Aesop was a serf and story-teller who lived in ancient Hellas between 620 and 560 BC--if he actually existed. No records of him were every recovered and through the years, many fables scattered throughout ancient Hellas became attributed to him. His collected works became known as 'Aesop's Fables', and there are quite a lot of them: nearly enough to read your children one of them for every night for two years. I am on a family vacation with the inlaws, so you're getting a collection of Aesop's fables about family. As good an excuse as any, right?

The Father and His Sons
A father had a family of sons who were perpetually quarreling among themselves. When he failed to heal their disputes by his exhortations, he determined to give them a practical illustration of the evils of disunion; and for this purpose he one day told them to bring him a bundle of sticks. When they had done so, he placed the faggot into the hands of each of them in succession, and ordered them to break it in pieces. They tried with all their strength, and were not able to do it. He next opened the faggot, took the sticks separately, one by one, and again put them into his sons' hands, upon which they broke them easily. He then addressed them in these words: "My sons, if you are of one mind, and unite to assist each other, you will be as this faggot, uninjured by all the attempts of your enemies; but if you are divided among yourselves, you will be broken as easily as these sticks."

The Man and His Two Sweethearts
A middle-aged man, whose hair had begun to turn gray, courted two women at the same time. One of them was young, and the other well advanced in years. The elder woman, ashamed to be courted by a man younger than herself, made a point, whenever her admirer visited her, to pull out some portion of his black hairs. The younger, on the contrary, not wishing to become the wife of an old man, was equally zealous in removing every gray hair she could find. Thus it came to pass that between them both he very soon found that he had not a hair left on his head.

The Widow and Her Little Maidens
A Widow who was fond of cleaning had two little maidens to wait on her. She was in the habit of waking them early in the morning, at cockcrow. The maidens, aggravated by such excessive labor, resolved to kill the cock who roused their mistress so early. When they had done this, they found that they had only prepared for themselves greater troubles, for their mistress, no longer hearing the hour from the cock, woke them up to their work in the middle of the night.

The Father and His Two Daughters
A Man had two daughters, the one married to a gardener, and the other to a tile-maker. After a time he went to the daughter who had married the gardener, and inquired how she was and how all things went with her. She said, "All things are prospering with me, and I have only one wish, that there may be a heavy fall of rain, in order that the plants may be well watered." Not long after, he went to the daughter who had married the tilemaker, and likewise inquired of her how she fared; she replied, "I want for nothing, and have only one wish, that the dry weather may continue, and the sun shine hot and bright, so that the bricks might be dried." He said to her, "If your sister wishes for rain, and you for dry weather, with which of the two am I to join my wishes?'

The Farmer and His Sons (2)
A father, being on the point of death, wished to be sure that his sons would give the same attention to his farm as he himself had given it. He called them to his bedside and said, "My sons, there is a great treasure hid in one of my vineyards." The sons, after his death, took their spades and mattocks and carefully dug over every portion of their land. They found no treasure, but the vines repaid their labor by an extraordinary and superabundant crop.

The Thief and His Mother
A Boy stole a lesson-book from one of his schoolfellows and took it home to his Mother. She not only abstained from beating him, but encouraged him. He next time stole a cloak and brought it to her, and she again commended him. The Youth, advanced to adulthood, proceeded to steal things of still greater value. At last he was caught in the very act, and having his hands bound behind him, was led away to the place of public execution. His Mother followed in the crowd and violently beat her breast in sorrow, whereupon the young man said, "I wish to say something to my Mother in her ear." She came close to him, and he quickly seized her ear with his teeth and bit it off. The Mother upbraided him as an unnatural child, whereon he replied, "Ah! if you had beaten me when I first stole and brought to you that lesson-book, I should not have come to this, nor have been thus led to a disgraceful death."

The Miller, His Son, and Their Ass
A Miller and his son were driving their Ass to a neighboring fair to sell him. They had not gone far when they met with a troop of women collected round a well, talking and laughing. "Look there," cried one of them, "did you ever see such fellows, to be trudging along the road on foot when they might ride?' The old man hearing this, quickly made his son mount the Ass, and continued to walk along merrily by his side. Presently they came up to a group of old men in earnest debate. "There," said one of them, "it proves what I was a-saying. What respect is shown to old age in these days? Do you see that idle lad riding while his old father has to walk? Get down, you young scapegrace, and let the old man rest his weary limbs." Upon this the old man made his son dismount, and got up himself. In this manner they had not proceeded far when they met a company of women and children: "Why, you lazy old fellow," cried several tongues at once, "how can you ride upon the beast, while that poor little lad there can hardly keep pace by the side of you?' The good-natured Miller immediately took up his son behind him. They had now almost reached the town. "Pray, honest friend," said a citizen, "is that Ass your own?' "Yes," replied the old man. "O, one would not have thought so," said the other, "by the way you load him. Why, you two fellows are better able to carry the poor beast than he you." "Anything to please you," said the old man; "we can but try." So, alighting with his son, they tied the legs of the Ass together and with the help of a pole endeavored to carry him on their shoulders over a bridge near the entrance to the town. This entertaining sight brought the people in crowds to laugh at it, till the Ass, not liking the noise nor the strange handling that he was subject to, broke the cords that bound him and, tumbling off the pole, fell into the river. Upon this, the old man, vexed and ashamed, made the best of his way home again, convinced that by endeavoring to please everybody he had pleased nobody, and lost his Ass in the bargain.
On the day of the Hene kai Nea, I post a monthly update about things that happened on the blog and in projects and organizations related to it. I will also announce Elaion's coming PAT rituals.

