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p234 Callisteia

Article by Leonhard Schmitz, Ph.D., F.R.S.E., Rector of the High School of Edinburgh
on p234 of

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

CALLISTEIA (καλλιστεῖα), a festival, or perhaps merely a part of one, held by the women of Lesbos; at which they assembled in the sanctuary of Hera, and the fairest received the prize of beauty (Schol. ad Il. IX.128; Suidas, s.v.; Antholog. Pal. IX.189; Athen. XIII p610).

A similar contest of beauty, instituted by Cypselus, formed a part of a festival celebrated by the Parrhasians in Arcadia, in honour of the Eleusinian Demeter. The women taking part in it were called Χρυσοφόροι (Athen. XIII p609).

A third contest of the same kind, in which, however, men only partook, is mentioned by Athenaeus (l.c.; compare Etymol. Magn. s.v.) as occurring among the Eleans in honour of Athena. The fairest man received as prize a suit of armour which he dedicated to Athena, and was adorned by his friends with ribbons and a myrtle wreath, and accompanied to the temple. From the words of Athenaeus (XIII p610), who, in speaking of these contests of beauty, mentions Tenedos along with Lesbos, we must infer that in the former island also Callisteia were celebrated.


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