"I want to make an offering to Ares but I'm at a loss on what to give Him.... Any ideas on what He might like to be offered?"

I get quite a few questions on how to best honour a certain deity or what to offer Them. I have answered this question before, actually, in relation to Athena and Poseidon. As I said then, the major difference between reconstructive religions and modern ones—especially Pagan ones—is the way worship is conducted. Individual worship of Gods as well as patronage is perfectly acceptable in modern religions, but in Recon religions and the ancient Traditions they were based upon, worship tends to be of the pantheon, not so much the one God or Goddess. Worship was generalized in such a way that multiple Gods and Goddesses were worshipped in one rite—and usually in the same way.

The traditional offerings for the ancient Gods were wine, meat and skins from sacrificed animals, and incense. Pretty much anything else is a modern invention; coins, feathers, statues, etc. etc, are all modern. Yes, there were statues in temples, but they were there to house the presence of the God and to give a focal point to worship. Yes, gifts were given to temples, but as payment for the aid of the priests. Basic, Hellenic worship means pouring wine into a fire, means tossing barley groats and incense into the flames, and depending on how hard-core you go at it, to sacrifice animals or give bought meat to the Gods through flames.

Those of us in Hellenismos who came there from the Pagan community often feel the need to give specified gifts; for Ares, I could imagine decorating shrines with weapons and shields, with the colour red (for blood and war but also love), and other symbolic gifts. This is perfectly fine, of course, but please be aware that this is a modern thought pattern. Even ancient shrines were basic places of worship, decorated mostly with practical tools. Temples were places where riches were collected and stored--usually not even displayed prominently.

To answer this question, the best I can come up with is red, grass-fed meat, frankincense incense and some hymns in His honour. I hope that helps.
I recently moved all my books on ancient Hellas and ancient Hellenic religion up from my very limited shelve space in our living room to my study. It had to be done; not only did I run out of shelve space, but because I write most of my blog posts in the study I had part of my books upstairs, the rest downstairs, and I was running around to collect the ones I needed.

While I was packing them up and sorting them, I realized it had been a while since I last talked about my source books. I also haven't updated my reading list in forever, something I should remedy soon. To celebrate this little move, I'll share with you my favourite authors and titles of sourcebooks on ancient Hellas. These are the books I reach for first when I don't know the answer to a question or I want to look something up.

Summaries by Amazon.com (and thus the respective publishers).

Bruit Zaidman, Louise & Schmitt Pantel, Pauline - Religion in the Ancient Greek City
This book is an English translation of the French work La Religion Grecque. Its purpose is to consider how religious beliefs and cultic rituals were given expression in ancient Greece. The chapters cover first ritual and then myth, rooting the account in the practices of the classical city while also taking seriously the world of the imagination. For this edition the bibliography has been substantially revised to meet the needs of a mainly student, English-speaking readership. The book is enriched throughout by illustrations, and by quotations from original sources

Burkert, Walter - Greek Religion
In this book Walter Burkert, the most eminent living historian of ancient Greek religion, has produced the standard work for our time on that subject. First published in German in 1977, it has now been translated into English with the assistance of the author himself. A clearly structured and readable survey for students and scholars, it will be welcomed as the best modern account of any polytheistic religious system.

Harrison, Jane Ellen - Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion
Jane Harrison examines the festivals of ancient Greek religion to identify the primitive "substratum" of ritual and its persistence in the realm of classical religious observance and literature. In Harrison's preface to this remarkable book, she writes that J. G. Frazer's work had become part and parcel of her "mental furniture" and that of others studying primitive religion. Today, those who write on ancient myth or ritual are bound to say the same about Harrison. Her essential ideas, best developed and most clearly put in the Prolegomena, have never been eclipsed.

Keans, Emily - Ancient Greek Religion: A Sourcebook
Ancient Greek Religion: Historical Sources in Translation presents a wide range of documents relating to the religious world of the ancient Greeks from the earliest surviving literature to around the end of the fourth century BCE. It presents a wide range of documents relating to the religious world of the ancient Greeks, from the earliest surviving literature to around the end of the fourth century BCE, provides extensive background information for readers with no previous knowledge of classical studies, brings together new and rare passages for comparison – with occasional new interpretations – to appeal to professionals, offers a variety of less frequently examined material and looks at familiar texts in new ways, includes the use of extensive cross-referencing to indicate the interconnectedness of different aspects of religious practice and thought, and includes the most comprehensive commentary and updated passages available in a single volume.

Kindt, Julia - Rethinking Greek Religion
Who marched in religious processions and why? How were blood sacrifice and communal feasting related to identities in the ancient Greek city? With questions such as these, current scholarship aims to demonstrate the ways in which religion maps on to the socio-political structures of the Greek polis ('polis religion'). In this book Dr Kindt explores a more comprehensive conception of ancient Greek religion beyond this traditional paradigm. Comparative in method and outlook, the book invites its readers to embark on an interdisciplinary journey touching upon such diverse topics as religious belief, personal religion, magic and theology. Specific examples include the transformation of tyrant property into ritual objects, the cultural practice of setting up dedications at Olympia, and a man attempting to make love to Praxiteles' famous statue of Aphrodite. The book will be valuable for all students and scholars seeking to understand the complex phenomenon of ancient Greek religion.

Mikalson, Jon D. - Ancient Greek Religion
Ancient Greek Religion provides an introduction to the fundamental beliefs, practices, and major deities of Greek religion. It focuses on Athens in the classical period, includes detailed discussion of Greek gods and heroes, myth and cult, and vivid descriptions of Greek religion as it was practiced, ancient texts are presented in boxes to promote thought and discussion, and abundant illustrations help readers visualize the rich and varied religious life of ancient Greece. The revised edition includes additional boxed texts and bibliography, an 8-page color plate section, a new discussion of the nature of Greek “piety,” and a new chapter on Greek Religion and Greek Culture.

Mikalson, Jon D. - The Sacred and Civil Calendar of the Athenian Year
Amazon doesn't have a summary of this one. In short, this book offers an overview of the entire Athenian year, all the festival dates, and dates in which there were assemblies. It's an invaluable resource to figure out the Hellenic calendar.

Ogden, Daniel et. al. - A Companion to Greek Religion
This major addition to Blackwell’s Companions to the Ancient World series covers all aspects of religion in the ancient Greek world from the archaic, through the classical and into the Hellenistic period. It was written by a panel of international experts and focuses on religious life as it was experienced by Greek men and women at different times and in different places. It features major sections on local religious systems, sacred spaces and ritual, and the divine.
Parker, Robert - On Greek Religion
In On Greek Religion, Robert Parker offers a provocative and wide-ranging entrée into the world of ancient Greek religion, focusing especially on the interpretive challenge of studying a religious system that in many ways remains desperately alien from the vantage point of the twenty-first century. One of the world's leading authorities on ancient Greek religion, Parker raises fundamental methodological questions about the study of this vast subject. Given the abundance of evidence we now have about the nature and practice of religion among the ancient Greeks—including literary, historical, and archaeological sources—how can we best exploit that evidence and agree on the central underlying issues? Is it possible to develop a larger, "unified" theoretical framework that allows for coherent discussions among archaeologists, anthropologists, literary scholars, and historians?

Parker, Robert - Polytheism and Society at Athens
This book is the first attempt that has ever been made to give a comprehensive account of the religious life of ancient Athens. The city's many festivals are discussed in detail, with attention to recent anthropological theory; so too, for instance, are the cults of households and of smaller groups, the role of religious practice and argumentation in public life, the authority of priests, the activities of religious professionals such as seers and priestesses, magic, the place of theatrical representations of the gods within public attitudes to the divine. A long final section considers the sphere of activity of the various gods, and takes Athens as a uniquely detailed test case for the structuralist approach to polytheism.
Warrior, Valerie M. - Greek Religion: A Sourcebook
Greek Religion: A Sourcebook provides an introduction to the fundamentals of ancient Greek religious beliefs and rituals through a rich collection of ancient source readings. The translations draw from the Focus Classical Library sources as well as new translations by the author and other outstanding scholars. Chapters cover such topics as ancient magic, mystery cults, divination, and festivals.
After last week's season finale, BBC One's 'Atlantis' is on break until the new year. To wean you off of your weekly fix slowly, we'll have a look at a few behind the scenes things today, including a look at what is still to come!