Changes to the blog:
  • I updated my Google calendar for another half year!
  • The tags in the right hand menu of the blog are now arranged in a cloud. This way, the more used ones appear bigger, making it easier to search.
PAT rituals for Skirophorion:
  • 5/29 - Skirophorion 3 - Sacrifice to Kourotrophos, Athena Polias, Aglaurus, Zeus Polieus, Poseidon & possibly Pandrosos at Erkhia*
  • 6/7 - Skirophorion 12 - Skirophoria - festival in honor of Athena, Poseidon, Apollon & Demeter; the Tritopatores were worshipped at Marathon on the eve of this festival
  • 6/9 - Skirophorion 14 - Dipolieia/Bouphonia - festival in honor of Zeus Poleius
  • 6/24 - Skirophorion 29 - Diisoteria - sacrifice to Zeus the Savior and Athena the Savior
Anything else?
The National Alliance on Mental Illness has become Pandora's Kharis' Thargelion 2017 cause. NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. What started as a small group of families gathered around a kitchen table in 1979 has blossomed into the nation's leading voice on mental health.

The deadline to donate is today, May 26th, 2017. You can do so by using the PayPal option to the side of the Pandora's Kharis website or by donating directly to Thank you in advance!

Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.
Every day, the average human utters about 16.000 words. A good portion of those are idioms and figures of speech--the use of a word or words diverging from its usual meaning--or sayings. Today, I wanted to share some of the figures of speech and sayings that can be traced back to ancient Hellas and/or Hellenic myth. Some of these I have posted before, but I've collected another few in the mean time. These are marked with a *.

"A Herculean Effort"
Meaning: a great effort.
Source: Hēraklēs, son of Zeus and the mortal Alcmene--who was a bane in Hera's life, simply for being born--was stricken mad by the Queen of the Gods and killed his five sons by his wife Megara, oldest daughter of Kreōn of Thebes. When he was released from his madness by a hellebore potion--provided by Antikyreus--and realized what he had done, he cried out in anguish, and went on a long journey to cleanse himself of the miasma caused by these killings. First, he visited the oracle at Delphi, who, unbeknownst to him, was whispered to by Hera. The Oracle told Hēraklēs to serve the king of Tiryns, Eurystheus, for ten years and do everything Eurystheus told him to do. Eurystheus gladly provided Hēraklēs with these labors--ten of them, one for each year--and eventually ended up adding two more, resulting in the Twelve Labors of Hēraklēs. Hēraklēs was told to: slay the Nemean Lion, slay the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra, capture the Golden Hind of Artemis, capture the Erymanthian Boar, clean the Augean stables in a single day, slay the Stymphalian Birds, capture the Cretan Bull, steal the Mares of Diomedes, obtain the girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon, steal the apples of the Hesperides, and to capture and bring back Kerberos. All of these tasks were incredibly hard, and required every ounce of strength Hēraklēs possessed.

"A Sisyphean task"
Meaning: (performing) an endless or repetitive task.
Source: Sísyphos was a scheming and conniving king, who tried to pull a fast one on the Gods many times over. He betrayed Zeus, tried to trick Thanatos, Persephone and Hades, and killed innocent travelers on his roads--an offense against xenia. For all these offenses, Sísyphos was sentenced to push a boulder uphill for all eternity, as the boulder would roll down the slope again the second he reached the top.

"Achilles' heel"
Meaning: one's weakness or weak spot.
Source: Achilles was a great warrior, destined to live one of two lives: a long and boring one, or a short but heroic one. Knowing her son would choose the latter, his divine mother Themis tried to limit the risk of Achilles dying a premature death by dipping him in the river Styx. As such, Achilles became impenetrable to harm, save for his heel, where his mother had held him as she dipped him in the water. This spot eventually became his downfall, and Achilles died on the battlefield of Troy. The stories of his invulnerability were a later invention, around the first century AD. Before that, the myth simply stated that Achilles was shot in the heel with an arrow, and he eventually died of that wound, because it would not heal.

