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The Great Panathenaia
Transcript of The Great Panathenaia
The simpler religious celebration, now referred to as the Lesser Panathenaia, was transformed in the year 566/5 BC by Peisistratos, who was responsible for starting the tradition of hosting various athletic competitions as part of the festivities. The Panathenaic Games evolved into a weeklong religious and civic festival held every four years in the fashion of the popular games at Olympia and Pythia. The celebrations included athletic and musical contests, processions, sacrifices, and remarkable prizes, and it soon became wildly popular throughout Attica. These festivities were known as the Great Panathenaia, to distinguish them from the annual religious festival held in the off years. The Sacred Peplos The creation of the sacred peplos As primarily a religious celebration, great significance and effort was given to the creation of Athena’s sacred peplos. Its production, steeped in ritual and tradition, appropriately began during the festival of the Chalkeia, or craftsmen, a whole nine months before the Panathenaia. To officially begin the weaving of the peplos, the task of setting up the loom was given to the priestesses and the Arrephoroi. The Arrephoroi were little girls, between the ages of seven and eleven years old, who were dedicated to the cult of Athena and were responsible for performing various ceremonial duties. The peplos was actually woven and decorated by the Ergastinai, a team of young girls who were chosen for this important task from the aristocratic families in Athens. What did the peplos look like? A peplos was a long, draped garment that was the typical attire of Greek women in antiquity. The peplos was woven from wool, the traditional fabric of Greek clothing, and was gathered at the waist, pinned at the shoulders, and open on one side of the body. While the peplos typical of Athenian women was plain, the sacred peplos of Athena was fantastically decorated and woven with bright colors for an overall striking effect. The subject most often depicted on the peplos was Athena’s triumph over the giant Enceladus in the Gigantomachy, the great battle between the gods and the giants for control of the cosmos. In the beginning of the history of the Panathenaia, the garment was normal-sized, but by the end of the fifth century BC, Athena’s peplos was so large that it was brought to the Acropolis as a sail on the model of a ship. What was the Panathenaia? 8th Century BC Presumed beginning of the religious festival 566/5 BC The beginnings of the Great Panathenaia Although the religious festival dates back to the 8th century BC, the founding of the Great Panathenaia is recognized as 566/5 BC, during Hippocleides’ reign as chief magistrate. At this time, there were several political rivalries between the ten tribes of Athens, and it is not unreasonable to infer that the Games, modeled after the Olympic Games, were created as a means to relieve the tensions and bring the tribes of Attica together. Friendly athletic competitions, feasting, and religious celebration were surely seen as a means to appease the people and achieve some sort of peace. The ten tribes of Athens Official founding of the Panathenaic Games Late 6th Century BC Rhapsodes' Homer recitations introduced Historic Timeline of the Great Panathenaia 435 BC Construction of Pericles' Odeon of Athens Pericles' contributions to music Pericles, the famous Athenian statesmen, was selected in 442 BC as an athlothetes, a official supervisor of the contests. He was very interested in making the musical competitions a more prominent part of the festival, and is credited with building the Odeon of Athens, a concert hall, next to the Theater of Dionysus on the southern slope of the Acropolis in 435 BC. An artist's rendering of Pericles' Odeon of Athens, situated by the Theater of Dionysus Who participated in the Great Panathenaia? The Great Panathenaia was remarkable for a multitude of reasons, one of them being that the prestige and allure of the Games attracted a wide variety of participants and spectators from the far reaches of the Mediterranean. Inscriptions that list the winners of the various events reveal that royalty from Pergamon and Egypt competed in the equestrian events. Ambassadors for the Games, called spondophoroi, traveled to all of the Greek states on the mainland as well as on the Italian peninsula, sometimes traveling as far as North Africa and the Persian Gulf in order to announce the upcoming Panathenaic Games. Athenians of all ages and social classes, both male and female were invited to participate and spectate too. The Panathenaia was truly an ‘All-Athenian’ affair. ATHENS A possible schedule of the musical and athletic events during the week of the Great Panathenaia have been reconstructed thanks to inscriptions that have been found carved into stone tablets, or stelai. It appears that the first few days of the program were dedicated to the musical events, while the latter half of the week was when the athletic events leading up to the procession