A History of Greek Festivals

In the Archaic Period four major festivals were established which brought together Greeks from across the known universe to vie in athletic and later on musical competitions. The first was the Olympic Games which has a traditional foundation day of the month of 776 BC. This was followed by three more in speedy sequence in the early 6Thursdaycentury BC. Together these festivals made up the ‘periodos’ [ 1 ] which was extremely important in furthering the dealingss between Greeks from different topographic points and between Greeks and non-Greeks. The competition between those take parting and the city states they were stand foring is an illustration of how those Pan-hellenic dealingss were developing. Other countries are how the direction of each of the festivals and who really attended these ‘Panhellenic’ festivals.

The honor and glorification gained by the masters in each of the four Games was so great that the lone stuff awards straight received from the organizers were Crowns of assorted workss sacred to the Gods that the festivals were dedicated to. [ 2 ] This led to the term ‘periodonikes’ being created which was given to the jocks that had won competitions at all four Games and were considered to be the greatest jocks for this accomplishment. [ 3 ] This could propose that the competition between the jocks would be so ferocious that tensenesss would be created in dealingss between persons in add-on to the city states that they were stand foring. On the other manus it is deserving observing that Olympic masters were non above the jurisprudence in their place province as can be shown in the narrative of Philippos of Croton who was exiled after he became betrothed to a adult female from Sybaris even though he had been winning at the Olympic Games. [ 4 ] The memorials that were built by the city states shows the committedness they had to guaranting the remainder of the Greek universe could retrieve their triumphs for many old ages to come. Not merely were the memorials dedicated to athletic triumphs but the sanctuaries where the four Panhellenic Games were held besides contained memorials honoring military triumphs over other city states. [ 5 ] This suggests the metropoliss were non interested in whether their oppositions were offended and hence strains in the dealingss between them due to the struggles the memorials were mentioning to would go on.

Shortly after the creative activity of the four Panhellenic festivals in the early 6Thursdaycentury BC Athens began reorganizing their Panathenaia festival in order for it to include athletic tourneies in add-on to the musical and ecstatic competitions that had been held at that place. [ 6 ] Consequently the Panathenaic festival became more important within the athletic universe yet it was ne’er regarded every bit extremely as the four Panhellenic festivals that made up the ‘periodos’ which can be seen through the usage of expensive stuff awards [ 7 ] as opposed to the Crown prizes masters took off at the Olympic, Pythian, Isthmian and Nemean Games. This suggests the jocks would hold a focal point of winning the awards alternatively of the honor they received through their triumphs. Consequently, the city states they represented would hold had less of an involvement in whether they won if the glorification of triumph was less than that in ‘periodos’ triumphs and therefore dealingss between different city states would hold been more likely to be unchanged. The lone city state to truly profit from the revitalised Panathenaic festival would hold been Athens as they had the chance to advance their metropolis to visitants from beyond Attica yet it has been suggested that the Panathenaia was ne’er supposed to be Panhellenic and was alternatively supposed to back Athenian national pride which is why dealingss between Greeks remained unchanged. [ 8 ]

The last race to be added to the programme of events at the Olympic Games in approximately 520 BC was the ‘hoplitodromos’ which involved jocks running in full armor. This peculiar race besides featured in the other Panhellenic Games which suggests the importance of such a race. Pausanias suggests the race could hold been designed to advance military preparation as contending wars was common in the Archaic Period and the menace of struggle with Iranian forces was increasing. [ 9 ] This ‘military training’ could hold besides been a manner for the city states to expose their military art and hence derive farther glorification from a military facet in add-on to the athletic facet. However Philostratus suggests as it was the last race of the competition that it symbolised the return to a militant nature after the ‘peaceful’ armistices that were established for the continuance of each of the Panhellenic festivals. [ 10 ]

The armistices referred to above were designed to advance peace amongst the city states of Greece as it prohibited ground forcess to come in the countries around the sanctuaries where the festivals were held and ensured the safe transition of those go toing the festivals. [ 11 ] However as it may hold ensured peaceable dealingss for city states such as Elis it did non forestall wars from taking topographic point outside of these parts. However holding a armistice in topographic point meant people from all over the Grecian universe and beyond could garner in one topographic point and set up peaceable dealingss with others every bit good as keep them. As minister plenipotentiaries were sent out from the city states where the festivals were held in the months taking up to each of the Games to denote the beginning of them this was a method of advancing the Games whilst at the same clip advertising the city-states themselves and networking with the remainder of Greece as representatives from each metropolis would be chosen to have the minister plenipotentiary. [ 12 ]