"Bearing the weight of the world (on one's shoulders)" *
Meaning: a very heavy burden of worry or responsibility.
Source: This is a reference to Atlas, the Titan who was forced to carry the heavens on his shoulders after he and his brethren rebelled against Zeus in the Titanomachy. Depending on the source, however, it was actually a great honour to be asked to protect the whole of the earth from being crushed under the weight of the sky.

"Beware of Greeks bearing gifts"
Meaning: be weary of those with something to offer, they may have ulterior motives.
Source: In the war for Troy, the Hellenes needed a way to conquer the walls of the city. They tried to fight for it, but were unable to. In Virgil's Aeneid, it is written that the Hellenes built a wooden horse, and hid away in it. The horse was offered to the Trojans as a gift, and the structure was accepted into the city. At night, the Hellenes snuck out of the horse, attacked the city, and conquered Troy.

"Caught between a rock and a hard place"
Meaning: making a hard choice; choosing between two undesirable options.
Source: During Odysseus' travels to get home, he must run his ship through a narrow passage. One the one side are rocks with a cavern. In this cavern, Skylla, sea monster with six heads, lived, and she would take one of Odysseus' men with each of her heads. On the other side lay Kharybdis, a great whirlpool which would suck in any ship that came too close. It is up to Odysseus to choose one or the other. Eventually, he chooses Skylla, and looses many brave men, his ship, however, is in tact. As such, Odysseus had to choose between a rock and a hard place.

"Cupid's arrows" *
Meaning: rapidly falling in love--as if struck.
Source: The ancient Hellenes were just as mystified by love as we are today--more so, perhaps, because a least we know what happens chemically in our bodies when it happens. Their answer to the mystery of falling in love was that the arrow of Eros struck. Eros had two types of arrows: the golden-tipped arrow brought love and attraction, the lead-tipped arrow brought hate and repulsion. Cupid is the Roman version of Eros.

"Dog is man's best friend"
Meaning: the loyalty of dogs is undisputed
Source: In the Odysseia, Odysseus finally returns home after many, many long years of travel, and long years of war. He is in disguise when he reaches his house, which is overrun by suiters of his wife. His fateful hunting dog, Argos, has waited for him all these years, and recognizes his master right away. Finally reunited with his master, the old dog dies, happy, and at peace.

"Food of the Gods"
Meaning: food so delicious, it is almost divine
Source: Nectar--the drink of the Gods--and ambrosia--the food of the Gods--are the dish of choice on Olympos. If a mortal man or woman would eat or drink either of the two, they, too, would become immortal, or at least their aging would stop for a while.

"Gordian knots"
Meaning: an extremely perplexing puzzle or problem.  
Source: It seems that king Gordius of Phrygia laid out a task for whomever wanted to be the ruler of Asia Minor: he tied a know so complex, no one managed to untie is. Eventually, Alexander the Great came to the land, and cut the know with his sword, thus 'passing' the test. 'Cutting the knot' became a saying for taking something by force, or making a decisive action. 

"Having the Midas touch"
Meaning: a fortunate person, someone able to make everything a success.
Source: In Hellenic mythology, Midas was the king of Pessinus. It seems some of the peasants under Midas' commands brought the king the unconscious satyr Seilenos, who had drunk himself into a stupor. Alternatively, Seilenos toppled over in Midas' garden. No matter how he got there, Midas took good care of him, and as a token of appreciation, Dionysos--Seilenos' student--offered Midas a wish. Midas wished that everything he touched, turned to gold. This is where the saying comes from.

"Hounds of Hell"
Meaning: something frightening, or evil.
Source: Guarding the entrance to Underworld is a great dog, either with just one head, or three, or fifty. His name is Kerberos, and you can pass him once, on your way in, but never again, as there is no way out.

"Leave No Stone Unturned"
Meaning: search everywhere.
Source: The catch-phrase was first recorded by Euripides in his tragedy 'Heracleidae'. The play focusses on King Eurystheus, who hunts the children of Hēraklēs after he passes away. The actual quote comes from the line: "Now, after he was taken hence, was I not forced, by reason of these children's hatred, and because I was conscious of an hereditary feud, to leave no stone unturned by slaying, banishing, and plotting against them?"

"Oedipus Complex"
Meaning: a child's unnatural desire of their parent of the opposite sex, and jealousy of the parent of the same sex. Freudian theory.
Source: Oedipus was born to King Laius and Queen Jocasta. King Laius was fortold his son would kill him and marry his mother, and so he left him to die on a mountainside. The child was found, however, and raised by King Polybus and Queen Merope. Oedipus eventually heard of the prophecy about him and fled, not wanting to hurt his adoptive parents, who he believed to be his biological ones. Fate would have him end up on the same road as King Laius, and in an argument over whom would step out of the way, Oedipus killed his father. He then traveled on and eventually met and married his mother. The myth continues on, but this is the part where the figure of speech comes from.

