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Bill Thayer

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 p271  Chelidonia

Article by Leonhard Schmitz, Ph.D., F.R.S.E., Rector of the High School of Edinburgh
on p271 of

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

CHELIDO′NIA (χελιδόνια), a custom observed in the island of Rhodes, in the month of Boëdromion, the time when the swallows returned. During that season boys, called χελιδονισταί, went from house to house collecting little gifts, ostensibly for the returning swallows (χελιδονίζειν), and singing a song which is still extant (Athen. VIII p360; compare Ilgen, Opusc. Phil. I p164, and Eustath. ad Odyss. XXI sub fin.). It is said to have been introduced by Cleobulus of Lindus, at the same period when the town was in great distress. The chelidonia, which have sometimes been called a festival, seem to have been nothing but a peculiar mode of begging, which on the occasion of the return of the swallows was carried on by boys in the manner stated above. Many analogies may still be observed in various countries at the various seasons of the year.

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Page updated: 20 Sep 07