Sources for Anthesteria

Aelian, On Animals 4.43
For they announce with a herald the Dionysia, the Lenaia, the Chytroi and the Gephyrismoi.

Aristotle, Constitution of the Athenians 3.5
Not all the magistrates lived together. The King kept what is now called the Boukoleion [cow-shed] near the Prytaneion. The evidence is that even now the mating and marriage of the wife of the King with Dionysos takes place there.

Athenaios, Deipnosophistai 7.276a
In my Alexandria a festival called Lagunophoria was celebrated, concerning which Eratosthenes has some discussion in his book on Arsinoe. He says as follows: While Ptolemy was celebrating all sorts of festivals and sacrifices, especially ones for Dionysos, Arsinoe asked the one who was carrying branches what day he was celebrating and what the festival was. He replied, It is Lagunophoria and they feast on food brought to them as they recline on rustic couches and each drinks from his own flask or lagunos, which they all bring with them. When he had gone she looked at us and said, ‘These are dirty feasts, for it means that there is a gathering of an undifferentiated crowd, offering stale and unattractive food.’ If, however, the type of food had pleased her, the queen would not have become irritated, since they were doing the very same things as are done during the Choes. For during that festival they feast in private and the one who invited them to the feast provides these things.

Athenaios, Deipnosophistai 10.437b-e
Timaios says that the tyrant Dionysios at the festival of the Choes set a golden crown as a prize for the one who first drank up his chous and that Xenocrates the philosopher finished first and, taking the golden crown and departing, placed it on the herm set up in his courtyard, the one on which he customarily placed flower crowns as he was going back home in the evening, and for this he was marveled at. Phanodemos says that Demophon the King instituted the festival of the Pitchers at Athens. When Orestes arrived at Athens after killing his mother Demophon wanted to receive him, but was not willing to let him approach the sacred rites nor share the libations, since he had not yet been put on trial. So he ordered the sacred things to be locked up and a separate pitcher of wine to be set beside each person, saying that a flat cake would be given as a prize to the one who drained his first. He also ordered them, when they had stopped drinking, not to put the wreathes with which they were crowned on the sacred objects, because they had been under the same roof with Orestes. Rather each one was to twine them around his own pitcher and take the wreathes to the priestess at the precinct in Limnai, and then to perform the rest of the sacrifices in the sanctuary. The festival has been called Choes ever since. It is the custom at the festival of the Choes at Athens that gifts and then pay be sent to teachers, the very ones who themselves invited their close friends to dinner in this way: ‘you play the teacher, you bum, and you have need of the pay-giving Choes, dining not without luxury.’

Athenaios, Deipnosophistai 12.533d
Possis in his third book of Magnesian Things says that Themistokles when taking up the office of crownbearer in Magnesia sacrificed to Athene and called the festival the Panathenaia and when sacrificing to Dionysos the Chous-drinker also introduced the festival of the Choes there.

Bekker, Anecdota 1.316
There are certain Chutroi. A festival in Athens so named, in which it was possible to mock the others and especially those in government.

 Collect. Alex. 248
… lift up your voice to him! We will sing of Dionysos on holy days. Twelve months he was away: now the season is here, and all the flowers … fruit … sacred oak …

