On December 21th or the night of the 20th, Elaion will organize a PAT ritual for the Poseidea. During this festival, Poseidon as savior of ships, protector of those who voyage in ships, and God of the lapping waters both salt and fresh important for agriculture, is thanked for the many gifts that came from faraway places that were likely given at that time. Will you join us at 10 am EST on the 21th or your evening on the 20th?


The most complete account of the festival is Noel Robertson's article Poseidon's Festival at the Winter Solstice, The Classical Quarterly, New Series, Vol. 34, No. 1. (1984), pp. 1-16:

"The record shows that Poseidon was once worshipped in every part of Greece as a god of deneral importance to the community. [...] The festival falls near the winter solstice, and the ritual business marked by jollity and license, belongs to the general type of solstice festival known the world over.  At Poseidon’s festival, however, the sportive conduct has a definite purpose; this purpose arises from the fundamental agrarian background if Mediterranean society, and may bring us close to the origin of solstice festivals.

It has scarcely been noticed that festivals of Poseidon, more than those of any other Greek deity, fall at just this time of year; yet the evidence is extensive. [...] The festival Poseidea and some of the rites in question are often claimed for Poseidon the sea-god, but at this season sailing is furthest from one’s mind, and fishing on the shore is by no means an overriding concern.  Such details as we have point elsewhere, to Poseidon as the god of fresh water who fructifies Demeter’s fields."

One of Poseidon’s epithets is prosklystios, 'of the lapping water'. He is also invoked as Poseidon phytalmios which implies natural fertility and human procreation. There are also implications in the legends that imply bonfires at the winter solstice.

Noel Robertson concludes:

"…the celebrants feast to satiety, then turn to lascivious teasing. What is the ritual purpose of such conduct?  It obviously suits Poseidon’s mythical reputation as the most lustful of gods, who far surpasses Apollo and Zeus in the number of his liaisons and his offspring. Poseidon the seducer is the god of springs and rivers; his women typically succumb while bathing or drawing water; the type of the river god is a rampant bull. But the ritual likewise treats Poseidon as a procreant force; witness the epithets phytalmios, genesios, pater, etc. as interpreted above. The myths and the ritual reflect the same belief. The rushing waters are a proponent male power, just as the fields which they fertilize are a prolific female.  Both water and the fields, both Poseidon and Demeter, can be made to operate by sympathetic magic.  The rites of our winter festival rouse Poseidon and bring the rushing waters."

It is interesting that that Theophrastus tells us that the silver fir was important in ship building, especially for masts. The ‘tannenbaum’ is a silver fir. It is also interesting to compare with the Roman Saturnalia which may very well have borrowed from the Poseidea.

Celebrating Poseidon's Festival seems to be lost in modern practice. It likely entailed bonfires, feasting, cutting of trees (probably decorated), and very likely gift giving. As God of begetting, that aspect was not forgotten. We'll bring at least the ritual for Poseidon back on December 21, at 10 am EST, or your evening on the 20th. You can find the community page here and the ritual here.
All right, we're going to tackle this before it gets picked up and you, as a Hellenist, find yourself without an answer. A summary of the issue at hand: A group of students at the University of Texas are calling for the firing of a classics professor who has written extensively on pederasty in ancient Hellas. Students claim Thomas Hubbard’s academic work “advocates for violent crime against teen boys” and is being celebrated in online communities that promote pedophilia. Read a whole, long article summarizing it all here.


So, pederasty. Yes, it existed. Yes, it often included sex between an adult male and a teenage male. Yes, technically, that makes it pedophilia. Do I condone it? No. Was it part of ancient Hellenic culture? Yes. Is it something any true Hellenist should want to bring back? Hell no! And if anyone ever uses ancient Hellenic culture as an excuse to break a modern law, they are missing the point of Hellenism.

So, now, let me explain pederasty so you can explain it to others, and tell you how modern Hellenist views these practices.

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. 

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 but as a relationship of active versus 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.

