Once upon a time, when I started this blog and I was unburdened by thirteen hour workdays and life was simpler on the whole, I used to cross-post every blog post to Facebook. When the aforementioned work hours and complications snuck in, I had to let that time commitment go. I didn't like to, though. Yesterday, by accident, I discovered a way to automate the process--through a site called 'If This, Then That'. If I've set up everything correctly, you might be one of the 1700+ people who have 'liked' Baring the Aegis on Facebook and decided to hop over here for a look. I truly hope so!

Provided I have done this correctly and everything works, is there another social media channel you would like me to try to forward the links to daily? I am sure I can manage to do so. Let me know, alright? and if you came here through Facebook I would love to hear as well!

As a little bonus, I have also updated the Elaion website to display upcoming and past events straight from the Facebook events section for your convenience!
We are proud to announce that Pandora's Kharis members have come through for the Malala Fund! Together, they have raised $ 75,- to help support this very worthy cause. Thank you very much!


Malala Fund wants to see a world where every girl can complete 12 years of safe, quality education. They advocate—at local, national and international levels—for resources and policy changes needed to ensure all girls complete 12 years of school. They invest in developing country education leaders and organisations — the people who best understand girls in their communities—in regions where most girls miss out on secondary education. They amplify girls’ voices. Malala Fund believes adolescent girls should speak for themselves and tell leaders what resources they need to learn and achieve their potential.

From this moment on, the Pandora's Kharis Facebook page is open to pitches. If you do not have Facebook, feel free to pitch your cause in the comments. We will relay the message to the community. Please pitch your cause before February 7th. On to another month of pitching, voting, and giving!
On Monday 30 January, at 10 am EST, Elaion hosts a PAT ritual to Dionysos in compliance with the Erkhian calendar, which mentions one such sacrifice on 2 Anthesterion. Will you join us?


Dionysos is a very varied Theos. His domains range from fertility and exuberance, to death and dying. He is both an Ouranic Theos and a Khthonic one. He is a Year-Daímōn and the God of wine. He is associated with ecstatic rites, sex, and madness. He can bring on obsession and cure you of it. He does not shy away from either the light or dark and speaks to the side of us that will always be wild, that chafes against the restraints of polite and societal living.

Help us honour Dionysos in His many guises on Monday 30 January, at 10 am EST. You can visit the community page here and download the ritual from here.
On the day of the Hene kai Nea, 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.

Changes to the blog:
  • Remember that pile of questions from you that were waiting to be answered? Yeah... it just got bigger...
Statistics:
PAT rituals for Anthesterion:

Anything else?
The The Malala Fund has become Pandora's Kharis Gamelion 2017 cause. Malala Fund wants to see a world where every girl can complete 12 years of safe, quality education. They advocate—at local, national and international levels—for resources and policy changes needed to ensure all girls complete 12 years of school.

The deadline to donate is tomorrow, January 28th, 2017. You can do so by using the PayPal option to the side of the Pandora's Kharis website or by donating directly to baring.the.aegis@gmail.com. Thank you in advance!

Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.
Women of Trakhis (Τραχίνιαι, Trachiniai) is an Athenian tragedy by Sophocles. Perhaps one of his least famous ones. It's unclear when it was written and the plot is one of deceptive simplicity: Deianira anxiously awaits the return of her husband Herakles to their somewhat temporary home in Trakhis. Hyllos, her son, who has been informed that his father is sacking the city of King Eurytos in Euboea, goes off to search for him. But as a foretaste of victory, Herakles' commander, LiKhas, returns with a band of captive women, headed by the King's daughterd Iole. Deianira realizes Herakles sacked the city to capture Iole and knows Herakles' love for her is fading. She goes through great lengths to make a tunic drenched in--what she believes--is a love potion but which turns out to be a poison that will kill Herakles. When she realizes she is responsible for his death, she kills herself. With his last breath, Herakales weds Ione and his son and urges them to build him a pyre on Mt. Oeta. 

 In the play is a section I would like to quote to you today; a poem of sorts, or reminder. It summarizes the play quite well, I think, in saying that fortune and misfortune follows one another naturally and as such, one should not hasten to act on its perceived insurmountable consequences. The tides will, most likely, shift once more. Had Deianira not hastened to assume the worst and accepted a potion she did not know the true nature of, things would have turned out s lot different, after all!

I'm going to give you two translations, both with their own merit. The first is from Plutarch's 'Life of Demetrius', Loeb Classical Library edition, and the second is from The Light and The Darkness, Brill Archive edition.

"But my fate on the swiftly turning wheel of God
Goes whirling round forever and ever changes shape,
Just as the moon's appearance for two kindly nights
Could never be identical and show no change,
But out of darkness first she comes forth young and new,
With face that ever grows more beautiful and full,
And when she reaches largest and most generous phase,
Again she vanisheth away and comes to naught."

"For Kronos' son, who rules all things,
Has melted out to men no painless lot:
Joy and sorrow come round to all
Like the wheeling path of the Bear.
For so the starry night abides
Not forever, nor the Keres, nor wealth,
But all soon shifts, and then another
Must take his turn of joy or sorrow."
Philosophical question: who is the God or Goddess of modern technologie? Whose name do I use in curse or plea when my computer freezes up? When my phone gets updated and it turns out the devolopers are entirely out of touch with what I need my phone to do and instead stuff it with bloatware and useless 'features'? Who do I pray to when my laptop boots up for the last time, then never fires up again?

I would be especially interested to hear the answer to the latter today, as that is exactly what has happened. While we're at it, who do I pray to to get the delivery person to hurry up with its replacement?

I'm typing this on my mobile phone and let me tell you: Blogger does not like mobile phones. I'll have something good for you tomorrow, when the delivery person has visited my house and I have prayed for patience and guidance to the screen lit God or Goddess of technology, by whose bright radiance I literally eat or starve (without my technology, I wouldn't be able to do my work, after all), during the setup of the newest addition to the ever-growing technological arsenal I'm building in my home.

Thank you for your patience while I suffer!
They called it 'Operation Pandora', a joined operation by police authorities from 18 European Union member states, UNESCO, the World Customs Organization, Europol and Interpol aimed at dismantling an international network of art traffickers. And it succeeded.


Operation Pandora began in October and ended in December. Its aim was to crack down on trafficking in Europe of antiquities from the Syria and Iraq war zones, as well as works stolen from museums and other sites.

