BBC's Atlantis is getting competition in the 'Hellenic mythology on television'-department. Come 2015, US network SyFy is airing Olympus, a 'mythological drama series which will take viewers into the action-packed world of humans, Gods and monsters'.

Syfy's Olympus EXCLUSIVE Concept Art - H 2014
Concept art for Olympus, featuring Hero

Olympus comes from writer Nick Willing, previously responsible for Syfy’s Neverland (2011), Alice (2009) and Tinman (2007) miniseries, and legendary executive producer Robert Halmi Sr. (Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, The Odyssey, Gulliver’s Travels).

The series will centre on how a few brave men and women banished the Gods to the realm of the unconscious: a place they called the Underworld, or the Kingdom of Hades. The series follows Hero on his journey as he 'transforms from a fresh-faced and raw young man through the dramatic experiences of betrayal, love, disappointment, empowerment and exile, until he emerges a ruthless leader of man and a match for the Gods themselves'.

The first season will have thirteen episodes, and filming is underway in Vancouver and London. Thunderbird Films, who produce the series, hasn’t announced the cast yet but says that is coming soon. According to Chris Regina, Senior Vice President of Programming at Syfy:

“Olympus is a fantastic blend of action, intense thrills, creatures and great story telling. It will feature characters from mythology in a way never before imagined.”

I'm fairly certain we shouldn't expect the new Syfy series to stay true to the source material at all, but as the producer of a great many very good fantasy and science fiction shows, I expect Olympus to be entertaining, engaging, and hopefully include a few memorable and strong female characters.

Are you excited about another TV show set in ancient Hellas? Would you like me to recap it once it starts airing? Let me know.
About a week ago, I posted about the dragon slayers on ancient Hellenic mythology. My wonderful friend Robert Clark, Co-founder of Elaion, the Hellenic organisation this blog is associated, read the post and emailed me some of his thoughts on drakons (serpents) and the meaning behind them in mythology. I found them so inspiring that I would like to share them with you today.

"Well into the third century, the human soul was understood to take the form of a serpent (snake) on leaving the deceased body.  Apollon kills the Python as He is the 'new Python' in a sense, a protector and averter of evil par excellence. The Pythia gave her oracles from the spring that was under the Temple of Apollon. The Kastalia spring was used for cleansing before entering the precinct of Delphi. There is the healing serpent of Asklepios and the two serpents of the kerykeion, the Agathos Daimon and Agatha Tyche, the crescent moon and full moon and perhaps the disk of the sun, the likeness to the horns of consecration, etc. that permeates our religion. 

Cadmos as instructed by Athena in Ovid's Metamorphoses: 

"She commanded him to sow the dragon's teeth in mellowed soil, from which might spring another race of men. And he obeyed: and as he plowed the land, took care to scatter in the furrowed soil the dragon's teeth; a seed to raise up man." 

In the end, Cadmus and Harmonia are turned into serpents:

"Weighted with woe, bowed down with years, their minds recalled the time when first disaster fell upon their House:—relating their misfortunes, Cadmus spoke “Was that a sacred dragon that my spear impaled, when on the way from Sidon's gates I planted in the earth those dragon-teeth, unthought-of seed? If haply 'tis the Gods, (whose rage unerring, gives me to revenge) I only pray that I may lengthen out, as any serpent.” Even as he spoke, he saw and felt himself increase in length."

Harmonia is also changed into a serpent:

"Oh, why not, ye celestial Gods, me likewise, to a serpent-shape transform!”— So ended her complaint. Cadmus caressed her gently with his tongue; and slid to her dear bosom, just as if he knew his wife; and he embraced her, and he touched her neck. All their attendants, who had seen the change, were filled with fear; but when as crested snakes the twain appeared in brightly glistening mail, their grief was lightened: and the pair, enwreathed in twisting coils, departed from that place, and sought a covert in the nearest grove.— There, then, these gentle serpents never shun mankind, nor wound, nor strike with poisoned fangs; for they are always conscious of the past."

Thank you, Robert, for your words of wisdom.
Pandora's Kharis is proud to announce that our monthly fundraising has raised $100,- for The Trevor Project, America's leading organization in providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24. The Trevor Project is determined to end suicide among LGBTQ youth by providing life-saving and life-affirming resources including our nationwide, 24/7 crisis intervention lifeline, digital community and advocacy/educational programs that create a safe, supportive and positive environment for everyone, and we can help them do that. Please read below a letter of thanks by The Trevor Project's CEO and pitch your cause for next month on the Pandora's Kharis Facebook page.

Dear Pandora's Kharis:

On behalf of the nearly 100,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth served by The Trevor Project each year, we are deeply grateful for your financial contribution.

Your gift of $100.00 supports our life saving and life affirming for LGBTQ youth. Your support not only enables us to continue the important work of our 24/7 crisis and suicide prevention Lifeline, but also enables us to expand our community and school educational initiatives and operate our online LGBTQ social network, TrevorSpace.


Abbe Land
Executive Director & CEO
I am currently reading 'Coping With the Gods - Religions in the Graeco-Roman World' by Henk Versnel. It's a book published in 2012 which 'investigates how ancient Greeks could validate the complementarity of dissonant, if not contradictory, representations in e.g. polytheism, theodicy, divine omnipotence and ruler cult'. It's fascinating reading, and I wanted to share with you a bit from the start of the book, about polytheism and the foundation of its divine framework.

Versnel starts his book by investigating polytheism, putting forth two seemingly opposite viewpoints as represented by Walter Burkert and Jean-Pierre Vernant, both acclaimed scholars of the ancient Graeco-Roman world. All students of Greek religion, he says, stand in debt of at least one of these two protagonists, many of both. This is true, I think. Burkert was included in the first few books I ever read on the subject, and Vernant stands proudly on my bookshelf to this day.

These two scholars have differing views on a very important topic: is a pantheon of Gods founded in chaos or--what Versnel calls--kosmos, and can you define a God from a pantheon separately from it? Burkert states that:

"[A] polytheistic world of gods is nevertheless potentially chaotic, and not only for the outsider. The distinctive personality of a god is constituted and mediated by at least four different factors: the established local cult with its ritual programme and unique atmosphere, the divine name, the myths told about the named being, and the iconography, especially the cult image. All the same, this complex is easily dissolved, and this makes it quite impossible to write the history of any single god."

Vernant views a God quite differently:

"A god is a power that represents a type of action, a kind of force. Within the framework of a pantheon, each of these powers is defined not in itself as an isolated object but by virtue of its relative position in the aggregate of forces, by the structure of relations that oppose and unite it to the other powers that constitute the divine universe. The law of this society of the beyond is the strict demarcation of the forces and their hierarchical counterbalancing. This excludes the categories of omnipotence, omniscience and of infinite power.

Versnel concludes from this the following:

"Significantly, the only conviction which the two scholars do share, namely the idea that it is impossible to adequately define one single god in isolation from others, precisely reveals the gulf by which they are separated. Vernant explains this aporia by his conviction that no god exists (hence: can be described) in isolation from other gods. Together the gods construct, as we have seen, “the polytheistic system as a rigorously logical ensemble, designed for the purpose of classifying divine capacities and powers.” Burkert, in his definition, avoids these terms, and gives a radically different reason for his inability of fully describing one god in isolation: each god as an individual is defined by a number of characteristics, dependent on variations in time and place. These characteristics, however, are variables associated in untransparent and seemingly arbitrary shifts with a great number of other gods. While for Vernant the coexistence and relationships of gods are the conditio sine qua non for an individuation of each god, for Burkert the very same pluralist variety of gods and their transformations constitute the germs of the potentially chaotic nature of Greek polytheism."

