KÁRNEIA - ΚΑΡΝΕΙΑ
Sketch by the author of an ancient coin depicting Apollo Carneios, who releases it to the Public Domain.
The Kárneian festival, or simply called the Kárneia (Gr. Κάρνεια, ΚΑΡΝΕΙΑ), is an important festival of (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων)held in the Lakohnian (of Lakohnía; Gr. Λακωνία) month of Kárneios (Gr. Κάρνειος or Karníïos; Gr. Καρνήϊος), near the end of the year and just before the Autumn Equinox , the beginning of the new Mystery year. It is appropriate to celebrate the Kárneia any day between August 15 through September 15; the ideal being the full moon that falls within these dates . In ancient times, it was a nine-day festival, said to begin on the seventh day of Kárneios, the Spartan month corresponding to the Athenian month of Mætayeitnióhn (Metageitnion; Gr. Μεταγειτνιών).
One explanation of the origin of the festival comes from Pafsanías (Pausanias; Gr. Παυσανίας), that the Kárnian Festival came into being on account of the murder of the seer Kárnos (Carnus; Gr. Κάρνος) of Akarnanía (Acarnania; Gr. Ακαρνανία) by Ippótis (Hippotes; Gr. Ἱππότης), one of the Irakleidai (Herakleidai; Gr. Ἡρακλεῖδαι, i.e the descendants of Iraklís [Hercules; Gr. Ἡρακλῆς]) . According to the ancient writer, the celebration evolved from what was originally a propitiatory sacrifice for the crime. Pafsanías notes that the poetess Práxilla (Gr. Πράξιλλα) describes an individual known as Kárneios as the son of Evróhpi (Europa; Gr. Εὐρώπη) who was not Apóllohn at all . According to our tradition, none of this is accepted as being the origin of the festival and, certainly, not of Kárneios himself, who is indeed Apóllohn.
Pafsanías proposes a second version of the origin  of the festival, found in his writings and elsewhere, of the Greeks cutting down cornel trees at the grove of Apóllohn in Trojan Ídi (Mount Ida in modern Turkey; Gr. Ἴδη) to build the Dourátæos Íppos ("Wooden Horse;" Gr. Δουράτεος Ἵππος. Ὀδύσσεια Book VIII.493), the Trojan Horse. This angered Apóllohn, causing the Greeks to institute a festival to appease the God, adopting the name of the tree (kraneia; κρανειῶν in context). Pafsanías points out a custom in ancient times of transposing the ρ and the α, naming it thus the Kárnian Festival.
Scholars point out their uncertainty and attention has been given to evidence suggesting that the etymology of the word Kárneia may be traced to the word kárnos (Gr. κάρνος), meaning 'ram' . J.M. Hall, in his book Ethnic Identity In Greek Antiquity, says,
Walter Burkert in his work Greek Religion states that:
Apóllohn Κárneios is represented in iconography as having the horns of a ram; this can be clearly demonstrated from the many coins originating in areas from Kyríni (Kyrene or modern Shahhat in Libya; Gr. Κυρήνη) to at least as far west as Metaponto in Italy. These horns call to mind those found on sculptures of Zefs-Ammon. The temptation is to view the horns as evidence of the pastoral qualities of the God, but this interpretation is at best only partial and superficial; rather, the horns represent the effulgent issue of Aithír (Aether or Ether; Gr. Αἰθήρ) from the great God, as do all such horns in the iconography of the ancient Greek religion Ællinismós (Hellenismos; Gr. Ἐλληνισμός).
It has been suggested to this author that perhaps the most significant meaning of the ancient festival is related again to its very name, that the word Kárneia may be related to the word kardía (cardia; Gr. καρδία), which means heart. 
THE ANCIENT FESTIVAL
The Kárneia is ancient festival of Ællinismós but it was not celebrated everywhere in Greece; it is primarily associated with ancient Sparta and Spartan colonies, where, during the festival, a sacred truce was observed called the Iærominía (Hieromēnia; Gr. Ίερομηνία) . The Kárneia was also observed in some cities of the Magna Græcia: Thíra (Thera or modern Santorini; Gr. Θήρα), Kyríni, and other Dorikós (Dorian; Gr. Δωρικός) cities worshiped Apóllohn Κάrneios and celebrated the holiday.