Harmonizing to Pausanias Pisa originally had control over the metropolis of Olympia and hence would hold governed the Olympic Games. However their “hostility” towards the Eleians caused a war which saw Elis conquer Pisa and claim the site of Olympia as theirs. [ 13 ] This combat over the ‘Panhellenic’ sanctuaries suggests metropoliss would be prepared to pay a war if it resulted in them having the honor that must hold come with bring forthing the most esteemed Games in this period. The existent disposal of the Olympic Games by the city state of Elis was by and large considered to be without prejudice. [ 14 ] The Judgess were Eleian and chosen by Elis and as a consequence it did pull some unfavorable judgment from foreigners such as Herodotus who describes the narrative of when citizens of Elis visit Egypt to inquire them their sentiment on whether the Games were being administered reasonably to which they reply they are non because Eleians themselves could come in the competitions and therefore they would non be judged reasonably against people from different topographic points. [ 15 ] This suggests Herodotus is belittling the unity of those judging the competitions who had even named themselves as ‘Hellanodikai’ which means ‘judges of the Greeks’ . [ 16 ] It is possible that many other Greeks had this position and so it would hold the possible to make tensenesss within dealingss between those pull offing the festival and the foreigners who were take parting in it. However they may be some truth to these positions as Thomas Heine Nielsen states that Elis was the most successful province to vie in the Olympics with the bulk of triumphs in the boy’s competitions and the equestrian events although you would anticipate more entrants from Elis into these tourneies as they were closest to the Olympic sanctuary. [ 17 ]

The history of the locations of the four Panhellenic festivals was important in pulling Greeks from afar as the city states that were bring forthing these Games relied on the fabulous importance of the sites. In add-on to holding sanctuaries dedicated to a major God and world-renowned prophets in topographic points like Delphi these city states managed to utilize outstanding fabulous figures such as Heracles as a method of advancing their festivals. At Olympia Heracles was traditionally the laminitis of the Olympic Games and his undertaking of get the better ofing the Nemean king of beasts was used for the Nemean Games. In Delphi it was thought that there was a battle between him and Apollo over a tripod which surface in the early 6Thursdaycentury BC. [ 18 ] Furthermore, the Isthmian Games were held in honor of Poseidon and as a consequence the Equus caballus races were the most of import portion of the festival at that place. [ 19 ] This mixture of major Gods and heroes from mythology ensured the success of the Panhellenic festivals in add-on to developing the construct of Panhellenism as people from across the Grecian universe would hold identified with these myths which suggests dealingss between them would hold improved. Relationss besides had the possible to be fostered through the construction of the Pythian Games as forfeits and banquets were the lone events on the first two yearss of the five-day festival. This gave rivals and witnesss alike the “opportunity to socialize and advance sentiments of harmoniousness and community.” [ 20 ]

An confederation of city states known as the Amphictyonic League were responsible for puting up the Pythian Games and the readyings for them every four old ages after they had been winning in the First Sacred War. [ 21 ] This is an illustration of Greeks from different topographic points working together and their desire to prolong the dealingss created by their engagement in the war. Producing a festival would hold besides promoted peace and community values which is shown by the Pythian armistice established during each festival. A important historical figure associated with taking the reorganization of the Pythian Games after the First Sacred War was the tyrant Cleisthenes of Sicyon. McGregor besides believes that Cleisthenes of Sicyon was linked with the other Panhellenic festivals every bit good. The narrative of Cleisthenes and his daughter’s suers at Olympia maintains the thought that the Olympic Games were truly a universe phase for powerful leaders to acquire their voices heard. However Cleisthenes seemingly favoured the suers from Eretria and its Alliess as they were Ionians and he was traditionally thought to be anti-Dorian. [ 22 ] This suggests divisions amongst those viing could be formed as a consequence of cultural differences and that dealingss could go labored between Greeks from different topographic points as a effect. Furthermore, there is a possibility that the Nemean Games were established by the less dominant city state of Cleonae in concurrence with Argos in resistance to Cleisthenes of Sicyon after Cleonae had secured their freedom from Sicyon. [ 23 ] If this is true so it is farther grounds of the Panhellenic Games being used to do tenseness between city states.

On the topic of who was really allowed to vie in the four Panhellenic Games it seemed to be originally sole to the nobility and the wealthy as the funerary games in honor of Patroclus in the Iliad show blue Greeks from many different topographic points compete in the chariot race which was the chief event. Chariot races were preponderantly for the wealthiest as Equus caballuss were expensive and hard to develop which meant they could expose their wealth whilst set uping dealingss with Greeks from different topographic points. [ 24 ] On the other manus this suggests that the poorest in society would non hold competed in the Panhellenic festivals such as the Isthmian Games where the equestrian events were considered to be the most esteemed and so if they did take part it would be in inferior events where they could non derive as much glorification. The suggestion that poorer persons would non vie in the major four Panhellenic festivals is evidenced by the point that they would non hold had the clip for athletic preparation [ 25 ] or to go to the four sanctuaries where each of the four Games were held if they lived a long distance off. Furthermore there were local festivals and games they could hold competed in which would hold been much more practical [ 26 ] but if this was the instance for most Greeks so at that place would hold been less of a fosterage of dealingss between people from different topographic points if they were merely interacting with others from the same community.

