Festivals and Their Celebrants

Robert Parker

in Polytheism and Society at Athens

Published in print March 2007 | ISBN: 9780199216116
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191705847 | DOI:
Festivals and Their Celebrants

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This chapter examines the question of who performs festivals in ancient Athens, where, and the social behaviour of celebrants. An event is a festival if large numbers of the group celebrating it (citizens, for a festival of the city; demesmen, for a deme, and so on) are involved. It would contrast with the many sacrifices on behalf of the Athenian people conducted by a small group in private. That hypothesis deals easily with festivals widely celebrated in individual households, such as the Kronia, with women's festivals, and also with those that offered such obvious draws as mass sacrifices or competitions. Other festival celebrants might include craftsmen such as bronze-workers, metics, and non-citizens. At one or two festivals, however, the only public element was apparently a procession. Whether they participated directly or not, Athenians seem to have thought of the festival as a part of their collective life.

Keywords: festivals; processions; ancient Athens; metics; women; religion; non-citizens; social behaviour

Chapter.  13184 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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