Herakleia

by Melissa

(Metageitnion 2) A celebration of the death of Herakles by athletes in the gymnasium in Kynosarges, noted for the fact that it was the only one in Athens that was open to non-citizens.  The day involved indulgence in eating and drinking, emulation of the hero honored.  In fact, twelve men were selected to act as “parasitoi” (the root word for “parasite”), feast companions of the divinity.  The bulls sacrificed for the offering and meal had to be lifted onto the altar, although this would be likely have been a lower altar than the familiar waist-high style; nonetheless, the lifting involved a feat of strength, again in homage to the hero.  This was possibly a special day for non-citizens.

Sources:
Parke, H.W., Festivals of the Athenians, 1977, London