and religious ceremony took place. The events proceeded from place to place within the city, eventually ending at the Acropolis. Days 1-8 Recitations of Homer's 'Iliad' and 'Odyssey' The festival was further embellished in the late 6th century BC when Hipparchos, the son of Athenian tyrant Peisistratos, began the tradition of the recitation of ‘The Iliad’ and ‘The Odyssey’ by rhapsodes, professional performers of epic poetry. The celebration of Homer’s epic masterpieces cemented their status as a national treasure and ensured that they would be preserved until modern times. The location of these recitations is unknown, but one theory is that they took place on the Pnyx, the hill in central Athens where the Athenians gathered for popular assemblies. Rhapsodes depicted in Greek art are oftentimes shown carrying a staff and wearing the trademark cloak. Days 1-3 Musical and Dramatic Competitions In the Odeon of Athens: Artistic rendering of the interior of the Odeon -the kitharodes (singing and playing the kithara)
-aulodes (singing to a double-pipe accompaniment)
-solo kithara playing
-solo double-pipe playing Depiction of a man playing the kithara in musical competition on a Panathenaic amphora The caliber of the musical competitions was outstanding. The prestige of the festival, as well as the value of the prizes, attracted the most acclaimed musical performers throughout the Mediterranean. The competitions were usually divided into two categories: a competition for the boys, and one for the men. Days 4-7 Athletic Competitions The athletic competitions of the Panathenaic Games, usually held in the stadium, were divided into three age groups. The first age group to compete were the boys, followed by the ageneioi ('unbearded youths'), and then the men. List of Events Boys Ageneioi Men -long race
-200 m race
-400 m race
-pankration (combination of wresting and boxing) -200 m race
-pankration -long race
-200 m race
-400 m race
-800 m race (hippios)
-400 m race in armor (the hoplites) The Panathenaic Stadium The Panathenaic Procession The ritual sacrifice and presentation of the peplos was the most important event of the entire Panathenaic festival. The peplos was presented with a procession that began at the Dipylon Gate at the edge of the city, near the Kerameikos cemetery. The procession continued down the Panathenaic Way through the agora, where stands were set up for spectators. The procession ended at the Acropolis. Prizes at the Panathenaia The popularity and prestige of the Great Panathenaia can largely be attributed to the incredible prizes handed out to the victors of each of the events. While other Panhellenic Games distributed crown wreaths made from various leaves to the winners, the prizes at the Panathenaia had not only high monetary value, but astonishing religious significance. The most iconic prize was olive oil from the sacred olive trees of Athens, rumored to have descended from the original olive tree given to the city by Athena in her competition with Poseidon for the role of patron deity. The amphorae in which the prized olive oil was stored were decorated with a representation of a warrior Athena with the inscription 'from the games at Athens' on the front, and a depiction of the particular contest on the back. It has been suggested that approximately 1,400 amphorae were commissioned for each Great Panathenaia, and much of our archaeological evidence for the events of the Panathenaia can be attributed to amphorae that have been discovered by archaeologists in modern times. The value and significance of the Panathenaic amphora helped to make it the emblem of the festival. Panathenaic Amphorae The Panathenaic amphorae were the prizes for most of the competitions. The victor would receive the most, followed by the runner up, and then the third place competitor would receive a smaller number of amphorae. Other prizes were crowns made of gold, and monetary prizes of varying amounts of drachmas. The stadium in Athens was built around 566 BC for the purpose of hosting the many athletic and equestrian events of the Great Panathenaia. In 329 BC, Lycurgus, the archon of Athens, rebuilt the stadium, transforming the seats from wood into marble. Later, in 140 AD, Herodes Atticus increased the seating capacity of the stadium to 50,000 people. Towards the end of the 19th century, private funds were used to reconstruct the ruins of the ancient structure for the revival of the Olympic Games of 1870 and 1875. The stadium is still in use today. 5th Century, AD Pagan ceremonies decreed illegal, and the celebrations of the Great Panathenaia festival were outlawed. Equestrian Events Training for the competition Days 6-7 Day 8 Although the athletic events were open to anyone who wanted to compete, the contests were usually dominated by the top professional athletes who used the Panathenaic games as a way to make a living and garner more attention for themselves. In order to win, many athletes sought out esteemed coaches and embarked on a rigorous training schedule and diet. A kylix, or drinking cup, depicting a trainer coaching his athlete.