So, how do you define a God if you try to define Them without the boundaries placed upon Them by Their pantheon? How does a single God influence the foundation of the entire pantheon? And, if it is impossible to define a single God without referring to their pantheon, does that lessen Their power? Burkert finds that the domains of Gods bleed together in such a way that the boundaries between the Gods shift, lessening their individuality and--in a way--their power. Because these domains overlap so much--many Gods boast healing powers, many Gods watch over sailors, many Gods guard the home, etc.--a single God needs the other Gods to fully blossom and define themself. Because these domains shift and bleed so much, an entire pantheon is at risk of falling into chaos.

Vernant views this differently, saying that the way the domains of the Gods bleed and mix is exactly what binds the Gods together into a whole. It's not chaos but kosmos: a universe created by interlinkage in which all the Gods rely on each other to form a cohesive whole. As Versnel says, when we ask whether the Greek pantheon was chaos or kosmos, this does not mean that the two terms should be necessarily conceived in Vernantian or Burkertian terms. What it means is that it is important to keep these two viewpoints in mind when studying the ancient Hellenic religion and the people who practiced it. These are two ways of looking at something that simply was--without explanation or guide. There is no indication that the ancient Hellenes thought of their belief system as either chaotic or kosmologic. It's modern reasoning applied to ancient practices--but as such, it does matter.

To get back to those questions posed two paragraphs up, I don't think you can adequately define a God without referring to their pantheon. I can tell you that Athena is perceived as female, that she represents thought before action, that she is a virgin Goddess, and that she is associated with Athens. What I can't tell you is why. Without being allowed to refer to the framework in which She resides, I cannot explain to you who her mother and father are, and why that matters to her dominion over intelligent thought. Without referring to Hēphaistos, I cannot tell you how I know she is one of the virgin Goddesses. Without mentioning Poseidon, I can't tell you why She is associated with Athens. Her relationship to people, Gods, and places in mythology--as well as (local) cult worship--are what makes Athena the Goddess that She is. So if I were to take her outside of this framework, I feel She would, indeed, lose much of her power. In this way, a single God defines an entire pantheon, because everything is connected. Take one God out of it, and--as Burkert says--the entire pantheon would fall to chaos. As Vernant illustrates, though, you simply can't take a single God out of the pantheon, and as such, these is no chaos--just kosmos.

Polytheism is the belief in many Gods. Those who reconstruct the religious views of an ancient culture often do so with a single pantheon in mind--a single framework in which they operate and worship. This is why Reconstructionist need to worship the pantheon as a whole: you simply can't worship one God, or three, or eight: all Gods need every other single God in the pantheon to fully blossom and come into Their power. Burkert and Vernant are right in saying that these forces work together, and while Burkert's dissonant may not hold true in an established pantheon, it most certainly can in household worship. I'll end this post with a quote by Versnel, who states the following about the ancient Hellenes, and which is good advice for every modern practicioner of Hellenismos:

"Greeks (that is: some Greeks) pushed frontiers in their quest for consistency, coherence, unity, rationality, order. The Greeks never lost an awareness of living in a dissonant, pluralistic, diverse reality. One specific feature of Greek culture, as opposed to our modern culture, is that it displays an unmatched capacity to unashamedly juxtapose the two, tolerating glaring contradictions and flashing alternations."
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. It's a little late this month, and I think I skipped one, but here we are again.

Changes to the blog:
Anything else?
Pandora's Kharis, a charity circle for and by Hellenistic Polytheists, was launched a few months ago and is currently collecting for The Trevor Project. If you want to donate, you have until tomorrow! Join us on Facebook if you would like to pitch a cause for next month!

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!
The Archaeology News Network reports that excavations on the uninhabited island Despotiko, west of Antiparos, have yielded very important finds that are informative as to the topography, the extent and spatial organization of the sanctuary of Apollon at the area of Mandra.

Despotiko excavation reveals majestic shrine
Clay antefixes from the roof of an Archaic building [Credit: TOC]

There are significant indications that in prehistoric and ancient times the island--due to its central position among the Cyclades and the large Despotiko Bay--played an important role in maritime communication routes. The strait separating Despotiko from Antiparos only has a minimum depth of about one meter, with the intervening islet of Koimitiri. This extreme shallowness of the strait suggests the possibility of a link between Antiparos and Despotiko in former times.

Archaeologist Giorgos Kouragios (21st Antiquities Ephorate) has worked the site for the past seventeen years, and has revealed revealed an extensive and rich archaic sanctuary probably founded by inhabitants of Paros. The center of worship was a protected courtyard, which dominated the marble prostyle temple with a colonnade with seven columns of an approximate height of seven meters. Next to this, he discovered a ceremonial dining area and a ritual altar.

This year's research unearthed, very close to the entrance of the sanctuary, a large new building. The excavation of the building wasn't completed, but it became clear that it had a complex ground plan with at least five rooms, based on the findings dating back to the classical period. The identification of the building, first shows the continuous operation of the sanctuary during classical times and also the large extension and the complex spatial organization, which reflects its widespread reputation and large numbers of visitors, both in archaic and classical times.

Research in archaic building D, one of the most important buildings of the sanctuary used for worship was made ​​entirely of marble, with a marble colonnade of four columns in front. Unearthed beneath that building was an earlier building, and a large quantity of pottery from the geometric period (9th-8th century BC) with large quantities of burnt and unburnt animal bones, such as horses, pigs, sheep, goats and poultry. These findings are of particular importance because they are more consistent with the earliest evidence of religious practice in the sanctuary of Apollon as early as the 9th century BC, the same place where in the 6th century BC they built the monumental temple.
Well, yesterday. As you know, I don't really celebrate my birthday, but I had a little brunch, my parents and my girlfriend's parents visited, and my girl made me a lovely dinner last night. It was quiet and easy going, and I enjoyed it. I didn't get a chance to write, though, and today, I am starting my new job, so I don't have the time to get anything up. So, until tomorrow, how about I leave you with a little something about the influence of the ancient Hellenes on mathematics?

"Often called the "birthplace of civilisation", Ancient Greece heralded numerous advances in philosophy, science, sport and also mathematics. Over six centuries from 600 BC a group of revolutionary thinkers -- from Thales, Pythagoras, Democritus and Aristotle to Euclid, Archimedes and Hypatia of Alexandria -- formalised the rules and language of modern mathematics.

For Greek thinkers, maths wasn't simply a means of calculating amounts but a way of testing reality and understanding the true nature of the world around them. Indeed, Pythagoras is believed to have coined both the words "philosophy" ("love of wisdom") and "mathematics" ("that which is learned"). In turn, Euclid came to be known as the "father of geometry".

At the heart of this new understanding, was the concept of "the proof", developed by Euclid in what is commonly regarded as the most important and successful mathematical textbook of all time -- the "Stoicheion" or "Elements". Built upon the axiomatic method, mathematical proofs were a way of testing assumptions by building up a mathematical argument using self-evident or assumed statements (or, "axioms").

It is this methodology that formed the foundational language and logic of modern mathematics throughout the world. Indeed, Euclid's Elements was widely used as the seminal maths textbook right up until the start of the twentieth century."
Back in 2010, Syfy aired exactly one season of Caprica, a spin-off prequel of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, it takes place about 58 years before the events of Battlestar. For those of you unfamiliar with Battlestar Galactica, it was a science fiction series that ran from 2003 to 2009 and focussed on the fallout of an all-out war between humans and the cybernetic life forms (Cyclons) they created and which turned on them. Caprica shows how humanity first created the robotic Cylons.

