News Network NPR recently started a new series of articles, focussed on the greatest teachers who have ever lived. they decided to start their countdown from fifty to zero with Socrates, classical Athenian philosopher. You can visit the article here, or listen to the accompanying radio item here.

[LA Johnson/NPR]

The article calls Socrates the 'superstar teacher of the ancient world'. His ideas helped form the foundation of Western philosophy and the scientific method of inquiry. And his question-and-dialogue-based teaching style lives on in many classrooms as the Socratic method. At the heart of that method is the expectation that students question the teacher and each other--dialogue-based critical inquiry. The goal here is to focus on the text, ideas and facts--not just opinions--and to dig deeper through discussion.

Maryann Wolfe, a teacher at Oakland Technical High School who helped build this school's Socratic seminar program, which is part of a national Paideia program that encourages the Socratic method, explains the importance of the Socratic method:

"I think the Socratic method means that you're going to have a whole bunch of ideas floating to the surface. I want them to see the complexity of the issues. I believe the students really learn that way. Because they have to speak, they have to be engaged in what we're trying to learn. Maybe we won't find exact truths in this class, but we will at least look at all possibilities, and they will have a truth right at that moment. And the moment comes when they have to stand up and debate it, when they have to write an essay about it. They have to take a side."

Tim Ogburn, a seventh grade teacher, applies the Socratic method in his class as well:

"The Socratic method forces us to take a step back from that and ask questions like: What's going on here? What does this possibly mean? What's important? What's less important? What might be motivating this person to say this?"

The Socratic method implies to students that the teacher doesn't have the one true answer; the class constructs knowledge together. This teaches students to listen to one another and learn from one another and celebrate mistakes. It teaches them to think critically and to stand up for their own viewpoint--and to let it go when presented with evidence to the contrary. In the end, Socrates taught his students to be their own teachers, and in my opinion, that makes him one of the greats, indeed.
Highly trained technical divers with a Florida-based group called Global Underwater Explorers--GUE for short--are helping Italian researchers to unlock an ancient shipwreck thought to date to the second Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage. Called the Panarea III, the ship was discovered off the Aeolian island of Panarea in 2010 by American researchers using sonar and a remotely operated submersible in waters about 40 miles (64 kilometres) north of Sicily.

Archaeologists said the ship is a wooden vessel about 50 feet (15 meters) long that could have hit rough seas and broken up on rocks before plunging to the sea bottom--possibly a wealthy merchant's cargo ship or one used to supply the Roman military. The ship was so far underwater that it has been safe for centuries from looters and entanglement in fishing gear. According to Sebastiano Tusa, an Italian archaeologist who is studying the site:

"This shipwreck is a very important occasion to understand more about daily life on the ancient ship as well as the real dynamics of ancient trade. Of course, there are other similar shipwrecks that can offer similar study cases. But this has the peculiarity to be in a very good preservation condition."

The divers found many important pieces needed to tell the ship's story. Of note were the ship's anchor and a sacrificial altar with Greek inscriptions that provide clues to the ship's origin. The size and shape of the amphora help them understand what the ship was carrying.

Experts believe it could have been a supply ship for Roman legions or that it belonged to a wealthy merchant, possibly from the Italian region around Naples. Another possibility is that the ship was a supply vessel in the fleet of Claudio Marcello, a Roman consul who conquered Sicilian city of Syracuse in 212 B.C.

Much more research is needed before the team can be sure about many of its early hunches about the Panarea III, but with help from GUE the crew plans to return next year to the site for more dive work. Read more about the dive here.
I was in need of a little mythology today, and took out my copy of the ancient Hellenic myths translated to Dutch by B.C. Goudsmit and H.A. Guerber. The book is old, from around 1915, and it's one of my favourite translations. When I'm in need of a mythology fix, I enjoy opening it to a random page and reading whatever myth comes up. Today, that was the myth of Atalanta.

Atalanta (Ἀταλάντη) was usually considered the daughter of Iasus, king of either Tegaea or Maenalos, by Klymene, daughter of Minyas. Her father wanted a son, so he abandoned her in the forest where a bear suckled her until Artemis sent hunters to rescue her. She could outshoot anyone with the bow and was also the most fleet-footed mortal alive with the exception of Euphemos and Iphiklos of Phylake. When still young, she killed two centaurs, Rhoecos and Hyaelos, who had attempted to rape her. She also took part in the Kalydonian boar hunt and was a member of the Argonautai who went out to retrieve the Golden Fleece.

