So, yesterday, I overslept and didn't get to write this week's Pagan Blog Project post. I also managed to double post yesterday's article, so oops. It's rectified now. Right, onto today's topic and this week's PBP subject: xenelasia (ξενηλασία). Xenelasia was 'the right possessed and exercised by the Lacedaemonian magistrates of expelling from Sparta (and Doric Krete) any stranger whose presence was injurious to the public order or morals'.

In order to explain that, I need to give a bit of history on Sparta and the way it was ran. Sparta (Σπάρτα), or Lacedæmon (Λακεδαίμων), was a prominent city-state in ancient Hellas, located on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. Sparta was an oligarchy (oligarkhía, ὀλιγαρχία)--a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people. The state was ruled by two hereditary kings of the Agiad and Eurypontid families, both supposedly descendants of Hēraklēs and equal in authority, so that one could not act against the power and political enactments of his colleague. The kings were in charge of religious festivals, judicial matters, as well as the military. Over time, the kings became mere figureheads except in their capacity as generals in war, but their power waned slowly, and democracy was never instituted in the polis.

From about 650 BC onwards, Sparta rose to become the dominant military land-power in ancient Hellas. Sparta was one of the city-states that never adopted a democratic political system; instead, they had the family as a model for the organization of the state; a family they protected from corruption by outside forces. Like a true family unit, Sparta had its own customes, holidays, and drunk uncles, and they were preserved as much as possible. In order to accomplish this, Lacedæmonian magistrates had the duty and authorization to expel any person who posed a threat to public order and morals

Foreigners were allowed into Sparta for religious festivals and missions of state but they were not allowed to live in the environs. Special exceptions were given to friends and allies who were called 'laconophiles'; lovers of Sparta. On the reverse side, the general populace was forbidden foreign travel. These laws were intended to preserve the native character of the Doric tribe from any taint of foreign influence. Plutarch, in 'The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans', wrote:

"And this was the reason why he [Lycurgus] forbade them to travel abroad, and go about acquainting themselves with foreign rules of morality, the habits of ill-educated people, and different views of government. Withal he banished from Lacedaemon all strangers who would not give a very good reason for their coming thither; not because he was afraid lest they should inform themselves of and imitate his manner of government (as Thucydides says), or learn anything to their good; but rather lest they should introduce something contrary to good manners. With strange people, strange words must be admitted; these novelties produce novelties in thought; and on these views and feelings whose discordant character destroys the harmony of the state. He was as careful to save his city from the infection of foreign bad habits, as men usually are to prevent the introduction of a pestilence."

Lycurgus (Lykoûrgos, Λυκοῦργος), pictured above, was the legendary lawgiver of Sparta, who established the military-oriented reformation of Spartan society in accordance with the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi. All his reforms were directed towards the three Spartan virtues: equality (among citizens), military fitness, and austerity. It is said that after his reforms--which included the laws governing xenelasia--he left for the Oracle of Delphi to check with the Gods if they agreed. Before he left, he made every Spartan swear to uphold his laws while he was gone. Once at the Oracle, she told him that his laws were excellent, and Lycurgus prompty disappeared or starved himself so his laws would always remain in effect.

Xenelasia was part of any interaction with outsiders, be it in trade, in entertainment, during religious functions, and even applied to whom Spartans could ahve sex with and marry. While it sounds like these laws would interfere with xenia, they didn't; foreigners were welcome, but they were never considered truly Spartan. Only Spartans were Spartans. Even if you loved the polis, you would never truly be a part of it.

The laws of xenelasia were controversial in ancient Hellas, but they were a defining factor in what made Sparta great; its character caused Spartans to band together, to make their family unit proud, and it helped them accept the sacrifice of their individuality in favor of the greatness of the polis. In the end, however, it is suspected that their unwillingness to open up to the influence of others contributed to the demise of the once-great polis; there was simply no buffer to accommodate losses in battle.

Image property: Wikipedia Commons
There is a new article going around the on-line Reconstructionistic circles, published by Mystera Magazine. It's a list of '5 Revived Religions You Should Know About'. And we are on it!

The article kicks off with a basic introduction on Reconstructive (and revived, which is--at least by my definition--Reconstruction's less strict brother) religions, saying:

"Through the history of mankind, religions have known a constant flux of appearance and disappearance. Some religions were short-lived, while others were practiced for thousands of years before their flame was extinguished. Though,  at times, it happens that a religion reemerges from the old pages of history, after it had been erased by the sands of time. This is the story of ancient Mediterranean and European religions. Today, five ancient religions are slowly making their comeback, with thousands of followers enacting their arcane rituals and praying for gods whose names had long been forgotten."

The first on the list is Hellenismos, which I will admit gave me very happy feelings. It comes with an unsources picture, but if anyone can tell me, I will source it properly (or remove it), thank you very much.

"Hellenismos or Dodekatheism, refers to various religious movements that emerged since the 1990’s aiming to revive and reconstruct the ancient Greek religion. Hellenism is estimated to have between 100,000 and 150,000 followers worldwide, most of them based in Greece and the United States, making it one of the most established and widespread religions among pagan reconstructionist movements. 

The modern day Hellenic religion is a religious devotion revolving around the Greek Pantheon (especially the Twelve Olympian gods like Zeus, Apollo, Athena…etc). It’s also a way of life based on traditional ancient Greek virtues, such as self-control, moderation, hospitality, and reciprocity."

I had never heard of Mystera Magazine, to be completely honest. The magazine describes itself as: "...a comprehensive publication about holistic health; a balance of physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. It sheds light on how people can take care of themselves, of others, and the planet through informative yet simple and easy to read articles. It also explores different methods and philosophies, ancient and new, that enlighten and guide, through experts and knowledgeable figures in the field."

As far as their article goes; if I ever have to give an accurate summary of our religion, I'm reposting this, but with one minor detail that seems plucked right out of thin air: the estimated number of worshippers. 

To be perfectly clear: we have absolutely no idea how many of us there are out there. None what so ever. The latest somewhat accurate numbers come from 2005 and referred only to modern Hellenists living in Greece. That number was 2,000, with a possible (!) 100,000 adherants worldwide. The request for sources on this estimation was put in the comments, but no answer has been forthcoming. This is a shame for an article that ranked its choices by the number of followers.

The other four that made the list were: Kemetism (Egyptian Reconstruction) with 50,000 to 100,000 followers, Heathenism (Germanic Reconstruction) with 20,000 to 50,000 followers, Religio Romana (Roman Reconstructionism) with 5,000 to 10,000 followers, and Near Eastern Religions without an estimation at all. To me, all of these numbers sound suspect. I expect the number of Heathens to be far greater, for example, as its broad description covers a wide range of religions--including Slavic Revivalism, which is currently growing rapidly. 

I have no idea how widespread we are. I'd love to hope for numbers like this, but I feel they are a bit on the high side; the focus is still mainly on Greece, Italy, and America and while there are quite a few of us around, 150,000 people is a lot; perhaps not in the grand scheme of things, but still a lot. 

Perhaps it's time for a census of our own, like the one that is currently going around for the Heathen community. Until that time, we are stuck not knowing. I am happy this article was posted; I like the tone of voice and the amount of research that went into the descriptions of the religions. I would still like to see some sources or at least a reasoning for the numbers, but if this our current calling card, I am going with it.
Today, I am sharing another Pandora's Kharis announcement, because we have a new cause picked out, and it's a very worthy one; so worthy, I want to urge all of you to donate--even if it's just a single dollar you can spare, please share it. We have all heard about the terrible typhoon that hit (amongst other places) the Philippines only a short while back. Since Haiyan hit, causes were pitched on the Pandora's Kharis Facebook page that related in some way to the help and rescue efforts linked to its victims. While the other pitched causes were--of course--very valuable, the consensus of the members of Pandora's Kharis was that the victims of Haiyan need our help most right now.

