The ancient Hellenes did not have a consensus on the Dodekatheon, or "The Twelve," or even "The Counsel of Twelve." What mattered was that there was a council of twelve, the Dodekatheon, at all. Who resided on the golden thrones atop Snowy Olympos was subject to debate and varied per location.

The most canonical version of the Dodekatheon is represented in a relief currently located at the Walters Art Museum. The relief dates back to the 1st century BC to the 1st century AD and depicts the Twelve Olympians carrying their attributes in procession: from left to right, Hestia (scepter), Hermes (winged cap and staff), Aphrodite (veiled), Ares (helmet and spear), Demeter (scepter and wheat sheaf), Hēphaistos (staff), Hera (scepter), Poseidon (trident), Athena (owl and helmet), Zeus (thunderbolt and staff), Artemis (bow and quiver), and Apollon (cithara). No mention of Dionysos.

There is a story floating about the internet and even some modern texts on Hellenic mythology, that Hestia gave up Her throne to Dionysos. Apparently, this is an ancient myth, and the ancient Hellenes would have believed this as well. It's a story so frequently told, one that is so common-knowledge, that very few people bother to check the source. Well, the source is Robert Graves' 'The Greek Myths', written in 1955. From that book (27.12):

"Finally, having established his worship throughout the world, Dionysus ascended into Heaven, and now sits at the right hand of Zeus as one of the Twelve Great Gods. The self-effacing goddess Hestia resigned her seat at the high table in his favour; glad of any excuse to escape the jealous wranglings of her family, and knowing that she could always count on a quiet welcome in any Greek city which it might please her to visit."

Graves provides two sources for this story: Apollodoros’ Bibliotheka 3.5.3, and and Pausanias’ Hellados Periegesis 2.31.2. As you can read for yourself, there is no mention what so ever of Hestia giving up Her throne. In fact, the sources only address the part of Graves' text that follows afterwards, about Dionysos bringing His mother Semele up to Olympos as well.

So, did Graves lie? Well, yes and no. Graves is a storyteller; he spun stories based on facts he could find. If he could not find a fact, he made it up to fit the story. Because of this, his books are a great read but they are not reliable as far as ancient mythology goes.

Obviously, Theoi who were held in high regard in a certain city-state would have held the thrones, according to the people who lived in that city-state. This means that it's quite likely there were people in ancient Hellas who firmly believed that Dionysos occupied one of the thrones of the Dodekatheon. Most likely, there were also people who believed Hestia did not occupy one of the thrones. It's entirely possible that some people--perhaps even the same people who believed Dionysos was part of the Dodekatheon, but not Hestia--believed that Hestia gave up Her seat to Dionysos. The problem is that there are no ancient sources to support this, and there was most certainly not a wide-spread myth to this effect that held sway in ancient Hellas.

In my personal practice, who hold the thrones of the Dodekatheon is nearly irrelevant. I follow the festival calendar and have my daily ritual practice. through that, all 'major' Theoi are honoured and many of the 'lesser' as well. The pantheon, after all, is much larger than just the children of Kronos and Rhea.
Have this beautiful chorus from Euripides’ Bacchae to enjoy on this last day of the Lenaia. It's the second chorus (370-433). Translation borrowed from here.