I love Battlestar, and I recently re-watched Caprica to my great enjoyment. What makes these series unique are its settings. In this universe, humanity is divided between The Twelve Colonies of Man, also called the Twelve Colonies of Kobol. The names of the colonies' tribes and the planets they live on were borrowed from the Zodiac, so, for example, there are Caprica (obviously), Tauron, and Sagittaron.

The mainstream religion on all colony planets is polytheistic, with a mixture of Hellenic and Roman Gods. It is the state religion of the colonies; government oaths refer to the Gods, and on the Twelve Colonies, public museums housed artefacts of the Gods. Some people are devout believers, others are atheists, and most fall somewhere in the middle; all three viewpoints are accepted more or less equally. Monotheism is seen as unnatural. In fact, the rise of monotheism is one of the major issues in Caprica, and the Cylon religion is monotheistic, making both series extremely religious. They even flirt with religion in the official promo material, as seen above.

The Kobol Gods have the same names and characteristics as the Hellenic Olympic Gods and the show makes references to Zeus (as well as Jupiter), Hera, Athena, Poseidon, Ares (as well as Mars), Artemis, Asklepios, Atlas, Hekate, Hephaestos, and Apollo. The Kobol Gods are morally refined and are believed to watch over and intervene benevolently in the lives of the just. The characters on both shows pray to the Gods on a variety of occasions, and the human characters exclaim 'oh my Gods', while the Cylon characters use 'oh my God'.

Re-watching Caprica led me to question--again--why there isn't more religious diversity on TV and in the movies. If a character even is religious, it's usually some flavour of vague Christianity that never has them in church but has influenced their world view to such a degree that they end up struggling with their ethical framework whenever something goes wrong. Even science fiction--traditionally a genre in which the status quo gets explored through slightly distancing stories about aliens and robots--is very lite on religion.

Seeing as the US (and to a lesser degree Canada and Australia) are the major sources of (home) entertainment, and about 75% (more or less, depending on the poll) of US citizens are Christian in some form or another, I understand why. I get it, I do, but I wonder sometimes if people will really get upset if a Hindu character gets introduced somewhere, or a Witch, or a Hellenist. By 'introduced' I mean 'belongs to that religion, but it's not a whole storyline. They just are a member of that faith, and they relate tot he world through the ethical framework of that religion'. You know, like the vague Christianity that is continually on my TV.

As far as I am aware, the religious framework of Battlestar and Caprica was never an issue. It was there from the very beginning, gradually intensified, and became a major plot point a few seasons into Battlestar. It was perfectly acceptable. I think the Battlestar poster above caused some controversy as it depicts a re-imagined 'Last Supper', but that didn't stop the show's creators from pushing the envelope even further in Caprica, where monotheism is depicted as a fringe cult from the planet Gemenon, one regarded as disruptive and potentially hostile. Throughout both series, believing in only one God pretty much meant you were the bad guy. No one seemed to care.

So, where is the religious diversity on TV and in movies? It's a question I have often asked myself in light of many minority issues. Where is the racial diversity? The sexual diversity? The gender diversity? Why are most characters I see cis gendered, straight, white, (male), able bodied, thin to super skinny (for women, mostly), monogamous and vaguely Christian? To be honest, I'm getting a little tired of seeing the same characters over and over again, and I think there are a lot of stories left to be told, and I think some of those stories can very well be seen through the lens of religious diversity. We have seen in Battlestar Galactica and Caprica that it can be done, so... where are these series? These movies? There characters?
I sweat I don't want to keep bringing this up, but there is something equal parts frustrating and hilarious about the train wreck that is the discussion about returning the Parthenon Marbles. A quick search on the blog brings up five blog posts dedicated solely to the discussion. There is a basic post about the issues, a piece on the British museum that decided to show off the Marbles, and a piece about a new campaign by Greece to get the marbles returned, which was backed by UNESCO. Then the 'Monuments Men' spoke up about the issue, and now, the Archaeological News Network reports that British journalist Jonathan Jones speaks up about retuning the marbles.

north frieze of Parthenon sculpture
Part of the Parthenon marbles. [Credit: Laurie Chamberlain/Corbis]

A tiny recap: the Parthenon Marbles, also known as the Elgin Marbles, is a collection of classical Greek marble sculptures, inscriptions and architectural members that originally were part of the Parthenon and other buildings on the Acropolis of Athens. Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin obtained a controversial permit from the Ottoman authorities to remove pieces from the Parthenon while serving as the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1799 to 1803.

The Parthenon Marbles acquired by Elgin include seventeen figures from the statuary from the east and west pediments of the Parthenon, fifteen (of the original 92) of the metope panels depicting battles between the Lapiths and the Centaurs, as well as 247 feet (75 meters) of the original 524 feet (160 meters) of the Parthenon Frieze which decorated the horizontal course set above the interior architrave of the temple. As such, they represent more than half of what now remains of the surviving sculptural decoration of the Parthenon. Elgin's acquisitions also included objects from other buildings on the Athenian Acropolis: a Caryatid from Erechtheum; four slabs from the parapet frieze of the Temple of Athena Nike; and a number of other architectural fragments of the Parthenon, Propylaia, Erechtheum, the Temple of Athena Nike, and the Treasury of Atreus.

Jonathan Jones is a journalist for The Guardian. In his piece on the marbles, he states the following:

"Where do the Parthenon sculptures really belong? To get to the just, right, sensible answer I have to start from my opening claim: this is the world's most beautiful art. It has only a handful of rivals in the highest rank of artistic achievement – think Leonardo da Vinci, think Michelangelo.
[...] The sad truth is that in the British Museum, the Parthenon sculptures are not experienced at their best. For one thing, they're shown in a grey, neoclassical hall whose stone walls don't contrast enough with these stone artworks – it is a deathly space that mutes the greatest Greek art instead of illuminating it. So if the British Museum wants to keep these masterpieces it needs to find the money to totally redisplay them in a modern way.
[...] Or, it could give them to Greece, which has already built a superb modern museum to do just that. The great thing about the Acropolis Museum's display of the Parthenon sculptures – which currently includes pieces left by Elgin, plus casts – is that it makes it easy to see how the sculptures fitted on the building, and how they work as an ensemble. It also has one advantage London can never rival – you can look from the sculptures to the museum's glass wall and see the Parthenon itself, making a sensual connection between the art and its architectural home."

Jones follows these sayings up with a personal account about seeing the marbles, being enticed by their beauty, and feeling frustrated at their treatment. The piece is one of Jones' most commented upon pieces as of late, with nearly 900 comments. Most of those comments are snarky to downright hateful, and they all regurgitate the tried and true issues: 'they were stolen -- 'they weren't stolen', 'they will be treated worse in Greece, just look at the economy', 'Greece should buy them back', etc.

The more I read about this issue, the more I realize that nothing is going to happen to the Parthenon Marbles. In my opinion, they're not going anywhere. Period. Britain is making money off of them, Greece is in no position to demand anything at the moment, and truthfully, the last thing the issue needs is another debate. Most of the commenters also agree that Jones' commentary is not exactly constructive to the issue, but if anything, it at least keeps the Marbles fresh in the mind.
All of you know Classical Wisdom Weekly, right? Well, they have a newsletter too, which I am subscribed to. There is a lot of Roman stuff in there, but every once in a while they have nice Hellenic mythology features--like their latest one, on the dragons slayers of the ancient Hellenic world. I love dragons--drakons--(who doesn't?), so I wanted to share their picks, and then tell you mine.

1. Apollo
"According to the mythology, a spring nearby the location of the temple [of Delphi] was guarded by the large Python or she-dragon, which Apollo slayed upon arrival, thus freeing the people from their fear of the earth and its power."

