Winners and wolves. Reasons and rationales of festival networks in the Hellenistic world

    Activity: Talk and presentationProfessional or public presentationProfessional


    What exactly motivated Antenor, son of Xenares from Miletos, to travel from Ionia across the Aegean to participate in the games of the Lykaia in Arkadia? The sanctuary of Zeus Lykaion was a particularly dangerous place, especially for young men who were liable to be transformed into werewolves, if they weren’t ritually sacrificed and eaten. But in the Hellenistic period even this wildest of sanctuaries hosted the most civic of ritual performances as it was converted for a time into a space of athletic competition.
    Panhellenic festivals are such an intrinsic part of Greek culture that we often forget the tremendous effort that went into organizing them at the local level, as well as those who were attracted to them –from organizer, delegate, athlete, to spectactor, or entrepreneur– and their own reasons for participating in them. In each case there were both reasons and rationales, from local epiphanies to Delphic oracles to marketing strategies, that were part of the decision-making process in founding or participating in these festivals.
    This paper (work-in-progress) draws on the Groningen Connected Contests database as it sketches a line of inquiry into complex networks of motivations represented by such festivals as the Lykaia. As it does so it addresses theoretical approaches to agency (Latour, Gell, Ingold) in an attempt to understand the strands of motivation at local, regional and panhellenic scales that came together through festivals, an increasing phenomenon in the Hellenistic era.
    Event titleCRASIS 7th Annual Meeting: Motivation and Causality
    Event typeConference
    LocationGroningen, Netherlands
    Degree of RecognitionInternational