In the southern Spanish city of Murcia, the police recovered about 500 archaeological pieces, including 19 stolen from the city’s archaeological museum in 2014. In Greece, the authorities recovered part of an Ottoman tombstone, Byzantine objects and an image of St. George dating to the 18th century. The Spanish police also released a photograph of ancient coins, some of which were recovered by tracing online sales. The Spanish authorities, however, did not provide a detailed inventory of the recovered objects, and would not confirm where the arrests were made.

A spokesman for Spain’s Interior Ministry said the investigation was disclosed this weekend only after it was completed, even though the arrests occurred earlier. According to Europol data, 3,561 ancient objects were confiscated and 75 people were arrested. A total of 29,340 vehicles and 50 ships were searched. Over 500 objects were found in Murcia, Spain, stolen from the city museum. Altogether, the statement said, more than 48,000 people were investigated. Lauren Frayer reported for NPR from Madrid:

"Spanish police say the suspects are members of criminal gang that trafficked stolen art and archaeological relics. They have been under investigation for months, by law enforcement from 18 countries, led by Spain and Cyprus. Altogether, police say they have recovered about 3,500 pieces of stolen art — including Byzantine relics and an Ottoman tombstone in Greece. Among those found in Spain were 19 artifacts stolen from an archaeology museum three years ago. Police have not issued a complete inventory, but said most of the artifacts were taken from countries at war."

UNESCO said authorities in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Bosnia- Herzegovina, Cyprus, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland and the U.K. all participated in the investigation.
Face it, we all know the names, spheres of ifluence and family lines of the major Hellenic Gods, but there are many full or half Gods and Goddesses we know by name only, if that. I'd like to list some of the many, many, many minor divinities within our pantheon today as a reminder of the wealth of immortal beings watching over our world and our very lives. Today, those whose names start with an I through those who start with Z. Note: I am leaving out divinities bound to landmarks like hills and rivers for now, but it's safe to assume all major rivers, mountais and the like have divine guardians. For the minor deiries from A through H, go here.


Ikhnaea (Ιχναία): tracking
Ioke (Ἰωκή): battles
Iynx (Ιύνξ): love charms
Kakia (Kακία): bad habits and bad morals
Kalokagathia (Καλοκαγαθία): nobility
Kaeros (Καιρός): opportunity
Keraon (Κεραων): of mixing wine
Keto (Κῆτώ): dangers of the ocean and of sea monsters
Khloris (Χλωρίς): flowers
Khrysos (Χρύσος): gold
Koalemos (Κοάλεμος): stupidity
Komos (Κόμος): celebrating and partying
Koros (Κόρος): over-indulgence
Korymbus (Κόρυμβος): of the fruit of the ivy
Kratos (Κράτος): strength and power
Kydoimos (Κυδοιμός): confusion and the noise of battle
Leukothea (Λευκοθέα): helps sailors in trouble
Limos (Λιμός): hunger and starvation
The Litae (Λιταί): prayer
Lyssa (Λύσσα): rage
The Machai (Μάχαι): fighting and combat
Mania (Μανία): of spirits of insanity
Matton (Μάττων): kneading dough
Momus (Μῶμος): mockery, blame and criticism
Moros (Μόρος): doom
The Neikea (τὰ Νείκη): feuds and arguments
Nereus (Νηρέας): fish
Nomos (Νόμος): law
Oizys (Ὀϊζύς): sadness
Palaestra (Παλαίστρα): wrestling
Palioxis (Παλίωξις): retreat from battle
Peitharchia (Πειθαρχία): obeying
Peitho (Πειθώ): persuasion and seduction
Penia (Πενία): poverty and need
Penthus (Πένθος): mourning
Pepromene (Πεπρωμένη): fate of the universe
Pheme (Φήμη): rumours and gossip
Philomelos (Φιλόμελος): agriculture; wagon and the plough
Philophrosyne (Φιλοφροσύνη): kindness
Philotes (Φιλότης): friendship, affection and sex
Phobos (Φόβος): panic and fear
The Phonoi (Φόνοι): murder and killing
Phorkys (Φόρκυς): hidden dangers of the sea
Phrike (Φρίκη): horror
Phthonus (Φθόνος): envy and jealousy
Pistis (Πίστις): trust
Poine (Ποίνη): punishment and penalty for the crime of murder
Polemos (Πόλεμος): war
Ponos (Πόνος): hard labour
Poros (Πόρος): being able to accomplish something
Pontos (Πόντος): the sea itself, father of fish and other sea creatures
Praxidike (Πραξιδίκη): getting justice
Proioxis (Προίωξις): pursuit on the battlefield
Prophasis (Πρόφασις): excuses
Psamathe (Πσαμάθη): sandy beaches
Tekhne (Τέχνη): art and skill
Tethys (Τηθύς): rivers, fountains and clouds
Thanatos (Θάνατος): death and mortality
Thaumas (Θαῦμας): wonders of the sea
Thoosa (Θόοσα): strong currents
Thrasos (Θράσος): boldness
Tyche (Τύχη): luck, chance and fate
Zelos (Ζῆλος): rivalry, devotion, emulation and envy
Face it, we all know the names, spheres of ifluence and family lines of the major Hellenic Gods, but there are many full or half Gods and Goddesses we know by name only, if that. I'd like to list some of the many, many, many minor divinities within our pantheon today as a reminder of the wealth of immortal beings watching over our world and our very lives. Today, those whose names start with an A through those who start with H. Note: I am leaving out divinities bound to landmarks like hills and rivers for now, but it's safe to assume all major rivers, mountais and the like have divine guardians.


