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p928 Plynteria

Article by Leonhard Schmitz, Ph.D., F.R.S.E., Rector of the High School of Edinburgh
on p928 of

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

PLYNTE′RIA (πλυντήρια), from πλύνειν, to wash, was a festival celebrated at Athens every year, on the 22nd of Thargelion, in honour of Athena, surnamed Aglaurosa (Phot. Lex. s.v.; Plut. Alcib. 34; Harpocrat. Suid. s.v.), whose temple stood on the Acropolis (Herod. VIII.53; Hesych. s.v. Πλυντήρια). Plutarch states that the festival took place on the 25th, but probably only because it lasted for several days (Dodwell, de Cyclis, p349; comp. Philol. Mus. II p234). The day of this festival was at Athens among the ἀποφράδες or dies nefasti; for the temple of the goddess was surrounded by a rope to preclude all communication with it (Pollux, VIII.141); her statue was stripped of its garments and ornaments for the purpose of cleaning them, and was in the meanwhile covered over to conceal it from the sight of man (Plut. l.c.; Xen. Hellen I.4 § 12). The persons who performed this service were called πραξιεργίδαι (Plut. l.c.; Hesych. s.v.). The city was therefore, so to speak, on this day without its protecting divinity, and any undertaking commenced on it was believed to be necessarily unsuccessful. A procession was also held on the day of the Plynteria, in which a quantity of dried figs, called ἡγητορία, was carried about (Etymol. Magn.; Hesych s.v. Ἡγητορία; Phot. Lex s.v.).


Thayer's Note:

a According to R. H. Allen (Star-Names and their Meanings, p401) Mommsen related the Plynteria — from the 21st to the 25th of Thargelion — to the rising of the Pleiades.


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Page updated: 30 Jun 13