Ancient Greek Festivals - Panathenaea
Musical Contests

Musical Contests

The musical competition included four events that are often illustrated in vase paintings:

  • the kitharodes (singing and playing the kithara)
  • aulodes(singing to a double-pipe accompaniment)
  • solo kithara playing
  • solo double-pipe

The singing was divided into a men's and a boys' competition. Prizes (gold and silver crowns) for the kithara competitions were over three times as valuable as those for the double-pipe. This suggests that kithara performers were traveling professionals of some distinction.

Music had other important functions at the Panathenaea: pipeplaying accompanied the dance in armor (the pyrrhike) and the jumping contests, and both pipe-players and kitharists marched in the Panathenaic procession, as shown by the Parthenon frieze. A salpinktes, or trumpet player, no doubt heralded the beginning of the contests, the awards ceremonies, and the great procession.