Pandora's Kharis is thus proud to announce that the Pagan Federation won this month's poll by a landslide; they recieved 73,4 percent of the votes! That means it is now decided: this month's cause is the Pagan Federation International Philippines. The other options were the following, including their percentages:
The Pandora's Kharis PayPal account is once more open to recieve donations, and can be accessed in the right hand sidebar of the Pandora's Kharis homepage. The deadline to donate is December third, and remember: we are giving to help the relief effort in the Phillippines after typhoon Haiyan hit it with its full destructive force.

Pagan Federation International is a campaigning organization aimed at networking like-minded individuals that will fight against ignorance and negative attitudes towards paganism and make it possible to have a more proactive and visible celebration of Paganism. In light of the terrible typhoon, the Pagan Federation International Philippines is using donations to help the survivors in hands-on, practical ways--with food, clean water, clothes and medication. They are helping to provide basics which are still sorely lacking in most areas, and we can help them by donating generously.

All PayPal costs will be covered by Elaion so your full donation will be transferred to the Pagan Federation and will go towards aiding the victims of Haiyan. Thank you in advance for your donation, for spreading the word, and/or aiding the cause in any other way.


I had a job interview yesterday for a job I really want. I am perfect for it--overqualified, even, but the daily tasks sound like so much fun, I honestly couldn't care less. The job interview went well; not only did I manage to answer the questions to at least my satisfaction, but I got a few laughs, managed to bond a little with every interviewer, and by the time I was done, I felt confident. I might not get the job, I might not even be invited for a second interview, but I can at least rest easy in the knowledge I did everything I possibly could--and did it right.

Yesterday's tiring and stressful event--because I detest job interviews--was one of those events in my life that had me reach for the Delphic Maxims and bury myself in my faith. Although my religion was only a topic of interest for three second someonewhere near the end, I am shaped by it so that it's my go-to solution to find peace in the face of adversity and to quiet my mind. While I as waiting for the interview to start, I was repeating Delphic Maxims in my head:

  • Know Yourself (Σαυτον ισθι)
  • Know your opportunity (Καιρον γνωθι)
  • Use what you have (Χρω χρημασιν)
  • Be courteous (Ευπροσηγορος γινου)
  • Be accommodating in everything (Παςιν αρμοζου)
  • Speak plainly (Αμλως διαλεγου)
  • Control yourself (Αρχε σεαυτου)
  • Do not boast in might (Επι ρωμη μη καυχω)
  • Respect yourself (Σεαυτον αιδου)
  • Use your skill (Τεχνη χρω)
  • Do not begin to be insolent (Μη αρχε υβριζειν)

...and a few more I am forgetting now.

The Delphic Maxims--as I have stated time and time again--are at the basis of my faith, and I believe also at the basis of the Hellenistic faith in general. Not only are they reflectors of the culture our religion rose to greatness in, but they speak of the people our Gods want us to be. They give us ethical guidelines broad enough to apply to any situation--including job interviews, thankfully--but also specific enough to actually be helpful. I applied every single one of those at least once in the interview and hopefully came across as giving, caring, intelligent, and wise enough for my years. Hopefully, I also came off as humble in the face of something so daunting as selling yourself to a sceptical audience.

Job interviews are hard for me in that regard, as I practice temperance and honesty throughout my life. I don't lie, unless it really, really cannot be helped, nor do I accept a lie-by-ommission from myself. I don't boast about my abilities or skills, unless I am sure I can back up the claim with evidence or a test. This means I am often fearful of 'underselling' myself.

I came to a realization today: I care about my spiritual life more than any job on this planet. It's not exactly a new thought for me to entertain, but I realized yesterday that I would never betray my Gods and myself simply to lend a job--and yes, I realize I am overthinking this and that this great divide I am picturing here is mostly in my head. Yet, my head is where I spend most of my time, and at the end of the day, I need to be able to explain to myself why I did what I did that day. I need to live my own ethical life. If I got this job by presenting myself as different than I really am, I would not be pursuing that ethical life and be tainting myself with miasma.

In the end, any job interview will have you present the best you you can possibly be, and that's the way it's supposed to be. Yet, personally, I keep a close eye on the Delphic Maxims throughout this job hunting routine I find myself in: at the end of the day, I care more about spirituality than money, and value myself higher than any job. If landing a job requires me to lie about who I am and hide parts of me away, I would not want it unless there was no other way to survive. Luckily, I am in the position to be a little picky at this point in time.

Wish me luck on this endeavor, and may the Gods be with me. Whatever happens, I am happy with the way the interview went and the way I handled myself. I stayed true to myself and the Gods, and hopefully that came across.
The beautiful thing about our religion is that not only do we have a clear way to honor the Theoi, and incentive to do so, we also get to live in a world governed completely by the Theoi. Hellenismos is special in that regards because it also largely matches up with science. To me--and many others with me--that is something very comforting. Now, as you are probably all aware, I live in a world full of Gods and Nymphs; for example, I take great strength in greeting Eos each morning as she paves the way for Helios, but there are many Gods who are, or who control, the cycle of day and night, and I would like to write out this cycle, if I may.

For all things geneological, I will always turn to Hesiod first. In his 'Theogony', he speaks of the birth of the Dawn, Sun and Moon:

"And Theia was subject in love to Hyperion and bare great Helios, and clear Selene, and Eos." [177]

Diodorus Siculus, in his 'Library of History' shares this world vieuw and moves a (pseudo-scientific) step beyond it:

"Of Hyperion we are told that he was the first to understand, by diligent attention and observation, the movement of both the sun and the moon and the other stars, and the seasons as well, in that they are caused by these bodies, and to make these facts known to others; and that for this reason he was called the father of these bodies, since he had begotten, so to speak, the speculation about them and their nature." [5.67.1]

Hyperion (Ὑπερίων), meaning 'The High-One', was a Titanes God born from Gaea and Ouranos. Theia and Euryphaessa (as mentioned in, for example, the Homeric Hymns) are generally regarded as the same Deathless woman: 'Theia' is the Hellenic word for 'Goddess', so it was likely 'Theia Euryphaessa' translated to 'Goddess Euryphaessa'. This means that the family tree is as follows:

     Khaos ------------ Gaea
         |         |
   Ouranos --- |
                       Hyperion --- Euryphaessa
                  Eos - Helios - Selene

The three of them--put into motion by Hyperion--form the basic cycle of these planets associated with specific times of day. Yet, the ancient Hellenes saw Night and Day as quite seperate from the heavenly bodies that are associated with them today. I have spoken before of the Protogenoi, and how They--contrary to the Olympians--are actually of the world; They, together, form the tapistry of earth and life. They literally make up our universe. As such, the further towards the Big Bang you go, the more abstract the Theoi become; They take on large, mostly unformed, chunks of the material that makes up our world and the further away you go from Khaos, the more specialized the Gods become--as well as numerous.

