Two 'current events'-posts in a row, I know, but whenever I hear of news like this, I feel the strong need to share.

If everything went according to plan, Italy returned 80 ancient Hellenic coins to Greece yesterday, according to Ekathimerini, and that makes me very happy. The handover of the silver and bronze coins would have taken place at the sidelines of a meeting of thr European Union culture ministers in Turin. The coins date to between the 5th and 2nd centuries B.C. and originate from Macedonia, specifically the peninsula Halkidiki.

In other news, the vice president of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s (FYROM) Parliament, Antonio Milososki, has published a picture of himself and members of a group of climbers from Greece’s neighbouring country holding a flag bearing the Vergina Sun after climbing Mount Olympus on Twitter.

FYROM used the Vergina Sun, a symbol discovered at the tomb of Philip II at the archaeological site of Aigai (modern day Vergina in northern Greece), on its national flag between 1991 and 1995 but agreed under the terms of the 1995 interim accord with Greece to stop doing so. The Vergina Star was designated a Greek national symbol by the country's Parliament in 1993. Milososki told FYROM newspaper Vest that the flag he displayed was a 'historic Macedonian symbol':

“I always carried the flag with the 16-pointed Macedonian sun with me. Another member of the climbing group had the state flag with them. So we raised both flags at the peak of Mount Olympus and we took photographs with great satisfaction.”

The Greek government was not happy by Milososki's actions, and describes them as a 'provocation'. Foreign Ministry spokesman Constantinos Koutras:

"We thank Mr Milososki for visiting our country so he could be photographed within Greece, with a Greek national symbol. We would not encourage him to do the same as this would result in yet another breach of the Interim Accord and the Memorandum on Practical Measures. Provocations may justify Greek positions against all forms of irredentism but they do not help anyone, certainly not FYROM and its people."
Last year, I got a chance to visit the Pergamon Altar to Zeus and Athena, now in Berlin. It was a double experience for me; on the one hand, it is a striking marvel of architecture and seeing it made my heart swell with pride for the Theoi and the ancient Hellenes, on the other hand, seeing these stones so far from their original construction site was infuriating, and having to view them as a tourist attraction even more so. The Archaeological News Network now reports that the Pergamon Museum is losing its star attraction for five years. Yesterday was the last day to visit the ancient monument.

Berlin's Pergamon Altar to close for five year restorations
The Altar of Pergamon [Credit: DPA]
Pergamon (τὸ Πέργαμον) was a small settlement during the Archaic Period, located in Aeolis, today located 16 miles (26 km) from the Aegean Sea on a promontory on the north side of the river Caicus. The main sites of ancient Pergamon are to the north and west of the modern city of Bergama in Turkey.

The ancient city of Pergamon rose to greatness after receiving a huge sum of money as war expenditures, and became the most eminent centre of culture of the Hellenistic period for 150 years. One of its rulers, Eumenes II (197-159 BC), took the acropolis of Athens as an example and had the acropolis of Pergamon adorned with works of art, after which Pergamon became one of the most graceful cities of the world.

One of the most famous buildings that once stood on the property is the Altar of Zeus and Athena, which used to be located to the south of the theatre. Eumenes II constructed it as a memorial of the victory against the Galatians. The Altar has the shape of a horseshoe and its dimensions are 36.44 by 34.20 meters. The high reliefs on the outsides of the altar depict the Gigantomachy. At Pergamon, nothing remains of the altar but its foundations; the rest was removed from the site and shipped to Berlin.

Almost 1.5 million people visited the Pergamon last year, making it Berlin’s most popular museum. The altar was restored between 1994 and 2004 and is in reasonable condition, unlike the rest of the museum, Scholl said. Although some work will be carried out on the altar, the state of the museum building is the main reason for the five-year closure of the hall. The director of the museum’s antiquity collection, Andreas Scholl commented:

“Much of the building is in a horrible condition. Steel has rusted, glass is in a bad way, the electrics date back to 1929, so you can imagine what they’re like. There’s no climate control, all the water and power systems need to be redone.”

With the shutting of the Pergamon Hall, and the wing housing Greek antiquities already closed, just one section of Germany’s most famous museum will remain open--the wing housing the Babylon or Ishtar Gate (Ischtar-Tor) and the Market Gate of Miletus (Markttor). Scholl told The Local that the museum has braced for fewer visitors after Sunday, particularly as its capacity would be reduced.

A total of €385 million will be spent on the Pergamon under a master plan for the entire Unesco World Heritage Site area known as Museum Island. Under the master plan a fourth wing will also be built on the Pergamon. It will become the main entrance and house an Egyptian collection.
Personally, I am not a huge fan of modern hymns written by practitioners of Hellenismos. I've tried to narrow down why that is--it's not for lack of quality for sure! Some of them definitely resonate with me and I love to read them, but I never use them in worship. I also don't write my own hymns, although I, of course, make my own prayers. I know, though, that many of you enjoy modern hymns and poetry inspired by the Theoi. Since that is something I will most likely never be able to provide you with, I would like to tell you about Hymnodia, if you haven't heard of it already.

The Hymnodia Project is an online compendium of hymns, prayers, and other devotional material by and for modern worshippers of the gods of ancient Hellas. The goal of this program is to encourage the worship of our gods by making contemporary hymns available to the worldwide Hellenic community via the Internet. The Hymnodia Project is an official program of Hellenion. It is currently on the move to a new home, but the hymns can be found here as well.

Hellenion, by the way, is a Hellenic organization from America and Hellenic organisation Elaion, with which I am affiliated, had its foundations in it. It's a wonderful organisation, which you can join for courses and study material.

The hymns range from the Olympians, to the titans, to heroes, and anything in-between. The hymns have been submitted by worshippers of the Hellenic pantheon, and if you want to submit yours, you can by e-mailing it to: All authors retain copyright to their work.

I wish you happy reading, and if you feel the creative and devotional juices flowing, feel free to submit your work to Hellenion. I am sure many will thank you for it!
Members of Pandora's Kharis have come together to raise $171,- for the Maetreum of Cybele. The Maetreum of Cybele, a Pagan temple and convent located in upstate New York, is a non-profit organisation which has been struggling against the city of Catskill in an ongoing tax-battle, and we have come together to at least help their cause a little.

From this moment on, the Pandora's Kharis Facebook page is open to pitches. If you do not have Facebook, feel free to pitch your cause in the comments. We will relay the message to the community.

On to another month of pitching, voting, and giving. Thank you for your generosity!
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. I do have to say, the months go by very, very fast, and so do the days. One day late, my apologies.

Changes to the blog:
Anything else?
Pandora's Kharis, a charity circle for and by Hellenistic Polytheists is currently collecting for the Maetreum of Cybele. 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 Pyanepsia (Πυανέψια) is one of the many harvest festivals of the season, but instead of focussing on the actual harvest like well know Pagan harvest festivals like Mabon, the Pyanepsia focusses almost completely on the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. It celebrates his return from Minos, and represents both his homecoming and his victory.

One of the most well known practices of the Pyanepsia is the creation of an eiresiône (εἰρεσιώνη): a branch of olive or laurel bound with purple or white wool. It was decorated with fruits of the season, pastries, and small jars of honey, oil and wine. The eiresiône was also called a 'supplicant branch', as it was intended as a thank-offering for blessings received, and... at the same time as a prayer for similar blessings and protection against evil in future. Theseus walked through the streets of Athens with his eiresiône, to signal his victory and the end of scarcity.

Theseus also wished to thank Apollon for his safe journey and his victory over the Minotaur and thus, he ordered his men to gather all the foodstuffs that remained from the journey home. This was mostly beans and grains, and he ordered the food to be cooked up for a feast and a sacrifice--this panspermia is another staple of the Pyanepsia.