Demosthenes, Against Neaira 73; 74-79
And this woman offered for you on behalf of the city the unspeakably holy rites, and she saw what it was inappropriate for her, being a foreigner, to see; and being a foreigner she entered where no other of all the Athenians except the wife of the king enters; she administered the oath to the gerarai who serve at the rites, and she was given to Dionysos as his bride, and she performed on behalf of the city the traditional acts, many sacred and ineffable ones, towards the Gods. In ancient times, Athenians, there was a monarchy in our city, and the kingship belonged to those who in turn were outstanding because of being indigenous. The king used to make all of the sacrifices, and his wife used to perform those which were most holy and ineffable – and appropriately since she was queen. But when Theseus centralized the city and created a democracy, and the city became populace, the people continued no less than before to select the king, electing him from among the most distinguished in noble qualities. And they passed a law that his wife should be an Athenian who has never had intercourse with another man, but that he should marry a virgin, in order that according to ancestral custom she might offer the ineffably holy rites on behalf of the city, and that the customary observances might be done for the Gods piously, and that nothing might be neglected or altered. They inscribed this law on a stele and set it beside the altar in the sanctuary of Dionysos En Limnais. This stele is still standing today, displaying the inscription in worn Attic letters. Thus the people bore witness about their own piety toward the God and left a testament for their successors that we require her who will be given to the God as his bride and will perform the sacred rites to be that kind of woman. For these reasons they set in the most ancient and holy temple of Dionysos in Limnai, so that most people could not see the inscription. For it is opened once each year, on the twelfth of the month Anthesterion. These sacred and holy rites for the celebration of which your ancestors provided so well and so magnificently, it is your duty, men of Athens, to maintain with devotion, and likewise to punish those who insolently defy your laws and have been guilty of shameless impiety toward the Gods; and this for two reasons: first, that they may pay the penalty for their crimes; and, secondly, that others may take warning, and may fear to commit any sin against the Gods and against the state. I wish now to call before you the sacred herald who waits upon the wife of the king, when she administers the oath to the venerable priestesses as they carry their baskets in front of the altar before they touch the victims, in order that you may hear the oath and the words that are pronounced, at least as far as it is permitted you to hear them; and that you may understand how august and holy and ancient the rites are. I live a holy life and am pure and unstained by all else that pollutes and by commerce with man and I will celebrate the feast of the wine God and the Iobacchic feast in honor of Dionysos in accordance with custom and at the appointed times. You have heard the oath and the accepted rites handed down by our fathers, as far as it is permitted to speak of them, and how this woman, whom Stephanos betrothed to Theogenes when the latter was king, as his own daughter, performed these rites, and administered the oath to the venerable priestesses; and you know that even the women who behold these rites are not permitted to speak of them to anyone else. Let me now bring before you a piece of evidence which was, to be sure, given in secret, but which I shall show by the facts themselves to be clear and true.

Dionysios Halikarnassos, Roman Antiquities 7.72.11
It is commanded to those bringing back the victory spoils that they revile and make jokes about the most famous men along with their generals, like those escorts on wagons during the Athenian festival who used to carry on with jokes but now sing improvisational poems.

Etymologicum Magnum s.v. gerarai
Among the Athenians holy women whom the king appoints in number equal to the altars of Dionysos to honor the God.

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris 947ff
(Orestes speaking) At first none of my hosts willingly received me, on the grounds that I was hated by the Gods, but those who had scruples supplied me provisions at a single table since we were under the same roof, and by their silence they made me shunned so that I might be separated from them at food and drink, and filling for all an equal amount of wine in individual pitchers, they took pleasure. I did not think it right to question my hosts and grieved in silence and pretended not to know, sorrowing deeply because I was my mother’s murderer. I hear that my misfortunes have become a rite for the Athenians and that the custom still remains that the people of Athena honor the Choes-pitcher.

Harpokration s.v. Choes
A festival done among the Athenians on the twelfth of Anthesterion. The whole feast for Dionysos is jointly called Anthesteria, but its parts are Pithoigia, Choes, Chutroi.

Harpokration s.v. processions and processing
Instead of reproach and reproaching. Demosthenes in the speech For Ktesiphon. He takes the metaphor from those in the Dionysiac processions on wagons being reproached by each other.

 Hesychius s.v. gerarai
Generally priestesses, in particular those completing the sacrifices to Dionysos in Limnai, fourteen in number.

 Hesychius s.v. marriage of Dionysos
A marriage occurs between the wife of the king and the God. 

Hesychius s.v. Pithoigia
A festival in Athens.

 Hesychius s.v. twelfth
A festival in Athens which they called Choes.