As such, starting this explination with Hyperion is actually incorrect--I should have started with Khaos itself, but if not there, than at least with Nyx, who is the deep Night, and Her daughter Hêmera (Ἡμερα), who is the Protogenos of the Day and the sister-wife of Aither (Light). In Hellenic mythology, Nyx draws a veil of darkness between the shining atmosphere of the aither and the lower air of earth (aer) at set times in the day, bringing night to man. In the morning, Hêmera removes this veil, and exposed the Earth once more to Light. As Hesiod writes in the Theogony:

"[At the ends of the earth, where lie the roots of earth, sea, Tartaros :] There stands the awful home of murky Nyx wrapped in dark clouds. In front of it [Atlas] the son of Iapetos stands immovably upholding the wide heaven upon his head and unwearying hands, where Nyx and Hemera draw near and greet one another as they pass the great threshold of bronze: and while the one is about to go down into the house, the other comes out at the door. And the house never holds them both within; but always one is without the house passing over the earth, while the other stays at home and waits until the time for her journeying come; and the one holds all-seeing light (phaos) for them on earth." [744]

Once we reach AD times, Hêmera is often identified with Eos, but in centuries prior, she was very much Her own Goddess, and Hêmera was as well. Hómēros, for example, in the 'Odysseia' writes: 

"The ship [of Odysseus] in due course left the waters of the river Okeanos and reached the waves of the spacious sea and the island of Aiaia; it is there [Okeanos] that Eos the early-comer (Erigeneia) has her dwelling place and her dancing grounds, and the sun himself has his risings. We came came in; we beached our vessel upon the sands and disembarked upon the sea-shore; there we fell fast asleep, awaiting ethereal Dawn." [12.1]

So, to recapitulate: Nyx and Hêmera continually work to both create and dissolve darkness on Earth; Selene moves with Nyx, and Helios with Hêmera, as heralded by Eos. In this recap, it is quite obvious we are yet missing a speciffic time of the day: dusk, or the evening. This was in the domain of the Nymphs, in this case the Hesperides (Ἑσπεριδες), who--depending of source--are either the daughters of Nyx or Atlas. Diodorus Siculus, in the 1st Century BC., wrote in his 'Library of History': 

"Now Hesperos (Evening) begat a daughter named Hesperis (Evening), who he gave in marriage to his brother [Atlas] and after whom the land was given the name Hesperitis; and Atlas begat by her seven daughters, who were named after their father Atlantides, and after their mother Hesperides." [4. 26. 2]

Yet, older sources agree that the Hesperides were born from Nyx; Hesiod, for example:

"And Nyx (Night) bare hateful Moros (Doom) and black Ker (Violent Death) and Thanatos (Death), and she bare Hypnos (Sleep) and the tribe of Oneiroi (Dreams). And again the goddess murky Nyx, though she lay with none, bare Momos (Blame) and painful Oizys (Misery), and the Hesperides who guard the rich, golden apples and the trees bearing fruit beyond glorious Okeanos."

Of course, there are more Gods--motly Titans--who are in some way connected to the cycle of night and day, but these are the most important ones and it's quite a hand full already. So perhaps next time when you awake, you will think of Hêmera, and rosy Eos, and when the sun is high in the sky, you will think of Him as well, and when you look upon the Moon before going to bed, you will give honors to Selene and Nyx, who holds Her and Gaea in Her embrace. Our Gods are everywhere; you only have to be aware of Them to notice.
It's a sad day today: no new Atlantis episode on Saturday, so no new recap on Monday. Atlantis will be back next Saturday after a brief hiatus to make room for a special Doctor Who event, and we will get to see the boys travel to the Underworld in good, oldfashioned, hero style. To leave you with something today that may at least fill the void a little, I have taken my cue from last week's mini-breakdown of the real Pythagoras and will bring you a few character portraits of the characters and the mythological or actual people they were based upon.

Jason (Jack Donnelly)
Jason, obviously, is going to be the one without a counterpart in Hellenic mythology. That said, he is reflective of all the great heroes: he is strong, athletic, noble and shrewed. He has a keen mind, sharp senses and a drive to do good. Like any good mythological hero, he has daddy issues and he's taken over many a hero's role so far, but mostly Theseus comes to mind, who took down the Minotaur in the original Hellenic myth--and temporarily snatched up Ariadne, I should add. He also took Iásōn's name, the hero who commanded the ship Argo and led the Argonauts to the Golden Fleece and back.

Jason combines the best aspects of Hellenic heroism: a convoluted background, a sharp mind, a trained body, and a kind heart. Jason in the series also acts as the eyes of the audience as he came over from our world to Atlantis, and is still getting the hang of the ancient Hellenic culture as portrayed by the BBC.

Hercules (Mark Addy)
Hercules in the series is perhaps not the epithomy of human achievement--and a far cry from the hero we respect and worship--but he's a good guy at heart. That much is clear. I will be the first to admit that watching Atlantis' Hercules is often a bit difficult: to see arguably the greatest of Hellenic heroes avoid doing the right thing as long as he can because all other options are simpler/easier/cost less energy or money is a bit unsettling. That said, Heracles is still an intelligent man, with a good heart, who cares deeply for his friends. He would go to hell and back for them--and in the coming episode, it looks like he will do exactly that.

The ancient Hellenic Hēraklēs is a child (and great grand child) of Zeus. Hēraklēs was conceived by Zeus upon Alkmene, as He disguised Himself as her husband, returning early from war. Alkmene accepted Him in her bed gladly, as she was happy to see her husband again. When The real Amphitryon did return later that night, Alkmene realized what had happened, and told her husband. Amphitryon accepted her in his bed, regardless, and so she became pregnant with twins, one fathered by Zeus, and one by her mortal husband.

Hera, hearing of the affair, took an instant disliking to the unborn child. When it became time for Alkmene to give birth, Hera made Zeus swear a vow that a child born in the line of Perseus on this day would become King. Zeus agreed, and Hera hurried off to delay the birth of Hēraklēs and Iphikles, and hurry along the birth of Eurystheus (Εὐρυσθεύς), grandson of Perseus. Due to Hera's jealousy, he was stricken mad and killed the five sons he had by his wife. When he was released from his madness by a hellebore potion--provided by Antikyreus--and realized what he had done, he cried out in anguish, and went on a long journey to cleanse himself of the miasma caused by these killings. In the end, Hēraklēs became a God and ascended to Olympus where he became one of the primary heroes prayed to by the ancient Hellenes and  worshippers today.

Pythagoras (Robert Emms)
Pythagoras iss actually not a person from myth but an actual person. Pythagoras of Samos (Πυθαγόρας ὁ Σάμιος) was an Ionian Hellenic philosopher, mathematician, and founder of the religious movement called Pythagoreanism. He was an influential voice in philosophy, religion, mysticism and science in the late 6th century BC, and is best known for the Pythagorean theorem which bears his name. Because almost everything we now know about Pythagoras was written down centuries later, it may very well be that the theorem as well as anything else attributed to Pythagoras was discovered by his colleagues, students, successors, or even his mother.

Pythagoras in the series could very well resemble a young Pythagoras who has a penchant for triangles. He's very smart, analythical, and would do anything for his friends. He is incredibly loyal and while he would prefer to handle everything with words, he's not above taking out a butter knife in defense.

Medusa (Jemima Rooper)
I miss you, Medusa, please come back! Okay, with that out of the way: Medusa. It might be obvious, but the Medusa from the series is a far cry from the mythological one. She is obviously based off of Ovid's version of the myth, where she was a human woman--possiby a priestess to Athena--who was raped by Poseidon (within the temple walls) and punished by Athena for her transgression.

The link above leads to a long and detailed account of the varying myths of Médousa, and it's perhaps best to suffice here by saying that the snake-haired Gorgon known from mythology is mostly a Roman invention; in the Hellenic era, the head of Médousa brought protection and was thus placed on shields and armors, but also on ovens to keep children away from them.

Medusa from the series is kind-hearted, funny, independant and doomed to have something horrible happen to her--as predicted by the Oracle, at least to Jason. If the show sticks with Ovid, that terrible someting is not something I want to watch (thank you very much) and also doesn't fall into the age bracket of the show, so we will see if Medusa ends up with snakes for hair or not.

