Panathenaic Festival

At Athens, every year, the Athenians celebrated the Panathenaic festival in honor of the goddess Athena; it took place on the goddess’s birthday in the month of Hekatombaion (in July/August). The Panathenaic festival included—in addition to sacrifices to Athena—athletic competitions, rhapsodic recitations of Homer’s poetry, and the presentation of a peplos (dress) to the cult statue of Athena on the Akropolis. At another Athenian festival which honored the god Dionysus, plays (tragedies and comedies) were performed.

For our class we are combining the various Athenian festivals into our own Panathenaic (“All-Athens”) festival.

Here are some ideas for events in the festival. Remember however that Athenians valued creativity and so you are free to invent your own activity (get advance approval from an instructor). Both you and your partner can complete this assignment, but you should each submit your own reflection.

  • Participate in the Classics Marathon reading of Euripides’ Medea on Nov. 9th
  • Act out a scene from a Greek tragedy or comedy—or something analogous to this
  • Perform a selection from either the Iliad or the Odyssey as rhapsodes—or something analogous to this
  • Re-enact a public reading from a selection by Herodotus or Thucydides or some other prose author—or something analogous to this
  • Create and then perform a Pindaric ode for an athletic victor
  • Stage a part of a Platonic dialogue
  • Organize a dance: some ancient dances were contests between groups; others involved dancing in full armor
  • Create and present a peplos to Athena (designing the peplos was in fact an annual competition)
  • Organize an appropriate competition
    • At the Panathenaic games, athletic events included javelin and discus throwing, wrestling, boxing, footraces, chariot races, races in armor or holding torches.
    • Other competitions included contests on musical instruments and of singing. Recitation of Homer was also organized as a contest.
    • As you’re designing a suitable contemporary version, consider how you can recreate some element of the ancient race safely: no torch races, but perhaps a race with lit up cell phones; no chariots, but perhaps desk chair races? Please, no nudity — and absolutely no boxing to the death, people!

Each “performance” should be approximately 10-15 minutes long.

Organizing an Event

Our Panathenaic Festival will take place from Nov. 9th to Nov. 23rd. If you would like to host an event during the competition, please add it to the Panathenaic Calendar here. You should plan to film, take pictures, or otherwise record the event, and upload your recording to the shared Drive folder here. If you organize an event by adding it to the calendar and uploading documentation, you do not need to submit a reflection; simply email us to let us know you organized an event as an ergon.

Participating in an Event

To receive ergon credit, select an event from the Panathenaic Calendar, attend it, and then email a very brief reflection about it (600-900) words to Prof. Farmer and Prof. Shirazi. You can participate in as many events as you like, but you should only submit one reflection. You are also welcome to participate in the events without submitting them as erga! Although the window to participate is limited to two weeks, you can submit your reflection for ergon credit during any available submission window.