Come October 2nd, Elaion will host a PAT ritual in celebration of the Pyanepsia, and we welcome anyone who wants to, to join us in making an eiresiône and offering a panspermia to Apollon to ward off evil for the coming year, and to attract blessings. We welcome you to share your ideas freely on the event page. As always, a ritual is available for those who would like to have one. We hope you will join us!
National Geographic recently posted about a work of incredible diligence and great interest on its website: in the forthcoming study of pottery dating from 550 B.C. to 450 B.C., study lead author Adrienne Mayor and J. Paul Getty Museum assistant curator David Saunders translated Greek inscriptions into their phonetic sounds for twelve ancient vases from Athens. The phonetic transcriptions were given to linguist John Colarusso of Canada's McMaster University in Hamilton, who translated the inscriptions into names to go with the images on the vases--without ever seeing those.

Vases from Athens were a hot commodity in the fifth and sixth centuries B.C., traded across the Mediterranean. Often they held wine or were used as decanters during symposia, celebratory drinking parties for men. The vases were often painted with legendary scenes intended to provoke debate at the event, and a minority were inscribed with words.

More than 1,500 vases preserved from the era contain 'nonsense' inscriptions that mostly use combinations of Greek letters but don't form words in ancient Greek. Some of these also include depictions of women warriors. Mayor first asked Colarusso, an expert on rare languages such as Circassian, Abkhazian, Ossetian, and Ubykh, to translate nonsense inscriptions on a vase that didn't have images of Amazons.

The vase, dating to 400 B.C., depicts a scene involving a policeman and a dead goose in a basket. On the vase, some characters speak decipherable Greek phrases, but the policeman says something that sounds like 'noraretteblo,' meaningless in Greek. Colarusso, blind to the scene on the vase, translated the phrase into 'This sneak thief steals from the man over there' in ancient Circassian.

On the Amazon vases, Colarusso found an archer named Battle-Cry, a horsewoman named Worthy of Armor, and others with names such as Hot Flanks that probably had erotic connotations. On one vase, a scene of two Amazons hunting with a dog appears with a Greek transliteration for the Abkhazian word meaning 'set the dog loose.'

The other figures shown, such as Hercules and Achilles, were also named on the vases, leading the researchers to think the Amazon labels were meant as names, not descriptions. The names were probably nicknames or heroic appellations given to Amazons, rather than real family names.

"I am impressed, and I find the conclusions quite plausible," says archaeologist Ann Steiner, an expert on ancient Greek vases at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, by email to National Geographic.
Once more, I would like to share a call for papers, this time by the Ancient Philosophy Society. for those of you who have never heard of it, it was established to provide a forum for diverse scholarship on ancient Hellenic and Roman texts. Honouring the richness of the American and European philosophical traditions, the Ancient Philosophy Society supports phenomenological, postmodern, Anglo-American, Straussian, Tübingen School, hermeneutic, psychoanalytic, and feminist interpretations of ancient Hellenic and Roman philosophical and literary works. It is their intention to serve as the site of critical engagement among these various schools of interpretation and to encourage creative and rigorous independent readings.

The fifteenth annual meeting of the Ancient Philosophy Society will be held April 9-12, 2015 at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY. Papers in English on any topic in Ancient Hellenic and Roman Philosophy are welcome. There is a 3,000 word maximum for submissions, which should be prepared for blind review. Before submitting your paper by email, please see the full guidelines for submissions to the 15th annual conference in April 2015. You can submit papers by email to: before Monday, December 1, 2014. Decisions will be reported by January 19, 2015
Today I am thankful. I am thankful I have a few jobs that just about cover the bills, I am thankful I had a day off on Sunday to recover from a long week. I am thankful I have a beautiful girlfriend whom I love very much, and friends who are always there for me. I am thankful I am healthy, that I have a roof over my head, and that can buy the essentials to a good life. I am thankful I have a good awareness of who I am, what my skills are, and where my weaknesses lie. I an thankful my friends and loved ones forgive me my failings and never hold it against me. I am grateful to have a blog that is well-read so I can spread my knowledge and love for the Theoi. I am thankful I have religion, and that it is infused in my whole life. There are many things I am thankful for, and I feel I owe so much of them to the Theoi and Their continued involvement in my life.

I am truly blessed, and sometimes it's important to realize what you have and not just what you don't have. Our Gods are not always involved in our lives; They are not responsible for all the hardship, or all the good, but They are involved some of the time--They steer our lives. It's good to be thankful for the good every once in a while, so take a few moments today, if you can.

I have shared the video below before, in my mix-tape to Zeus. It's a song I often sing to the Gods when I enter ritual, and it sums up very well how I feel about them. So, what are you thankful for? List a few things when you read this, be truly aware of them, and whenever you enter ritual for the Gods again, thank Them for any part they may have had in you getting your blessings.

I work part-time for a construction company, as a communications liaison for the citizens and companies located in the construction zone. I am currently involved in a project located on the remains of a Roman settlement, meaning that every time anyone on-site pushes a spade into the ground, there is a person from the archaeology department looking at whatever emerges. From meetings with said archaeology department, I know that a good archaeologist can unearth, photograph, preserve, and remove two skeletons a day. An amateur or junior archaeologist takes about a day to a day and a half to remove just one. I was reminded of this when the Archaeology News Network reported that a Byzantine grave was unearthed in Thessaloniki during the excavation works for the creation of underground waste containers along Agia Sofia Street in the centre of the city.

Byzantine grave unearthed in Thessaloniki
Credit: ANA-MPA
The grave was discovered after the workers dug a hole that was only a meter deep. Deputy mayor Thanassis Pappas stated that the construction crew found traces of a Byzantine wall, a Byzantine grave and a small vessel, which probably dates back to the 14th century AD. A second grave with human remains was also found, but it was partially destroyed by underground utility networks. Now, I am not sure how things are arranged in Greece, but if the construction crew I work with stumbled upon two graves (no matter the condition), an ancient wall, and old pottery, I swear my site supervisor would weep. That right there is a month of delays.

The deputy mayor underlined that the works for the installation of underground waste containers are being carried out in the presence of archaeologists, so I am sure there will be delays for them as well. Personally, I am excited about the chance to discover more about the past. The Byzantine Empire was not exactly Hellenic--it was the predominantly Greek-speaking continuation of the eastern half of the Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages--you never know what else there is to find.
I won't reiterate how much of a geek I am (trust me, I am), but when I randomly stumble upon something insanely geekish that is (somewhat) related to ancient Hellas, you can be darn sure I will be blogging about it: in this case several icosahedron in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which date back to the Ptolemaic Period (so between 304-30 BC) and were found in Egypt. The symbols on the shapes are part of the coptic aphabet. The repertoire of glyphs is based on the Greek alphabet augmented by letters borrowed from the Egyptian Demotic and is the first alphabetic script used for the Egyptian language. Incidentally, the icosahedron--a polyhedron with twenty faces--is a often used dice in table top roleplaying games, and in modern times it carries numbers. As ancient Hellenic lettering often doubled as numbers themselves, the similarities are striking.

