Yesterday, I introduced the concept of Popana (or Popanon), loaf-like cakes that were solely made for sacrifice. They were a staple of the Delphinia sacrifices, but there is a lot more to them than that. For example, they varied in shape and size, depending on whom they were sacrificed to. Today, I would like to share a little more about the various cakes the ancient Hellenes consumed and sacrificed.

This cake was specific to Athens. It was a cheese pie on which candles were lit, offered to Artemis on the day of the full moon in the month of Mounichion. Philocorus says that an amphiphon would be brought to the temples of Artemis or to a crossroads, because on this day the moon sets at the same as the sun rises, and the sky is lit by both.

Animal-shaped cakes:
Cakes in the shape of animals were offered to the deities to whom they were especially suited. A wheat cake called a 'Elaphos', made with honey and sesame and shaped like a deer was offered to Artemis at her Elaphebolia festival. A large loaf full of lard, modeled in the shape of a goat, was offered to Demeter Achaina (sorrowful) at the Megalartia (Big Loaves) festival in Boiotia. Another cake, decorated with horns and said to represent either the new moon or an ox, was offered to Apollo, Artemis, Hekate, Selene, Demeter, and Kronos. Apparently, this cake could be substituted for an actual ox.

Ames is often translated as ‘milk cake’. The smaller versions are called ametiskoi: pastries.

The arister was a cake to be burned in a fire, in honour of Helios, Mnemosyne and the Fates, as described by Pollux.

This cake was native, so to say, to Delos. They were made of a dough of wheat flour boiled with honey, to which pomegranate seeds, a dried fig and three nuts were edit. They were offered to Iris on the island of Hekate.

This cake is connected to the Pyanepsia festival in honour of Apollon. It seems these cakes were part of the sacrifices to Him on this day, and part of the decorations on the eiresiône. It was most likely a cake made of barley meal.

It was a cake made from various cheeses.

This was a doughnut, fried in oil or lard and dipped in honey.

This kind of cake is a flat oblong that may represent a cake of fruit or nuts compressed with honey. Common ingredients (especially on Krete) were: walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, and roasted poppy seeds which are roasted, mashed, and softened with boiled honey and pepper. White sesame is put through the same process to produce a contrasting white layer that is placed above and below the dark, flattened square of poppy seeds and nuts.

Kretan cakes made with sweet wine and olive oil.

A light dough made from sesame and honey.

These are the smallest of all the cakes. They are a small wheaten cake whose name derives from its resemblance to a small coin. Kollyba were used in the ritual welcome of a new family member or a slave, who recieved various 'nibbles' such as dates, kollyba, figs, and nuts. Kollyba were offered in sacrifices to Zeus, to the foreign god Men, and to Damia and Auxesia, goddesses usually identified with Demeter and Kore.

The kreion was a kind of sweet bread loaf, and in Argo, brides would give it to their husband. It was served with honey.

These are a kind of plakous (cheese cakes) that Athenaeus, citing Sosibius (Spartan source) describes as being breast-shaped. It seems Spartans use them during women’s feast days, and the members of the chorus lead them in procession when they are about to sing the encomium to the bride.

Maza (also known as neelata, prokonia, or ompai)
This type of cake is a shapeless flat mass with circular incisions or stippling that seems to represent a grainy texture. The lack of height and shape makes one think of a mass of porridge or boiled grains. Maza is first mentioned by Hesiod in his description of the delights of early summer: to sit in the shade, drink wine, and eat it as it just runs dry. Traditionally, it's made with goat's milk, but Maza could be made with water, oil, milk, or even the bile of a calf; the grain used was most frequently coarsely ground, uncooked barley meal, or groats. Maza consisting of boiled wheat flour, honey, a fig, and walnuts, was offered to Iris by the Delians. Apollon received Maza offerings in Sparta, and a variation where wheat soaked in honey was burned in the fire as an offering to Demeter.

The pelanos was a cake which was also used in offerings. It was made from wheat flour obtained from the plain of the Rharus, and was offered to the Goddesses during the Great Mysteries.