Sacred queen of the gods
Sacred one who flies
Over the earth on golden wing—
Did you hear these things about Pentheus?
Did you hear
Of his unholy outrage against Bromios
Semele’s son, the first of the gods
Called upon in the finely-wreathed
Feasts? He holds sway here,
To entwine us in the dances
To make us laugh with the flute
To dissolve our worries
Whenever the grape’s shine
Arrives at the feast of the gods
And in the ivy-wound banquets of men
Where the winebowl lets down its sleep.
The fate for unbridled mouths
And lawless foolishness
Is misfortune.
The life of peace
And prudence
Is unshaken and cements together
Human homes. For even though
They live far off in the sky
The gods gaze at human affairs.
Wisdom is not wit;
Nor is thinking thoughts which belong not to mortals.
Life is brief. And because of this
Whoever seeks out great accomplishments
May not grasp the things at hand.
These are the ways of madmen
And wicked fools, I think.
I wish I could travel to Cyprus
The island of Aphrodite
Where the enchanters of mortal minds live,
The Erotes, at Paphos
Where the hundred mouths
Of the barbarian river
Water fertile earth despite no rain;
I wish to go where Pieria
Looms so fair, that seat of the Muses,
The sacred slope of Mount Olympos—
Take me there, Bromios, my Bromios,
Divine master of ecstasy.
There are the Graces, there is Longing, there it is right
For the Bacchants to hold their sacred rites.
The god, the son of Zeus,
He delights in the feast,
He loves wealth-granting peace
The child-rearing goddess.
He has granted equally to the rich
And those below to have
The grief-relieving pleasure of wine.
He hates the person who has no care for these affairs.
During the day and during lovely nights
To live a good life,
To protect wisdom and thoughts and heart
From men who go too far.
Whatever the rather simple-minded mob believes
This is welcome enough belief for me.
A list of the thousands of archaeological sites and buildings were made public the archaeological association, reports Protothema. The Greek government plans to transfer 587 monuments and cultural buildings in 37 provinces across the country to the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF), despite reassurances to the contrary by Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos.


The Association of Greek Archaeologists, which has appealed to the Council of State (CoE) against the move, the nation’s highest administrative court, accused the government of failing to exclude the monuments and sites, many of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The HRADF is the fund managed by Greece’s creditors for the development and exploitation of state-owned and managed properties and sites.

The list of the 2,327 sites, monuments, and buildings identified by the Greek archaeologists includes among other buildings Knossos, the Venetian castle walls in Heraklion, the prehistoric settlement at Akrotiri in Thira and the tomb of King Leonidas of Sparta, as well as the Royal Tomb of Philip II in Vergina.

The government has denied it plans to transfer the sites to the fund, however, the Minister of Culture refused to make the list public.
Menander (Μένανδρος Menandros) was alive from 342/41 to around 290 BC. He was a Hellenic dramatist and the best-known representative of Athenian New Comedy. He wrote 108 comedies and took the prize at the Lenaia festival eight times. His record at the City Dionysia is unknown but may well have been similarly spectacular. One of the most popular writers of antiquity, his work was lost during the Middle Ages and is known in modernity in highly fragmentary form, much of which was discovered in the 20th century. Only one play, Dyskolos, has survived almost entirely.

Dyskolos (Δύσκολος) translates as The Grouch, The Misanthrope, The Curmudgeon, The Bad-tempered Man or Old Cantankerous. It's an ancient Hellenic comedy that won Menander the first-place prize at the Lenaian festival in 317–316 BCE. It was long known only through fragmentary quotations; but a papyrus manuscript of the nearly complete Dyskolos, dating to the 3rd century, was recovered in Egypt in 1952 and forms part of the Bodmer Papyri and Oxyrhynchus Papyri.
In it, Menander has his character say the following that I stumbled upon recently.

“I would like to tell you a few things about me and my character.
If everyone were like me, there wouldn’t be any courts at all,
They wouldn’t take each other to prison.
There would be no war and everyone would be happy because they had enough.
Ah, maybe the way things are is more pleasing. Act as you will.
This old cranky grump will be out of your way.”
[Menander, Dyskolos 742-746]

I love these lines, as they make clear something very prudent: that we all look at life from our own perspective, and with only a small level of ability to incorporate the views of others into it. We are, especially in the eyes of the Gods, very human. The Theoi don't have these limitations, which is why we place divine justice and retribution into their hands and work hard to better ourselves, not others in our lifetimes. To me, this is a message of hope and I wanted to share it with you today.
The archaeological park at Herculaneum, the ancient sister city of Pompeii, has several new initiatives and changes in store as the new year begins. The site saw a 9% increase in visitors over the past year, according to figures released by the park's administrators, for a total of 534,328 visitors compared to 490,030 in 2017.


Park administrators announced several new developments for this year, including the permanent opening of the ancient theatre, exhibitions throughout the area, "archeo-aperitif" events that combine educational seminars with tastings, and restoration work on the site's domus.