The Kárneia had features of a military camp, with nine skiádæs (Gr. σκιάδες; meaning "sunshades"), a structure resembling a tent, each of which housed nine men under the command of a herald. Every skiás ("canopy," Gr. σκιάς) was further divided into three phratríai (Gr. φρατρίαι; from φράτρα, clan). 
A major feature of the festival is the race of the staphylodromi (Gr. σταφυλοδρομοι), the grape-cluster-runners, unmarried men called karnæátai (Gr. καρνεᾶται) who were dedicated to the God and who held this duty for four years. These men conducted the hunt of a willing human victim adorned with woolen fillets or garlands. The 'victim' has made prayers for the welfare of the city, is hunted, and, if captured, this is viewed as a beneficial omen, but if he is not caught, the city or region will not fare well. 
There was also a musical agón (contest; Gr. ἀγών) as a feature of the Kárneia  and, perhaps, the sacrifice of a ram. 
Because of the reference to grapes (the grape-cluster runners), there is some supposition that the symbolism of the Kárneia is purely agricultural, or because of the references to the ram and the horned ágalma (cult statue; Gr. άγαλμα) as stated above, that the festival of the God is pastoral in nature. But these explanations, in a like manner to the agrarian interpretation of the myth of Pærsæphóni (Persephone; Gr. Περσεφόνη), are superficial or present only one level of understanding to the story, while the real meaning of these myths and their festivals is mystical.
THE KÁRNEIA IN HISTORY
According to Iródotos (Herodotos; Gr. Ἡρόδοτος), the Spartan presence at Thærmopýlai (Thermopylae; Gr. Θερμοπύλαι) was severely limited due to coincidence that the battle occurred during the Kárneian festival. 
Thoukydídis (Thucydides; Gr. Θουκυδίδης) reports that the events of the Peloponnesian war were effected by the Kárneia in 419 and 418 BCE. 
REFERENCE TO KÁRNEIA IN ANCIENT POETRY
There is significant mention of the Kárneian festival in the magnificent poem by Kallímakhos (Callimachus; Gr. Καλλίμαχος) Apóllohn and also in the Pythian Ode V of Píndaros (Pindar; Gr. Πίνδαρος). Both of these works refer to the cult as it existed in Kyríni.
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TERMS RELATED TO THE KÁRNEIA:
Hieromenia - See Iærominía.
Iærominía - (Hieromenia; Gr. Ίερομηνία, ΙΕΡΟΜΗΝΙΑ) , ἡ, (μήν) Sacred Month, during which the great festivals, such as the Karneia, were held and hostilities suspended. (L&S p. 821, right column within the definitions beginning with ίερόληπτος, edited for simplicity.)
Kardía - (cardia; Gr. καρδία, ΚΑΡΔΙΑ) Kardía is a Greek word meaning the heart. (L&S p.877, right column).
Karnæoníkai (Carneonicae; Gr. Καρνεονῖκαι, ΚΑΡΝΕΟΝΙΚΑΙ) The Karnæoníkai is a text by Ællánikos (Hellanikos; Gr. Ἑλλάνικος) on the victors of the Kárneian games.
Karnæátai (carneatae; Gr. καρνεᾶται, ΚΑΡΝΕΑΤΑΙ ) The karnæátai were unmarried men chosen to be the grape-cluster-runners, the staphylodromi, during the festival of the Kárneia.
Karnæoníkis - (Carneonikes; Gr. Καρνεονίκης, ΚΑΡΝΕΟΝΙΚΗΣ) Καρνεονίκης [ῑ], ου, Dor. -ας, α, ὁ, Karnæoníkis is a victor in the Carnean games: in pl., Κ., οἱ, title of work by Hellanicus. (L&S p. 879, left column, edited for simplicity.)
Karnásion = Karneiásion (Carnasium; Gr. Καρνάσιον, ΚΑΡΝΑΣΙΟΝ)
Karneiásion - (Carneiasium; Gr. Καρνειάσιον, ΚΑΝΕΙΑΣΙΟΝ) Καρνειάσιον, τό, (sc. ἄλσος) The Karneiásion is a grove sacred to Apollo Karneios: written Karnásion in Paus.4.33.5, al. (L&S p. 878, right column, edited for simplicity.)
Kárneios - (Carneius; Gr. Κάρνειος, ΚΑΡΝΕΙΟΣ) Κάρνειος, ὁ, (κάρνος) Kárneios is title of Apollo in Peloponnesus:—hence Κάρνεια, τά, festival held in his honour by Dorians, esp. by the Spartans:—Κάρνειος or Καρνήϊος, ὁ (sc. μήν). (L&S p.878, right column, edited for simplicity.)
