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an ancient Greek festival in honor of the goddess Athena, celebrated annually during the month of Heka-tombaion (late July and early August). It began as a local Athenian festival in prehistoric times but was changed into a festival for all Attica by the legendary king Theseus in approximately the 13th century B.C., according to classical tradition. From the time of Pisistratus (sixth century B.C.), the Pana-thenaea consisted of the main rite, a competition between rhapsodic singers, and musical, gymnastic, and equestrian contests. The main rite comprised a procession to the Acropolis, a sacrifice called a hecatomb, and the clothing of the statue of Athena with a garment called a peplos. Only the Greater Panathenaea, celebrated every four years, included the main rite, however; the rite was not part of the annual Lesser Panathenaea. The winners of the various competitions were awarded garlands of leaves from the sacred olive tree and amphorae with oil.
REFERENCEDeubner, L. Attische Feste. Berlin, 1932.
In the yearly celebrations, there were musical and athletic contests, animal sacrifices, and a procession. The procession of the Great Panathenaea was an especially grand affair and is pictured on a frieze of the Parthenon. The peplus, a garment with an embroidered depiction of the battle of the gods and the giants, was rigged like a sail on a ship with wheels and carried through the city to the Acropolis. The procession included priests leading a train of animals that would be sacrificed, maidens carrying sacrificial implements, warriors, old men with olive branches, and horses. The festival ended with the sacrifice of oxen and a banquet.
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