The term 'icosahedron' comes from Hellenic 'είκοσι' (eíkosi), meaning 'twenty', and 'εδρα' (hédra), meaning 'seat'. It was a shape well known in ancient Hellas. It is mentioned, for example, in Eukleidēs' 'Elements'. Eukleidēs (Euclid) of Alexandria was a Hellenic mathematician, often referred to as the 'Father of Geometry'. He was active in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy I (323–283 BC). His 'Elements' is one of the most influential works in the history of mathematics, serving as the main textbook for teaching mathematics (especially geometry) from the time of its publication until the late 19th or early 20th century. Eukleidēs defines the icosahedron as 'a solid figure contained by twenty equal and equilateral triangles'. In 'Elements' he proposes to 'construct an icosahedron and comprehend it in a sphere, and to prove that the square on the side of the icosahedron is the irrational straight line called minor. After a long list of equations and proves, he eventually concludes that:

"[T]he square on the diameter of the sphere is five times the square on the radius of the circle from which the icosahedron has been described, and that the diameter of the sphere is composed of the side of the hexagon and two of the sides of the decagon inscribed in the same circle." [Book XIII, Proposition 16]

For what the icosahedrons were used is unknown. Personally, I could see them be used as lots, as tools for divination, or even just as a part of a game like we use these shapes today. All of this to say that I recently had a major geek moment over a bunch of carved minerals (the dice are made out of Serpentine), and I need one of these, pronto. I recently found out, by the way, that you can buy a replica for about 16 euro's. For anyone reading this who has me on their Christmas list, this is a not-so-subtle hint.
Religion has the reputation of being un-scientific. By its definition, religion--the believe in something one can't prove--seems the polar opposite of science. So what of Hellenismos? Is that incomaptible with science like most major world religions? No. What I love about Hellenic mythology and philosophy is that it works with science--and the ancient philosophers agreed.

I have explained before how I differentiate between mythology and philosophy, where I feel myth was inspired by the Theoi Themselves, while philosophy was created by humans who saw society and drew conclusions from it. These conclusions often included a religious aspect because society was religious (even though the ancient Hellenes didn't have a word for 'religion'), but at its core, they deal not with religious matters. They deal with the influence of religion on humanity and society.

An example: the ancient Hellenic philosophers and mythographers were pretty much in agreement, however, that the Gods, indeed, created the universe--or are the universe itself. The most famous account of how everything came to be comes from Hesiod. His 'Theogogy' is a complete recounting of the story, starting with Khaos:

"Verily at the first Chaos came to be, but next wide-bosomed Earth, the ever-sure foundations of all  the deathless ones who hold the peaks of snowy Olympus, and dim Tartarus in the depth of the wide-pathed Earth, and Eros, fairest among the deathless gods, who unnerves the limbs and overcomes the mind and wise counsels of all gods and all men within them. From Chaos came forth Erebus and black Night; but of Night were born Aether and Day, whom she conceived and bare from union in love with Erebus. And Earth first bare starry Heaven, equal to herself, to cover her on every side, and to be an ever-sure abiding-place for the blessed gods. And she brought forth long Hills, graceful haunts of the goddess-Nymphs who dwell amongst the glens of the hills. She bare also the fruitless deep with his raging swell, Pontus, without sweet union of love. But afterwards she lay with Heaven and bare deep-swirling Oceanus, Coeus and Crius and Hyperion and Iapetus, Theia and Rhea, Themis and Mnemosyne and gold-crowned Phoebe and lovely Tethys. After them was born Cronos the wily, youngest and most terrible of her children, and he hated his lusty sire." [ll. 116-138]

He goes on to list a great many deities, cutting out a rough shape of the cosmos while doing so. There are many variations of this family tree, and in the ancient writings, there are also creation stories that range beyond this basic framework. Many of them match very well with science, though.

I believe in the theory of the Big Bang, where the universe was in an extremely hot and dense state and began expanding rapidly. After the initial expansion, the universe cooled sufficiently to allow energy to be converted into various subatomic particles, including protons, neutrons, and electrons. Giant clouds of these primordial elements later coalesced through gravity to form stars and galaxies, and the heavier elements were synthesized either within stars or during supernovae (courtesy of Wikipedia, because of ease). I see no issue in overlaying this theory with Hesiod's cosmology, however. The Big Bang theory does sound like first there was Khaos, and from that, matter came into being to eventually form the Earth as it is now. So as far as the creation of the universe and the Gods goes, I will go with Hesiod and his explanation, although a variation of his work is also fine by me.

As for how we came to be, I believe in evolution. I don't think we were put on the Earth ready-made by the Gods. That said, the proposal that one type of animal could descend from an animal of another type goes back to some of the first pre-Socratic Hellenic philosophers, such as Anaximander and Empedocles, so it's not an odd frame of mind to have for a Hellenist; even the ancient Hellenes flirted with the idea that at least animal species evolved from one another. I love the myth of Prometheus, but no, that is not how I think we came to be, although I won't rule out that the Gods had a hand in our formation through evolution.

All in all, I think Hellenismos and science go together very well. Most (if not all) scientific breakthroughs either work with Hellenic mythology or don't detract from it. Hellenic scientific research and philosophy often forms the base of our modern understanding of the world around us. The ancient Hellenes made great contributions to the field of 'science'. So yes, Hellenismos is 100% compatible with science and evolution, and that is something I find very appealing.
By unanimous vote, the Maetreum of Cybele is Pandora's Kharis' Boedromion 2014 cause. The Maetreum of Cybele, a Pagan temple and convent located in upstate New York, is a non-profit organisation which has been struggling against the city of Catskill in an ongoing tax-battle.

The Wild Hunt has frequently reported on this issue, and posted a good overview at the end of august:

"The legal issue at hand is if the Maetreum uses its property primarily for religious purposes, which would exempt them from paying property taxes. The Town of Catskill says the group is an “illegitimate religion” and is using the property for residential, rather than religious uses. The Maetreum says the town doesn’t want to “open the floodgates” to other nonprofit groups claiming tax exemptions which deprives the town of tax revenue.
Despite the unanimous decision in 2013 by a three judge panel of the Appellate Division of New York’s Supreme Court favorable to the Maetreum, the Town of Catskill took the unusual step of appealing the ruling to the New York State Court of Appeals. A ruling by the Court of Appeals is expected later this Fall and the Maetrum expects it to uphold the previous decision that the Maetreum is a religious nonprofit and as such is exempt from paying property taxes. Catskill also recently filed charges against the Maetreum for refusing to allow a municipal inspection to look for code violations and a trial is now scheduled for late September. The Maetreum, in an effort to preserve their property rights while the September trail takes place, filed suit against the town’s attempt to use property codes to condemn and foreclose on the property in the Greene County Supreme Court of New York.
So far the Maestreum has paid out more than $65,000 in legal fees. The Town of Catskill, the Maestreum estimates, has spent hundreds of thousands. But the town’s deep pockets, Rev. Mother Cathryn Platine says, is how the town plans to win despite their losses in the courtroom, “Rather than being over, we now find ourselves in three legal actions at once. The town dragged the original two legal actions out for years with multiple bullshit motions and now this. The town attorney is known for this tactic against non-profits all over the state. To make it too expensive to keep fighting them.”
The town may finally be successful. If the Maetreum can’t raise $10,000 in the next few weeks to cover legal fees for the appeal, the Pagan convent may close."
The Maetrum is a Neo-Pagan organisation. It has been running since 1997 and has developed a full theology and method of practice. Their theology starts from the simplest basis:  
"That the Divine Feminine principle is the basis of the universe. That all of us, all that we encounter is Her in the aggregate.  We are all the Great Mother learning about Herself.  From this simple beginning springs our organizational models, our rituals, the principles of what we call Wholistic Feminism, our mission of charitable outreach and indeed the way we, as Cybelines, live our lives.  We are sometimes called the 'scholarly Cybelines' because we have invested many years of strict historical research in order to embrace the essence of what proved to be literally the oldest surviving religion in the world.  We embraced the essence and then stepped away from "Pagan Reconstructism" by bringing those essences into the modern world.  We re-introduced to the world a model for Pagan Monasticism.  We've recovered long believed lost principles, our drumming patterns, ritual practices and corrected history.  The world centre of our Religion is in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York at the foot of the Kaaterskill Clove.  Unlike many neo-Pagan groups, we have a "horizontal" organization, our Priestesses all considered equals but also expected to live our religion, dedicate themselves to a live of charitable works and ministry to others according to their strengths.  We welcome all to our services and to visit our first Phrygianum of the modern era.  We do not require anyone to renounce anything to join us."
This organisation is in danger of going bankrupt, and we would like to help prevent this from happening. You can now donate to Pandora's Kharis at or by clicking the 'donate' button to the side of the Pandora's Kharis page. Thank you in advance for any amount you can spare. It will matter. The deadline to donate is 26 September, 2014.