Pederasty was a socially acknowledged erotic relationship between an adult male and a younger male usually in his teens, and was practiced mostly in the Archaic and Classical ages of Hellenic history. The courtship of the younger male (although the age difference could be neglectable in some cases) started with a ritual abduction of the younger male. The older male selected a youth and enlisted the chosen one's friends to help him, and carried off the object of his affections to his andreion, a sort of men's club or meeting hall. The whole group spent one or two months out in the countryside where they feasted, hunted and simply spent time together, enjoying life.

The next step in the process was to court the youth with gifts. Three gifts were traditional: military attire, an ox, and a drinking cup, but the youth most certainly received more expensive gifts. When the youth returned to the city, the ox was sacrificed to Zeus and the youth and his friends feasted. The young man also received special clothing that in adult life marked him as kleinos, 'famous, renowned.' The young man was called a parastatheis, 'he who stands beside', and served as cup bearer for the older male, the philetor, during meals in the andreion. Sex was part of this relationship, although the younger male rarely carried any love for the older male. Semen was said to transfer wisdom, so this is why younger boys accepted the practice. The rise in status also helped. There was a female version of this practice, but it's much less documented.

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. 

Taboos say a lot about a culture and the people in it. The boundaries of what is, and what is not, socially accepted bind people together. They also give clues about Hellenistic Reconstruction. I have said before that reconstruction separates religion from culture, but when reconstructing a religion where religion defined the culture, one is invariably bound to it by some extend. While pederasty was a big thing in ancient Hellas, no one is saying we need to bring it back today. There are laws against it, and those are justly in place.

Pederasty played a social role in ancient Hellas. It provided boys with a mentor, it allowed them to make friends in high places, for many, a pederastic relationship was the only way to qualify for military service, which was an all but mandatory part of being a citizen. None of these reasons exist today and so there is absolutely no reason to bring the practice back. Anyone who uses the ancient practice of it as a cover for sexual wrongdoings today is not a member of our tradition.
As legend goes, a shepherd herded his flock up the side of Mount Parnassus. The sheep came upon a chasm and seemed to lose their minds. They started jumping around, and darting about. When the shepherd went to inspect the chasm, he fell under the influence of gasses that welled up from it. He lost all his worries and cared not about the time. He simply wished to remain there and gleam the knowledge he felt at the edges of his mind.

When he did not return, his family went to look for him. They took him home and put him to bed. Everyone was worried by his strange behavior, but he seemed to be calmer when the morning came. Yet, the shepherd's behavior had not returned to normal. He was able to foretell the future. Soon, word of the shepherd's ability, and the chasm, spread. People came from far away to either talk to the man or go to the source. Yet, those who visited the chasm lost their minds as well, and sometimes even jumped in the chasm.

A decision was made: this chasm, which must send up messages from Gaea, needed to be managed so no one would get hurt. A woman was chosen and introduced to the vapors, and given servants to keep her safe and healthy. She spoke with the voice of Gaea, and spoke her prophecies for anyone who would visit. It is said that the chasm was protected by a serpent, Python (Πύθωνος), who was put there by Gaea to protect the chasm.

The chasm was seen as the center of the known world, as Zeus himself had once let two eagles fly at the far reaches of the world, and they met over the chasm. It was Gaea's sacred site, but it didn't remain that way for long. Apollon was born, and he soon moved to find the perfect site for His temple. In the Homeric hymn to Pythian Apollon, we find His arrival at the site of Gaea's oracle, and an account of His battle with the serpent:

"In this place I am minded to build a glorious temple to be an oracle for men, and here they will always bring perfect hecatombs, both they who dwell in rich Peloponnesus and the men of Europe and from all the wave-washed isles, coming to question me. And I will deliver to them all counsel that cannot fail, answering them in my rich temple."

"...Whosoever met the dragoness, the day of doom would sweep him away, until the lord Apollo, who deals death from afar, shot a strong arrow at her. Then she, rent with bitter pangs, lay drawing great gasps for breath and rolling about that place. An awful noise swelled up unspeakable as she writhed continually this way and that amid the wood: and so she left her life, breathing it forth in blood. Then Phoebus Apollo boasted over her:

"Now rot here upon the soil that feeds man! You at least shall live no more to be a fell bane to men who eat the fruit of the all-nourishing earth, and who will bring hither perfect hecatombs. Against cruel death neither Typhoeus shall avail you nor ill-famed Chimera, but here shall the Earth and shining Hyperion make you rot."