The park plans to collaborate more extensively this year with schools and institutions in the area, including Vesuvius National Park and the Foundation of Vesuvian Villas. Park director Francesco Sirano said:

"The 2019 programme establishes some openings permanently, such as the theatre; presents a summer review that will be more structured and richer than last year; welcomes residents and enthusiasts for a conference cycle and a summer school. It opens the park to exhibitions throughout the area, in continuing the strategy of collaboration with area institutions, as well as schools, associations, and national and international institutions so that everyone can enjoy the growth of this UNESCO site, which must become common and shared."

One of the pre-established goals is to complete the overall restoration of the domus and renew conservation programmes so that the site never again finds itself in the conditions it was in before 2002.

The park will enact a project to stabilise the area of the Villa of the Papyri as well as another area, in collaboration with the City of Herculaneum and the Packard Foundation, to connect the ancient city with the modern one.

This project includes knocking down a wall on via Mare and replacing it with a much more well-ventilated type of protection, in order to make the road a strategic point between the ancient theatre and the used clothing market on Via Pugliano. There will also be summer evening programmes as well as free afternoon openings and the traditional free first Sunday openings as part of the #domenichealmuseo initiative.
Today's post is a repost of a blog I posted near the start of Baring the Aegis. I do this occasionally when I think the post deserves to be read by more people, like this one. It's about the practice of the washing of feet within the context of xenia. It's something I have been curious about ever since I first read the Odysseia. 


When I first read the Odysseia, I was struck by a two of the later passages, where Odysseus is home, but in disguise, waiting to take his revenge on the suiters of his wife Penelope. During these passages, Penelope offers xenia to Odysseus, disguised as beggar.

"But, come, my maids, wash the strangers’ feet and make his bed, with blankets and bright rugs over the bedstead, so he may rest till golden-throned Dawn in warmth and comfort. In the morning early, bathe and oil him, so he is ready to breakfast in the hall, sitting by Telemachus’ side. And if any man vexes him and pains his spirit, so much the worse for that man’s prospects: he’ll gain nothing here, rage as he might."

A little later on, Odysseus has refused the washing of his feet by anyone but Eurykleia, his nursemaid whom is still alive, and living at the house. Penelope agrees to have the old woman wash Odysseus' feet, which she does while she laments the fate of Odysseus:

"Perhaps the women of some great house mocked at him in a far-off foreign land, just as these shameless hussies here mock you, sir.  You will not let them wash your feet, for fear of their insults, but wise Penelope, Icarius’ daughter, knowing my willingness, has asked me to wash them. So I shall wash your feet for Penelope’s sake and yours, while my heart is stirred with sadness. But listen to one thing I must say. Many a long-suffering traveller have we welcomed here, but never a man resembling another as you resemble Odysseus in looks and voice – even your feet.’

Then resourceful Odysseus answered her, saying: ‘That is what everyone says who has met us both, old woman, that we are very alike, as you remark.’

With this, the old woman, preparing to wash his feet, poured cold water into the shining basin then added hot. Odysseus swiftly sat down by the hearth, and turned towards the shadows, though he had a sudden premonition that as she handled him she would notice his scar and the truth would be out. As she approached and began to wash him, so it was: she immediately knew the scar Odysseus had received from a white-tusked boar, while hunting on Parnassus, when visiting his mother’s father, noble Autolycus, the greatest of all in thievery and oath-making.

[...]

It was this scar the old woman felt as she passed her hands over his leg, and recognising it she let his leg fall. The bronze rang as his foot struck the basin, upsetting it, and spilling the water on the ground. Joy and pain filled her heart at the same moment, her eyes filled with tears and her voice caught in her throat. She touched Odysseus’ face and said: ‘It is Odysseus, it must be. Child, I did not know you, until my hands had touched my master’s limbs."

Ancient evidence suggests there were three major contexts in which foot-washing was important: body hygiene, xenia, and religion. The first is easy to grasp: the ancient Hellenes rarely wore shoes. They tended to travel barefoot, or with light, open sandals. Boots were only for the rich. As roads were unpaved, and often dusty in the dry and hot climate, a traveler's feet tended to get dusty and dirty. Upon arrival at their destination, it was customary--and part of xenia--to offer the traveler a chance to wash their feet. Those with female serfs could offer the service of one of them to have their guest wash the guest's feet for them. In cases where no serfs were present, in case of very special guests--especially those above the host in standing--or between great friends, the host could offer to wash the feet of his guest for them.

