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Aegina Celebrations in Antiquity


The feast of the Aeginetans 

This celebration was held in honour of Poseidon and lasted 16 days. The Aeginetans ate in silence with just family members present. Not even slaves were included. It was a type of memorial that dated back to the Trojan War. According to tradition, many Aeginetan soldiers were killed in that war, while others were lost at sea while returning the island. The few who safely reached the port of Aegina were reluctant to rejoice, believing it would be disrespectful toward the relatives of the deceased. Thus, the families of survivors decided to celebrate in private the fact that their own had been spared. They came to be known as "monofagoi", or "those who eat alone".


This is possibly the largest ancient feast of Aegina and was dedicated to Aiakos. The Aiakeia included athletic competitions in which athletes from other cities of Greece took part. The prize was a large vase called a krater. At the end of the celebration, the winners placed their head wreaths at the Aiakeion, the temple of Aiakos.


The Delphinia celebrations took place in Aegina and Attica on the sixth day of the Attic month Mounichion (April/May), in honour of Apollo Delphinus. The feast mainly centred on the sacrifice that Theseus made to Apollo Delphinus and his offering of an olive branch tied with white wool as supplication before he left for Crete with the young men and women. The Delphinia were celebrated in memory of their safe return and involved sacrifices and a reenactment of the placement of the branch, brought by a procession of unmarried young girls - the supplicants. The Delphinia celebration in Aegina also involved athletic competitions called the "hydrophoria", or "water-carrying", which referred to an older local tradition according to which the Argonauts, while travelling toward Colchis in search of the Golden Fleece, stopped at the island for water.


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