Remember how in the first episode of the second season, Jason got shot by an arrow and Hercules and Pythagoras had to carry him across a very flimsy rope bridge? Neither do the actors because this is how they did it:

The stars of the series recenty did an interview about what is going to happen in the second season. Would you care for a few spoilers?

I'm not sure when 'Atlantis'  will be back, but did you know you can watch the previous episodes for free online?

We had our first snow yesterday, a light dusting that never the less insulated the house and brought on cravings of cosy fires and hot chocolate. I'm not the greatest fan of snow (I am a bit of a spaz and tend to fall flat on my face when it snows), but I do really enjoy the sight.

Not many people would relate snow with ancient Hellas, but it did snow there, just as it does in the area today. Sparta, being in the south, would have seen very little snow, but in northern Hellas, it most likely snowed several times a year. It seems that eating snow with honey and fruits was a delicacy around the fifth century B.C., and Hippocrates instructed his patients to consume ice. Mount Olympus, home of the Theoi, located on the border between Thessaly and Macedonia, is described as 'snow-topped' by Hómēros in the Iliad:

"And when the lame god had wrought the armour, he took it and set it down in front of Thetis. Then she swooped like a falcon, from snow-topped Olympus, bearing Hephaestus’ gleaming gift."

The ancient Hellens even worshipped a Theia of snow: the lovely Khionê (χιών), daughter of Boréas (Βορέας), the Northern wind, and Ōreithuia (Ὠρείθυια), daughter of King Erechtheus (Ἐρεχθεύς) of Athens and his wife, Praxithea (Πραξιθέα). Khionê is a nymph and her name bears a direct link with the ancient Hellenic word for snow: khiôn.

Following my own little tradition, I offered sacrifice to Khionê yesterday, welcoming her to my part of the world and thanking her for the insulating layer over the ground that will offer protection to the younglings growing under it. She may have been a little late for Christmas, but who can blame her? It isn't as if Christmas was a holiday the ancient Hellenes celebrated. Thankfully I won't have to go out today so I can enjoy Khionê's presence from the comfort of my couch, safe and sound, and surrounded by Her beauty.
Oh my dears, Christmas celebrations are kicking my ass entirely. Family obligations and good food, you see? As such, you are getting ancient words and a promise for an actual blog post tomorrow. So sorry! Kallimachos of Kyrēnē (Κυρήνη, Cyrene) was a Hellenic poet and scholar of the Library of Alexandria. He rose to greatness around the third century BC and was the author of a large number of works. Unfortunately, only six hymns and sixty-three epigrams have survived to this day. Kallimachos despised the 'outdated' poetry type of Hómēros and wrote many testimonials against it. His hymns are, therefor, different to the eye than the Homeric and Orphic ones.

All ye that are companions of the Bath of Pallas, come forth, come forth! I heard but now the snorting of the sacred steeds, and the goddess is ready to go. Haste ye now, O fair-haired daughters of Pelasgus, haste! Never did Athena wash her mighty arms before she drave the dust from the flanks of her horses – not even when, her armour all defiled with filth, she returned from the battle of the lawless Giants; but far first she loosed from the care her horses’ necks, and in the springs of Oceanus washed the flecks of sweat and from their mouths that champed the bit cleansed the clotted foam.
O come, daughters of Achaea, and bring not perfume nor alabasters (I hear the voice of the axle-naves!); bring not, ye companions of the Bath, for Pallas perfume nor alabasters (for Athena loves not mixed unguents), neither bring ye a mirror. Always her face is fair, and, even when the Phrygian2 judged the strife on Ida, the great goddess looked not into orichalc nor into the transparent eddy of Simois, nor did Hera. But Cypris took the shining bronze and often altered and again altered the same lock. But Pallas, after running twice sixty double courses, even as beside the Eurotas the Lacedaemonian Stars, took and skillfully anointed her with simple unguents, the birth of her own tree. And, O maidens, the red blush arose on her, as the colour of the morning rose or seed of pomegranate. Wherefore now also bring ye only the manly olive oil, wherewith Castor and wherewith Heracles anoint themselves. And bring her a comb all of gold, that she may comb her hair, when she hath anointed her glossy tresses.

Come forth, Athena! A company pleasing to thy heart awaits thee, the maiden daughters of Acestor’s mighty sons.6 And therewithal, O Athena, is borne the shield of Diomedes, since this is the Argive custom which in olden days Eumedes7 taught them: a priest who found favour with thee: who on a time, when he knew that the people were plotting and planning death for him, fled with thy holy image and dwelt in the Creion hill – dwelt on the hill of Creion and established thee, O goddess, on the rugged rocks, whose name is now the Pallantid rocks.
Come forth, Athena, Sacker of Cities, golden-helmeted, who rejoicest in the din of horse and shield. Today, ye water-carriers, dip not your pitchers – today, O Argos, drink ye from the fountains and not from the river; today, ye handmaidens carry your pitches to Physadeia, or Amymone, daughter of Danaus. For, mingling his waters with gold and with flowers, Inakhos will come from his pastoral hills, bringing fair water for the Bath of Athena. But beware, O Pelasgian, lest even unwittingly thou behold the Queen. Whoso shall behold Pallas, Keeper of Cities, naked, shall look on Argos for this the last time. Lady Athena, do thou come forth, and meanwhile I shall say somewhat unto these. The story is not mine but told by others.
Maidens, one nymph of old in Thebes did Athena love much, yea beyond all her companions, even the mother of Teiresias, and was never apart from her. But when she drave her steeds towards ancient Thespiae or towards Coroneia or to Haliartus, passing through the tilled fields of the Boeotians – or toward Coroneia where he fragrant grove and altars are set by the river Coralius – often did the goddess set the nymph upon her car and there was no dalliance of nymphs nor sweet ordering of dance, where Chariclo did not lead.
Yet even her did many tears await in the after days, albeit she was a comrade pleasing to the heart of Athena. One day those twain undid the buckles of their robes beside the fair-flowing Fountain of the Horse on Helicon and bathed; and noontide quiet held all the hill. Those two ere bathing and it was the noontide hour and a great quiet held that hill. Only Teiresias, on whose cheek the down was just darkening, still ranged with his hounds the holy place. And, athirst beyond telling, he came unto the flowing fountain, wretched man! And unwillingly saw that which is not lawful to be seen. And Athena was angered, yet said to him: “What god, O son of Everes, led thee on this grievous way? Hence shalt thou never more take back thine eyes!”
She spake and night seized the eyes of the youth. And he stood there speechless; for pain glued his knees and helplessness stayed his voice. But the nymph cried: “What has thou done to my boy, lady? Is such the friendship of you goddesses? Thou hast taken away the eyes of my son. Foolish child! Thou hast seen the breast and body of Athena, but the sun thou shalt not see again. O me unhappy! O hill, O Helicon, where I may no more come, surely a great price for little has been exacted. Losing a few gazelles and deer, thou hast taken the eyes of my child.”

Therewith the mother clasped her beloved child in both her arms and, wailing the heavy plain of the mournful nightingale, led him away. And the goddess Athena pitied her comrade and spake to her and said: “Noble lady, take back all the words that thou hast spoken in anger. It is not I that made thy child blind. For no sweet thin is it for Athena to snatch away the eyes of children. But the laws of Cronius [Zeus] order thus: Whosoever shall behold any of the immortals, when the god himself chooses not, at a heavy price shall he behold. Noble lady, the thin that is done can no more be taken back; since thus the thread of the Fates span when thou didst bear him from the first; but now, O son of Everes, take thou the issue which is due to thee. How many burnt offerings shall the daughter of Cadmus11 burn in the days to come? How many Aristaeus? – praying that they might see their only son, the young Actaeon, blind. And yet he shall be companion of the chase to great Artemis. But him neither the chase nor comradeship in archery on the hills shall save in that hour, when, albeit unwillingly, he shall behold the beauteous bath of the goddess. Nay, his own dogs shall then devour their former lord. And his mother shall gather the bones of her son, ranging over all the thickets. Happiest of women shall she call thee and of happy fate, for that thou didst receive thy son home from the hills – blind. Therefore, O comrade, lament not; for to this thy son – for thy sake – shall remain many other honours from me. For I will make him a seer to be sung of men hereafter, yea, more excellent than any other. He shall know the birds – which is of good omen among all the countless birds that fly and what birds are of ill-omened flight. Many oracles shall he utter to the Boeotians and many unto Cadmus, and to the mighty sons of Labdacus in later days. Also will I give him a great staff which shall guide his feet as he hath need, and I will give him a long term of life. And he only, when he dies, shall walk among the dead having understanding, honoured of the great Leader of Peoples.”
So she spake and bowed her head; and that word is fulfilled over which Pallas bows; since to Athena only among his daughters hath Zeus granted that she should win all things that belong to her sire, O companions of the Bath, and no mother bare that goddess, but the head of Zeus. The head of Zeus bows not in falsehood, and in falsehood his daughter hath no part.

