PAT ritual announcement: the Dipolieia

Two days after the Skiraphoria, on June 19, Elaion is organizing another PAT ritual. This time, the ritual is for the Dipolieia. The Dipolieia appears to have been a sacrifice on the altar of Zeuis Polieus on the Acropolis and not a public festival involving a procession or rites conducted in homes. It was for the administration of Athens. The Dipolieia, because of its association with the Bouphónia, has caused a great amount of ambiguity between scholars. Will you join us in celebrating a mix?

The Dipolieia (Διπολεῖα) has much contradictory evidence and differences of opinion on it’s function and importance. It seems to have been primarily for Zeus. The Dipolieia appears not to be a festival involving the Polis as a whole but–like the Bouphónia that was held during it–purification was of great importance. I have written about the Bouphónia before; the post can be found here.
In short, the odd ritual of the Bouphónia comes down to this:

“Every year on the fourteenth day of
Skirophorion, from the time of Erechtheus (1397 – 1347 BC) to–at least–the
second century AD, an odd ritual was reenacted. It was called the ‘Bouphónia’
(βουφόνια), and was part of another festival; the ‘Dipolieia’, a
feast in honor of Zeus Polieus (Zeus of the City).
On top of the Acropolis, oxen are released
from the temple of Zeus Polieus. Outside lie cakes on a table, and the oxen are
herded past them. Nearby, two women with bowls of water in their hands and a man
who is sharpening an axe and knife watch. One of the oxen in line reaches for
one of the cakes and devours it. One of the nearby men shouts at the ox, and
rushes to the man who is sharpening his weapons. He grabs the double-bladed axe
and with one big swing, ends the life of the ox. The Ox-Slayer drops the axe and
flees the scene. The slain animal is sacrificed properly to Zeus Polieus. And a
hunt begins for the murderer of Zeus’ sacred ox. He is found and brought to
trial. The blame is passed from the Ox-Slayer, to the man with the weapons, to
the women with the water and eventually the weapons themselves. They are found
guilt and tossed off of a cliff. The ox is stuffed and put out on the field, in
front of a plough.
[…] It seems to me that there is an underlying
theme to this myth, and its subsequent festival: that an animal which is
slaughtered by a man alone, is killed, yet an animal which is slaughtered by a
group becomes a sacrifice. Everyone is ‘to blame’ for the death of the ox,
simply by being there, and in order to break the circle, an inanimate
object–which, obviously, cannot defend itself, thus the cycle cannot possibly
continue–is chosen to bear the blame, thus taking it off of everyone else.”

The Bouphónia is an ancient ritual, archaic even in classical times. the Dipolieia is old as well but was celebrated for a very long time in classical times. As such, we invite you all to join us on 19 June at the regular 10 AM EDT to honour Zeus in a mixture of the two festivals. The ritual can be found here and if you would like to discuss the PAT ritual with others, feel free to do so here.

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