 Hyginus, Astronomica 2.2
Bear Watcher. Some have said that he is Icarius, father of Erigone, to whom, on account of his justice and piety, Father Liber gave wine, the vine, and the grape, so that he could show men how to plant the vine, what would grow from it, and how to use what was produced. When he had planted the vine, and by careful tending with a pruning-knife had made it flourish, a goat is said to have broken into the vineyard, and nibbled the tenderest leaves he saw there. Icarius, angered by this, took him and killed him and from his skin made a sack, and blowing it up, bound it tight, and cast it among his friends, directing them to dance around it. And so Eratosthenes says: Around the goat of Icarius they first danced. Others say that Icarius, when he had received the wine from Father Liber, straightway put full wineskins on a wagon. For this he was called Boötes. When he showed it to the shepherds on going round through the Attic country, some of them, greedy and attracted by the new kind of drink, became stupefied, and sprawling here and there, as if half-dead, kept uttering unseemly things. The others, thinking poison had been given the shepherds by Icarius, so that he could drive their flocks into his own territory, killed him, and threw him into a well, or, as others say, buried him near a certain tree. However, when those who had fallen asleep, woke up, saying that they had never rested better, and kept asking for Icarius in order to reward him, his murderers, stirred by conscience, at once took to flight and came to the island of the Ceans. Received there as guests, they established homes for themselves. But when Erigone, the daughter of Icarius, moved by longing for her father, saw he did not return and was on the point of going out to hunt for him, the dog of Icarius, Maera by name, returned to her, howling as if lamenting the death of its master. It gave her no slight suspicion of murder, for the timid girl would naturally suspect her father had been killed since he had been gone so many months and days. But the dog, taking hold of her dress with its teeth, led her to the body. As soon as the girl saw it, abandoning hope, and overcome with loneliness and poverty, with many tearful lamentations she brought death on herself by hanging from the very tree beneath which her father was buried. And the dog made atonement for her death by its own life. Some say that it cast itself into the well, Anigrus by name. For this reason they repeat the story that no one afterward drank from that well. Jupiter, pitying their misfortune, represented their forms among the stars. And so many have called Icarius, Boötes, and Erigone, the Virgin, about whom we shall speak later. The dog, however, from its own name and likeness, they have called Canicula. It is called Procyon by the Greeks, because it rises before the greater Dog. Others say these were pictured among the stars by Father Liber. In the meantime in the district of the Athenians many girls without cause committed suicide by hanging, because Erigone, in dying, had prayed that Athenian girls should meet the same kind of death she was to suffer if the Athenians did not investigate the death of Icarius and avenge it. And so when these things happened as described, Apollo gave oracular response to them when they consulted him, saying that they should appease Erigone if they wanted to be free from the affliction. So since she hanged herself, they instituted a practice of swinging themselves on ropes with bars of wood attached, so that the one hanging could be moved by the wind. They instituted this as a solemn ceremony, and they perform it both privately and publicly, and call it alétis, aptly terming her mendicant who, unknown and lonely, sought for her father with the God. The Greeks call such people alétides.

IG ii 1672.204
For the Choes, for the public slaves: victim, 23 drachmae; pots, 5; two measures of wine, 16.

 IG ii 13139.71
He was of an age for ‘choic’ things, but Fate anticipated the Choes.

 IG ii 1368 127-31
Whoever of the Iobacchoi receives an allotment or office or position, let him make a libation to the Iobacchoi worthy of his position – marriage, birth, Choes, ephebia, civil service, staff-bearing, council …

 Kallimachos, Hekale fr. 305
For the Limnaian one they held festivals with choruses.

 Kallimachos, Aitia 1.1
Nor did the morn of the Broaching of the Jars pass unheeded, nor that whereon the Pitchers of Orestes bring a white day for slaves. And when he kept the yearly festival of Ikarios’ child, thy day, Erigone, lady most sorrowful of Attic women, he invited to a banquet his familiars, and among them a stranger who was newly visiting Egypt, whither he had come on some private business.

 Krates, Attic Dialect Book Two as cited in Athenaios, Deipnosophistai11.495a-c
Choes were once called pilikai. The type of pitcher earlier was like the Panathenaic amphorae, but later it took on the form of an oinochoe, like those put out at the festival, a sort that they once called olpai, using them for the pouring of wine just as Ion of Chios says in the Eurutidai. But now such a pitcher, having been sanctified in some manner, is used only in the festival, and the one for daily use has changed its form.

 LSAM 37.19-24
Let the priest have the robe he wishes and a golden crown in the month Lenaion and Anthesterion so that he may lead those bringing home Dionysos in the proper way.

 LSAM 48.21-23
At the festival the priests and priestesses of Bacchic Dionysos will bring the God home from dawn to dusk.

