Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Female poets of ancient Hellas

We have all heard of Sappho, but did you know there were many other female poets whose work survives to this day? I'd like to share some of them with you today--and about the women who wrote them.


Anyte of Tegea
Anyte of Tegea (Ἀνύτη Τεγεᾶτις) was an early 3rd century BC Arcadian poet, was the leader of a school of poetry and literature on Peloponnesus, which also included the poet Leonidas of Tarentum. Antipater of Thessalonica listed her as one of the nine earthly muses. At least 18 of her epigrams, written in the Doric dialect, survive in the Greek Anthology; an additional six are doubtfully attributed to her.
"To Pan the bristly-haired, and the Nymphs of the farm-yard, Theodotus
the shepherd laid this gift under the crag, because they stayed him
when very weary under the parching summer, stretching out to him
honey-sweet water in their hands." -- Anyte, to Pan and the Nymphs

Errina
Erinna (Ἤριννα) was a Hellenic poet, a contemporary and friend of Sappho, a native of Rhodes or the adjacent island of Telos or even possibly Tenos, who flourished about 600 BC. She wrote in a mixture of Aeolic and Doric Greek. Three epigrams ascribed to her in the Palatine anthology probably belong to a later date, though some debate on the first epigram exists.

"I am of Baucis the bride; and passing by my oft-wept pillar thou
mayest say this to Death that dwells under ground, "Thou art envious,
O Death"; and the coloured monument tells to him who sees it the most
bitter fortune of Bauco, how her father-in-law burned the girl on the
funeral pyre with those torches by whose light the marriage train was
to be led home; and thou, O Hymenaeus, didst change the tuneable
bridal song into a voice of wailing dirges." -- Errina, On a Betrothed Girl

Moero
Moero (Μοιρώ) or Myro (Μυρώ) was a 3rd century BCE from the city of Byzantium. She was the wife of Andromachus Philologus and the mother (according to other sources, a daughter) of Homerus of Byzantium, the tragedian. Antipater of Thessalonica includes Moero in his list of famous poetesses. She wrote epic, elegiac, and lyric poetry, but little has survived. Athenaeus quotes from her epic poem, Mnemosyne (Μνημοσύνη), and two dedicatory epigrams of hers are included in the Greek Anthology. She also wrote a hymn to Poseidon and a collection of poems called Arai (Ἀραί).

"Thou liest in the golden portico of Aphrodite, O grape-cluster filled
full of Dionysus' juice, nor ever more shall thy mother twine round
thee her lovely tendril or above thine head put forth her honeyed
leaf." -- Moero, To Aphrodite of the Golden House

Nossis
Nossis (Νοσσίς) was an ancient Greek woman epigrammist and poet, c. 300 BCE, who lived in southern Italy, at Locri. Her epigrams were inspired by Sappho, whom she claims to rival. Twelve epigrams of hers (one of which is perhaps spurious) survive in the Greek Anthology. Antipater of Thessalonica ranks her among the nine poets who deserved the honour to compete with the Muses.
"Nothing is sweeter than love, and all delicious things are second to
it; yes, even honey I spit out of my mouth. Thus saith Nossis; but he
whom the Cyprian loves not, knows not what roses her flowers are." -- Nossis, Love's Sweetness


Monday, May 25, 2015

Greece, interactive

Many of us will not be able to visit Greece. Either not in the near future or not at all. That much spare income in this economic climate is hard to cough up. It is for me, at least. That is why I like initiatives that digitalize the experience. It's not the same but it's something. That's why I would like to share two online experiences with you today.


360 video of Athens
We’ve seen many a video of Athens, presenting the Greek capital’s unique selling points and beautiful vistas. But Experience Greece, a company developing applications and taking advantage of new tech to promote tourism has started a series of videos with 360 degree cameras to explore the city. The first is a walk around the Acropolis of Athens, across Dionysou Aeropagitou street and through Thission and the Monastiraki area. Stay tuned for more to come.

