I couldn't watch or read the news yesterday, just like I couldn't the day before. Current affairs in the US frighten and anger me to the point where letting them into my daily life would render me unable to function. I feel, I suppose, like a time traveller from the future might feel if they had just witnessed Hitler voted into power. The sense of enornous dread and weight upon me is stiffling. I am going to borrow a blog post today, from Sententia Antiquae. The post in question collects ancient Hellenic and Roman quotes about leadership, quotes that fit with the current... well... maybe you should fill in your own noun here, because all I can think of are expletives.


Silius Italicus, Punica 11.183-4
“Shall I put up with a leader whose sword now stands in place of justice and treaties and whose only praises stem from bloodshed?”
 
 Sophocles, Ant. 175-77
“It is impossible to gain a full understanding of any man’s moral nature (psûche), mentality (phronêmà), or judgement (gnome) until he has shown himself exercising the functions of ruler and law-giver.”
 
Arist. Eth. Nic. 5.1130a
“There are many people who can exercise virtue in their own affairs, but are unable to do so in their relations with others. This is why the aphorism of Bias, “Office will reveal the man”, seems a good one, since an official is, by virtue of his position, engaged with other people and the community at large’ (trans. R. Crisp, Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics)
 
Soph. Ant. 707-9
“For if anyone believes that only he has good sense (phronein), or has powers of speech (glossa) or moral quality (psûche) unlike any other – such people, when they’re laid open, are seen to be empty.
 
Heraclitus, fr. 44
“The people must fight for law just as they would for the walls”
 
Publilius Syrus
“He conquers who conquers himself.”
 
Sallust, Iug. 35.10
“Yonder lies a city up for sale, and woe unto it when it finds a buyer.”
 
Virgil, Aeneid 1.203
“One day we’re going to look back on even this and laugh (maybe).”
 
Thucydides 3.82
“Many terrible things happened to the cities during the revolution, as it always has been and always will be, as long as human nature is the same, although it sometimes takes a harsher or more mild form as the changes arise in different cities. During peace and times of abundance, cities and individual citizens have better ideas since they do not experience the compulsion of scarcity. But war, in depriving them of their daily needs, is a forceful teacher, and makes the character of most people equal to their present conditions.”
 
Tacitus’ Agricola 42
“Let those in the habit of admiring the flouting of authority know that there can be great men, even under bad rulers.”
 
Cicero
“Few men desire wisdom.”
 
Horace, Epistles 1.14.13
“The fault lies in the mind that never escapes itself” 
Existing primarily on the secluded island of Skyros, the Skyrian horse, or Skyros pony, looks as if it were meant for a child. Although it shares many of the proportions of larger horses, the breed stands at a mere 100 to 110 cm (3.2to 3.6 ft). Some legends connect the small but mighty Skyrian horse with those that Achilles took to Troy, while other theories link the breed to the small horses that appear on the frieze of the Parthenon temple in Athens. There is no concrete proof for these claims, but evidence suggests that the breed has survived relatively isolated in Greece for several thousand years.




A typical Skyrian horse is one solid color, usually black, brown, gray, or bay, and has a thick, plush mane. It has similar proportions to a full-size horse, with small, strong hooves. They stand about 10 hands tall, or 3.5 feet at the shoulder, officially classifying them as a pony.

The semi-wild Skyrian horse, or Skyros pony, has lived on the Greek island of Skyros for 2,000 years. But due to overgrazing of sheep, disappearing habitat, and interbreeding with donkeys, the horse has declined to only about 200 individuals left on Earth, most of which live on Skyros. According to Amanda Simpson, who runs the Skyros Island Horse Trust, saving the horse is very difficult within Greece’s economic situation.

"Even though it’s a rare breed and there’s status, there [are] no kinds of funding in terms of government resources. These are sort of living museums. You actually have a living breathing piece of history. It would seem criminal to see them go into extinction.”

Simpson, originally from England, founded the trust in 2005 after visiting Skyros and seeing that the horses needed help. The trust promotes awareness of the horse, monitors the wild population, and sometimes takes in ponies that are sick or injured. They also breed horses and use them for education.

