Carnea (Greek: Karneia) was an annual festival held in Sparta during ancient times, about one of the only ones they had. It was also widespread among other Doric states. It was a celebration of the harvest, in honor of the god Apollo. Some scholars suspect that Apollo ousted an earlier god named 'Carneus', but this has not been confirmed. Whether Apollo was a step-in or the true source of the festival, he was considered the god of flocks and herds for purposes of celebration, which occurred on the 7th through 15th of August (in Sparta this month was named in honor of the festival, Karneios).

The integral part of the festival was a commemoration (or piacul) of the death of a seer named Carnus. During the travel of the Dorians to Peloponnesus, he was suspected of espionage and executed. The man had been a favorite of Apollo, so in punishment the Spartan army was visited with an awful pestilence that did not cease until they began celebrating Carnea. Boys trained for the military would be picked by lot to play the different sides of the legend.

During the period of Carnea, all military operations would cease. Besides the reenactment, there were also athletic competitions and races. A musical contest later added to the celebration attracted poets and musicians from all across Greece.

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