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Serving Athena
The Festival of the Panathenaia and the Construction of Athenian Identities


  • Date Published: March 2021
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108485272

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About the Authors
  • In ancient Athens, the Panathenaia was the most important festival and was celebrated in honour of Athena from the middle of the sixth century BC until the end of the fourth century AD. This in-depth study examines how this all-Athenian celebration was an occasion for constructing identities and how it affected those identities. Since not everyone took part in the same way, this differential participation articulated individuals' relationships both to the goddess and to the city so that the festival played an important role in negotiating what it meant to be Athenian (and non-Athenian). Julia Shear applies theories of identity formation which were developed in the social sciences to the ancient Greek material and brings together historical, epigraphical, and archaeological evidence to provide a better understanding both of this important occasion and of Athenian identities over the festival's long history.

    • The first monograph-length treatment of the festival of the Panathenaia, integrating written evidence with evidence from material culture
    • Covers the entire course of the Panathenaia's long history, fully engaging with the Hellenistic and Roman periods as well as the Archaic and Classical
    • Applies theories of social identity to the ancient Greek material
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Shear's approach is programmatically holistic; she uses literary, epigraphical, and archaeological sources as well as theories of the social sciences … This book provides impressive evidence for the festival throughout its history and thought-provoking insights into the logics of constructing identities for the various subgroups attested as participants over the course of time. Hopefully, it will motivate further discussion about the importance and relevance of cult practices for social history - and for the cult.' Marion Meyer, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2021
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108485272
    • length: 500 pages
    • dimensions: 250 x 175 x 40 mm
    • weight: 1.12kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The Panathenaia: An Introduction
    2. Giants and Heroes: The Mythologies of the Panathenaia
    3. The Little Panathenaia
    4. The Great Panathenaia: Ritual and Reciprocity
    5. The Panathenaic Games: Entertaining the Goddess
    6. Creating Identities at the Great Panathenaia: Athenian Men
    7. Creating Identities at the Great Panathenaia: Other Residents and Non-Residents
    8. The City, the Goddess and the Festival
    Appendix 1. The Hellenistic Archons of Athens:
    323/2 to 48/7 BC
    Appendix 2. The Parthenon Frieze and the Panathenaia
    Appendix 3. The Races for the Apobates and the Dismounting Charioteer
    Appendix 4: The Pyrrhiche and the Tribal Team Events
    Appendix 5: The Date of IG II2 3079 = IG II3.4 528
    Appendix 6: The Officials of the Great Panathenaia in the Third Century BC
    Appendix 7: Tiberius Claudius Novius and the Great Panathenaia Sebasta
    Appendix 8: The Text of Agora XVIII C197
    Index Locorum
    Index of Collections
    General Index.

  • Author

    Julia L. Shear, Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington
    Julia L. Shear is a CHS Fellow in Hellenic Studies at the Center for Hellenic Studies of Harvard University and a Senior Associate Member of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, having previously held a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and positions at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul and the University of Glasgow. She is the author of Polis and Revolution: Responding to Oligarchy in Classical Athens (Cambridge, 2011), which was shortlisted for the Runciman Award in 2012, and has published a significant series of articles on Athenian religion, memory, society and culture. She has also excavated extensively on various sites in Greece, Italy and Cyprus and especially in the Athenian Agora in Athens in Greece.

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