2. Cadmus (Kadmos)
"On a quest to find his sister, Europa, he stopped at the Delphic temple to consult Apollo’s oracle, which led him to found the city of Thebes. While building the Theban temple, Cadmus’ assistants were slain by a dragon as they attempted to collect water from a nearby spring. Athena instructed Cadmus to slay the dragon and then sow its teeth into the ground like seeds."

3. Jason
"Jason was sent by Poseidon’s son, Pelias, to fetch the Golden Fleece. Along the way, he acquired additional tasks: to plow a field with fire-breathing oxen, to steal a tooth from a dragon, and to slay the dragon that guarded the fleece. Luckily for Jason, his lover Medea was trained in Hecate’s dark arts and gave him an ointment that would keep him from being burned by the oxen, in addition to a herbal potion with which he could put the dragon to sleep."

4. Perseus
"Of his conquests, one of the most memorable is the beheading of Medusa, the snake haired gorgon, with the aid of Athena’s polished shield. Afterwards, Perseus went on to slay another monster, the sea serpent Cetus sent by Poseidon."

5. Heracles (Hēraklēs)
"Heracles, strangled his first snake when he was still just a baby in the cradle. [...] Throughout his twelve labors he conquered two multi-headed snakes, including the Hydra and the Ladon."

I like these picks, and I agree with most of them. Especially the top three would be mine as well. I'm going to add a few others to the list as well, though.

When the Olympians rose to power, they first fought the Titans during the Titanomachy. Vanquishing them, the Theoi thought They had won. Yet, there was one who sought revenge for the defeat of his father: Typhôeus, the most-feared son of Tartaros and Gaea. Some versions of the myth say that Typhôeus was actually the Drakon Gigantomakhios, or one of his offspring. Hyginus shares what happened to the dragon:
"Some also say this dragon was thrown at Minerva [Athena] by the Giants, when she fought them. Minerva, however, snatched its twisted form and threw it to the stars, and fixed it at the very pole of heaven. And so to this day it appears with twisted body, as if recently transported to the stars."

The hero Bellerophon was commanded by King Iobates to slay the Khimaira, a fire-breathing mythical beast whose form was a hybrid of lion, serpent and goat. Bellerophon rode into battle against the beast on the back of the winged horse Pegasos and, driving a lead-tipped lance down the Khimaira's flaming throat, suffocated it. From Hómēros' Iliad:

 "On first deciphering the fatal message, he ordered Bellerephon to kill the monstrous Chimaera, spawned by gods and not men, that had a lion’s head, goat’s body and serpent’s tail, and breathed out deadly blasts of scorching fire. But Bellerephon slew her, guided by the gods." [VI:119-211]
During the Titanomachy, Zeus needed the giants to win his war. Trouble was, they were locked away in Tartaros by Kronos where they were guarded by Kampê (Καμπη), a she-dragon who, from the waist up, had the body of a serpentine-haired woman. Below that she had the body of a scaly drakon with a thousand vipers for feet and sprouting from her waist the heads of fifty fearsome beasts--lions, boars and other wild animals. Dark wings rose from her shoulders and above her head she lifted a furious scorpion's tail. Zeus slew her and freed His future allies. Apollodorus, in his 'Bibliotheca' writes:
"After ten years of fighting Ge [Gaia] prophesied a victory for Zeus if he were to secure the prisoners down in Tartaros as his allies. He thereupon slew their jail-keeper Kampe, and freed them from their bonds." [1.6]
Phorbas was the son of Triopas and Hiscilla (daughter of Myrmidon), a hero of the island of Rhodes. When the people of the island of Rhodes fell victim to a plague of masses of serpents (may have been dragons or simply snakes), an oracle directed them to call on a man named Phorbas. Phorbas cleansed the island of the snakes and in gratitude the Rhodians venerated him as a hero. For his achievement he won a place among the stars as the constellation Serpentarius or Ophiuchus. Hyginus, in his 'Astronomica' writes:
"Polyzelus the Rhodian, however, points out that this is Phorbas, who was of great assistance to the Rhodians. The citizens called their island, overrun by a great number of snakes, Ophiussa. In this multitude of beasts was a snake of immense size, which had killed many of them; and when the deserted land began finally to lack men, Phorbas, son of Triopas by Hiscilla, Myrmidon’s daughter, when carried there by a storm, killed all the beasts, as well as that huge snake. Since he was especially favored by Apollo, he was put among the constellations, shown killing the snake for the sake of praise and commemoration. And so the Rhodians, as often as they go with their fleet rather far from their shores, make offerings first for the coming of Phorbas, that such a happening of unexpected valor should befall the citizens as the opportunity for glory which brought Phorbas, unconscious of future praise, to the stars." [II.14]
Damasen was a giant, a son of Gaia. He assisted the nymph Moria after her brother Tylus accidentally touched a serpent, which then attacked him. It coiled round his body and suffocated him. Moria implored Damasen to help and he killed the serpent, hitting it with the trunk of a tree he tore out of the ground. Then a female serpent, the slain monster's mate, appeared and used a magical herb, referred to as 'Zeus' flower', to bring the dead serpent back to life. Moria then used the same herb to revive her brother. The myth is only mentioned in Nonnus' 'Dionysiaca', although it may the foundation of  Hēraklēs' second labour.

"This was he whom the Nymphe beheld on the fertile slope of the woodland. She bowed weeping before him in prayer, and pointed to the horrible reptile, her brother’s murderer, and Tylos newly mangled and still breathing in the dust. The Gigas (Giant) did not reject her prayer, that monstrous champion; but he seized a tree and tore it up from tits roots in mother earth, then stood and came sidelong upon the ravening Drakon." [25.452]

Are there any other dragon slayers who deserve to make the list? Let me know in the comments!
So! As some of you may know, I've been job hunting for quite a while now and with very limited success. Yesterday, I got the happy news that I am finally employed again--in my field, for a decent income, part time so I can keep up with all my other projects (like Baring the Aegis), and nearby. In short: the job is perfect. Also in short: I am going to take today off and enjoy the victory that is financial stability in the near future. More tomorrow. For now, listen to this and let me know how it was?

Do you know what I'm in the mood for? New episodes of Atlantis. Sure, it isn't the most historically accurate show ever made, sure the writing could be better, sure, it needs a bit of work in the acting department, but I liked the first season. I like the humour, I liked watching something that was supposed to be ancient Hellas on my screen every week, I liked recapping the episodes.

The second season should start somewhere in the Fall, although an exact release date has not been announced. We do know that the second series had its initial read-through on 11 March 2014, before filming began on 17 March 2014. On 3 April 2014, it was announced that Vincent Regan will be joining the cast as Dion (a Laconia king), along with Amy Manson as Medea. Clive Standen, of 'Vikings'-fame, will guest star in an episode of the second season.

As a personal note, I enjoy how open Robert Emms is to his slash (homosexual) (relation)ships on the show: there are quite a number of fans who ship Jagoras (Jason/Pythagoras) and Python (Pythagoras/Jason). That tweet, by the way, was retweeted by the BBC--which I appreciate.

Oh--while we are on the topic of Twitter: The Oracle is still hilarious.

