Julia L. Shear
Polis and Panathenaia: The History and Development of Athena's Festival (Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)
This dissertation provides the first diachronic investigation of the history and development of the Panathenaia at Athens, the city's most important festival honoring the goddess Athena. Previous scholars have either discussed the celebration in the overall context of Athenian religion or focused on particular details without consideration of the occasion's overall development. These approaches have been synchronic and they assume that the festival remained static over the course of its history. Through detailed study of the extensive literary and epigraphical testimonia and of the relevant visual material, primarily Panathenaic prize amphorae and victors' monuments, this project shows that the festivities changed extensively during the course of their history from their reorganization in 566/5 BC until the last decade of the fourth century AD. It also demonstrates that the Panathenaia commemorated the gods' conquest of the Giants and was unified by its victory theme. As an "all-Athenian" celebration, the occasion also helped to elucidate what it meant to be an Athenian: public participation in the event. This historical investigation provides the foundation for the study's second part concerning the relationship between the Panathenaia and the Athenian topography in which it was set. It shows that celebration activated the cityscape and directly affected the development of Athens. The festival's victory and mythological themes were used repeatedly in the iconographical programs of the monuments and they linked the different venues to create a Panathenaic network encompassing the city. Studying these relationships also emphasizes the way in which human military achievements were assimilated to the divine success so that the Panathenaia also celebrated Athenian martial victory: to be an Athenian was to be successful in war and to commemorate the city's accomplishments at Athena's festival. The connections between the topography and the festivities show that, in the Roman period, the occasion continued to emphasize the city's military successes, albeit historical rather than current ones, as well as her role as an important cultural center.