Atalanta is my all-time favourite heroine. She kicks ass and because I read about her, I'd like to share a bit about her today, in the words of Claudius Aelianus. Claudius Aelianus (Κλαύδιος Αἰλιανός) was alive from around 175 to 235 CE. He is often referred to as 'Aelian'.  He was a Roman author and teacher of rhetoric. While Roman born, he spoke fluent Greek and loved the ancient Hellenic writing styles. Varia Historia (Ποικίλη Ἱστορία) is one of his best known surviving works. The work contains miscellangelous anecdotes and biographical sketches, lists, pithy maxims, and descriptions of natural wonders and strange local customs. There are fourteen books in total. In book 13, he describes the myth of Atalanta. Enjoy!

"Here is the story from Arkadia about Atalanta the daughter of Iasion. At birth her father exposed her; he said he wanted sons, not daughters. But the man who took her to be exposed did not kill her, and instead went to Mount Parthenion and put her down near a spring. At that point there was a cave in the rocks, and close by it a dense wood. The child was under sentence of death, but she was not betrayed by fortune, for shortly afterwards arrived a bear, deprived of her cubs by hunters, her breasts bulging and weighed down with milk. Moved by some divine inspiration she took a fancy to the child and suckled it. In this way the animal simultaneously achieved relief from pain and gave nourishment to the infant. And so, still full of milk and supplying nourishment though she was no longer mother to her cubs, she nursed the child who was not her own. The hunters who had originally attacked her young kept an eye on her. They watched all her movements, and when the bear made her usual journey to hunt and feed, they stole Atalanta, who was not yet so named, for it was they who gave her the name. She was brought up by them in the mountains, and slowly her body grew with age. She was committed to virginity, avoided contact with men, and longed for solitude. She established herself in the highest mountains of Arkadia, where there was a well-watered glen with big oak trees, also pines with their deep shadow.
What harm does it do us to hear of Atalanta’s cave, like Kalypso’s in the Odyssey? At the bottom of the defile was a large and very deep cave, at the entrance protected by a sheer drop. Ivy encircled it, the ivy gently twined itself around trees and climbed up them. In the soft deep grass there crocuses grew, accompanied by hyacinths and flowers of many other colours, which can not only create a feast for the eye; in fact their perfume filled the air around. In general the atmosphere was of festival, and one could feast on the scent. There were many laurels, their evergreen leaves so agreeable to look at, and vines with very luxuriant clusters of grapes flourished in front of the cave as proof of Atalanta’s industry. A continuous stream of water ran by : pure in appearance and cold, judging by the touch and the effect of drinking it; it flowed in generous and lavish quantity. This very stream served to water the trees already mentioned, with an unfailing current contributing to their vigour. The spot was full of charm, and suggested the dwelling of a dignified and chaste maiden.

Atalanta slept on the skins of animals caught in the hunt, she lived on their meat and drank water. She wore simple clothes, in a style that did not fall short of Artemis’ example; she claimed the goddess as her model both in his and in her wish to remain a virgin. She was very fleet of foot, and no wild animal or man with designs on her could have escaped her; and when she wanted to escape, no one could have caught her. It was not just those who saw her that fell in love with her; by now her reputation won her lovers.

Now let us describe her appearance, if that is not unwelcome--and it is not, since form it one might gain experience and skill in writing. While still a girl she was bigger than a full-grown woman, and more beautiful than any young woman from the Peloponnesos in those days. She had a fiery, masculine gaze, partly the result of having been nurtured by an animal, but also because of her exercise in the mountains. But since she was full of spirit, there was nothing girlish or delicate about her; she was not the product of the women’s apartments, not one of those brought up by mothers and nurses. Nor was her body overweight, not surprisingly, since she exercised every limb in hunting and physical exercise. Her hair was golden, not due to feminine sophistication, dyes, or applications, but the colour was natural. Exposure to the sun had reddened her face and it looked just as if she was blushing. What flower could be so beautiful as the face of a young woman taught to be modest? She had two astonishing qualities : unrivalled beauty, and with it a capacity to inspire fear. No indolent man would have fallen in love on looking at her, nor would he have had the courage to meet her gaze in the first place; such radiance with beauty shone over those who saw her. To meet her was remarkable, especially since it happened rarely; no one would have easily spotted her. But unexpectedly and unforeseen she would appear, chasing a wild beast or fighting against one; darting like a star she flashed like lightning. Then she raced away, hidden by a wood or thicket or other mountain vegetation.

