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Friday, 29 August 2014

The Panigyri (Panegyri, Panegyris) in Greece, Ancient and Modern; The Romaika Dance; The Klarino in Greece since 1835

A Greek High School project on the subject of panigyria throughout history

See also this site

Martin Nilsson on the Ancient Greek Panegyreis
Greek Popular (Folk) Religion, by Martin P. Nilsson, 1940

Το κείμενο που ακολουθεί δημοσιεύτηκε για πρώτη φορά στην ΕΦΗΜΕΡΙΣ τον Αύγουστο του 1997.

Βασιλική Γ. Σιάσιου
"Κατά τον Martin Nilsson, στο έργο του Ελληνική Λαϊκή Θρησκεία «ένας αρχαίος Έλληνας θα αισθανόταν σα να ήταν στην πατρίδα του, αν παραβρισκόταν σ’ ένα νεότερο πανηγύρι».

Κι αλλού ο ίδιος μελετητής τονίζει: «Όποιος βλέπει σημερινό ελληνικό πανηγύρι, θυμάται αμέσως τα αρχαία. Η λατρεία είναι νέα – της Παναγίας ή κάποιου αγίου- η ζωή όμως μένει η ίδια".

"At all panegyreis there were fairs, and in some cases the fair seems to have been the chief attraction. This was apparently so at the great panegyris on the island of Delos, at which all Ionians assembled. At the panegyris of the Aetolians at Thermos there was a great fair. Moreover, it seems that a market was held at all great festivals. Aristophanes speaks of them. Sometimes the word "panegyris" signifies simply "fair." In later times special regulations were made for these fairs. A motley sort of life took place at such assemblies. The great throng of people who collected together needed shelter and food, for a panegyris lasted several days. Tents and barracks were erected. Skenein (to set up a tent or barrack) is the common word for taking part in such an assembly. Hawkers and cooks set up their booths. Jugglers and acrobats gave exhibitions. At certain sanctuaries situated in remote and desert places buildings were erected to serve as lodging houses and banquet halls.

Surely all this seems to have very little to do with religion. But the panegyreis had a religious foundation in the cult of the gods, and although they seem to be secular, they represent a side of Greek religion which should not be ignored. I may recall what I said earlier about the intimate relations between the cult of the gods and secular life in ancient Greece, relations which are of such a character that they sometimes astonish us. We are strongly under the influence of Protestant and Puritan ideas, which make a sharp division between matters pertaining to God and the affairs of our mundane life. They do not allow sacred and secular occupations to be intermingled. It is otherwise in southern Europe, and especially in Greece. Whoever has seen a modern Greek panegyreis is strongly reminded of the ancient ones. The cult is new, being that of the Panagia or some saint, but the life is the same. Tents, bowers, and booths are erected, and the people feast and make merry. Of course religion has been secularized, but this form of religion, which seems to us hardly to be religion at all, has shown an extreme tenacity. It satisfies the need which men feel to get together, to enjoy themselves, to feast, and to make merry, and likewise the need of interrupting and lighting up the monotonous course of daily life. These are social needs which should not be overlooked, and Greek religion should not be blamed because it fulfilled them. In this respect it was more lasting than in any other.

In concluding this chapter I may remark that I have treated the changes which Greek popular religion underwent from a social point of view. The increase of the population in certain towns and the life of the towns remodeled the old rustic cults and made them insufficient for the new wants which arose through the change in social conditions. The development of the power and glory of the city exalted the great gods too far above the common people. Such people needed a religion which was nearer to them, gods who could help them in the affairs of daily life, and a cult in which the emotional element had its due share. The way was opened for new gods. On the other hand Greek religion did have a social aspect. The cult of the gods provided opportunities for assembling and feasting and for mutual intercourse between people from neighboring towns and even from all Greek countries. The panegyreis were an extremely important part of Greek social life, and the service which Greek religion rendered through them should not be undervalued".

Martin P. Nilsson, Greek Popular Religion, 1940


The Romaika Dance (interesting text; Illustrated London News, November 20, 1858):

"In connection with these restored Olympic Games we give the accompanying Illustration of the national Greek dance the Romaika, danced by Greek fishermen. Its history has been connected with the dance invented at Delos, when Theseus came thither from Crete to commemorate the adventure of Ariadne and the Cretan Labyrinth, and the character of its movements very much corresponds with those described by Plutarch in his “Life of Theseus.”

The Oxford Patristic Greek Lexicon gives different meanings for the Panigiris: Pagan, Jewish and Christian.

In pagan usage, the word panigiris meant "festal assembly, festival; of imperial cult, at which martyrdoms took place".

In Jewish usage, it meant "of the Sabbath".

In Christian usage it meant "of a dedication-festival; of annual commemoration of saints, especially martyrs"; or, of major feasts, Easter, Annunciation, Transfiguration, Exaltation of the Cross.

It could also mean a time of rejoicing, festivity; of the entire life of the primitive church; an assembly; a market or trading-fair.

In Liddell and Scott's A Greek-English Lexicon, their dictionary of Ancient Greek, the word Panigiris is defined as "an assembly of a whole nation, a national festival, solemn assembly; holding festivals, keeping holy-days; an occasion for great markets or fairs". Later it came to mean "to make a set speech in a public assembly, to deliver a panegyric; to sound as at a festival, of flutes etc."


On the Klarino in Greece since 1835 (from Greek Folk Musical Instruments, National Bank of Greece, 1979):

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