12 Skirophorion> Skira / Skirophoria: festival dedicated to Athena Polias (or Skiras, as stated by schol. V Arist. Eccl. Deubner 18), to Demeter and Kore, and to Poseidon (Schol Ar. Eccl. 18; Phot. s.v. skiros; schol. Clem. Al. Protr. II, 17, 1); a day made even more sacred (hierotera) because of the battle of Mantinea, 362 BCE (Plut. De glor. Ath 7, 350a); Clement of Alexandria associates this day also with the seizure of Troy (Strom. 1, 104); the date is confirmed by the fact that, on that day, was not scheduled any meeting of the ecclesia (The Agora Excavations Inventory 5923).
“Lycurgus, in the speech ‘about the priestess’: Skira is a celebration of the Athenians, from which comes the month of Skirophorion. Those who write about the Athenian months and festivals, among them Lisimachides, say that the ‘skiron’ is a large parasol (skiadion), under which the priestess of Athena and the priest of Poseidon and the priest of Helios walk while it is brought from the Acropolis to a place called Skiron; the Eteobutads carry it. It is a symbol of the need to create and build shelters, as this is the best time to build. ” (Harp. s.v. Skiron) About the meaning of ‘skira’, there are two possibilities: the scholiast of Aristophanes (Eccl. 18) argues that ‘Skiron’ is the same as ‘skiadeion’, parasol, and therefore that this festival takes its name from the fact that the priest of Poseidon Erechtheus walks, during the procession, under a white parasol. The scholiast to the Wasps (925) argues that a kind of white earth, such as gypsum, is called ‘skirràs’ and that Athena has this epithet because it is ‘white colored’. The same thing is confirmed by the Etym. Magn. that, speaking of the entire month of Skirophorion which takes its name from this festival, says: “is the name of a month of the Athenians; it is so named for the fact that Theseus brought skira, or chalk. As Theseus, returning from the Minotaur, made a plaster statue of Athena and brought it with him, and as he did that during this month, it is called Skirophorion.” And so Photius: “Skyros: a festival in honor of Athena that had this name because, due to the heat of the sun, they used a parasol; others argue that the name does not derive from it, but from the Athena modeled in the skira that Theseus, after killing the Minotaur, created on his return (the skira is a light paste, such as gypsum); others say that this name comes from the Eleusinian prophet Skyros; others again, from Skyros co-founder of Salamis. ” (Phot. sv)
During this departure of the priests, a real ‘apopompé’ and not a regular procession, the members of the Eteobutads carry the famous ‘Dios koidion’, the skin of the ram sacrificed to Zeus Meilichios, famously associated with the purifications (Paus. Att. Erbse delta 18) Skiron is on the road to Eleusis, near the Cephisus and then almost on the border between the two territories; there is a sacred enclosure dedicated to the Heroes, and next to it is a sanctuary of Demeter and Kore, in which are also honored Athena and Poseidon; “the monument of Antemocritus was built for those who travel from Athens to Eleusis, along what the Athenians call ‘Sacred Way’ … and the place is called Skyron for the following reason. While the Eleusinians were fighting against Erechtheus, came to them a prophet named Skyros from Dodona, who also built the ancient Temple of Athena Skiras at Phalerus; and when he fell in battle, the Eleusinians buried him next to a creek. And from that Hero took the name both the place and the river.”- It is thus close to the Eleusinian Cephisus, and thus the procession walked away almost five kilometers. (Paus. I, 36, 4; 37, 2)
We must also distinguish the rural Skira, exclusively in honor of Demeter, and the city Skirophoria - even though both fall on the same day and, ideally, they conclude the threshing. In addition, from a scholium to Lucian, we know that the Skirophoria, along with the Arrephoria, are among the feasts dedicated to Demeter and Kore celebrated by the women and referred to as “festivals of the Hellenes that contain mysteries.” It is also important to note that Skiron is one of the three places mentioned by Plutarch as home to the oldest sacred plowing, the other two being precisely at the foot of the Acropolis and the plain of Rharos (Plut. Praec. Con. 42.144ab).
From the lost tragedy ‘Erechtheus’ by Euripides, of which some fragments have luckily saved, we know that Skyros was the soothsayer of the Eleusinians -from Dodona- during the battle between Erechtheus and Eumolpus, and that he fell in this battle; he was also the founder of the Temple of Athena Skiras at Phalerum, where he also had an altar -“the Athenians worship an Athena Skiras, that would have taken the name from someone called Skyros, prophet of Eleusis.” (Philoch. 42; Harp. sv Skiron ); the place where he lost his life then took his same name, while the bride of Erechtheus was appointed as the first priestess of Athena. The battle between the Athenians and the Eleusinian is thus the mythological aition of this celebration.
Not only: the Skira also include a celebration of the women who, according to a very ancient custom, give life to their own organization; in the Thesmophoriazousai we read “if any of us will give birth to a good citizen to the State…she will be rewarded with some office of honor, and we will have to give to her the presidency at the Stenia and the Skira and at the other festivals that we women celebrate” An inscription confirms: ” when the celebrations of the Thesmophoria take place, and at the Plerosia, the Kalamaia and the Skira, and some other day during which the women gather by ancestral custom … ” (CIA II 753b). The scholia to Lucian, in connection also with the Arrephoria, states that “the mythological event that the women in their festivals celebrate in different ways in the city, dramatizing the kidnapping of Pherephatta in different ways at the Thesmophoria, the Skirophoria and the Arretophoria.” As with many female festivals (and by analogy with the Thesmophoria) applies the rule of sexual abstinence for the celebrating women, as noted by Philochorus: “they eat garlic with the purpose of refrain from sexual union, so that they do not smell.” (FGrH 328, fr. 89); while for men who go to Skiron there is an obligatory fasting during the day. The feasts and banquets held by the women in this circumstance are all at the expense of the male members of the family, as shown in a funny verse of a comedy, speaking about the destruction caused by having to maintain a lawful wife and a concubine, “twice the Thesmophoria twice the Skira!” (Eccl. 18, 59; Men. Epitr. 750)…