and might
dedicate her own painted likeness in the temple of the goddess. The sixteen
matrons were attended by as many female attendants, and performed two
dances; the one called the dance of Physcoa, the other the dance of
Hippodameia. Respecting further particulars, and the history of this
solemnity, see Paus. 5.16.2
Hermann, Gottesd. Alterth.
§ 51, n. 3.
Heraea were celebrated in various other places; e. g. in Cos (Athen. 14.639
, vi. p. 262), at
Corinth (Eur. Med. 1379
19.14), at Athens (Plut. Quaest.
7.168), at Cnosus in Crete (Diod.
), at Pellene in Achaia (Schol. ad
Pind. O. 7.156
10.82; Aristoph. Birds
; Krause, Gymn.
i. pt. 2, p. 715; Hermann,
§ 51, n. 28.)