Aegaeon (Αιγαίων): god of sea storms
Adephagia (Ἀδηφαγία): greed
Adikia (Ἀδικία): injustice and doing the wrong thing
Adonis (Άδωνις): life, death and rebirth
Aergia (Ἀεργία): laziness
Agdistis (Ἄγδιστις): nature; has both male and female sexual organs
Agon (Ἀγών): contest
Aidos (Αἰδώς): modesty and respect
Aisa (Αἴσα): fate
Akhelois (Ἀχελωΐς): moon
Akhlys (Ἀχλύς): misery and sadness; or the never-ending night
Akhos (Ἄχος), trouble or distress (one of the Algea (Ἄλγεα))
Akratopotes (Ἀκρατοπότης): of unmixed wine and the lack of self-control
Alala (Ἀλαλά): of the war cry
Alastor (Ἀλάστωρ): blood feuds and vengeance
Alektrona (Αλεκτρονα): the dawn or waking up
Aletheia (Ἀλήθεια): truth
Alke (Ἀλκή): ability and courage
Amekhania (Ἀμηχανία): helplessness
The Amphilogiai (Ἀμφιλογίαι): disputes and debates
Anaideia (Ἀναίδεια): ruthlessness and unforgiving (one of the Amphilogiai (Ἀμφιλογίαι))
The Androktasiai (Ἀνδροκτασίαι): of killing in the battles
Angelia (Ἀγγελία): messages and announcements
Amphiktyonis (Αμφικτυονίς): wine and friendship between nations
Ania (Ἀνία): ache or anguish (one of the Algea (Ἄλγεα))
Apate (Ἀπάτη): deceit
Aphaea (Αφαία): agriculture and fertility
Apheleia (Ἀφέλεια): simplicity
Aporia (Ἀπορία): difficulty
The Arae (Ἀραί): curses
Arete (Ἀρετή): virtue and goodness
Aristaeus (Ἀρισταῖος): bee-keeping, cheesemaking, herding, growing olives, and hunting
Arke (Άρκη): messenger of the Titans; twin sister of Iris
Astraea (Αστραία): justice
Atë (Ἄτη): mischief, delusion, and ruin
Attis (Άττις): vegetation, fruits of the earth and rebirth; consort of Cybele
Aura (Αὖρα): of the breeze and the air of early morning
Bia (Βία): force, power and strength
Britomartis (Βριτόμαρτις): hunting and fishing nets
Brizo (Βριζώ): sailors and prophetic dreams
Deimos (Δεῖμος): fear
Deipneus (Δειπνεύς): breadmaking
Dikaiosyne (Δικαιοσύνη): justice
Dolos (Δόλος): tricks and deception
Dysnomia (Δυσνομία): anarchy and lawlessness
Dyssebeia (Δυσσέβεια): disrespecting the gods
Eileithyia (Εἰλείθυια): childbirth
Eirene (Εἰρήνη): peace
Eiresione (Ειρεσιώνη): of the olive branch
Ekecheiria (Ἐκεχειρία): truce, and stopping fights; honoured at the Olympic Games
Eleos (Ἔλεος): mercy, pity, and compassion
Elpis (Ἐλπίς): hope
Enyalius (Ενυάλιος): war
Enyo (Ἐνυώ): destructive war
Epione (Ἠπιόνη): stopping of pain
Epiphron (Ἐπίφρων): careful thought
Eunostus (Εύνοστος): of the flour mill
Eukleia (Εὔκλεια):glory
Eulabeia (Εὐλάβεια): discretion and caution
Eunomia (Εὐνομία): good law and order
Eupheme (Εὐφήμη): praise, applause, and shouts of triumph
Eupraxia (Eὐπραξία): well-being
Eusebeia (Eὐσέβεια): loyalty, duty and respect
Euthenia (Εὐθενία): wealth
Gelos (Γέλως): laughter
Geras (Γῆρας): old age
Glaucus (Γλαῦκος): fishermen and sailors
Harmonia (Ἁρμονία): harmony
Harpocrates (Ἁρποκράτης): silence
Hebe (Ήβη): youth
Hedone (Ἡδονή): pleasure and fun
Hedylogos (Ἡδύλογος): flattery and flirting
Heimarmene (Εἵμαρμένη): of the fate of the universe
Hekaterus (Ηεκατερος): of the hekateris, a dance involving moving the hands quickly
Himeros (Ἵμερος): sexual desire
Homados (Ὅμαδος): of the noise of battle
Homonoia (Ὁμόνοια): agreements
Horkos (Ὅρκος): oaths
Horme (Ὁρμή): energetic activity, impulse or effort
Hybris (Ὕβρις): sadistic behaviour
Hydros (Ὑδρος): of waters
Hymenaios (Ὑμέναιος): marriage and marriage feasts
The Hysminai (Ὑσμῖναι): fighting and combat
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.
Every few months, about three quarters of a year, the press seems to cycle back to a single subject when it comes to ancient Hellas: homosexuality. Most glorify (or condemn) the ancient Hellenes for their support of it. Some--in my opinion, better informed--messages nuance the statement some by saying that, despite the artistic examples of it,there were laws against it as well. The problem is in the terminology.

Homosexuality is defined as: 'of, relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward another of the same sex', or 'of, relating to, or involving sexual activity between persons of the same sex'.

The first definition is subjective; we can't objectively know if there was genuine attraction. There certainly was appreciation for the naked form in ancient Hellas, but did that translate to attraction? The ancient Hellens were very proud of their bodies. Both men and women worked hard to retain or attain beauty. The men were warriors and athletes, women could be athletes as well. Both had the highest beauty ideals one could ever look to live up to: the Theoi themselves. There were very strict social rules about what was considered proper and improper when it came to nudity--very strict rules that dictated when nudity was permitted and where. The social rules concerning displays of the body depended on the intent of the nudity: either natural or erotic. Erotic nudity had no function in public, and was heavily frowned upon. Natural nakedness went accepted.

The second definition: we know from literary works as well as art at least men engaged in sexual activity with each other. Even if these pottery cases represent a minute percentage of the thousands of ancient Hellenic items found, there is no denying sex between men and men (and potentially women and oher women) happened. So yes, by this definition there was homosexuality. Now, here is the crux: for me personally, homosexuality is about more than the physical act of sex with someone of the same gender. What defines homosexuality for me is having a meaningful relationship with them in line with a heterosexual relationship. And that, in ancient Hellas, was very much frowned upon.