 
 
 
Interactive Krete
Crete 3D provides unique multi-dimensional imaging of the most important monuments of Crete that are now accessible around the clock. The project is the result of a three-year study by the Digital Design Workshop of the National Technical University of Crete and is funded by Cyta. One point of minor frustration: I can't get it to work on most devices... But it looks pretty!
 
 



Sunday, May 24, 2015

'The Odyssey' to be brought to film by 'Hunger Games' team

In news that I am actually excited about, Lionsgate is planning to develop at least two movies from Hómēros' 'Odysseia'. At the helm are 'Hunger Games' director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson. Peter Craig, who co-wrote the two 'Mockingjay' films (the two final movies in the Hung Games franchise), is penning the script for 'The Odyssey'.


Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer made the disclosure Friday in response to a question during the company’s conference call with analysts to discuss quarterly earnings. The deal with Lawrence contemplates more than one movie, according to Feltheimer. Judging by the words of Motion Picture Group co-chairman Rob Friedman, the endeavour will be a big budget one, and so far there is no mention of an intended audience of young adults.

Lionsgate has put this on a fast track. The plan is to begin production early next year, right after the filmmakers complete promotion of Mockingjay – Part 2, which will be released November 20. Motion Picture Group co-president Erik Feig is overseeing this with executive production veep Jim Miller and development director James Myers. The project took root when Feig pitched it to Lawrence in Paris while they worked on the Hunger Games finale.

What remains to ponder about is how true-to-book the adaption will be. To date, the Hunger Games stand as a very good book to movie adaption, so I have hope. I would love to see a trilogy of an Iliad/Odysseia mix, where the first movie focusses more on setting the stage and showing the Trojan war (or its conclusion) and then the following two movies focussing on Odysseus' journey back to Ithaca.

Are you excited about the news? Would you like to see this team helm an adaption of the classic of all classics? Let me know!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Question Collections post 18

I get a lot of questions from readers, and most of the time, the answers are fairly short. When I feel the question or the reply would be valuable to others as well, I make a post with a collection of them and post them in one go. Today is one of those posts.


"Is the agathos daimon a ouranic or chthonic being?"

I would say it's complicated? If I had to make a choice, I would say Ouranic, but like heroes, His worship has a link with, and a touch of, death. I wrote a detailed piece about Him long ago that might help?


"What power over mortals do heroes have? It is, of course, important to honor them because of the things they did in their lifetime, but what about now, when they're dead? How can they influence mortals?"

Heroes are complicated. Hero worship was very specific and it's a concept that translates with more difficulty than straight-up deity worship. In essence, heroes are the bridge between mortals and Gods. They were born  mortal (although often with a bloodline to the Gods) but through their deeds, they were rewarded with immortality themselves. They became Gods. Still, the lessons they teach us are all mortal lessons. Heroes were honoured more than worshipped, and we do that today as well. So heroes, like Gods, can be called on for counsel and aid, and like the Gods, you can establish kharis with them. But they don't judge us, not like the Gods anyway, because they were all just like us once.
 
 
"Tomorrow is Hekate's Deipnon. I've seen some posts about the calendar on your blog so... We should pray to Hekate tonight and not tomorrow's according to the Hellenic way, right? It's a bit confusing..."

I got this e-mail on the 17th, and yes, that was the evening of the Deipnon. For those of you confused by the placement of the Deipnon in relation to the moon, perhaps this post will help make the schedule clearer. I think it boils down to the fact that Hekate is a Khthonic deity and is thus worshipped at night, after dusk. Since the Hellenic day spreads from dusk on day one to dusk on day two, rituals for Kthonic deities need to be held in the night of day one, and ritual for the Ouranic deities during the daylight hours on the second day. 


"During my Hecate's Deipnon ritual, do I kneel when worshiping Hecate (she is, after all, a chthonic goddess, though I've heard she can be 'interpreted' in more than one way)?"