The trainers are usually depicted with a staff, and wearing a cloak. Athletes were usually shown training nude. The Pentathlon "Pentathletes are the most beautiful; they are naturally adapted both for exertion of body and swiftness of foot."
-Aristotle Comprised of five events, the footrace, javelin, discus, long jump, and wrestling, the pentathlon required a great deal of skill and athletic ability. In order to be the overall winner of the pentathlon, it is believed that a competitor had to win at least three of the events outright. Unfortunately, there are no records of the rules and methods of scorekeeping for the pentathlon. The Pankration The competition became particularly fierce during the pankration, a violent event that combined wrestling and boxing that only ended when one of the participants gave up (usually by raising an index finger) or was incapacitated. While biting and gouging were prohibited from the fight, it was not unusual for combatants to suffer broken fingers, choking, and blows to the genitals. Because there were no weight classes and most of the blows were aimed at an opponent's head, the pankration was a dangerous event in which only the strongest, bravest, and physically fit men dared to participate. Torch Race The final day of the Panathenaia was the religious procession and the formal presentation of the peplos on the Acropolis. The night before the procession, a torch race was incorporated into the festivities to bring fire from the altar of Prometheus from outside the city to the altar of Athena on the Acropolis. Who participated in the procession? The Importance of the Sacrifice Another demonstration of athletic prowess in the Games were the equestrian competitions. The prizes for these events were the most prestigious of all, most likely due to the expense associated with owning and preparing horses for competition. This inevitably led to participation limited to the wealthy upper The equestrian events either took place in the agora, or in the Panathenaic stadium. They were divided into two parts, events that were open to all, and events that were restricted to just Athenians. Interestingly, the events open to the Athenians were often related in some way to military exercises, such as throwing a javelin at a target from horseback. The open events included thoroughbred racing, a two-horse sulky race, and a four-horse chariot race called the tethrippon. The Anthippasia The increase in military strength and capabilities had an impact on the Great Panathenaia, as evidenced by the inclusion of an event called the anthippasia. Two squadrons of five regiments each, representing the ten tribes of Athens, faced each other in a mock cavalry battle. This is just one of the many unique tribal events of the Panathenaic Games. Tribal Competitions Compared to other Panhellenic festivals, the Great Panathenaia was unique because the athletic events included contests restricted to the members of the ten tribes of Athens, which were created in Cleisthenes' democratic reforms in 508 BC. Events called upon the boys, ‘unbearded youths,’ and the men to perform a cavalry display, and to perform the pyrrhike, a dance that, according to legend, Athena performed after her victory over the giants with a shield and spear. A unique contest was that of ‘Manly Excellence,’ or the evandria. There is not much information regarding the actual events of the evandria, although it seems to be an ancient form of a beauty, size, and strength competition. What was the purpose of tribal competition? Athens had a lot to gain by encouraging friendly competition between the tribes. The sense of competition led to tribal pride, which created an identity for the members of the tribes to rally behind. As a result, solidarity between the members was increased, which was beneficial for the young men as they joined the tribal militaries. By strengthening its individual units, Athens as a whole grew stronger and more powerful. From each of Athens' ten tribes, four runners had to bring the lit torch across the 2,500m distance without extinguishing the flame. The Athenians believed that the sacrifice required fresh fire for the burning of the sacrificial animals. This event tied the notion of competition to the religious ritual. Much of what is known about the religious procession of the Panathenaia is from a large section of the Parthenon's frieze. It is evident that a great effort was made for men