Calendario Religioso – Metageitnion – Μεταγειτνιών

II Mese del Calendario, IV anno della 698° Olimpiade –  II mese, sacro ad Apollo (Metageitnia) – “ed essi sacrificano ad Apollo durante questo mese.”- letteralmente significa “il mese del cambio dei vicini” (metà+ geitonia) e prende il nome dalla festa di Metageitnia, appunto celebrata in onore di Apollo Metageitnios. (Suda s.v. Metageitnion;  Antiph. 6.44;  Arist. HA 549a16; Plut. Publ. 14; Lysimachides FGrH 366 F1 ap. Harpocr.)

[Metageitnia, Herakleia/Diomeia, Tà Eleusinia]


Calendario Religioso dell’Attica – Metageitnion [documento pdf online]

Principali Celebrazioni del Mese

– Dal tramonto del 9 Agosto, VII giorno – Ἑβδόμη Ἱσταμένου
Metageitnia in onore di Apollo Metageitnios;
Offerte a Apollo Patroos, Leto, Artemis e Atena Agelaa (calendario dei Salaminioi)

– Dal tramonto del 12 Agosto, X giorno – Δεκάτη Ἱσταμένου

– Dal tramonto del 13 Agosto, XI giorno – Ἑνδεκάτη
XI o XII- Theoria per le Nemeia, sacrificio a Zeus Nemeios

– Dal tramonto del 14 Agosto, XII giorno- Δωδεκάτη
Onori ad Apollo Lykeios, Zeus Polieus e Athena Polias (in Città e ad Eleusi);
sacrificio a Demetra e Kore nell’Eleusinion

– Dal tramonto del 17 Agosto, XV giorno – Πέμπτη Μεσοῦντος
Inizio degli Agoni in Eleusi (ogni II- Megala- e IV- Mikra- anno dell’Olimpiade);
Sacrifici a Themis, Zeus Herkeios, Demetra, Pherrephatte, Eumolpo, Melichos, Archegetes, Polisseno, Threptos, Dioklos, Celeo, Hestia, Athena, le Grazie, Hermes Enagonios, Eracle- Gaia, Hermes Enagonios, le Cariti, Poseidone, Artemide, Telesidromo e Trittolemo, Plutone e Dolichos e le Due Dee.
Sacrificio privato alle Dee.

– Dal tramonto del 18 Agosto, XVI giorno – Ἕκτη Μεσοῦντος
Luna Piena
Inizio della Tregua Sacra per i Misteri Maggiori di Boedromion
Agoni in Eleusi
Sacrificio alla Kourotrophos e ad Artemide Hekate

– Dal tramonto del 19 Agosto, XVII giorno – Ἑβδόμη Μεσοῦντος
Agoni in Eleusi

– Dal tramonto del 20 Agosto, XVIII giorno – Ὀγδόη Μεσοῦντος
Agoni in Eleusi

– Dal tramonto del 21 Agosto, XIX giorno- Ἐνάτη Μεσοῦντος
Sacrificio alle Heroines

– Dal tramonto del 22 Agosto, XX giorno – Εἰκοστή/ Εἰκὰς
Sacrificio a Hera Thelchina

– Dal tramonto del 27 Agosto, XXV giorno – Ἕκτη Φθίνοντος
Sacrificio a Zeus Epoptes

– Dal tramonto del I Settembre, XXX Ἔνε καὶ νέα/ Τριακάς
Banchetto di Hekate, Ἑκάτης δεῖπνον


The frieze of the Attic Calendar

Fregio generale

This frieze can be seen on the top of the wall above the main entrance of the church of Agios Eleutherios in Athens, also known as ‘Little Metropolis’, that is why this frieze is often referred to as the ‘Frieze of Little Metropolis’. This church is completely made up of fragments of ancient monuments…the main entrance, as already said, is decorated by this frieze of Pentelic marble, which shows the months of the Attic Calendar, some festivals, and the complete circle of the Zodiac. It is very important also because it attempts to put together and coordinate the lunar calendar (Attic months and festivals) and the solar calendar (the signs of the Zodiac).

It has been fully discussed by I. Svoronos, L. Deubner and E. Simon. I write here a small summary in order to help all those who are making reasearches on the Attic Calendar, as well as in behalf of those who are simply interested to discover and know better their roots…

It begins with the month Pyanepsion, which may allude to its dating to the period of Emperor Hadrian. Thus, the frieze begins with a personification of the Attic month Pyanepsion (from left to right).


