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date: 09 December 2022



  • Richard Seaford


Many festivals of *Dionysus had special names, e.g. the *Anthesteria, the *Lenaea, etc. This article concerns those Attic festivals known as (a) τὰ κατ᾽ ἀγροὺς Διονύσια, the Rural Dionysia, and (b) τὰ ἐν ἄστει or τὰ μεγάλα Διονύσια, the City or Great Dionysia. Festivals of Dionysus were widespread throughout the Greek world, but we know most about the *Attic ones, for which almost all surviving Greek drama was written.(a) The Rural Dionysia were celebrated, on various days by the different *demes, in the month of Posideon (roughly December). They provided an opportunity for the locality to reproduce elements of the City Dionysia, and we hear of performances of *tragedy, *comedy, and *dithyramb. There survive various inscriptions concerning the proceedings, notably from the *Piraeus, *Eleusis, Icarion, and Aixone. In *Aristophanes (1)'s Acharnians Dicaeopolis goes home to celebrate the festival: he draws up a little sacrificial procession in which his daughter is kanephoros (‘basket-bearer’), two slaves carry the *phallus, Dicaeopolis himself sings an obscene song to Phales, and his wife watches from the roof (241–79; cf.


  • Greek Literature
  • Greek Myth and Religion

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