and women, and people of all ages and social classes to be included. To honor them for their work on the peplos design, the Ergastinai headed the procession. They were followed by the Kanephoroi, young girls chosen from noble families who carried baskets on their head with offerings and sacrificial instruments. Equally notable are the Thallophoroi, notably handsome old men who carried boughs, most likely from Athena's olive trees. Even non-Athenians and freed slaves were allowed to participate. The procession also included soldiers on horseback, followed by other military units and equestrians, and lastly the participants in the Games. To many Athenians, the sacrificial offering was the most important part of the entire festival. After the presentation of the sacred peplos, the hundred oxen who had been herded through the city were sacrificed. Since the Mediterranean diet did not contain very much meat, the sacrifice was an opportunity for everyone to partake in a feast together at the city's expense. The feast led to an increase in popularity for the Festival, which perpetuated its grandness and splendor in the following years. One hundred oxen were in the procession, and they were led up to the sacrificial altar in front of the Parthenon where the sacrifice would take place. How did Athens pay for such a lavish festival? The Athenian empire expected not only all Athenians to participate in the festival, but also any Greeks who were under an obligation to the city. Athenian colonies and overseas citizens had to send a cow and a suit of armor each year as their contribution. Athens also set aside public land as an endowment for the Panathenaia. The income that came from the lease was used to buy the sacrificial cattle. Why is it important to study the Great Panathenaia? class, since they were the only ones who could afford to compete. Despite the fact that it was the competitor who faced the challenges and the dangers of the events, oftentimes the prizes were awarded to the owners of the horses. Sometimes, the owners of the horses were foreign leaders, and even occasionally women. Glossary of Terms ACROPOLIS-an ancient citadel located at the highest point of Athens that contained several buildings of historical and cultural significance from antiquity, namely the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, the Propylaia, and the Temple of Athena Nike. AGENEIOI-Greek word for ‘beardless,’ referring to an intermediate age group of males between young boys and menAMPHORA-a large ceramic vessel used as a storage jar with the distinctive form of a narrow neck, pointed bottom, and two handles. In the Great Panathenaia, amphoras filled with sacred olive oil were given as prizes to the champions of various contests.
ANTHIPPASIA-a simulated cavalry battle between two opposing teams
ARCHON-the chief magistrate in a Greek polis
ARREPHOROI-a young girl, usually between the ages of seven and eleven, chosen to perform ceremonial duties in the cult of Athena Polias on the Athenian Acropolis
ATHENA-the Greek goddess of wisdom, courage, justice, warfare, and the crafts. She was the patron deity of the city of Athens, named in her honor, and the Panathenaia was held annually to pay homage to her. ATHLOTHETES-officers who are selected to supervise the contests of the Panathenaic Games. When Pericles was selected to be an athlothete in 442 B.C., he enhanced the musical offerings of the festival and built the famous Odeon of Pericles (also known as the Odeon of Athens), a concert hall for performances.
ATTICA-the historical region of Greece that extends throughout the Attic Peninsula. After Peisistratos’ tyranny and Cleisthenes’ democratic reforms, the separate local communities lost their independence and succumbed to a central government in Athens.
AULODES-a musical event in the Great Panathenaia where the competitors sing along to a double-pipe/flute accompaniment.
CHALKEIA-an Attic festival celebrating the craftsman, usually held in the month of Pyanepsion. The weaving of Athena’s sacred peplos traditionally began during this festival.
CLEISTHENES-an Athenian nobleman and politician credited with reforming the constitution of ancient Athens in 508/7 B.C., known as “the father of Athenian democracy”
DIPYLON GATE-the main entrance into the city of Athens, it marked the transition from countryside to city. The Panathenaic procession began here and continued through the city to the Acropolis.