"Pandora's box"
Meaning: to perform an action that may seem small or innocuous, but that turns out to have severe and far-reaching consequences.
Source: I've written quite a bit about Pandôra on this blog. Pandôra was created by the Theoi as punishment on humanity after Prometheus stole fire from the Gods. Pandôra showed up on the doorstep of Prometheus' brother Deukalion, with a pithos she was told never to open. Eventually, curiosity got the better of her,a nd she opened the jar. In some versions of the myth, all evils of the word flew out, but Pandôra managed to trap hope in the jar. There are many, many inconsistencies in the myth, but the figure of speech stuck.

"Pregnant with thought" *
Meaning: to be about to put forth a (great) idea.
Source: Potentially, this idiom comes from Greek mythology--namely the birth of Athena from the head of Zeus. Athena, as Goddess of wisdom represents a literal birth of ideas--which is pretty much the meaning.

"Siren's song" *
Meaning: an alluring utterance or appeal, especially one that is seductive or deceptive.
Source: In the Odysseia, Circe warned Odysseus not to listen to the Sirens--mythological mermaids--because their haunting music would drive him mad. Or if he did, at least have his sailors tie him to the mast to keep him from throwing himself overboard, and to plug his rowers ears’ with beeswax so they would be impervious to the sweet high song.

"Stygian darkness" *
Meaning: pitch black, sometimes dreary, darkness.
Source: The river Styx was the boundary between the upper world of the living and the underworld of the dead. It was so inky black that anything under its surface disappeared from sight.

"The face that launched a thousand ships"
Meaning: one person causing a terrible event.
Source: One fateful day, three Goddesses got into an argument about whom was most beautiful. Hera, Aphrodite, and Athena, all laid claim to a golden apple tossed into the crowd at a banquet held on honor of Peleus and Thetis. Eris had thrown the apple, which was labeled 'for the most beautiful'. The Goddesses could not decide who was the fairest, and so They asked Zeus. Zeus appointed Paris, A Trojan mortal, to choose in his stead. All three Goddesses undressed for Paris when asked, and all offered him gifts, if he would choose them. Aphrodite, however, promised him the most beautiful of wives, and PAris chose Her. Aphrodite picked Helen of Sparta as Paris' new wife, but Helen was already married, to Menelaus, who would eventually bring war down upon Troy to reclaim the wife he lost. Helen became the woman whose face 'launched a thousand ships' in war.

"To rise from the ashes"
Meaning: to be reborn
Source: No singular myth about the famous bird survives, but the phoenix was know to the ancient Hellenes. It was a mythical bird that lived its life, immolated, and was reborn from the ashes of its previous incarnation.
I made it just a little over ten months without posting this prayer. The last time was for the people in Nice. I could have posted it for the people killed in the London Bridge attack, but London handled itself so well in the wake of the London Bridge attack that I sufficed with another type of post. I could have posted it much more often inbetween; since Nice, at least 12.145 people have lost their lives in terrorist attacks (617 in the second part of July, 1230 in August, 876 in September, 2151 in October, 1667 in November, 940 in December, 912 in January, 767 in February, 1436 in March, 817 in April, and 732 so far in May). Some with the highest death counts (50+):

23/7/16 Suicide bombing in Kabul, Afganistan: 80 dead (230 wounded)
27/7/16 Suicide bombing in Qamishli, Syria: 57dead (140 wounded)
6/8/16 Shooting, kidnapping and execution by IS in Hawija, Iraq: 100+ dead (over 3000 kidnapped)
8/8/2016 Shooting and suicide bombing in Quetta, Pakistan: 93 dead (130+ wounded)
14/8/16 Melee massacre in Beni City, Democratic Republic of the Congo: 101 dead
15/8/16 Suicide bombing on a bus in Idlib, Syria: 50 dead
20/8/16 Suicide bombing at a wedding ceremony in Gaziantep, Turkey by a twelve year old boy: 54 dead (66 wounded)
29/8/2016 Bombing at a military facility in Aden, Yemen: 71 dead
5/9/2016 String of connected car bombingsin Tartus, Homs, Damascus and Hasakah, Syria: 70 dead
5/9/2016 Suicide bombings in Kabul, Afghanistan: 58 dead (109 wounded)
25/9/2016 Execution of captured Iraqi civilians by IS in Iraq: 100+ dead
14/10/2016 Executions of rebels by IS in Mosul, Iraq: 58 dead
15/10/16 Suicide bombing and shooting in Baghdad, Iraq: 53 dead (44 wounded)
21-22/10/16 Spree of shootings and suicide bombings in Kirkuk, Iraq: 80 dead (133 wounded)
24/10/16 Hostage taking, shooting, and suicide bombing at a police training center in Quetta, Pakistan: 62 dead (117 wounded)
25/10/16 Executions and shooting by IS in Mosul, Iraq: 135 dead
26/10/16 Execution of former members of the Iraqi security forces by IS: 232 dead
29/10/16 Execution of civilians by IS in Mosul, Iraq: 122 dead
31/10/16 Execution of civilians by IS in Mosul, Iraq: 350+ dead
2/11/16 Execution and shooting by IS in Mosul, Iraq: 52 dead
8/11/16 Execution of civilians by IS in Mosul, Iraq: 300+ dead
11/11/16 Execution of civilians by IS in Mosul, Iraq: 113 dead
12/11/16 Suicide bombing in the Shah Noorani Shrine in Balochistan, Pakistan: 55 dead (102 wounded)
12/11/16 Execution of civilians by IS in Mosul, Iraq: 60 dead
20/11/16 Sabotage of a train by IS in Pukhrayan, India: 150 dead (150+ wounded)
24/11/16 Suicide truck bombing in Hillah, Iraq: 125 dead (95 wounded)
9/12/16 Suicide bombings in Madagali, Nigeria: 57 dead (177 wounded)
10/12/16 Suicide bombing on soldiers in Aden, Yemen: 50+ dead (70+ wounded)
18/12/16 Suicide bombing on soldiers in Aden, Yemen: 52 dead (63 wounded)

