Ancient Greeks had a great love and respect for their dogs, cherishing them as companions, protectors, and hunters, as evidenced by several dog tombstones discovered over the centuries. The most well-known story about the relationship between ancient Greeks and their pet canines comes from Homer and his “Odyssey.” Written as early as c.800 BC, it is a story of the unending loyalty of dogs to man.

Argos (“The Slow One”) is the loyal friend of King Odysseus. His master finally returns home after being away on his adventure for 20 years, and is not recognized by the hostile suitors who are vying to win the hand of Odysseus’s wife, Penelope. But Argos recognizes his master and rises up from where he has been faithfully waiting, wagging his tail in greeting.

Odysseus, however, is in disguise and he is afraid that if he acknowledges the greeting, he will give away his true identity in front of the suitors; so he ignores his old friend, and Argos tragically lays back down and dies.

He claimed that dogs are true philosophers because they “distinguish the face of a friend and of an enemy only by the criterion of knowing and not knowing” and concluded that dogs want to learn things because by learning they determine what they like and what they do not based upon knowledge of the truth.

Socrates said that the dog has learned who is a friend and who is not and, based on that knowledge, responds appropriately; while human beings are often deceived as to who their true friends are.

The Philosopher Diogenes of Sinope, who lived from 412 – 323 BC called himself “The dog.” Explaining why he chose the name of an animal for himself, he replied: “Because I fawn upon those who give me anything, and bark at those who give me nothing, and bite the rogues.”

Ancient Greeks built the Parthenon, became philosophers, wrote the world’s greatest tragedies and comedies, and overall laid the foundations of Western Civilization — yet apparently they had a hard time choosing names for their beloved dogs.

Nowadays, we usually just pick a name we like, which reminds us of something or has some pleasant meaning for us. At that time, however, there was a far more complex way to choose a name for your dog.

According to Xenophon, the dog names preferred by the ancient Greeks were short, consisting of one, or at most two, syllables. They also paid special attention to the meaning of the name of the dog and no name was ever bestowed at random or on a whim.

The reason for this was that a dog’s name also affected the owner’s psychology. So ancient Greeks chose names which expressed courage, power, speed, appearance or other material or spiritual values. The name Xenophon himself chose for his own dog was “Impetus” (Ορμή).

Atalanti, on the other hand, the famous hunter of Greek mythology, named her dog ‘Avra’ (meaning aura or breeze). Other notable dog names of antiquity that we know of are Impetuous  (Ορμητικός), Follower (Μεθέπων), The One Who Awakens You (Εγέρτης), Crow (Κόραξ), The Shining One (Λάμπρος), Good Shooter (Εύβολος), and, of course, Odysseus’ faithful dog Argos.

The list of dog names from antiquity was supplemented by Polydeuces, who also mentioned names such as White (Λευκός), Ink (Μελανός), Flower (Άνθος), Storm (Θύελλα), Hunter (Κυνηγός), Digger (Σκαφτιάς) and Guard (Φύλαξ).

After their loyal friend and companion departed from this world, ancient Greeks were not afraid to express their grief for their loss, openly crying and mourning. Greeks would bury their pets along the roadside in marked graves, and the entire ceremony for this was undertaken in a very solemn manner.

“This is the tomb of the dog, Stephanos, who perished, Whom Rhodope shed tears for and buried like a human. I am the dog Stephanos, and Rhodope set up a tomb for me” read one gravestone.

“Helena, foster child, soul without comparison and deserving of praise.” The particular epitaph shows that some ancient Greeks, lust like today, saw their dogs as their foster children.

In the next case, a hunter mourned the female hound who had helped him hunt in the three Greek mountains mentioned on the tombstone: “Surely, even as you lie dead in this tomb, I deem the wild beasts yet fear your white bones, huntress Lycas; and your valor great Pelion knows, and splendid Ossa and the lonely peaks of Cithaeron.”

Another tombstone of a beloved family dog from Ancient Greece reads “You who pass on this path, if you happen to see this monument, laugh not, I pray, though it is a dog’s grave. Tears fell for me, and the dust was heaped above me by a master’s hand.”
On the day of the Hene kai Nea (or sometimes the day after, like this month), 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 Elaphebolion:
  • Elaphebolion 6 - March 1 - Elaphebolia - festival in honor of Artemis
  • Elaphebolion 8 - March 3 - Asklepieia - festival in honor of Asklēpiós
  • Elaphebolion 10-17 - March 5 - 12 - Greater (City) Dionysia in honor of Dionysos
  • Elaphebolion 16 - March 11 - Sacrifice to Semele and Dionysos at Erkhia
  • Elaphebolion 17 - March 12 - Pandia - festival in honor of Zeus, following the Greater Dionysia
  • Elaphebolion 14 - March 20 - Galaxia - festival in honor of the Mother of the Gods (Rhea), Kronos, Zeus and Hera

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

Would you like to support me? Buy me a coffee.
Archaeologists from the Oriental Institute have discovered a lost ancient kingdom dating to 1400 BC to 600 BC, which may have defeated Phrygia, the kingdom ruled by King Midas, in battle.

