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Are a very common feature of Greek and Roman religious practice. It is above all in the procession that a group may ritually display its cohesion and power. And the route taken may express the control of space. The group may embody the whole community, as in the splendid festivals of the Greek polis—e.g. the Panathenaic procession evoked in the Parthenon frieze, with its various subgroups of virgins, youths, old men, musicians, chariots, and so on. Smaller groups form processions at funerals, weddings, and the like. Or a great procession may be centred around a single individual, as in the Roman triumph. The procession almost always leads up to some action at its destination, often animal sacrifice in a precinct (with the victims led in the procession); but also mystic initiation (see mystery cults), as in the mass of initiands proceeding on the sacred way from Athens to Eleusis; theatrical performances, as at the Athenian City Dionysia; the offering of a robe to the deity, as at the Panathenaea; games, as in the Roman procession to the Circus Maximus; and so on. Special types of procession include those which escorted a deity (usually Dionysus) into the city, and those conducted by children collecting contributions. Among the objects carried in processions were phalloi (see phallus), baskets, the sacred objects of the mysteries, and branches hung with wool and fruit. Detailed accounts survive of magnificent processions at Alexandria and at Rome (preceding the Ludi Romani).

Subjects: History.

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