All three of the greatest Hellenic philosophers, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, regarded homosexual conduct intrinsically immoral. Plato went so far as to deny that homosexual behavior occured in nature and thus considered the practice of men (very few of the ancient philosophers every considered or wrte about women) as especially unnatural. He actively criticised any man who looked at the male form not just as something aesthetically pleasing but sexually arousing. These believes were founded upon the following three theses:

- the commitment of a man and a woman to each other in the sexual union of marriage is intrinsically good and reasonable, and is incompatible with sexual relations outside of marriage
- homosexual acts are radically and peculiarly non-martial, and for that reason intrinsically unreasonable and unnatural.
- homosexual acts have a special similarity to solitary masturbation, and both types of radically non-martial act are manifestly unworthy of the human being and immoral

Hellenic society revolved around the household, and the household was founded upon the husband and wife. The ancient Hellenes knew of no other household foundation as this combination alone produced children. As many children died of illness, accidents and war and the continuation of the family line was one of the--if not the--most important desire and responsibility of every citizen. This was also why adultery was frowned upon so greatly: birth control was available in ancient Hellas, but rarely applied. To bring an illegitimate child into the household was a terrible offense, and one for which the male was blamed. that said, a man could only commit legally punishable adultery if he had sex with a married woman, and even then she had to be a citizen for the full punishment to be enacted upon them--often death. Husbands were free to find pleasure with any woman who was not married. As such, prostitution (with women, male prostitution was actually punishable by death) was common and men tended to have concubines. Some even lived at the house. Plato, Socrates and Aristotle were against this practice, too.

Now, the ancient Hellenes seemed to have viewed all social interactions (so male-male, female-female and even male-female interactions) not only through a gender filter but also through a power filter. Male citizens had more power than slaves, for example, and female citizens had more power than male slaves, even though women were bound by other social structures than any man was. Older men had more power than younger men and the same held true for women. Married people even had more power than unmarried people. Gender was, if you will, merely a factor in the equation of who had more power during the exchange.

The one with more power was the active party and he (or she) was to be obeyed. When it came to the law, this partner was punished less severely for a crime both partook of (like adultery)--the complete opposite of how we'd view it today. The passive party was usually younger, a slave or a woman. This power equation also dictated sexual relations. The ancient Hellenes viewed male-female relationships not solely as defined by gender that but as a relationship of active vs passive and applied that theorum to male-male (and most likely female-female) relationships as well. One partner was always the clear submissive and became, through that, the 'female' while the other always assumed the active role and through that became the 'male'. They equated any relationship that applied these roles and rejected (heavily!) any that did not. And they did not consider these relationships true relationships in a marriage sense because, as I said above, a household could not be formed around it as the union could not provide children--which was the main function of a marriage.

So if that was the case, what's with all the artwork of men giving each other gifts and having sexual intercourse? They portray a very specific type of relationship known as pederasty. Pederasty was a socially acknowledged but illegal erotic relationship between an adult male and a younger male usually in his teens, which was practiced mostly in the Archaic and Classical ages of Hellenic history. Due to the age difference and the societal function the practice served, this type of relationship was accepted and not considered homosexual. The younger partner was always the passive party and performed to role of 'woman' in the exchange, thus making it a heterosexual relationship between two men (as contradictory as that may sound).

In ancient Hellas, what mattered was the role you played in bed. The males, especially when older or higher up in the hierarchy, were supposed to be the dominant ones, the active ones, while the women, the young and those lower in the hierarchy, the passive ones. Because of the age difference and the difference in social standing, the young male assuming a passive role was permitted in pederasty, but a grown man assuming that role was a social and sexual taboo. A wife who took charge in the bedroom would have been frowned upon as well. Especially within the marriage, sex served to make babies, nothing more. Prostitutes and concubines were still supposed to assume a passive, female, role, even if they were male. Prostitutes were lower in power than citizen women, though, and they performed the lowliest and most frowned upon of sexual acts--like fellatio--that even wives were not allowed (or required) to perform. For a husband to force his wife to perform these acts would have been considered extremely shameful upon the husband.

So, to conclude this very long and complicated post: yes, men had sex with men. In that way homosexuality existed. But there were strict social and even legal rules against it and it was only barely condoned--and only under very specific circumstances. It was not an accepted practice at all. Sadly, I suppose, but not surprisingly: even today homosexuality is only barely accepted socially, let alone legally.
Many impressive finds came to light in 2016 on Kythnos, at the site 'Vryokastro', where the ancient capital of the island is located. The investigations focused on two public buildings (sanctuaries) of Classical-Hellenistic times at the Middle Plateau of the Upper City. One of them was a cult of Asklepios.


The excavations in the ancient city of Kythnos were conducted last summer by the Department of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology of the University of Thessaly, with the collaboration of the Ephorate of Cyclades. A team of speleologists of the Hellenic Speleological & Exploration Club worked voluntarily in the investigation of the cistern.

They were headed by Professor Alexandros Mazarakis Ainian. Under his guidance, Building 1 was identified as an asklepieion, a temple of Askepios and the focal point of healing for the site. The cult use of Building 1 (measuring 17.4 × 11.5 meters) was confirmed by the presence of a shrine on the east, as well as by the movable finds discovered. Among other artefacts, archaeologists found fragments of clay figurines and a small marble head of Asklepios, within the northern portico, pictured above.

The investigation of the interior of the adjacent cistern brought to light many broken small marble sculptures of children of Hellenistic-Roman times, and an inscribed small column, an offering from a woman named Kallisto to Asklepios (1st-2nd AD). Elsewhere on the site, a fragment of a marble statue, which was attributed to the sculptor Damophon, from Messene.

The cult of Asklepios on Kythnos was already known from a votive relief of the second half of the 4th c. BC coming from the island, which is kept in the National Archaeological Musum and depicts the reception of Asklepios by a local hero.

Human presence in the area is dated from the Geometric or Early Archaic times. Building 1 must have been built during the Late Classical times (4th c. BC), but it was mainly used in the Hellenistic period.

"The presence of many Roman lamps from upper layers reveals that the building continued to be in use during these times. An inscribed base of a honorary stele of the Demos of Kythnians, dating back to the second half of the 2nd c. BC or the beginning of the 1st c. BC, was found in second use in the southern portico."

The use of Building 2 remains unknown, despite of the various interesting finds. As archaeologists report, in the interior of the building, where the investigations have not been completed yet.

“[...] pottery was found, mainly of Classical and Hellenistic times, trade amphorae (many with stamped handles), lead objects, clay female figurines, bronze pins and nails etc.”

The sanctuaries were built on the edge of the ridge, connected to the harbor by a staircase carved in the rock. In fact, it seems that the visibility of these buildings from the sea played an important role in the architectural design of the sanctuaries. Hellenistic inscriptions were previously found near the sanctuaries: 'Samothrakion Theon', meaning 'of the Gods of Samothrace'.

