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4th ARCHAEOLOGICAL MEETING OF THESSALY AND CENTRAL GREECE, 2009-2011
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Paper abstract

Graninger Denver
American Research Center in Sofia
Eleutheria and Stena: a synkrisis

This paper explores the relationship between the two great athletic festivals that were celebrated in Hellenistic and Roman Larisa: the Eleutheria, sponsored by the Thessalian League and celebrating Zeus Eleutherios and the Thessalian Leagues refoundation at the conclusion of the Second Macedonian War; and the Stena, sponsored by the city of Larisa and honoring the heroic sacrifice of Thessalians in a key battle of the Third Macedonian War. Both are richly attested epigraphically, although the evidence for the Eleutheria, late Hellenistic in date, is considerably earlier than that for the Stena, early Imperial in date. The two festivals shared some key, and distinctly Thessalian, contests (e.g., taurotheria, aphippodromas, aphippolampas), but the Eleutheria commemorated a Roman victory over Macedonia at Kynoskephalai that could only be tendentiously claimed as Thessalian after the fact, while the Stena commemorated a bad Roman defeat at the Narrows at the hands of Macedonia that Thessalian cavalry kept from being even worse. The divergent objects of historical memory institutionalized through these two festivals thus reveal sharply contrasting attitudes toward Thessalys Roman imperial present and its Macedonian past.


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