2/1/17 Series of suicide car bombings in Baghdad, Iraq: 56 dead (122 wounded)
7/1/17 Car bombing at a marketplace in Azaz, Syria: 60 dead (50 wounded)
18/1/17 Five suicide bombings near a NATO army base in Gao, Mali: 77 dead (115 wounded)
27/1/17 Al-Shabaab militants attack remote AMISOM base killing Kenyan troops in Kulbiyow, Somalia: 66 dead (70 wounded)
16/2/17 Car bombing at a car dealership in Baghdad, Iraq: 59 dead (66 wounded)
16/2/17 Suicide bombing at a shrine by IS in Sehwan, Pakistan: 88 dead (250+ wounded)
24/2/17 Car bombing by IS in Sosyan, Syria: 61 dead (100+ wounded)
8/3/17 Suicide bombing and shootings at a military hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan: 100+ dead (63 wounded)
11/3/17 Car bombing and suicide bombing on Shia pilgrims in Damascus, Syria: 74 dead (120+ wounded)
15/4/17 Suicide car bombing in Aleppo, Syria: 126 dead (100+ wounded)
21/4/17 Shooting attack of a military base by Taliban n the Balkh Province, Afghanistan: 256 dead (160+ wounded)
18/5/17 Shootings of civilians by IS in Hama Governorate, Syria: 52 dead (100 wounded)
20/5/17 Shooting of soldiers and civilians by Misrata militants in the Wadi al Shatii District, Libya: 141 dead (100+ wounded)

I was still awake two nights ago when news of the Manchester Arena bombing begun trickling in. I can't imagine you missed it, but at the end of a concert by the American singer Ariana Grande a bomb went off, killing 22 people and injuring 59. A lone male was reported to have carried out the attack, thought to have been a suicide bombing using an improvised explosive device, with the perpetrator "deliberately choosing the time and place to cause maximum carnage and to kill and injure indiscriminately", according to Prime Minister Theresa May. Police were called to the scene of the bombing at 22:33 local time, along with medical personnel. IS later claimed responsibility for the attack, and investigators are trying to determine if this was a lone wolf terror attack.

In case you don't know Ariana Grande, let me drive it home to you that the crowd consisted mostly of kids between the ages of, say, eight and eighteen, along with their parents and a select gathering of more mature fans. So far, the youngest identified deadly victim was eight. Eight. Some 22-years old asshole sat through the whole of an Ariana Grande concert, got up, walked to the exit along with hordes of (mostly) girls having the best night of their lives and pressed a Gods damned button because somehow that is a normal thing to do now.

It kills me, thinking of this.

It kills me thinking of the trauma the young people who survived will carry for the rest of their lives. I can't even imagine what Ariana herself is going through right now. She walked off stage and a few minutes later: boom! Death. Chaos. She went on Twitter and apologized. She apologized for the actions of an angry, impressionable, very dead teenager who felt the need to take 22 people into death with him. She's debating ending her career.

That kills me too.

I've just spent the better part of two hours tallying the numbers on how many people fell victim to the hate, and anger, and fear of humanity. Let me go back to that list you may or may not have read. A twelve year old boy blew himself up at a wedding. In the span of two weeks, IS members shot over 1500 people in the head in Mosul. 3000 people were kidnapped. They will be raped, mutilated, indoctrinated and either put in the line of battle as cannon fodder or killed once they outlive their 'usefulness'. If I could, I would post the image of every single one of the 12.145 people who lost their lives in the name of hate these past 10 months.

