The death of Hyacinthus was celebrated at Amyclae by the second most important of Spartan festivals, the Hyacinthia (Ancient Greek Polytonic|Ὑακίνθια / "Hyakínthia")in the Spartan month Hyacinthius in early summer.


The Hyacinthia lasted three days. Their details have been passed down to us through the descriptions in Athenaeus and Didymus. The first day was given over to mourning for the death of the hero: sacrifices were offered to the dead, banquests were stark and without pomp or decoration, the sacrificial breads were very plain.

The second day was one of celebration for his rebirth. The young people played the cithara and the aulos, and sang of the glory of Apollo. Others participated in horse races. Numerous choirs competed in town, singing country songs and dancing. Amyclae was also the location of parades of carts decorated by the girls and women of Sparta. Numerous sacrifices were offered, exclusively goats, with the occasion of the κοπίς, kopis, banquets where the citizens invited their friends and relatives. The helots had the right to participate in the celebrations, as did any foreigners: "they treat not only their countrymen, but any foreigners who happen by" (Athenaeus, IV, 138F). The kopis took place under special tents known as Polytonic|σκηναί ("skēnaí"), a characteristic trait of ancient country festivals.

The third day is not described in detail, it is possible that it was more solemn, or that mysteries were held. It is also known that for this holiday, the Spartan women wove a chiton (Polytonic|χιτών / "chitōn", or "tunic") which is then offered to the god — a tradition similar to the peplos offered to Athena at Athens upon the occasion of the Panathenaic Games.

The Hyacinthia were a major Spartan holiday. Xenophon, in the "Hellenics" IV, 5, 11, reports that the Spartans interrupted their campaigns in order to be able to return to Laconia so as to participate. Pausanias writes that they even negotiated a truce especially for this purpose. According to Thucydides, upon the peace of Nicias, Athens, in order to prove its good will towards Sparta, promised to assist at the celebrations.

ee also



* Louis Gernet, « Frairies antiques », "Anthropologie de la Grèce antique", Flammarion, coll. « Champs », 1999 (ISBN 2-08-081105-3) ;
* Edmond Lévy, "Sparte : histoire politique et sociale jusqu’à la conquête romaine", Seuil, coll. « Points Histoire », Paris, 2003 (ISBN 2-02-032453-9) ;
* Michael Pettersson, "Cults of Apollo at Sparta: The Hyakinthia, the Gymnopaidiai, and the Karneia", Paul Åströms Forlag, Stockholm, 1992 (ISBN 91-7916-027-1) ;
* William Wayte et G.E. Marindin, "A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities", éditions William Smith, 1890.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • HYACINTHIA — I. HYACINTHIA Festum Apollinis sive Bacchi: Liberum enim eundem cum Sole esse, Aristor. scripsit, in deperditis Theologumenis, Macrob. teste Sat. l. 1. c. 18. et Ulpianus Rhetor ad Orat. Demosth. c. Midiam, ait, Εἴπερ τὸν Διόνυςον καὶ Α᾿πόλλωνα… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Hyacinthia — Provenance. Vient du grec huakintos Signifie : pierre précieuse Se fête le 17 août. Histoire. Saint Hyacinthe, dominicain à Cracovie en Pologne, participa à l évangélisation de son pays au XIIIème siècle. Ce prénom fut féminisé à la révolution.… …   Dictionnaire des prénoms français, arabes et bretons

  • Hyacinthus — /huy euh sin theuhs/, n. Class. Myth. a youth loved but accidentally killed by Apollo: from the youth s blood sprang the hyacinth. * * * In Greek mythology, a young man of great beauty who attracted the love of Apollo. The god killed him… …   Universalium

  • Apollo — This article is about the Greek and Roman god. For other uses, see Apollo (disambiguation) and Phoebus (disambiguation). Not to be confused with Phobos (mythology). Apollo …   Wikipedia

  • Dorians — This article is about the population of ancient Greece. For other uses, see Dorian (disambiguation). History of Greece This article is part of …   Wikipedia

  • Paean — (pronounced as the last two syllables of European , IPAEng|ˈpiːən) is a term used to describe a type of triumphal or grateful song, usually choral though sometimes individual. It comes from the ancient Greek use of the term, which was also used… …   Wikipedia

  • Gymnopaedia — The Gymnopaedia, in ancient Sparta, was a yearly celebration during which naked youths displayed their athletic and martial skills through the medium of dancing. The custom was introduced in 668 B.C.E., [Paul Cartledge, Spartan Reflections p.102] …   Wikipedia

  • Helots — The helots (in Classical Greek polytonic|Εἵλωτες / Heílôtes ) were an unfree population group that formed the main population of Laconia and the whole of Messenia. Their exact status was already disputed in Antiquity: according to Critias, they… …   Wikipedia

  • Battle of Plataea — Infobox Military Conflict conflict=Battle of Plataea partof=the Persian Wars caption=Map of the battlefield at Plataea date=August 27, 479 BC place=Plataea, Greece result=Decisive Greek victory. territory=Persia loses control of Attica.… …   Wikipedia

  • Hyacinth (mythology) — [ The Death of Hyacinthos , by Jean Broc.] In Greek mythology, Hyacinth or Hyacinthus (in Greek, Ὑάκινθος mdash; Hyakinthos) was a divine hero, the son of Clio and Pierus, King of Macedonia, or of king Oebalus of Sparta, or of king Amyclas, also… …   Wikipedia