“The association of the inscription with the southernmost chamber of Building 1 is just an assumption, while the association of the cult of Aphrodite with Building 2 [as previously believed]doesn’t seem convincing any more. We hope that the continuation of the excavations will clarify these questions."

Please see here for many more images of the site and the remnants of the sanctuaries.
I have a new addiction: MUJO. MUJO, and it's (for now, hopefully!) Apple-only cousin OLYM are puzzle games in line with other 'collect three'-games but infinitely more interesting and complicated. Oh, and did I mention the Hellenic gods and heroes are your allies in the battle against ancient Hellenic monsters like the cyclops or gorgon?


the basic set-up of the game is fairly simple: connect three or more squares of the same kind to reap the benefits of them. Pressing down on the combination will combine them into a more valuabel tile, to be combined with two or more others to be either reaped or combined again. The red swaures with the swords bring down the health of the enemy, the rest of the tiles raise the enemy's health back up to its original level but also act as experience points for your three allies--who consist of gods and heroes reaped from collecting the orange chests (which can be combined into silver and gold chests for rarer and more powerful allies before reaping).

All your allies have different skills and advantages as well as a special power, which is wuate in tune with lore. Dionysos will randomly explode piecs on the boar, Demeter will shuffle the stones as if she were arranging the earth, Hermes raises the value of every square, etc.

As for the enemies: that's where the fun (and frustration) is. In the beginning, they are eaasy to beat but they soon get huge amounts of health and the only way to destroy them is to combine more and more red sword tiles to get higher and higher numbers. And you can't just grind them down a few points at a time either--bosses especially regenerate health with every combination you make that's not a red sword tile. So you've knocked off 5000 health from a 13.000 hitpoint monster, bringing it down to 8000 health. you make a few combinations of light green, dark green ot yellow stones and it's health is well over 10.000 again. Your best shot? Combining red tiles until you get to 13.000. Easy? Definitely not! Doable? Absolutely!

There is a huge amount of strategy required for this game, which is why I feel the ancient Hellenic theme is perfect. Had the ancient philosophers had access to this game, they would have had all their students slave away at it, racking their brains on how to possibly get these tiles combined in these levels that do not reset.

If you are stuck on a level, you only have one choice (and while that's frustrating, it's aslo the best part, brain training speaking): grind. There are bombs in the game you can blow up. Achievements and daily logins get you lightningbolds that activate the special powers of your allies or allow you to remove a single square. Lightningbolds also open chests that will provide you with new allies or upgrads for them in the form of swords, shields and staffs. You can't start over on a level, or if you can, I haven't discovered how. you just have to puzzle until you get the required damage collected. It's a true test of skill, patience and determination.

MUJO can be downloaded here for both iPhone and Android and OLYM can be downloaded here for iPhone alone.
A little background piece today, as posted on the Archaeological News Network. Archaeologists from around the world converged on the University of Glasgow for the three-day BANEA 2017 conference (January 4-6) to discuss the international response to preserve and protect cultural heritage and historical sites in the Middle East and to present the newest research results.

With several key archaeological sites in Syria and Iraq currently under threat, or having already suffered from the effects of war, a central concern for archaeologists internationally is how to monitor vulnerable sites and to protect them from further damage and looting. Dr. Claudia Glatz, a senior lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Glasgow, who organised the international conference, has worked extensively on a project in the North East of Iraq. She co-directs the Sirwan Regional Project with Professor Jesse Casana, of Dartmouth College, USA, and works in collaboration with the local Kurdish Directorate of Antiquities based at Kalar.

The Sirwan Regional Project has identified over 600 likely archaeological sites to date using satellite imagery and investigated around 200 more intensively on the ground. The sites range in date from the earliest farming communities (Neolithic) to the modern period. Dr. Glatz and Professor Casana are currently excavating a Late Bronze Age (Kassite-period, c. 1450-1150 BC) monumental complex at the site of Khani Masi, located to the south of the modern town of Kalar. Dr. Glatz explains.

“The Kurdish region of Iraq was largely inaccessible to international archaeological research during the Saddam era, although our Iraqi colleagues had been conducting surveys and excavations in that period. There is evidence of looting on some of the sites we work on but it is minor compared to what is going on in Syria and other parts of Iraq. Some of those very important sites such as Dura-Europos and Hatra have seen systematic looting and destruction, which results in characteristic pock-marking of sites with one looting hole next to another. That is organised looting which goes far beyond a few villagers. Monitoring of looting such as that by my colleague, Casana, seems to show that such systematic digging is often related to the military moving into an area, so they are either turning a blind eye to it or they are actively involved.”

But there are also other pressures apart from war and conflict, which are facing the more stable areas of the Middle East, as Dr Glatz explains: “At the moment the biggest danger to archaeological heritage in the North East Iraq region that we are working in is economic development, construction work and the clearing of archaeological sites to create more agricultural land. These are the main issues at our sites for heritage protection.

“As archaeologists we are trying to safeguard as much as we can the historical, archaeological and cultural heritage of the region. There are a number of international projects monitoring looting and destruction using modern technologies such as satellite imagery. Other projects rely on social media analysis and local informants to understand what is being destroyed.”
 
Other projects monitor the international antiquities market. By contributing to the preservation of the region’s cultural heritage, archaeologists are helping to safeguard local communities’ post-war futures: their cultural identities and economic recovery, especially through the tourism that important historical sites and museums will be able to attract.
We are very proud to announce that The Malala Fund has become Pandora's Kharis' Gamelion 2016 cause.



Malala Fund wants to see a world where every girl can complete 12 years of safe, quality education. They advocate—at local, national and international levels—for resources and policy changes needed to ensure all girls complete 12 years of school. They invest in developing country education leaders and organisations — the people who best understand girls in their communities—in regions where most girls miss out on secondary education. They amplify girls’ voices. Malala Fund believes adolescent girls should speak for themselves and tell leaders what resources they need to learn and achieve their potential.

Malala was born on 12 July 1997 in Mingora, a town in the Swat District of north-west Pakistan, the country which has the second highest number of out of school children in the world. Like her father, she became an outspoken opponent of Taliban efforts to restrict education and stop girls from going to school.

She is best known for the Taliban attack on her life. On 9 October 2012, as Malala and her friends were travelling home from school, a masked gunman entered their school bus and asked for Malala by name. She was shot with a single bullet which went through her head, neck and shoulder. Malala survived the initial attack, but was in a critical condition. The Taliban's attempt to kill Malala received worldwide condemnation and led to protests across Pakistan.