Once Atlantis returns, I'll be recapping it again for those who can't see it but would like to keep up with it. I'm curious what will happen now the Big Bad had effectively been neutered because she turned out to be her greatest enemy's mother. I look forward to seeing how Jason and Ariadne's relationship will develop and how Jason will handle the inevitable discovery of his ancestry. What other secrets does The Oracle have up her sleeve? What will happen to Medusa? What role will Medea play--in the ancient lore, she was the original Jason's love interest, after all. So many questions! If is the Fall season yet?
Archaeologists and students from North Carolina and across the US, as well as local Cretan workers, are studying the findings of Azoria, a city destroyed by fire about 2,500 years ago. The Azoria Project is the excavation of an Early Iron Age and Archaic site (ca. 1200-500 B.C.) on the island of Crete in the Greek Aegean. The project is spearheaded by Donald Haggis, an archaeology professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Haggis and his team have been working on the project since 2002. Greek officials monitor the excavation as all antiquities found must remain in Greece.

2014 excavations at Azoria concluded
Monumental Civic Building excavated at Azoria in 2006 [Credit: Azoria Project/
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill]
The Archaeology News Network reports that the team is currently working on gathering historical clues from the remnants of buildings, personal items, implements and food. In the past, the Azoria Project excavations have recovered evidence of an Archaic Greek city, established c. 600 BC, following a long period of continuous occupation throughout the Early Iron Age or Greek Dark Age (1200-700 BC) and Early Archaic (700-600 BC) (or Orientalizing) periods. The city was destroyed by fire early in the 5th century BC, to be subsequently reoccupied on a limited scale c. 200 BC—probably a single tower constructed on the peak of the South Acropolis.

Although the site has a long history of use, the most visible remains are the houses and communal buildings of Archaic date (600-500 BC). The Archaic rebuilding expanded the settlement to its maximum size (c. 15 hectares), created a zone of communal buildings—discovered have been a  communal dining building, a monumental civic building, and an Archaic shrine.

The Azoria project excavations took place between 2002 and 2006 and there was a hiatus from 2007 until 2012, when conservation work was done. Excavations resumed last year and they are scheduled to continue through 2017, followed by additional years of study.

Fieldwork is conducted by permission of the Greek Ministry of Culture under the auspices of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and the Archaeological Service of Eastern Crete (24th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities). The main supporting institutions are the Department of Classics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Classical Studies Program at Iowa State University, the Curriculum in Archaeology and the Research Laboratories of Archaeology at UNC, the Institute for Aegean Prehistory Study Center for East Crete (INSTAP-SCEC), and the Duke-UNC Consortium for Classical and Mediterranean Archaeology (CCMA).
In very happy news, The Wild Hunt reports that Cara Schulz has decided to run for one of the two open seats on the local Burnsville City Council. The regular reader might be familiar with Schulz' name: she is a well known Hellenic Pagan, and a member of Hellenion. As such, her name has popped up on Baring the Aegis before.

As The Wild Hunt explains, the election is non-partisan, meaning the primaries coming up later this month will simply winnow the field down to four candidates from the current seven, regardless of each candidate’s personal party affiliation. The public will then vote two candidates into office this November. Schulz has also been active in politics for a long time, most notably, she was an active volunteer for Libertarian Presidential candidate Gov. Gary Johnson in 2012. Like Governor Johnson, Schulz is liberal on social issues, and conservative on fiscal policy.

The Burnsville city counsel is--obviously--no concern of mine, but Cara is a well known figure in our community, and I'm using her political step as something to hang a note on. We are discussing politics, but as anyone who has ever been involved in politics (or has seen any fictional character in a series or movie run for anything political) knows, politics are personal. It's not just the political views of the candidate that matter in getting elected: it's the person. Religion--especially in America--is a huge part of why a candidate gets elected for anything.

Every step into the public's eye a member of a minority religion makes brings with it consequences for other members of said minority. People will always hold that person up as an example. This works for everything, gay people, black people, etc. I've been friends with people who have always been uncomfortable around homosexuals but who, through knowing me, have come around. They think positive of homosexuals now, and that is because they like me. 

Schulz is not the first Pagan to make the news by running for something political. We are fresh off the very painful affair that was Theodsman Dan Halloran's stint as a former New York City Councilman. Just a few days ago, Halloran was convicted on corruption and bribery charges, after a long investigation. Because his religion became a major focus during his election process, it will undoubtedly leave a taint upon Theodism now Halloran has been convicted.

I doubt there are any skeletons in Schulz' closet. She is an eloquent, thoughtful, and very smart woman. I have no doubt that Schulz would/will do a fantastic job on the city counsel, and I know that she is well aware of the visibility she takes upon herself and Hellenismos. Every time someone from our little community takes a step outside of it, though, I find myself holding my breath just a little. Just enough to realize how close Hellenismos and its reputation is to my heart.

The primary election was held on August 12th, and I have no idea how Schulz did. I hope she made it through (and I will let you know if she did). I hope she makes it onto the counsel and has a profound impact on Burnsville. I hope she makes it better, and that she does it with the Hellenic ethics in mind. I hope she will remain to be an addition to our community--both inside of it and out of it. Overall, I simply wish her the best, and good things on her and the religion she represents.
Through Tumblr, I was asked my opinion about a quote allegedly by Euripides, which reads:

"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"

Euripides (Εὐριπίδης) was alive from about 480 to 406 BC, and in his lifetime, he wrote about 95 plays, 18 of which have survived completely and many more as fragments. His most known works are Alcestis, Medea and The Bacchus. He is known for his representation of traditional, mythical heroes as ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances--which is a story told many times over in modern day writing.

It's a disputed quote, mostly because it's not at all clear if it was written by Euripides or not. Charles Bray, in his 1863 'The Philosophy of Necessity: Or, Natural Law as Applicable to Moral, Mental, and Social Science' quotes it first, without a source. Afterwards, it got picked up and appeared in many more books on philosophy and ancient Hellenic culture. That said, let's look at the statement itself. Bray's quote is a little different. It reads:

"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?"

He says about the quote:

"It is probable that what we call evil is the best, if not only means of producing and preserving the good. Is our calling it evil then merely a misnomer, or must we not rather admit that we are obligated to limit the power of God, and that He cannot produce the good in its full amount without the evil, an that one is absolutely necessary to the production of the other?"

Evil is such a subjective term. As Brey says, evil is defined by good, and good by evil. You can't have one without the other. Defining both good and evil in relation to humanity is different than defining good and evil in relation to a God. Because there are ethics involved, it means you need to have a grasp of not only the way the subject thinks, but of their ability to understand the consequences of their actions.

I don't think we can understand the way the Gods think or act, and I am very sure that we cannot comprehend life as They do. The Gods are immortal; Their plans span many mortal lifetimes, and what we might consider evil, to Them may be just a link in a chain. Can we judge the Gods by our limited ethics? Personally, I don't think we can--or well, we can, but I don't think it's useful to do so.

I don't think the quote which is allegedly by Euripides is useful in the Hellenic context. It is a human way of looking at the divine, and as such, it will always fall short--in relation to Hellenism or any other religion. I think it's a beautiful quote, but in Hellenism, where very few--if any--actions of the Gods can even be called 'evil' even by human standards, it's meaningless.
Good morning lovelies! I've just gotten back from vacation (nothing major, a week of sailing, much fun!) and I need to catch up with work and lots of laundry. As such, I hope you will forgive me for leaving you with a rather fitting poem from the hand of ancient Hellenic lyrical poet Alkaios (Ἀλκαῖος, Alcaeus).

Alkaios hailed from the island of Lesbos and was an alleged lover of Sappho. He is credited for inventing the Alcaic Stanza, a Hellenic lyrical meter, used by both Sappho and Alcaeus. Alkaios was probably born around 620 BC, and wrote poetry not so much to honour the Gods, but to perform amid a circle of friends and associates. As all of the ancient Hellenes, he lived every day with the Gods, however, so They frequent his words. A huge number of poems by Alkaios' hand have been lost, but we have fragments. The poem below is one of the most complete ones we still have.

