Friday, March 27, 2015

Ancient coin collection resurfaces at University Buffalo after 80 years

University Buffalo faculty member Philip Kiernan heard a rumour from a UB alumnus in 2010 that the UB Libraries housed a collection of rare coins. Three years later, Kiernan, an assistant professor of classics, channelled his inner Indiana Jones and journeyed to the depths of the UB archives to find them. The collection, he was shocked to learn, was real: 40 silver Greek coins, three gold Greek coins and a dozen gold Roman coins -- one from each era of the first 12 Roman emperors, from Julius Caesar to Domitian. They range in date from the fifth century B.C. to the late first century A.D.


Keirnan must have been the first person to touch them in almost 40 years. He brought in two experts to verify the coins' authenticity last semester and is now developing a graduate course to examine the items' history. It's the first time the coins will be extensively studied, and Kiernan and his class will publish their findings.

Within the collection is a "remarkably rare" coin of Roman emperor Otho, who reigned for a mere three months. The Greek coins were struck by some of the most powerful city-states and rulers of the ancient world, such as Athens, Corinth and Alexander the Great.

The coins were donated in 1935 to the UB Libraries Special Collections by Thomas B. Lockwood as part of a larger collection of rare books. However, it wasn't until Kiernan examined them out of curiosity that the currency's rarity and value were realized.
Lockwood's collection includes more than 3,000 books, medallions and additional coins from early America and England. Other notable items include a medallion of Napoleon Bonaparte and 36 British gold coins, including one of Queen Elizabeth I.

Lockwood, an avid reader and collector of rare and special books, purchased the items to supplement his personal collection. Accruing relics and art was common practice among affluent men in the early 20th century.
Kiernan focuses much of his research on ancient currency and antiquities, and the experts he brought in to examine the coins were numismatists--people who collect or study currency. The coins are one of the many treasures stored in the UB Libraries, which also hold original works by James Joyce, Dylan Thomas and William Shakespeare.

Most of the coins are in excellent condition, despite remaining in their original 80-plus-year-old casing. A few of the silver coins require conservation treatment. The collection's casing also will be improved. The UB Libraries will open the collection of coins to members of the campus and local communities pursuing relevant research.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Question Collections post 12

"When making our kathiskos, should we limit the food stuffs to less perishable items? I eat a lot of cheese and would rather not have a jar of honey, oil, water, and cheese sitting in my pantry for a month, I'm sure you understand. What do you think of a refrigerator kathiskos?"

The kathiskos is an offer jar of foodstuffs used to protect the household’s food storage. Typically, it has olive oil and water; the rest is up to the household. The kathiskos is dedicated to Zeus Ktesios, guardian of the household. The jar is typically emptied into the compost bin or garden and refilled with fresh foodstuffs every month, on the Noumenia.

The ancient kathiskoi were often unsealed, and I suspect that sometimes they would be tossed earlier than the new Noumenia or ingredients were carefully selected. Personally, I don't know anyone who has an unsealed kathiskos these days, because most Hellenists I know enjoy the tradition of keeping it for a month.

in all my years making a kathiskos, I have never shied away from using anything, and the worst the content of the kathiskos did was that the water turned a little murky. If you seal it up air tight, you wont have much of a problem--until you open it, of course. But I like to think of it like this: all the rotting and fermentation that took place in your kathiskos did not happen to your other foodstuffs. The worse the smell and the worse the status of your content, the better ;-)


"Hello! On your blog is says that the Panathenaia is from the 23rd of hekatombaion to the 30th. Does that mean it ends before the 30th begins or does the festival include the 30th day?"

It includes the 30th, unless the month only has 29 days, then the festival includes the 29th day, but doesn't stretch on into Metageitnion. The Greater Panathenaia includes the 30th, the two Lesser Panathenaia in-between include only the 29th.


"Would it be 'allowed' (seen as non-disrespecrful I guess) to make one alter for more than one god/goddess? Or are alters and shelves reserved for one theos only? Thanks :)"

Most shrines in ancient Hellas were, and even during festivals for a particular Theoi others were worshipped, so I don’t see why not!

"Is there a greek god of finding missing things?"

