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Tribes, festivals and processions; civic ceremonial and political manipulation in archaic Greece

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 October 2013

W. R. Connor
Princeton University
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In recent years classicists and ancient historians have devoted renewed attention to the Archaic Age in Greece, the period from approximately the eighth century to the fifth century BC. Important articles, excavation reports and monographs, as well as books by Moses Finley, L. H. Jeffery, Oswyn Murray, Chester Starr and others, not to mention a recent volume of the Cambridge Ancient History, bear witness to the vigor of recent scholarship in this area. Among many of these treatments of the period, moreover, is evident an increasing recognition of the close connection between social and economic developments and the political life of the Greek cities of the period. At the same time that this renewed interest in the Archaic Age has become so prominent in classical studies, a group of scholars working in more modern periods has developed a fresh approach to the role of ritual and ceremonial in civic life, especially during the European Middle Ages and Renaissance. Deeply influenced by cultural anthropology, they have found in the often surprisingly rich documentation about festivals, processions, charivaris etc. important insights into the societies in which these activities took place. Classicists looking upon this movement may be inclined to undervalue its originality and perhaps its controversiality, pointing out that a serious interest in ancient festivals has long been prominent in classical scholarship and is well represented in recent books such as those by Mikalson, Parke and Simon and such older works as Martin Nilsson's frequently cited Cults, myths, oracles and politics in ancient Greece (Lund 1951). Yet there is a great difference both in method and in results between the traditional approaches to ceremonial represented in the study of ancient Greece and those being developed in more recent fields.

Research Article
Copyright © The Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies 1987

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1 Boardman, J. and Hammond, N. G. L. (eds.), CAH 2 iii. 3 (Cambridge 1982),Google ScholarFinley, M. I., Early Greece: the bronze and archaic ages (New York 1970),Google ScholarHopper, R.J., The early Greeks (New York 1976),Google ScholarJeffery, L. H., Archaic Greece (New York 1976),Google ScholarMurray, Oswyn, Early Greece (Brighton 1980),Google ScholarSnodgrass, A. M., Archaic Greece: The age of experiment (London 1980),Google ScholarStarr, Chester, The economic and social growth of early Greece, 800–500 BC (Oxford 1977)Google Scholar. Among the older studies A. Heuss, Antike und Ahendland (1946) 26–62 is especially important. See now his ‘Von Anfang und Ende’ Gnomosyne Festchrift W. Marg (Munich 1981) 131Google Scholar. Recent periodical literature is too extensive to mention but note Runciman, W. G., Comparative Studies in Society and History xxiv (1982) 351–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

2 See, for example, Darnton, Robert, ‘A bourgeois puts his world in order: the city as a text’ The great cat massacre (New York 1985) 107–43;Google ScholarDavis, Natalie Z., Past and Present lix (1971) 4175;CrossRefGoogle ScholarLadurie, Le Roy, Carnival in Romans, trans. Feeney, M. (New York 1979),Google ScholarMuir, Edward, Civic ritual in Renaissance Venice (Princeton 1981)Google Scholar, Trexler, R. C., Public life in Renaissance Florence (New York 1980)Google Scholar and Ritual behaviour in Renaissance FlorenceMedievalia & Humanistica N.S. iv (1973) 125–44Google Scholar. Two essays in The pursuit of holiness in late medieval and renaissance religion, ed. Trinkaus, C. and Oberman, H. A. (Leiden 1974)Google Scholar are also helpful: Natalie Z. Davis, ‘Some tasks and themes in the study of popular religion’ 307–36, and R. C. Trexler, ‘Ritual in Florence; adolescence and salvation in the Renaissance’ 200–64. Among the works dealing with earlier periods MacCormack, Sabine, Art and ceremony in late antiquity (Berkeley 1981)Google Scholar and Price, Simon, Rituals and power (Cambridge 1984)Google Scholar are especially important. Many of these works rely on studies in symbolic anthropology, e.g. Geertz, Clifford, Interpretation of culture (New York 1973)Google Scholar.