To keep the breed alive, the Skyros Island Horse Trust is using a multifaceted approach, such as keeping track of bloodlines to ensure that each new generation is diverse, finding homes for horses on the island's farms, and keeping some animals that are sick or old.

"In some ways, welfare for the horses is looking up, because we have a vet on the island now. The horses are loving and have a great deal of personality."
Recently news broke that Greek archaeologist Christos Tsirogiannis has prevented the illicit sale of a valuable antiquity in New York City. Tsirogiannis is a Senior Archaeologist at the Cambridge Archaeological Unit and forensic archaeologist researching antiquities smuggling networks and the market for looted cultural objects.


According to the Ellines.com website, a gallery in New York had put for sale a Roman marble sarcophagus depicting the battle between Greeks and Trojans. The ancient object came from the illegal collection of Italian antiquities smuggler Gianfranco Becchina, seized by the Italian and Swiss authorities. Under mysterious circumstances, the sarcophagus, which was stolen from Greece, ended up in one of the largest antiques galleries in the world.

Becchina has already been convicted in Italy and Greece for accepting and trafficking stolen antiquities, while dozens of objects from the collection he had in his possession have been identified and repatriated to Italy and Greece.

In July, Tsirogiannis had stopped the sale of an Hellenic amphora from the 5th century BC located at a Christie’s Auction House list. The Greek archaeologist has dedicated his life to the search of stolen antiquities and his work has been featured several times in the Cambridge University website.

Tsirogiannis studied archaeology and history of art at the University of Athens. He worked for the Greek Ministries of Culture and Justice from 1994 to 2008, involved in excavations and recording antiquities in private hands. In 2013 Tsirogiannis won the annual Award for Art Protection and Security from the Association for Research into Crimes against Art. He also served as a Researcher at the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research at the University of Glasgow.
PAT ritual for the Theogamia
Roughly three weeks before Valentine's day, us Hellenists honour a beautiful festival of love and social stability: the Theogamia, also known as the Gamelia or Hieros Gamos. This festival celebrates the anniversary of the marriage (gamos, γάμος) of Zeus Teleios (Τελειος, Of the Marriage Rites) and Hera Teleia (Τέλεια, same). Zeus Teleios and Hera Teleia are considered the patron Gods of marriage. To celebrate this divine marriage and ask for blessings upon the romantic ties we may have in life, Elaion is organising a PAT ritual on Thursday 26 January. The time is set for 10 AM EST. Will you join us?


We know very little about the actual Theogamia festival. In ancient sources it's sometimes called 'hieros gamos', the sacred marriage, and was referred to as a domestic festival. A day to spend at home, with your wedded partner. Hera Teleia was the primary deity of the festival, with Zeus Teleios being of secondary importance. It was celebrated for sure in Athens, and most likely also in city-states around Athens. It included a shared dinner, and presumably lovemaking, between husband and wife. Unmarried men were most likely free of religious obligations, and were free to dine out.

There seems to be a suggestion that the gamos of Zeus and Hera was enacted as part of the rituals of a hieros gamos festival, but there is no concrete evidence for this. The closest we get to a Hellenic 'Great Rite' is a ritual performed near Knossos in Krete, but the details are so very vague that we can't be sure about anything.

It doesn't take much imagination to fill in how to best celebrate this festival. If you are married or have a partner, have a nice dinner together, have some romance, spent the night together and bond. Think about ways in which you will help, honor and love your partner in the year to come. And, of course, join our ritual! I want to leave you with a quote from the Ilias that has nothing to do with the Theogamia itself but does describe the eternal love between Zeus and Hera so very beautifully.

