Festivals were instituted as seasons of rest, rejoicing, and thanksgiving, and also as anniversaries to commemorate events of national importance. The most ancient festivals were those held after the ingathering of the harvest or vintage, and were celebrated with rejoicings and merry-makings, which lasted many days, during which time the first-fruits of the fields were offered to the gods, accompanied by prayers and thanksgiving.
The festivals held in cities in honour of special divinities, or in commemoration of particular events, were conducted with an elaborate ceremonial. Gorgeous processions, games, chariot races, &c., were conspicuous features on these occasions, and dramatic performances, representing particular episodes in the lives of the gods and heroes, frequently took place.
We subjoin a few of the most interesting of the Greek and Roman festivals.