One day her neighbours, audacious lovers and very tiresome revellers, burst in upon her noisily at midnight; they were two of the Kentauroi (Centaurs), Hylaios and Rhoikos. Their noisy interruption was not done with flute players or in the style of young men from the city; there were pine torches, which they lit and made to burn fiercely; the first sight of fire would have terrified even the population of a city, let alone a solitary young woman. Breaking fresh branches off the pines they wove them together and made garlands for themselves. The incessant, continuous sound of hooves was heard in the mountains; they burned trees and made towards the young woman, evil suitors who in a violent and over-excited state brought gifts for the wedding in advance. But she saw through their plan. From the cave she caught sight of fire and realised who the revellers were; not flinching or cowed by what she saw she bent her bow, shot her weapon, and hit the first of them directly. He lay there, and the other advanced, no longer in the mood of a reveller but with hostile intent, wishing to defend his companion and vent his anger. But he too was punished, by the young woman’s other arrow. So much on the subject of Atalanta, daughter of Iasion." [13.1]
Guys! Guys! The airdate for the second season of Atlantis was finally announced! Atlantis, a show about Jason, a strapping young man who ends up traveling to the--previously believed to be mythical--city of Atlantis in search for his father, is slated to start airing its second season November 15 on BBC One! And to tease us and rekindle our love for Hercules, Pythagoras, Jason and--of course--Medusa and Ariadne, BBC One has released this little snippet:


The snippet comes with the following explanation: "[a]n epic war of power commences as Atlantis comes under attack from Pasiphae and her army. Jason, Hercules and Pythagoras defend the city and it's new Queen Ariadne."

Let's just say I am very excited and looking forward to recapping this show again for you guys! Are you as excited as I am?


Some casting news about US television network SyFy's latest Greek endeavour 'Olympus':

By the way, did you see that SyFy's Face Off went Greek a while back? Face Off is a competition/elimination series exploring the world of special-effects make-up artists and the unlimited imagination that allows them to create amazing works of living art. This time, the challenge was to re-imagine some of the ancient Hellenic Gods.
I am a bit jealous of everyone living in or visiting Greece right now. Admittedly, I always am a little, but it's worse today. The Archaeological News Network reports that until now, visitors to the Acropolis Museum in Athens could only peer through the glass floors of the Bernard Tschumi-designed structure to get an idea of the ancient neighbourhood lying among the building’s foundations. Soon, however, they will be able to take a closer look at the findings unearthed during the construction of the museum, which opened its doors to the public in the summer of 2009, and learn more about the city’s past from the time of its first inhabitants to around AD 1200.
Acropolis Museum to put the daily lives of the ancients on display

The Central Archaeological Council (KAS) recently gave the green light for a permanent outdoor exhibition that will see some 1,400 items go on display on the museum’s underground level. A new wing will be added to the Acropolis Museum when the excavated area lying beneath its ground level is opened to the public to showcase the history of an Athenian neighbourhood between the third millennium BC and the first century AD.

According to KAS officials, the aim of the exhibition will be to cast light on lesser-known eras in the ancient city, such as the Mycenaean and Roman periods. Moreover, it will highlight aspects of daily life in Athens focusing on more humble, everyday items. These may be in a different league than, say, the Parthenon Marbles or the Caryatids, but they were very necessary for people back then. The findings from excavation works at the construction site will be divided into three main groups depending on the period when they were crafted.
Read more about the objects and the to be designed sections here.
Members of Pandora's Kharis have come together to raise $60,- for Pagan news outlet The Wild Hunt. The Wild Hunt is primary destination for those interested in following news relating and of interest to modern Pagan religions and other minority faiths. Founded by Jason Pitzl-Waters in 2004, The Wild Hunt has grown to become one of the most-visited and popular destinations exploring these topics. Recruited to in the Summer of 2011, The Wild Hunt decided to exist as an independent entity once more in the Summer of 2012. In addition, The Wild Hunt has now expanded into a media outlet with paid contributors and three paid staff members.

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!
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.

"What kind of incense can I offer to Aphrodite? Thank you! :-)"

The Orphic incenses prescribe a hymn to Aphrodite, so as far as the go-to guide for incenses goes, the Orphic hymns aren't helpful. That said, there were a few staples. Frankincense (λίβανον) is one of them. Frankincense is tapped from the Boswellia sacra tree. The bark is stripped off, and the tree 'bleeds' tears of frankincense, which are allowed to harden before being cut off. There is great variety in quality--colour, purity, aroma, age, and shape--and, thus, in price. Another staple is Myrrh (σμύρναν). Myrrh is harvested in the same way frankincense is, and is commonly harvested from the species Commiphora myrrha. Myrrh gum is waxy, and coagulates quickly. It becomes rock hard very fast, and becomes glossy. The gum is yellowish, and may be either clear or opaque. It darkens deeply as it ages, and white streaks emerge.

