Heat and Lust: Hesiod’s Midsummer Festival Scene Revisited

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Canicular Period
(Acute Phase: July 19-27)

Conditions Description Ancient testimonia Modern equivalent data
Astronomical Sirius rises on July 19, visible by day; mid-point of solar year; earth and sun in greatest proximity Hes. WD 582-588 Same conditions
Meteorological Imbalance of dry and wet: drought; cool northerly winds intensify around July 19 lasting for some 40 days; sea turbulent Hes. WD. 582 f.; A.R. 2.516-524, etc. ἐτησίαι αὖραι; cf. West
 on WD 663; A.R. 2.524-527 Arist. HA 600a3 f.; Pliny Nat.
 2.107 Same conditions; see immed. below
The meltemi intensifies after the feast of St. Elias
Botanical-agricultural σκόλυμος blooms
Grapes begin to ripen

Drought withers trees, plants, and crops

Hes. WD 582
Hes. Shield of Herakles 396-399

ἀστροβλησία (‘star-blight’): Thphr. CP 5.9.4; HP 4.14.2, etc.; cf. sideratio: Pliny Nat. 17.218, 22

Cf. MG σκόλυμπρος, ἀσπράγχαθα
Cf. the proverb
τῆς Ἁγίας Μαρίνας σύκου
τσὶ τ᾽ Ἁγιοῦ Λιᾶ σταφύλ
ἡ Ἁγία Μαρίνα μαραίνει τοὺς γεωργοὺς καὶ τὰ χωράγια: a folk warning to those who work on her feast
Physiological-medical Men’s skin is dried up
Most men dry up, but women flourish
Fever, sunstroke

Paralysis of human beings and animals

Hes. WD 588
Hp. Aër.10.85 f. (L.)
IL. 22.3; Hp. Aph. 21 (L.): πυρετοὶ ξυνεχέες; Sor. 1. 124: σειρίασις; siriasis afflicts children: Pliny Nat. 22.59, etc. Scrib. Larg. 101; Hippiatr. 52 A.R. 2.519
Cf. Avdemi songs
Cf. Avdemi songs
Cf. Avdemi (group III)

Cf. Avdemi songs (group III)

Sexual Asymmetrical relations between male and female: men are impotent, women are ardent Hes. WD 586-587; Hp. Aph. 21 (L.): putrefaction of genitals in the summer; (pseudo?-) Arist. Pr. 4.25.879a26-35; Pliny Nat. 22.86 Avdemi songs; in Petrochori male harvesters regard sexual relations with their wives ill-omened; cf. the proverb Τὸν Ἰούλη κὶ οἱ γριές κάνουνε ξετσιπωσιές
Social-religious Separation of sexes (?)

Women celebrate the Adonia

[εἰρεσιωνη-song performed by boys at Thargelia in connection with the offering of the first bread crop in May]
Cronia celebrated some time after harvest

Cf. Winkler 1990. 202f.carm. pop. 2 (Diehl ii), w. Burkert 1985 [1977]. 83

Burkert 1985 [1977]. 231-232; West on Th. 137.

Month-long migration of male reapers in eastern Thrace
νυχτέρια and other female “assemblies” (focus on male inadequacy?)
The ‘song of the cicada,’ often sung by children, accompanies the offering of the first bread of the crop (‘cicada cake’) in June-July