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6 The Nemesia in Lycurgan Athens

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Chapter Summary

Beginning with Pouilloux, scholars have tentatively suggested that the Nemesia was the occasion for the victory of the ephebes of Erechtheis. The large number of ephebic inscriptions unearthed at Rhamnous, most of which are unfortunately fragmentary, shows that contingents of ephebes would have garrisoned the strategically located fortress throughout the Lycurgan Period. Although the Nemesia was a locally controlled and administered deme festival, it was not exclusive to the Rhamnousians. The inclusion of the ephebes, however, is unlikely to have antedated the Lycurgan period. An explanation for why the ephebes celebrated the Nemesia in particular may be found in the Athenians' belief that Nemesis had played a pivotal role in their ancestors' victory over the Persians at the battle of Marathon in 490. According to Pausanias, the goddess expelled the invaders from Attica because she was angered at their hubris in attempting to incorporate the polis into the Persian Empire.

Keywords: ephebes of Erechtheis; Lycurgan Athens; Nemesia; Persian Empire; Rhamnous



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