“Zeus, the Cloud-Driver, saw her, and instantly his sharp mind was overwhelmed by longing, as in the days when they first found love, sleeping together without their dear parents’ knowledge. [...] ‘Hera, [...] let us taste the joys of love; for never has such desire for goddess or mortal woman so gripped and overwhelmed my heart, not even when I was seized by love for Ixion’s wife, who gave birth to Peirithous the gods’ rival in wisdom; or for Acrisius’ daughter, slim-ankled Danaë, who bore Perseus, greatest of warriors; or for the far-famed daughter of Phoenix, who gave me Minos and godlike Rhadamanthus; or for Semele mother of Dionysus, who brings men joy; or for Alcmene at Thebes, whose son was lion-hearted Heracles; or for Demeter of the lovely tresses; or for glorious Leto; or even for you yourself, as this love and sweet desire for you grips me now.’” (Iliad XIV)
 
The ritual can be found here and you can join the community here. Enjoy the Theogamia, everyone!


PAT ritual for the sacrifice to Kourotrophos, Hera, Zeus, and Poseidon
On the Erkhian calendar, Kourotrophos, Hera, Zeus, and Poseidon are all sacrificed to on 27 Gamelion, at the same location: the temple of Hera. Also, as Kourotrophos Herself was often honored first with other deities and especially on this occasion, it seems to make sense that it was one ritual with four sacrifices as listed on the calendar. Will you join us for this sacrifice on January 26th, after the ritual for the Theogamia? We've set the time at 11 AM EST.


The Kourotrophoi are mostly female deities who watch over growing children. Specific offerings to Them are known from the demos Erkhia (or Erchia), but duplicate similar offerings on the Acropolis of Athens. Especially at Erkhia, it varied per sacrifice which Kourotrophos was/were sacrificed to. In this case, where no specific deity is listed, none of the above were most likely honored. The deity in question was Kourotrophos Herself, a deity whose main function was to watch over nursing children and their mothers.

You can find the ritual here and join the community here.
Aeschylus (Aiskhulos, Αἰσχύλος) is of the three Hellenic tragedians whose plays can still be read or performed. He was alive from around 525/524 BC to 456/455 BC, and according to Aristotle, he expanded the number of characters in plays to allow for conflict amongst them, whereas previously characters had interacted only with the chorus. Aeschylus' most famous works are undoubtedly the Seven against Thebes, the Supplicants and the Orestia. Also usually attributed to him is 'Prometheus Bound'.
Prometheus Bound (Promētheus Desmōtēs, Προμηθεὺς Δεσμώτης) is an Ancient Greek tragedy. The tragedy is based on the myth of Prometheus, a Titan who defies the Gods and gives fire to mankind, acts for which he is subjected to perpetual punishment. Much of the play is performed by the chorus, who are, in this play, the representation of the Oceanids. In Hellenic mythology, the Oceanids (Ὠκεανίδες) are sea nymphs who are the three thousand daughters of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys. Each is the patroness of a particular spring, river, sea, lake, pond, pasture, flower or cloud.

Somewhere a little past the middle, Prometheus still firmly chained to the rock Zeus condemned him to, the chorus speaks to Prometheus through a plea to Zeus. It's this plea to Zeus I'd like to share with you today.


"May Zeus, who apportions everything,
never set his power in conflict with my will,
nor may I be slow to approach the gods,
with holy sacrifices of oxen slain,
by the side of the ceaseless stream
of Oceanus, my father;
and may I not offend in speech;
but may this rule abide in my heart
and never fade away.
Sweet it is to pass all the length of life
amid confident hopes,
feeding the heart in glad festivities." [529-544]
Hippokrátēs of Kos (Ἱπποκράτης) is seen by many as the founding father of medicine, and in his lifetime, he set about to advancing the systematic study of clinical medicine, summing up the medical knowledge of previous schools, and prescribing practices for physicians through the Hippocratic Corpus and other works (although he Corpus itself was most likely not written by him, but assembled in and slightly after his time). Hippokrátēs separated the discipline of medicine from religion, believing and arguing that disease was not a punishment inflicted by the Theoi but rather the product of environmental factors, diet, and living habits.

Hippokrátes is also credited with penning the Hippocratic Oath, the most widely known of Hellenic medical texts. In its original form, it requires a new physician to swear, by a number of healing Gods, to uphold specific ethical standards. Of historic and traditional value, the oath is considered a rite of passage for practitioners of medicine in many countries, although nowadays various modernized versions are often used; the message delivered is still the same, 'Do no Harm'.