In the ongoing saga of the new dive down to the Antikythera wreck, I am here to report that things look positive in the murky water. The Archaeology News Network reports that the divers and researchers are almost certain that they will make new discoveries.

The Antikythera wreck is a shipwreck from the 2nd quarter of the 1st century BC. It was discovered by sponge divers off Point Glyphadia on the Hellenic island of Antikythera in 1900. The wreck manifested numerous statues, coins and other artefacts dating back to the 4th century BC, as well as the severely corroded remnants of a device that is called the world's oldest known analog computer, the Antikythera mechanism.

I first blogged about the new Antikythera wreck dive when I posted about the brand new exosuit that was going to be used. The cutting-edge diving suit will be worn by U.S. divers who will be able to remain deep underwater for extended periods of time, enabling them to conduct excavations and handle the fragile ancient objects with due care. The 1.5-million-dollar Exosuit was made by the Canadian robotics firm Nuytco Research and comes equipped with a number of features that will allow divers to work at the 120-metre depths for an essentially unlimited period of time, without being at risk from decompression sickness.

As for the goals of the dive: Angeliki Simosi, head of Greece's directorate of underwater antiquities is positive after exploratory dives in the area in 2012 and 2013. She is sure there are dozens of artefacts left in the original wreck, and the archaeologists also hope to confirm the presence of a second ship, some 250 metres away from the original discovery site. All in all, there is a lot left to discover, and the Exosuit will help the archaeologists do that.
Do you know what I dislike more than working a 16 hour day? Exactly, working two in a row with another one ahead. Please forgive me, kind readers, but I need to work and sleep. All I have for you is a video on the Hellenic Gods that I quite enjoyed. I hope you do too.

"Greek mythology is the body of myths and teachings that belong to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. It was a part of the religion in ancient Greece. Modern scholars refer to and study the myths in an attempt to throw light on the religious and political institutions of Ancient Greece and its civilization, and to gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself.

The oldest known Greek literary sources, Homer's epic poems Iliad and Odyssey focus on events surrounding the aftermath of the Trojan War. Two poems by Homer's near contemporary Hesiod, the Theogony and the Works and Days, contain accounts of the genesis of the world, the succession of divine rulers, the succession of human ages, the origin of human woes, and the origin of sacrificial practices. Myths are also preserved in the Homeric Hymns, in fragments of epic poems of the Epic Cycle, in lyric poems, in the works of the tragedians of the fifth century BC, in writings of scholars and poets of the Hellenistic Age, and in texts from the time of the Roman Empire by writers such as Plutarch and Pausanias.

Archaeological findings provide a principal source of detail about Greek mythology, with gods and heroes featured prominently in the decoration of many artefacts. Geometric designs on pottery of the eighth century BC depict scenes from the Trojan cycle as well as the adventures of Heracles. In the succeeding Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods, Homeric and various other mythological scenes appear, supplementing the existing literary evidence. Greek mythology has had an extensive influence on the culture, arts, and literature of Western civilization and remains part of Western heritage and language. Poets and artists from ancient times to the present have derived inspiration from Greek mythology and have discovered contemporary significance and relevance in the themes."
I'm sorry guys, I literally have no time to write anything for the blog today. Juggling four jobs sucks sometimes. As such, I am going to quote a few interesting bits and pieces from the 'Quaestiones Graecae' by Plutarch. He was a Hellenic historian, biographer, and essayist, who later in his life became a Roman citizen. As such, he was extraordinarily qualified to write two standard works: the 'Quaestiones Graecae' (Αἴτια Ἑλληνικά, or 'Greek Questions'), and the 'Quaestiones Romanae' (Αἴτια Ῥωμαϊκά, or 'Roman Questions'). These essays are part of the book series 'Moralia' (Ἠθικά, loosely translatable as 'Matters relating to customs and mores'), and can be found in book IV of the series. The Greek Questions contain fifty-nine questions, the Roman version hundred-thirteen, and all pertain to matters concerned with their respective culture. Many of the answers are names or customs, and because Plutarch often refers (back) to Hellenic customs, both are extremely valuable for research on ancient Hellenic life. Today, I am focussing on the questions dealing with ancient Hellenic heroes.

27. Why is it that among the Rhodians a herald does not enter the shrine of the hero Ocridion?

"Is it because Ochimus affianced his daughter Cydippê to Ocridion? But Cercaphus, who was the brother of Ochimus, was in love with the maiden and persuaded the herald (for it used to be the custom to use heralds to fetch the brides), when he should receive Cydippê, to bring her to him. When this had been accomplished, Cercaphus fled with the maiden; but later, when Ochimus had grown old, Cercaphus returned to his home again. But the custom became established among the Rhodians that a herald should not approach the shrine of Ocridion because of the wrong that had been done."

28. Why is it that among the inhabitants of Tenedos a flute-player may not enter the shrine of Tenes, nor may anyone mention Achilles' name within the shrine?

"Is it that, when Tenes’ stepmother falsely accused him of wishing to lie with her, Molpus the flute-player bore false witness against him, and because of this it came about that Tenes had to flee to Tenedos with his sister? But as for Achilles, it is said that his mother Thetis straitly forbade him to kill Tenes, since Tenes was honoured by Apollo; and she commissioned one of the servants to be on guard, and to remind Achilles lest he should unwittingly slay Tenes. But when Achilles was overrunning Tenedos and was pursuing Tenes’ sister, who was a beautiful maiden, Tenes met him and defended his sister; and she escaped, though Tenes was slain. When he had fallen, Achilles recognized him, and slew the servant because he had, although present, not reminded him; and he buried Tenes where his shrine now stands and neither does a flute-player enter it nor is Achilles mentioned there by name."

40. Who was the hero Eunostus in Tanagra, and why may no women enter his grove?

"Eunostus was the son of Elieus, who was the son of Cephisus, and Scias. They relate that he acquired his name because he was brought up by the nymph Eunosta. Handsome and righteous as he was, he was no less virtuous and ascetic. They say that Ochnê, his cousin, one of the daughters of Colonus, became enamoured of him; but when Eunostus repulsed her advances and, after upbraiding her, departed to accuse her to her brothers, the maiden forestalled him by doing this very thing against him. She incited her brothers, Echemus, Leon, and Bucolus, to kill Eunostus, saying that he had consorted with her by force. They, accordingly, lay in ambush for the young man and slew him. Then Elieus put them in bonds; but Ochnê repented, and was filled with trepidation and, wishing to free herself from the torments caused by her love, and also feeling pity for her brothers, reported the whole truth to Elieus, and he to Colonus. And when Colonus had given judgement, Ochnê's brothers were banished, and she threw herself from a precipice, as Myrtis, a the lyric poetess of Anthedon, has related.

But the shrine and the grove of Eunostus were so strictly guarded against entry and approach by women that, often, when earthquakes or droughts or other signs from heaven occurred, the people of Tanagra were wont to search diligently and to be greatly concerned lest any woman might have approached the place undetected; and some relate, among them Cleidamus, a man of prominence, that Eunostus met them on his way to the sea to bathe because a woman had set foot within the sacred precinct. And Diodes a also, in his treatise upon the Shrines of Heroes, quotes a decree of the people of Tanagra concerning the matters which Cleidamus reported."

58. Why is it that among the Coans the priest of Heracles at Antimacheia dons a woman's garb, and fastens upon his head a woman's head-dress before he begins the sacrifice?

