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p400 Diasia

Article by Leonhard Schmitz, Ph.D., F.R.S.E., Rector of the High School of Edinburgh
on pp400‑401 of

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

DIASIA (διάσια), a great festival celebrated at Athens, without the walls of the city (ἔξω τῆς πόλεως), in honour of Zeus, surnamed Μειλίχιος (Thuc. I.126). The whole people took part in it, and the wealthier citizens offered victims (ἱερεῖα), while the poorer classes burnt such incense as their country furnished (θύματα ἐπιχώρια), which the scholiast on Thucydides erroneously explains as cakes in the shape of animals (compare Xen. Anab. VII.8 § 4; Lucian Tim. 7; Aristoph. p401Nub. 402, &c.). The diasia took place in the latter half of the month of Anthesterion (Schol. ad Aristoph. l.c.) with feasting and rejoicings, and was, like most other festivals, accompanied by a fair (Aristoph. Nub. 841). It was this festival at which Cylon was enjoined by an oracle to take possession of the acropolis of Athens; but he mistook the oracle, and made the attempt during the celebration of the Olympian games (compare Pollux, I.26; Suidas s.v.). The etymology of διάσια, given by most of the ancient grammarians (from Διὸς and ἄση) is false, the name is a mere derivative from διὸς, as Ἀπολλώνια from Ἀπόλλων.


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