The hymn, fragment 34, was probably at least three stanza's longer, but what remains is worth sharing on its own. The island of Pelops the Peloponnesos, the southern portion of the Greek mainland, where Sparta, the home of Kastor and Polydeukes, was located. The 'shining afar' (Πήλοθεν λάμπροι) is a reference to St Elmo's Fire, an electrical discharge supposed by ancient Hellenic mariners to be an epiphany of the Dioscuri. The poem may have been used as a prayer for a safe voyage.
"Come to me here, leaving the island of Pelops,
you mighty sons of Zeus and Leda;
appear with kindly hearts, Kastor 
and Polydeukes,
you who travel across the broad earth
and all the sea on swift-footed horses,
and easily rescue men from death's
deep chill,
springing upon the tops of well-benched ships,
shining afar as you run up the forestays,
in the threatening darkness bringing light
to the black ship. . ."

An alternate translation is the following, which I also quite enjoy:

"Hither now to me from your isle of Pelops,
You powerful children of Zeus and Leda,
Showing youselves kindly by nature, Castor
And Polydeuces!
Travelling abroad on swift-footed horses,
Over the wide earth, over all the ocean,
How easily you bring deliverance from
Death's gelid rigor,
Landing on tall ships with a sudden, great bound,
A far-away light up the forestays running,
Bringing radiance to a ship in trouble,
Sailed in the darkness!"
In the spirit of things that make me happy: the news just broke that excavations are set to restart on the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, one of the most important monumental structures of the ancient age and widely considered one of the seven wonders of the world.

Excavations to restart at Temple of Artemis in Ephesus
Remains of temple of Artemis at Ephesus [Credit: Hurriyet]
Sabine Ladstatter is the head of the excavations for the excavations, which will focus on four areas in the ancient city as well as the temple, a Turkish bath, and the Çukuriçi tumulus, a settlement area at the southern part of the Virgin Mary Church.

It's been twenty years since the last excavations, and there are many layers of construction that have prevented the original temple to become fully exposed. There is another issue: high water in the area. They have been lucky, this year:

"[...] the ground water withdrew. We normally do it with pumps. Now we will progress faster. We are planning to work until the rainy season. Our goal is to reach the remains of the Roman era in the temple."

Ladstatter said Ephesus was one of the best-known excavation areas in the world, adding that the Temple of Artemis had failed to draw many visitors.

"An arrangement for visitors could be made in collaboration with the Ephesus Museum Directorate. There are not too many visible remains of the temple in the area. This is why information boards and visuals could be erected for visitors."
I get a lot of questions from readers, and most of the time, the answers are fairly short. When I feel the question or the reply would be valuable to others as well, I make a post with a collection of them and post them in one go. Today is one of those posts.

"In a video about Khernipd you talked about that you're supposed to have a shelf. Can i ask you why that is? I'm new to Hellenismos :)"

Ah, yes, the famous shelve. As far as I can tell, the shelve is a much-used item in Hellenismos. In 'Oh My Gods!', a recent documentary on Hellenismos, the shelve makes an appearance, for example. It's reminiscent of the niche in the wall that was used in ancient Hellas and serves to elevate the worship of the Theoi from the ground.

In ancient Hellas, an altar was called a 'bômos' (βωμός)--properly signifying any elevation--with an 'epipuron' (ἐπίπυρον)--a movable pan or brazier--used on top of the bômos so it could serve as an altar for burnt-offerings. The household hearth was used to make sacrifices as well, and thus served as an altar of sorts.

These altars were used for sacrifices to the Ouranic Theoi, but were rarely--if ever--used for sacrifices for the Khthonic Theoi. An 'eschára' (ἐσχάρα) is the term for a low-lying altar used in burnt-offerings for heroes, demi-Gods and (nature) spirits. It was sometimes located under the bômos. For Khthonic Theoi, an offering pit--'bothros' (βόθρος) in Greek texts--sufficed, although They were sometimes worshipped at an eschára as well.

Personally, I think a shelve works fine to worship to the Olympic Gods, but so does a table, chest, or anything else that you have handy. There is traditional and there is practical, and unfortunately when it comes to altars these days, what is practical is not traditional.

So, short answer: you use a shelve to elevate your worship off of the ground. Can you elevate your worship any number of other ways? Yes. This depends on personal preference.

"Would you say the orphic and eleusinian mysteries are a necessary part of hellenic polytheism? Im scared that I dont know anything much about them."

Let me start off by linking you to a very extensive introduction on the Eleusinian Mysteries I wrote a while ago. You can find it here. Orphism--a mystery cult or religious philosophy which claimed descent from the teachings of the mythical hero Orpheus--was mostly connected to Demeter, Persephone, Dionysos, life after death, and reincarnation.

As with all mystery cults, participation was optional. Many people took part because it assured some semblance of safety surrounding the afterlife, but definitely not everyone was initiated in the Eleusinian Mysteries, and while Orphism was widespread as well, it most certainly was not universal.

Personally, I am hesitant about engaging in mystery cults. The whole idea of them was to follow a very strict set of guidelines to achieve a very particular goal. Since huge portions of these guidelines were lost to us, it seems futile to engage in the practice. That said, these cults have brought forth beautiful works of poetry, have introduced concepts that resonate easily with me and many others today, and there is certainly wisdom in them.

You do not have to follow mystery traditions to be a Hellenist. I know people, however, who try to reconstruct them. They do this because they feel drawn to this way of worshipping, and that's wonderful. Personally I believe everyone should feel free to worship in the way they want, and if that includes mystery traditions, then so be it. It's not for me, however, and it doesn't have to be for you either, if you don't want to.

"I'm interested to hear your feelings on using wine in ritual when you or someone in your group has issues with substance abuse. What would you use as a replacement?"

I grew up in a household where substance abuse was a big issue and I have always refused to drink alcohol, do drugs, smoke, or even drink coffee. Wine is the traditional libation liquid; as drinking water was often stagnant, wine was used to purify it, and mask the taste. All men, women and children drank water which had some wine added to it. Wine was believed to be a healer--and it is--so everyone drank it, sometimes more when they were sick. Now, that is the Traditional side of it; what you do as a modern Hellenist is allowed to differ due to the complications of our current society. One part of that is finding substitutes if wine is not something you want to consume--or can't consume.

I would never force anyone to drink wine if they have addiction issues. As wine pretty much was the ancient Hellenic equivalent of water, water is a good replacement. That said, it may feel a little to plain and personally I enjoy the fact that I libate wine because it has ties to the grape vine and Dionysos. So, as a replacement, I would suggest plain grape juice--as pure and sugarless as you can find it. It still has the same ties to the Gods, but without the alcohol. This is also what I used to do in my Eclectic Religious Witchcraft rituals when minors were around, or recovering alcoholics.
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 are in and it isn't pretty.

Haris Kyprianidis, speaking on behalf of the metro workers, told journalists that numerous archaeological finds, problems with land appropriations and a lack of funding means that the project will not be completed before 2020. Another union representative, Dimitris Pappas, who is also an archaeologist, added that the government might need to find more than the 42 million euros in funding for the archaeological work it has lined up to complete the digs, on top of 92 million already spent. He also said that 28 percent of the digs for ancient artefacts have yet to be completed.

In other news, Ekathimerini reports that plans are in the final stage for the ecological restoration of the Asopos river in Central Greece following a deal to install an integrated water resources management system.