In the weeks after the attack, over 2 million people signed a right to education petition, and the National Assembly swiftly ratified Pakistan's first Right To Free and Compulsory Education Bill.
Malala became a global advocate for the millions of girls being denied a formal education because of social, economic, legal and political factors. In 2013, Malala and Ziauddin co-founded the Malala Fund to bring awareness to the social and economic impact of girls' education and to empower girls to raise their voices, to unlock their potential and to demand change.

The deadline to donate is January 28th, 2017. You can do so by using the PayPal option to the side of the Pandora's Kharis website or by donating directly to baring.the.aegis@gmail.com. Thank you in advance!
Okay, so yesterday I comlained a little. Not good. I'll make it up to you today: winter wonderland pictures of the ancient Hellenic temples and monuments. Now ain't that petty?


The Parthenon, Athens
 
Temple of Hephaistos Thissio, Athens
 
Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens
 
Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens
 
Ancient Theater of Epidaurus
 
Temple of Apollon, Corinth 
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with wintertime. I love the lights in and around houses that can be seen from the late afternoon onwards, but I miss the sun. I like the sight of snow but in The
Netherlands, winter mostly means rain and dreary weather. It's gloomy. By this time of year, I long for the light again--natural light. And the cold tends to keep me indoors--and I really dislike being indoors. I'm an outside person and spent many, many hours outside whenever I can. The short trips to the shop are not satisfying me.

I am not the only one who dislikes wintertime: Hesiod also disliked it greatly. He mentions the wickedness of wintertime in Works and Days. Works and Days (Erga kaí Hemérai, Ἔργα καὶ Ἡμέραι) is a didactic poem written by the very early ancient Hellenic poet Hesiod. It was probably written around 700 BCE or earlier and is the first example we have of Hellenic didactic poetry (poetry that emphasizes instructional and informative qualities). It embodies the experiences of his daily life and work, forming a sort of shepherd's calendar, interwoven with episodes of myth, allegory, advice and personal history. It may have been written against a background of an agrarian crisis in mainland Hellas, which inspired a wave of documented colonizations in search of new land. Works and Days is a very soothing piece of writing for me. It describes the day to day; it looks in, not out. This is what he says on winter:

"Avoid the month Lenaeon, wretched days, all of them fit to skin an ox, and the frosts which are cruel when Boreas blows over the earth. He blows across horse-breeding Thrace upon the wide sea and stirs it up, while earth and the forest howl. On many a high-leafed oak and thick pine he falls and brings them to the bounteous earth in mountain glens: then all the immense wood roars and the beasts shudder and put their tails between their legs, even those whose hide is covered with fur; for with his bitter blast he blows even through them although they are shaggy-breasted. He goes even through an ox's hide; it does not stop him. Also he blows through the goat's fine hair. But through the fleeces of sheep, because their wool is abundant, the keen wind Boreas pierces not at all; but it makes the old man curved as a wheel.
 
And it does not blow through the tender maiden who stays indoors with her dear mother, unlearned as yet in the works of golden Aphrodite, and who washes her soft body and anoints herself with oil and lies down in an inner room within the house, on a winter's day when the Boneless One (22) gnaws his foot in his fireless house and wretched home; for the sun shows him no pastures to make for, but goes to and fro over the land and city of dusky men, and shines more sluggishly upon the whole race of the Hellenes. Then the horned and unhorned denizens of the wood, with teeth chattering pitifully, flee through the copses and glades, and all, as they seek shelter, have this one care, to gain thick coverts or some hollow rock. Then, like the Three-legged One (24) whose back is broken and whose head looks down upon the ground, like him, I say, they wander to escape the white snow.
 
Then put on, as I bid you, a soft coat and a tunic to the feet to shield your body, -- and you should weave thick woof on thin warp. In this clothe yourself so that your hair may keep still and not bristle and stand upon end all over your body.

Lace on your feet close-fitting boots of the hide of a slaughtered ox, thickly lined with felt inside. And when the season of frost comes on, stitch together skins of firstling kids with ox-sinew, to put over your back and to keep off the rain. On your head above wear a shaped cap of felt to keep your ears from getting wet, for the dawn is chill when Boreas has once made his onslaught, and at dawn a fruitful mist is spread over the earth from starry heaven upon the fields of blessed men: it is drawn from the ever flowing rivers and is raised high above the earth by windstorm, and sometimes it turns to rain towards evening, and sometimes to wind when Thracian Boreas huddles the thick clouds.

Finish your work and return home ahead of him, and do not let the dark cloud from heaven wrap round you and make your body clammy and soak your clothes. Avoid it; for this is the hardest month, wintry, hard for sheep and hard for men. In this season let your oxen have half their usual food, but let your man have more; for the helpful nights are long. Observe all this until the year is ended and you have nights and days of equal length, and Earth, the mother of all, bears again her various fruit.
When Zeus has finished sixty wintry days after the solstice, then the star Arcturus leaves the holy stream of Ocean and first rises brilliant at dusk. After him the shrilly wailing daughter of Pandion, the swallow, appears to men when spring is just beginning." [ll. 504 - 570]
 
I look greatly forward to that spring, but will wait patiently for it. I'll enjoy the warmth of my home and the coziness of the lights. I'll wrap myself in warm blankets, in warm jackets and thick scarves. I'll enjoy the outside world when I can. And when the spring comes, I'll thank Demeter and Kore for Their return. Stay warm, everyone!
On the first day of the Lênaia (Λήναια), Elaion is hosting a PAT ritual for it. This three-day festival honours Dionysos and has a multitude of links to the Lesser Dionysia. In fact, it's been described as an urban version of the Lesser Dionysia, but without the grander of the greater Dionysia. Will you join us at 10 am EST on 11 January?


The Lênaia is held--roughly--at the coldest time of year in Hellas. It's dedicated to Dionysos Lênaios (Ληναιος, of the wine press), and is almost undoubtedly a fertility festival, which was celebrated to encourage the earth to thaw and soften, and become ready for sowing. It is said that the Lênaia celebrates the birth of Dionysos--or at least the version of His birth from Zeus's thigh, but this is most definitely not a supported theory by the whole of the scholastic community. This festival is tied to Dionysos' role as Year-Daímōn in which He was conceived at Agrai, located on the banks of the Ilissus River on the Hellenic peninsula near Athens. The word 'Agrai', pertains to both the place name and the rites of Dionysos held there--most commonly referred to as the 'lesser Mysteries' (20-26 Anthesterion). Another reason for the name of the festival might be the female revelers that often partook of Dionysos' worship and were named Maenads, or Lenai.