Pasiphaê (Sarah Parish)
As the Evil Queen, Parish is currently only riveled by Lana Parrilla's Regina Mills on Once Upon A Time when it comes to milti-layered depictions of an evil caricature. Pasiphaê is the wife of King Minos and stepmother to Ariadne, love interest of Jason. She is a true 'evil' Queen; plotting to further the agenda of her husband and manipulating said agenda so she gets the best out of it. Her plans were recently thwarded by Jason and mostly Ariadne, who called off the wedding between her and Heptarian--Pasiphaê's puppet. Pasiphaê's redeeming features lie in the scenes where she comforts and counsels Ariadne and shows that--whatever she is doing--she believes it to be for the best of the Royal House and the citizens of Atlantis; as misguided as that may be.

Pasiphaê is part of the Myth of the Minotaur. Minos, king of Krete, requested Poseidon raise a bull from the sea, which the King promised to sacrifice; but when Minos refused to do so, Poseidon caused his wife Pasiphaê to fall in love with the bull. The child that came from this union was deformed in such a way that he had the head of a bull and the body of a man. I am fairly certain the original Pasiphaê did not have magical powers, but the series version definitely has.

Ariadne (Aiysha Hart)
Ariadne is the daughter of King Minos. When Theseus came to the island of Krete, she fell for him and offered him a ball of yarn so he would be able to find his way out off the labyrinth that housed the Minotaur. Theseus defeated the Minotaur and took Ariadne and her sister Phaedra from their home in thanks for their help. That night, they slept on the beach but Athena woke up Theseus and told him to sail out now, and to leave Ariadne and Phaedra behind. He did, although it pained him greatly.

Ariadne was devastated but was found by the God of wine, Dionysos, and He took her as His wife. Ariadne gained immortality and is still married to her God, being a Goddess in her own right now.

Ariadne in the series is not quite there yet. Our Theseus-substitute has declared his love but there is no running away or actual cordship involved. Set up as the show's One True Pairing, I doubt Jason is going to leave her in the end so she can be snatched up by a God. Ariadne is developing into one fo the most interesting of the series--from the myth's lovesick young woman to a strong princess who would do anything to protect the people she loves and the subjects of Atlantis, whom she cares about as well. In her youthful ignorance, she has managed to antagonize her stepmother Pasiphaê who retaliated by having Ariadne's friend and servant killed, and thus, Ariadne is currently getting a steady dose of reality shoved her way. I, for one, hope she comes out of it stronger on the other side and that Korinna's death can serve as a catalist for this proccess.

How to you feel about the re-imaging of these classical characters? Is there anything you would change back or anything that stands out as a good writing choice for the creators? How do you feel about Atlantis in general, ad are you happy it will be back on Saturday? Let me know!

Image property: character portraits by BBC ONE, classical art by Wikipedia Commons.
It's been a little while since we last met Hēraklēs for a labour. Last time, he managed to fashuion a rattle to scare off the blood thirsty Stymphalian Birds, completing that labour rather effortlessly thanks to the Gods. Now, Hēraklēs is sent on a mission which--in theory--is far tougher: to capture the Cretan Bull.

To many, the Cretan Bull will be familiar, either because of it's own part in the tale or the fallout, namely the Minotaur. The classic myth goes as follows: Minos, king of Krete, requested Poseidon raise a bull from the sea, which the King promised to sacrifice; but when Minos refused to do so, Poseidon caused his wife Pasiphaê to fall in love with the bull. The child that came from this union was deformed in such a way that he had the head of a bull and the body of a man. In the labours of Hēraklēs, the story changes a little depending on the source. Diodorus agrees with the myth, saying in his 'Library of History':

"The next Labour which Heracles undertook was to bring back from Crete the bull of which, they say, Pasiphaê had been enamoured." [4.13.4]

Apollodorus, for example, has a different story to tell, not just about the Cretan Bull, but also about the story of King Minos. It seems the Bull had become feral, terrorizing the land and scaring the inhabitants of the island. From his 'Library':

"The seventh labour he enjoined on him was to bring the Cretan bull. Acusilaus says that this was the bull that ferried across Europa for Zeus; but some say it was the bull that Poseidon sent up from the sea when Minos promised to sacrifice to Poseidon what should appear out of the sea. And they say that when he saw the beauty of the bull he sent it away to the herds and sacrificed another to Poseidon; at which the god was angry and made the bull savage." [2.5.7]

From Philostratus the Elder we get a description of the bull, based off of the description of his second Image Book:

"Pasiphaë outside the workshop in the cattlefold gazes on the bull, thinking to draw him to her by her beauty and by her robe, which is divinely resplendent and more beautiful than any rainbow. She has a helpless look – for she knows what the creature is that she loves – and she is eager to embrace it, but takes no notice of her and gazes at its own cow. The bull is depicting with proud mien, the leader of the herd, with splendid horns, white, already experienced in love, its dewlap low and its neck massive, and it gazes fondly at the cow; but the cow in the herd, ranging free and all white but for a black head, disdains the bull. For its purpose suggests a leap, as of a girl who avoids the importunity of a lover." [1.16]

Contrary to the other labours, there is actually not alot known about how Hēraklēs managed to wrangle in the bull and take him back to the main land. Both versions, however, agree that Minos helped him do it, or at least offered Hēraklēs assistance. If I was Minos, I would want that bull away from my wife and people too! Diodorus literally suffices with a single line on the capture of the Bull:

"[A]nd sailing to the island he secured the aid of Minos the king and brought it back to the Peloponnesus, having voyaged upon its back over so wide an expanse of sea." [4.13.4]

Apollodorus is a little bit more forthcoming:

"To attack this bull Hercules came to Crete, and when, in reply to his request for aid, Minos told him to fight and catch the bull for himself, he caught it and brought it to Eurystheus, and having shown it to him he let it afterwards go free. But the bull roamed to Sparta and all Arcadia, and traversing the Isthmus arrived at Marathon in Attica and harried the inhabitants." [2.5.7]

How Hēraklēs captured the Bull will most likely always remain a mystery. I like to envision him wrestling it down and tying it like the bull capturers; risking life and limb in a heroic effort to make better the lives of the citizens of Krete. And so another labour is completed. Next time we will cover the little break that follows the seventh labour in which Hēraklēs establishes the Olympic Games and frees the Titan Prometheus--amongst other things.

Image Source: Wikipedia Commons.
I literally have five minutes to put something up today due to bad planning on my part, so forgive me when I leave you with another poetry post. I chose this because you guys seemed to really like the not-so-well-known 'Hymn to Athena' by Proklos. Forgive me, I will actually write you something tomorrow. It is most definitely one of those weeks.

Mesomedes of Krete (Μεσομήδης ὁ Κρής) was a Roman-era Hellenic lyric poet and composer of the early second century AD. He was a freedman and court musician to the emperor Hadrian (reigned 117-138 CE), and created  three hymns and fifteen poems which have survived to this day. The hymns to Nemesis, the muse Calliope, and the Sun can be read here and listened to here. I am partial to this translation of the 'Hymn to Nemesis', copied from here, as translated by AZ Foreman.