These were round cakes used in sacrifices, consisting of wheat flour, cheese and honey. They were eaten along with the flesh of the animals which had been sacrificed. In inscriptions, they are associated with Hestia, Zeus, Apollo and Asklēpiós.

This type is a thick, single-knobbed, cake with deep scoring or ribbing on sides and top meeting under the large central knob. The plakous was a light, flaky cake, which consisted of honey and goat's milk cheese alternating with thin layers of pastry dough inside a firm cake shell. A variation of the plakous is a cake scored evenly into four parts, sometimes with a central knob, or scored into three parts without a central knob. It was sacrificed to Apollon, at least.

This is a larger, round, flat cake with one, upright, protruding, central knob. The knobbed cakes were offered to Zeus Georgos, the Anemoi (Winds), and Herakles. The flat version of the cake, the popanon kathemenon was offered to Poseidon, Kronos, Apollo and Artemis. Its size is often mandated in leges sacrae; it must be made from a full choinix (a dry measure of less than a quart) of flour. The other main ingredient was soft cheese. A flat version with the same ingredients was sacrificed to Poseidon and to Kronos.

Popanon polyomphala
This type is the flat cake described before, but with more than one knob, which is also called a 'popanon'. The number of knobs on the cakes is usually five, arranged with one in the center and four evenly distributed around the perimeter, frequently with two strips of dough bisecting the cake and connecting the knobs to each other; in appearance the cake is not unlike a "hot cross bun". Clement of Alexandria described multi-knobbed popanon to Dionysos, Gaea, and Themis. Twelve-knobbed cakes known as 'popana dodekonphala' are offered to Demeter, Persephone, Apollo, Artemis, Zeus Arotrios, Poseidon, the Winds, Kronos, and Herakles.

Sesame (or sesamis)
This type of cake is spherical and is made up of pellets that may represent seeds. It was made of roasted sesame, honey, and oil, was one of the cakes carried in the rites of Dionysos and Giae, according to Clement of Alexandria. A Spartan cult calendar devoted to chthonic deities stipulates the offering of a sesame cake to Demeter and to Despoina, who is possibly Kore. A round cake that was made by crumbling up thin little sesame honey cakes, boiling them in honey, forming them into balls, and wrapping them in thin papyrus to keep their shape was also a variation of the sesame. In a private cult calendar of the 1st century A.D., sesame are offered to Zeus the Farmer.

The term ‘Pemma’ refers to a small cake, either with, or without a cereal element. That element could have been replaced by other ingredients such as nuts or dried fruit. The word ‘Pemma’ is generally used to refer to the cakes offered to Demeter, Zeus and Athena.

Pyramis and Pyramous
These were pyramidal in form. It was a wheat cake made from sesame and honey, and was given as a reward or prize for religious and sporting event, as well as dance competitions. It's associated with the Thesmophoria. It seems to have been a staple of banquets and was much used in hero worship.

Tagenites, taganies, or tagenias
A sort of crêpe or pancake consisting simply of flour and water. Could be eaten or made with sesame seeds.

Another round cake is made of maza. Since tolype also means a ball of yarn, it is usually assumed to be a round cake. It is not described as being made of seeds, however, and so its appearance would not match the round seedcakes previously described. What it was made of, I am not sure, though.

Other cakes:
There are various other cakes I don't have the name of, am unsure of when it comes to the name, of of which I just have very little detail:
  • Cone-shaped loafs or cake that had a rich sauce inside, composed of honey with ground raisins and almonds.
  • A cake that may have been called 'nastos'. The comic cult calendar in Aristophanes' Birds prescribes a honeyed nastos as sacrifice to the cormorant. In Attic cult Zeus the Farmer receives a nastos made from a full choinix of flour, as does the Asiatic god Men.
  • The melipekton and melitoutta, names meaning ‘curdled honey’ and ‘tasting of honey’, cakes of which nothing is known apart from their names.
  • The oinoutta, whose main ingredients are wine and cheese.