Now comes Athena in very deed. O maidens, whose task it is, receive ye the goddess with pious greeting and with prayer, and with the voice of thanksgiving. Hail, goddess, and have thou Inachian Argos in thy keeping! Hail when thou drivest forth thy steeds, and home again mayst thou drive them with joy, and do thou preserve all the estate of the Danaans."
I know Boxing Day has literally zero to do with boxing (as in: the sport), but hey, the mind works in mysterious ways and I am going to tell you all a bit about pygmachia (Πυγμαχία, 'fist fighting') in ancient Hellas.

Pygmachia, or boxing, was a brutal sport, and had few rules. There were no rounds, and if an opponent was down, he was fair game. Also, the fighters were chosen by lot, and there were no weight categories: if luck was not at your side, you could end up facing a much heavier opponent. Winners were declared by K.O. of the other fighter, or if the other fighter surrendered. Instead of gloves, ancient boxers wrapped leather thongs called 'himantes' around their hands and wrists which left their fingers free. These were thongs of ox hide approximately 3 to 3.7 meters long that were wrapped around the hands and knuckles for protection and extra punch. Somewhere prior to 400 BC, 'oxys' were introduced to boxing. They consisted of several thick leather bands encircling the hand, wrist, and forearm. A sweatband wrapped around the arm was also added. Around 400 BC 'sphairai' were introduced, which were essentially himantes, but they contained a padded interior and the exterior of the thong was more rigid and hard.

We actually have a very good description about how these boxing matches would have gone: Hómēros in his Iliad describes the boxing match between Epeius and Euryalus:

"Godlike Euryalus alone stood up to fight him, the son of King Mecisteus, Talaus’ son, who at the funeral games for Oedipus, in Thebes, defeated every Cadmeian opponent. Diomedes, the spearman, eager to see him win, helped Euryalus to prepare, and gave him encouragement. He buckled on his belt, and bound the ox-hide thongs carefully on his hands. When the two contestants were ready, they stepped to the centre of the arena, and raising their mighty arms, set to. Each landed heavy blows with their fists, and they ground their teeth, as the sweat poured over their limbs. Euryalus sought an opening, but noble Epeius swung and struck his jaw, and he went straight down, his legs collapsing under him. Like a fish that leaps in the weed-strewn shallows, under a ripple stirred by the North Wind, then falls back into the dark wave, so Euryalus leapt when he was struck, but the big-hearted Epeius, lifted him and set him on his feet, and all his friends crowded round, and supported him from the ring his feet trailing, his head lolling, as he spat out clots of blood. He was still confused when they sat him down in his corner, and had to fetch the cup, his [second] prize, themselves." [Bk XXIII:651]

The video above was shared with me by a kind blog reader who thought it might be of interest to me. It is; this demonstration was part of ACTA's presentation of reconstructed ancient martial arts at Dijon 2009. This is their interpretation of pyghmachia according to the surviving rules. Although you can see these guys are pulling their punches so they won't hurt each other, there is a brutal power to every blow. A direct hit with one of those fists surely would have been painful--especially to the neck and face. I love seeing modern martial arts practitioners return to the old styles out of curiosity or for inspiration and I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into the past.
"Hello, Elani! Poseideon 2 has just begun, and I'm wondering whether we should all just repeat the festivals from last month (Poseideon [1])? I hope you can answer my question! :)"

I'm going to try to give you an answer you can work with, but there is a lot unclear, as you will see. A bit about the calendar first: I have said before that a full lunar year is 354 days long. Because the earth rotates around the sun in roughly 365 days, an extra month was inserted into the twelve-month calendar every few years--usually every third year. This month was usually a repeat of the previous month, most frequently Poseideon, but there are references to repeats of Hekatombaion, Metageitnion, Gamelion, and Anthesterion. How long this month was, depended on the previous years.

Us users of the Gregorian calendar tend to see dates (and time) as constants--they can't be changed. February second will always be February second (even if we have our own shift by adding a day to it every four years). The ancient Hellenes saw the calendar as being extremely flexible. They had a tendency to repeat days to suit their needs, usually to postpone the arrival of a certain date. Assembly meetings, for example, were not held on festival days, so if the meeting was urgent, the previous day was repeated and the festival day postponed. A standard extra month would have been thirty-three days long, but it rarely was; days would have been inserted throughout the previous years, eating into the extra month.

It is unknown if the festivals which fell in this month were repeated as well, if other festivals were held, or if no festivals were celebrated at all. There simply isn't a remaining source to tell us. As such, I cant answer your question with ancient sources... but I can give you my personal thought process on the subject.

In general when a day was added to the calendar in order to push back a day, the day was not 'counted'. It bore the name of the previous day and was treated as a regular day--a non-festival day where meetings could take place and state affairs handled. Now, of course, an intercalculated month is different than an added day, but fact remains that this was a period of time that was named after the previous period of time. It thus stands to reason that this month was void of festival just like the added days. As such, I tend not to repeat festivals. I do observe the standard, recurring events like the Noumenia of the Mên kata Theion.

There is an exception, though. Research into the Poseidea suggests that instead of being held on the eighth of the month, the festival was actually held on the equinox. If this was the case, the festival would sometimes be celebrated in the repeated month (like this year, pushed into it because it landed on the Hene kai Nea, which would is auspicious).

I hope this answers your question as much as possible. Unfortunately, some things about our religion are truly just gut instinct, and educated guesswork. Though much has survived, many sources were lost to us. those that are rebuilding do so slowly but steadily, and sometimes we have to take liberties--like with this.
Animator Steve K. Simmons and his wife, Sonya Nevin, have been using scenes presented in various ancient Greek vases in order to create short videos depicting the myths that are told through vase decorations. 'Panoply' is a modern technology project that aims to bring ancient Greek myths to life, thus reports the Greek Reporter.

Their first animation depicted the myth of Achilles and Ajax during the Trojan War. When trying to create the video, the couple came up with the idea of using the original scenes, as presented on ancient Greek vases and thus the Panoply project was born. The final video can be seen above.

Nevin studied ancient Greek warfare at the University College in Dublin and currently works as a research fellow and visiting lecturer at the University of Roehampton in London. According to her, the project idea stemmed from her involvement with Ure Museum. Her husband’s skills in animation and software engineering played a major role in the project’s development.
A while ago, I decided that on the day of the Hene kai Nea, I'd post a monthly update about things that happened on the blog.

Changes to the blog:
Anything else?
Elaion will be hosting another PAT ritual tomorrow for the Poseidea. Will you be joining us?

Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.

That is it for the last month's updates, as far as I can remember. Have a blessed Deipnon!
Remember how last episode Ariadne was stabbed by Medea, Pasiphaê probably died, Orpheus had to kill his wife Eurydice, and we were all collectively crying? Yeah, good, because I fear we're going straight back there. Welcome to another cheerful day in Atlantis where everyone you love gets killed or turned to stone (we will be getting back to Medusa in that cave with an ocean view soon, right?).

Medea is fleeing through the woods--running for her life with Jason hot on her heels. Someone is out for a little vengeance. He looses her, though, as she hides behind a tree. He swears that he will hunt her down and kill her but that day will not be today: Ariadne isn't doing well and she needs to be brought to Atlantis. Jason gives up the pursuit and carries Ariadne home where she is immediately swarmed by serfs--attendants, priests, and doctors alike. Everyone but Pythagoras must wait outside.