Thus said Phoebus, exulting over her: and darkness covered her eyes. And the holy strength of Helios made her rot away there; wherefore the place is now called Pytho, and men call the lord Apollo by another name, Pythian; because on that spot the power of piercing Helios made the monster rot away."

And so, the site became sacred to Apollon. At first, young virgins spoke the word of the Lord Apollon, but later on, it was decreed that the oracle--called the Pythia--had to be over fifty years of age. The site was at the epicenter of important travel routes; the road leading from northeastern and eastern Hellas to the plain of Amfissa--where it met the road joining northern Hellas with Naupactus--passed through Delphi. From the beach of Itea, it was easy to pass to nearby Peloponnesus. This not only made Delphi an important religious site, but a commercial one, and it was one of the major keys to its success.

Delphi is no more. The entire site is in ruins. While you can still walk a large part of the grounds, there is no longer an oracle who breaths in the vapors and gives prophesy. Hellenists lost that line to the Theoi.

Most of us know how to work a divinatory tool; we come from other Neo-Pagan paths that encourage it, or developed systems of our own. Some of us are just naturally gifted. I feel the Hellenistic community--when it becomes larger and more standardized and organized--could greatly benefit from another Oracle; someone whom we trust to speak the words of the Theoi and whom we pay for their efforts. A new Pythia, dedicated to the Hellenistic community, who is supported by said community. I honestly hope we get there some day. Delphi is not gone; it lives on in each of us. It's legacy drives us forward as a religion. One day, we may have it again.
Some beautiful prose today, by John Ruskin. John Ruskin (8 February 1819 – 20 January 1900) was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, as well as an art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist. He wrote on subjects as varied as geology, architecture, myth, ornithology, literature, education, botany and political economy.

His writing styles and literary forms were equally varied. He penned essays and treatises, poetry and lectures, travel guides and manuals, letters and even a fairy tale. He also made detailed sketches and paintings of rocks, plants, birds, landscapes, and architectural structures and ornamentation.

The elaborate style that characterised his earliest writing on art gave way in time to plainer language designed to communicate his ideas more effectively. In all of his writing, he emphasised the connections between nature, art and society.

He was hugely influential in the latter half of the 19th century and up to the First World War. After a period of relative decline, his reputation has steadily improved since the 1960s with the publication of numerous academic studies of his work. Today, his ideas and concerns are widely recognised as having anticipated interest in environmentalism, sustainability and craft. This part comes from his book, "Modern Painters."

"Thus, as far as I recollect, without a single exception, every Homeric landscape, intended to be beautiful, is composed of a fountain, a meadow, and a shady grove. This ideal is very interestingly marked, as intended for a perfect one, in the fifth book of the Odyssey; when Mercury himself stops for a moment, though on a message, to look at a landscape “which even an immortal might be gladdened to behold.” This landscape consists of a cave covered with a running vine, all blooming into grapes, and surrounded by a grove of alder, poplar, and sweet-smelling cypress. Four fountains of white (foaming) water, springing _in succession_ (mark the orderliness), and close to one another, flow away in different directions, through a meadow full of violets and parsley (parsley, to mark its moisture, being elsewhere called “marsh-nourished,” and associated with the lotus); the air is perfumed not only by these violets and by the sweet cypress, but by Calypso’s fire of finely chopped cedar wood, which sends a smoke as of incense, through the island; Calypso herself is singing; and finally, upon the trees are resting, or roosting, owls, hawks, and “long-tongued sea-crows.” Whether these last are considered as a part of the ideal landscape, as marine singing-birds, I know not; but the approval of Mercury appears to be elicited chiefly by the fountains and violet meadow.

Now the notable things in this description are, first, the evident subservience of the whole landscape to human comfort, to the foot, the taste, or the smell; and, secondly, that throughout the passage there is not a single figurative word expressive of the things being in any wise other than plain grass, fruit or flower. I have used the term “spring” of the fountains, because, without doubt, Homer means that they sprang forth brightly, having their source at the foot of the rocks (as copious fountains nearly always have); but Homer does not say “spring,” he says simply flow, and uses only one word for “growing softly,” or “richly,” of the tall trees, the vine, and the violets. There is, however, some expression of sympathy with the sea-birds; he speaks of them in precisely the same terms, as in other places of naval nations, saying they “have care of the works of the sea.”