Nemesis, winged tilter of scales and lives,
Justice-spawned Goddess with steel-blue eyes!
Thou bridlest vain men who roil in vain 
Against Thy harsh adamantine rein.
Great hater of hubris and megalomania,
Obliterator of black resentment,
By Thy trackless, churning, wracking wheel
Man's glinting fortunes turn on earth.
Thou comest in oblivion's cloak to bend
The grandeur-deluded rebel neck,
With forearm measuring out lifetimes
With brow frowning into the heart of man
And the yoke raised sovereign in Thy hand. 
Hail in the highest, O justice-queen
Nemesis, winged tilter of scales and lives,
Immortal Resenter! I sing Thy song,
Almighty Payback on proud-spread wings,
Lieutenant of fairness, Requiter of wrongs.
Despise the lordly with all Thine art
And lay them low in the Nether-dark.
We have reached the dreaded 'X's in the Pagan Blog Project, but the 'X's are actually quite doable for Hellenists, I feel. Today, I would like to talk a bit about a very special type of statue the ancient Hellenes had access to: xoana (ξόανα), or xoanon (ξόανον), when speaking of the singular. The word comes from the verb 'xeein' (ξέειν), which means 'to carve' or 'to scrape', in relation to wood. In the field of classical archaeology, the term is conventionally used to denote a wooden statue of great age and sanctity. In general, these statues were aniconic cult-statues and thus bore very little--if any--likeness to the deity they represented. Due to the materials they were made from, xoana have not survived into the modern age, unless they were reproduced in marble in the late Hellenic era, or the Roman one, or a reproduction was made.

In general, we can deduce that the ancient Hellenes did not really think their deities lived in the temples they created for them; too many temples were not completed, despite being a bustling temenos The temenos of Zeus at Stratos, for example, is a good example. Construction on the temple on the Temenos grounds was started in the fifth century BC, and while the altar was completed fairly quickly, construction on the temple itself was stopped long before worship at the altar did. The site functioned as a religious site for over 700 years, and the temple never even had a roof. There are a few examples of older temples where the temple was actually said to house a deity--these were the temples that housed xoana. The Erechtheion on the north side of the Acropolis of Athens is a good example of this.

Built between 421 and 406, the Erechtheion was associated with some of the most ancient and holy relics of the Athenians: the Palladion, which was a xoanon of Athena Polias, the marks of Poseidon's trident and the salt water well that resulted from Poseidon's strike, the sacred olive tree that sprouted when Athena struck the rock with her spear in her successful rivalry with Poseidon for the city, the supposed burial places of the mythical kings Cecrops and Erechtheus, the sacred precincts of Cecrops' three daughters--Herse, Pandrosus and Aglaurus--and those of the tribal heroes Pandion and Boutes. It's interesting to note that this large building was constructed in only 15 years, while the Temple of Zeus sat uncompleted 700 years into its use.

The Palladion was the centerpiece of the worship of Athena in Athens. The xoanon was the holiest image of the Goddess the ancient Hellenes knew of, and was thus regarded with the highest respect. It was placed under a bronze likeness of a palm tree and a gold oil lamp burned in front of it. The centerpiece of the grand feast of the Panathenaia was the replacement of this statue's woolen peplos with a newly woven one. It was also carried to the sea by the priestesses and ceremonially washed once a year, in the feast called the Plynteria. Church Father Tertullian mentioned the Palladion in a late 2nd century AD writing, described it as being nothing but 'a rough stake, a shapeless piece of wood'.

It was this characteristic of the Palladion that made it so holy: all xoanon were considered not a man-made artefact but of divine provenance, typically having fallen from the sky after being fashioned by the master crafter Daidalos. Smilis (Σμῖλις), another sculptor and master craftsman, was honored for crafting a number of other xoana. Pausanias, in his 'Description of Greece' describes many xoana. This quote, for example, concerns the wooden xoanon of Hēraklēs at Corinth:

"Now the sanctuary of Athena Chalinitis is by their theater, and near is a naked wooden image of Heracles, said to be a work of Daedalus. All the works of this artist, although rather uncouth to look at, are nevertheless distinguished by a kind of inspiration." [2.4.5]

In rare instances, the aniconic cult-statues were reshapen in later times, making them more human in form. Why this was done is unknown. There are many mentions of xoana in the ancient writing. The statue of Samian Hera at Samos, and the 'Hera of Delos', for example. Pausanias mentions five in one breath: two in Boeotia (a Herakles in Thebes and the Trophonios at Lebadeia), two other xoana in Crete (a Britomartis at Olous and an Athena at Knossos), and a small xoanon of Aphrodite at Delos. The cult-statue of Artemis of Ephesus (depicted above)--which was assumed to be 'many breasted' but in reality was probably decorated with abstract bull's testicles--was another example of a recarved xoanon.

A xoanon could be from any timeframe; Hómēros already wrote about fully fleshed-out Gods with very defined apperances. Yet, xoana were focal points of worship in ancient Hellas, long after his works came out. It was their divine spark that set them apart, not their age or looks. Pausanias suggested that xoana were not only religious statues, but statuaries onto themselves with the ability to have the spirits of Gods or heroes dwelling within them. This made these objects decidedly valuable for the ancient Hellenes and also defnes the diference between a statue and a xoanon: a statue is a gift to the Theoi; a xoanon has the potential to house one.

Image source: Wikipedia Commons.

I seem to have completely missed it last year, but it seems there is such a thing as a 'Live Like A Stoic' week, and it will take place from the 25th of November, until 1 December. The organizers of the event have created it to encourage everyone who is interested in Stoicism, or who practices it today, to get involved in an event or activity, and help spread the word. Last year, Stoic Week attracted participants in schools, universities and philosophy clubs around the world, and generated articles in the Guardian, Independent, The Philosopher’s Magazine and the Huffington Post. 

Live Like A Stoic Week is an opportunity to to share your philosophical ideology with the world--through any medium available to you--or to attend events, read blogs and books, and do your own research into the subject. If ever you wanted to learn more about Stoicism, or spread the word, the Live Like A Stoic Week is your chance. The organizers have some ideas on how you can participate:

"We’d love it if, once again, Stoic Week events take place all over the world. This could be as simple as organizing a discussion on Stoicism in your local cafe or pub. It could mean local clubs, schools or philosophy departments organizing a debate on a Stoic question or theme, such as ‘can philosophy be a form of therapy?’ or ‘is virtue sufficient for happiness?’ If you’re a teacher or a lecturer, you might get your class to discuss Stoicism and to consider some of the Stoics’ practical techniques for changing our emotions.

We’re organizing a public event in London on Saturday November 30, ‘Stoicism for Everyday Life’. You can find more details here on the event’s website, and book. Places are filling up quickly, so book early so as to avoid disappointment.

It would be great if any bloggers interested in Stoicism used the week as an opportunity to share their own experience of Stoicism. Has it helped you? Do you think it has relevance in modern life? Which ideas or exercises have you found particularly helpful? Write a blog post or make a YouTube video, and be sure to mention Stoic Week and to help spread the word. Send Patrick Ussher or another project member the link, and we’ll share it with our followers.

You can also get involved in our annual study of the practical effects of Stoic techniques and ethics. This year, the handbook will be constructed as a ‘Journey into Stoicism’, which each day focusing on a key Stoic idea and exercises to go with it.  If taking part, fill in the Stoic questionnaire we provide, and send it back to us. You might also want to share your experience more informally via a blog or YouTube video."

Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early 3rd century BC. The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and that a person of moral and intellectual perfection, would not suffer such emotions. Stoic doctrine was popular with a following in ancient Hellas and throughout the Roman Empire until the closing of all pagan philosophy schools in 529 AD by order of the Emperor Justinian I, who perceived their pagan character as being at odds with the Catholic Christian faith.

Stoicism teaches a very clear core tennet: a person who lives a virtuous life can never be unhappy, as his (or her) happiness is no longer dependent upon outside forces. A person completely happy with themselves cannot be made unhappy by any outside force. In order to reach this level of contentment, Stoicism teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions; the philosophy holds that becoming a clear and unbiased thinker allows one to understand the universal reason.

Stoicism doesn't just teach ethics and virtues but extends into other areas of life, like science and religion. Stoid physics and cosmology are quite destinct, and part of the Stoic school of thought.