University of Chicago scholars and students were surveying a site with Turkish and British colleagues last summer in southern Turkey called Turkmen-Karahoyuk, when a local farmer told them he'd seen a big stone with strange inscriptions while dredging a nearby irrigation canal the previous winter. Asst. Prof. James Osborne of the OI, one of the foremost centers of research on the ancient world, said:

"We rushed straight there, and we could see it still sticking out of the water, so we jumped right down into the canal—up to our waists wading around. Right away it was clear it was ancient, and we recognized the script it was written in: Luwian, the language used in the Bronze and Iron ages in the area."

Translated by OI scholars, the pronouncement boasted of defeating Phrygia, the kingdom ruled by King Midas, legendary ancient ruler said to have a golden touch.

Osborne, an archaeologist who specializes in examining the expression of political authority in Iron Age cities, said it appears the city at its height covered about 300 acres, which would make it one of the largest ancient cities of Bronze and Iron Age Turkey. They don't yet know what the kingdom was called, but Osborne said its discovery is revolutionary news in the field.

"We had no idea about this kingdom. In a flash, we had profound new information on the Bronze Age Middle East."

Working under the Konya Regional Archaeological Survey Project, Osborne and UChicago students were mapping the site as part of the Turkmen-Karahoyuk Intensive Survey Project, located in an area littered with other famous ancient cities. Just by walking around the site's surface, they collected bits of broken pottery from three thousand years of habitation at the site—a rich and promising find—until the farmer's chance visit pointed them to the stone block known as a stele.

Osborne immediately identified a special hieroglyphic marking that symbolized the message came from a king. The farmer helped pull the massively heavy stone stele out of the irrigation canal with a tractor. From there it went to the local Turkish museum, where it was cleaned, photographed and readied for translation.

The hieroglyphs were written in Luwian, one of the oldest branches of the Indo-European languages. A unique language written in hieroglyphic signs native to the Turkish area, Luwian is read alternating between right to left and left to right.

While Osborne isn't an expert in reading the Luwian language, luckily he works down the hall from two of the foremost experts in the world on Luwian: OI colleagues Petra Goedegebuure and Theo P.J. van den Hout—editors of the Chicago Hittite Dictionary.

Their translation revealed that the stele king was called Hartapu, and Turkmen-Karahoyuk was probably his capital city. The stone tells the tale of King Hartapu's conquest of the nearby kingdom of Muska, better known as Phrygia—home to King Midas. "The storm gods delivered the [opposing] kings to his majesty," the stone read.

The OI's linguistic analysis suggested the stele was composed in the late-eighth-century B.C., which lines up with the time that Midas ruled.

It answers a long-standing mystery, though; not quite 10 miles to the south is a volcano with a well-known inscription in hieroglyphics. It refers to a King Hartapu, but no one knew who he was—or what kingdom he ruled.

Following a longstanding tradition of OI research in the area, Osborne is already planning the next site visit, hoping to complete the survey this summer.

"Inside this mound are going to be palaces, monuments, houses. This stele was a marvelous, incredibly lucky find—but it's just the beginning."

Osborne worked with colleagues Michele Massa with the British Institute at Ankara, Fatma Sahin with Cukurova University, and Christoph Bacchuber with Oxford University of the Konya Regional Archaeological Survey Project to explore and survey the site.
Okay, so this is not Hellenic, this is Roman. But the Vesuvius eruption that obliterated Pompeii has always fascianted me. Maybe it's because it happened on my birth date, just a couple of centuries before. Maybe it's just mind blowing that an entire city can disappear in the span of hours. I found this video about the event yesterday and I just had to share. How incredibly terrifying!

"Before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius on 24 August 79 CE, Pompeii was a thriving Roman port city and commercial hub near modern-day Naples, and home to an estimated 15,000 people. Closer to the mountain’s base and on the other side, the nearby town of Herculaneum, estimated population 5,000, was smaller, wealthier and a popular resort for elite Romans. After the eruption, both remained buried, their memories lost to time, until they were excavated and identified in the 18th century. In the years since, the continuing excavation of their eerily preserved buildings, artifacts and human remains have given archeologists and researchers an invaluable window into ancient Roman life.

The only firsthand account of the eruption comes from the author and lawyer Pliny the Younger. In his correspondence with the historian Tacitus, Pliny describes helplessly watching from nearby Misenum as the tragedy unfolds:

Some wishing to die, from the very fear of dying; some lifting their hands to the gods; but the greater part convinced that there were now no gods at all, and that the final endless night of which we have heard had come upon the world.