The levels of a potentially carcinogenic form of chromium in the Asopos River in central Greece are 100 times higher than the maximum safety standard. Asopos has been troubled for many years by the presence of hexavalent chromium in its water as a result of firms dumping or burying toxic waste in the river.

The Asopos river is a well-known feature in Hellenic mythology, being guarded by the river-God Asopos. He is most often considered a son of Okeanos and Tethys, or according to others, of Poseidon and Pero, of Zeus and Eurynome, or lastly of Poseidon and Cegluse. He was married to Metope, the daughter of the river god Ladon, by whom he had two sons and twelve, or, according to others, twenty daughters. Diodorus Siculus, in his 'Library of History', speaks of them, for example:

"We shall now recount the story of the daughters of Asopus and of the sons who were born to Aeacus. According to the myths there were born to Oceanus and Tethys a number of children who gave their names to rivers, and among their number were Peneius and Asopus. Now Peneius made his home in what is now Thessaly and called after himself the river which bears his name; but Asopus made his home in Phlius, where he married Metopê, the daughter of Ladon, to whom were born two sons, Pelagus and Ismenus, and twelve daughters, Corcyra and Salamis, also Aegina, Peirenê, and Cleonê, then Thebê, Tanagra, Thespeia, and Asopis, also Sinopê, and finally Ornia and Chalcis.
One of his sons, Ismenus, came to Boeotia and settled near the river which received its name from him; but as for the daughters, Sinopê was seized by Apollo and carried off to the place where now stands the city of Sinopê, which was named after her, and to her and Apollo was born a son Syrus, who became king of the Syrians, who were named after him. Corcyra was carried off by Poseidon to the island which was named Corcyra after her; and to her and Poseidon was born Phaeax, from whom the Phaeacians afterwards received the name they bear. To Phaeax was born Alcinoüs, who brought about the return of Odysseus to Ithaca. Salamis was seized by Poseidon and taken to the island which was named Salamis after her; and she lay with Poseidon and bore Cychreus, who became king of this island and acquired fame by reason of his slaying a snake of huge size which was destroying the inhabitants of the island. Aegina was seized by Zeus and taken off by him from Phlius to the island which was named Aegina after her, and lying with Zeus on this island she gave birth to Aeacus, who became its king. " [72]

The 37.6-million-euro deal to clean the river was signed by Alternate Environment Minister Nikos Tagaras, Athens water company (EYDAP) CEO Antonis Vartholomaios and Tanagra Mayor Evangelos Georgiou. It foresees the construction of a water treatment plant, a network connecting the unit to local reservoirs and a supply line to industrial and agricultural areas in northern Attica. It will be funded by Public Investments Program and the National Strategic Reference.
Today we'll examine a constellation not many people will have heard about. It is called 'Sagitta' and is located beyond the north border of Aquila, the eagle, east of Delphinus, the Dolphin, and north of the constellation of Hercules. The ancient Hellenes called the constellation 'Oistos', and even though it is the third-smallest area of all constellations, it was included among the 48 constellations listed by  Ptolemy. It remains one of the 88 modern constellations defined by the International Astronomical Union. Located to the north of the equator, Sagitta can be seen from every location on Earth except within the Antarctic circle.

Sagitta looks like an arrow, and obviously, it is identified with pretty much every archer in ancient Hellenic mythology. For such a tiny constellation is has a lot written about it, mostly by Hyginus in his 'Astronomica'. Above all, he attributes the flying arrow to Hēraklēs, shot to kill the eagle that ate the liver of Prometheus night after night.

"This arrow, they say, is one of the weapons of Hercules, with which he is said to have killed the eagle which ate the liver of Prometheus. The following reason for the release of Prometheus has been handed down. When Jupiter, moved by the beauty of Thetis, sought her in marriage, he couldn’t win the consent of the timid maiden, but none the less kept planning to bring it about. At that time the Parcae were said to have prophesied what the natural order of events should be. They said that the son of Thetis’ husband, whoever he might be, would be more famous than his father. Prometheus heard this as he kept watch, not from inclination but from necessity, and reported it to Jove. He, fearing that what he had done to his father Saturn in a similar situation, would happened to him, namely, that he would be robbed of his power, gave up by necessity his desire to wed Thetis, and out of gratitude to Prometheus thanked him and freed him from his chains. But he didn’t go so far as to free him from all binding, since he had sworn to that, but for commemoration bade him bind his finger with the two things, namely, with stone and with iron. Following this practice men have rings fashioned of stone and iron, that they may seem to be appeasing Prometheus. Some also have said that he wore a wreath, as if to claim that he as victor had sinned without punishment. And so men began the practice of wearing wreaths at times of great rejoicing and victory. You may observe this in sports and banquets.

But to come back to the beginning of the inquiry and the death of the eagle. Hercules, when sent by Eurystheus for the apples of the Hesperides, out of ignorance of the way came to Prometheus, who was bound on Mount Caucasus, as we have shown above. When victor, he returned to Prometheus to tell him that that dragon we have mentioned was slain, and to thank him for his kindness since he had pointed out the way. Straightway he gave what honour he could to the one that deserved it, for [he killed the eagle?] and since it was slain, men began, when victims were sacrificed, to offer livers on the altars of the gods to satisfy them in place of the liver of Prometheus."

Another explanation Hyginus gives--along with Hesiod, Apollodorus, and Diodorus, amongst others--is that the arrow belongs to Apollon. It was the arrow with which He avenged the death ofHhis son Asklepios, who had been killed by a lightning bolt design by the Kyclopses. Obviously, Apollon could not attack Zeus, so he attacked the Kyklopses instead, and murdered them. To quote Hyginus

"Eratosthenes says about the Arrow, that with this Apollo killed the Cyclopes who forged the thunderbolt by which Aesculapius died. Apollo had buried this arrow in the Hyperborean mountain, but when Jupiter pardoned his son, it was borne by the wind and brought to Apollo along with the grain which at that time was growing. Many point out that for this reason it is among the constellations."

Sagitta is visible at latitudes between +90° and −70°, and best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of August.
An often forgotten part of Hellenismos, Hellenic myth, and Hellenic religion in general is the worship of nature spirits. This group of divine and/or supernatural creatures was worshipped by many local cults back in the olden days, sometimes more actively than the worship of the Olympic Gods. This was especially true in the more rural areas.

The most famous of the nature spirits are the Nymphs. Nymphs are the female divinities of the natural features of the landscape, and there are many kinds, depending on the landscape they frequent. Their male counterparts are Centaurs, Sileni, and Satyrs.

A certain animistic worldview can be seen in the worship of nature spirits. It's one of the major links between Paganism and Hellenismos and yet, very few Hellenics actively partake in this type of worship or use it as a bridge. When I was young, I used to talk to trees and bushes. The rustling in the leaves reminded me of words. When I discovered Paganism, I made connections with trees or areas I felt were inhabited with something more than organic matter. I was never much of a tree hugger in the new age sense, but I know that some natural features are home to beings who are worthy of our respect.

The worship of nature spirits is easy; when you visit them at their home--an especially old oak tree, a lively stream or a bee visited meadow--you can leave them offerings. Nymphs recieved libations of water, and Satyrs enjoy wine. Seeing as you usually already have water with you when you go on a hike, you only have to pour some out and say a few words of thanks and greeting to satisfy them. This is a practice I much enjoy and gladly take part in.
Five ancient coins were returned to the Greek government Monday, August 4, the Archaeological News Network reports. The coins were part of a case against noted Rhode Island hand surgeon and coin aficionado Dr. Arnold-Peter Weiss, who was arrested January 2012 arrest during a coin auction at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel.
US officials return ancient coins to Greece
Greek Ambassador to the U.S. Christos Panagopoulos, left, is joined by Manhattan
District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., center, and ICE Homeland Security Investigations
Deputy Agent in Charge Glenn Sorge, as he speaks during a repatriation ceremony
of ancient Greek coins [Credit: AP/Richard Drew]
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. and Greek officials held a ceremony marking the repatriation of coins dating to 500 B.C.. Ambassador Christos Panagopoulos noted:

"The coins being returned to us by the New York County district attorney are exquisite ancient artefacts that reflect Greece's culture, history and enduring strength. Back home, where they belong, they will be displayed — with the gratitude of the Greek people to the DA — for all to admire, our citizens and visitors to Greece alike."