I tend to kneel for Hekate, yes. Her worship has gone through many stages of evolution, however, so a case can be made for either. She most certainly started out as an Ouranic deity, but with the introduction of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter--composed somewhere in the late seventh century BC or the sixth century BC--she becomes an Underworld Goddess, and She receives a Khthonius character. By the fifth century BC, as the Eleusian Mysteries are in full swing, Hekate's association with the crossroads emerges and by that time, she becomes an appropriation Goddess, associated with the cleansing of the home and whole-animal sacrifices. As this version of Her is associated mostly with the Deipnon, I tend to kneel, and I keep Her worship away from my main shrine, choosing a low altar instead to make the sacrifices.


"I would have a question, which is more to do with theology, than with worship and religious practice. Why do you think our gods are not perfect and can change, not just in character, but also in their domains, like Hecate?"

Hekate is an extreme example, of course, but many Theoi, indeed, change(d) throughout the years. I would not say this means They are not 'perfect' (what is perfect anyway?), simply that the Gods adapt with Their people. Life becomes more complicated, the wishes of worshippers change. Domains are divided between existing Gods and those added to the pantheon, imported from other places around the world. To quote Malcolm Reynolds: 'It's getting awfully crowded in my sky' ;-)
The Theoi adapt because we need Them to adapt. Look at modern worship: who do we pray to when we need a new job? Or when our computer breaks down? Who do we pray to we travel by airplane? Based on the domains we know the Theoi had in ancient times, we make assumptions and guesses, and eventually, domains shift and evolve to include our modern lifestyle: Zeus to guide us towards a new job, Hephaestos to help us with our computer issues, and Hermes to watch over our journey by plane, for example. And the Gods tend to be willing to adapt to the change out of Kharis with their worshippers.


Friday, May 22, 2015

'Eternal flames' of ancient times could spark interest of modern geologists

The Archaeology News Network recently put up a very interesting article on the use of gas and oil seeps in religious and cultural practices, something that has been happening for thousands of years.

[At Yanartaş in the Olympos National Park in Turkey, natural gas burns
from many vents on the side of the mountain. It is thought to be the location of
ancient Mount Chimaera. This is the largest venting of abiogenic methane on
Earth's terrestrial surface.]

Seeps from which gas and oil escape were formative to many ancient cultures and societies. They gave rise to legends surrounding the Delphi Oracle, Chimaera fires and 'eternal flames' that were central to ancient religious practices - from Indonesia and Iran to Italy and Azerbaijan. Modern geologists and oil and gas explorers can learn much by delving into the geomythological stories about the religious and social practices of the Ancient World, writes Guiseppe Etiope of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Italy. His research is published in the new Springer book Natural Gas Seepage. According to Etiope:

“Knowing present-day gas fluxes from a seep and knowing that a seep was active and vigorous two thousand years ago, we can estimate the total amount of gas that has been released to the atmosphere thus far. What can be measured today is probably also valid, at least in terms of orders of magnitude, for the past. Such information may not only be relevant for atmospheric methane budget studies but may also be important for understanding the leaking potential of petroleum systems, whether they are commercial or not.”

Gas-oil seeps have been the source of mythological tales, and many a Biblical and historic event. The observations of ancient naturalists and historians such as Pliny the Elder, who lived two millennia ago, helped to chronicle many of these occurrences, especially in the Mediterranean area. For example, he wrote about Chimaera, a large burning gas seep in modern day Turkey. In ancient times, the temple of Hephaestus, the Greek god of fire, was built next to it.

Similar 'eternal fires' integrated gas and flame emissions into ancient religious practices in many cultures. For instance, the Zoroastrians worshiped the 'Pillars of Fire' near modern Baku in Azerbaijan. In Iraq, the Baba Gurgur seep was probably the 'burning fiery furnace' into which King Nebuchadnezzar cast the Jews. A legend of ancient Rome reports a stream of crude oil issuing from the ground around 38 BC. It became a meeting spot for the first Roman converts to Christianity, and is now the site for the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere. The sacred Manggarmas flame in Indonesia, which has been active at least since the 15th century, is still used in an annual Buddhist ceremony.