 Menander, Epistles 4.18.10
As for their cups made by Therikles and their goblets and their gold and all the Gods produced among them and envied in their courts, I would not take them in exchange for our yearly Choes and the Lenaia in the theater and yesterday’s talk and the schools in the Lyceum and the holy Academy, I swear by Dionysos and his bacchic ivy, with which I wish to be crowned more than with Ptolemaic diadems, for where in Egypt will I see an assembly, a vote taken? Where the democratic thron speaking its mind? Where the law-givers with ivy in their holy hair? What roped enclosure? What election? What Chutroi? What potter’s quarter, agora, courts, beautiful acropolis, mysteries, nearby Salamis, the Narrows, Psyttalia, Marathon?

P. Oxy. VI 853
Anthesteria is for three days, the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth – but the twelfth day is most special.

 Phanodemos, cited in Athenaios’ Deipnosophistai 11.465a
At the temple of Dionysos in Lemnai the Athenians bring the new wine from the jars and mix it in honor of the God and then they drink it themselves. Because of this custom Dionysos is called Limnaios, because the wine was mixed with water and then for the first time drunk diluted. Therefore the streams were called Nymphs and Nurses of Dionysos because mixed-in water increases the wine. Then having taken pleasure in the mixture they hymned Dionysos in songs, dancing and addressing him as Euanthes and Dithyrambos and the Bacchic One and Bromios.

 Philostratos, Heroikos 12.2
Children in Athens during the month of Anthesterion are crowned with flowers on the third year from birth.

 Philostratos, Life of Apollonios of Tyana 4.21
Apollonios said he was amazed at the Athenians regarding the Dionysia, which they celebrate in the season of Anthesterion, for he thought they visited the theater to hear monodies and songs from the parabasis and all the other lyrics belonging to comedy and tragedy, but when he heard that they dance twists to the sound of the aulos and that amid both Orphic epics and theologies they act, sometimes as Seasons sometimes as Nymphs and sometimes as Bacchai, he was amazed at this.

Philostratos, Lives of the Sophists 1.25.1
For in the month Anthesterion a trireme raised into the air is escorted into the agora which the priest of Dionysos steers like a helmsman with its lines loose from the sea.

 Photius s.v. buckthorn
A plant that at the Choes they chewed from dawn as a preventative medicine. They also smeared their houses with pitch for this is unpollutable. Therefore also at the birth of children they smear their houses to drive away daimones.

 Photius s.v. polluted days
On the day of the month Anthesterion at which the souls of the departed are thought to come up, they chewed buckthorn beginning at dawn and smeared the doors with pitch.

 Photius s.v. that from the wagons
This is about those mocking openly. For in Athens at the festival of the Choes those reveling on the wagons mocked and reviled those they met and they did the same also at the Lenaia.

 Photius s.v. To the door Kares, it’s no longer Anthesteria
Some say this proverb was said because of the number of Karian slaves, since they were feasting at the Anthesteria and not working. When the festival ended they said, sending them out to work, ‘to the door, Kares; it’s no longer Anthesteria.’ But some have the proverb as follows: ‘to the door, Keres; Anthesteria is not inside,’ since the souls were going throughout the city in the Anthesteria.

 Plutarch, Life of Antony 70
Once when it was the festival of the Choes the two of them were feasting by themselves, and Apemantos said, ‘What a nice symposium the two of us are having, Timon,’ and Timon replied, ‘Indeed, if only you weren’t here.’

 Plutarch, Questiones Convivales 2.10.1
And yet what difference does it make if one puts a kylix down before each of the guests and a chous, having filled it with wine, and an individual table just as the sons of Demophon are said to have done for Orestes, and orders him to drink ignoring the others, as opposed to what now happens where, putting out meat and bread, each feasts as if from his private manger except that we are not compelled to be silent as were those feasting Orestes.

 Plutarch, Questiones Convivales 3.7.1
At Athens on the eleventh of the month of Anthesterion they begin drinking new wine, calling the day Pithoigia. And in the old days, it is likely, they poured a libation of wine before drinking, and prayed that the use of the drug be harmless and healthful or saving for them. Among us Boiotians the month is called Prostaterios and it is customary, sacrificing on the sixth to the Agathos Daimon, to taste the wine after a west wind. This wind of all the winds especially moves and changes the wine and wine that has already avoided it seems to remain stable.