The pieces include two types of ancient Greek currency, staters and a didracham, or two-drachma coin. All bear images of Gods and other mythological figures.

US officials return ancient coins to Greece
The five ancient Greek coins that were repatriated to Greece. They are, from left: Silver
stater of Dikaia, Thrace; silver stater of Locri Opunti; silver didrachm of Euboia;
silver stater of Thebes, Boeotia; and silver stater of Thebes, Boeotia
 [Credit: The New York County District Attorney's Office]
Weiss pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of stolen property. According to the criminal complaint, he was caught on tape telling a police informant that he knew the coins had been recently looted in Sicily. As part of Weiss’ plea bargain, he agreed to write an essay to raise awareness about unprovenanced coins and promote responsible collecting. those interested can find it here. Weiss was also was required to do 70 hours of community service and forfeited about 20 other coins, including the authentic pieces headed back to Greece. Two of the coins have been returned to a previous owner, and the rest are to be given to cultural and academic institutions, prosecutors said.
I get a lot of questions from readers, and most of the time, the answers are fairly short. When I feel the question or the reply would be valuable to others as well, I make a post with a collection of them and post them in one go. Today's post is one of those.

"Is the word daemon pronounced day-mon, dee-mon, or as something else entirely?"

The words ‘dæmon’ and ‘daímōn’ are Latinized versions of the Greek ‘δαίμων’. Hesiod, in ‘Works and Days’ speak of only one race who became daímōns; those of the Golden Age. He makes clear distinction between the Theoi and daímōns: the Theoi are Gods, daímōns are members of the Gold Age who gained immortality. This differentiation is much less pronounced in the writings of Hómēros, where God and daímōn are used virtually interchangeably.

Daímōns fulfill an important role in mythology and life: all aspects of life can be overseen by Deathless beings, without taking away from—or needlessly adding to—the portfolio of the Theoi.

Especially through Neo-Platonics, comes the placement of daímōns between the Theoi and mankind. Daímōns are less powerful than the Theoi, with lesser domains; more concerned with the daily happenings of life than the Theoi are, but they, too, are immortal, and deserve honours. Important to note is the distinction made between daímōns and Heroes; similar in terms of power over the lives of man, but different in their identities, with the Heroes having very pronounced personalities, accomplishments and cult worship, and the daímōns having none of those.

In this context, the words ‘dæmon’ and ‘daímōn’ are pronounced the same: ‘dahy-mohn’, and not like the demons of Christianity (‘dee-muh n’).

"I just looked at the google calendar you have for the festivals and such. I'm in the USA. does that change anything for me, or would it be the same?"

The only thing I can think of that could shift is the time. My Google Calendar is set to Amsterdam times (CEST — Central European Summer Time — UTC/GMT +2 hours), so there might be some difficulty with the events not spanning two days. I think, though, that for most of the world, the this will work out and the user will know when the festival starts (after dusk) and ends (at dusk the next day or a multitude of days after). I haven’t heard feedback to the contrary, but if it does not work, let me know and I will adapt the times.

"Which translation of Sappho have you read? There are several, right? Do you have a book with a collection of Sappho's poetry? If so, which book do you have? (I'm trying to figure out which is the best to buy) thank you!!! :) "

Sappho (Σαπφώ) was a Hellenic lyric poet, born on the island of Lesbos (Λέσβος) around 620 BC, although the exact date is unknown. She wrote beautiful and highly romantic poetry that comes and goes straight to the heart.

I have read many, many, many versions of Sappho's poetry--and I have enjoyed different things about every single version. My favourite translation of the hymn to Aphrodite is by Elizabeth Vandiver, but as an overall book, I enjoy the translation by Mary Barnard, who has applied a bit of creative freedom in her work. It's not a literal translation, but it truly brings to life the spirit of the words. It can be found in the book 'Sappho: A New Translation', University of California Press; Reissue edition (December 8, 1999).
I was recently asked if 'one should give liberations to the 12 daily? Or can you rotate depending on the calendar?'. They explained reading on the Theoi pantheon page that 'These twelve gods demanded worship from all their subjects. Those who failed to honour any one of the Twelve with due sacrifice and libation were duly punished.', and now they were slightly worried.

Within Hellenismos, the Gods rule supreme. We are here to serve and honour Them, and in return, They provide us with what we need to survive. This practice of kharis is one of the pillars of Hellenismos. Not complying with the will of the Gods is called hubris. Hubris, in dictionary terms, means excessive pride or arrogance and comes from the Greek (hýbris, ὕβρις). For me, hubris is not an adjective but a verb. It describes the act of wilful or ignorant refusal to comply by the will of the Gods.

Human kind is said to be a step above animals because we have the ability to think about our actions and predict their consequences, but we are below the Gods, because we are mortal. Unlike the Gods, we do not plan centuries ahead; we have only a limited amount of time to live, and our actions reflect that. We are encouraged to use our ability to think logically about our actions and choose wisely.
I have read on some Hellenic websites that the Gods do not intent to harm us in any way. They wish to help us better our lives and would never punish us.

I think there is overwhelming evidence of the contrary in ancient Hellenic practices, in mythology and in modern day UPG. Odysseus spent twenty years simply trying to get home because he had pissed off the Gods with his hubris; hubris killed many mythological people, amongst which all fourteen of Niobe's children, Tántalos, and even Íkaros, who flew too high towards the sun; many festivals included elements of appeasement; and building only on my own UPG experiences, I have definitely been told to remedy a situation in which I was displaying unintentional hubris, or else. Saying that the Gods will never (or always) do something is a clear example of hubris, to

That said, the Gods do wish the best for us. As long as we honour them as we should, they will provide for us abundantly. Does this mean you have to give honours to all the Gods every day--because there are many more Gods than the twelve (or thirteen, depending if you count Dionysos)Olympians? No, I don't thank so.

Literary and artistic evidence from ancient Hellas shows that daily worship centred around the oikos, the household. The courtyard of the home often held a bômos, a free standing, raised, altar where the majority of household worship took place. Some houses also had a wall niche, an indoor worship area, either in a room especially designated for worship, or in the main family room. These altars were used to worship the Ephestioi (Εφεστιοι), the most personal of the household Theoi. These almost always included: Hestia, Zeus Ephestios (Overseer of the Hearth), Zeus Kthesios, and Agathós Daímōn. Worship of these deities was highly personal, and many other Theoi could be added to this worship list. There was no definite list everyone had to follow. The only list there was, was the festival calendar, and through that, most of the 'major' Gods were worshipped throughout the year.

In my opinion, offering a libation to the Gods on their special days is enough to appease Them; what matters is that They are at the forefront of your mind, and that you speak of them with pride and respect. The Theoi need to be a part of your life--an important part. Think of Them whenever you act, whenever you speak, whenever you think, and you will honour Them simply by being a good human being. Ethics is a huge part of Hellenismos, and along with regular active worship, you will built kharis just fine with the Theoi, even if you don't pour libations to the Olympians every day.