If we glance through the references to pleasant landscape which occur in other parts of the Odyssey, we shall always be struck by this quiet subjection of their every feature to human service, and by the excessive similarity in the scenes. Perhaps the spot intended, after this, to be most perfect, may be the garden of Alcinous, where the principal ideas are, still more definitely, order, symmetry, and fruitfulness; the beds being duly ranged between rows of vines, which, as well as the pear, apple, and fig-trees, bear fruit continually, some grapes being yet sour, while others are getting black; there are plenty of “_orderly_ square beds of herbs,” chiefly leeks, and two fountains, one running through the garden, and one under the pavement of the palace to a reservoir for the citizens. Ulysses, pausing to contemplate this scene, is described nearly in the same terms as Mercury pausing to contemplate the wilder meadow; and it is interesting to observe, that, in spite of all Homer’s love of symmetry, the god’s admiration is excited by the free fountains, wild violets, and wandering vine; but the mortal’s, by the vines in rows, the leeks in beds, and the fountains in pipes.

Ulysses has, however, one touching reason for loving vines in rows. His father had given him fifty rows for himself, when he was a boy, with corn between them (just as it now grows in Italy). Proving his identity afterwards to his father, whom he finds at work in his garden, “with thick gloves on, to keep his hands from the thorns,” he reminds him of these fifty rows of vines, and of the “thirteen pear-trees and ten apple-trees” which he had given him; and Laertes faints upon his neck."
[Modern Painters 13.16-18]
A man of 34 was arrested on Tuesday November 26 in Messenia, Greece, by police officers from the Department of Cultural Heritage and Antiquities of the Security Directorate of Attica for the illegal possession of a highly valuable ancient movable monument with intention to sell.


A criminal case has been filed against him for infringement of the provisions of the Law on the Protection of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage in general.

Specifically, while investigating a case of illegal possession of a very valuable ancient statue by a person seeking buyers for the sum of € 350,000, a team of police officers located the man and while searching his home, found and confiscated part of a marble statue.

The confiscated antiquity was then shown to an expert archaeologist from the Ephorate of Antiquities of Messenia, who pronounced it to be subject to the provisions of the Protection of Antiquities Act and Cultural Heritage in general and an object of great value, originating from an ancient provincial workshop. It is part of a marble statue of the Archaic period (6th century BC) with high relief details, 60cm high and 33cm wide, depicting a nude youth.

The ancient artefact will be handed over to the Archaeological Museum of Kalamata for safekeeping and a final evaluation.
I am short on time today, so have a video about the ancient wonders of ancient Hellas! It's an older one but quite enjoyable.

"Greece, a land of breathtaking beauty and light. A land where science, art and inspiration from the gods combined to produce some of the world's greatest marvels of architecture and design. The ancient Greeks used buildings and structures to reflect the variety of life at the core of their civilisation - they built the first theatres, staged the first sports events and worshipped in some of the most spectacular temples ever built.

From prehistoric palaces to bold symbols of victory, this programme explores the Seven Ancient Wonders of Greece - the Theatre of Epidaurus, Olympia, Delphi, the Colossus of Rhodes, Santorini, The Palace of Knossos and the greatest masterpiece of them all - The Parthenon. Revealing the true icons of this incredible civilisation, we explore how and why the seven wonders of Ancient Greece still retain the power to amaze the world today. By recounting the stories behind the people who designed and oversaw their construction and unravelling the tales and myths of those who lived within them, we unearth the secrets behind The Seven Wonders of Ancient Greece."


Professor Alexander Cambitoglou, the first person of Greek background to become a university professor in Australia in 1963, has passed away at the age of 97. Cambitoglou spent more than five decades tirelessly championing Australian research in Greece as well as his lifelong passions of classical archaeology and attic vase painting. He was also a world authority on the subject of red-figure vase painting of the Greek colonies of southern Italy.