DRACHMA-a unit of currency in Ancient Greece ENCELADUS-One of the Giants in Greek mythology, born of Gaia (Earth) and Uranus (Sky). During the great battle between the Giants and the Olympian Gods, the goddess Athena defeated him with a spear. This battle was often the subject portrayed on Athena’s sacred ritual peplos.
ERGASTINAI-young girls chosen from Athenian aristocratic families to weave the sacred peplos of Athena. To honor them for their work, they headed the Panathenaic Procession.
EVANDRIA-a unique contest of ‘Manly Excellence’ between the various tribes during the Panathenaic Games. There is not much information remaining today on the contest, but it is thought to have been an ancient strength, size, and beauty competition.
FRIEZE-an ornamental band of architectural decoration that adorns the upper part of a wall
GIGANTOMACHY-the mythological struggle between the Olympians and the Giants for control over the cosmos. The Olympians defeated the Giants.
GREAT PANATHENAIA-an Athenian festival in honor of the goddess Athena that occurred every four years, very popular throughout the entire Mediterranean due to its competitive athletic/musical competitions and valuable prizes. HEKATOMBAION-the first month of the Athenian year, corresponds with the Gregorian calendar months of July/August. The Panathenaia was held on 28 Hekatombaion.
HERODES ATTICUS-a distinguished, wealthy Athenian aristocrat who served as a Roman senator. Despite a turbulent relationship with the citizens of Athens, he commissioned the Panathenaic stadium, and his funeral was held there after his death in 177.
HIPPIOS-the 800M footrace in the Great Panathenaia. The only age group to compete in this event was the men’s.
HIPPOCLEIDES-archon of Athens in the year 566/5 BC. He reorganized of the Panathenaia, which was formally recognized in the same year.
HOPLITES-citizen soldiers of the ancient Greek poleis. They competed in a 400M footrace in full armor during the Panathenaic Games.
KANEPHOROI-young girls chosen from noble families who participated in the Panathenaic procession by carrying baskets filled with sacrificial materials to the Acropolis
KERAMEIKOS-the area of Athens located to the northwest of the Acropolis located both inside and outside the city walls. It was also the location of the Dipylon Gate and the beginning of the Panatheniac procession. KITHARA-an ancient Greek musical instrument similar to a lyre, the instrument was most often used by professional musicians called kitharodes.
KYLIX-a type of wine-drinking cup in Ancient Greece distinguished by a broad, shallow body, two handles, and a small base.
LYCURGUS-the archon of Athens in 329 BC who is notable for renovating the Panathenaic stadium and transforming the seats from wood into marble.
ODEON OF ATHENS-also known as the Odeon of Pericles, this structure was commissioned by Pericles in 435 BC as a musical performance hall for music competitions in the Great Panathenaia.
PANATHENAIA-an annual religious ceremony honoring Athens’ patron goddess, Athena, and the occasion of the presentation of a new sacred peplos.
PANKRATION-a brutal, dangerous athletic event that combined wrestling and boxing. There were very few rules in this event, so injuries were very common.
PARTHENON-the most famous building on Athens’ Acropolis, it is a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, the patron deity of the city. PEISISTRATOS-popular tyrant of Athens who ruled inconsistently from 561-527 BC and is credited with transforming the Panathenaia into the Panathenaic Games by instituting a program of athletic competitions.
PENTATHLON-an athletic contest of five different events: the long jump, javelin throw, discus throw, a footrace, and wrestling. Competitors were renowned as the best athletes. It is believed that to be the champion of the pentathlon, it was necessary to win at least three events outright.
PEPLOS-a long, draped garment worn by the typical Athenian woman, usually made out of wool. The sacred ritual peplos of Athena was created anew each year with great attention to detail and tradition, and its delivery to the Acropolis was the central component of the Panathenaia festival.