3 Parke, H. W., Festivals of the Athenians (Ithaca 1977),Google ScholarSimon, E., Festivals of Attica (Madison 1983)Google Scholar, Mikalson, J. D., The sacred and civil calendar of the Athenian state (Princeton 1975)Google Scholar.

4 See also Nilsson's ‘Die Prozessionentypen im gr. Kult', Jahrbuch des k. Archäolog. Institut xxxi (1916) 309Google Scholar ff. (reprinted in his Opera Selecta i 166–214).

5 Price (n. 2) 11.

6 See Finley, M. I., Politics in the ancient world (Cambridge 1983) 95Google Scholar f.

7 Edward Muir (n. 2) 5. A similar approach has suggested that even the delivery of panegyrics on imperial occasions in late antiquity, often regarded as one of the most extreme examples of flattery and propaganda, is to be seen ‘… not merely as a method of making propaganda; it was also a token of legitimate rule and a form of popular consent, demonstrated by the presence of an audience’ (MacCormack [n. 2] 9). The study of French festivals has shown their tendency to turn into protests, trouble-fêtes, and thereby communicate popular anger or demands. See Rearick, C., Journal of Contemporary History xii (1977) 437Google Scholar.

8 Figueira, Thomas, Hesperia liii (1984) 447–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Note, however, that the events of 579/8 come in a year of preparation for the Panathenaea, rather than in the year of its celebration.

9 See Busolt, G. and Swoboda, H., Griechische Staatskunde xi (Munich 1926) 973–8,Google Scholar and Nilsson, M., Cults, myths, oracles and politics (Lund 1951) 30–7Google Scholar.

10 On the role of cults and ceremonial in Clisthenes' reforms see E. Kearns, ‘Change and continuity in religious structures after Cleisthenes’ Crux (Essays presented to G. E. M. de Ste. Croix, 1985) 189–207.

11 Among the other sources reporting the procession are: Aristotle Ath. Pol. 14.4, Clidemus FCrH 323 F 15, Polyaenus Strat. i 21.1, Athen. xiii. 609; cf. Bury, J. B., History of Greece 4, revised by Meiggs, R. (New York 1975) 128,Google Scholar which treats it as a legend that Herodotus did not himself believe.

12 See, for example, J. Boardman, Revue archéologique (1972) 62, Snodgrass (n. 1) 114, Moon, W. G. ‘The Paris Painter’ in Moon, W. G. (ed.), Ancient Greek art and iconography (Madison Wise. 1983) 101Google Scholar f.

13 Gernet, L., ‘Mariages des tyrans’ Eventail de l'histoire vivante, Hommage à L. Febvre ii (Paris 1953) 52Google Scholar. The essay is reprinted in Gernet, , Anthropologie de la Grèce antique (Paris 1968) 344–59,Google Scholar and is also included in the collection of Gernet's works translated by J. Hamilton and B. Nagy (Baltimore 1981).

15 Berve, H., Die Tyrannis bei den Griechen (Munich 1967) 545,Google Scholar paraphrasing and expanding on Gernet.

16 Clidemus FGrH 323 F 15. On the problems in chronology see Davies, J. K.Athenian propertied families (Oxford 1971) 450–5Google Scholar.

17 Boardman (n. 12) 60 f.

18 For an important challenge to Boardman's views see Moon (n. 12) 97–118; R. M. Cook, below pp. 167–9.

19 Else, G. F., Hermes lxxxv (1957) 36Google Scholar f.

20 On the possibility that the arrival ceremonies of late antiquity have an origin in much earlier phases of Greek civilization see MacCormack (n. 2) 19 ff. and 281 n. 14.

21 Xenophon of Ephesus An Ephesian tale i 2.2. f. trans. Moses Hadas. The description is paralleled in other novels, e.g. Heliodorus iii 4.

