Carnea


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Carnea

August-September
The Carnea, also spelled Karneia, Karnea, or Carneia, was one of ancient Sparta's three principal religious festivals—the other two being the Hyacinthia and the Gymnopaidiai—which were observed in many parts of the Peloponnesus as well as in Cyrene, Magna Graecia, and elsewhere. It was the ultimate expression of the cult of Apollo Karneios, the ram god of flocks and herds and of fertility in general. It was held during the month of Carneus (August-September) and dates back to 676 b.c.e. The Carnea was both a vintage festival and a military one, Apollo being expected to help his people both by promoting the harvest and by supporting them in battle. Young men called staphylodromoi, or "grape-cluster-runners," chased after a man wearing garlands. It was considered a good omen for the city if they caught him and a bad one if they didn't.
No military operations could be held during this festival, and it is said that the Spartans might not have been defeated by the Persians at Thermopylae if the Carnea hadn't prevented the movement of their main army.
SOURCES:
DictFolkMyth-1984, pp. 67, 192
OxClassDict-1970, p. 206
RelHolCal-2004, p. 273
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
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