We don't know all the names of the victims of the Manchester Arena bombings yet, but we know a few, and I will update the list as more names become public. Memorize them. Let them be remembered forever. May they live on in true Hellenic tradition. Don't apologize, get angry. Be aware. Pray. Refuse to be afraid. Read through that list up there and visualize every number of people. Those people should be alive today--as should the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing be.

Georgina Callander (18 years old)

Saffie Rose Roussos (8 years old)

John Atkinson (26 years old)

Olivia Campbell (15 years old)

I knew Georgina a little, from internet circles we both frequented. We talked a little a few years ago, were mutual on social media. I didn't know her real name, but others in those circles did and connected the dots. And now she's dead. I didn't cry more for her than for any of the others, but I most certainly cried for her. She was sweet, and loving, and bubbly. She will be missed.

We don't get a reprieve from these attacks. The 23rd already saw the Marawi clash in the Philippines. Residents of Marawi reported the presence of and armed group within their locale and after the AFP verified the information, the military responded. Firefights between government forces and militants began. Maute group fighters occupied the Amai Pakpak Hospital and ordered the PhilHealth employees out of the facility. The fighters allegedly replaced the Philippine flag hoisted in the hospital with the Black Standard used by the Islamic State group. The 103rd Brigade of the Philippine Army stationed at Camp Ranao was attacked by at least 500 Maute group militants. President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao following the clash. Two soldiers were killed and one police officer. Casualties 12.143, 12.144, and 12.145. Eight soldiers were wounded.

This is our world, and we don't hear about its horrors enough. If we did, we would act. So seek out this information, mourn the dead and take a stand against this cancer manifesting in our society. Pray, if nothing else, then for the victims.

"May Hermes Psychopompos carry the souls of the dead safely cross the river Styx.
May Hekate, as Kourotrophos, light their way.
May Hades accept them favourably, and may the judges judge them fairly.
May Asklēpiós tend to the wounds of the injured.
May Ares instill in them the passion of life, and the strength of a thousand warriors.
May Hypnos sooth their weary minds, and cloud them in sleep.
May Dionysos calm their terror.
May They offer the same to emergency personnel and passers-by who were witnesses.
May Dikē who weeps at the injustice done upon all touched by this tragedy, clutch the strong thigh of Zeus the All-wise, and beg of Him the severest of punishments.
May All-Mighty Zeus send winged Nemesis to administer swift judgement.
May Her judgement take from the guilty parties an equal or greater price than their victims have had to pay.
May Hēlios the All-seeing whisper truth to law enforcement, and guide the investigation swiftly towards those who conceived of this terrible crime.
May wise Athena led Her aid to them.
May Zeus the All-mighty bless those who ran not from the area, but towards it, in an attempt to offer aid to those wounded or dead.
May He look favourably upon those who ran away as well, as the will to live is at the core of every mortal's life.
To all Theoi: a last plea. To protect those whom the media will persecute, but are innocent of the crime.
To protect the innocent scapegoat from the actions of a species in the grips of fear and revenge."
On the 29th of May, which converts to the third of the month of Skiraphorion, two festivals were held, one in Athens and one in Erkhia. The first was the Arrephoria and, as I will explain later, was not a public festival. As such, we will not celebrate it as such. It is, however, a festival of Athena Polias who was also honoured at Erkhia on this day, along with the Kourotrophos, Aglaurus, Pandrosos, Zeus Polieus, and Poseidon. Will you join us at 10 am EDT on 29 May?

Let's start with some background on the Arrephoria festival, as it seems to have influenced the sacrifice at Erkhia. The Arrephoria festival wasn't a state festival; young girls in the service performed a ritual for Athena Polias as a public service, but beyond those girls, their mentors, and perhaps their parents, no one was very concerned with it. As with most secret rites, I'm sure people knew a rite was being held, but knew it was not their business to interfere. As long as the rite was performed, all would be well for them. The girls who were selected for the honour of tending for Athena were in service of Athena Polias for an entire year and were called 'Arrephoros' (Ἀρρήφορος), Arrephoroi as a group, consisting of four members.

The Arrephoroi were always girls between the age of seven and eleven, although seven and ten seem to be the ages that are mentioned most often. They were selected from the wealthy and powerful families of Athens, as those families were considered to be especially blessed. Excavations on the Acropolis have led to the discovery of their quarters, and even their playground. It seems even mini-priestesses can't be priestesses all the time. The young girls seem to have favored ball games and were lodged near the Erechtheion in an area which was the main inhabited area on the Acropolis in Mycenaean times.

The Arrephoroi had three important tasks to perform in their term. One of the tasks the young girls assisted in was the creation of the peplos for Athena Polias, which was presented to Her during the Panathenaia. Secondly, they were almost solely in charge of grounding the meal for the honey cakes which were placed upon the altar of Athena during religious ceremonies. As a special part of their service, they performed the Arrephoria. During the Arrephoria, the priestess of Athena Polias gave the young arrephoroi sealed baskets to carry to a nearby cave. Here, the girls were supposed to enter, walk the corridor, set down their baskets at the end and pick up ones which have stood there for a year. When they returned with the baskets, it signaled the end of their year of service and they were dismissed. They were replaced with new girls who would serve the Theia.