Myrrh, especially, is connected to Aphrodite in legend. It's said that Myrrha (or Smyrna) was a young princess who refused to honour Aphrodite, and so She made her lust after her own father. Eventually, she was turned into the first Myrrh tree. Apollodorus, in his 'Bibliotheca':

"And Adonis, while still a boy, was wounded and killed in hunting by a boar through the anger of Artemis. Hesiod, however, affirms that he was a son of Phoenix and Alphesiboea; and Panyasis says that he was a son of Thias, king of Assyria, who had a daughter Smyrna. In consequence of the wrath of Aphrodite, for she did not honor the goddess, this Smyrna conceived a passion for her father, and with the complicity of her nurse she shared her father's bed without his knowledge for twelve nights. But when he was aware of it, he drew his sword and pursued her, and being overtaken she prayed to the gods that she might be invisible; so the gods in compassion turned her into the tree which they call smyrna. Ten months afterwards the tree burst and Adonis, as he is called, was born, whom for the sake of his beauty, while he was still an infant, Aphrodite hid in a chest unknown to the gods and entrusted to Persephone. But when Persephone beheld him, she would not give him back. The case being tried before Zeus, the year was divided into three parts, and the god ordained that Adonis should stay by himself for one part of the year, with Persephone for one part, and with Aphrodite for the remainder. However Adonis made over to Aphrodite his own share in addition; but afterwards in hunting he was gored and killed by a boar." [3.14.4]

"Hi, I watched your "making manna" video tutorial, and I couldn't really understand what you said was in the yellow glass bottle. What is it, and where can I get it?"

I had to watch my own video again to remember a yellow bottle, but I think I know what you mean. The yellow bottle is used to store my bio-ethanol, the burning agent I use when building a fire indoors. This is a form of biofuel (fuel derived from biological sources), and a variation of denatured alcohol. It's a clear, flammable liquid which burns without smoke and without scent. As such, it works very well for indoor use. Make sure to use a cast-iron or at least solid container to burn in!

"Is there a greek god of finding missing things?"

Not as far as I know, but in general, Gods and Goddesses whom you have built kharis with will help you when you are truly in need. From a purely personal perspective, Hermes would most likely be able to find your items, seeing as he's been known to hide (and steal) items Himself ;-)
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.

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

Today is also the Khalkeia, the only festival held on a Deipnon in Athens. It was the festival of Bronze-workers, a religious festival devoted to the Goddess Athena Ergane (Εργανη, Worker) and the God Hēphaistos. In ancient Hellas, this was the day priestesses of Athena started work on a special peplos to be presented to Her during the Panathenaia. This festival involved a procession of workers with baskets of grain for offerings as well as meat sacrifices. Celebrate the day by doing something crafty!

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 Phaistos Disc is a disk of fired clay currently on display at the archaeological museum of Heraklion. It was found in the Minoan palace of Phaistos on the Greek island of Krete, possibly dating to the middle or late Minoan Bronze Age (2nd millennium BC). It is about 15 cm (5.9 in) in diameter and covered on both sides with a spiral of stamped symbols. Its purpose and meaning, and even its original geographical place of manufacture, remain disputed, making it one of the most famous mysteries of archaeology. The Archaeological News Network reports that we might be one step closer to figuring this mystery out.

New findings by Gareth Owens, Erasmus coordinator at the Technological Educational Institute (TEI) of Krete describe the disk as 'the first Minoan CD-ROM’ featuring a prayer to a mother. While speaking at the TEI of Western Macedonia on Monday, he said there is one complex of signs found in three parts of one side of the disk spelling I-QE-KU-RJA, with I-QE meaning 'great lady of importance' while a key word appears to be AKKA, or 'pregnant mother', according to the researcher. One side is devoted to a pregnant woman and the other to a woman giving birth.

The disc was discovered in 1908 by the Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier in the Minoan palace-site of Phaistos, and features 241 tokens, comprising 45 unique signs, which were apparently made by pressing hieroglyphic 'seals' into a disc of soft clay, in a clockwise sequence spiralling toward the disc's centre. Many of these 45 signs represent easily identifiable every-day things, but the general meaning has remained unclear--until Gareth Owens, perhaps.
If the international news mentions Greece these days, the chances are fair that it's about the Parthenon Marbles. International lawyers consulted the Greek government on the issue of requiring the Marbles over the past week, and that visit brought with it it's own controversy. It also brought the Marbles back in the forefront of the news. A recent poll by the YouGov international market research agency shows that Most Britons want to see Parthenon Marbles back in Athens.

