Chapter

What is a Graeco-Roman Festival?

Jon W. Iddeng

in Greek and Roman Festivals

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199696093
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745744 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199696093.003.0002
What is a Graeco-Roman Festival?

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This chapter sets out to make a polythetic definition of a festival in ancient times. It argues that a Greco-Roman festival can be defined as a socio-religious phenomenon, containing certain physical elements, such as a cyclic public celebration, held at a specific place, open to a defined group of community members (whether narrowly or widely delimited), with a ritual programme of sacred and secular character that customarily comprised sacrifice, prayer, banquet, display/treatment of cultobjects, procession and other pageants, shows or games. The purpose of a festival was to maintain and/or renew the desired relationship with divine powers, and to construct and bolster the community it was based in, its common identity, institutions, social order and relations to others, whether it was of local origin, imported, or appended.

Keywords: cyclic celebration; defined community group; divine powers; identity; institutions; location/place; polythetic definition; ritual programme; sacred; secular; social order

Chapter.  10510 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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