I am not a Stoic, although if I had to pick any school of Hellenistic philosophical thought, it would most certainly be Stoicism. I have incorporated much of the school into my life--finding it part of my default character--but am too religious to fully accept the thinking of a school formed from Socrates' ideology. I might join in for at least a part of the week, though, and post about Stoicism at least once in the week to come. If you are interested in Stoicism, I encourage you to start a discussion about it as well on any medium available to you, or to join mine. If you are looking to join the week, there are a few questionares you should fill out, and other preparations to make. Check here for an overview of the required--or at least recommended--preparations.

In the spirit of Stoicism, remember the words of Stoic philosopher Epictetus (Ἐπίκτητος) as you go about your day today: "Don't demand that things happen as you wish, but wish that they happen as they do happen, and you will go on well." 
Every once in a while, I get asked to write about something. Sometimes it's just ad agencies looking for people to write about some completely random project, sometimes it's people who came across something awesome and thought they'd help by getting the creator the exposure of my blog and sometimes, the creator of said project contacts me directly. I don't always say yes. Most of the time, these projects are too far removed from Hellenism or even my brand of it for me to concientiously back it. In this case, however, when Janet contacted me to do so, it felt like an honor to me.

Today, I would like to give my support for a Tarot deck, filled with art inspired by our mythology. Now, divination is a rather loaded subject within Hellenismos, especially when employed to divine the future. After all, a human interpreting the will of the Gods smacks of hubris. Yet, creator Janet D.H. Hinkel seems to have anticipated this kind of trepedation with the divination tool.

The Tarot of Delphi is a full 78-card tarot deck illustrated with Neoclassical fine art from the Victorian era--art from the late 1830s to the early 1910s. Like the paintings used to create the deck, Janet envisions the Tarot deck to tell your stories and give you a tool for interpreting your past, your present, and your dreams for the future.

What I love about this project--and Janet's approach to it--is that it is designed as a tool to get to know yourself better. It's even in the tag line of the deck. The focus is on the present, which is invariably linked to the past and future. With that attitude, the deck comes much closer to the ancient spirit of divination and takes away much of my worry to bring a modern concept into a Hellenistic practice.

Janet has created a short two-miute video to promote the Kickstarted campaign linked to the project, which I think, perfectly illustrates her vision for the project. I will be backing the project and getting my own set of the Tarot deck (once I work out how to get this thing shipped internationally; the Kickstarter is predictably US based). For those of you looking to pledge a little more than the 30 dollars the deck will cost, Stephanie Robb Jewelry Designs and fashion designer Maura Simmonds Price offer gorgeous, handcrafted rewards with Hellenic and Victorian themes inspired directly from the paintings. These rewards have been designed exclusively for the Tarot of Delphi and range from jewelery to clothing, to Tarot bags. There is something for everyone.

The money pledged to the project go towards procuring image rights where nessesary, for printing costs and towards shipping. Speaking of copyright (which can be a great concern when using art created by another), Janet has been hard at work in that departement as well:

"It’s extremely important to respect the copyrights of artists and their estates, so I am working with a copyright lawyer to verify the copyright status of each image. So far, selected paintings are in the public domain in the United States. I have secured about two thirds of the images from open sources. The final third, however, are not available to the general public in high resolution. Private companies, museums, and other organization provide these images for a fee and sometimes sell limited rights to them (this is a slightly gray area of copyright/public domain law). In these cases, I have identified sources and costs for the images."

Janet seems to have it all worked out, and I am inspired by the deck, although it has been at least a year or so since I last touched my Olympos Tarot. I know a lot of my readers enjoy Tarot or divination in general, and I hope some of you will be willing to pledge an amount towards the completion of the project. Janet estimates she needs 8,800 dollars to cover costs, of which a little under $5,000,- is now pledged. There are still 22 days to go on the Kickstarter and I hope the remaining funds are gifted in this time span. Again, here is the link to the Kickstarter, and here to the official website. My best to Janet and once this project is a success, I hope you enjoy your deck!
Hi everyone, forgive me, I literally have zero time to write today, and didn't realize that yesterday, so I didn't write anything then either. Please forgive me and come back tomorrow when there will be an actual post. For today, let me leave you with Proklos' beautiful Hymn to Minerva (Athena).

Proklos (Πρόκλος) was a Greek Neoplatonist philosopher, one of the last major Classical philosophers. He was alive from 8 February 412 AD to 17 April 485 AD), and amongst other things, he wrote five beautiful hymns about the Roman Gods, which can be interpreted for the Hellenic ones as well. The surviving works consist of two hymns to Venus (Aphrodite), one to the Sun (Helios), one to the Muses, and one to Minerva.

Daughter of ægis-bearing Jove, divine,
Propitious to thy vot’ries prayer incline;
From thy great father’s fount supremely bright,
Like fire resounding, leaping into light.
Shield-bearing goddess, hear, to whom belong
A manly mind, and power to tame the strong!
Oh, sprung from matchless might, with joyful mind
Accept this hymn; benevolent and kind!
The holy gates of wisdom by thy hand
Are wide unfolded; and the daring band
Of earth-born giants, that in impious fight
Strove with thy fire, were vanquish’d by thy might.
Once by thy care, as sacred poets sing,
The heart of Bacchus, swiftly-slaughter’d king,
Was sav’d in æther, when, with fury fir’d,
The Titans fell against his life conspir’d;
And with relentless rage and thirst for gore,
Their hands his members into fragments tore:
But ever watchful of thy father’s will,
Thy pow’r preserv’d him from succeeding ill,
Till from the secret counsels of his sire,
And born from Semele through heav’nly fire,
Great Dionysius to the world at length
Again appear’d with renovated strength.
Once, too, thy warlike axe, with matchless sway,
Lopp’d from their savage neck the heads away
Of furious beasts, and thus the pests destroy’d
Which long all-seeing Hecate annoy’d.
By thee benevolent great Juno’s might
Was rous’d, to furnish mortals with delight:
And through life’s wide and various range ’tis thine
Each part to beautify with arts divine:
Invigorated hence by thee, we find
A demiurgic impulse in the mind.
Towers proudly rais’d, and for protection strong,
To thee, dread guardian, deity belong,
As proper symbols of th’ exalted height
Thy series claims amidst the courts of light.
Lands are belov’d by thee to learning prone,
And Athens, O Athena, is thy own!
Great goddess, hear! and on my dark’ned mind
Pour thy pure light in measure unconfin’d;—
That sacred light, O all-protecting queen,
Which beams eternal from thy face serene:
My soul, while wand’ring on the earth, inspire
With thy own blessed and impulsive fire;
And from thy fables, mystic and divine,
Give all her powers with holy light to shine.
Give love, give wisdom, and a power to love,
Incessant tending to the realms above;
Such as, unconscious of base earth’s control,
Gently attracts the vice-subduing soul;
From night’s dark region aids her to retire,
And once more gain the palace of her sire:
And if on me some just misfortune press,
Remove th’ affliction, and thy suppliant bless.
All-saving goddess, to my prayer incline!
Nor let those horrid punishments be mine
Which guilty souls in Tartarus confine,
With fetters fast’ned to its brazen floors,
And lock’d by hell’s tremendous iron doors.
Hear me, and save (for power is all thy own)
A soul desirous to be thine alone.
It is once again Monday, which means that on Saturday, another episode of BBC's Atlantis aired and we are now back with more thrilling adventures from the only slightly fictional realm of Atlantis. By now, you probably know who the main characters are, so I'm not going to add that to the summary. Important to know: nothing, as far as I could discover. Enjoy, but bring a stuffed animal of some sorts. Atlantis is bringing the angst.