Kárnon - (carnon; Gr. κάρνον, ΚΑΡΝΟΝ) Kárnon is the Gallic horn. (L&S p. 879, left column, edited for simplicity.)
Kárnos - (carnus; Gr. κάρνος, ΚΑΡΝΟΣ) (cf. κέρας) The word kárnos means ram. (L&S p. 879, left column, edited for simplicity.)
Kárnyx = Kárnon (carnux; Gr. κάρνυξ, ΚΑΡΝΥΞ) Kárnyx is a Gallic horn. (L&S p. 879, left column, edited for simplicity.)
Kǽras - (ceras; Gr. κέρας, ΚΕΡΑΣ) Kǽras is the horn of an animal. (L&S p. 789, left column, edited for simplicity.)Kærovátis - (Cerobates; Gr. Κεροβάτης, ΚΕΡΟΒΑΤΗΣ. Noun. Etym. κέρας "horn" + βάτης "one who treads) Lexicon entry: κεροβάτης [ᾰ], ου, ὁ, (κέρας) horn-footed, hoofed, κεροβάτας Πάν (ed. Pan): acc. to some Gramm., he that goes with horns, i.e. the horned God (ed. such as Apóllohn Κárneios); acc. to Sch., he that walks the mountain-peaks (cf. κέρας v.6). (L&S p. 943, right column, edited for simplicity.)
Keras - See Kǽras.
Phrátriai (phratriae; Gr. φράτριαι, ΦΡΑΤΡΙΑΙ; from φράτρα, clan) During the Kárneia, each skiádæs was further divided into three phrátriai.
Sciades - See Skiádæs.
Skiádæs - (sciades; Gr. σκιάδες, ΣΚΙΑΔΕΣ; meaning "sunshades") During the festival of the Kárneia, there were nine skiádæs, a structure resembling a tent, each of which housed nine men under the command of a herald.
Staphylodromi- (staphylodromoi; Gr. σταφυλοδρομοι, ΣΤΑΦΥΛΟΔΡΟΜΟΙ) The staphylodromi were the grape-cluster-runners during the Kárneian festival. They were unmarried men called karnæátai, who were dedicated to Apóllohn Kárneios and who held this duty for four years.
Festivals of Apóllohn:
Notes to Kárneian Festival:
(abbreviations can be found at the bottom of this page: GLOSSARY HOME.)
 The tradition held by this website views the Autumn Equinox as the beginning of the new year, what we call the Mystery Year (See Calendar). Although we have close ties to the Spartan tradition, we not exclusively "Spartan," nonetheless, the author L. Pareti suggests the same opinion (that the new year is the Autumn Equinox) may have been held in ancient Sparta: L. Pareti, 'Note sul calendario spartano', in Studi minori di storia antica, 2: Storia Greca, Roma, 1961, 213, 228f (as noted in citation 323 of Cults of Apollo at Sparta by Michael Pettersson, 1992; SKRIFTER UTGIVNA AV SVENSKA INSTITUTET I ATHEN, 8⁰, XII/ACTA INSTITUTI ATHENIENSIS REGNI SUECIAE, SERIES IN 8⁰, XII. Stockholm 1992).
 Álkistis (Alcestis; Gr. Ἄλκηστις) by Evripídis (Euripides; Gr. Εὐριπίδης), 448-450
Translation by Richard Lattimore as found in The Complete Greek Tragedies Vol. III, Euripides, The University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL USA) 1955, p. 24. Evripídis is referring to the full moon. This is the tradition we hold; although the full moon is ideal, it is not essential that the Kárneia be performed on that exact day but it is best to be as close to that day as is possible.
 Myth and Territory in the Spartan Mediterranean by Irad Malkin, Cambridge University Press 1994, Published by The Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge (Cambridge UK), p. 149.
 Pafsanías (Pausanias) Book 3 (Laconia).13.3:
(Pafsanías Description of Greece Vol. II., trans. W. H. S. Jones, 1918. Loeb Classical Library, William Heinemann (London England) G.P. Putnam (New York USA). Found here in the 1926 edition on p. 79.)
 Pafsanías Book 3 (Laconia).13.5:
(Ibid. W. H. S. Jones, pp. 79-81)
 L&S p. 879, left column.
 Ethnic Identity In Greek Antiquity by Jonathan M. Hall, 1997/2000, Cambridge University Press, Published by The Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge (Cambridge UK), p. 39.
