The Great Panathenaea

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Panathenic ProcessionThis annual festival was held in Athens and celebrated the supposed birthday of Athena. Every fourth year the pomp and circumstance was especially grand. The festival included sacrifices, game playing, and processions.

A large variety of groups and peoples were represented in the opening procession and the flesh of sacrificed animals was distributed among the crowd. The prize for the games was a holy olive oil, taken from an olive tree that had, supposedly, been planted by Athena, herself. The oil was kept in amphoras (thin, two handled jars with narrow necks). The outside of the jar was decorated with the figure of Athena holding a spear, a characteristic pose for the goddess. The spear also depicted one of the many festival games.

The Great Panathenaea
Photo: Corel Image Download