Hellenic Reconstruction is sometimes jokingly referred to as 'Athenian Reconstruction', as so much of our information about ancient Hellas was preserved in the city of Athens. As soon as you set foot outside the city of Athens, only a few 'hot spots' provide any information about ancient Hellenic life, and in between the hotspots, there is no information at all. The annual sacrifice at Erchia to Zeus Epoptes (Εποπτες) is a perfect example of this. Still, it is a sacrifice to the King of the Gods, and we will celebrate it on Wednesday, September 9, at 10 AM EDT. Will you be joining us?

'Epoptes' (sometimes 'Epopteus') is often translated as 'overseer' or 'watcher'; 'to look down upon'. Among the ancient Hellenes, the title of 'epoptes' was used of those who had attained the third grade of initiation, the highest, of the Eleusinian Mysteries; a religious cult at Eleusis, with its worship, rites, festival and pilgrimages open to all Hellenes willing to undergo initiation. The epopteia were--appropriately--charged with overseeing the proceedings at Eleusis, but seemingly received the name mostly because they had beheld the full mysteries of the Mysteries.

From the calendar we have recovered from Erchia, we know that the sacrifice to Zeus Epoptes was a pig, burned completely in a holókaustos, without an offering of wine. It cost the Erchians three drachmas. As little information as that is, it is still quite telling. A holókaustos was almost solely offered to Underworld deities, or those who oversaw he darker aspects of life. Zeus Meilichios, for example, received His sacrifices as a holókaustos when sacrificed to in order to remove blood guilt. As such, we can tentatively conclude that a holókaustos was either given to Gods of the dead, in appropriation, or placation--or all of them.

I have my own theory of the relevance and meaning of this sacrifice and I encourage you to read it here. I'm not saying it is right, but I do think it is a valid theory.

You can find the ritual for the sacrifice here, and if you would like to join our community page for it, come on over to Facebook here. We would jove it if you could join us on Wednesday!