However by the 6Thursdaycentury BC other events were added to the Panhellenic Games which meant the poorer in society could take part [ 27 ] as they were athleticss that were practiced throughout the whole of the Grecian universe. [ 28 ] This implies that the festivals became more Pan-hellenic as more people from different topographic points would be more likely to come in the competitions. Bury suggests that autocrats were the cause for this alteration as they wanted to defend the common people in order to win their support. [ 29 ] However if this ground is true so Panhellenism would merely be a side-effect of the autocrats desiring to derive more power and keep their reign. In add-on to this the autocrats could besides be a beginning of tenseness within dealingss between Greeks from different topographic points as is shown from the illustration of Cleisthenes of Sicyon trying to put up his ain Pythian Games in Sicyon after the autumn of dictatorship in Corinth meant they had more influence in Delphi. [ 30 ] Relations between Corinth and Elis were besides strained in this period because of Olympia’s refusal to wipe out the names of the Cypselidae from some offerings which resulted in no Eleians being allowed to vie in the Isthmian Games and hence they were non able to derive the extremely esteemed ‘periodonikes’ rubric that athletes longed for. This is an illustration of a city-state utilizing its authorization over one of the Panhellenic festivals to demo their resistance to another city state which would hold had a well negative consequence on dealingss. In contrast Pausanias suggests that it was the “curses of Moline” that kept the Eleians off from the Isthmian Games. [ 31 ]

Officially all free Grecian males were permitted to vie in the Olympic Games but this meant “females, non-Greeks and slaves were excluded from direct participation.” [ 32 ] However the Judgess make up one’s minding who could come in the competitions must hold been moderately flexible with the regulations as there is no record of person being refused entry on the evidences of their cultural individuality. [ 33 ] As a consequence of this many Grecian settlers from distant topographic points like Sicily and the north shore of the Black Sea came to Olympia during the Olympic festival. [ 34 ] Attending the festivals such as the Olympic Games was a immense benefit to Greek settlements as it meant they could remain in close contact with the mainland and set up connexions with other metropoliss and settlements whilst maintaining a safe distance off from the metropolis it originated from in order to keep its independency. Olympia besides acted as a impersonal land for neighboring settlements who were at war with each other whilst supplying a beginning of military preparation when jocks competed in events such as the ‘hoplitodromos’ so they could support themselves against non-Greeks and other settlements. Western Greeks were slightly influential in the running of the Olympic Games which can be seen by the add-on of two new events in the early 5Thursdaycentury BC that were popular throughout Grecian settlements in the West. [ 35 ] This suggests dealingss between the settlements in the West and the Grecian mainland were good.

For the dealingss between Greeks and non-Greeks Panhellenic festivals caused divisions. One of the narratives from Herodotus shows how Alexander’s rivals tried to take him from the race by claiming that he was non genuinely Grecian. [ 36 ] Another states the response of a Iranian when he is told of the “crown of olive” that athletes compete for in the Olympic Games and he was called a “coward” by a Grecian male monarch for it. [ 37 ] This dissentious facet of the Panhellenic Games can besides be seen by the usage of nakedness when viing in the competitions as it was considered absurd for high-level males in cultural groups such as the Persians or Lydians to look bare when practising athletics. [ 38 ] These illustrations show the contrasts between the Greeks manner of thought compared to the remainder of the universe and how this was implemented at the Panhellenic festivals.

Ultimately the four Panhellenic festivals that formed the ‘periodos’ were designed in a manner that promoted Greek individuality and therefore dealingss between Greeks from different topographic points were frequently fostered through the shared faith and mythology of the sanctuaries where they were held every bit good as the shared athleticss that the competitions were comprised of. Nevertheless the jocks were ferociously competitory as they were the most esteemed competitions in the Greek universe which suggests tensenesss would hold developed in dealingss between non merely the jocks themselves but besides the city states they were stand foring. Armistices were established during each of the four festivals but this did non forestall war from happening outside of the affected parts. Furthermore it was the blue and the wealthy who chiefly competed in the extremely esteemed events such as chariot racing which would hold received the most honour for winning but with autocrats presenting more events aimed at poorer persons there was the possibility that more dealingss were being fostered between Greeks from different degrees of society. Overall, the Panhellenic festivals did much to further dealingss between Greeks from different topographic points even if it was non the primary purpose sometimes. On the other manus festivals such as the Olympic Games showed a clear divide between the Greeks and the remainder of the universe and consequently dealingss between them would hold been less developed.