He is young, wearing a chiton with short sleeves and a himation. This is a month rich in festivals, and three can easily be recognized here: the Pyanopsia are represented by a boy holding a branch on his shoulder, the Eiresione. A naked man treading on a pile of grapes and holding out a vine branch stands for the Oschophoria. A woman carrying a cista on her head stands for the Thesmophoria. Next comes the zodiac sign of Scorpio, shown without its claws because these will be used to indicate Libra further down the frieze at its end. A muffled male dancer comes next. He wears boots and his face is covered by his cloak. He may represent another festival, held towards the end of Pyanepsion, either the Apatouria or the Chalkeia.


Maimakterion is shown as a young man wrapped up in his cloak, for this month introduces winter. Next come the ritual ploughing and sowing: end of agricultural works. Next, the zodiacal sign of the Sagittarius.


The Attic month Poseideon  wears a himation covering his chest, and boots. His long hair and luxuriant beard are unusual for a citizen, being more common to divine figures like Zeus. Period of the Winter Solstice.


Poseideon is accompanied by a festival personification. The festival in question is symbolized by a cock fight, which takes place over a palm branch in front of a table laden with five crowns. Three judges sit behind the table: the festival of the Rural Dionysia. Next the zodiacal sign of the Capricorn.


Next is Gamelion, bearded, covered by a mantle and in boots. He is followed by Dionysos as a child, carrying a thyrsos and riding a billy goat, an allusion to the Lenaia. The woman on the right may symbolize the Theogamia/Gamelia on the 27th day of the month. The block breaks off at this point, marking the end of the frieze as reused by the christians. But the original frieze would have continued, carrying the zodiac signs of Aquarius and Pisces, the personifications of the Attic months Anthesterion and Elaphebolion, and allegories of the festivals in Anthesterion.

The frieze resumes with a festival personification holding out a wreath.  A bearded man leading a goat to sacrifice may stand for the Megala Dionysia/en astei. Next is the zodiac sign of Aries- beginning of Springtime.


The personification of Mounichion, shown as a young man with bare chest, stands next to Artemis and Her deer, who symbolize the festival of Mounichia, on the 16th of the month. The cross obliterates the upper part of the sign of Taurus. A naked runner with a torch is visible to the right of the cross. The runner may well be associated with the torch-race at the Bendideia. He may, in fact, stand for Thargelion itself.


Skirophorion, represented as a young man with bare chest and crowned with fruit, comes next, followed by Gemini. The naked athlete crowning himself may stand for the foot race at the Skira.


The next festival event is Dipoleia, held on the Akropolis on Skirophorion 14. It is represented by the Boutypos holding an axe over a bull. Next the zodiacal sign of Cancer. The next month is Hekatombaion, young and half-naked, who holds out a wreath and is followed by the personification of the Great Panathenaia. The Panathenaic procession is symbolized by the ship cart carrying the peplos of Athena, which was partly obliterated by a cross. The height of the summer is marked by the zodiac sign of Leo shown on top and the star Sirius below.


Next there is a winged woman holding out a plate of fruit, perhaps the zodiac sign of Virgo: the lack of a lunar month, let alone of any festivals, in the solar month from Leo to Virgo is surprising. It may indicate that what we have here is an intercalary month, Hekatombaion II.


Metageitnion personified as a young  follows the sign of Virgo. Herakles stands next to him. His appearance here may be explained by the Herakleia festival, known as the Herakleia at Diomeia or at Kynosarges. The young woman in Attic peplos and chiton with short sleeves holding an inverted mirror  could be Kore: Eleusinia festival.

Boedromion is then represented: he is another palliatus. The personified month is accompanied by a horseman, presumably representing one of the Athenian ephebes that escorted the holy things from Eleusis to the Athenian Eleusinion. The frieze concludes with Scorpio’s claws, symbolizing Libra.


