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p463 Ephesia

Article by Leonhard Schmitz, Ph.D., F.R.S.E., Rector of the High School of Edinburgh
on p463 of

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

EPHE′SIA (ἐφέσια), a great panegyris of the Ionians at Ephesus, the ancient capital of the Ionians in Asia. It was held every year, and had, like all panegyreis, a twofold character, that of a bond of political union among the Greeks of the Ionian race, and that of a common worship of the Ephesian Artemis (Dionys. Hal. Antiq. Rom. IV p299, ed. Sylburg; Strabo, XIV p639). The Ephesia continued to be held in the time of Thucydides and Strabo, and the former compares it (III.104) to the ancient panegyris of Delos [Delia], where a great number of the Ionians assembled with their wives and children. Respecting the particulars of its celebration, we only know that it was accompanied with much mirth and feasting, and that mystical sacrifices were offered to the Ephesian goddess (Strabo, l.c.). That games and contests formed likewise a chief part of the solemnities is clear from Hesychius (s.v.), who calls the Ephesia an ἀγὼν ἐπιφανής (compare Paus. VII.2 § 4; Müller, Dor. II.9 § 8; Böckh, Corp. Inscript. II n2909).

From the manner in which Thucydides and Strabo speak of the Ephesia, it seems that it was only a panegyris of some Ionians, perhaps of those who lived in Ephesus itself and its vicinity. Thucydides seems to indicate this by comparing it with the Delian panegyris, which likewise consisted only of the Ionians of the islands near Delos; and Strabo, who calls the great national panegyris of all the Ionians in the Panionium the κοινὴ πανήγυρις τῶν Ἰώνων, applies to the Ephesia simply the name πανήγυρις. It may, however, have existed ever since the time when Ephesus was the head of the Ionian colonies in Asia.


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