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THEOPHA´NIA (θεοφάνια, Hdt. 1.54; Poll. 1.34), a festival celebrated at Delphi. A. Mommsen, with tolerable certainty, identifies the festival on the 7th of the Delphic month Bysios (= approximately February), mentioned (without name) by Plutarch, Qu. Gr. 9, as the birthday of Apollo, and also the sole day in ancient times for consulting the oracle (probably the αἰσία ἡμέρα of Eur. Ion 421). [See ORACULUM p. 282 a.] The word itself signifies the manifestation of the deity = ἐπιφάνεια τοῦ θεοῦ. (Mommsen notes that the calendar of the Greek Church still has τὰ ἅγ. Θεοφάνεια: in the Western Church Theophania was applied to Christmas Day as late as the 4th century.) The deity manifested at Delphi is clearly Apollo, and the time of the year agrees with its being a festival for the opening of spring, symbolised by the return or the new birth of the god of light. Further it is to be noticed that Plutarch (de εἰ ap. Delph. 9) assigns the three winter months in the Delphic year to Dionysus, and the remaining nine to Apollo: hence it appears that the 7th of Bysios marks the beginning of the Apollinean year and the end of the Bacchic.

The ceremonies of the day are nowhere precisely stated, but can be pieced out as follows:--1. A procession with laurel boughs: this was. the custom at the time when oracles were given at Delphi, and belonged at other places besides to the day marked as Apollo's birthday (cf. Schol. ad Hes. Op. 777, Ἀθηναῖοι ταύτην τιμῶσι δαφνηφοροῦντες). Similarly at Rome the return of Mars (for whose connexion with Apollo see Roscher, Apollon u. Mars) was honoured by fresh laurel boughs (Ov. Fast. 3.13). 2. The prayers and offerings belonging to the oracular day, for which see ORACULUM p. 282 b. 3. A feast with (a) offerings of the cake called φθοΐς; the day was, according to Plutarch, called πολύφθοον, which, though he gives another interpretation, is clearly from φθοΐς: (b) libations of wine. Herodotus (1.51) speaks of a huge silver bow l at Delphi, containing 600 amphorae, which ἐπικίρναται ὑπὸ Δελφῶν θεοφανίοισι. Other myths, especially those relating to the flight or exile of Apollo, his purification and return, may possibly find their representation in this [p. 2.825]festival: on these myths we can only refer here to the discussion in A. Mommsen and Roscher. (A. Mommsen, Delphica, pp. 280-297; Roscher, Lexikon, p. 426.)

[L.S] [G.E.M]

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