On Hecate’s Deipna and Noumenia


Monthly banquet and rituals at the end of the month: the New Moon night is also considered as a purification. Plutarch, in his Life of Solon, says that: “having noticed the irregularity of the month, and that the movement of the Moon does not always coincide with the rising and setting of the Sun, but often surpasses and exceeds the Sun on the same day, (Solon) ordered that day was to be called the Old and New (hene kai nea), assigning the part of it before the conjunction (of the Sun and the Moon) to the month that was ending, and the remaining part to the month that was starting. So he was the first to understand the verse of Homer which speaks of a day when ‘a month is going down, and the new is starting.’ Solon defined the next day as the first of the month. ” From Marinus, we know that Proclus always fasted during Hene kai nea; Hene kai nea has also been defined as a day to devote to personal introspection (tei heauton episkepsei), but also to take rest from normal activities, and more particularly to be devoted to the analysis of the works carried out during the month and the preparation of those to be completed in the next.

Another custom of the end of the month is well attested by paroemiologists and scholia, and can be summarized with this saying: “the thirtieth we celebrate in Hades because of Hecate” (timatai he triakàs en Haidou dià ten Hekaten) – ie , the thirtieth day of the month (if present, otherwise the 29) is honored Hecate as it is the last day of the month and at the same time, we also honor the dead (in fact, in its calendar, Pletho dedicated the twenty-ninth day to Pluto). Diogenianus confirms the report: “The image of Hecate is erected and consecrated at the crossroads, and rites in honor of the dead have been made on the thirtieth day.” Even more clear is the explanation of the feast called Hekataia “sacrifices to Hecate, which are offered to the dead”, to be celebrated precisely at the turn of the last day of the month and Noumenia.

“The rich send a meal, in the evening, at the triodoi and sacrifice to Hecate. The poor, driven by hunger, eat them and say it is Hecate who prepared them.”

The elements of the banquet:
breads and cakes;
cakes (could be the psamita);
fish (mullet, a kind of sardine, or the small fried fishes);
magides (“pieces of bread with which you clean your hands at the end of the meal”)




Plutarch (Mor. 828A) states that Noumenia, the first day of the month, is “the most sacred of days”, and the Athenians have always preserved the sanctit

y of this day with great care: apart from the fact that no other feast falls on this day, none of the meetings scheduled for legislative assemblies (Boule and Ecclesia) or tribal organizations fell on the first day of the month (the only exception is a financial transaction that took place on the Boedromion of 408/7, IG II2304, lines 52 – 54). Hesiod specifies that you do not have to undertake agricultural work on this day.
Noumenia is also a ‘relaxing’ day, which includes private banquets (cf. Lysias against Kinesias, ‘Noumeniastai’); Aristophanes associated it with the pleasures of the gym, banquets and love (Ach. 999). If we then refer to Theophrastus (Char. 4.12) we find the expression “share / participate at the Noumenia” as an equivalent of attending at a banquet: it must have something similar to the komos, especially considering the particular expression used by Pindar in the fourth Nemea: “My heart is transported as by the magical delight of Noumenia ..”
About the rituals for the Noumenia, we can say that “putting the incense” is an act particularly associated with Noumenia: Aristophanes portrays Philokleon and his desire for the people’s courts. In an early scene, Santia says “not even as

if he were sacrificing incense at the Noumenia” (Vespe94), the scholia to this verse specifies where the incense was placed “kata noumenian gar ethos eichon libanoton epitithenai tois agalmasin.” In addition to incense and statues, the third detail is provided by the comic poet Theopompus (framm. 47 Kock): daphnei. The reference to the laurel reminds us that the first day of the month is sacred also to Apollo already since Homer (Odyssey, XIV, 162; XIX, 306), Apollo is connected with Noumenia (Noumeniastai and private colleges could also be honoring Apollo Noumenios). A perfect parallel of these private acts of worship is found in Porphyry (De abst.2.16), when he describes the religious piety of Clearchus’ s the Arcade: it is said that Clearchus was very scrupulous in the observance of religious duties and that he carried them on a regular basis. For example, each Noumenia, he never failed to put garlands and clean the statues of Hecate, Hermes and other Gods, which had been handed down to him by his ancestors, not missing also to offer incense (libanotois) and round cakes of barley flour.

The public aspect of the celebrations of Noumenia is suggested by Demosthenes (25.99), which refers to people who climb the Acropolis during the Noumenia. Now, there is an important detail: Herodotus (8.41) describes the monthly offers presented by the Athenians to the sacred Serpent on the Acropolis “ta d’epimenia melitoessa estin”; the lexicographers provide more informations: Hesychius, for example, recalls that the sacrifice called Epimenia fell during the day of Noumenia…