 Plutarch, Questiones Convivales 8.10.3And those drinking the new wine first drink it in the month Anthesterion after winter. We call that day the day belonging to the Agathos Daimon; the Athenians call it Pithoigia.

 Plutarch, Life of Sulla 14
During the month of Anthesterion they have many memorial ceremonies for the destruction and ruin brought about by rain, since around that time the Flood happened.

 Plutarch, Life of the Ten Orators 841
They also introduced laws concerning the comic actors, that there should be a contest in the theater during the Chutroi and that the winner be chosen for the city

 Scholium on Aristophanes’ Acharnians 961
chous is an Attic measure, holding eight kotylai. For those inviting people to a feast used to put out crowns and perfume and hors d’oeuvres and other such things while those who were invited brought stews and a basket and a chous.

 Scholium on Aristophanes’ Acharnians 1002
For at the Choes there was a contest about drinking a chous first, and the winner was crowned with a leafy crown and got a sack of wine. They drink at the sound of a trumpet. An inflated sack was set as a prize in the festival of Choes, on which those drinking for the contest stood, and the one drinking first as victor got the winesack. They drank a quantity like a chous.

 Scholium on Aristophanes’ Acharnians 1076
The Chutroi and Choes are celebrated in Athens, at which, boiling pansperma in a pot, they sacrifice to Dionysos alone and Hermes.

 Scholium on Aristophanes’ Acharnians 1224f
The King had care of the contest of the chous and gave the prize to the victor, the winesack.

 Scholium on Aristophanes’ Frogs 216
Limnai. A sacred place of Dionysos in which there is a house and shrine of the God.

 Scholium to Hesiod’s Works and Days 368
At the beginning and the end of the pithos. And among the ancestral customs there is a festival Pithoigia, in accord with which it was not proper to keep slave or hired hand from the enjoyment of wine but, having sacrificed, to give all a share of Dionysos’ gift.

 Suidas s.v. Anthesterion
Anthesterion: It is the eighth month amongst the Athenians, sacred to Dionysos. It is so called because most things bloom (anthein) from the earth at that time.

 Suidas s.v. Choes
And again: Orestes arrived in Athens – it was a festival of Dionysos Lenaios, and since, having murdered his mother, he might not be able to drink with them, something along the following lines was contrived. Having set up pitchers of wine for each of the celebrants he ordered them to drink from it, with no common sharing between them; thus Orestes would not drink from the same bowl [as anyone else] but neither would be vexed by drinking alone. Hence the origin of the Athenian festival of the Pitchers.

 Theopompos, in the Scholia to Aristophanes’ Acharnians 1076
Those who had survived the great deluge of Deukalion boiled pots of every kind of seed, and from this the festival gets its name. It is their custom to sacrifice to Hermes Chthonios. No one tastes the pot. The survivors did this in propitiation to Hermes on behalf of those who had died.

 Theopompos, in the Scholia to Aristophanes’ Frogs 218
The Athenians have the custom of sacrificing to none of the Olympians on Chutroi, but to Chthonic Hermes alone. None of the priests may taste the pot which all throughout the city make. With this offering they beseech Hermes on behalf of the dead.

 Thucydides 2.15.4
Outside the Acropolis … is the sanctuary of Dionysos in Limnai, for whom the older Dionysia are celebrated on the twelfth in the month Anthesterion, just as also the Ionians descended from the Athenians still customarily do so.

 Tzetzes on Hesiod’s Works and Days 368
In the ancestral festivals of the Greeks askolia and pithoigia were performed in honor of Dionysos, that is, his wine. The askolia happened as followed: placing wine-skins blown up and filled with air on the ground they leapt on them from above with one foot and were carried and they often slipped down and fell to the ground. They did this, as I said, honoring Dionysos, for the wineskin is the skin of a goat and the goat disgraces himself by eating the shoots of the grapevine. The pithoigia was a public symposium for, opening the pithoi, they gave a share of the gift of Dionysos to all.