The oracle sets to work while outside Jason is beating himself up over trusting Medea in the first place. It's a long wait--and Hercules makes it a little worse by trying to be a good friend and telling him that his trust in people is one of his good qualities. It doesn't feel like it while Ariadne is still dying just a door away. The Oracle does all she can--begs for Poseidon's help and has applied herbs and any cure she knows. It's in the hands of the Gods and for someone from our world, that isn't really enough for Jason. He questions Pythagoras when he emerges: the bleeding has stopped but Ariadne is very weak. Pythagoras encourages Jason to go see her while Hercules goes to find something to munch on. In her chamber, Ariadne wakes up for a moment--long enough for Jason to tell her he's not going anywhere.

At the oikos, Hercules has treated Orpheus to a meal (of which he eats the leftovers himself). Orpheus will be leaving tomorrow to take care of Eurydice's funeral. Hercules says he knows what it feels like to loose your true love and I roll my eyes emphatically. At any rate, Orpheus merrily announces that he's getting his wife back, even if he has to travel to Hades. As someone who has been to Hades, Hercules isn't exactly amused to hear that. He also doesn't really believe Orpheus will do it. I just hope he's thinking of a certain woman with snakes for hair making sandcastles day after day to alleviate the boredom while she waits for that heroic rescue she was promised.

Anyway, moving on. The next morning, Jason has taken up half of Ariadne's bed and they are holding hands as they both rest. Her wound has started bleeding again during the night and she is not doing well at all. Something is wrong--the wound is not healing. The Oracle checks for curses on the blade and yep! There is definitely a curse on it. Medea is powerful and she has placed a death curse on it. The Oracle can't break it so she encourages Jason to visit the Grey Sisters--powerful seers who can see 'even into the minds of the Gods'. They will know if there is a cure. She reluctantly tells Jason where to find them.

In the woods, Hercules *finally* blames himself for not finding a cure for Medusa yet. Good, you asshat! You made her a promise. Not even Pythagoras wants to tell him he's right in giving up on his supposed true love so easily. Then, my fury subsides a moment when we are greeted by a very welcome sight: Pasiphaê is alive! And of course she is still scheming to take over the throne of Atlantis. That's my evil queen!

Goran, Pasiphaê and Medea are holed up in an old temple in the woods. Lilix (Lorcan Cranitch) is telling them about how the rumours of Ariadne's nearing end are spreading throughout Atlantis. Pasiphaê says that as soon as Ariadne is dead, she will claim the throne. According to Lilix, most citizens will support her. Pasiphaê does not trust Lilix but they come to an.... understanding with veiled threats on both sides. Oh yes, this is going to end well.

Somewhere in what are probably the same woods, the boys come to a cave. Nature holds its breath here--no birds, no animals, no nothing. It's creepy and they proceed with extreme caution--especially when they come upon skulls on sticks--totems. The Grey Sisters are of course the Moirai and their appearance has been jacked straight from Disney's 'Hercules'.

The Moirai are the Goddesses of fate. Their names are Kloto (Κλωθώ, spinner), Atropos (Ἄτροπος, unturnable), and Lakhesis (Λάχεσις, Alotter) and They assign to every person his or her fate or share in the scheme of things. They are Goddesses who preside over both birth and death and under the counsel of Zeus determine the time in-between. That whole 'one eye'-business, by the way? Not a part of their mythology.


After a round of 'pass the eye around', the Moirai say they know why Jason is here and ask for a gift in return for their counsel. Instead, he grabs the eye and promises to return it in exchange for their advice. They agree: Medea's blood needs to be applied to the wound. She can be found in the temple of Hekate. Now if he would pretty please give the eye back? Oh, and he can't kill Medea because their fates are entwined. If he kills her, the future is doomed. No one leaves this exchange happy, let me tell you.

Jason, Hercules and Pythagoras travel to the forest where the temple of Hekate is located. It's said to be cursed and the horses refuse to enter it. They move on on foot. Hercules and Pythagoras do a bit of expositioning while walking, talking about how no one can kill Medea and then a Stymphalian bird suddenly flies overhead and no one is too concerned. Uh... guys, those things are pretty lethal. It's just another day in ancient Greece.

Without incident, they make it to the temple and decide to wait until nightfall because I don't have enough dark screencaps for this series already. In what may be the silliest turn of events I have seen on my TV screen in a long time (and I watch 'Once Upon a Time' with above average loyalty), Hercules gets pricked by a mosquito. his one drop of blood draws the Stymphalian birds to him and everyone has to run for their lives. These things look like Pterodactyls, by the way.

The boys run, find a hiding spot under an overhanging rock where the birds can't reach them and have to wait until Hercules' wounds by mosquito and bird have healed. Jason is not going to wait for that. After a bit of back and forth, Hercules and Pythagoras are going to stay behind to patch up Hercules while Jason and a bottle for Medea's blood go on ahead. Awesome plan.

Jason makes it to the temple without being spotted and without falling down a very steep cliff. He gets spotted once but takes out the guard fairly easily. After that, it's just a short search for Medea--who seems to have earned a bit of prestige by her actions. She senses his presence in one of the hallways but he manages to hide. Then Goran spots him while he tries to sneak up on her.

Medea knows he's there and asks him why he hasn't killed her yet. She moves closer saying he feels it too--they are linked and they have both been touched by the Gods. Jason obviously does, but still knocks her out. He hesitates between taking blood and killing her one more time, then does the sensible thing. Of course, by that time Goran and his men are upon him and he gets knocked out while Pasiphaê rushes to Medea's side.

In the cell where Jason is being kept, Pasiphaê watches him as he lies unconcious. Medea goes to check up on him as weld. Pasiphaê wants to know what Jason said to her but she lies, saying he said he came to kill her and that was it. Pasiphaê doesn't trust it--she is still alive, after all. Medea questions what she will do to him, if she is going to kill him, and Pasiphaê says it's not that simple because he is her son. Medea looks stricken; she knew Pasiphaê has a son, but that it's Jason is obviously news to her. Well, now some things are falling into place for her: they are related--and both of them to Pasiphaê. That must be part of why they are so drawn to each other.

Back in the overhang, Hercules and Pythagoras realize they should never have let Jason go. He could have been killed--or worse, have been told the truth.

Jason wakes up and tries to goes after Pasiphaê who is still in his cell. He is chained up well, though, and he can't get to her. She makes sure to stay out of her reach. I love it when these two interact; it allows both of these characters to stretch their characters and test their range. They discuss ethics and politics and establish that there is a lot of grey between two strong points of view. Pasiphaê says they need to work together for the good of Atlantis and while Jason does not believe her, you can see that there is a shift taking place inside his head: Pasiphaê was the enemy but she has humanized herself again and now there is all this squishy, uncomfortable grey and he isn't happy about it.

Hercules has dried up, it seems, so they risk a few steps outside. They only draw the attention of a crow. So far, so good.

In the cell, Pasiphaê is watching Jason eat, saying she wishes to understand him--and for him to understand her. All I see is a mother soaking in the presence of her son, but Jason does not know that, of course. He says he came to Atlantis to look for his father and that his mother died shortly after he was born. His father is dead now, too. These is obvious pain of Pasiphaê's face. She asks if he has memory of her or if his father ever spoke of her. He says no to both. She is clearly in pain, anxious, trying to decide if she should tell him the truth. It would stop them being enemies... but she knews the words of the Oracle. She can't tell him, he is't ready. She tries to flee the cell, but eh begs her to stop, to explain what she is talking about.

She hesitates, stops, turns. "I am not who you believe me to be," she says and in her emotional state she forgets she shouldn't get within reach of him. He takes instant advantage, wrapping his chains around her neck and pulling, trying to suffocate her. He works her down tot he ground, gritting out that she is exactly who he thinks she is. It's only a quick acting Goran who saves her life by knocking Jason over the head with the pommel of his sword. Pasiphaê is just in time to stop them from killing Jason. What a Gods damned mess...

In the woods, Hercules and Pythagoras are making their way to temple without being seen by a patrol on their lunch break. They settle in for the wait.

Back at the temple, Pasiphaê is trying to process what has just happened. She was shocked by the hate in his eyes and Medea tells her that it might change one day. Pasiphaê knows she can't permit herself to have these feelings for Jason anymore. With a sure hand, she poisons his drink. He was dead to her the moment his father took him away, she says, and Medea is shocked. Besides, she knows that there is something special between her and Jason and that she can't let him die. On the other hand, Pasiphaê has been her only family, her only friend, and she can't betray her. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place...