22 The other side of manipulation is flattery, and this is the common interpretation of the Athenians' response to another famous ceremonial arrival, that of Demetrius Poliorcetes at Athens. One would like to know much more about this occasion, e.g. how Demetrius dressed etc., but the close association between himself and Athena is evident in the stories in Plut. (Demetr. 10–12) about his conduct in Athens. See also Nock, A. D., ‘SUNNAOS THEOSHSCP xli (1930),Google Scholar reprinted in Essays on religion and the ancient world i ed. Stewart, Z. (Cambridge Mass. 1972) 202–51,Google Scholar esp. 204, and Habicht, Ch., Gottmenschentum 2 (Munich 1970) 232Google Scholar f.

23 Xen. Ephesian tale i 2.8, trans. M. Hadas. The passage raises the important question whether the formula male name in nominative+kalos (‘X is beautiful’), so common on Greek vase painting, may sometimes reflect acclamation and community consensus rather than purely individual erotic attachments. Note, for example, the scene on the psykter in the Metropolitan Museum 10.210.18 (c. 520–10 BC) on which the boy Epainetos is being presented with garlands and tainiai. Next to him is the inscription kalos. (On Epainetos cf. the halter found at Eleusis, IG i2 802). This inscription seems likely to reflect an acclamation at or on returning from the games, analogous to kallinikos. Cf. Pi. Ol. 9.1 ff.

24 See Weinreich, O., Menekrates Zeus und Salmoneus (Stuttgart 1933)Google Scholar and Wunderlich, E., Die Bedeutung der roten Farbe …, RGVV, xx 1Google Scholar.

25 Paus. iv 27, vii 18.7. Back, F., de Graecorum ceremoniis (Berlin 1883)Google Scholar and Burkert, W., Greek religion trans. Raffan, J. (Cambridge Mass. 1985) 97, 100, 186, 279Google Scholar.

26 Hdt. 1 62.4, Ael. V.H. xii 32, Empedocles VS 31 B 112. On Menecrates see Athen. vii 289 a–c and the parallel passages cited in Weinreich (n. 24) 92.

27 Nikostratos: Diod. xvi. 44.2 f; Menekrates: Athen. vii 289 a–c and the parallel passages cited by Weinreich (n. 31) 92; Dionysius I: Dio Chrys. Or. 37.21 (as emended by Casaubon); Milo of Croton: Diod. xii 9.6. The prominence of Western Greek settings for these stories may be significant. The appearances may in part be modelled on the ritual of the Great Oath described in Plut. Dion 56.

28 Ephippus (FGrH 126 F 5) apud Athen. 537 d ff. On the passage see Bosworth, A. B., JHS c (1980) 8Google Scholar.

29 Plut. Ant. 24 and 26. On Roman examples see especially Drexel, F., PhW xlvi (1926) 157–60,Google Scholar and Alföldi, A., Mitt. d.A.I. Rom xlix (1934) 1118Google Scholar.

30 See Moore, M. B., AJA xl (1986) 35–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

31 See Dion. Hal. A.R. vii 73, especially sec. 3 where he discusses the relationship between the terms apobates and parabates. The practice seems concentrated in Attica and Boeotia and a few other areas: See Harpocration s.v. ‘apobates’, and Brommer, F., Der Parthenonfries (Mainz 1977) 221Google Scholar f. In Thebes the practice gave a name to the military élite, the Heniochoi and Parabatai: Diod. xii 70 and Detienne, M., ‘La phalange’ in Vernant, J. P. (ed.) Problèmes de la guerre (Paris 1968) 134Google Scholar f. Perhaps Herodotus’ observation that Megacles and Pisistratus showed Phye ‘the fashion in which she would appear most becoming’ masks instruction given her in the art of leaping in and out of the chariot.

32 On the representation of Athena in the west pediment of the Parthenon see Binder, J., ‘The 'West Pediment of the Parthenon: Poseidon’ Studies … S. Dow (Durham N. C. 1984) 1522Google Scholar.