Born in Thessaloniki in 1922 to parents hailing from Veria and Thessaloniki he was a bright and studious child in what was then an interesting, cosmopolitan centre, receiving private tuition in Ancient Greek, Latin, French, German, English, and piano in addition to his formal high school education. He proceeded to obtain a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Thessaloniki as well as Doctorates at the Universities of London and Oxford, eventually becoming a Classical Archaeologist.

In 1980 he had the insight to create the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens (AAIA) promoting and enabling Australian research in Greece and leaving a legacy for future Australian scholars, and at 96 years old he was still working at his office at the University of Sydney on a daily basis. Professor Cambitoglou told Greek City Times in an interview in 2018:

"The most important achievement for me is the creation of the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens, through which Australia joined another 18 foreign schools or institutes in the Greek capital. My love for Australia and Greece led me to create the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens."


The Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens announced that Professor Cambitoglou’s passed away on Friday the 29th of November. Dr. Stavros Paspalas, Acting Director, spoke of Cambitoglou:

"The long list of Professor Cambitoglou’s achievements is truly awe-inspiring. His dedicated efforts have established Classical Archaeology, and more widely Greek studies, in Australia on a very firm footing. His vision has inspired generations of students, and will continue to do so, while his dedication to his field has set a benchmark for many of his colleagues. Alexander will be greatly missed, both here in Australia and in Greece, as well as more generally internationally as he is widely recognised as one of the great classical archaeologists of his generation. His multi-faceted legacy, well characterised by the AAIA, is his lasting gift to Australia and for this, and much more, I am certain that we are all grateful to him."
The deme of Erkhia has many sacrifices, and Elaion has pretty much adopted them all. One of these sacrifices--or actually two of them--are on Poseideon 16. Both are to Zeus. The first to Zeus without epithet, the other to Zeus Horios: 'of the boundary stones'. Will you join us for this combined sacrifice on December 13th at 10 am, EST?


Zeus Horios is responsible for the preservation of boundary stones. In order to mark their territories (especially between public and private), the ancient Hellenes relied on boundary markers, called 'horoi'. A horos (χορός) was usually a stele of marble or limestone, no larger than a meter high, rectangular and roughly hewn except for the upper front face, which was dressed smooth for inscribed letters. It was usually inscribed, sometimes with just the word 'horos', or sometimes specifying the territory (e.g., 'horos of the sanctuary'), or even the name of a deity. Some horoi were inscribed in the first person; a famous horos stone found by the ancient Athenia agora reads 'I am the horos of the Agora'. Specificity and clarity were crucial; passersby needed to know what sort of land they were entering because a boundary marker's message was enforced with a legal enforceable meaning.

The Arkhian calendar describes the sacrifices as such:

"[...] on the sixteenth [of Poseideon], for Zeus, on the rock or rocky place at Erkhia, a sheep, no taking away. For Zeus Horios, at Erkhia, a piglet, no taking away."

'No taking away' in this case means to consume the sacrifice on the spot. No part of it can be carried away from the site. So the skins and bones, as well as some of the meat are to be burned and the rest of the meat eaten, not sold or stored. Some scientists and archaeologists have come to call this type of sacrifice 'Ou phora', after Scott Scullion's definition.

In Sullivan's definition of 'Olympian' and 'Khthonian', 'Khthonian' was extended to include not only sacrifices in which the victim was destroyed, but also all sacrifices from which the meat could not be carried away and had to be consumed on the spot. He connects ou phora sacrifices to Khthonian deities or heroes, but this theory has been widely debated because it simply does not seem to resonate with other knowledge we have of these divinities and Their cults.

Poseideon was ruled by Poseidon, Zeus and Dionysos. Poseideon is the first true winter month; the first harvest was over, seafaring had ceased and thus war had come to an end. The focus was on the home and preparation for true, deep winter: the weather turned and the crops needed protecting. Because of this, it was also a month of threat; if the crops failed, if the seas became too rough when a daring fisherman was out on it, or if a river went out of bounds and flooded a well populated area there would be death. Zeus Horios watches over the boundaries of the home and was thus vital in this divine protection.