International lawyers consulted by Greek government on Parthenon Marbles issue
The Parthenon Sculptures as seen on display at the British Museum
in London on June 5, 2000 [Credit: Reuters]

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.

Ekathimerini reports that 37 percent of respondents said that the ancient sculptures should be given back to their country of origin. Twenty-three percent said the marbles should remain at the British Museum in London. Meanwhile, 32 percent said they were indifferent about the issue and 7 percent said they did not know. When asked about why Britain should give up the artefacts, most of those who argued for their return said that they 'are one work of art and they should be reunited along with the rest of the Parthenon sculptures in Greece.'

The results come in the wake of more heartfelt columns and testimonials in mainstream media outlets. The Guardian, for example, has posted an account by Helena Smith entitled 'As a Briton, I hang my head in shame. We must return the Parthenon marbles'. To quote from it:

"As a Briton, I hang my head in shame but take heart in what the poet Titos Patrikios, an old friend, calls Greece’s “unbeatable weapon”; the common sense of ordinary Britons who for almost two decades have overwhelmingly endorsed repatriation in successive opinion polls. It was another poet, Yannis Ritsos, who summed up the marbles’ predicament best. “These stones don’t feel at ease with less sky,” he wrote. They needed the luminosity of Attica to be appreciated most. More than anything, the argument for the marbles’ return is as much about scholarship as it is about aesthetics or ethics. To go on advocating that Phidias’s masterpieces are better off in London is, in essence, to argue that the finest carvings of classical times are better amputated and broken up."

It's a powerful statement, and as with most of the article, I fully agree. As the article mentions, it's not even about ownership anymore, it's about the fact that these stones belong home, in Attica, and to keep them away from there is unethical, and it needs to end. Thankfully, more an more people are starting to agree.
Every now and again, I've been known to blog about kickstarters on projects that have to do with Hellenism or Hellenic mythology. Most often I get sent information on the project (please feel free to do so!) and if it appeals to me, I will post it for others to see and spread the word or back. Today, I'd like to do that again on a very awesome project: a kickstarter for a Hellenic mythology comic book! It's the reboot of 'Olympia Heights' and it's a project by Amy Leigh Strickland.

Olympia Heights was a four part novel series, consisting of 'The Pantheon', 'The Weight of the World', 'The Blood of Athens', and 'The Cult of Kronos' (to be purchased in e-book form here). The Olympia Heights saga tells the story of fourteen Florida teens and one biology teacher who discover strange powers and an ancient, immortal past. They are the Greek Gods, and they have been reborn as mortals after centuries locked away in an underworld prison. As they struggle with humanity and adolescence, the Gods must learn to control their powers and to fight off the Titans who locked them away so many years before.

After the completion of a the original 'Olympia Heights', Strickland now hopes to reboot it as a graphic novel with new villains, new monsters, and slightly modified back-stories. Where the novel series used a Neoclassical account of mythology, the comic will primarily draw from Classical Greek sources. You can pledge to get copies of the first volume; posters, shirts, and other swag; and even signed copies of the original novel series.

The first comic will be a 6" x 9," 200-page volume with full color covers and black and white interiors with halftone shading. Artist will render scenes from the gods' ancient pasts in a modified amphora style. The first volume of the comic spin-off, Olympia Heights: Lightning Rod, will follow Zach Jacobs, the modern Zeus, and feature a new villain never before seen in the novel series. Zach's adventure will include cameos from much beloved Olympia Heights characters.

This project will only be funded if at least $16,000 is pledged by
The 'Darius Vase' was discovered in 1851 near Canosa di Puglia. It was created by the Darius Painter, an Apulian vase painter and the most eminent representative at the end of the 'Ornate Style' in South Italian red-figure vase painting. His works were produced between 340 and 320 BC. Many of his works, mostly volute kraters, amphorae and loutrophoroi, are of large dimensions. He most frequently depicted theatrical scenes, especially ones from the Classical tragedies by Euripides, and mythological themes. A number of mythological motifs not represented in surviving literary texts are known exclusively from his vases. He also painted wedding scenes, erotes, women, and dionysiac motifs.

