Chapter 10

Democracy and Imperialism

The Panathenaia in the Age of Perikles


H.A. Shapiro

Definitions for understanding:

Democracy-(ideology) a political system governed by the people or their representative

Imperialism-a policy of extending your rule over foreign countries

Thetes- the lowest property class in Athens

Bema- an improvised raised platform.

Panathenaia- for all athenians


Chapter and Discussion Outline

I. In over one thousand years of Panathenaia, there is one major time that is recognized:

A. the year 566 A.D.

1. Festival was reorganized

2. Distinction between yearly celebration and 4 yearly Greater Panathenaia was 1st established

B. This tradition was preserved well into the Roman period in it's characteristics.

C. Took on many different political meanings, as the times changed.

II. Perikles began to rule Athens during the middle and third quarter of the fifth century

A. At that time, Athens had a strange ideology regarding politics

1. They were part of a very free and open democracy at home

2. Athens was also an imperialistic country that ruled unpityingly upon it's subject cities

B. Perikles justified the polar differences that seemed imposssible about democracy and empire.

1. In his funeral oration, he sites the importance of the activities of the Panathenaia

2. It was said that the games were for everyone, thus promoting democracy

3. The festival also promoted pride of Athens

III. The Panathenaiac festival is shown in the essay as a symbol of the duality of Periklean Athens

A. The Panathenaia was a combination of many different things which included:

1. Large scale animal sacrifices- especially the sacrifice of hundreds of oxen at the great altar of

Athena on the Acropolis.

2. Feasting-the distribution of meat to the populace in the Kerameikos

3. Processions- through Athens.

4. Wide range of contests-not only for the aristocratic. Gymnastic, running, boxing

5. Contests for musicians.

a. The idea of music and art are both very prominent because of the musical theorist Damon, who was Perikles advisor.

b. Arts flourish best in a democracy instead of an oligarchy like Sparta's. (Funeral ora)

B. Each day of the festival held it's own significance

1. The first day was for music and art competitions.

2. The second and third day were dedicated to athletic competitions

3. Day four was for equestrian (horse riding) contests

4. The fifth day was solely for tribal competition.

5. The climax of the festival was during the parade or pompe which brought a new peplos through the city

IV. Panathentaia was a visible symbol of the democracy of the empire.

A. Not because of the new temples or expensive prizes, but because of the goddess they formed these games to worship; Athena

B. Perikles convinced the Athenians that they had gone to war to defend a particular way of life

This was no better expressed than in the yearly festival of Athena.


Chapter ten's main focus involves democracy and imperialism during the rule of Perikles. Because Athens was considered a democracy, such activities as the Panathenaiac Games promoted a society where everyone could be active. It also took the focus away from the Empires away from home.

Relation to Class

In relation to how this article concerns the focus of our class, I believe it did so only vaguely. While other chapters dealt specifically with ways Athena was worshipped during the games, etc, our chapter very vaguely discussed that the purpose of the games was to worship Athena, and each year a new peplos was presented. I think that the best way that women were represented in this essay, was in saying that women also participated in the games. What Shapiro failed to do was explain their differing role than that of the men.