Foot-washing was often the chore of female serfs, and was considered lowly work. For the ancient Hellenes, honor was very important. To wash the feet of those below themselves in standing was a breach of societal rules and would most likely be looked upon negatively, or even outright refused. I have found no ancient texts to support this, but I suspect that washing the feet of one of equal standing would be done only between dear friends, perhaps between those who had fought together and saved each other's lives. I suspect that, if this is true, this would extend also to the son(s) of one of the men: the son of the deceased host would extend these honors to the family guest to whom the father was indebted.

At home, washing the feet of elderly family members was considered a form of respect. Aristophanes, in The Wasps (Sphēkes/Σφῆκες ), mentions the pride and joy felt by a rich man when his daughter washes and anoints his feet upon his return from a day of hard work:

"But I am forgetting the most pleasing thing of all. When I return home with my pay, everyone runs to greet me because of my money. First my daughter bathes me, anoints my feet, stoops to kiss me and, while she is calling me "her dearest father," fishes out my triobolus with her tongue; then my little wife comes to wheedle me and brings a nice light cake; she sits beside me and entreats me in a thousand ways, "Do take this now; do have some more." All this delights me hugely." 

Women rarely traveled--if at all--so as far as I can tell, no record of the washing of feet of women, or between women, has survived. I also suspect that this has to do with modesty: in an age where women often went around baring one or two breasts, the ankles and feet were almost always covered up. To bare one's feet--to a man--might have been a sign of seduction. In the rare event of a woman traveling, she would travel with her husband, father, brothers, and/or female serfs. Once arriving at her destination, she would undoubtedly have been allowed and encouraged to wash up and change her clothing. If she had serfs, she would be assisted by them. Else, serfs of the hosting household might have lend a hand, or even the wife of the host. I do wonder if they would ever was the feet of one another.

It seems it was also considered unclean and disrespectful to the Theoi to enter a temple with unwashed feet. Some temples, therefor, offered special basins which a traveler could make use of. It's difficult to find proper information about this, however, because the washing of feet in a religious context is now considered a near-solely Abrahamic thing, and bible quotes are far easier to find than ancient Hellenic texts on the subject. I'm still picking apart Christian and Jewish writings for clues about the Hellenic practice.

I am not sure why this subject interests me so. There is something so very intimate and humbling in the practice; it speaks to me in a way that goes beyond the intellectual. I imagine that having your feet washed upon arrival would make you feel both welcome and respected--as that was what it was, a sign of respect. I would also imagine it would be wonderful to bestow a honor like this to a valued guest. If shared between host and guest--or simply very good friends, or even lovers--it would strengthen the bond between them, and be a wonderful way to practice strong xenia. I think it's a beautiful practice, although not very applicable in modern Hellenismos. Agreements could be made about this, though, like the giving of gifts--another vital part of xenia.
An ancient stone tablet bearing a historic inscription of the Nikouria decree, dating back to the 3rd century BC, has resurfaced on the island of Amorgos after it had gone missing for roughly a century, the Greek culture ministry announced last week.


The stele was found by a final-year archaeology student from Amorgos, Stelios Perakis, and German archaeologist N. N. Fischer with the help of local residents. It was embedded in the outer wall of a recently renovated house  in the village Tholaria, Amorgos that had previously belonged to a shepherd from Nikouria.

According to a ministry announcement, the inscription on the stele contained key information on the history of the Aegean and was first discovered in 1893 in the Panagia Church on the islet of Nikouria, opposite Aigiali on Amorgos. It had been temporarily transferred to a nearby stable where it remained until 1908 but then disappeared from view and its fate was entirely unknown.

The decree contains a decision of the League (Koinon) of the Islanders', a political union set up by the Ptolemies, to participate with official representatives in the feast and games organised by Ptolemy II in Alexandria in the memory of his father Ptolemy I, the ministry said. The specific stele is considered important since it provides evidence concerning the balance of power during the first half of the 3rd century BC and the transition of control from the Macedonians to the Ptolemies.

Dozens of researchers had tried and failed to track down the Nikouria decree over the years.
The Cyclades Antiquities Ephorate said it will remove and transfer the stele to the Amorgos archaeological collection.