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  • Print publication year: 1992
  • Online publication date: March 2008

8d - Panhellenic Cults and Panhellenic Poets

from 8 - Greek culture, religion and society in the fifth century b.c.


Many of the innumerable ancient Greek festivals included athletic and cultural contests. The four Panhellenic game festivals namely, the Olympian, Pythian, Isthmian and Nemean, were in origin very different in size and significance from each other. The Olympic Games, which were held in honour of Zeus, seem to have acquired a wider importance quite early in the Archaic period. The Pythian Games at Delphi began as a purely musical event. The Isthmian and Nemean Games also took their classical form in the early sixth century. The gods in whose honour these festivals were held were panhellenic deities, and in gathering at their sanctuaries the Greeks felt very strongly the bonds of a common religion and culture. The poems of Pindar and Bacchylides demonstrate in another important way the unifying force of these great festivals, in that so many of them were composed for Sicilian patrons.
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