Not as far as I know, but in general, Gods and Goddesses whom you have built kharis with will help you when you are truly in need. From a purely personal perspective, Hermes would most likely be able to find your items, seeing as he’s been known to hide (and steal) items Himself ;-)


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Socrates gets another retrial--and wins

2414 years ago, one of Hellas' greatest thinkers stood trial before a jury of 500 men, chosen by lot. Socrates (Σωκράτης), a philosopher who was of the opinion that people should not be self-governing; they needed to be led, like a shepherd led a flock of sheep. He was of the opinion that the average Athenian neither had the basic virtue necessary to nurture a good society, nor the intelligence to foster such virtue within themselves. As such, he was against the democratic system that came to fruition in the city of Athens at the same time he did.

 
Two years ago, when a Chicago court held a new trial. Dan Webb and Robert A. Clifford, who represented Socrates, were unable to successfully defend their long deceased client and he was convicted again.

Top legal minds in Australia recently gave Socrates another retrial at the Hellenic Museum. Greek-Australian actors interacted with top lawyers as Socrates was allowed to appeal his case.. Justice Lex Lasry, justice Emilios Kyrou and judge Felicity Hampel presided over the case, while QC Julian Burnside, QC Nicholas Papas and QC Ronald Merkel and Elizabeth King were tasked with his defence and prosecution of Socrates, played by Greek-Australian actor Tony Nikolakopoulos.

The trial managed to revive the ancient philosopher’s story for modern audiences in Melbourne. The retrial was based on the opinions of current legal professionals in Australia with the modern law being used to evaluate the case of Socrates as well as to address moral and social philosophica questions that transcend time. This time, Socrates was found 'not guilty' by the jury, although I am not sure which points were made to secure his freedom. It seems this trial is long from over.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

PAT ritual announcements for the Elapebolia and the Asklepieia

The festival season is starting up again, and Elaion is on a mission to host PAT festivals for all of them, so instead of spamming you with four posts for upcoming rituals, you are getting just one--with two of them, the Elapebolia, and the Asklepieia--today, and to--the Dionysia and the Pandia--in a few days.


The Elaphebolia
On the sixth of the month of Elaphebolion, the people of Athens and Phocis (Φωκίδα), and perhaps other cities and city-states, held a modest ritual that gave its name to the month: the Elaphebolia (Έλαφηβόλια). It appears that the festival was a major festival in honor of Artemis Elaphêbolos (Αρτεμις Ελαφηβολος) down to the time of Plutarch. It was mainly observed at Hyampolis, to commemorate a Phocian victory over the Thessalians. Afterwards, it seems to have lost its grander, most likely in the face of the Greater Dionysia which was held only a few days later, starting on the tenth of the month, and the Asklepia, held on the eighth.

Artemis Elaphêbolos is the stag-killer, the shooter of deer, the huntress, who relishes the chase. She's the slayer of prey, both animal and human, and in ancient Hellas, she guarded Hyampolis and the surrounding cities from the horrors of war.

The festival was most likely quite grand right after the war, but slowly became a festival which consisted almost entirely of a single offering. In the early days, the offering was always a stag, one per family, most likely. As the years went on, however, and the expansion of cities drove the stag far into the Athenian hills, only the city's elite was able to offer a stag to the Theia. Everyone else made due with cakes in the shape of stags. It seems these stag cakes--called 'elaphos' (ἔλαφος)--were made out of the basic dough mixture with honey, and sesame seeds.

The Elaphebolia was an important festival of Artemis. The 2015 festival day starts at dusk on the twenty-sixth of March, and will continue until dusk the day after. As Artemis Elaphêbolos is Ouranic, the sacrifice should be made during the daylight hours, so Elaion is hosting a PAT ritual for the Elapebolia on the 27th of March, at the usual 10 AM EDT. You can find the ritual here, and we really hope you will join us again.


The Asklepieia
Two days later, on the eighth day of Elaphebolion, the Asklepieia (Ἀσκληπίεια) was held in honor of Asklēpiós, who was honored monthly on the eighth. The Asklepieia is linked to the Epidausia, celebrated six months later, as both were special days where those in the medical profession--as well as those seeking medical counsel--made sacrifices to Asklēpiós.

In 242 BC, during the Mercenary War, the sanctuary at Epidaurus was granted immunity from war, and the Asklepieia Megala was established as a festival of athletic and musical competitions, held every four years, for a nine day period. Theater performances were also a huge part of the festival, and the famous theater of Epidaurus still stands today, one of the seven wonders of ancient Hellas.

