Religious Life in Ancient Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2450 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

It was comprised of singing, dancing and art performances in general.

The festival did not have a set date. The different towns could organize it in different days. Therefore, in order to attend more festivals the Athenians could travel outside their city with this occasion. This type of festival gave birth to the traveling shows and the traveling companies that went from town to perform. The phenomenon increased later on.

The City Dionysia

This is the only civic festival that is directly named after an Olympian God. The festival was held in the month Elaphebolion (March/April) of the year.

The festival celebrates, of course, the God Dionysus and it is the most important of the three festivals celebrating him. In fact the City Dionysia is the second festival importance wise after the Panathenaia. It consisted of the performance of certain art shows especially theatre: comedies and tragedies.

These festivities represent the urban part of the festival celebrating the God Dionysus and they were established much later than the Rural Dionysia. They are celebrating the end of winter and the crops.

Legend says that the City Dionysia, although a very important Athenian civic festival, did not originate in Athens, but in Eleutherae. Since the festival is relatively new, the basileus did not have authority over it, but the eponymous archons. This name was given to the chief magistrates who comprised the executive power of Athens. After the creation of this position in the state's hierarchy, the religious festivals became their responsibility.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
for $19.77

Term Paper on Religious Life in Ancient Assignment

The festival was organized by two paredroi and ten epimeletai. It consisted of a procession that took place in the first day of the festival. In it there participated only citizens, metics (the aliens that were residing in Athens) and representatives from the Athenian colonies. The route of the procession went to the Theatre of Dionysus on the southern slope of the Acropolis. They had to carry the statue of Dionysus Eleutherus (the representation of the statue of Dionysus brought in the beginning by the people from Eleutherae). They also carried phalloi which were carved out of wood, as the statue, or out of bronze. The procession was followed by a carriage which contained a larger phallus.

The kanephoros, obeliaphoroi, skaphephoroi, hydriaphoroi and the askophoroi also participated in the procession bringing their offerings for the God.

In the peak of the Athenian development the procession also carried other objects like weapons and different offerings.

Latter on the festival developed as to include oxen sacrifices in the theater. The procession also included the choregoi who were dressed in a very colorful manner and led the activities of the procession.

The activities from the festival were extremely competitive. Actors and singers put on grandiose shows and competed against each other for the audience's recognition.

After the sacrificing of the bulls there was a feast for the Athenians and then a second procession. This was called the komos and consisted of the march of the participants to the party that were most likely drunk.

The second day consisted of theatre performances comprising a theatre festival. There were judges who evaluated the plays and awarded prizes to the best ones in the categories of tragedy and comedy. They often offered goats which were the symbols of Dionysus. Usually the first performance was that of the famous actor and playwright, Thespis. Many announces were conveyed within the processions of this festival.

The Theatre of Dionysus was also the site of the sacrifice of a young pig meant to purify the place. The theatre festival lasted for several days and comprised of special days for tragedies and comedies.

The festival served a great cultural purpose since it promoted and supported the arts and especially theatre. Furthermore, it represented a time when the Athenians could unwind and relinquish the control. Like in the other festivals the social hierarchy lost some of the significance it had over the year and women could speak their mind.

The City Dionysia, Anthesteria and the Panathenaia were the most important Athenian civic festivals. Besides them of significance there were the Thargelia and the Dipolieia.

The Thargelia was a festival in the honor of Artemis and Delian Apollo. Since their birthdays were very close together they were celebrated in the same festival. It thus took place in the month Thargelion (about May 24 and May 25), on the 6th and on the 7th. This was a crops festival intended to the development of agriculture, thus the Athenians believed that they had to please the Gods in order to have a rich harvest and to avoid natural disasters and pests.

The Dipolieia was a very strange Athenian festival that took place two days after another important festival, the Skira. It comprised of a ceremony called the Butaphonia in the honor of Zeus. They celebrated a special aspect of Zeus by this festival, i.e. Zeus as the God of the city and the festivities took place at his altar from the Acropolis. The ceremony implied the sacrifice of an ox and a mock of its restoration to life. The ritual had become antiquated and so did the festival.

In conclusion, the calendar of the ancient Greeks was full with both the specific Athenian festivals and the ones referring to the entire Attica. However, they did not serve only the scope of entertainment, but they supported the development of the sciences and the art while encouraging people to travel and try new things.


Burkert, Walter, "Athenian Cults and Festivals.," in Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. 5: The Fifth Century BC, 245-67. 2nd ed., Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992

Parke, H.W., Festivals of the Athenians, Cornell Univ. Pr; Reprint edition… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

Two Ordering Options:

Which Option Should I Choose?
1.  Buy full paper (8 pages)Download Microsoft Word File

Download the perfectly formatted MS Word file!

- or -

2.  Write a NEW paper for me!✍🏻

We'll follow your exact instructions!
Chat with the writer 24/7.

Ancient Cultures the Purpose of Human Life Term Paper

Ancient Israel Thesis

Ancient Near Eastern Values in the Story Term Paper

Ancient Egyptian History Essay

Incas Mayas Aztec Ancient Civilization of the New World Term Paper

View 200+ other related papers  >>

How to Cite "Religious Life in Ancient" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Religious Life in Ancient.  (2007, April 23).  Retrieved September 28, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Religious Life in Ancient."  23 April 2007.  Web.  28 September 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Religious Life in Ancient."  April 23, 2007.  Accessed September 28, 2020.