Greek native Sophia Pavlaki resides in Belgium where she is the producer and executive producer of Greektoys, a project aimed at promoting the Greek culture to children via ancient Hellenic toys. The educational project known as The Greektoys children’s revolution® also involves creating the animated series “Greektoys,” writing articles and research related to ancient Hellenic toys, writing music and creating the 3D-virtual museum where models of ancient Hellenic toys are exhibited. I recently came across an article about her and the works she does over at Ekathimerine.

Sofia Pavlaki’s excitement when she talks about Greek Toys would shoot off the chart if we journalists had such a thing to measure interview subjects’ enthusiasm about their respective fields. It is her brainchild, an educational initiative she has developed with her husband Luis Santos, an art historian, artist and film director, and her sister Foteini, who is in charge of marketing.

Based in Brussels, Greek Toys comprises, among others, a 3D animation series, fun and educational activities for children, and the “Young Archaeologists” project, which is based on the Amphipolis Tomb in Central Macedonia and travels to museums and schools in various European cities. The aim of the initiative, says Pavlaki, is to “acquaint children with the ancient Greek civilization by using the toys of antiquity – they are the key to unlocking their attention and interest.”

The protagonists of the initiative are nothing short of adorable. There’s Balius, a clay horse on wheels named after one of Achilles’ immortal steeds. Balius at Greek Toys admires Pegasus and dreams of becoming just like him when he grows up. Lili is a platagi, a clay doll with moving limbs that rattle when shaken, and is named after Helen of Troy, while Philon is a pig inspired by an ancient vessel.

"There are many similar vessels to Philon in Greece’s museums. They were probably used as toys but perhaps also as baby bottles as there are small holes on their snouts. We called him that because the name also resembles the word ‘philos,’ which means friend in Greek, and because the bottle is a baby’s first toy and friend."

Pavlaki hails from Evia, studied information technology at the University of Piraeus, and has a master’s degree in advanced information systems. The crisis drove her abroad in search of work. A brain drain kid? “In part, but also because I wanted the experience of living in another country,” she says. “I had also spent a year in Germany before Belgium.”

Greek Toys is not all fun and games; there’s a lot of hard work and scientific research behind it.

“We study objects at museum and use technology to help us bring them back to life, digitally at first, restoring their original colors and rebuilding their broken parts. Then we use photogrammetry, which gives us very precise measurements, to create 3D copied of toys depicted on ancient vessels, which can then be studied by scientists and are available to the general public. We talk to the children about ancient Greek toys – where they were found, what they looked like, what they were made of and how they were used. We give them replicas they can examine and play with, and then we help them make their own toys out of clay or plasticine. We tell them that when they visit museums, they shouldn’t just pay attention to the big pieces of impressive art, but also to the small, humble finds, because these are a better indication of how people lived back then."

What has Pavlaki learned in the process?

“That everything’s a game. Think about it. What defines a game? Certain roles and rules, and a specific setting. Isn’t that just like real life?”
On December 16th, Elaion will organize a PAT ritual for the Poseidea. During this festival, Poseidon as savior of ships, protector of those who voyage in ships, and God of the lapping waters both salt and fresh important for agriculture, is thanked for the many gifts that came from faraway places that were likely given at that time. Will you join us at 10 am EST?

The most complete account of the festival is Noel Robertson's article Poseidon's Festival at the Winter Solstice, The Classical Quarterly, New Series, Vol. 34, No. 1. (1984), pp. 1-16:

"The record shows that Poseidon was once worshipped in every part of Greece as a god of deneral importance to the community. [...] The festival falls near the winter solstice, and the ritual business marked by jollity and license, belongs to the general type of solstice festival known the world over.  At Poseidon’s festival, however, the sportive conduct has a definite purpose; this purpose arises from the fundamental agrarian background if Mediterranean society, and may bring us close to the origin of solstice festivals.

It has scarcely been noticed that festivals of Poseidon, more than those of any other Greek deity, fall at just this time of year; yet the evidence is extensive. [...] The festival Poseidea and some of the rites in question are often claimed for Poseidon the sea-god, but at this season sailing is furthest from one’s mind, and fishing on the shore is by no means an overriding concern.  Such details as we have point elsewhere, to Poseidon as the god of fresh water who fructifies Demeter’s fields."

One of Poseidon’s epithets is prosklystios, 'of the lapping water'. He is also invoked as Poseidon phytalmios which implies natural fertility and human procreation. There are also implications in the legends that imply bonfires at the winter solstice.

Noel Robertson concludes:

"…the celebrants feast to satiety, then turn to lascivious teasing. What is the ritual purpose of such conduct?  It obviously suits Poseidon’s mythical reputation as the most lustful of gods, who far surpasses Apollo and Zeus in the number of his liaisons and his offspring. Poseidon the seducer is the god of springs and rivers; his women typically succumb while bathing or drawing water; the type of the river god is a rampant bull. But the ritual likewise treats Poseidon as a procreant force; witness the epithets phytalmios, genesios, pater, etc. as interpreted above. The myths and the ritual reflect the same belief. The rushing waters are a proponent male power, just as the fields which they fertilize are a prolific female.  Both water and the fields, both Poseidon and Demeter, can be made to operate by sympathetic magic.  The rites of our winter festival rouse Poseidon and bring the rushing waters."

It is interesting that that Theophrastus tells us that the silver fir was important in ship building, especially for masts. The ‘tannenbaum’ is a silver fir. It is also interesting to compare with the Roman Saturnalia which may very well have borrowed from the Poseidea.