The first of the festival days was spent preparing for the actual festival. The second day, religious exercises were undertaken. All temples and shrines were richly decorated and sacrifices were made to Apollon, Asklēpiós, Artemis, and Leto. Perhaps and the children of Asklēpiós--Hygieia (health, cleanliness, and sanitation), Iaso (recuperation from illness), Aceso (the healing process), Aglaea (beauty, splendor, glory, magnificence, and adornment), and Panakea (universal remedy)--also received sacrifice. Apollon received the first offering along with Asklēpiós: a cock, the fowl associated with Asklēpiós. They also received barley meal, wheat, and wine. Asklēpiós was then gifted a bull, a second bull was sacrificed to His male associates, and a cow to His female associates.

On the eve of the third day, a statue of Asklēpiós was driven through the precinct, and followed by torch-bearers and priests, who sung hymns to Him. The priests sang and spoke the praise of the Theos. There were vigils throughout the night, and during the daylight hours of the third day, there were feasts. The succeeding days were given up to athletic contests in the stadium, races, wrestling contests, singing contests and theater performances.

The Asklepieia Megala was only held at Epidaurus; all other asklepieia--as well as at Epidausus the other three years--held only a small ceremony for the Theos. The festival did not include athletic games outside of the Asklepieia Megala, but there might have been a focus on singing, and there might have been large banquets, held after sacrifices were made to the Theos.
 
On the twenty-ninth of March, Elaion is hosting a PAT ritual for the Asklepieia, at the usual 10 AM EDT. You can find the ritual here, and we really hope you will join us for this one, too!


Monday, March 23, 2015

Pandora's Kharis raised $65,- for the Wounded Warrior Project

Elaion is proud to announce that Pandora's Kharis members have raised $65,- for our democratically decided upon cause the Wounded Warriors project. As always, you have all given generously, and in the spirit of the Gods!


Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) serves veterans and service members who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound, co-incident to their military service on or after September 11, 2001 and their families.

From this moment on, the Pandora's Kharis Facebook page is open to pitches. If you do not have Facebook, feel free to pitch your cause in the comments. We will relay the message to the community.

On to another month of pitching, voting, and giving. Thank you for your generosity!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Juliette Binoche As Modern ‘Antigone’ On BBC

Later this spring, BBC Four British television channel plans to broadcast the magnificent Greek masterpiece of  Sophocles’ 'Antigone', opened at London’s Barbican Theatre on March 5. This reports the Greek Reporter. The play, which is already sold out, features the BAFTA and Academy Award-winning actress Juliette Binoche taking the lead role of the tragic figure of Antigone, who chose to collide with her own uncle’s political power to pay proper respects to her dead brother Polynices.


In the delicate new translation of  'Antigone' by the 'TS Eliot Prize'-winning poet Anne Carson, the audience will have the opportunity to travel in an odd world of gloomy aesthetics while being challenged to face classic yet timely philosophical questions about love, family and political arrogance. The Head of the Barbican Theatre, Toni Racklin, said:

“We are delighted to be working with the BBC to bring a televised version of our production of Antigone to BBC Four audiences this spring. This has been a unique collaboration, with both organizations working closely together to realize two visions of the production – on stage and on screen. This ground-breaking collaboration means that the production will reach an even wider audience, supporting our mission to inspire more people to discover and love the arts,”

Worldwide fans of Juliette Binoche, the French actress known for her great artistic success in films, such as 'The English Patient' and 'Chocolat', are already excited to watch her in this unusual production as 'Antigone' under the directions of Ivo Van Hove on BBC Arts, as part of its 'The Age Of Heroes: Ancient Greece Uncovered'-season.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Anthesterion updates + PAT ritual announcement for the Galaxia

A while ago, I decided that on the day of the Hene kai Nea, I'd post a monthly update about things that happened on the blog, and today I am adding an Elaion PAT ritual announcement for Sunday and an announcement of some exciting things to come for Elaion and its members.

Changes to the blog:
  • I don't think it can have escaped anyone's notice, but I recently started a new series on the blog, the (Elaion) Beginner's guide to Hellenismos. This ongoing project strives to create a concise yet informational, practical guide to the practice of Hellenismos. It is an attempt to standardize the worship of the ancient Hellenic Gods and to provide members of Hellenic organisation Elaion with the basics to start their worship. So far published are an introduction, an article on Ouranic versus Khthonic Gods and practices, and an article on Traditional versus Reformed Hellenismos, which are terms that are in use by Elaion to specify our particular 'brand' of Hellenismos.

