Beth Stannke
Karen Valentas
Angie Myers
Bridget McGloon

"Women in the Panathenaic and Other Festivals"

It is very apparent that women played a subordinate role in ancient Greece. Only through religion did they receive equal and in some cases greater status to that of men. In Athens women played a particularly significant role in the worship of Athena.

This article emphasizes the peplos given to Athena. It was given to Athena in a ceremony called Panathenaia. The origins of this festival are explained in a myth involving Athena. Athena trusted Pandrosos to watch Erichthonios, the future king of Athens. She was given instructions not to open the chest in which the baby was kept. Unfortunately, Pandrosos’ sisters opened the chest and found the baby to be surrounded by snakes and to be part snake himself. When Athena heard of this she decided to raise the baby herself. When Erichthonios became king, he raised a wooden image of Athena on the Acropolis and instituted the festival of Panathenaia.

Women played a very important role in this ceremony. The most prominent role was in the making of the peplos. Only maidens from aristocratic families could be involved in the weaving of this tapestry. Some of these women, called ergastinai, and a few other aristocrat women were then selected to serve as kanephoroi. These were the women who carried baskets of barley in which knives used for a sacrifice were hidden.

This chapter relates to our class because it shows how women were portrayed in both Greek myths and in society. It supports our already existing view of women as subordinate in ancient Greece. However, it also shows us how women play important roles in religious practices.