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Ceremonies, Athletics and the City: Some Remarks on the Social Imaginary of the Greek City of the Hellenistic Period

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on the gymnasion and argues that the practice of traditional Greek athletics, and the other practices associated with the gymnasion, played an important part in the creation of a social imaginary. The gymnasion was not simply a place for the 'Sozialisierung' of young citizens, but it was a place of permanent education in how to perform at civic festivals. The chapter looks at the theatre and the festivals, and argues that the political culture in the Hellenistic period adopts a distinct theatrical or spectacular character, which involves, on the one hand, a politicization of the festivals and other public ceremonies, and, on the other, a theatricalization of political life. The rising number of festivals contributed to the expression and circulation of the cultural and political ideas that underlay the social imaginaries in the Greek cities.

Keywords: Greek athletics; gymnasion; Hellenistic period; public ceremonies; social imaginary



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