 Zenobius s.v. To the door Kares, it’s no longer Anthesteria
Some say this proverb was said because of the number of Karian slaves, since they were feasting at the Anthesteria and not working. When the festival ended they said this, sending them out to work. Others maintain that the proverb came about because the Kares once held a part of Attica, and whenever the Athenians held the festival of Anthesteria, they gave them a share of the libations and received them in the city and in their houses, but after the festival, when some of the Kares were left behind in Athens, those who came upon them said the proverb as a joke to them.

A game for Anthesteria

Bacchic Orphic hopscotch is played just like regular hopscotch:

To play hopscotch, a court is first laid out on the ground. Depending on the available surface, the court is either scratched out in dirt, or drawn with chalk on pavement. Courts may be permanently marked where playgrounds are commonly paved, as in elementary schools. Designs vary, but the court is usually composed of a series of linear squares interspersed with blocks of two lateral squares. Traditionally the court ends with a “safe” or “home” base in which the player may turn before completing the reverse trip. The home base may be a square, a rectangle, or a semicircle. The squares are then numbered in the sequence in which they are to be hopped. The first player tosses the marker (typically a stone, coin or bean bag) into the first square. The marker must land completely within the designated square and without touching a line or bouncing out. The player then hops through the course, skipping the square with the marker in it. Single squares must be hopped on one foot. For the first single square, either foot may be used. Side-by-side squares are straddled, with the left foot landing in the left square, and the right foot landing in the right square. Optional squares marked “Safe”, “Home”, or “Rest” are neutral squares, and may be hopped through in any manner without penalty. After hopping into “Safe”, “Home”, or “Rest”, the player must then turn around and return through the course (square 9, then squares 8 and 7, next square 6, and so forth) on one or two legs depending on the square until s/he reaches the square with her marker. S/he then must retrieve her marker and continue the course as stated without touching a line or stepping into a square with another player’s marker. Upon successfully completing the sequence, the player continues the turn by tossing the marker into square number two, and repeating the pattern. If, while hopping through the court in either direction, the player steps on a line, misses a square, or loses balance, the turn ends. Players begin their turns where they last left off. The first player to complete one course for every numbered square on the court wins the game.Although the marker is most often picked up during the game, historically, in the boy’s game, the marker was kicked sequentially back through the course on the return trip and then kicked out. (Description and rules from Wikipedia)

Except that the court consists of 10 squares with a larger half-circle at the top.

In descending order these spaces represent:

The Crown
10. The Way to the House of Vines
9. The Stream of Memory
8. The Lake of Forgetting
7. The Desert
6. The River of Fire
5. The Swamp of Despair
4. The Forest of Suicides
2. The River of Semen
2. The Kingdom of Dream
1. The Mirror

The goal is to make it all the way through and back without tripping or stepping on a line, resulting in the deliverance of a soul from the underworld; failure means that both of you are stuck there. This usually indicates an area the person needs to work on over the coming months.

Recipes for Anthesteria

Wine popsicles for Pithoigia

1 1/4 cups pomegranate juice (or whatever juice you prefer)
1 1/4 cups red wine
1 plum, chopped fine
honey to taste

Heat the juice, wine and honey enough to thoroughly combine and dissolve the honey. Add chopped plum, and pour mixture evenly into six popsicle molds. Freeze until hard.

Pomegranate chicken for Choes

1 chicken, 3-4 pounds
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup red wine
2 cups pomegranate juice
1/4 cup honey
pomegranate seeds for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse chicken and pat dry, place in deep baking dish and sprinkle with salt.

Combine butter, wine, pomegranate juice and honey in a pot and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, long enough to reduce the volume of the liquid by approximately half. Pour liquid over chicken and place on the middle rack of the oven.

Roast for 1 hour, 20 minutes, basting every 20 minutes or so until chicken develops a nice glaze.

Serve garnished with pomegranate seeds.

Panspermia for Chutroi

It is best to make panspermia from grains, seeds and legumes that are grown locally, if possible, or which are at least native to one’s region. Examples include barley, oats, wheat berries, rye, millet, corn, beans, lentils, quinoa and buckwheat. (Note: some dry beans may need to be soaked overnight beforehand.)

Combine a handful each of at least three types along with a tablespoon of olive oil and a few bay leaves, in a pot, cover with an inch of water, bring to a boil, and then simmer for at least 40 minutes, until tender. Drain any remaining water, and place in an offering bowl. Optional: swirl a little honey on top before presenting the panspermia.