The Darius Vase is his most well-known work now on display at the Museo Archaeologico Nazionale, in Naples. From the website of the museum:

"On the neck of side A there is a painted scene of an Amazonomachia, with Amazons wearing oriental costumes and armed with battle axes engaged in duels - which take place on two levels - against naked Greek warriors wearing crested Corinthian helmets who are equipped with a circular shield and long spear. The figurative decoration of the body is organised into three registers, in each of which there is a seated figure in a central position. In the upper register is Zeus, with a winged Nike kneeling down; to the left are Aphrodite with a swan on her lap and Artemis on a deer, while on the other side are Athena, Hellas, Achates with two torches and Asia, seated on an altar with the image of a deity.
The central band shows Darius on his throne, behind whom stands figures who are presumably members of his bodyguard, carefully listening to a messenger standing erect in the king’s presence on a circular podium, surrounded by seated dignitaries and, it would seem, his pedagogue, who can be identified as the old man leaning on a stick. The last frieze shows five Orientals around a seated man, presumably the treasurer; three of them are kneeling, pleading for mercy. Side B, which has a similar structure, shows the myth of Bellerophon: in the upper part, Bellerophon rides Pegasus while a winged Nike crowns him with a laurel wreath; to the left, a naked young man clasps a laurel branch in his hands while in front of him Poseidon, holding his trident in his left hand, sits on a rocky spur. To the right Pan, holding a pyxis and laurel branch, stands opposite Athena, seated on a rock, with a long spear in his left hand. In the middle of the central frieze is Chimera, depicted as a two-headed monster with a leonine body, the head of a lion and a goat, and the tail of a snake, while on the right two Amazons are fleeing; on the left there are two more Amazons, one of whom is attacking.
The lowest register shows two fallen Amazons, armed with a spear and an axe respectively, and a marsh bird. On the neck of this side of the picture is a Dionysian scene with a group featuring a Maenad and Silenus on the left, a man and a woman on the sides of the fountain and lastly a second Maenad.
The main scene has been interpreted in various ways: the identification of the characters is certain since beside each figure appears the name. What has proven more difficult is contextualising it. Some scholars have argued that it shows a scene from Phrynicos’ tragedy in which Persia is about to declare war on Hellas; more recently, an analysis of the compositional structure has led to the conclusion that the space is used symbolically to allude to the actual space of the theatre with the chorus in the lower register, the proscenium in the centre and the tribune of the gods above. Alternatively, the entire decorative layout could refer to the revolt of the Greek cities of Asia and may re-echo the troubled period of the wars against the Lucanians and the Messapians in Magna Graecia, specifically during the period in which the Darius painter was working."
Pg.072_imatge 01 (original)

The vase conserved in Naples is apparently important because of its representation of a man counting on a board. This source mentions:
"The man of the picture is a tax collector counting on a special board in which we can read the letters M (= 10.000), Ψ (= 1.000), H (= 100) and Δ (= 10) and the former symbols used to represent the Greek coins (drachma, obol, half an obol and a quarter of obol). The collector has an opened book in which we can read the letters T A Λ and N. These letters correspond to another Greek coin named talent so we can suppose that this counting boards were used to make calculus with different kinds of coins."
The Darius Painter worked in a large factory-like workshop, probably at Taras. It is possible that he was the owner or foreman of his workshop. Many vase-paintings are so close to his style, though not by his hand, that they are attributed to his workshop, but of all the vases created, the Darius Vase is still the one that is best recognised.
Remember three days ago, when I told you a team of international lawyers is consulting Greece on how to go about regaining ownership of the Parthenon Marbles? One of the lawyers is Amal Alamuddin, a London-based British-Lebanese lawyer, activist, and author. She is a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, specialising in international law, criminal law, human rights, and extradition. She often works for big name clientele like Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, and the former prime minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko. She has been legally involved in many plights, including how to protect children and women in warzones, and ending sexual violence as a whole. She is a respected lawyer, who has a very successful career spanning nearly fifteen years. Since about a month, she is also George Clooney's wife, and that, it seems, has now become her defining feature. Excuse me a moment while I rant at you.

