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p1127 Theseia

Article by Leonhard Schmitz, Ph.D., F.R.S.E., Rector of the High School of Edinburgh
on p1127 of

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

THESEIA (θησεῖα), a festival celebrated by the Athenians in honour of their national hero Theseus (Aristoph. Plut. 622, &c., with the Schol. Thesmoph. 841; Suidas, s.v. Θησείοις), whom they believed to have been the author of their democratical form of government. In consequence of this belief donations of bread and meat were given to the poor people at the Theseia, which thus was for them a feast at which they felt no want and might fancy themselves equal to the wealthiest citizens. We learn from Gellius (XV.20 § 3) that a contest also was held on this occasion, but we are not informed in what it consisted. The day on which this festival was held was the eighth of every month (ὀγδόαι), but more especially the eighth of Pyanepsion, because it was believed that Theseus returned from Crete on that day (Schol. ad Aristoph. l.c.; Plut. Thes. 36). Hence the festival was sometimes called ὀγδόδιον (Hesych. s.v.). From the passages above referred to, compared with Diodorus (V.52), it appears highly probable that the festival of the Theseia was not instituted till B.C. 469, when Cimon brought the remains of Theseus from Scyros to Athens.

(Meursius, Graec. Fer. s.v. Θησεῖα, Theseus, p133; Corsini, Fast. Att. II p330; Ideler, Histor. Untersuchungen über die Astronom. Beobachtung. der Alten, p383, &c.)


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