Statistics:

Anything else?
Pandora's Kharis, a charity circle for and by Hellenistic Polytheists Pandora's Kharis members have selected the Wounded Warriors project as its cause for Anthesterion 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!

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On Sunday, 22 March, at 10 AM EDT, Elaion is hosting a PAT ritual for the Galaxia. This rather obscure festival was held in many places in ancient Hellas, but most notably at Olympia. The Galaxia was closely linked to the vernal equinox, which was used to date it. As such, it should take place tomorrow, but as that is the Hene kai Nea, the ancient Hellenes would have likely considered it auspicious to hold the festival on that date.

The Galaxia is a festival held in honour of the Mother (of the Gods), who in Hellenic mythology is Rhea, although the title is also strongly associated with Gaia and Kybele, who have similar functions. She was worshipped as the mother of Zeus and the Galaxia celebrated His birth just as much as Her giving birth to him. Kronos--as Her consort and His father--was most likely also sacrificed to, along with Hera, who as Zeus' wife deserved honour alongside Him. In our ritual, we have included Helios and the Horai as well, as the Galaxia was associated so closely with the Spring Equinox.

The Galaxia had a special beverage attached to it--well, a special food item: a milk and barley porridge that may have been sacrificed to the Mother, but which was at least consumed at the festival. Pliny the Elder names the porridge a 'puls', which seems to have been a more general term which included pastes made from lentils and beans as well as from grain. On barley-based porridge, he has the following to say in his 'Natural History':

"There are several ways of making barley porridge: the Greeks soak some barley in water and then leave it for a night to dry, and next day dry it by the fire and then grind it in a mill. Some after roasting it more thoroughly sprinkle it again with a small amount of water and dry it before milling; others however shake the young barley out of the ears while green, clean it and while it is wet pound it in a mortar, and wash it of husk in baskets and then dry it in the sun and again pound it, clean it and grind it. But whatever kind of barley is used, when it has been got ready, in the mill they mix in three pounds of flax seed, half a pound of coriander seed, and an eighth of a pint of salt, previously roasting them all. Those who want to keep it for some time in store put it away in new earthenware jars with fine flour and its own bran. Italians bake it without steeping it in water and grind it into fine meal, with the addition of the same ingredients and millet as well." [XVIII-XIV]

Sources which mention the festival speak only of a milk and barley beverage that can be poured. Fundamentally, porridge is made by mixing oats with a fluid (normally water and or milk) and then heating it. Combine barley, water, and salt in a heavy saucepan. Cover, and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring continuously. Turn the heat to low and steam until grains are soft and all the liquid is absorbed. Add the milk once the water level drops below the level of the barley. Cooking time depends on the form of barley used. Use one cup dry barley on three cups of water.
  • Hulled barley is unprocessed and takes the longest to boil, about an hour and 15 minutes before it's soft.
  • Pearl Barley or Pearled Barley is the most common form of barley available and is sold in most supermarkets. Because the outer hulls including the bran have been removed, the grains have a pearly white color. Cooking time: 50-60 minutes.
  • Quick Barley, or instant barley is pearl barley that is pre-steamed then dried, shortening the cooking time considerably, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Barley Grits are processed similar to bulghur wheat. The grain is cracked, and toasted or parboiled, then dried, making it a quick-cooking product--about 2-3 minutes. As such, add a little less water or milk.
  • Barley Flakes, Pressed Barley, or Rolled Barley have the appearance of rolled oats and are often included in muesli-type cereals. The cooking time is about 30 minutes.
  • Barley Flour is hulled barley that is finely ground and has a lightness and delicate sweetness. It can be stirred into milk until the right consistency is reached.
To get a consistency where the puls can be poured, add milk or water to thin the porridge. If you want to sweeten the porridge a little, add warmed honey to the mixture.

We hope you will join us on Sunday. The ritual can be found here.

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Now, I have one more thing to say in relation to Elaion: this month, Robert and I are planning to roll out a few changes that will renovate, invigorate and renew Elaion as a whole. I am very excited about these changes, but unfortunately, I can only tell you to give us a little more time to figure out the details and set things up. I'll--of course--keep you informed.

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Are 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 Deipnon!