"Heracles, putting out with his six ships from Troy, encountered a storm; and when his other ships had been destroyed, with the only one remaining he was driven by the gale to Cos. He was cast ashore upon the Laceter, as the place is called, with nothing salvaged save his arms and his men. Now he happened upon some sheep and asked for one ram from the shepherd. This man, whose name was Antagoras, was in the prime of bodily strength, and bade Heracles wrestle with him; if Heracles could throw him, he might carry off the ram. And when Heracles grappled with him, the Meropes came to the aid of Antagoras, and the Greeks to help Heracles, and they were soon engaged in a mighty battle. In the struggle it is said that Heracles, being exhausted by the multitude of his adversaries, fled to the house of a Thracian woman; there, disguising himself in feminine garb, he managed to escape detection. But later, when he had overcome the Meropes in another encounter, and had been purified, he married Chalciopê and assumed a gay-coloured raiment. Wherefore the priest sacrifices on the spot where it came about that the battle was fought, and bridegrooms wear feminine raiment when they welcome their brides."
The Aegean Sea (Αιγαίο Πέλαγος) is an elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between the Greek and Anatolian peninsulas, i.e., between the mainlands of Greece and Turkey. In the north, it is connected to the Marmara Sea and Black Sea by the Dardanelles and Bosporus. The Aegean Islands are within the sea and some bound it on its southern periphery, including Krete and Rhodes. In ancient times, there were various explanations for the name Aegean. It was said to have been named after the Greek town of Aegae, or after Aegea, a queen of the Amazons who died in the sea, or Aigaion, the 'sea goat', or, especially among the Athenians, Aegeus, the father of Theseus, who drowned himself in the sea when he thought his son had died.

In ancient times, the sea was the birthplace of two ancient civilizations–the Minoans of Crete and the Mycenean Civilization of the Peloponnese. Later arose the city-states of Athens and Sparta among many others that constituted the Athenian Empire and Hellenic Civilization. Plato described the Greeks living round the Aegean 'like frogs around a pond'. The Aegean Sea was a major part of ancient Hellenic life, and it is celebrated in an original exhibition titled 'Aegean – Creation of an Archipelago', which is taking place in cooperation with the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki’s Geology and Paleontology Museum and the University of Crete’s Natural History Museum. It has already been shown at the Noesis Science Center and Technology Museum in Thessaloniki and will remain on display in Athens–in an enriched version–through October, before continuing to other venues in Greece and abroad, this reports Ekathimerini.
The exhibition took two years to put together after a more ambitious plan for a show on the birth of the entire Eastern Mediterranean had to be scrapped due to financial constraints.

"The Aegean Sea has a tumultuous history. Long before it became the subject of disputed claims and diplomatic tensions, it was rocked by volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, violent weather phenomena and many more dramatic events. The history of how its distinctive archipelago was formed over the course of 20 million-plus years, and how the islands became the cradles of culture and in many cases the fields of great battles, is the subject of an exhibition at the Eugenides Foundation in the southern Athenian suburb of Palaio Faliro.
[W]e tend to regard the Earth’s landscapes as being relatively stable, a set for the rise and demise of human civilizations that leave a trace yet lack the power to bring about radical changes. Rivers and marshes are drained, canals forged, forests destroyed and mountains quarried, but the mountain ranges themselves, the islands and the seas are seen as constants, maintaining a sense of the historical continuity of mankind through the passage of time. This sense of permanence is challenged by the “Aegean” exhibition, which illustrates that everything we take for granted had a beginning and, inevitably, an end, shaped by unstoppable geological forces."

At the Eugenides Foundation, the 'Aegean' exhibition is split into three sections. The first goes back to the beginning, telling the story of how Aegeis, a vast landmass that emerged from the Tethys Ocean, emerged from the Tethys and eventually broke up to become the Aegean, explains Zouros. Intense volcanic activity in the region and how this shaped the archipelago through the eons is the subject of the second section, which explains how the still-active volcanoes of Santorini, Nisyros, Methana and Sousaki in Corinthia, which form the Aegean Volcanic Arc, helped shape islands such as Milos, Lemnos, Santorini, Kimolos and Samothraki. The third section explores ecosystems in the region by explaining the evolution of its biodiversity through displays of primal flora and fauna – such as a short-necked giraffe from Chios, a dwarf elephant from Tilos and an early antelope from Samos. The predecessors of modern man are also present in this section in the form of plaster casts of three humanoid skulls.

The exhibition is suitable for adults and children alike, offering two separate approaches: The first focuses on the tangible exhibits and the rich audiovisual material available, while the other is more profound, focusing on the Aegean’s geological history, with texts and a 15-minute informative video. Visitors are encouraged to set aside at least an hour to take in the whole display.

'Aegean: Creation of an Archipelago' will remain on display through October 23. Admission is free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. Opening hours are Wednesdays-Fridays 5-8 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. More information is available here. Eugenides Foundation, 387 Syngrou, Palaio Faliro (entrance from 11 Pendelis), tel 210.946.9600.
Guys! Guys! You know I am Dutch, right, and that I thus did not grow up with all these awesome kid's shows? And you guys know I love kid's shows, right? So why did no one tell me that there is a Canadian-produced animated television series that was a fixture of CBS' Saturday-morning cartoon line-up and featured retellings of popular Hellenic myths that were altered so as to be appropriate for younger audiences? Because I feel a marathon coming on!

The show is called 'Mythic Warriors: Guardians of the Legend'. From what I can tell, all of the stories told are very.... liberal interpretations of the myths, but that does not make them any less enjoyable to me. There were twenty-six episodes, and at least thirteen can be found on Youtube. I'm going to leave you with a few today and then binge watch all episodes I can find. Please excuse me while I revert to my six year old self. Also, how awesome is that intro?

On the seventh of September this year (13 Boedromion), the festival of the Greater Eleusinian Mysteries started. The Eleusinian Mysteries (Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια) had festivals throughout the year, which were tied to agriculture through Demeter's refusal to perform her duties as an agricultural Theia while her daughter Persephone is with Hades, and to the afterlife and Underworld through Persephone's return to the surface of the earth after Her mandatory stay with Hades has ended. Initiation ceremonies were held every year at Eleusis. Of all the mysteries celebrated in ancient times, the mysteries at Eleusis are assumed to be of great importance to a large portion of the ancient Hellens. The cult itself likely has origins dating back to the Mycenean period of around 1600 to 1100 BC, and it is believed that the cult of Demeter Herself was established in 1500 BC.

The Eleusinian mysteries consist mostly of two festivals, but the worship of Demeter and Persephone consist of a cycle of seven festivals: the Greater Mysteries (13-23 Boedromion), Proerosia (6 Pyanepsion), Stenia (9 Pyanepsion), Thesmophoria (11-13 Pyanepsion), Haloa (26 Poseideon), the Lesser Mysteries (20-26 Anthesterion),  and the Skiraphoria (12 Skirophorion). These are placed in sequence of the Athenian year. Sunset yesterday (or today, depending on the source) marked a special event during the Greater Mysteries, however: the Epidauria.

The Epidauria was a festival of Asklēpiós placed smack in the middle of the Mysteries--exactly six months after the other major festival of Asklēpiós in Athens: the one during the Greater Dionysia. The day was named after Asklēpiós' healing centre to the south at Epidauros. It was said that on this day, the cult of Asklepios and Hygeia joined the Eleusinian Mysteries rites in Athens.

What, exactly, happened during the Epidauria is unclear as discussing the rites that took place at Eleusis carried a death sentence, but I think we can safely say that the rites at Eleusis involving Asklēpiós were most likely similar to the rites to Asklēpiós that took place at other places--including Epidauros. What we do know is that the evening rites of sacrifices were held at Demeter’s Eleusinion temple in Athens to honour Asklēpiós, His daughter Hygeia, and Demeter and Persephone, who also were revered as healing deities. Special blessings were invoked for doctors and healers, and perhaps healing practices were offered at Demeter’s Eleusinion temple.