PERICLES-one of the most prominent and influential Athenian statesmen, orator, and general during the Golden Age of Athens. He served as an athlothete of the Panathenaia in 442 BC, and is credited in expanding the musical portion of the festival by commissioning the Odeon of Athens to be built alongside the Theater of Dionysus near the Acropolis. PNYX-the hill in central Athens where the Athenians gathered for popular assemblies, also thought to have been the place where the rhapsodes recited Homer during the Panathenaia
PYRRHIKE-according to legend, Athena performed this dance after her victory over Enceladus in the Gigantomachy with a shield and spear. This was performed during the Panathenaia as a competition between the ten different tribes of Athens.
PYTHIA-the site of the Oracle of Delphi at the Temple of Apollo, and the Pythian Games, a Panhellenic festival held in the honor of Apollo with various competitions similar to the Panathenaia
RHAPSODES-a classical Greek professional performer of epic poetry, most notably the epics of Homer (Iliad and Odyssey)
SPONDOPHOROI-ambassadors for the Panathenaic Games who traveled all throughout the Mediterranean to announce the upcoming Games and encourage people to attend.
STELAI-stone tablets bearing an inscription or design
SULKY-a lightweight cart with two wheels and a seat for the driver, used in harness races in the Panathenaia with two horses
TETHRIPPON-a four-horse chariot race of the Great Panathenaia, whose participation was open to the public THALLOPHOROI-handsome old men who carried boughs most likely from Athena’s sacred olive trees who walked in the Panathenaic processionTHEATER OF DIONYSUS-a major open-air theater on the southern slope of the Acropolis connected to the Odeon of Pericles Religion was the cornerstone of life in the world of the Ancient Greeks. Religion, and the divine gods and goddesses, were at the heart of every major decision regarding politics, civic life, economics, and the personal lives of every citizen. For Athens, the most powerful and culturally invigorating place in antiquity, insight into their religious practices in turn gives us insight into all aspects of their society, not to mention the large sphere of influence they maintained throughout the Mediterranean. The primary religious practices in Athens were in honor of Athena, their patron goddess who was responsible for their well-being and success, and the most important display of piety to the goddess was accomplished in the Panathenaia, the ‘All-Athenian’ festival that allowed every Athenian a chance to participate in a glorious weeklong celebration of Athena’s power. While the Lesser Panathenaia, the more simple religious festival that occurred in the off years of the Great Panathenaia, accomplished the goal to honor Athena and present her with her sacred ritual peplos and sacrifice, the Great Panathenaia, with its inclusion of athletic and musical competitions with participants from all walks of life from all around the Mediterranean, really had a massive impact on all society. The widespread inclusiveness of the festival can be interpreted in a number of ways. Perhaps the Athenians used so much of their time and resources in the development of the Great Panathenaia because they wanted to send a particular message to the rest of the Ancient World: that Athens reigned supreme in wealth, power, and piety. By inviting foreigners to come and partake in the festivities, the Athenians were forming and reinforcing political ties while simultaneously impressing upon them that Athens had the resources to throw a lavish and elaborate festival. Subtly, they were sending a message of Athenian dominance in the military as well. The parades of warriors as well as the military themed athletic events attempted to showcase the might and capabilities of Athens. The procession and various competitions, in the most general sense, served as tribute to the glory and power of the Athenian state. In a time when women and those of lower social classes were excluded from many spheres of public life, the Panathenaic Games gives us a rare glimpse of the entire community working, living, and celebrating together as a whole. The festival focused on the entire Athenian community, and less on the individual conscience. The Great Panathenaia was Athens’ way of expressing itself and asserting their position within the fabric of the Mediterranean world. The festival commemorated Athenian accomplishments, which boosted pride within the polis, but also served as a reminder to neighboring lands of Athenian strength, power, and wealth. The Great Panathenaia is incredibly important to study because it combined all of the aspects of society that the Athenians of antiquity held most dear, and allowed every member of society a role to participate and contribute. It was a rare moment in history, and today serves as a brief glimpse into the inner workings of a vibrant culture and society.