Hercules and Pythagoras make it to the temple and hurry to find Jason while Pasiphaê and her men journey down to the cell he is being held in, chalice with poisoned wine in hand. Hercules and Pythagoras get there just before though--just before. They have to rush to escape. Medea spots them--and Jason sees it. They stare at each other a few moments, then Jason runs and Medea keeps her mouth shut.

When they get far enough away, Hercules congratulates Jason on killing Medea. He says he didn't do it; he couldn't kill her. He sensed something inside of her and in Pasiphaê--neither killed him while they had the chance. Come on, dude. Connect the dots already. Somehow I don't think this secret is going to be kept in the next season of Atlantis...

As it is, the three men hurry back to Atlantis, have the Oracle rub blood and herbs onto the wound of a nearly deceased Ariadne, and wait. Then wait some more. And some more. Then the Oracle emerges with good news: Ariadne is doing better and is even awake. She is very grateful to Jason who still feels all sorts of guilty. Ariadne is a very happy queen and asks Jason to stay with her. She tells him that she meant what she said in the necropolis. She then proceeds to ask Jason to marry her--and he says yes, yes, yes, yes, yes... well, he kisses her, which is pretty much the same thing. Hurray!

Next on Atlantis: shit is going to hit the fan. Medusa will be back, shipped in by Pasiphaê, everyone kisses everyone, everyone tries to kill everyone, and the battle for the throne starts anew. Saturday on BBC One, recap on Monday.
I will freely admit that my parents hadn't even considered having me when this show was first aired, all the way back in 1979. Still, there is no reason not to add a little bit of a Hellenic twist to your holiday wish list. The Aphrodite Inheritance is an eight-part serial, written by Michael J. Bird. It was filmed on Cyprus and was a massive hit when it first came out.

When British engineer Barry Collier is injured in an accident in Cyprus, his brother David (Peter McEnery) immediately flies out to be at his side... but it is too late. After the funeral David is approached by the beautiful Helene (Alexandra Bastedo), eager to inform him that the death was no accident. And her mysterious companions Basileos (Brian Blessed) and Charalambos (Stefan Gryff) seem to know a great deal more. But can he trust them? Collier finds himself drawn into a complex conspiracy filled with intriguing characters and increasingly strange experiences as he tries to unravel the truth behind his brother's death.

Needless to say (or else I wouldn't feature it on my blog) there is a mythological twist to the story and although the series is a bit... dated, it'll still keep you on the edge of your seat.

The Aphrodite Inheritance was a follow-up to the success of his previous two Mediterranean-set series 'The Lotus Eaters' and 'Who Pays the Ferryman?', both now also out on DVD.

'The Lotus Eaters' is the first of an unofficial quartet of serials written by Bird and set in the Mediterranean. The series dealt with the lives of various British expats living on the island of Crete and their reasons for being there. The central characters were a married couple, Erik (Ian Hendry) and Ann Shepherd (Wanda Ventham) who ran a tavern called "Shepherd's Bar". The official description goes as follows:

"To eat the fruit of the lotus is to lose the desire to return home. But everyone who does has a reason. Shepherd's Bar is a focal point for a group of expatriates living in and around a small town on the island of Crete. The bar is owned and run by reformed alcoholic Erik Shepherd (Ian Hendry). For Erik temptation is never far away, and his faltering marriage to Ann (Wanda Ventham) provides solace. The arrival of Englishman Donald Culley (James Kerry) causes something of a stir. Culley is charming, handsome and by his generosity he quickly wins over other members of the little community. But Culley knows that the long-suffering Ann has a secret of her own, a secret that could prove far more destructive than Erik's drinking... Never before available on DVD, this classic series is a collection of nine self-contained plays, each telling the story of a different member of the community. Each story is skilfully woven into the continuing sub-plot about the deteriorating relationship between the mysterious Erik and Ann Shepherd."

The second part of the 'series', 'Who Pays the Ferryman?' was produced by the BBC in 1977. The title of the series refers to the ancient religious belief and mythology of Kharon the ferryman to Hades. In the series, Jack Hedley stars as Alan Haldane an ex-soldier who returns to Crete, thirty years after fighting alongside the local resistance during the Second World War. Alan is wanting to take stock of his life following the sale of his boat-building business. He wants to look for his beloved Melina, from whom he has heard nothing from in his years away from the island. When he arrives in Crete he finds the ghosts of the past waiting for him, along with those who wish to do him harm. The shadows of his past interrupt and threaten his present happiness. When an old friend tells him Melina passed away and left a daughter, his daughter, Alan decides to stay on the island to be close to his new family. When he meets Annika (Betty Arvaniti), Melina's sister he falls in love with her. However, he does not take into account the hatred of the elderly Katerina (Patience Collier) who breathes new life into an old feud, and puts his life at serious risk. Torn between fear and desire Alan is slowly but surely separated from the past.

As far as I am aware, the fourth part of the series has not yet come out on DVD. It's titled 'The Dark Side of the Sun'. The series takes place on the Greek island of Rhodes. The story combines elements of supernatural Gothic romance with the contemporary conspiracy thriller. There are themes of telepathy and hypnosis, and a secret society, descended from the Knights Templar, holding clandestine meetings on the island.

The Aphrodite Inheritance is the only one in the series with overt mythological themes, but every single one of the series caused an explosion of tourism and interest in the filming locations. They all paint a beautiful picture of modern Greece. If you have trouble coming up with ideas for your wish list, I've got you covered with these.
Today I'd like to present you with another constellation as part of my Constellation Series. We have gotten to the constellation Scorpio, the scorpion.

In Hellenic Mythology the myths associated with Scorpio almost invariably also contain a reference to Orion. Orion (Ὠρίων) was a famed hunter who has a lot of mythology to his name. He is the son of Poseidon and has the ability to walk on water. It is said that he once, when drunk, tried to force himself upon Merope, the daughter of Oenopion and was blinded and exiled because of it. Hēlios eventually healed his injury and restored his eyesight. After a failed vengeance attempt, Orion came to Krete and begun  to hunt with Artemis. According to Hyginus' Astromomica, this eventually lead to his downfall:

"Orion since he used to hunt, [...] felt confident that he was most skilled of all in that pursuit, said even to Diana [Artemis] and Latona that he was able to kill anything the produced. Earth [Gaea], angered at this, sent the scorpion which is said to have killed him. Jove [Zeus], however, admiring the courage of both, put the scorpion among the stars, as a lesson to men not to be too self-confident. Diana, then, because of her affection for Orion, asked Jove to show to her request the same favour he had given of his own accord to Earth. And so the constellation was established in such a way that when Scorpion rises, Orion sets." [2.26]

In this scenario, the Scorpion was admitted into the heavens as well, along with his hunting pack and his greatest hunt: the Lepus the hare. In some old descriptions the constellation of Libra is treated as the Scorpion's claws. Libra was known as the Claws of the Scorpion. Hyginus makes the connection between the scorpion and the scales best:

"This sign is divided into two parts on account of the great spread of the claws. One part of it our writers have called the Balance." [II. 26]
The constellation Scorpio is visible at latitudes between +40° and −90° and best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of July.
Yesterday at dusk, the Haloa (῾Αλῶα) festival started. This ancient Hellenic festival was held in honor of Demeter, Dionysos and a little bit in honor of Persephone. Like all festivals of Demeter and Persephone's 'Kore' persona, women were the only ones who were allowed to handle the religious and sacrificial side of it.

The Haloa is part of the Mysteries and is assumed to be a celebration of the pruning of the vines and the tasting of the wine after its first fermentation, or it may be to encourage the growth of corn from the seed. Some time during the festival, the entire population was invited by the priests of Dionysos and the priestesses of Demeter and Kore to give sacrifice to these Theos; to Demeter and Kore for the fertility of the earth in which the grapevines grew, and to Dionysos in remembrance of Ikários, who was such a fine winemaker that he could produce wine so strong, those who drank it appeared to be poisoned.

Read more here.
In what has become an ongoing saga on this blog, I bring you news about the Thessaloniki metro dig.