Then started the part that we have to guestimate by way of other practices involving Asklēpiós. Asklēpiós' worship almost always included a 'night watch'; a night time period of meditation and contemplation at a temple to Asklēpiós; the Asklepion. the initiates would most likely sit, contemplate, and cleanse themselves of ailments, distress, and anything that might distract them form the proceedings to follow. The temple of Asklēpiós was built near the enclosure of a sacred spring in a small cave and it included an abaton, a sleeping hall sacred to Asklēpiós where initiates could sleep while watched over by priests of Asklēpiós who prayed to Asklēpiós to visit these initiates in their sleep and give them messages intended to heal and cleanse. The following morning, initiates would tell their dream to a priest of Asklēpiós or Hygeia, called 'therapeutes'. The initiate would then be encouraged to put the advice he or she had gotten into practice.

The Epidauria took place as a preparatory intermezzo: afterwards, the initiates were cleaned and focussed, ready to be drawn further into the Mysteries. As these proceedings took place late at night, a certain lack of sleep might also occur, leaving the initiates more susceptible to the coming proceedings. Whatever the case, the initiates would soon be enveloped in the hectic but highly ritualized proceedings of the Mysteries, and likely feel far more ready--and worthy--to face them.
Recently Joanna Kakissis over at NPR posted a very telling piece on Greece and its funding of archaeological endeavours--or lack of same. She starts the piece off with a single case, the case of archaeologist Xeni Arapogianni and her discovery of an ancient healing centre at ancient Thouria.

"About seven years ago, just as Greece was falling into its worst recession in a half-century, veteran archaeologist Xeni Arapogianni made an important find in a forest of olive trees above the city of Kalamata, in the southern Peloponnese.

'It was an asclepio, an ancient healing center, but one that has not been recorded in any ancient or modern source,' says Arapogianni on a recent day, as she walks on the bone-white stone foundation. 'It's an entirely new discovery. And it tells us a lot about the ancient city that it came from.'

That city, Ancient Thouria, was notable enough to be referenced by Homer. Yet Arapogianni, who has excavated in Greece for more than 37 years, is struggling to finance her work.

'We don't have any support from the state or the Greek archaeological society,' she says. 'So we have to get all of our support from private sources,' including a tobacco heiress and local donors from Kalamata."

Greece has a very rich history, which is a great source of pride and income for the Greeks. Before the current financial troubles, the Greek government could support archaeological research and digs. The debt crisis and subsequent austerity budget have slashed the Ministry of Culture's budget in half since 2010. As a result, more and more Greek archaeologists are scrambling for private funding to underwrite their work--a difficult endeavour as everyone struggles under the recession.

Ancient Messene, about 18 miles north of Ancient Thouria, covers about fifty percent of the costs of running the site with funds gained from non-governmental sources. Running the site costs more than 500,000 euros ($660,000) a year. Half of the funds come from the European Union, but the rest comes from bank foundations and ship owners. Partnering with luxury resorts so tourists can pay to work as 'archaeologists for a day' is another source of income. The ancient theatre is also rented out for events, such as a recent staging of The Woman of Zakynthos by Greek writer Dionysios Solomos.

Privatization of ancient sites is another option to preserve them, but it is opposed by many Greeks who fear the private sector will destroy or cheapen the surviving archaeological wonders.

Because of the funding issues, many recently discovered historical sites are abandoned, usually protected from looters and vandals by a lone farmer or ground owner--if that. The risk of losing valuable information from ancient Hellas becomes larger with every day this goes on--and there is no obvious end in sight for the situation. Crowd funding, sponsoring, and maybe even privatization might preserve these ancient sites where the government can't. It will take an entirely different way of marketing archaeology and Greece's rich history, however, and that will be a real challenge.
Today I am doing a good, old-fashioned post on ancient Hellas, and in particular the practice of veiling. For the last year or so, veiling has gained popularity in the Hellenistic and greater Pagan community. It's not a large part of my practice; I might do it on occasion when engaging in ritual--mostly when divining--but the closest I get is binding my hair, which I have done for nearly two years now. It is, however, a very interesting topic to me as it says a lot about ancient Hellenic society.

In ancient Hellas the word for veil was 'kalyptra' (καλύπτρα), or 'kalyptrē' (καλύπτρη) in Ionic Greek. It comes from the verb 'kalyptō' (καλύπτω), 'I cover'. Veiling was a huge part of social life in ancient Hellas, and retained its importance well into the Roman era. While we don't know how many men and women veiled--because veiling was important for men as well, especially in the Roman era--we can assume that especially in ancient Hellas adult women tended to veil whenever they left the house. The fact that so few ancient writers mention the veil is indicative of one of two things: either it rarely happened, or it happened so often that it was not worth mentioning. Seeing as we have a lot of depictions of veiling on statues and other forms of art, we can only assume the latter to be true.

While we cannot accurately establish the frequency of veiling, we can most definitely try to discern 'why'. I say 'try' because veiling was a very complicated practice and it was done (and not done) for a great variety of reasons. Let's start with religious veiling: during rites to the Ouranic Gods at least, women tended to veil. At least in Roman times men did as well, but because of the words of Plutarch we can assume that the ancient Hellenic men frequently did not. Veiling during religious rites was seen as an act of dedication. By veiling, women--and by Roman times, men--put themselves below in status to the Gods as an act of piety. As Plutarch says in his 'Quaestiones Romanae':

"[T]here is only one matter that needs investigation: why men cover their heads when they worship the gods; and the other [why men uncover their heads when they meet any of their fellow-men worthy of honour] follows from this. For they uncover their heads in the presence of men more influential than they: it is not to invest these men with additional honour, but rather to avert from them the jealousy of the gods, that these men may not seem to demand the same honours as the gods, nor to tolerate an attention like that bestowed on the gods, nor to rejoice therein. But they thus worshipped the gods, either humbling themselves by concealing the head, or rather by pulling the toga over their ears as a precaution lest any ill-omened and baleful sound from without should reach them while they were praying. That they were mightily vigilant in this matter is obvious from the fact that when they went forth for purposes of divination, they surrounded themselves with the clashing of bronze. " [10]

Plutarch (Ploútarkhos, Πλούταρχος) was a Greek historian, biographer, and essayist, who later in his life became a Roman citizen. As such, he was extraordinarily qualified to write two standard works: the 'Quaestiones Graecae' (Αἴτια Ἑλληνικά, or 'Greek Questions'), and the 'Quaestiones Romanae' (Αἴτια Ῥωμαϊκά, or 'Roman Questions'). These essays are part of the book series 'Moralia' (Ἠθικά, loosely translatable as 'Matters relating to customs and mores'), and can be found in book IV of the series. The Greek Questions contain fifty-nine questions, the Roman version hundred-thirteen, and all pertain to matters concerned with their respective culture. Many of the answers are names or customs, and because Plutarch often refers (back) to Hellenic customs, both are extremely valuable for research on ancient Hellenic life.

This dedication extended into the social as well: veiling and unveiling was a large part of wedding ceremonies for both men and women--who were both veiled for the ceremony. In ancient Hellenic times, men veiled during funerary rites, while women unveiled (in ancient Roman times, this was reversed) as anything associated with the underworld and death required a reversal of the usual. Plutarch, again in the 'Quaestiones Romanae' questions 'why do sons cover their heads when they escort their parents to the grave, while daughters go with uncovered heads and hair unbound?' and answers, partly, with the following:

"Is it because fathers should be honoured as gods by their male offspring, but mourned as dead by their daughters, that custom has assigned to each sex its proper part and has produced a fitting result from both? Or is it that the unusual is proper in mourning, and it is more usual for women to go forth in public with their heads covered band men with their heads uncovered? So in Greece, whenever any misfortune comes, the women cut off their hair and the men let it grow, for it is usual for men to have their hair cut and for women to let it grow." [14]

Now, for women in ancient Hellas, there was another obvious--although very much linked--reason to veil: as a way to move freely outside of the oikos. Ancient Hellenic homes were simple structures, made from clay, wood, and stone. In many cases, a large wall with a single door connected the house to the street, while insuring maximum privacy to the occupants of the house. Women and men lived almost entirely separately within the home. Male-only rooms were called 'andron' (ανδρών), female-only rooms were called 'gynaikon' (γυναικῶν). Men were not allowed to enter female-only rooms, and a visiting male guest would be punished most severely if he entered the gynaikon.