It seems the Arrephoria ritual has ties to the ancient Athenian myth of Erichthonios (Ἐριχθόνιος), child of Hēphaistos and Athena, through Gaea, who was half man, half snake, and left in a basket by Athena, to be cared for by three of Her young attendants at the Acropolis, with clear instructions not to open the basket. They did, of course, and were scared so by the sight of either a snake in the basket, or Erichthonios' deformities, they cast themselves off of the Acropolis in terror. Yet, despite his deformities, Erichthonios became king of Athens and ruled it long and well. Myth tells us it was Erichthonios who founded the Panathenaiac Festival in the honour of Athena.

It seems that there was a certain fertility aspect to the rite, not for humans, but for the olive tree. The rite was most likely performed when the first dew settled on the sacred olive tree on top of the Acropolis--very near where the girls were housed--or when dew was about to settle onto it. In climates as dry as Hellas, dew was needed to produce rich fruit. The months following Skiraphorion are crucial to the olive crop and in ancient times, olive trees--and Athena's sacred olive tree--were vital to the survival of Athens. Olive oil was a main export product, it was used in nearly everything, from cooking to sacred rites, and Athena's olive tree atop the Acropolis had been her gift to the city, which led to her patronage over the city, instead of that of Poseidon. It is said that the sacred olive oil gifted as a reward for winning the Panathenaia te megala was harvested from that very tree. Its survival, and the bearing of good fruit, were therefor essential.

The Arrephoria was performed to appease Athena and to assure the best possible (divine) conditions for the sacred olive tree of Athena on the Acropolis--and, by proxy, all olive trees--to grow and bear fruit. These young girls performed a vital part of this rite to make up for the failings of Herse and Aglauros. For much more information about the Arrephoria, please see here.

So why did the ancient Erkhians sacrifice to this marry band of Theoi on this day? They are all linked to the city's well-being and the circumstances that led to the creation of the Arrephoria festival. Athena Polias is regarded as Protector of the City (of Athens). She had a sactuary on the north side of the Acropolis, the Erechtheion. Built between 421 and 406, the Erechtheion was associated with some of the most ancient and holy relics of the Athenians: the Palladion, which was a xoanon--an aniconic cult-statue--of Athena Polias, the marks of Poseidon's trident and the salt water well that resulted from Poseidon's strike, the sacred olive tree that sprouted when Athena struck the rock with her spear in her successful rivalry with Poseidon for the city, the supposed burial places of the mythical kings Cecrops and Erechtheus, the sacred precincts of Cecrops' three daughters and those of the tribal heroes Pandion and Boutes.

The sisters entrusted with the care for Erichthonios, hidden away in a basket, were Aglauros and her sister Pandrosos. For their roles in the Arrephoria rites, they seem to have been regarded as fertility deities in Athens. Aglauros had a sanctuary on the Acropolis in which young men of military age swore an oath to her as well as to Zeus and to other deities. Herse, sometimes regarded as a third sister, has no mention in the accounts of the Arrephoria and was not honoured at Erkhia.

Athena Polias and Poseidon were included because of the founding mythology surrounding Athens and Zeus Polieus was another powerful protector of the city. His inclusion might not be intirely linked to myths and practices surrounding Erichthonios, but His inclusion makes sense.

The Kourotrophos (κουροτρόφος, child nurturer) are (mostly) female deities who watched over growing children--and especially boys. Gaea, Artemis, and Hekate come to mind but Aglauros and Pandrossos were also considered Kouroptrophoi. Specific offerings to Them are known from the demos Erkhia but duplicate similar offerings on the Acropolis of Athens. Especially at Erkhia, it varied per sacrifice which Kourotrophos was/were sacrificed to. In this sacrifice They were honoured for the fertility aspect of Erichthonios being born from Athena as well as Gaea and the desired fertility of olive trees so we know at least Gaea, Aglauros and Pandrosos were honoured.

The Kourotrophos received a pig, Athena Polias a sheep, Aglouros received a sheep as well, but the remains of which were not to be removed from the bomos, which was equally true for the sheep Zeus Polieus received. Poseidon and Pandrosos also received sheep. All animals were the gender of the deity in question.

We hope you will join us for this sacrifice on 29 May at 10 am EDT. You can find the ritual here and join the community page here.
new genomic study on southern Mediterranean reveals a genetic continuity across geographic and national borders. The study--coordinated by the Human Biodiversity and Population Genomics group at the Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences (BiGeA) of the University of Bologna and funded by the National Geographic Society--describes the genetic fingerprints of the Mediterranean people with high-density genomic markers and a wide sample of modern populations from Sicily and Southern Italy.  Their genetic profiles were analyzed to reconstruct the combination of ancestry components and the demographic history of the region. The study is published in Scientific Reports.