In current times we might not have most of these fears, but we still want trespassers to stay off our property (burglars, anyone?), and we want our personal, emotional, boundaries to be observed as well by the people we meet. Zeus Horios still influences our lives. So will you join us in honoring Zeus and Zeus Horios come December 13th at 10 am, EST?

The community for the event can be found here and the ritual for the event can be found here.
Workers installing cables under a road in the Sicilian town of Gela have uncovered part of an ancient Hellenic burial site.


Residents of Via Di Bartolo, in Gela, Sicily, had expected disrruption from roadworks this month as workers installed fibre optic cables under the street. But instead they've ended up with an archaeological dig taking place outside their front doors, after the Open Fiber cable company uncovered part of an ancient necropolis dating back to the 7th century BC.

Finds so far along the small strip of road include a ceramic water jug which contained the bones of a newborn baby, and parts of a large animal skeleton, according to local authorities.

The finds were reportedly made by Open Fiber's in-house archaeologist, Gianluca Cala, who had been on call during the installation work in case of such discoveries, which are not that unusual in Sicily.

A sarcophagus containing an intact skeleton thought to be from the same period was discovered earlier this month in Gela."Two weeks after the last important discovery, in what is certainly a Greek necropolis, Gela gives us other extraordinary testimonies of the past” the Sicilian regional government stated in a press release.

The area where the discoveries were made is believed to be part of a necropolis first excavated at the beginning of the twentieth century by Paolo Orsi, according to the La Sicilia newspaper. President of the Sicilian Region, Nello Musumeci, said:

"Once again Gela is confirmed to be a part of Sicily that can tell us an important part of our ancient history. Two important archaeological finds, a short distance from each other, show that great attention is paid to the Gela area, which I believe to be a precious treasure chest."

Open Fiber said it would be willing to enlarge the excavation area to help historians and archaeologists uncover more ancient finds in Gela, La Sicilia wrote.

Gela is believed to be the site of one of the earliest settlements of Greeks, from Rhodes and Crete.

"The newly-uncovered graves are seen as particularly important by historians, as they're thought to hold the remains of the first settlers along with examples of the fine ceramics they brought with them."
Knossos is the site of the most important and better known palace of Minoan civilisation. It is located in a prominent position on Kefala Hill, 6 km. southeast of Herakleion, surrounded by olive groves, vineyards and cypress trees. According to tradition, it was the seat of the legendary King Minos. The Palace is also connected with thrilling legends, such as the myth of the Labyrinth with the Minotaur, and the story of Daidalos and Icaros. The site was continuously inhabited from the Neolithic period (7000-3000 B.C.) until Roman times. Most people believe that Knossos was discovered by Sir Arthur Evans in 1900. In fact, the first excavation took place in 1878, by the Cretan merchant and antiquarian Minos Kalokairinos, but his contribution has been largely overshadowed by that of Evans.

Minos Kalokairinos was born in 1843. His father was a rich landowner, who owned the site of the palace of Knossos. As Dr Katerina Kopaka notes, “Kalokairinos tried to combine his responsibilities as an homme d’ affaires with his vision of a man of letters”. He obtained secondary education on the isle of Syros, then enrolled at the law faculty of the University of Athens where he only studied a year, as he was forced to abandon his studies after his father fell seriously ill and died. He then took over, together with his brother Lysimachus, the family-owned business until 1871.

Kalokairinos later went into soap manufacturing, winning awards at world exhibitions. Unfortunately, however, his business enterprises were not destined to be successful to the end; in 1895, he was forced to declare bankruptcy and was thus deprived of the right to engage in commerce. In 1903 he decided to resume his legal studies at the university, and was later awarded a degree. In 1878 his passion for archaeology and classical studies led him to attempt the first systematic excavations at Knossos. He bought the site where he wanted to conduct excavations from Zekiris Bey, Ibrahim Efentakis and according to Turkish archaeological law he would be entitled to 1/3 of the findings. The main excavation lasted three weeks and covered different parts of the Royal Palace complex, focusing on its west and south wings.

In 1879, the Christian General Commander of Crete, Fotiadis Pasha, visited Knossos to see the progress of the excavations. With the agreement of the city’s scholars, he decided to stop the excavations in order to protect the findings, because he was afraid that they would be transferred to Istanbul, as Crete was still under Turkish occupation.

