Mything Words - Pannychis

by Erin on January 23, 2012

I recall first hearing the word pannychis in college. It’s a funny, odd word, and to me almost sounds like something a child would make up. However, what makes pannychis most memorable is its meaning. At the time, it was described by my professor as an “all night party”. On hearing this phrase, my ears perked up, eyes widened just a bit, and I thought to myself, ooh, you don’t say. Please, continue, tell us more about this pannychis thing…

It’s been a while since that lecture, so I don’t remember any specific details besides the definition. I am going therefore to turn to one of my trusty resources for information about ancient Greece - the Oxford Classical Dictionary. According to the OCD, a pannychis is : “an all-night festival or vigil in honor of a deity”. A couple examples are given in the book - festivals to Demeter and Artemis, respectively. Then, it gets interesting. Apparently, a pannychis provided the opportunity for what are termed in the book as illicit affairs. This of course leads to a mention of the goddess Aphrodite.

The OCD states that Pannychis was an attendant of Aphrodite. Notice how the word is now capitalized? This is our clue that in this context, Pannychis is a personification of the concept. It’s as if you invited Aphrodite, and she brought along her friend, who just happened to embody the idea of an all night party.

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