Etiope writes that hydrocarbon seeps also influenced the social and technological development of many ancient populations. It not only contributed to global civilization, but was often the source of wars. The first evidence for petroleum usage comes from Syria, where the Neanderthal used natural bitumen on stone tools some 40,000 years ago.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

PAT ritual announcement for the Thargelia 2015

Elaion is proud to announce that on the sixth and seventh of Thargelion, we will be hosting another PAT ritual, this time for the Thargelia. PAT rituals, or Practicing Apart Together rituals, have become a staple for Elaion, where we, as an organisation, provide a date, time, and ritual for the festival at hand, and around the globe, as many of our members as possible perform the ritual at their homes. Some do it alone, some in groups, and we tend to share experiences and photographs of the altar or the festivities on the Elaion Facebook page.


On the 6th and 7th of Thargelion the two day festival of the Thargelia was held in honour of Artemis and Apollon Pythios. The Thargelia was a pre-harvest festival at Athens, and we will celebrate it over the course of two days. The rituals can be found here and here, with the focus on Artemis and Demeter on the sixth, and on Apollon on the seventh. You can join either for a one day celebration by combining the two.

The Thargelia (Θαργήλια) was essentially an agricultural festival, and as such, the Thargelia included a purifying and expiatory ceremony. While the people offered the first-fruits of the earth to Apollon, especially, in token of thankfulness, it was at the same time necessary to propitiate Him, lest He might ruin the harvest by excessive heat, possibly accompanied by pestilence.

In ancient times, two poor, ugly men (or a man and a woman) were chosen each year to be Pharmakoi. They were often prisoners, and fed for a while at public expense and were then paraded around Athens as scapegoats for the people, one wearing a string of black figs to represent the men, the other white figs to represent the women.  At the end of the procession, they were flogged and beaten with fig branches and squills (sea onions), and driven expelled from the city. It could be that in very ancient times, these men were  stoned to death themselves once they reached the place of sacrifice on the shore, but it's likely that they were soon replaced with animals, if they were ever even sacrificed themselves at all. Whatever the case, the bodies were burned, and the ashes thrown into the sea or land, to fertilize. The purificatory preceded the thanksgiving service. That first day, a sheep was also sacrificed to Demeter Khloe on the Acropolis, and perhaps a swine to the Fates.

The second day was a lot less gruesome: a great pot of vegetables was prepared as an offering of the first fruits to Apollon. A panspermia was ritually sown into the earth. The Thargelia also featured choral contests among pairs of phratriai, and was recognized by phratriai as a day of festival and sacrifice. An eiresione (olive branch of supplication) with fillets of white wool and first fruits attached was carried in procession along with a winnowing basket full of fruit. This was either a new one, or the one created for the Pyanepsia.

We hope you join us for this celebration at 10 am on 25 and 25 May, and that you will perhaps feel comfortable sharing your experiences on our Facebook page.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mounukhion updates

On the day of the Hene kai Nea, I post a monthly update about things that happened on the blog. Well, that did not happen this time because of two new recap for Atlantis so... you're getting it a few days later. Same with the Pandora's Kharis donation.

Changes to the blog:
  • Remember when I announced two months that I would make an announcement this month about some changes that will renovate, invigorate and renew Elaion as a whole? And then I hoped it would happen last month? Yeah, me too, and I am aware it hasn't happened yet. Basically, Robert and I have had to deal with some things in our personal lives and the projects have been postponed again, which is frustrating, but sometimes it's all you can do just to keep the projects you already have going. I can say, though, that the projects are back on and we are working hard.
  • Atlantis has ended. Long live Atlantis! Are you fully caught up with the recaps?

Statistics:
Anything else?
Pandora's Kharis, a charity circle for and by Hellenistic Polytheists has selected CARE as its cause for Mounukhion 2015. If you want to donate, you have until tomorrow! Join us on Facebook if you would like to pitch a cause for next month!

If you're you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.

That is it for the last month's updates, as far as I can remember. Have a blessed month!