The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.



days, and the first fell on the llth (Suidas, s. v. Xoes), and the third on the 13th (Philoch. ap. Suidam, s. v. Xvrpoi). The second archon super­intended the celebration of the Anthesteria, and distributed the prizes among the victors in the various games which were carried on during the season. (Aristoph. Acliarn. 1143, with the Schol.) The first day was called iriOoiyia : the second, Xoes : and the third, x^rP01' (Harpocrat. and Suidas, 5. v. ; Schol. ad Aristoph. Ran. 219 ; A then. x. p. 437, vii. p. 276, and iv. 129.) The first day derived its name from the opening of the casks to taste the wine of the preceding year ; the second from %ovs^ the cup, and seems to have been the day devoted to drinking. The ascolia seem to have been played on this day. [ascolia.] We read in Suidas (s. v. 'Acr/cos) of another similar amusement peculiar to this day. The drinker placed himself upon a bag filled with air, trumpets were sounded, and he who emptied his cup quickest, or drank most, received as his prize a leather bag filled with wine, and a garland, or, ac­cording to Aelian (F. H. ii. 41), a golden crown. (Aristoph. Acliarn. 943, with the Schol.) The /cellos e<J>' a,ucr£wi/ also took place on this day, and the jests and abuse which persons poured forth on this occasion were doubtless an imitation of the amusements customary at the rural Dionysia. Athenaeus (x. p. 437) says that it was customary on the day of the Choe's to send to the sophists their salaries and presents, that they too might enjoy themselves with their friends. The third day had its name from -xyrpos, a pot, as on this day persons offered pots with flowers, seeds, or cooked vegetables, as a sacrifice to Dionysus and Hermes Chthonius. (Schol. ad Aristoph. Acliarn. 1009 ; Suidas, s. v. Xvrpoi.) With this sacrifice were connected the aywi/es xiirpivoi mentioned by the Scholiast on Aristophanes (Ran. 220), in which the second archon distributed the prizes. Slaves were permitted to take part in the general rejoicings of the Anthesteria ; but at the close of the day, they were sent home with the words &ypa£e, Rapes, ovic ers ''AvOeffT'fjpia. (Hesych. s. v. Qvpd£e ; Proclus, ad Hesiod. Op. et Dies.)

It is uncertain whether dramas were performed at the Anthesteria ; but Bockh supposes that co­medies were represented, and that tragedies which were to be brought out at the great Dionysia were perhaps rehearsed at the Anthesteria. The mysteries connected with the celebration of the Anthesteria were held at night, in the ancient temple ef Ai/Avais, which was opened only once a year, on the 12th of Anthesterion. They were likewise under the superintendence of the second archon and a certain number of e/njueA^rat. He appointed fourteen priestesses, called yepaipai or •yepapai, the venerable, who conducted the cere­monies with the assistance of one other priestess. (Pollux, viii. 9.) The wife of the second archon (/3«(riAi(nra) offered a mysterious sacrifice for the welfare of the city ; she was betrothed to the god in a secret solemnity, and also tendered the oath to the geraerae, which, according to Demosthenes (c. Ncatr. p. 1371. 22), ran thus: — "I am pure and unspotted by any thing that pollutes, and have never had intercourse with man. I will solemnize the Theognia and lobakcheia at their proper time, according to the laws of my ancestors." The ad­mission to the mysteries, from which men were excluded, took plac? after especial preparations,


which seem to have consisted in purifications 1by air, water, or fire. (Serv. ad Aen. vi. 740 ; Pans, ix. 20. § 4 ; Liv. xxxix. 13.) The initiated per­sons wore skins of fawns, and sometimes those of panthers. Instead of ivy, which was worn in the public part of the Dionysia, the mystae wore myrtle. (Schol. ad Aristoph. Ran. 330.) The sacrifice offered to the god in these mysteries con­sisted of a sow, the usual sacrifice of Demeter, and in some places of a cow with calf. It is more than probable that the history of Dionysus was symbolically represented in these mysteries, as the history of Demeter was acted in those of Eleusis, which were in some respects connected with the former. (Schol. ad Aristoph. Ran. 343.)

The fourth Attic festival of Dionysus, kiovutfia ef &oTet, a.ffTiKa or fj.eyd\a, was celebrated about the 12th of the month of Elaphebolion (Aesch. c. Ctesiph. p. 63) ; but we do not know whether they lasted more than one day or not. The order in which the solemnities took place was, according to the document in Demosthenes, as follows: — The great public procession, the chorus of boys, the k&jj.os [chorus], comedy, and.,lastly, tragedy. We possess in Athenaeus (v. p. 197, 199) the de­scription of a great Bacchic procession, held at Alexandria in the reign of Ptolemaeus Philadel-phus, from which we may form some idea of the great Attic procession. It seems to have been customary to represent the god by a man in this procession. Plutarch (Nic. 3), at least, relates that on one occasion a beautiful slave of Nicias represented Dionysus (compare A then. v. p. 200). A ridiculous imitation of a Bacchic procession is describsd in Aristophanes (Ecdes. 759, &c.). Of the dramas which were performed at the great Dionysia, the tragedies at least were generally new pieces ; repetitions do not, however, seem to have been excluded from any Dionysiac festival. The first archon had the superintendence, and gave the chorus to the dramatic poet who wished to bring out his piece at this festival. The prize awarded to the dramatist for the best play con­sisted of a crown, and his name was proclaimed in the theatre of Dionysus. (Demosth. De Coron. p. 267.) Strangers were prohibited from taking part in the choruses of boys. During this and some other of the great Attic festivals, prisoners were set free, and nobody was allowed to seize the goods of a debtor; but a war was not inter­rupted by its celebration. (Demosth. c. Boeot. de Nom. p. 999.) As the great Dionysia were celebrated at the beginning of spring, when the navigation was re-opened, Athens was not only visited by numbers of country people, but also by strangers from other parts of Greece, and the various amusements and exhibitions on this oc­casion were not unlike those of a modern fair. (Isocr. Areop. p. 203, ed. Bekker ; Xen. Hiero, i. 11 ; compare Becker, ChariMes, ii. p. 237, &c.) Respecting the scrupulous regularity, and the enormous sums spent by the Athenians on the celebration of these and other festivals, see De­mosthenes (Philip, i. p. 50). As many circum­stances connected with the celebration of the Dionysia cannot be made clear without entering into minute details, we must refer the reader to Bockh's essay.

The worship of Dionysus was almost universal among the Greeks in Asia as well as in Europe, and the character of his festivals was the same

About | First | English Index | Classified Index | Latin Index | Greek Index



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of