I'd like to share Ioannis Stratakis' reading of the ancient Hellenic version of it with you today because it sounds bloody amazing!


A small addendum to yesterday's post on homosexuality in ancient Hellas today. In it I mention that the topic goed through the news cycle, often with a lot of misinformation. I didn't have room to include a little pet-peeve of mine in that post: namely that Solon had made laws against homosexuality.

Solon (Σόλων) was an Athenian statesman, lawmaker, and poet, who lived from 638 BC to 558 BC. He spent most of his adult life trying to legislate against political, economic, and moral decline in archaic Athens. His ideologies are often credited with having laid the foundations for Athenian democracy. As a statesman, Solon put principles before expediency. In a time when Athens was struggling under the burden of civil war, his reforms strove to bridge the gap between the rich an the poor. Solon's reforms created a system where the power was in the hands of the people, if they were willing to work hard for it. For those without political aspirations, Solon's reforms provided judicial safety and a sense of power. His efforts brought into being many laws on a large variety of topics.

According to many news outlets (and subsequently many blogs and other interest sites) Solon was said to have made laws against homosexuality that stated the folllowing: any man practising homosexuality was

- banned from becoming a member of the council of nine
- banned from standing for elections as a priest
- banned from being a citizen’s advocate
- not allowed to exercise power in or outside the city of Athens
- not permitted to be sent an emissary of war
- banned from expressing his opinions
- banned from entering public temples
- banned from being wreathed in races
- not allowed to enter the agora

The only place where these bans are mentioned  is in Aeschines' 'The Speeches of Aeschines, Speech I, Against Timarchus'. Against Timarchus (Κατὰ Τιμάρχου) was a speech to the Assembly by Aeschines in which he accused a man named Timarchus of being unfit to involve himself in public life. The speech provides evidence of a number of actions which, according to Aeschines, would cause a citizen to lose the right of addressing the Assembly. Aeschines accuses Timarchus of two of these forbidden acts: prostituting himself, and wasting his inheritance. Aeschines, a Hellenic statesman, provides no evidence that any of Timarchus' lovers ever paid him, nor does he have a single witness who will testify that Timarchus had any sexual relationship with the men in question at all. Despite this, he won the case and Timarchus was punished by disenfranchisement. The quote is as follows:

"And I beg you, fellow citizens, to remember this also, that here the lawgiver [Solon] is not yet addressing the person of the boy himself, but those who are near him, father, brother, guardian, teachers, and in general those who have control of him. But as soon as the young man has been registered in the list of citizens, and knows the laws of the state, and is now able to distinguish between right and wrong, the lawgiver no longer addresses another, Timarchus, but now the man himself. And what does he say?

"If any Athenian," he says, "shall have prostituted his person, he shall not be permitted to become one of the nine archons," because, no doubt, that official wears the wreath ; "nor to discharge the office of priest," as being not even clean of body ; " nor shall he act as an advocate for the state," he says, "nor shall he ever hold any office whatsoever, at home or abroad, whether filled by lot or by election ; nor shall he be a herald or an ambassador " — nor shall he prosecute men who have served as ambassadors, nor shall he be a hired slanderer — "nor ever address senate or assembly," not even though he be the most eloquent orator in Athens.

And if any one act contrary to these prohibitions, the lawgiver has provided for criminal process on the charge of prostitution, and has prescribed the heaviest penalties therefor. (To the Clerk.) Read to the jury this law also, that you may know, gentlemen, in the face of what established laws of yours, so good and so moral, Timarchus has had the effrontery to speak before the people — a man whose character is so notorious." [17-20]

Aeschines recites Solon's laws about male prostitution, not homosexuality. That Timarchus is accused of prostituting himself to men is of secondary importance when it comes to the actual laws. So, please, always research your sources, my friends. Especially when it comes to a subject as complicated as this one, things are only very rarely cut and dry.