 Greek Religion by Walter Burkert, trans. by John Raffan, 1985, Blackwell Publishing Ltd. and Harvard University Press, (Malden MA USA; Oxford UK; Victoria Australia. Originally published in German 1977 as Griechische Religion der archaischen und klassischen Epoche by Verlag W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart). p. 235.
 Lexicon entry: καρδί-α.—heart, esp. as the seat of feeling and passion, as rage or anger, of sorrow or joy. 2.inclination, desire, purpose. 3. mind. II. cardiac orifice of the stomach. III. heart in wood, pith. IV. metaph. depths of the sea. 4. name of the star Regulus. (edited for clarity; L&S p. 877, right column)
 Such a truce was also held for the games at Olympia (Gr. Ολυμπία), Næmæa (Nemea; Gr. Νεμέα), and other similar festivals.
Lexicon entry: Iærominía (Hieromenia; Gr. Ίερομηνία, ΊΕΡΟΜΗΝΊΑ) , ἡ, (μήν) Sacred Month, during which the great festivals were held and hostilities suspended, ἱ. Νεμεάς, of the Nemean games, Pi.N.3.2; ἱ. ἁ Πυθιάς IG22.1126.44 (Amphict.); ἐν σπονδαῖς καὶ προσέτι ἱερομηνία Th.3.56; ἐν σπονδαῖς καὶ ἱερομηνίαις ib.65 (s. v.l.); ἱ. ἄγειν D.24.29: in pl., sacrifices offered during the sacred month, IG11(2).154.11 (Delos, iii B.C.); = Lat. supplicatio, App.BC5.130: pl., D.C.39.53 (ἱερο-μήνια, τά, of the Κάρνεια (q.v.), is prob. f.l. in Th.5.54). (L&S p. 821, right column within the definitions beginning with ίερό-ληπτος)
 Athínaios (Athenaeus; Gr. Ἀθήναιος) 4.141e:
(The Deipnosophistai (Deipnosophists; Gr. Δειπνοσοφισταί) or Banquet of the Learned by Athínaios, Book XIV.37, trans. C.D. Yonge, Vol. II, Henry G. Bohn Publishing [London England], 1854, p. 229)
 Becker Anecdota Graeca i 305 II. 25-30, staphylodromoi.
 That there was a musical agon as a feature of the Kárneia is established by Ællánikos (Hellanikos; Gr. Ἑλλάνικος) in his work Karnæoníkai (Gr. Καρνεονῖκαι), a text on the victors of the Kárneian games, as quoted by Athínaios (Athenaeus; Gr. Ἀθήναιος) concerning the victory of Tǽrpandros (Terpander; Gr. Τέρπανδρος), the first such victory at the Kárneia. (Athínaios XIV.p.635e.) Tǽrpandros was a poet who accompanied his poems on the kithára (cithara; Gr. κιθάρα), a type of lyre. The quotation follows, which also adds a bit of confusion:
(Ibid. Yonge, Vol. 3, p.1015)
 "But Apollo loves me all as well, and an offering too have I, A fine fat ram a-batt’ning; for Apollo’s feast draws nigh." (Lacon to Comatos, from Thæókritos (Theocritus, Gr. Θεόκριτος) Idylls, 5.82; trans. J. M. Edmonds in Greek Bucolic Poets, Loeb Classical Library, William Heineman [London England] The Macmillan Company [New York NY USA], Vol. 28, 1912)
 Iródotos (Herodotos; Gr. Ἡρόδοτος) Histories Book VII.206:
(trans. George Rawlinson, 1910, in Herodotus The Histories; found here in the 1997 Everyman's Library Alfred A. Knopf edition [New York NY USA & Toronto Canada] on p. 594)
 Thoukydídis (Thucydides; Gr. Θουκυδίδης) History of the Peloponnesian War, Book V.54:
(trans. William Smith, 1753 in The History of the Peloponnesian War, Vol.II; London: John Watts, pp. 163-164)
Thoukydídis (Thucydides; Gr. Θουκυδίδης) History of the Peloponnesian War, Book V.75-76:
(trans. William Smith, 1753 in The History of the Peloponnesian War, Vol.II; London: John Watts, pp.180-181)
The logo to the left is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e. the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The Pætilía (Petelia; Gr. Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kosmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara; Gr. κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllohn (Apollo; Gr. Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus; Gr. Ὀρφεύς).
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