(Photo: Pierre Teyssot/AFP/Getty)
(Photo: Pierre Teyssot/AFP/Getty)
The Spectator, a weekly British conservative magazine, decided to publish one of the most offensive pieces of journalism I have read in a very long time, entitled: 'Tell you what Mrs Clooney. If Greece repays its $240 billion EU loan, we’ll return the Marbles'. Oh, where do I begin... how about at the fact that no person, but especially not a professional, working, woman, should ever be defined by the person she has married? How about at the fact that personal attacks are never justifiable? How about at the fact that it doesn't matter a single bit who this woman is married to in the first place?! And moving on from that topic... whoever wrote this needs a healthy reality check and long overdue history lesson. I'm going to quote from the article a moment:
"Hollywood has a reputation for creating trite storylines in which either a lawyer is cast as the hero or England as the villain. Its latest epic has both, and this one is reality. Little more than a week after her marriage to George Clooney, the world’s most photographed barrister, Amal Alamuddin -Clooney, has flown off to advise the Greek government on how to force the removal of the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum.

Given the rioting, economic meltdown and general chaos of recent years, it would be easy to think that Greece had more immediate worries than the whereabouts of a set of decorative stones rescued in the early 19th century — with permission from authorities in Athens — to save them from being chiselled away by peasants for -quicklime. But that misses the point. What would Greek politicians do if the marbles were returned? No longer would they have a patriotic issue to beat their chests about in order to distract from their failures.

In the name of European harmony, we would like to propose a compromise: we will return the Elgin Marbles once Greece has repaid the €240 billion of emergency loans made by EU states during the crisis, and honoured all its government bonds. Until then, we suggest Greece recognises the role Lord Elgin played in rescuing its deteriorating heritage and accepts that the British Museum has done an excellent job in preserving the marbles and displaying them to scholars and the public alike. To have a little bit of the glory of ancient Athens in London hardly seems out of line with the spirit of shared European culture."

First if all, how dare you? Second of all? What are you even trying to say? That Greece is overreacting? That they should just accept the theft of their cultural heritage and leave it at that? That Greece is an unstable, corrupt country that needs help from the big and bright Britain? Because none of those things are even remotely true or anywhere near okay to say. And, again, dragging Clooney-Alamuddin's marital status into this is just a low blow. There are three people on the team of lawyers, all uniquely qualified to traverse this minefield, and neither Clooney-Alamuddin's marital status or her looks have anything to do with that.

This article shows such a terrible disregard for not only the lawyers involved--Clooney-Alamuddin especially, who has been bombarded by paparazzi while in Greece--but also the marbles and Greece as a country. Statements like 'a set of decorative stones rescued in the early 19th century' show such ignorance and disdain that it makes my blood boil. Usually I don't let these things get to me, but sometimes something slips past my misogyny and entitlement-shield and I just... go off.

This issue won't be resolved any time soon, so we might as well gear up for the long haul, but if this is the level of 'journalism' that will cover it, I might end up hiding under a rock until it's over. Sometimes I just can't stand humanity.
It's been a while since we have tackled a constellation, so let's look at the next one today: Sagittarius, the archer. It was named 'Toxotes' (Τοξότης) in Greek, and is one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd-century astronomer Ptolemy and remains one of the 88 modern constellations. It lies between Scorpius and Ophiuchus to the west and Capricornus to the east.

In Hellenic mythology, Sagittarius is usually identified as a centaur: half human, half horse. Who, exactly, Sagittarius is, exactly, is unclear. Kheiron (Chiron, Χείρων), the wise and educated Centaur who taught heroes like Achilles, Theseus, Iásōn, and Hēraklēs, is a very good candidate, mostly because he died a very tragic death.

Hēraklēs' fourth labour is to capture the Erymanthian Boar, which got his name from the mountainside and swamp it roamed on. It is a difficult task; a boar is a ferocious animal, and even modern day hunters take care when hunting boar. This labour became even harder to complete for Hēraklēs when he met the centaurs on his way to the boar. Our hero went the long way to visit Phontus, a kéntaur who dwelt in a cave on Mount Pholoe, who was the son of Seilenus and the nymph Melia.

Having heard of Hēraklēs, Phontus entertained him in his cave, and provided him with food. Hēraklēs, thirsty from the savory meat dish, asked for wine, but Phontus said he only had the wine that was communal to all the kéntauroi, and he did not dare touch it. Hēraklēs convinced him to do so, regardless, and the kéntauroi came galloping to the cave. Hēraklēs fought them, and many died. Phontus, inspecting one of Hēraklēs' arrows dipped in hydra poison, which the hero had used to kill one of the kéntauros, dropped it onto his foot and he died of the poison as well. Hēraklēs, grieving for the death of Phontus, buried him near his cave. Hyginus, in his 'Astronomica' writes:

