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Lenaea


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A Dionysiac festival (see dionysus) celebrated in Athens on 12 Gamelion (January–February), which in other Ionian calendars is called Lenaion. The name is derived from lēnē, ‘maenad’. The official Athenian name, ‘Dionysia at the Lenaion’, proves that it took place in this sanctuary, which was probably in the Agora. Officials of the Eleusinian mysteries (see eleusis; mystery cults) joined the basileus (see archontes) in the conduct of the festival. We hear of a procession. The rituals depicted on the so‐called ‘Lenaea vases’ may have occurred at this festival. Dramatic contests at the Lenaea were formally organized only from c.440 bc. In the 5th cent. it seems that the contests in comedy were arranged much as at the City Dionysia, but that the tragic contests at the Lenaea were less prestigious, with only two tragedians competing, each with two tragedies. See tragedy, greek.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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