Note: not for human consumption! This is to be offered solely to Hermes Chthonios and the Dead.

Tips for celebrating Anthesteria

1. If you’re performing the role of Sacred Queen you’ll probably want to avoid participating in Orestes’ Supper or stuff for Deukalion’s dead, as they can result in pretty strong miasma. Everyone, regardless of their role, should make sure that they thoroughly cleanse themselves as well as their shrines after the festival is finished.

2. Build a hut out of vegetation like a Greek skias or Jewish sukkah in which to hold Orestes’ Supper. This can be done either indoors or in one’s back yard. Instructions for doing so are easily found online.

3. This is a really complex festival. Different themes tend to stick out more on different years; so if you’re not feeling part of it, don’t worry and instead focus on those parts that are resonating with you. If you’re looking to spice things up focus on the Magna Graecian aspects rather than the strictly Athenian.

4. Always ask first, and don’t give wine to the children of strangers no matter how traditional an element of the festival it is!

5. If you’re not up for making masks or dolls, you can always hang paperdolls or pictures from a coloring book you’ve cut out. If you want to make them really creepy, remove the eyes and write cryptic phrases from dead poets on them.

Recitations for Anthesteria

For Pithoigia

Orphic Hymn 53. To Amphietous

̓Αμφιετῆ καλέω Βάκχον, χθόνιον ∆ιόνυσον,
ἐγρόμενον κούραις ἅμα νύμφαις εὐπλοκάμοισιν,
ὃς παρὰ Περσεφόνης ἱεροῖσι δόμοισιν ἰαύων
κοιμίζει τριετῆρα χρόνον, Βακχήιον ἁγνόν.
αὐτὸς δ’ ἡνίκα τὸν τριετῆ πάλι κῶμον ἐγείρηι,
εἰς ὕμνον τρέπεται σὺν ἐυζώνοισι τιθήναις
εὐνάζων κινῶν τε χρόνους ἐνὶ κυκλάσιν ὥραις.
ἀλλά, μάκαρ, χλοόκαρπε, κερασφόρε, κάρπιμε Βάκχε,
Βαῖν’ ἐπὶ πάνθειον τελετὴν γανόωντι προσώπωι
εὐιέροις καρποῖσι τελεσσιγόνοισι Βρυάζων.

I call upon the Bakchos we worship annually, chthonic Dionysos,
who, together with the fair-tressed Nymphs, is roused.
In the sacred halls of Persephone he slumbers,
and puts to sleep pure, Bacchic time every third year.
When he himself stirs up the triennial revel again he sings a hymn,
accompanied by his fair-girdled Nurses,
and, as the seasons revolve he puts to sleep and wakes up the years.
But, O blessed and fruit-giving Bakchos, O horned spirit of the unripe fruit,
come to this most sacred rite with the glow of joy on your face,
come all-abounding in fruit that is holy and perfect.

For Choes

Aischylos, Danaïdes frag. 25

ἐρᾷ μὲν ἁγνὸς οὐρανὸς τρῶσαι χθόνα,
ἔρως δὲ γαῖαν λαμβάνει γάμου τυχεῖν:
ὄμβρος δ᾽ ἀπ᾽ εὐνάοντος οὐρανοῦ πεσὼν
ἔκυσε γαῖαν: ἡ δὲ τίκτεται βροτοῖς
μήλων τε βοσκὰς καὶ βίον Δημήτριον
δενδρῶτις ὥρα δ᾽ ἐκ νοτίζοντος γάμουι
– τέλειος ἐστί. τῶν δ᾽ ἐγὼ παραίτιος.

The holy heaven yearns to wound the earth,
and yearning earth to be embraced and joined in wedlock;
the rain, fallen from the amorous heaven,
impregnates the earth, and it bringeth forth
for mankind the food of flocks and herds and Demeter’s gifts;
and from that moist marriage-rite the woods put on their bloom.
Of all these things I am the cause.