As one would expect, populations inhabiting the southeastern shores of Europe are the result of a complex, multi-layered history. One of these layers corresponds to a shared genetic background, extending from Sicily to Cyprus and involving Crete, the Aegean islands and Anatolia. Stefania Sarno, researcher from the University of Bologna and lead author of the study said:

"This shared Mediterranean ancestry possibly traces back to prehistoric times, as the result of multiple migration waves, with peaks during the Neolithic and the Bronze Age."

Apparently, the ancient Greek expansions (during the Magna Graecia foundation) were only one of the last events in a long history of East-West movements, where the Mediterranean Sea served as a preferential crossroads for the circulation of genes and cultures.

One of the most intriguing layers hidden in the Mediterranean genetic landscape involves an important Bronze Age contribution from a Caucasus (or Caucasus-like) source, accompanied by the virtual absence of the typical "Pontic-Caspian" genetic component from the Asian steppe.

The latter is a very characteristic genetic signal well represented in North-Central and Eastern Europe, which previous studies associated with the introduction of Indo-European languages to the continent. Chiara Barbieri from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena adds:

"These new genomic results from the Mediterranean open a new chapter for the study of the prehistoric movements behind the diffusion of the most represented language family in Europe. The spread of these languages in the Southern regions, where Indo-European languages like Italian, Greek and Albanian are spoken nowadays, cannot be explained with the major contribution from the steppe alone."

The current genetic study also focuses on more recent historical layers that contributed to the present-day genetic makeup of the populations sampled, in particular in the cases of long-standing, non-Italian-speaking communities in Italy.

For example, mainland Greece and Albania seem to have acquired additional genetic contributions during historic times, most likely related to the Slavic migrations in the Balkans. This recent Balkan genetic ancestry is still evident in some ethno-linguistic minorities of Sicily and Southern Italy, such as the Albanian-speaking Arbereshe. The Arbreshe migrated from Albania to Italy at the end of the Middle Ages and experienced geographic and cultural isolation, which played a part in their distinctive genetic composition.

A different case study is that of Greek-speaking communities from Southern Italy. The genetic features of these groups are compatible with the antiquity of their settlement and with a high cultural permeability with neighboring populations, combined with drift and effects of geographic isolation, as in the case of Calabrian Greeks. Alessio Boattini, geneticist and anthropologist from the University of Bologna says:

"The study of linguistic and cultural isolates in Italy proved to be important to understand our history and our demography. The cases of the Albanian- and Greek-speaking communities of Southern Italy help to shed light into the formation of these cultural and linguistic identities."

Davide Pettener, professor of Anthropology from the University of Bologna adds:

"Overall, the study illustrates how both genetic and cultural viewpoints can inform our knowledge of the complex dynamics behind the formation of our Mediterranean heritage, especially in contexts of extensive -- both geographically and temporally -- admixture."

Prof. Donata Luiselli, who co-led the project, concludes:

"These results will be further developed in future studies integrating data from other disciplines, in particular linguistics, archaeology and palaeogenomics, with the study of ancient DNA from archaeological remains."
A bronze stud from the late fourth century or early fifth century B.C., part of a temporary exhibition at the Pompeii archaeological park in southern Italy, has been stolen. It was one of four surviving studs from a gate which were recovered in Torre Satriano, another archaeological site. All four were on display in the "Pompeii and the Greeks" exhibition, running until Oct. 31.

The missing stud, whose disappearance was noted late Wednesday, was insured for 300 euros ($335), the Pompeii archaeological park said in a statement. Pompeii director Massimo Osanna said:

"Even if it was not a priceless piece, [the theft] is an affront to the Pompeii site and to Italian cultural heritage, and it personally affects me since it comes from an area whose excavation I had personally led."

The room where the theft took place is monitored by custodians during the day and by security cameras at night. Police were called in to investigate, and the exhibition was closed to the public to ease their work. The rest of Pompeii remains open. Osanna said Thursday that the stud's removal from beneath an acrylic panel would have taken time to avoid detection by on-site security. Officials think it was taken during public visiting hours, and police are reviewing video surveillance. The area has been closed to visitors.

The site, long associated with neglect and building collapses, is Italy's most popular tourist site after the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, and is undergoing extensive restorations funded by the European Union.

Pompeii was a prosperous ancient Roman city destroyed by a 79 A.D. eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which killed thousands of people. Ruins have survived to this day after being covered for centuries by thick layers of volcanic ash.

It's not exactly Greek, this news, but I am putting it up here because this pisses me off to no end. How dare you go into a museum--or anywhere!--and take something that doesn't belong to you. Something that should be available to all to see. that's history. It belongs to everyone. May Nemesis take swift and just action!