Sunday, January 24, 2016



Ian Rutherford and James Irvine, "The Race in the Athenian Oschophoria and an Oschophoricon by Pindar," Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 72 (1988) 43-51 (at 43, footnote omitted):
The Oschophoria was a vintage festival held in the month of Pyanepsion (October/November) and dedicated jointly to Athena and Dionysus, and in all likelihood Theseus also. Our sources attribute two main elements to it: first, a procession from a certain temple of Dionysus to the temple of Athena Sciras at Phalerum, led by two young men dressed as women and carrying vine-branches (ὦϲχαι); second, a foot-race between adolescent boys, probably run along the same route as the procession, with a special potion called the πενταπλόα as the prize.
See also Edward Kadletz, "The Race and Procession of the Athenian Oschophoroi", Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 21 (1980) 361-371.

Classical scholar Rhys Carpenter (1889-1980) wrote an imaginative reconstruction of the processional hymn for this festival in The Sun-Thief and Other Poems (London: Humphrey Milford / Oxford University Press, 1914), pp. 128-130:

The staffs are wreathed; move on, move on,
While the youths and maidens sing
    'Io, Bacchus, lord and king,
    Worshipful in Phaleron,
    To thy mystic shrine we bring
    Song and sacred offering.'

The sun laughs overhead; the white way gleams;
About us are the olives and the vineyards where the light
    Leaps and dances in the heat
    And the autumn's restless feet
Dance the harvest dances, where the might
    Of September, month of dreams,
    Holds the valleys, hills, and streams,
Still the sun laughs: still the white way gleams.

    Away, away, move on, move on,
    Worshipping at Phaleron
With festival and sound of dancing feet:
Mid-summer's past and autumn's here to greet.
Dance the harvest-dances on the bursting vine,
Harvest well the vine-crop, well tread out the wine,
    While September, month of dreams,
    Holds the valleys, hills, and streams,
    And the wine-press in the heat
    Gleams with glint of naked feet.
        Away! away!
    The blithe processional moves on
    From Athens unto Phaleron.

The staffs are wreathed, the choruses of youths and maidens sing
    'Io, Bacchus, lord and king,
    To thy mystic shrine we bring
    Song and sacred offering,
    Ancient legends, ever new,
    How the godlike Theseus slew
    Far in Crete the Minotaur,
    How for his return he swore
    Sails of white, and was forsworn,
    How King Aegeus hope-forlorn
    Hurled himself into the sea,
    How the festive revelry
    Knew not aught of Aegeus dead,
    But, by smiling Theseus led,
    Heard not, till their mirth was spent:
    —Revelry became lament.'
So they sing, and so move on,
    Worshipping, to Phaleron.

So they move, and so they sing
    'Io, Bacchus, lord and king,
    Thou art hid, the mystic wine-god,
    In the hot sun-beaten vine;
    In the must, mad feet of thine trod;
    In the spurting purple wine.
    Sun and summer, they are thine,
    Song and gay brain-reeling mirth,
    Revelry and riot,
    Laughter and delight of earth,
    Joy shall not be quiet.'—
    Fiercer grows the strain,
    Awakening dull pain.

    'Thou art the foam upon the must,
    The purple in the lees of lust,
The cup o'erturned, the dregs spilt in the dust.'
    Suddenly the sadness falls;
    Weary lamentation calls,
        Evoe, evoe,
        Iou, iou.
    'Io, Bacchus, lord and king,'—
    Speech there is no fathoming;
    Revel spent and sorrow come,
    Mirth and merriment made dumb.
        Iou! iou!
        Evoe! evoe!—

So they sang, and so moved on
    From Athens into Phaleron.

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