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5 - The Panathenaic Games: Entertaining the Goddess

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 April 2021

Julia L. Shear
Affiliation:
Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington
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Summary

This chapter looks at the elaborate games which entertained Athena and simultaneously allowed the human participants to show off their prowess. These contests made the penteteric festival into a very different occasion from the Little Panathenaia, and they provided an important reason for visitors to come to Athens. This chapter asks exactly how individuals competed in the games over their long history. The games included musical, athletic and hippic events open to all participants, but also individual hippic contests and team competitions which were limited to Athenian males, who represented their tribes. Participation in the restricted contests served to display the (Athenian) citizen status of the competitors, and it set them apart from other individuals from other cities. The games picked up on some of the festival’s stories and themes, especially the military theme, which set the occasion apart from the Panhellenic games. The pyrrhiche and the apobatic race tied directly into some of the celebration’s most important stories, and they emphasised the close connections between the goddess and the Athenians.

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Chapter
Information
Serving Athena
The Festival of the Panathenaia and the Construction of Athenian Identities
, pp. 171 - 211
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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