Ancients' feasts, games and rituals INOI (Community) ATTIKI - GTP - Greek Travel Pages

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On the occasion of a great victory


INOI (Ancient demos) ATTIKI
Apaturia (apatouria) was a political festival, which the Athenians had in common with all the Greeks of the Ionian name (Herod. i. 147), with the exception of those of Colophon and Ephesus. It was celebrated in the month of Pyanepsion, and lasted for three days. The origin of this festival is related in the following manner:
About the year 1100 B.C., the Athenians were carrying on a war against the Boeotians, concerning the district of Cilaenae, or, according to others, respecting the little town of Oenoe. The Boeotian Xanthios, or Xanthos, challenged Thymoetes, king of Attica, to single combat; and when he refused, Melanthos, a Messenian exile of the house of the Nelids, offered himself to fight for Thymoetes, on condition that, if victorious, he should be the successor to Thymoetes. The offer was accepted; and when Xanthios and Melanthos began the engagement, there appeared behind Xanthios a man in the trage, the skin of a black goat. Melanthos reminded his adversary that he was violating the laws of single combat by having, a companion; and while Xanthios looked around, Melanthos slew the deceived Xanthios. From that time, the Athenians celebrated two festivals; the Apaturia, and that of Dionysos Melanaegis, who was believed to have been the man who appeared behind Xanthios.
  This is the story related by the Scholiast on Aristophanes (Acharn. 146). This tradition has given rise to a false etymology of the name apatouria, which was formerly considered to be derived from apatan, to deceive. All modern critics, however Muller and Welcker agree that the name is composed of a=hama, and patoria, which is perfectly consistent with what Xenophon (Hellen. i. 7, 8) says of the festival: En hois (apatouriois) hoi te pateres kai hoi sungeneis xuneisi sphisin autois. According to this derivation, it is the festival at which the phratriae met, to discuss and settle their own affairs. But, as every citizen was a member of a phratria, the festival extended over the whole nation, who assembled according to phratriae. Welcker, on account of the prominent part which Dionysos takes in the legend respecting the origin of the Attic Apaturia, conceives that it arose from the circumstance that families belonging to the Dionysian tribe of the Aegicores had been registered among the citizens.
  The first day of the festival, which probably fell on the eleventh of the month of Pyanepsion, was called dorpia or dorpeia (Athen. iv.; Hesych. and Suid. s. v.); on which every citizen went in the evening to the phratrium, or to the house of some wealthy member of his own phratria, and there enjoyed the supper prepared for him (Aristoph. Acharn. 146). That the cup-bearers (oinoptai) were not idle on this occasion, may be seen from Photius (Lexic. s. v. Dorpia).
  The second day was called anarrusis (anarrein), from the sacrifice offered on this day to Zeus, surnamed Phratrios, and to Athena, and sometimes to Dionysos Melanaegis. This was a state sacrifice, in which all citizens took part. The day was chiefly devoted to the gods, and to it must, perhaps, be confined what Harpocration (s. v. Lampas) mentions, from the Atthis of Istrus, that the Athenians at the apaturia used to dress splendidly, kindle torches on the altar of Hephaestos, and sacrifice and sing in honour of him. Proclus on Plato (Tim.), in opposition to all other authorities, calls the first day of the Apaturia anarrusis, and the second dorpia, which is, perhaps, nothing more than a slip of his pen.
  On the third day, called koureotis (kouros), children born in that year, in the families of the phratriae, or such as were not yet registered, were taken by their fathers, or in their absence by their representatives (kurioi), before the assembled members of the phratria. For every child a sheep or goat was sacrificed. The victim was called meion, and he who sacrificed it meiagogos (meiagogein). It is said that the victim was not allowed to be below (Harpocrat., Suid., Phot. s. v. Meion), or, according to Pollux (iii. 52), above, a certain weight. Whenever any one thought he had reason to oppose the reception of the child into the phratria, he stated the case, and, at the same time, led away the victim from the altar (Dem. c. Macart. 14). If the members of the phratria found the objections to the reception of the child to be sufficient, the victim was removed; when no objections were raised, the father, or he who supplied his place, was obliged to establish by oath that the child was the offspring of free-born parents and citizens of Athens. After the victim was sacrificed, the phratores gave their votes, which they took from the altar of Jupiter Phratrios. When the majority voted against the reception, the cause might be tried before one of the courts of Athens; and if the claims of the child were found unobjectionable, its name, as well as that of the father, was entered in the register of the phratria, and those who had wished to effect the exclusion of the child were liable to be punished (Dem. c. Macart. 82). Then followed the distribution of wine, and of the victim, of which every phrator received his share; and poems were recited by the elder boys, and a prize was given to him who acquitted himself the best on the occasion (Plat. Tim.). On this day, also, illegitimate children on whom the privileges of Athenian citizens were to be bestowed, as well as children adopted by citizens, and newly created citizens, were introduced; but the last, it appears, could only be received into a phratria when they had previously been adopted by a citizen; and their children, when born by a mother who was a citizen, had a legitimate claim to be inscribed in the phratria of their grandfather, on their mother's side. In later times, however, the difficulties of being admitted into a phratria seem to have been greatly diminished.
  Some writers have added a fourth day to this festival, under the name of epibda (Hesych. s. v. Apatouria; and Simplicius on Aristot. Phys. iv, a); but this is no particular day of the festival, for epibda signifies nothing else but a day subsequent to any festival.

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