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festival, apollo and 6th

THARGELIA. A Greek festival bearing signs of very high antiquity; in historical times part of the cult of Apollo, but quite Possibly, indeed probably, older than its arrival in Greece. The name is derived from OlcinnNos, which signifies an offering of some sort (exact nature and etymology quite uncertain) used at the festival. In Attica, it was held on the 6th and 7th of the month Thargelion, to which it gave its name; the latter date (towards the end of May) was supposed to be Apollo's birthday. On the 6th, certainly at Athens and probably elsewhere, two persons known as pharmakoi (magical people, "medicine-men"), who had been chosen for their ugliness, were beaten with plants of a magi cally purifying value, including squills; being thus filled with good magic, they were led through the city, presents of food being made to them. In classical times they seem to have been regarded chiefly as scapegoats, and some pretence was made of stoning or burning them to death; it is, however, fairly clear that this was not their only significance. In Attica they were called crOcucxoc, their connection with Apollo is simply that he is the great god of purifi cations. They occur elsewhere in Ionian ritual.

On the 7th, sundry holy things, very likely including andpeou'ova (see PYANOPSIA), were carried in procession, and an important musical festival with prizes for the best chorus, was held in hon our of Apollo; this is the only rite which we can definitely say is Apolline, and not taken over from some still earlier ceremony. It is noteworthy that on the 6th an offering of a ram was made to Demeter Chloe. The principal part of the festival was therefore agricultural; as already suggested, Apollo perhaps took it over because it was in part purificatory; it certainly has no intimate relation to his worship.


Mommsen, Feste der Stadt Athen, p. 468 et seq. (1898) ; M. P. Nilsson, Griechische Feste, p. 105 (1906) ; L. R. Farrell, Cults of the Greek States, vol. iv. p. 267 et seq. (5907). For the pharmakoi see V. Gebhard, Die Pharmakoi in lonien and die Sybakchoi in Athen (Amberg, 1926; bibl.).