The Lênaia starts at the twelfth and ends either on the fourteenth or fifteenth of the month. At Elaion, we feel it ends at dusk on the fifteenth, as that would make up the full three days attested to (from dusk on the twelfth, to dusk on the fifteenth).

The Lênaia was an ancient, local, mostly Athenian, festival, although it was locally celebrated elswhere as well. In Athens, no one from another city could attend. This was partly an inevitability, seeing as the seas at this time were the most dangerous of the year. It's documented that the Lenaion--most likely a theatre outside of the city or a section of the Agora--was the stage for the Lênaia, and might have been the earliest shrine of Dionysos at Athens. Eventually, the Theatre of Dionysos was built, and the Greater Dionysia became the main festival for the performance of drama, but tragedies and comedies were also put on during the Lênaia. In fact, they were the main event.

At the public level this was primarily a theatrical and civic affair, and the city invoked the god Dionysos in his role as bringer of wealth and the blessings of civilization. The festival might have started with a procession from the wilds outside of Athens, into the civilization of Athens itself. During the procession, the Daidukhos (Torch-bearer) yelled, “Invoke the God!” and the celebrants responded, "Son of Semele, Iakkhos, Giver of Wealth!”. (Parke, Festivals of the Athenians, p 104–4) This procession might have played out (parts of) the early myths surrounding Dionysos, where He and his revelers came to His cousin Pentheus, but were imprisoned. Dionysos broke Himself and His revelers out, and tried to explain His worship to His cousin. Yet, Pentheus would not listen, so Dionysos left him to his anger. He took His followers--including many local women, including Pentheus' mother and sister--to the hills. When Pentheus pursued Him, He drove the women mad. To them Pentheus appeared to be a moutain lion. In a berserk rage, they attacked him, and his mother--who was first to reach him--ripped his head off, while the others tore off his limbs.

At midnight on at least one of the days, revellers took to an all-night ecstatic dance, dressed up and bearing various musical instruments (the thyrsus, castanets, tambourines and flutes, primarily). They danced in front of a representation of Dionysos, usually a simple post, dressed in a man’s tunic, with garlanded branches like upraised arms, and with a bearded mask of Dionysos. It's this bear that often discourages scholars from interpreting the Lênaia as a festival to celebrate Dionysos' birth. Wine was a large part of the dance and stood on a table in front of the idol; generally, this wine was the last of the old.

There were massive parades through the streets during the days, which were led by the Archōn Basileus and the officials who oversaw the sacred ceremonies of the Eleusinian mysteries. There were speeches by political figures, awards were given to outstanding citizens, veterans and their families, and business was discussed in the open, and with gusto. Tragedies and comedies were performed, but comedies were the main focus. While the plays were wonderful, many people looked forward to the household part of the festival more, though, as it was encouraged to get at least somewhat tipsy and ward off the cold in bed with your partner.

It's interesting to note that during the midwinter celebrations of Dionysos, a group of revelers roamed Mount Parnassos at Delphi (we mostly know this from an account where they had to be rescued off of the mountain when a blizzard struck), and it is attested that every second year, the Delphic women were joined by women from Athens. The Lênaia might have been the main Dionysian festival for these Athenian women.

You can join the community for the event here, and download the ritual here. We look forward to have you participate!
I've been working a little too hard. Maybe a lot too hard. I've been spending too much time juggling too many projects. I'm always quite busy with projects but with the holidays and all manner of special events, well, let's just say I look forward to the long busy days where I at least get to relax a little in the evening.

I believe in determination, in sticking with the grind until it ends, in drawing strength from times of hardship and strain. I believe in mind over matter, as the saying goes. And alongside that mental strength, I believe in exercise and the development of the body to support the riggors the mind goes through.

I'm not alone in that. Socrates is said to work his body hard and in turn, it sharpened his mind. Perhaps the most famous of statements about that practice comes from the latin text of Aulus Gellius entitled 'Noctes Atticae', or Attic Nights. Aulus Gelliu was a Latin author and grammarian, who lived from 125 - 180 AD. He was educated in Athens, after which he returned to Rome, where he held a judicial office. Attic Nights is his most famous work. It was a compilation of notes on grammar, philosophy, history, antiquarianism, and other subjects, preserving fragments of many authors and works who otherwise might be unknown today. He wrote on Socrates:

"Among voluntary tasks and exercises for strengthening his body for any chance demands upon its endurance we are told that Socrates habitually practised this one: he would stand, so the story goes, in one fixed position, all day and all night, from early dawn until the next sunrise, open-eyed, motionless, in his very tracks and with face and eyes riveted to the same spot in deep meditation, as if his mind and soul had been, as it were, withdrawn from his body. When Favorinus in his discussion of the man's fortitude and his many other virtues had reached this point, he said: "He often stood from sun to sun, more rigid than the tree trunks."

His temperance also is said to have been so great, that he lived almost the whole period of his life with health unimpaired. Even amid the havoc of that plague which, at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war, devastated Athens with a deadly species of disease, by temperate and abstemious habits he is said to have avoided the ill-effects of indulgence and retained his physical vigour so completely, that he was not at all affected by the calamity common to all." [Bk II, I.I]
With the 200th anniversary of the removal of the Parthenon Marbles from Athens by Lord Elgin the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) initiated a collection of signatures in Cyprus, calling for their return to Greece.


In a statement, CNA Chairman Larkos Larcou said the initiative undertaken by the CNA aims to ensure the issue of the marbles remains in the global news on the occasion of exactly two centuries from their unlawful removal from the historic monument of the ancient Acropolis of Athens.

“It is important that many people use all ways at their disposal until the day of their return.”

Keeping this in mind, the campaign seeks to involve others who can contribute in their own ways. Deputy head of the CNA Giorgos Penintaex explained:

“CNA will take over the handling of the declaration which has been prepared on the subject, and collect signatures from government and state officials, the church leadership, ministers, MPs, party leaders, celebrities and heads of organized groups across the range of political, economic and social life of the country.”