In March of last year, I blogged about an excavation conducted at the Venizelos metro station which brought to light a very well preserved 70-meter section of a marble-paved road, the remains of buildings dating back to the sixth to ninth centuries AD, as well as big public buildings of the 7th century; a rarity for the Byzantine world. Trouble was (and is) that the site of the find is part of a new subway tunnel and platform which are being built to transport 250,000 passengers daily, and thus decrease traffic congestion and air pollution in the city. The entire subway project has a price-tag of 3.5 billion euros (4.6 billion dollars), and was co-financed by the European Union. To keep the road, the entire subway project would have to be abandoned. To save the subway project, the road would need to be moved, or destroyed--the same thing, according to archaeologists.

By April it looked like Thessaloniki's government and archaeological institutions had found a solution to the problem: they were going to temporarily remove the finds during the station's construction and then restore about 85 percent to 95 percent after the station was completed. The solution proposed had a low cost--0,6 percent to 0.8 percent of the budget--with zero or only a few months delay to the works’ completion. Only a 45 square meter space (out of the area’s 1.600 square meters) would not be restored, due to the placement of vents and escalators.

By February of this year, word got out that the removal of the antiquities from the construction site was suspended in July of last year following a decision reached by the Council of State. In the beginning of April I blogged about the estimation that it will take at least another three years and some 40 million euros for the excavation of ancient ruins to be completed. Well, it seems that that was a careful estimate: the new numbers weren't pretty. the new completion date was somehwere in 2020 and it might cost another 42 million euros in funding for the archaeological work it has lined up to complete the digs, on top of 92 million already spent.

The troubled project could be set for another blow as the consortium building the underground transport system asked for its contract to be torn up. The consortium, made up of Greek and Italian companies (AEGEK-Impregilo-Ansaldo-Seli-Ansaldobreda), made the move after a court of arbitration ruled earlier this year that it had the right to ask for the contract to be scrapped. The government had extended the agreement with the consortium to November 2016 after a series of obstacles, including archaeological fines, held up the project. However, the consortium argued that it had not agreed to the extension and that it should be allowed to walk away without having to pay compensation. The court ruled in the contractor’s favour.

Attiko Metro, which manages the project, is left with two options. One is to accept the consortium’s request, pay up for the work that has been carried out and launch a new tender. The other option is to reject the consortium’s request and attempt to find a way to continue their relationship. Christos Tsitouras, president of Attiko Metro:

“Attiko Metro wants the project to continue through a lawful process. We will not accept a discussion on issues that have already been referred to arbitration. We can discuss with the consortium possible changes to the remaining project, which could be recorded in a supplementary contract.”

The original contract for the construction of the Thessaloniki metro was signed in April 2006 but less than 40 percent of the project has been completed so far.
Lovely readers, are you fans of classical music? I quite enjoy many classical pieces although I am definitely not well versed. I have found though that the subject matter matters a great deal, so how about some classical pieces with Hellenic influences?

Carl Nielsen - Helios Overture

Carl Nielsen's Helios Overture, Opus 17, was first performed by the Royal Orchestra, conducted by Johan Svendsen, on 8 October 1903 in the large hall of the Odd Fellows Mansion in Copenhagen. In 1902, Nielsen signed a contract with the publisher Wilhelm Hansen, which allowed him to go to Athens, Greece, to join his wife Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen, who was one of the first sculptors allowed to make copies of the bas-reliefs and statues in the Acropolis Museum. Nielsen's stay in Athens gave him the inspiration of a work depicting the sun rising and setting over the Aegean Sea, an overture which he called Helios. He began work on it in March 1903, and finished it on April 23 the same year. The score is written for three flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, and strings.

The work begins as the sun ascends over the Aegean Sea, while strings, divided horns and woodwind sound a melody. This rises out of the darkness to a full orchestra, where fanfaring trumpets begin a striding theme, which returns later in the piece. From there woodwinds begin a graceful tune, from which brass sound. Strings begin to play, which draws the orchestra into a reprise of the striding theme and its fanfare. In the final measures, the music subsides as the sun sinks over the horizon of the sea. The average playing time is between ten and twelve minutes.

Gluck - Orpheus and Euridice

Orfeo ed Euridice is an opera composed by Christoph Willibald Gluck based on the myth of Orpheus, set to a libretto by Ranieri de' Calzabigi. The piece was first performed in Vienna on 5 October 1762. The two hour opera is split into three acts. In the first a grieving Orpheus--Orfeo--Amore appears, telling Orfeo that he may go to the Underworld and return with his wife on the condition that he not look at her until they are back on earth. In the second act, Orfeo visits the underworld and is reunited with Euridice, and in the third, they head out and he looses her again when he looks back to check if she is really there.

Karl Goldmark - Prometheus Unbound Overture

 Karl Goldmark, also known originally as Károly Goldmark and later sometimes as Carl Goldmark was a Hungarian composer who lived from May 18, 1830, to January 2, 1915. The Op. 36, the Prometheus Bound Overture, features Prometheus and is concerned with the torments of the Hellenic mythological figure Prometheus who defies the Gods and gives fire to humanity, for which he is subjected to eternal punishment and suffering at the hands of Zeus.

Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf - Symphonies after Ovid’s 'Metamorphoses' No. 1 to No. 6

Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf was an Austrian composer, violinist and silvologist who lived from 2 November 1739 to 24 October 1799. Among his 120-or-so symphonies are twelve programmatic ones based on Ovid's Metamorphoses, although only six have survived (and have also been recorded). They are entitled: 'The Four Ages of the World', 'The Fall of Phaeton', 'The Metamorphosis of Acteon Into a Stag', 'The Rescue of Andromeda by Perseus', 'The Transformation of the Lycian Peasants into Frogs', and a sixth untitled one.
To anyone who lives in Greece or who has kept an eye on the happenings there, it can't come as a surprise but Greece is experiencing a bout of very, very bad weather. Huge storms and floods are wreaking havoc and destruction. The most recent victim: the temple of Artemis in Vavrona.

This temple was sacred to the Goddess Artemis in her manifestation as protectress of mothers, mothers to be, and those seeking to become mothers. Supplicants dedicated offerings to the goddess such as clothing, mirrors and jewellery hoping to become pregnant and gain easy births or votive offerings of thanks. The site is also associated with Iphigeneia, daughter of Agamemnon, a priestess of Artemis. Legend recounts that Iphigenia introduced the worship of Artemis to Greece upon her return from Tauris with her brother Orestes. They carried with them a xoanon, a sacred image of Artemis, which they had stolen from the local Temple in Tauris.

After several hours of non stop torrential rain and within a few hours, the temple, dedicated to goddess Artemis, was turned into a lake as the muddy water covered the entire area. Mud and water covered the ancient temple’s marble columns, while indicative of the amount of water that fell during the last 24 hours in the Attica region is that, based on meteorological data, almost 1/7 of the entire year’s rainfall occurred in the last few days. Four stations of the National Observatory in Euboea (Zarakes, Setta, Steni and Styra) recorded more than 80mm of rain each, meaning that some 80 tons of water fell within an acre.

It should be noted that the extreme rainfall throughout the country and especially in northern Greece, and particularly in Thrace, has caused the flooding of Evros river. The residents of Ormenio village were in danger after a nearby Evros river levee broke and the village has been evacuated.

"Hi Elani, I have been wondering about something... I can't figure out the answer and maybe you can help. Why is it that Hera in the myths never punishes Zeus for his infidelity but always the humans he cheats with, or the children? Thank you in advance! I love your blog!"

Well, Hera did try to overthrow Her husband once, in the beginning of their reign. The reasons are never made entirely clear--nor for Her, nor for the others who joined her (most notably Poseidon and Athena). His adultry was most likely a factor, though, and at that time he also wasn't a very good leader to the Gods, nor a ruler over mankind. Especially Poseidon and Athena took offense to the latter tow. From Hómēros' 'Iliad':

"Help your brave son, therefore, if you [Thetis] are able. Go to Olympus, and if you have ever done him service in word or deed, implore the aid of Jove. Ofttimes in my father's house have I heard you glory in that you alone of the immortals saved the son of Saturn from ruin, when the others, with Juno, Neptune, and Pallas Minerva would have put him in bonds. It was you, goddess, who delivered him by calling to Olympus the hundred-handed monster whom gods call Briareus, but men Aegaeon, for he is stronger even than his father; when therefore he took his seat all-glorious beside the son of Saturn, the other gods were afraid, and did not bind him." [1. 397]

This specific example illustrates a point: Hera (women) cannot and should not punish or resent Zeus (men) for their infidelity. In fact, as long as a husband takes good care of his wife (both financially and sexually), he should be free to pursue any woman he is societally allowed to sleep with.