Kalokairinos, who wanted to make Knossos broadly known, escorted archaeologists, diplomats, newspaper correspondents and other VIPs at the site and showed them his private collection.

In 1886 he was visited by the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, who was famous for the discovery of Troy. Kalokairinos showed him his findings, but he also failed to obtain permission to continue the excavations.

In 1894 it was Evans’ turn to visit Crete and to be informed about the excavations. Sir Arthur Evans was impressed and bought ¼ of the Kephala Hill for 6,000 drachmas. On 23 March, 1900, excavations began. Evans’ most important colleagues were the archaeologist D. Mackenzie, known for his excavation in Melos, who undertook to keep the excavation journal, and the architects C. Doll, F.G. Newton and Piet de Jong.

First came to light the “throne room” and within two years Evans and his team managed to dig Knossos out of the ashes and lava. Kalokairinos had already retired, on account of the dramatic events he’d experienced: during the slaughter of civilians by the Turks on August 25th 1898, his brother Lysimachus was beheaded, his niece had disappeared and his son was murdered. His home was set on fire and the collection of findings from Knossos, destined for the Archaeological Museum of Athens, was destroyed.

In 1903, a new mansion was built by Kalokairinos’ nephew, son of Lysimachus. Today this mansion houses the Historical Museum of Herakleion. Shortly before Minos Kalokairinos’ death, he published the journal “Cretan Archaeological Ephemeris”, much of which was devoted to Knossos.

Kalokairinos had a strong disposition towards ancient Hellenic literature, especially Homer, Plato, Strabo, Pausanias and their accounts of Cretan antiquity. As he confesses in his book Prolegomena 1893, his strong desire to draw upon these works in order to elucidate the ancient history of Crete, led him to the undertaking of the excavations.

Minos Kalokairinos had found a large collection of objects during his excavations. The findings that survived after the violent events of 25 August, 1898, mostly amphorae found in the western wing of the palace, were donated to museums of Greece, Paris and London in order to promote public interest in Knossos.

Cretan archeology owes a great debt to Kalokairinos for this early exploration of Knossos which highlighted the islands prehistoric past and opened the path for discoveries that surpassed all expectations.

Source: Greek News Agenda
The Διονύσια κατ᾽ ἀγρούς, or μικρά, the rural or lesser Dionysia, a vintage festival, was celebrated in the various demes of Attica in the month of Poseideon. It was celebrated with a large procession in which men carried a phallus and cakes. Revelers and singers were also a part of the procession. A representation of the God was included to represent His coming. The festival also included stage comedies and the playing of lighthearted games. Generally, it was a joyful festival, shared by all, even the serfs. Will you join us for it on December 7th at 10 am EST?


The Dionysia was originally a rural festival in Eleutherae, Attica, probably celebrating the cultivation of vines. It was probably a very ancient festival, perhaps not originally associated with Dionysus. This 'rural Dionysia' was held during the winter, in the month of Poseideon. The central event was the pompe (πομπή), the procession, in which phalloi (φαλλοί) were carried by phallophoroi (φαλλοφόροι). Also participating in the pompe were kanephoroi (κανηφόροι – young girls carrying baskets), obeliaphoroi (ὀβελιαφόροι – who carried long loaves of bread), skaphephoroi (σκαφηφόροι – who carried other offerings), hydriaphoroi (ὑδριαφόροι – who carried jars of water), and askophoroi (ἀσκοφόροι – who carried jars of wine).

After the pompe procession was completed, there were contests of dancing and singing, and choruses (led by a choregos) would perform dithyrambs. Some festivals may have included dramatic performances, possibly of the tragedies and comedies that had been produced at the City Dionysia the previous year. This was more common in the larger towns, such as Piraeus and Eleusis.

Because the various towns in Attica held their festivals on different days, it was possible for spectators to visit more than one festival per season. It was also an opportunity for Athenian citizens to travel outside the city if they did not have the opportunity to do so during the rest of the year. This also allowed travelling companies of actors to perform in more than one town during the period of the festival.

The community for the event can be found here and the ritual here.