Women, at least while in the gynaikon, were likely not veiled. When a married woman was alone with her husband, she most likely was not veiled either. When surrounded my other men, however, she most likely be veiled without fault unless the social rules dictated she must go unveiled. There was a good reason for this: women, for men, were near-mythological creatures; they didn't see many of them in their daily lives--safe for their mothers and wives, and even them, they hardly saw because they spent most of their time separate. Men feared women a little; they were closer to their primal nature because they bled once a month. That made them unpredictable.

Females started veiling around their first menstrual cycle: from that point on they were viewed as women and they developed their appeal on men. Ancient Hellenic men viewed women as having an uncontrolled sexuality, as well as a natural miasma linked to that sexuality, both of which posed serious threats to the social order. Men were attracted and aroused by women, who shook their self-control and their ideals of temperance. Instead of looking inward, changing their own behaviour and controlling their own desires, they lay the fault with women. As such, the veil shielded males from the female's dangerous gaze, controlled her enticing hair, and symbolically contained her siren's voice.

In ancient Hellenic society, women were regarded as being the property of the men in their lives--first their father, then their husband. They rarely had interactions with men not from their oikos. This was explainable: lawful and legitimate parentage was extremely important in ancient Hellenic society. A man who caught his wife cheating could bring the man she was cheating with to court. Plutarch, in a discussion of law, says that Solon gave 'to the one who catches a moichos (an adulterer) the right to kill him, but if anyone seizes a free woman and forces her, he assigned the penalty of one hundred drachmas’.

Veiling, like sexual separation, helped to preserve the Hellenic female's chastity, which, in turn, ensured both the legitimacy of her husband's heirs and the highly valued honour of her husband and family. When the woman left her home and the protection of her male guardians, the veil rendered her both socially invisible and sexually inviolate and marked her as the property of the male whose honour was reinforced by both her invisibility and chastity. The veil, essentially, served as an extension of the oikos: when women left the house veiled, they were safe. They became untouchable.

Veiling, however, was not simply a cultural mandate that underscored the woman's powerlessness relative to men. While women's adoption of the veil supported the male ideology that advocated female subordination, veiling also gave women a certain degree of authority by allowing them to claim both respectability and assert their own position in the social hierarchy. Because of this it is not surprising that the practice of veiling for women increased as their power in society increased.

Veiling for religious reasons is a pious act, one that speaks of dedication and devotion. If veiling outside of ritual in a modern context makes sense to you, I applaud it. I think it's a beautiful practice. For those of you who veil or are thinking of veiling, now you also have a bit of information on the traditional precedent.
I'm just going to put this here for anyone interested: the department of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies at Penn State invites contributions for the Tombros conference on Hellenistic monarchies that will take place on April 24-25, 2015.

This academic event will explore the socio-political and cultural landscape of the Hellenistic states with a particular focus on the interactions between old and new, between the new elites and the established political and socio-economic structures. How did Hellenistic rulers respond to pre-existing structures and institutions? How did indigenous populations cope and interact with their new leadership? How did these political and social shifts affect the economy of the ancient Mediterranean world? How did art serve, resist, or comment on the new status quo?

Confirmed speakers include Prof. S.M. Burstein (Professor Emeritus, Department of History, California State University), Prof. A. Erskine (Professor of Ancient History, University of Edinburgh), Prof. J.G. Manning (William K. and Marilyn M. Simpson Professor of Classics and History, Yale University; Senior Research Scholar, Yale Law School), and Prof. R. Strootman (Associate Professor of Ancient History, University of Utrecht).

We invite 30-min. papers pertaining to all areas of the Hellenistic Mediterranean (Greece, Ptolemaic Egypt, the Seleucid Near East, etc.) in all pertinent disciplines (History, Archaeology, Art History, Classics, etc.). Please send an abstract of ca. 400 words (including bibliography) to by October 3, 2014. Walter de Gruyter has shown strong interest in publishing the proceedings of this conference. If you have any questions, contact Mark Munn ( or Zoe Stamatopoulou (
Um, guys? When I tell you Atlas holds/held up the heavens and not the earth, none of you is surprised, right? I got into a friendly discussion about the topic with someone who is--admittedly--not a Hellenist and now I just want to make sure all of you understand this little fact from Hellenic mythology. As Hesiod writes in the Theogony:

"[At the ends of the earth, where lie the roots of earth, sea, Tartaros :] There stands the awful home of murky Nyx wrapped in dark clouds. In front of it [Atlas] the son of Iapetos stands immovably upholding the wide heaven upon his head and unwearying hands." [744]

Here is the thing: the ancient Hellenes viewed the Earth as a round disk divided into equal parts by the Mediterranean Sea and the (Black) Sea (first called the Inhospitable Sea by Pindar, then the Hospitable Sea once the shores became inhabited). Okeanos, a mystical river, flowed around the entire disk, and mysterious peoples—the Hyperboreans in the north, the Ethiopians in the far south and the Kimmerians in parts unknown—lived outside Okeanos' perimeter.

The ancient Hellenes also believed that the heaven was made up of celestial spheres. The celestial spheres, or celestial orbs, were the fundamental entities of the cosmological models developed by great philosophers and astronomers like Plato, Aristotle, and Ptolemy. It was believed that the stars were fixed and did not change their positions relative to one another. As such, it was argued that they must be on the surface of a single starry sphere. The apparent motions of the fixed stars and the planets are accounted for by treating them as embedded in rotating spheres made of an aetherial, transparent fifth element (quintessence).

According to the Homeric hymns, the ancient Hellenes also believed that there are columns that keep apart earth and heaven. It's most likely these columns or pillars were mountains in the centre of the disk, or at the edge of the disk. It were these pillars that Atlas guarded, or he was the actual pillar who held up the spheres--and thus the actual mountain.

Now we are on the topic, it also depends upon tradition if Atlas held up the celestial orbs as punishment, or if he was chosen to do it as an honour to him. The punishment part is perhaps best described by Hyginus in his Fabulae:

"After Juno [Hera] saw that Epaphus, born of a concubine, ruled such a great kingdom, she saw to it that he should be killed while hunting, and encouraged the Titanes to drive Jove [Zeus] from the kingdom and restore it to Saturn [Kronos]. When they tried to mount to heaven, Jove with the help of Minerva [Athene], Apollo, and Diana [Artemis], cast them headlong into Tartarus. On Atlas, who had been their leader, he put the vault of the sky; even now he is said to hold up the sky on his shoulders." [150]

Hómēros, in his Odysseia, takes an opposite--or at least milder--view, implying the honour in Atlas' position:

"Atlas the baleful; he knows the depths of all the seas, and he, no other, guards the tall pillars that keep the sky and earth apart." [1.52]

It makes sense, in fact, to have holding up the heavens be an honour: if Atlas slacks even a moment, the celestial spheres would crash down onto Earth and destroy it, killing everyone. It's a huge responsibility, and to give that to someone pissed off for losing a war seems foolish.

