:"For the coastal town in central-eastern Tunisia, see Skhira."

The festival of the Skira or Skirophoria in the calendar of ancient Athens, closely associated with the Thesmophoria, marked the dissolution of the old year in May/June. [The festival is analysed by Walter Burkert, in "Homo Necans" (1972, tr. 1983:143-49), with bibliography p 143, note 33.] At Athens, the last month of the year was "Skirophorion", after the festival. Its most prominent feature was the procession that led out of Athens to a place called Skiron near Eleusis, in which the priestess of Athena and the priest of Poseidon took part, under a ceremonial canopy called the "skiron", which was held up by the "Eteoboutadai". [L. Deubner, "Attische Feste" (Berlin 1932:49-50); their accompanier in late descriptions, the priest of Helios, Walter Burkert regards as a Hellenistic innovation rather than an archaic survival (Burkert 1983:)] Their joint temple on the Acropolis was the Erechtheum, where Poseidon embodied as Erechtheus remained a numinous presence. [See Poseidon#The foundation of Athens; the connection was an early one: in the "Odyssey" (vii.81), Athena was said to have "entered the house of Erechtheus" (noted by Burkert 1983:144).]

At Skiron there was a sanctuary dedicated to Demeter/Kore and one to Athena.

As a festival of dissolution, the Skira was a festival proverbial for license, in which men played dice games, but a time also of daytime fasting, and of the inversion of the social order, for the bonds of marriage were suspended, as women banded together and left the quarters where they were ordinarily confined, to eat garlic together "according to ancestral custom", ["Inscriptiones Graeca", noted by Burkert 1983: 145, note 41; see also Jane Ellen Harrison, "Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion" (1903, 3rd ed. 1922:134f).] and to sacrifice and feast together, at the expense of the men. The Skira is the setting for Aristophanes' comedy "Lysistrata" (411 BCE), in which the women seize the opportunity afforded by the festival, to hatch their plot to overthrow male domination.


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