Alright, treasure. Lots of treasure. That is what we are opening with this week. That and Hercules looking at it longingly. It seems he is looking for work again, and I really hope this time goes better than the previous one. This time, he is asked to escort previously mentioned treasure through the desert and on to Helios. Hercules rattles off a list of dangers he might encounter, and the man he is negotiating with calls him on the fact that he is not exactly living up to his reputation right now. Hercules sticks with the dangers and so, the reward is upped: a thousand drachma in advance, and a thousand when he returns. Hercules gives in. They leave at dawn, and if anything happens to the cargo, they all lose all their fingers. Gulp.

It seems the son of the man, whose name is Philemon, is getting married, and this is the 'bride-price'. I'm going to pause for a history lesson here, so skip to after the picture below if you just want to get on with things. The bride-price was known pretty much only in Homeric society, meaning that by the time Homer wrote his Odysseia and Iliad, the practice had already gone extinct. The bride-price was quite literally the price a groom had to pay to his bride--paying it to the family of the bride to let him take her away. Even in the Iliad, for example, this practice was replaced by the tradition of providing a dowry. In book IX of the Iliad, Agamemnon promises Achilles: "You shall lead whichever you wish to Peleus’ house, without bride-price, and he will add a dowry, greater than any man yet gave with a daughter." [222 - 306]

The tradition of paying a dowry was most practiced in non-mythical ancient Hellas, and meant that the family of the wife provided the future husband of their daughter with a sum of money and/or goods which remained in the possession of the woman. This meant that, in the case of a not-often-practiced divorce, the dowry returned to (the family of) the ex-wife as they/she was entitled to it. Alright, back to Atlantis.

It's the middle of the night when the boys sneak out of the house of their employer (who I think is named Nilas (Darren Morfitt)) with the chest full of goodies. The three boys are pretty freaked out as they try to get home and they are sure they are being followed... which they are. As Jason jumps the man, it turns out it's Pythagoras' brother Arcas (Will Merrick). As far as I know, the real Pythagoras had two brothers and a sister (Eunomus, Tyrrhenus, and Themistocleia, respectively), but Arcas is also a good name.

At any rate, Pythagoras' brother is a good gambler, a smooth talker, and it is obvious Pythagoras is worried/feels old childhood insecurities bubbling up. Especially when Hercules declares his brother 'more useful with a sword' than him and tells all of them that the new guy is coming with them to Helios. Nice move, dude.

The next morning, Jason wakes Hercules whom--as we know--is not a morning person. He deduced the hand on his arm belongs to Medusa and kisses it repeatedly. Jason pulls it back, annoyed, and tells Hercules to get up. Hercules has been dreaming about Medusa--which Jason cuts off right away. He does not need to know that. Also, he is naked. Good Gods. I have never appreciated a yellow blanket more.

It seems, by the way, that Jason did realize Pythagoras wasn't too happy about his brother's return. Pythagoras was up already, and off to see the Oracle. It seems he's never been to her. Pythagoras is acting weird; he wants to know if he will cross the desert safely, and she tells him he will travel much further than that, and that he has every right to be worried. It seems it's in his hands how the situation will be resolved. It seems Pythagoras is running from something... or someone... and he can no longer avoid it. The Oracle offers her ear to listen to his story, but Pythagoras says it's his burden to live and die with.

In the market square, Hercules is clearing the way for Arcas--who is carrying the heavy trunk on his own--so they can get out of the city. Jason is with them, as is Pythagoras, even though he still doesn't look very certain he should join. They meet Philemon (James Rastall) in the Agora, and he seems like a nice, young, lad. Somehow, I fear for my favorite myth. He doesn't appreciate Hercules sucking up to him like his father would have like to hear and instead tells Hercules to hand the chest over to a burly helper. Hercules refuses and says the chest is not leaving his side. He kind of likes his fingers. Pythagoras' brother (who really, really, really, does not look like him) is looking on as Hercules hands over the chest.

A young woman pulls Jason aside to help with her her horse (or something), and in the agora, Arcas suddenly attacks the burly helper because he 'has the mark of a murderer'.  Good grief, I really do not like this guy. The helper--whose name is Otus (Ryan Oliva)--only holds off Arcas, and it his his supervisor Medios (Fintan McKeown) who pushes Arcas off of him. Pythagoras helps in restraining his brother, who is yelling something about murderers and not wanting to travel with him. I just roll my eyes. Medios gives the group a speech about them all being brothers in the desert and not wanting to hear any more of this. Everyone looks ashamed of what just happened. Medios gives Otus a supportive slap on the shoulder and tells him to finish packing up.

Jason questions Pythagoras about the situation. It seems Pythagoras' father was killed when Arcas was very young and now, he has it out for al murderers. It seems, though, that Pythagoras' father wasn't a very good man and his death might have been deserved.

As they ride out, Medios asks Pythagoras if he has spoken to his younger brother. He has. Medios then shares Otus' story: he was a chattel--movable personal property--on the island of Samos. It's where Pythagoras grew up, incidentally. One day, he spoke up and his owners cut out his tongue. Otus took his revenge and paid the price afterwards. Medios says he's good people and that if Arcas touches him again, he will have Medios himself to deal with. I do like Medios, by the way.

The group that leaves the gates consists of Jason, Hercules, Pythagoras, Arcas, Medios, Otus, and the woman we saw asking Jason for help earlier. They are all on horseback. By the time they stop for lunch, Pythagoras seeks out his younger brother. Arcas says he's sorry and Pythagoras forgives him. he gives him some words of advice and says he has put the past behind him. Arcas doesn't exactly look convinced.

Hercules questions the young woman on her business. For once, Atlantis gets it right when Hercules says it's unusual to see a woman out on the road alone. She has family in Helios, it seems. Philemon is sure she's going to bring misfortune upon them. the young woman is scared and fidgety, glancing about all the time. Whoever she is, she is hiding something. Hercules deduces that last bit by the woman's eating habits, by the way.

The desert is deserted and dusty, and it doesn't look like the best place to be. Hercules longs for a bath and complains about everything. Jason reminds him this whole trip was his idea in the first place, and he pipes down. At night, Jason and Pythagoras talk about Arcas. It seems they don't have a good relationship. Pythagoras brushes it off, but Jason prods a little more. "Pythagoras, I know you," he says and the 'Jagoras'-ship launches anew. Pythagoras still refuses to talk, though, and says Jason should get some sleep.

While everyone but Otus is asleep, bandits attack. Fortunately they are loud enough to wake everyone in an instant and they manage to fight the bandits off fairly easily. In a shocking turn of events, Philemon gets knocked down by a bandit while feeing, and the young woman who is traveling with them knocks out his attacker with a few well-placed blows. I like this woman already!

The group enters the 'cave of the Furies', who would kill the bandits but should leave them safe. Medios says he has slept here plenty of times, and so everyone files into the cave system. While the group rushes ahead, Philemon and the mystery woman lag behind a little due to their final encounter with the bandits. He thanks her for her help and admits he was wrong to doubt her. she says he is welcome, happy he can admit he was wrong, and that he owes her a drink. she takes his wineskin and takes a swig from it. Obviously enamored, Philemon asks her name. "Baucis", she says, and a match is made in ancient Greek heaven--at least if we stick to the myth. Hercules doesn't trust Baucis as far as she can throw him, however.

Insert another mythology lesson: the Furies--better known around these parts as the Erinyes--are female khthonic deities of vengeance. Although there are other stories about Their birth, the most common is the one where these three Khthonic deities were born from Gaea, from the blood of Ouranos, as Kronos cut off His testicles and threw them over His shoulder, into the ocean. According to ancient Roman poet Virgil, They are three sisters: Alecto ('the angry'), Megaera ('the grudging') and Tisiphone ('the avenger'). They can be petitioned by victims--or family of victims--of homicide, unfilial conduct, crimes against the gods, perjury and crimes committed by a child upon their parent(s). They are famous for continuing their unrelenting punishments until the perpetrator shows remorse. Due to their ability to enter and leave the Underworld at will, they will even continue Their punishment after the perpetrator is dead.