For Chutroi

Orphic Hymn 57. To Chthonic Hermes

Κωκυτοῦ ναίων ἀνυπόστροφον οἶμον ἀνάγκης,
ὃς ψυχὰς θνητῶν κατάγεις ὑπὸ νέρτερα γαίης,
̓Ερμῆ, Βακχεχόροιο ∆ιωνύσοιο γένεθλον
καὶ Παφίης κούρης, ἑλικοβλεφάρου ̓Αφροδίτης,
ὃς παρὰ Περσεφόνης ἱερὸν δόμον ἀμφιπολεύεις,
αἰνομόροις ψυχαῖς πομπὸς κατὰ γαῖαν ὑπάρχων,
ἃς κατάγεις, ὁπόταν μοίρης χρόνος εἰσαφίκηται
εὐιέρωι ῥάβδωι θέλγων ὑπνοδώτειρα πάντα,
καὶ πάλιν ὑπνώοντας ἐγείρεις : σοὶ γὰρ ἔδωκε τιμὴν
τιμὴν Φερσεφόνεια θεὰ κατὰ Τάρταρον εὐρὺν
ψυχαῖς ἀενάοις θνητῶν ὁδὸν ἡγεμονεύειν.
ἀλλά, μάκαρ, πέμποις μύσταις τέλος ἐσθλὸν ἐπ’ ἔργοις.

You dwell in the compelling road of no return, by the Kokytos,
you guide the souls of mortals to the nether gloom,
Hermes, offspring of Dionysos who revels in dance,
and Aphrodite, the Paphian maiden of the fluttering eyelids.
You frequent the sacred house of Persephone,
as guide throughout the earth of ill-fated souls,
which you bring to their haven when their time has come,
charming them with your sacred wand and giving them sleep,
from which you rouse them again.
To you indeed Persephone gave the office, throughout wide Tartaros,
to lead the way for the eternal souls of men.
But, O blessed one, grant a good end for the initiate’s work.

Ritual outline for Anthesteria

Day 1: Pithoigia

Go around your city (ideally at dawn, noon or dusk) and when you feel so moved stop and pour out some wine for the dead. Either before or following the libation, use a hunting horn to call them up from the depths and hail Dionysos Opener of the Door. Then move on until you find the next spot, and repeat.

While out on your dérive see how many kinds of wild flower you can collect. If you’re one of those unfortunates who lives in regions that are still buried under two feet of snow during Anthesteria it’s okay to stop by a florist, but only then. Also collect branches, ivy, and other greenery as you are able.

When you return home cover all of your shrines which may be sensitive to pollution with white linen cloths or sheets. Do not remove their veils until the Keres have been expelled on Chutroi. Note that shrines to Dionysos, his Retinue, Hermes, Ariadne, Erigone and Arachne are exempt from this. Other Chthonic Gods and Spirits may go either way, so it’s best to confirm with divination.  

Either set up a special festival shrine to Dionysos or use the flowers and greenery you gathered to decorate his permanent shrine. Offer him a bowl of wine and properly welcome him and his Host to your city. Sing. Dance. Silently commune with your God. And drink lots and lots of wine.

Day 2: Choes

Early in the day share the somber, silent cup with Orestes.

Pour out libations of milk, wine, honey, and oil to the dead of Deukalion and those currently wandering your city’s streets.

Spend time with your own dead.

Reflect upon the tragic story of Erigone, and around dusk go to a nearby park and hang masks and dolls then swing in a swing for her.

What you do when you return home depends on the role you perform for the God.

If you have taken on the mantle of Sacred Queen prepare to meet him in the Ox-shed. If that is your role then certainly you don’t need me to tell you how it is done beyond this point.

And for the rest, make offerings to Dionysos and the one he consummates a marriage with (be it Ariadne, Erigone, Karya, Althaía or whoever the local wife of the King is) to bring renewal and fertility to the land.

Drink lots of wine, have lots of sex and appreciate the beauty of the flowers.

Day 3: Chutroi

Make the panspermia and give it to Hermes and the dead along with other appropriate offerings.

Say your goodbyes to the dead, especially those of your family line, then sweep the Keres out of your house, paint the lintel with pitch, scatter beans across your doorstep and end by saying:

Thuraze Kêres, ouket’ Anthestêria!

Depart these doors, Keres; it’s no longer Anthesteria!

Take down the festive shrine and dispose of the offerings appropriately, then proceed to thoroughly cleanse your home and remove the veils on the rest of the shrines. You may also wait to do this step until the following day.