Serving Athena: The Festival of the Panathenaia and the Construction of Athenian Identities

In ancient Athens, the Panathenaia was the most important festival and was celebrated in honour of Athena from the middle of the sixth century BC until the end of the fourth century AD. This in-depth study examines how this all-Athenian celebration was an occasion for constructing identities and how it affected those identities. Since not everyone took part in the same way, this differential participation articulated individuals’ relationships both to the goddess and to the city so that the festival played an important role in negotiating what it meant to be Athenian (and non-Athenian). Julia Shear applies theories of identity formation which were developed in the social sciences to the ancient Greek material and brings together historical, epigraphical, and archaeological evidence to provide a better understanding both of this important occasion and of Athenian identities over the festival’s long history.