In Atlantis, however, they are spirits, not Gods. They are the 'daughters of the night' (which, in Hellenic Mythology would actually make them divine, just saying), born from the blood of those who have been murdered. Once summoned, they hound murderers 'till the end of the earth. Raise your hand if you think Arcas is going to do something stupid again.

That night, the village idiot, indeed, petitions the Furies with an apple, some water, and a plea. He asks them to go after his father's murderer... and as a reply, the torch he brought with him blows out and Jason wakes up... but Arcas is there, looking at him sweetly, and tells him to go to back to sleep.

In the morning, a dead bird outside of the cave rattles everyone but Medios, who says it was placed there by the bandits to accomplish exactly this. Hercules is convinced it is a sign from the Gods, however, and the day is off to a rocky start.

Back on the road, Arcas tells Pythagoras he's ready to leave the past behind them, and Pythagoras is relieved. Just you wait, Py, just you wait... And indeed, something shoots up from the desert ground, a weird trick of the wind, Medios ends up explaining, but it is powerful enough to spook Philemon's horse enough to cast him off. No one feel any better about this situation, and they are starting to drive themselves and each other nuts.

At an oasis, everyone takes a breather and a drink... until Baucis steals a horse and the chest with treasures. Hercules curses her, but Philemon looks a little impressed. Hercules blames Jason for the entire situation, but it seems Jason realized something was up; he switched the gold with the contents of his saddlebags. The treasure is al there. And in the one sentence that launched a thousand ships--Jercules, to be precise--Hercules tells Jason: "I'm going to kiss you… you don't have to kiss me back!"

Back in the saddle (no on-screen kiss, unfortunately--another sandstorm appears near their location. Jason goes to check it out but is held back by Medios. As Pythagoras shifts his horse into gear, another sandstorm barely misses him. Lucky.

At a rocky pass, Medios gets off of his horse and arms up, followed by Otus and Jason. It looks like the perfect place for an ambush... but the bandit is already dead. And not that long either. they hear a sound and follow it down a slope, finding a wineskin banging against the rocks... as well as Baucis, who begs them for a horse. She was ambushed by bandits, and is sorry for what she did. Philemon offers to let her ride with him. Jason also takes her side. Medios is against it, but he is outnumbered. She joins Philemon on his horse, and the favor she paid him is repaid.

As the sun goes down, the group finds shelter for the night in another cave... which means they are trapped as another sandstorm rushes their way. It doesn't come close enough to do anything but freak them out, but they don't sleep very restfully that night. Every single sound indicates an ambush--even when it's just Hercules with firewood. And then there is another sandstorm--in the cave, and Jason has to fight to prevent Pythagoras from being sucked up into it as blood chilling screams emerge from the cyclone. As the group recovers from the ordeal, Medios shares his fears: that these are the furies and that they were summoned last night by one of the group.

Arcas right away pipes up and proudly sas it was him, because his incredibly faulty logic has determined that, because Otus is a killer, he must have murdered his father too. Otus is a good man: he backs up as Arcas goes after him again and Pythagoras pulls him away, telling him to stop. It was him. He killed their father. Suffice to say, everyone is stunned. It was an accident; he didn't mean to kill him. At that point, the furies return and suck up Medios. It seems the Furies are unconcerned with collateral damage. the Furies vanish and Pythagoras says to leave him: they won't pursue the group, but if Pythagoras stays with them, they will keep coming until everyone of them is dead.

Arcas proves himself a real jackass and refuses to call off the Furies. Pythagoras explains that he was protecting their mother from one of his father's alcohol induced abuse sessions. He came after young Pythagoras and fell on something that cracked open his skull. Pythagoras tried to help him, but it was too late. Arcas doesn't care; all he hears is that his brother lied to him for years and that their father is dead because of him. Good grief, I am not looking forward to the last fifteen minutes. I really need Arcas to be sucked up by Furies this instant. What a mess.

Jason tries to get Arcas to reconsider but gets punched in the face. Hercules also says he believes Pythagoras. While the others go after Arcas who ran away, Jason vows to stay with Pythagoras. Jagoras, everyone. The moment is shattered by Hercules eating an apple and then suddenly getting sucked up by the vortex that houses the Furies. He's spat out by it again, and smashes into the rock face. By the way Jason has to carry him to a slightly softer spot on the floor, it seems Hercules is definitely hurt. His leg's a little mangled, and all Pythagoras can think is 'it's my fault'. He says the two of them should go while they still can. He says friends don't have to die for each other. Jason says that friends save each other. Pythagoras is touched, but realizes the effort is futile, and he doesn't want to drag his best friends into this any further. He walks off. My hat off to Robert Emms this episode. He plays Pythagoras' pain spot on.

Jason calls after him, and eventually follows him, leaving a complaining Hercules behind. Meanwhile, Baucis tries to talk some sense into Arcas. Philemon tries to help, but it's no good. Arcas rushes off, saying he has made his decision. So has Pythagoras. He is about to walk into the whirlwind when Jason wrestles him to the ground. He asks what the hell Pythagoras thinks he's doing and that that they just need to hold on until daybreak. "For what?" Pythagoras asks. "For the next night? And the next?" the Furies will never stop. Jason doesn’t know what to say but Hercules crawls out from behind the rocks, and as Jason rushes over to take him back to safety and back on his back, Pythagoras follows and helps him. that was Hercules' plan. Jason tells Pythagoras that without his help, he won't be able to get Hercules to Helios and he will surely die. Pythagoras resigns to staying alive for a day longer and agrees to help.

At that moment, the whirlwind is back and Pythagoras is nearly dragged into it. Jason tries to grab him but can't reach him without being sucked in as well. Then, Arcas is there, telling the Furies he has forgiven the man who killed his father, but their attack does not stop. Jason says Arcas has to fully forgive him, in his heart. Arcas says he can't, and Jason pleads for him to try. "He is the kindest man I know..." He says and Pythagoras again tells Arcas how sorry he is. He loses his grip on the rock he has been clinging to and is about to be sucked into the vortex when Arcas rushes forward and grab his arm. The wind dies down instantly and Pythagoras smacks into the ground, exhausted but alive.

The next morning, Jason wakes up to the sight of Philemon, Baucis, and Otus. He smiles and says "you came back" in the cutest way possible. Big, strong, silent, Otus lifts his closed fist to his chest and taps it. Jason repeats the gesture. Brothers in the desert.

It seems it was Baucis who convinced the group to return for the boys. Her character is a little... random, but I will never say no to a woman who breaks the mold. Hercules is eating, and Arcas and Pythagoras are already at the 'lets-joke-about-this'-stage of their processing. It must have been quite the long night.

The group reaches Helios without another (on-screen) hitch. Philemon and Baucis haven't let go of each other's hands yet, and Hercules can only think of his stomach. Arcas and Pythagoras hug it out and have a brotherly talk about Arcas needing to make his own life. It seems all is right between those two.

Philemon and Baucis are going to make a run for it: he's not getting married to the woman his father chose for him. Jason congratulates him; Hercules has a fit when he hears the news. They have to take the cargo back, and leave the same day. It was all a long trip for nothing, but Pythagoras' dark secret is out and no one--besides Medios, of course, but no one seems to remember that at the moment--died. It's a win all around, save for not getting paid. Actually, it's not much of a win at all, not I think about it. Well, there is always next week.

Next week on Atlantis: Jason and Hercules travel to the Underworld for a box, Pythagoras punches out a guy, and Medusa opens a box that sounds like it has snakes in it. Alright, perhaps it won't be a better week next week, but tune in regardless. Saturdays on BBC One, recap on Monday.