33 Cf. Il. v 837. Artistic representations of the activity include the Parthenon Frieze, see Brommer (n. 31) 221 f. On the parabates' role in the Eleusinia see Mommsen, A., Feste der Stadt Athen (Leipzig 1898) 188Google Scholar n. 4; in the Panathenaea, Mommsen Feste 89–92, Plut. Phoc. 20. See also Thompson, H. A., Archäologischer Anzeiger lxxvi (1961) 228Google Scholar (and fig. 4) and Simon (n. 3) 62.

34 Burkert, W., Hermes xciv (1966) 24Google Scholar f.; cf. his Greek religion 232 f.

35 Plut. Demetr. 10. There was also an altar of Zeus Kataibates in the Academy: Scholia Soph. OC 705 = Apollodorus FGrH 244 F 120. See Burkert (n. 25) 126. The moment of descent from the chariot is often the crucial one. Hence one must be very cautious in interpreting vase scenes showing Athena (or other figures) with one foot in a chariot and another out. These are often construed as representations of the start of a journey, but in some cases, e.g. the Elvehjen Museum hydria described by Moon (n. 12) 98, the scene may actually be another way of representing the arrival of Heracles and Athena at Olympus. Note the presence of Hebe, and the motion of Hermes to check the forward movement of the horses—both suggestive of the completion of the journey.

36 In a less elaborate fashion the ceremony serves one of the functions that Muir (n. 2) 187 detects in some Renaissance ceremonies: ‘In Renaissance Europe ceremonies were in broadest terms an expression of the world order and more narrowly a formulation of political rules that usually appeared in written theory much later. Civic ceremonies thus provided a continuous discourse in the constitutional order.’

37 I see no hint of impiety as has sometimes been suspected, e.g. by Moon (n. 12) 101.

38 There may be a further echo of the Panathenaca in the presence of those crowned with the thallos in Polyaenus' account of the Phye episode (i 21.1) and the thallophoroi of the Panathenaca (Mommsen Feste 102 n. 4)

39 On the appearance of a priestess of Athena dressed as the goddess in full armor see Polyaenus viii 59.

40 Cf. the remarks of Nicole Loraux on the myth of Attic autochthony in Annates: E.S.C. xxxiv 1 (1979) 19Google Scholar f: ‘… soucieux de décrire les multiples manipulations dont le mythe est l'objet dans le monde des cités, les historiens de la Grèce ont trop souvent réduit ce qu'ils appellent sa “fonction politique” à celle, purement instrumentale, de support inerte et malléable, au service de toutes les propagandes…’

41 Else (n. 19) 36. On the dramatic element in processions during Venetian festivals see Muir (n. 2) 141 f.

42 In Pericles' day it is hard to imagine a similar event (pace Frontinus Strategemata i n. 10) but the leader might allow a more subtle artistic analogue: the representation of his likeness on the shield of the Athena Parthenos (Plut. Per. 31).

43 Andrewes, A.CAH 2 iii, 3.385Google Scholar. The equivalencies in Plut. Sol. 23.3 imply an economy making extensive use of coinage, hence considerably later than Solon's time.

44 Cf. Plut. Sol. 18. This statement may be an allusion to the ‘Constitution of Draco’ in ch. 4 of the Ath. Pol., as Hignett, C., History of the Athenian constitution (Oxford 1952) 99Google Scholar f. suggested. See also R. Sealey, Hist, ix (1960) 161, and P.J. Rhodes' commentary on the Ath. Pol. 7.3.

45 Cf. Hignett (n. 44) 99f.

46 See, for example, the Eleusinian first-fruits decree of the fifth century BC, IG i3 78. This decree specified a minimum contribution of a hekteus from every medimnos for the offering to Demeter and Kore.