The CNA as a journalistic organization will interview prominent figures related to the topic and will display relevant audio-visual material, Penintaex added. The declaration calls on the return of the Parthenon sculptures to their natural and historic environment as they are an integral part of the ancient temple. According to the CNA statement, they were stolen by Lord Elgin, illegally transported to the UK and remain in the British Museum despite many efforts to lobby for their return.

The collection of stone objects – sculptures, inscriptions and architectural features – were taken by Lord Elgin from the Parthenon in Athens between 1801 and 1805, during his time as ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, of which Athens was a part. According to the British Museum, Elgin did not steal them, but took them with the knowledge and permission of the Ottoman authorities. Being passionate about ancient Greek art, he transported the sculptures to Britain by sea.

For 2017 a series of events is planned, among them lectures, presentations to targeted audiences and an international conference.
Two more sacrifices took place at the start of Gamelion: a sacrifice to and a sacrifice to Athena. will you join us for these on January 7 and January 8, at the usual 10 am EST?

The sacrifice to Apollon Apotropaios, Nymphegetes and the Nymphs
On Saturday 7 January, 10 am EST, we honour Apollon in His epithets of Apotropaios and Nymphegetes as well as His consorts, the Nymphs. This ancient sacrifice was held at Arkhia on Gamelion 8 and we invite you to join us.


Apollon Apotropaios (Ἀποτρόπαιοs) was and is the averter of evil. Rituals dedicated to the deity were apotropaic, intended to turn away harm or evil influences, as in deflecting misfortune. This could be anything from warding off a plague to keeping mice out of the grain storage.

Apollon Nymphegetes (Νυμφηγέτης) is 'Apollon who looks after nymphs', or 'Apollo who leads nymphs'. In this epithet, Apollon was and is a pastoral God, who was considered the protector of shepherds and pastoral life.

Nymphs are the female divinities of the natural features of the landscape, and there are many kinds, depending on the landscape they frequent.

Combining these traits into a single ritual can tell you all about it you need: this was a ritual to ward of the dangers of rural living (by adressing Apollon in his two protective epithets) and to invite blessings (from the nymphs) onto those who partook.

We welcome you to worship with us at 10 am EST on Monday 18 January. You can join the community here and find the ritual here.


The sacrifice to Athena
At ancient Arkhia, on the 9th of Gamelion, a sacrifice was performed in honour of Athena. The calendar does not state a specific epithet or further details, so we will be honouring Her in all Her glory. Will you join us at 10 am EST on Sunday 8 January?


The ritual for the event can be found here and the community page here.
Beginning at sundown on the 6th of January, on Gamelion 7, Kourotrophos were honoured at Erkhia along with two epithets of Apollon. Elaion will be organizing two Practicing Apart Together rituals for this event in the daylight hours of the 17th of January, and you can join us here.


PAT ritual for the sacrifice to Kourotrophos and Apollon Delphios
The Kourotrophoi are mostly female deities who watch over growing children--Gaea, Artemis, Hekate, Eirênê, Aglauros and Pandrosos, especially. 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.

In conjunction with Kourotrophos Apollon Delphios was sacrificed to. Apollon Delphios (Δελφιος) is the epithet of Apollon of the Oracle (of Delphi in Phokis). Its advice has saved the lives of many a man, woman, and--most importantly in this case--child.

The ritual for this sacrifice can be found here, and you can join our community page here. We truly hope you will join us for this important rite on Friday 6 January, at 10 am EST.

PAT ritual for the sacrifice to Apollon Lykeios‏
On that same day but at a different location in Erkhia, a sacrifice to Apollon Lykeios was attested to. Apollon Lykeios (Λυκειος) is the epithet of Apollon of the Wolves and Apollon of the Light. Apollon, by the name of Lykeios, is therefore generally characterised as the destroyer. He who preys, He who scorches with his light. It might seem odd to honour him on a day sacred to the nurturer of children, but nothing could be further from the truth. In this epithet, Apollon can be sung and offered to in order to appease and sated. Perhaps, if enough kharis is established, Apollon Lykeios will pass your children by...

The ritual for this sacrifice can be found here, and you can join our community page here. We You can join us on Friday 6 January, at 11 am EST.
I was recently asked why I'd named my blog 'Baring the Aegis'. The Aegis is one of my favorite symbols from Hellenic Myth. The stories in which it features are smeared with the blood of bad decisions and broken dreams. It is the ultimate warning to stay your hand. Yet, it also pushes the boundaries of what is human and divine. Mythical heroes who bore it were some of the best and brightest; Perseus, for one.



The Aegis is generally said to be a shield, cape or buckler bore into battle by the likes of Zeus, Athena and Apollon. It was allegedly forged by Hēphaistos and sports Médousa's head. It has the power to scare enemies away or even turn them to stone and it's rumored to scare even the Gods. According to the Ilias:

'Athena went among them holding her priceless aegis that knows neither age nor death. From it there waved a hundred tassels of pure gold, all deftly woven, and each one of them worth a hundred oxen. With this she darted furiously everywhere among the hosts of the Achaeans, urging them forward, and putting courage into the heart of each, so that he might fight and do battle without ceasing. Thus war became sweeter in their eyes even than returning home in their ships.'

To me, the Aegis, as a shield and weapon of Athena, has always stood for just action. A cry for justice. To me, it's the embodiment of the Delphic Maxim of Be Overcome by Justice (Ηττω υπο δικαιου). It brings with it the rush of adrenaline that comes with being overcome by something one truly believes in. It's the embodiment of divine justice.

 It's hard to be overcome by anything these days. We have commitments to attend to, social obligations and facades to uphold. And justice... what is justice? Justice is law, and one should obey that law. But justice is more than law. It's forming law. It's an active struggle to be more, do more. It's a call to stand for something, anything, that you feel is unjust. Same-sex marriage, animal rights, pollution, whale hunt, abuse.

Blogging, per definition, is an act of baring the soul. As I started to lean more and more to Hellenistic Reconstruction, Baring the Aegis seemed like a perfect title for this blog. I chose 'aegis' as I longed to take a stand--for myself and in the community--for Hellenismos as a religion and I see true strength in pulling away the walls (or in this case, the shield) around the soul and speaking openly about one's aspirations, fears, struggles and joys. Sharing these experiences is what makes up a blog and so I chose 'Baring the Aegis'.