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p22 Aeora

Article by Leonhard Schmitz, Ph.D., F.R.S.E., Rector of the High School of Edinburgh
on p22 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

AEO′RA or EO′RA (αἰώρα, ἐώρα), a festival at Athens, accompanied with sacrifices and banquets, whence it is sometimes called εὔδειπνος.a The common account of its origin is as follows:— Icarius was kind by the shepherds to whom he had given wine, and who, being unacquainted with the effects of this beverage, fancied in their intoxication that he had given them poison. Erigone, his daughter, guided by a faithful dog, discovered the corpse of her father, whom she had sought a long time in vain; and, praying to the gods that all Athenian maidens might perish in the same manner, hung herself. After this occurrence, many Athenian women actually hung themselves, apparently without any motive whatever; and when the oracle was consulted respecting it, the answer was, that Icarius and Erigone must be propitiated by a festival (Hygin. Poet. Astron. II.4). According to the Etymologicum Magnum, the festival was celebrated in honour of Erigone, daughter of Aegisthus and Clytemnestra, who came to Athens to bring the charge of matricide against Orestes before the Areiopagus; and, when he was acquitted, hung herself, with the same wish as the daughter of Icarius, and with the same consequences. According to Hesychius, the festival was celebrated in commemoration of the tyrant Temaleus, but no reason is assigned. Eustathius (ad Hom. pp389, 1535) calls the maiden who hung herself Aiora. But as the festival is also called Ἀλῆτις (apparently from the wanderings of Erigone, the daughter of Icarius), the legend which was first mentioned seems to be the most entitled to belief. Pollux (IV.7 § 55) mentions a song made by Theodorus of Colophon, which persons used to sing whilst swinging themselves (ἐν ταῖς αἰώραις). It is, therefore, probable that the Athenian maidens, in remembrance of Erigone and the other Athenian women who had hung themselves, swung themselves during this festival, at the same time singing the above-mentioned song of Theodorus (see also Athen. XIV p618).


Thayer's Note:

a "With a good dinner".


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