Because much of what has remained from ancient Hellas was written, created, or otherwise preserved by men, it's easy to get a lasting negative impression of women in the ancient Hellenic society. In fact, until a couple of decades ago, that was the prevalent notion in the scholarly community. So, let's look at the role of women in ancient Hellas before I can get back to the question at hand. Trigger warning: we have to get into the topic of sexual assault and rape for a moment here.

Marriage in ancient Hellas was a family affair. The father of the son--who was often in his thirties by the time he got married--opened negotiations with the family of a bride in her teens. The two families came to an agreement about dowry, a contract was signed by the father of the groom and the father of the bride in front of witnesses, and the groom met his new wife--often for the first time--before taking her to bed. Prostitution was common, and men tended to have concubines. Some even lived at the house. Demosthenes, a Hellenic writer from ancient Athens, was recorded as saying: 'we have courtesans for pleasure, concubines to provide for our daily needs, and our spouses to give us legitimate children and to be the faithful guardians of our homes'. In ancient Hellas, women were almost solely in charge of raising children. Their lives consisted of taking care of the hearth, her husband and her children. Any status a woman had, was tied in with her husband. Women were groomed to function in pairs. It was because of this that a widow was passed on to another male as soon as possible.

In ancient Hellenic society, free women lived separate from men. They rarely had interactions with men not from their oikos. Still, there are accounts of women being sexually assaulted, and monetary fines that were issued to the perpetrator. From this, we know that sexual assault and rape were criminal, and shameful acts. Ancient sources also tell us that men were only punishable for sexual assault or rape if they raped a woman--or possibly a man--above their own rank. No one was punished for raping a slave, for example, and the practice was common.

So then, what of Gods? It stands to reason that hierarchical rules also apply here, as myths are formed by the men who tell them. Who is higher in rank than a God? And, above all, who is higher in rank than Zeus? If Zeus desires a woman (or man), He is free to take her (or him) under ancient Hellenic law. It also stands to reason that a God lower in standing, say Apollon, would be punished severely for raping a Goddess above his standing. If Zeus had not claimed Hera, and He had laid claim to Her, I am sure He would have been unsuccessful, and perhaps would even have been punished.

Looking at mortals, nymphs and 'lesser' Immortals, nearly all Gods outrank them, so the ancient Hellens would have seen no problem in a sexual act between a God and these women. An exception to the rules and regulations applied to mortal adulterous men, would most likely have been made for the Gods as well. Their Divinity would allow Them to 'overrule' the mortal marriage without bringing shame to the husband, although there seems to be a threat stemming from a demi-God son (as can be seen in the myth of Perseus).

So, short answer after all of that: Hera doesn't punish Her husband for sleeping around (something He allegedly did far less after Her revolt) because it is not Her place, just as it was not the place of women in ancient Hellenic society to punish their husbands. Ancient Hellenic society, however, says nothing about women not punishing or resenting the women her husband engaged. Hera may not have been allowed or capable of punishing Her husband, but She could definitely take it out on His conquests and the children that came from those unions. That said, make sure to distinguish between Hellenic and Roman myth! The Roman Goddess Juno was far more vengeful than Hera was ever made out to be.

We might not agree with these views in modern times but I encourage placing the myths into their proper framework, a frame where the myths meet the society they were written down in, and are explained that way. These were the views of the people who wrote down the myths and they should be understood in those views. Who knows how the relationship between Zeus and Hera is these days and if they have or haven't had a bit of a sit down about this? I most certainly don't. Looking at ancient Hellenic myth, though, this is my explanation. I hope it makes things a bit clearer for you as well.
The last time we saw our heroes, Pasiphaê, Medea and her army had driven them--Jason, Hercules, Pythagoras and Ariadne as well as travelling companions Orpheus, his wife Eurydice, and Diagoras. Dion, Ariadne's trusty bodyguard, unfortunately perished--into a cave system housing a necropolis, a city of the dead. Ariadne shot Pasiphaê and Medea took Jason over the edge of a very steep cliff with her is a reactional magic outburst. Bring on the undead!

Pasiphaê is still alive. She's on the floor, crumpled up, and when she wakes up she realizes she has an arrow pretty much all the way through her body. Like any good movie person, she yanks the thing out and immediately partakes in strenuous action by dragging herself over the ground to a sarcophagus of some sort. More strenuous activity: Pasiphaê casts a curse with what may very well be her dying breath. As she falls back down to the ground, a rotting hand punches out of the brittle stone sarcophagus. Uh-oh.

Hercules and Pythagoras are staring down into the abyss. They throw torches down to see if they can spot Jason (and Medea). there is no sign of them. They report back to Ariadne who refuses to believe Jason (and Medea) could be dead. Eurydice agrees with her. Quickly, they pack up and leave Dion behind as they start looking for a way down.

Below in the chasm, there are two people very lucky to still have hair. In the glow of the torches Hercules and Pythagoras threw down, Jason and Medea lie sprawled out on the ground, not moving a muscle.

In the tunnels, Orpheus' bat ears pick up on a sound no one else can hear. Ariadne hopefully says it might be Jason. Hercules wisely guesses it's probably something else--something a lot less friendly. After a while, the others hear it as well.

Meanwhile, Dion's body slowly comes to life. It's him the group heard and when Diagoras goes in for the hug (*cough* cannon fodder *cough*, he gets bitten quite terribly in the arm. Dion is not looking very healthy and Ariadne--very rightfully--freaks the fuck out. She's also the wisest of the lot, though, because she orders Hercules to kill him--errr... again. Obviously Hercules skipped Zombie Slaying 101 because he stabs him, which does absolutely nothing. I don't blame him, there is literally not a single zombie in ancient Hellenic lore so how could he possibly know that zombies only die and stay dead when you lop of their heads? Hercules stabs him again then tries to punch him out when a horde of undead befalls them. They run.

Jason, meanwhile, wakes up. His shoulder hurts but for someone who just fell off of a very high cliff, he's pretty well off. He gets up without much difficulty and grabs his sword. Medea is still out cold. He pokes at her with his sword and she wakes up. He has the opportunity to kill her but refuses to take it. Instead he walks off silently.

Pythagoras is obviously well-read because he guesses what's going on: the dead have been brought back to life; necromancy. Orpheus says that the king who was buried here had his entire army slaughtered so he had guards in Hades. I'm not touching that bit of wobbly ancient Hellenic thinking with a ten foot pole, if you don't mind. Anyway, the group rightfully concludes Ariadne did not kill Pasiphaê (instantly). They also concluded that the undead seek to eat their flesh. Diagoras--in the infinite wisdom of many minor TV-characters before him--says his would 'is nothing' and refuses treatment.

Jason is making his way through the tunnels with a sword and a torch, calling out loud enough to draw the undead. He freaks out but manages to fight it off. Back where they landed, Medea screams. Jason realizes these things have also found her and despite his anger he goes back to save the girl--who is being swarmed down on by a dozen or so undead. The same is true for the other group.  Hercules keeps stabbing the bastards and it doesn't work at all--until he pierces the heart(?!). I... I am just going to go with this. These are undead zombie creatures raised from their graves by magic which can be killed by stabbing them in the heart. By the Gods...

Our heroes don't have time to ponder this idiocy either: one of the zombies grabs Pythagoras.

Now he knows what to aim for, Hercules fights the zombie off of his friend fairly easily and Ariadne can kill them too now she knows that all she has to do is hit the heart. When Dion goes after her, though, she has trouble sending an arrow into his chest. This show (or actress Aiysha Hart) needs an anatomy lesson, though, because when she finally does stab him with an arrow, it's in his gut and he keels over--again. There is no time to mourn the death-that-should-not-be: the king obviously took a lot of men with him in death.

In the tunnels, Medea shows great knowledge when she, too, says that this must be the undead. She is shocked Jason came back for her and he tells her he nearly didn't. Jason eventually asks the question we have all been trying to get answered for weeks now: who is Pasiphaê to Medea? She says she is 'my blood'. Oooookay, Jason, no falling for this woman. I mean it. They don't have time to get into bloodlines: the undead are too numerous and they are coming closer. Together they go on the hunt for Pasiphaê--the only one who could have made the dead come back to life.