Like many of the myths concerning the ancient Titans, there are versions of mythology where Atlas no longer bears the heaven. In this case: Pindar describes it as such in the Pythian Odes:

"Does not even now great [Titan] Atlas struggle to bear up the weight of heaven, far from his fathers’ land and his possessions? But almighty Zeus set free the Titanes, for as time passes and the breeze abates, the sails are set anew." [4]

The Farnese Atlas is a 2nd-century Roman marble copy of a Hellenistic sculpture of Atlas kneeling with the celestial spheres, not a globe, weighing heavily on his shoulders. It is the oldest extant statue of Atlas, as well as the oldest known representation of the celestial sphere. The globe shows a depiction of the night sky as seen from outside the outermost celestial sphere, with low reliefs depicting 41 (some sources say 42) of the 48 classical Hellenic constellations distinguished by Ptolemy. The sphere is made up of solid marble, and contains no actual stars. This may have aided the formation of the common misconception that Atlas was forced to hold the Earth on his shoulders. I hope this post clears up a bit of the confusion.
I am a huge fan of American Gods, the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novel by Neil Gaiman. It's a brilliant blend of Americana, fantasy, and various strands of ancient and modern mythology, all centred around Shadow, the protagonist. Gaiman--along with a few of my other favourite writers--has the delicious ability to write downward spirals in an empowering way. I greatly enjoy books where at the end, the characters are far more messed up than at the start, but they are just fine with that. American Gods has this quality as well.

At the start of the book, Shadow is released from prison early because his wife Laura and best friend die in a car crash. He takes a job as a bodyguard to Wednesday, a mysterious conman who seems to know a lot more about Shadow than he should.  Shadow and Wednesday travel across America visiting Wednesday's unusual colleagues and acquaintances until Shadow learns that Wednesday is in fact an incarnation of the Norse God Odin, who in his current guise is recruiting American manifestations of the Old Gods of ancient mythology, whose powers have waned as their believers have decreased in number, to participate in an epic battle against the New American Gods, manifestations of modern life and technology.

The book doesn't feature the Hellenic Gods, although it's implied that most of the Gods still exist--abide a lot less powerful then before. The central premise of the novel is that Gods and mythological creatures exist because people believe in them--when people stop believing, their power wanes. Seeing as I first read it about twelve years ago, American gods shaped many of my ideas about the Gods and religion, and while things changed throughout the years, the whole philosophy spun by Gaiman still swallows me up whenever I re-read the book. As such--and no we get to the point of this post--I am quite excited about the TV adaption of the book. There was talk of an adaption for years, but now it actually seems to be happening.

The show will be spearheaded by Bryan Fuller (who adapted the deliciously dark Hannibal, but also did the hilarious Pushing Daisies and Dead Like Me) and Michael Green (The River, Heroes). What convinces me that this might actually turn out well is that Gaiman himself is very involved with the project, and he is well aware how important the book is to many people:

"When you create something like American Gods, which attracts fans and obsessives and people who tattoo quotes from it on themselves or each other, and who all, tattooed or not, just care about it deeply, it's really important to pick your team carefully. You don't want to let the fans down, or the people who care and have been casting it online since the dawn of recorded history. What I love most about the team whom I trust to take it out to the world, is that they are the same kind of fanatics that American Gods has attracted since the start. I haven't actually checked Bryan Fuller or Michael Green for quote tattoos, but I would not be surprised if they have them. The people at Fremantle are the kinds of people who have copies of American Gods in the bottom of their backpacks after going around the world, and who press them on their friends. And the team at Starz has been quite certain that they wanted to give Shadow, Wednesday and Laura a home since they first heard that the book was out there. I can't wait to see what they do to bring the story to the widest possible audience able to cope with it."

Even though there won't be any Hellenic Gods featured--at least not in the first two seasons, which will make up the span of the book--I still want to post about this on Baring the Aegis. Not just because I look forward to seeing this book come to life, but because it will be a show filled with Gods of many, many, faiths and regions. They range from Norse and Egyptian to Algonquian and Slavic, and every single one of them is still worshipped today. Some, like the Trickster of Native American mythology, in a continuous line, others, like Anubis and Odin Himself, mostly by Reconstructionist and other Neo-Pagan practitioners. These Gods mean a lot to a lot of people. On top of the pressure of adapting a cult novel for the silver screen, the creators are touching upon very beloved Gods.

Now, personally, I find that the novel dealt very well with the Gods; They are written as incarnations--they are not the Gods from mythology but Gods who have adapted to our modern age, who live amongst us. Most are weary, frustrated by modern man and modern Gods alike--by Media, Goddess of television, and The Technical Boy, who is young but the most powerful of all as he is the God of the Internet and modern technology. It's an urban fantasy novel, and it never pretends to be anything else. I hope the series stays true to this spirit, because if it does, I don't think there will be an issue with any God or Goddess introduced--including the Hellenic ones (if They ever show up).

Have you read American Gods? What do you think about the coming television adaption? And are you worried about the portrayal of the Gods in it?
The Archaeological Museum of Tegea has reopened its doors to the public after being completely refurbished. The museum showcases findings from Tegea and the surrounding area, as well as material and photographs from the archives of the Archaeological Society at Athens.

Archaeological Museum of Tegea reopens

The new exhibition is divided into four thematic sections:
- Gallery 1 displays artefacts from the Neolithic Era until the Archaic Period.
- Gallery 2 includes a peculiar monument: the Arcadian Herms--private votive offerings to sanctuaries, constitute abstract representations of gods or deities. They have been discovered only in Tegea.
- Gallery 3 features the evolution from the Classical Period until the Roman Era and experience the different aspects of city life in ancient times, such as economy, athletic contests, festivals and the world of the dead
- Gallery 4 presents the development of the famous sanctuary of Athena Alea, around which ancient Hellenes built the city of Tegea.

According to the Archaeological News Network:

"The Archaeological Museum’s outdoor exhibition presents the aspect of Public Life in the ancient Hellenic city, with inscriptions referring to everyday life and the aspect of The Hereafter, with grave steles from the Classical and Late Roman period."
All in all, a lot of reasons to visit and wander around for a few hours. Is anyone else sad they are nowhere near this museum right now? Because I sure am!
*Sigh* I wish I had the time and energy to get something up today. I don't. I started a new job two weeks ago and I am still adjusting my rhythm, energy levels, and time to my new situation. It's going to be absolutely fine, but I am now juggling four jobs along with this blog, my personal religious practice, and my personal life. Lots of people do this--not a big deal--but today I am just out of energy and inspiration. Would you please take this beautiful example of ancient Hellenic music as my offering for the day? I'll do better tomorrow.

This song is one of the earliest examples yet found of a complete musical composition from the ancient world. Although other songs have been found that pre-date 'The Song of Seikilos' by many centuries, they only survive in fragments.  It is a Hellenistic Ionic song in what is known as the 'Phrygian octave species'--2 ¼ ¼ 2 1 ¼ ¼ for those of you into music. The melody and the lyrics were found engraved on a tombstone, near Aidin, Turkey. The find has been dated variously from around 200 BC to around 100 AD, but the first century AD is the most probable guess.

The Seikilos epitaph melody, when translated to modern musical connotation, would look something like the above. The following is the Greek text (in the later polytonic script), along with a transliteration of the words which are sung to the melody, and a somewhat free English translation thereof:
Ὅσον ζῇς φαίνου
μηδὲν ὅλως σὺ λυποῦ
πρὸς ὀλίγον ἐστὶ τὸ ζῆν
τὸ τέλος ὁ xρόνος ἀπαιτεῖ.
Hoson zēs phainou
mēden holōs sy lypou
pros oligon esti to zēn
to telos ho chronos apaitei.
While you live, shine
have no grief at all
life exists only for a short while
and time demands its toll.
Also on the tombstone is an indication that states in Greek: 'Εἰκὼν ἡ λίθος εἰμί.Τίθησί με Σείκιλος ἔνθα μνήμης ἀθανάτου σῆμα πολυχρόνιον'. It roughly translates to: 'I am a tombstone, an image. Seikilos placed me here as an everlasting sign of deathless remembrance'. For something that still exists two thousand years later, that statement proved very true.