This animation, produced in 2009 for an exhibition at the Melbourne Museum, brings his harrowing words to stark and vivid life. Transporting viewers back to the morning of the eruption, the video recreates sights and sounds from that fateful day through to the following night, at which point both Pompeii and Herculaneum already lay buried deep in volcanic ash and debris."

Video by Zero One Studio
“There is a season when people have the greatest need
For winds and there is a season for water from the sky,
The pouring offspring of clouds.
But if someone should ever find success through toil,
Then honey-sweet hymns form the foundation
For future tales and offer certain promise for great accomplishments.

The praise for Olympic victors is not limited
By envy. My tongue is ready to shepherd
These words. A man similarly prospers through wise thoughts
thanks to divine assistance.
Know this now, son of Arkhestratos,
Hagêsidamos: thanks to your boxing
I will sing a sweet-songed adornment
For your crown of golden olive,
Without neglecting the race of Western Lokrians.

Join us in the revel there—Muses, I pledge
That you will visit no country who rejects a guest
a people who are ignorant of noble things,
But you will find wise spearmen there.
For not even the fire-red fox nor the roaring lions
Could change the nature of their kind.”
[Pindar, Olympian 11: For Hagêsidamos, Winner of Boy’s Boxing, 476BCE]
A magnificent Greek mosaic discovered in Hatay, Turkey continues to amaze archaeologists and historians who are attempting to ascertain the exact meaning of its images and inscriptions.

The floor mosaic, which was found in Hatay province, located on the Turkish-Syrian border, is divided into three parts, with two images complete and in nearly perfect condition. The third section is mostly destroyed, but its meaning has nevertheless been deciphered by archaeologists and historians.

The mosaic, which is likely from the 3rd century BC, is believed to have served as an elaborate centerpiece of a floor located in the dining room of a wealthy man’s home.

The first from the left, and the image which by far is the most discussed among experts, shows a skeleton lying down and enjoying a pitcher of wine and a loaf of bread alongside him. Above him, the Ancient Greek text reads: “Be cheerful, enjoy your life” (“ΕΥΦΡΟΣΥΝΟΣ”).

In the middle scene, there is a sundial and a clothed man running toward it with a barefoot servant behind him. The sundial shows a time between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. The inscription on one side reads that the man is late for supper and on the other side there is a mention of the time (“ΠΕΧΕΔΙΠΝΟΣ-ΑΚΑΙΡΟΣ”).

All that remains of the third mosaic scene is the head and arms of a servant carrying a flame. According to experts, this represents the heating of water for the master’s bath before supper. The bath and supper were two of the most important parts of daily life during Greek and Roman times.

However, some other historians and archaeologists express a different opinion on the meaning of the depiction of the skeleton.

If the sequence of the three pictures is read from right to left, the man who rushes to eat and drink (meaning he places great importance on food and wine) is likely rushing to an earlier death — hence the image in the third picture is a skeleton.

The Hatay region is known for its numerous discoveries of Greek and Roman-era mosaics.

According to archaeologists, this particular mosaic most likely dates back to the third century BC, and is an artifact from the ancient Greek and Roman city Antioch, established in the end of the fourth century BC.

Antioch was founded by Seleucus I Nicator, one of the generals under Alexander the Great. The city’s geographic location was important in the spice trade as well. It also served as a stop along the famed Silk Road and the Royal Road.

The city of Antioch flourished for so long because of its great military strength as well, eventually rivaling Alexandria as the chief city of the Near East. The city served as the capital of the Seleucid Empire until 63 BC, when the Romans took control of the area.
The British government ruled out any discussion of the return of the Parthenon Sculptures to Greece as part of its deal with European Union in the post-Brexit era on Tuesday. A Downing Street spokeswoman said the sculptures would not be discussed during next month’s trade talks.

She stated ”The EU are still finalizing their mandate – this is currently in draft.

”The UK’s position on the Parthenon sculptures remains unchanged – they are the legal responsibility of the British Museum. That is not up for discussion as part of our trade negotiations.”

A demand for the return of ”unlawfully removed cultural objects” has been included in the EU’s negotiating mandate for trade talks with the UK.

A draft of a document from top EU diplomats leaked earlier on Tuesday shows a clause noting that "The Parties, consistently with the Union rules, address issues related to the return or restitution of unlawfully removed cultural objects to their countries of origins."

The 32a clause of the draft EU document which was revealed on Tuesday

The European Union’s demand for the return of unlawfully removed cultural objects to their countries of origin did not specify any specific items.

However, an EU official said a request for the clause was made by Greece and is supported by Italy, according to reports from Reuters news agency.

Citing a diplomatic source, the Athens Macedonia News Agency (AMNA) reported that the clause has “nothing to do” with the Greek-British dispute over the Parthenon Sculptures.

“The purpose of this article is to ensure that stolen cultural property located on British soil is automatically returned,” the source said.