Celebrating Poseidon's Festival seems to be lost in modern practice. It likely entailed bonfires, feasting, cutting of trees (probably decorated), and very likely gift giving. As God of begetting, that aspect was not forgotten. We'll bring at least the ritual for Poseidon back on December 16, at 10 am EST. You can find the community page here and the ritual here.
The Culture Ministry’s antiquities department said Thursday it will seek the reburial of the ruins of an ancient temple to Aphrodite that were unearthed between two apartment buildings in the northern port city of Thessaloniki in 2010 due to the high cost of preservation.

According to the department’s head, Stavros Lioutas, many of the statues and temple columns found during excavations at the site are already on display at the city’s archaeological museum.

“Burial is the best way to protect the temple,” he said, adding that visual material, plaques and information about the buried temple will be available on the site.

The head of the city’s municipal antiquities department, Giorgos Skiadaresis, said the burial is a temporary measure.
After the quiet month of Poseideon brings with it a slew of festivals. We'll start on december 13th with the Plerosia. Will you be joining us at 10 AM EST? If you are a woman that is; it seems the Plerosia was a women-only festival.

The Plerosia is a non-Athenian festival. As such, the details of the celebration are somewhat vague. So we extrapolate from the placement of the festival and the little information we have. What we know for sure is that Zeus was worshipped, and that it's often linked to the Proerosia. As such, we can assume Demeter was also honored, and that it was a harvest festival of sorts--the name translates roughly to 'festival of completion'. This is where the assumptions begin, but we get an extra hint of the intended purpose of the festival because of Zeus' inclusion and the name of the festival.

Poseideon marks the end of the harvesting season, as well as the trading season. The majority of the work is done. Now it's time to return home, take stock, and stay warm. It's a time to thank the Theoi for all that has been received and all that will get us through the winter. The word ‘plerosis’ means fulfillment, satiated, filled, and implies banqueting and celebration of the bounty of the season that is ending. This is also the spirit we have tried to capture in the ritual.

As a separate--and very important--note: the Plerosia seems to have been a women-only festival, like the Skira(phoria) and the Thesmophoria. We're not sure this is correct, but we'll go with it anyway. Once reason I could think of is that now the winter is upon us, we turn to the domain of the women: the house(hold). As such, it is her prerogative to thank the Gods for the food she can feed her family with.

The ritual for this sacrifice can be found here and you can join our community page here. We hope you will join us in celebrating this joyous event.
Erinna (Ἤριννα) was an ancient Hellenicpoet. Biographical details about her life are uncertain. She is generally thought to have lived in the first half of the fourth century BC, though some ancient traditions have her as a contemporary of Sappho; Telos is generally considered to be her most likely birthplace, but Tenos, Teos, Rhodes, and Lesbos are all also mentioned by ancient sources as her home. Erinna is best known for her long poem, the Distaff, a three-hundred line hexameter lament for her childhood friend Baucis, who had died shortly after marriage. A large fragment of this poem was discovered in 1928 at Behnasa in Egypt. Along with the Distaff, three epigrams ascribed to Erinna are known, preserved in the Greek Anthology. I'll shre a part fo the Distaff today.

Stele and my sirens and mournful urn,
you who enclose the little ash of Hades,
say farewell to those passing my grave,
whether local townsmen or from other cities;
say also that the tomb holds me, a bride; and say this too:
that my father called me Baukis and by race
I was from Tenos, so they may know, and that my friend
Erinna caused this writing to be engraved on the tomb.

I belong to Baukis the bride. As you pass through the much-lamented
stele, say this to the subterranean Hades:
"You are spiteful, Hades." To the viewer, these beautiful letters
will announce the most cruel fate of Baukis:
that with the torches to which the Hymen song was sung,
her father-in-law cremated the girl on this pyre.
For your part, Hymenaeus, you changed the tuneful marriage song
to the anguished wail of lament.

The highest court in Italy has ordered the Getty Museum in Los Angeles to return an ancient Greek bronze statue that was found off the Adriatic coast of Italy in 1964, according to the U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper. The statue is believed to be the work of the Hellenic sculptor Lysippus.

A decade-long dispute has taken place between the museum and Italian government reading the ownership of the Victorious Youth, as the statue is called. The statue is also sometimes referred to as the “Getty Bronze”.

The Roman court upheld the ruling of a local court in Pesaro, located in the Marche region of central Italy, where the statue was found by fishermen more than fifty years ago. It is believed that a Roman ship was transporting the bronze statue from Greece to Italy when it sank in the Adriatic.

The Getty Museum bought “Victorious Youth” in 1977 for $3.95 million from a German art dealer and it is currently on display at the Getty Villa, part of the Getty Museum. Italian authorities claim that the statue was taken out of Italy illegally, without an export license. The museum maintains that the statue was found in international waters, and has only an incidental connection with Italy.
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.

PAT rituals for Poseideon:
  • 5 Poseideon - 13 December 2018 - Plerosiafestival at Attic deme of Myrrhinus
  • 8 Poseideon - 15 December 2018 - Poseidea - festival in honor of Poseidon
  • 10 Poseideon - 18 December 2018 - Rustic or Lesser Dionysiain honor of Dionysos
  • 16 Poseideon - 24 December 2018 - Sacrifice to Zeus Horios at Erkhia
  • 26 Poseideon - 3 January 2019 - Haloa - fertility festival in honor of Dionysos and Demeter

Anything else?
Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.

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