Articles from the
Oxford Classical Dictionary
festivals | agones | ritual | rites of passage | sacrifice | specific festivals: Anthesteria | Apaturia | Bouphonia | Brauron | Dionysia | Oschophoria | Panathenaea | Panionium | Thargelia | Thesmophoria | cults & myths: Aetolian | Arcadian | Attic | Corinthian | Cretan | Messenian | Rhodian
Festivals were the heartbeat of Greek and Roman society and fulfilled significant roles in its social and political organization and within its institutions. Setting the rhythm of the year, festivals were a common denominator for a wide-ranging series of phenomena that concerned a large area of social relationships: social and political processes were formed, maintained, altered, and sanctioned through religious celebrations, as well as uniting the populace in common acts centred on common symbols. The study of religious festivals and the fundamental social functions which they filled can significantly expand our insights into understanding the Greco-Roman world, the social processes it went through, and the symbols it used. Greek and Roman Festivals addresses the multi-faceted and complex nature of Greco-Roman festivals and analyses the connections that existed between them, as religious and social phenomena, and the historical dynamics that shaped them. The volume contains twelve articles which form an interdisciplinary perspective of classical scholarship, ranging from archaeology, history, and history of religions, to philology.
Moving out from a particular problem about a particular Athenian festival, the late Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood investigates central questions concerning Athenian festivals and the myths that underlay them. She studies the role played at festivals by hereditary religious associations, showing how simple actions of undressing, veiling, bathing, and re-dressing a statue created a symbolic drama of abnormality, reversion to primeval time, and renewal for the Athenians. Sourvinou-Inwood also offers a reading of the ever controversial Parthenon frieze. Her book, brought to completion by Robert Parker, displays all the attention to detail and the concern for methodological rigour that have made her an iconic figure among students of Greek religion.