The other group finds the tombs--there are hundreds of them. Surprise, surprise, Diagoras' wound has become infected at an alarmingly quick rate (*rolls eyes*). They need to hide so they can tend to the wound. Eventually they settle on making use of one of the tombs; the previous inhabitants have no need for it now anyway.

Medea questions why Jason fights so hard for Ariadne and he says he swore an oath to his queen. she knows there is more to it than that. He says there can't be. Medea knows about his feelings for her. Jason doesn't engage her in the subject. Instead, he asks her why she is loyal to Pasiphaê. It seems that Medea's powers have always made her an outcast. Pasiphaê accepted her, loved her, and in return Medea gave her her loyalty. Jason doubts Pasiphaê can even show kindness. Medea says that there is more to Pasiphaê than that. Jason tries to convince Medea that Pasiphaê's motives are flawed, but he's not getting through quite yet.

In the tombs, the wound is tended to and Ariadne and Eurydice bond about love at first sight. When Eurydice and Orpheus cuddle up, Ariadne watches and I am damn sure she is imagining her and Jason when they are old and grey.

The sounds of the dead make Hercules and Ariadne uncomfortable. Hercules is staring out, waiting, wondering when the monsters will find them. Ariadne can't stop thinking about Jason who is out there amongst the dead. Hercules sees that as a personal failure. Ariadne blames herself. At the same time, though, they know Jason is strong and skilled. If anyone can survive this it's him. Meanwhile, Diagoras' wound is getting worse.

The ever burning torches carry Jason and Medea down the hallways where they come upon slaughtered warriors. There are wounds to the heart and they are very relieved to have found a way to kill them. Besides, dead zombies means the others came this way. A new group of undead stumble upon them and Jason kills a few before he gets topped over. He struggles to fight one of the monsters off until Medea picks up a sword and kills it. A life for a life. Jason has broken his leg, though. Medea immediately kneels down and heals it, telling Jason to 'trust her'. He does. Medea says he is still wrong about Pasiphaê. Jason counters that Pasiphaê raised the dead--sacrificing Medea as well--and that she doesn't care about Medea. Medea refuses to hear it--she has no one else who cares, she needs Pasiphaê to care.

The group is asleep but a bit of noise wakes Pythagoras up. Just in time because Diagoras has turned and is going after Eurydice. He rushes to pull the monster off and Ariadne comes to help. She gets tossed aside like a ragdoll. With quick instructions, Pythagoras helps Orpheus kill Diagoras for good and Pythagoras draws the logical conclusion: if you get bitten, you get sick, die, and turn. Hercules is not amused by this even darker turn of events. Everyone has a great big scare when they spot a wound on Ariadne's arm. Thankfully it's just a cut from the fall.

Orpheus and Eurydice take a moment to process the loss of their friend. Meanwhile, Hercules spots the horde--they have returned to the tombs.

Self-preservation is finally kicking in in Medea. Once they find the others, Queen Ariadne will have her killed on the spot. Jason swore an oath to her so... what will he doe then? Jason promises he won't let any harm come to Medea. She asks why he would. He says she saved his life and she warns him that doesn't change anything--she won't betray Pasiphaê. He says she already did by saving his life. She makes a few lame excuses but it's clear she is inherently good and getting confused.

Meanwhile, Orpheus realizes something is wrong with Eurydice: she has a fever. There is a wound on her arm: Diagoras bit her. Orpheus refuses to believe it but he knows she is doomed. Pythagoras has noticed Eurydice is not doing too hotly either but Hercules waves it off when he mentions it.

Jason and Medea have a problem: in order to get to Jason's friends, they have to go through the horde. Jason extinguishes the torches and pulls Medea along. It seems he's going to sneak past the zombies in the very--very--narrow passageways. Medea is not exactly convinced by the plan but the first of the zombies pass them without spotting them. It seems hiding until they walk by is actually a sound strategy.

Once more, Pythagoras tries to convince Hercules something is wrong with Eurydice. One more, Hercules waves it off. Orpheus refuses to leave Eurydice's side, however, and Pythagoras comes straight out and asks what is wrong. Orpheus says to just leave them alone. Pythagoras finally realizes the truth.  He says he is so sorry and leaves them be. All Orpheus wants is for them to die together. Pythagoras delivers the bad news to Hercules and Ariadne. They know there is only one thing to do: kill her before she turns. Hercules refuses but Ariadne volunteers for the gruesome task. She demands a dagger, saying that as queen, she can't shy away from what needs to be done.

She approaches the pair carefully and Orpheus knows what she has come to do. She says she's sorry, that there is no other way. Orpheus says that she is her entire world, that he can't live without her. Ariadne tells him that Eurydice wouldn't want him to die too, and that is what will happen when she turns. Orpheus knows this. He slowly peels his wife away from his chest where she has been resting. If anyone is to end his wife's life, he says, it will be him. As Ariadne, Hercules and Pythagoras look on, Orpheus lays his wife down on the ground, vows he will come for her in Hades, and requests the dagger. Ariadne gives it to him and then withdraws. Orpheus kills her and then lays at her side. I am not ashamed to say that when Ariadne cries, I cry a little too.

Jason and Medea are getting closer to the tombs. They spot the only one with a light in them and Jason assumes it's his friends. In the tomb, Ariadne hopes that one day someone will love her as much as Orpheus loves Eurydice. Hercules says someone already does, then awkwardly covers for his slip of the tongue by saying she must be beating men off with a stick, pretty girl like her. For a moment, everyone tenses, then Ariadne shrugs it off and goes to comfort Orpheus. Before she can reach him, however, they all scramble for weapons because Jason is making a Gods awful ruckus climbing up. Ariadne falls into his arms.

When Medea appears, the happy reunion is shattered. Hercules threatens to cut her head off, Ariadne jumps back with something between fear and hate on her features, Pythagoras is just confused and Jason says Medea is with him and under his protection. Ariadne is shocked Jason promised anything like that. The entire group wants her dead but Medea says she knows how to vanquish the dead. It saves her life. Medea says they must return to the site where the curse was cast. No one is happy about the arrangement.

Orpheus covers his dead wife while Jason makes his condolences. Orpheus says it wont be the end. Jason is spared from answering when Hercules ties Medea's hands behind her back. He tries to stop them but Medea says it's alright, if this is what it takes for Jason's friends to feel safe then so be it. Before they leave, Ariadne pulls Jason aside. She says she was dying when she thought he was dead. She says he shouldn't accept that she is queen and that therefor they can't be together--both of them shouldn't. She was scared, but seeing Orpheus and Eurydice made her realize that she is and always has been deeply in love with Jason. She breaks down and asks him to say something. He doesn't, instead he takes her into his arms and kisses her deeply.

The group makes their way through the tunnels, fighting the undead at every turn. Jason's main focus is keeping a defenceless Medea alive. Once they reach the spot where Pasiphaê must have ended up, Medea tells them to look for the ancient symbols Pasiphaê carved into something to complete her curse. they must destroy them. Pythagoras asks how she knows these symbols even exist. Medea valiantly stops herself from rolling her eyes as she says that that is how magic works.

Jason and Hercules walk along the narrow strip Jason previously fell down from and Hercules nearly takes a tumble down the cliff face himself. Jason manages to pull him up just in time. When they round the bend, it's all zombies, all the time: hundreds of them. In the one ray of light that miraculously shines down into this cavern the guys spot the tomb. There is no other solution than fight their way through. Hercules finds the symbols on the sarcophagus cover and shatters it. All the soldier zombies crumple into bone piles. A ways off, Medea notes that Ariadne really loves Jason. Ariadne refuses to share her feelings, just watches anxiously for Jason's return. Jason and Hercules make it back in one piece and Jason cuts Medea loose. Ariadne loosely remarks that they are all in Medea's debt and Medea promptly repays their trust with treachery. She steals Jason's dagger and wraps herself around Ariadne, dagger to her throat.

Jason asks what Medea thinks she is doing and with obvious pain in her voice, Medea says she is only doing what she intended to do all along. She plunges the dagger into Ariadne's side and shoves her into Jason's arms. Instead of running, though, she watches with shocked horror and fear on her features. Jason stares up at her with so much anger that if looks could kill, Medea would drop dead on the spot.

Next time on Atlantis: Ariadne is not doing well. The Oracle tries to save her life while Jason goes after Medea. Saturday on BBC One, recap on Monday.