47 Photius Lexicon s.v. ‘heniochoi’, Aelius Dionysius fr. 196 (Schwabe) apud Eustathius 576.44 on Il. E 505 (ii p. 136, line 22 ff., van der Valk). On the Heniochos of Pallas as a civic official see IG ii/iii2 2245, 299 and Burkert, W.Zeitschrift für Rel. u.G.geschichte xxii (1970) 358Google Scholar n. 8. On Heniochides as a personal name see PA 6427 ff. See also n. 31 above.

48 Ar. Nu. 602; cf. Eur. Hec. 467.

49 Note the treatment of social outcasts reported in Plut. Mor. 538 a, and Aelian fr. 245.

50 Isaeus vi 50.

51 Andrewes, A. in CAH 2 iii. 3 385Google Scholar.

52 Which festival? Since grain production seems so central, one expects a major festival with an offering procession, occurring not far from the time of the grain harvest—roughly the end of June. (For the date of the wheat harvest see Deane, P., Thucydides' dates [Don Mills, Ont. 1972],Google Scholar Appendix, p. 135.) The Thargelia is perhaps not impossible: see Hesychius s.v., but an early form of the Panathenaea is perhaps more attractive. This may have included first-fruit offerings (see Mommsen [n. 33] 57 f.) especially before the Eleusinian festivals were fully developed and integrated into the state festival cycle. Note Hdt v. 82f. and Mommsen's discussions of the passage, Feste 147 and 156 n. 1. On Athena as a goddess associated with the fertility of grain see Farnell, L. R., Cults cf the Greek states i (Oxford 1896) 289–93Google Scholar. On the date of the incorporation of the Eleusinian festivals see J. Boardman, RA (1972) 52 f, and JHS xcv (1975) 1Google Scholar f.

53 This position has been argued most recently by Whitehead, D., CQ xxxi (1981) 282–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

54 Strabo x, 1.10, 448 C. with F. W. Walbank's commentary on Plb. ii, 416. Is there also a hint of a military structure behind the Samian Tonaia festival in the corrupt last line of the fragment of Asius apud Athen. xii 525 e ff.? On the importance of processions in ancient festivals see Nilsson (n. 4 and 9), Burkert (n. 25) 99–102, Mikalson, J., GRBS xxiii (1982) 213–21Google Scholar. On the Amarynthia festival see Ringwood, I. C., AJA xxxiii (1929) 384–92;Google ScholarKnoepfler, D., BCH xcvi (1972) 283301;CrossRefGoogle ScholarBreglia, L., Contribution à I'étude … Eubéennes (Naples 1975) 3747Google Scholar. Cf. also Plato Laws xii 947c on a procession arranged in part by military roles.

55 Jacoby, F., CQ xxxviii (1944) 6575,CrossRefGoogle Scholar reprinted in Jacoby's, Abhandlungen zur griechischen Geschichtsschreibung (Leiden 1956) 243–59Google Scholar.

56 For example, the Chalkeia, Dipoleia, and Nemeseia.

57 It may be significant that none of these horoi has ever been found. This may suggest exceptionally thorough destruction or a removal of the stones over the boundaries of Attica, as was sometimes done with the bones of polluted individuals or with other objects.

58 Compare the burning of written mortgages in Hellenistic Sparta at the time of Agis' reform: Plut. Agis 13. Solon's claim (fr. 36 West) that he freed those who had been sold into slavery need not reflect an elaborate plan to negotiate or buy back their freedom but simply the assurance that if they could escape to Attica no effort would be made to deport them.

59 In the visual arts mimesis ‘usually implied something beyond the simple process of copying a natural model’ as J. Pollitt points out in a useful discussion in his Ancient view of Greek art (New Haven 1974) 3752Google Scholar. The term can betoken not a literal replication but ‘imitation by psychological association’. This is not to suggest that political leaders of the archaic period would themselves have used the term mimesis, but that the concept, later of such prominence in Greek culture, may usefully be retrojected into this period. On the development of the term mimesis see the suggestive observations of Koller, H., Die Mimesis in d. Antike (Berne 1954)Google Scholar and the cautious assessment by Else, G. F.CPh liii (1958) 7390Google Scholar.

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