A biannual event started on the 15th of Metageitnion at Eleusis: the Eleusinia. This year the festival starts on August 18. Will you join us for the first and last day celebrations of it on August 18 and August 21 at the usual 10 am EDT?

From the 15th day to the 18th day of Metageitnion, the Eleusinia took place. It was a festival that served as a prelude to the Mysteries and consisted mostly of sporting events.It was not part of the Eleusian Mysteries, however. The Eleusinia was held on the 4th year of every Olympiad, and on a lesser scale on the 2nd year. The festival included a religious procession and sacrifices on the first day, as well as games the second and third. The winner's prize was a quantity of grain. This is noted in Pindar's Scholia:

"It is celebrated there [in Eleusis], the agon in honor of Kore and Demeter, which is called Eleusinia; the prize consists of barley grains... this is the first agon ever celebrated. In fact, ...after Demeter found the fruit of strength, men made show of it and performed in this competition..." [Ol. 150a/b]

The first day boasted at least a general procession but there are reports of a procession of the youths and a sacrifice on their part of oxen as well. This could have been on the first or third day, we are not sure. We are sure, however, that they were held at Eleusis, as were the games. Eleusis boasted a stadium, a race track and also a theater, after all. In modern times all these are now lost due to the construction of factories.

We know from several sources that the main sporting events were running races, in particular the stadion and the race in arms, but we also know of other competitions: pancratium, pentathlon at the Megala ('Greater' Eleusinia), diaulos and horse racing at the Megala, dolichos, boxing, a horse race and a chariot race. there was even a musical competition and an 'ancestral competition', although we are not entirely sure what that entailed.

A list of expenditures for the celebrations informs us that the competitions were essentially the same, but at the Megala the prizes were most valuable. A report drawn up by the treasurers of Eleusis remembered uses of the wheat grown in the sacred plain of Rharos: among those mentioned, there are also the medimnai awarded to the winners at the Eleusinian competitions: 70 to the winners of the Mikra, and 260 to those of the Megala.

Will you join us for this event? The rituals can be found here and the event page can be found here.