"He is said to be Chiron, son of Saturn and Philyra, who surpassed not only the other Centauris but also men in justice, and is thought to have reared Aesculapius and Achilles. By his conscientiousness and diligence, therefore, he won inclusion among the stars. When Hercules was once visiting Chiron, and while sitting with him was examining his arrows, one of them is said to have fallen on the foot of Chiron, and thus brought about his death. Others say that when the Centaur wondered at his being able to kill such huge creatures as Centauri with such slight arrows, he himself tried to draw the bow, and the arrow, slipping from his hand, fell on his foot. For this reason Jupiter, pitying him, put him among the constellations with a victim which he seems to hold above the altar for sacrifice. Others have said that he is Pholus the Centaurus, who was more skilled in augury that the rest. Consequently, by the will of Jove, he was represented coming to the altar with a victim." [II.38]

It is important to note, though, that this could also relate to the constellation Centaurus--Hyginus seems to think so, although he also wonders if it's a Centaur at all...

"Many have called this sign the Centaurus; others deny the name, for the reason that no Centaurus makes use of arrows. The question is raised, too why he is formed with horse flanks but a Satyr’s tail." [II.27]

A competing mythological tradition, as espoused by Eratosthenes, identified the Archer not as a centaur but as the satyr Krotos (Κροτος), son of Pan, who the ancient Hellenes credited with the invention of archery. According to myth, Krotos often went hunting on horseback and lived among the Muses, who requested that Zeus place him in the sky, where he is seen demonstrating archery. Hyginus again, in his 'Fabulae' on mortals who were made immortal mentions Krotos:

"Crotos, son of Pan and Eupheme, foster-brother of the Muses, put into the constellation Sagittarius" [224]

The arrow of this constellation points towards the star Antares, the 'heart of the scorpion', and Sagittarius stands poised to attack should Scorpius ever attack the nearby Hēraklēs, or to avenge Scorpius' slaying of Orion. The constellation Sagittarius is visible at latitudes between +55° and −90°, and best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of August.
I like the art of divination. While divination by individuals is always a little suspect to me, I do dabble in it myself on very rare occasion. Divination played a fairly large role in Hellenic every day life. Oracles given directly, like at Delphi, were rare and called chesmomancy. All other forms of divination practiced in ancient Hellas were performed by seers, not oracles. Seer staples were divination through the spotting of birds (ornithomancy and augury), dream interpretation (oneiromancy) and animal sacrifice (hieromancy, haruspicy, empyromancy and extispicy), but other forms of divination were definitely used, including cledonomancy (listening to words spoken by a crowd), oneiromancy (divination through the reading of birthmarks) and phyllorhodomancy, the reading of the sound rose petals make when slapping them together with your hands. The biggest difference between oracles and seers was that oracles gave long answers which usually needed some for of interpretation while seers usually answered yes-or-no questions.

I am currently investigating another type of divination: the 'Hellenic Alphabet Oracle'. I haven't been able to find much on it save a few websites, but the University of Tennessee Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science website has a version of it up for inspection. Please turn to that link for the full explanation, but let me give you the start:

The oracle works as follows: each letter of the alphabet has a corresponding oracle, and the first word of the oracle (in Greek) begins with that letter. There are at least three methods of consulting the alphabet oracle, according tot he article.

The first uses a set of twenty-four stones or potsherds, each inscribed or painted with a letter of the alphabet. When you want to consult the oracle, pick a stone without looking. According tot he article, one ancient method was to shake the stones in a bowl or frame drum until one jumped out. Stones used in this way would be called psêphoi in Ancient Greek.

A second method is to use, five knuckle bones, called astragaloi. Cast all five at once or one five times. Knucklebones have four 'sides', traditionally given the values 1 (Monas), 3 (Trias), 4 (Tetras), and 6 (Hexas), according tot he article. There are 24 possible total values from five knucklebones: 5 to 30, excepting 6 and 29, which are impossible. The highest cast would be associated with Alpha and the lowest with Omega (so Alpha = 30, Beta = 28, Gamma = 27, …, Psi = 7, Omega = 5). Say you throw 3, 6, 6, 4, and 1, your number is 20, which links to the letter 'K', Kappa.

In the third way, five dice (cuboi, tesserae) are cast. Like with the knuckle bones, there are twenty-six possible total values, 5 through 30, which are associated in decreasing order with the Greek letters, including the archaic Digamma (Wau) and Qoppa. There are no oracles for Digamma and Qoppa, however, and so these need to be recast. The sum is the same as with the knuckle bones as well, add the results of all dice together and you will get the corresponding letter.

The website goes on to list a chart with the number, the numerical value by knuckle bones or dice, and the oracular message that corresponds with the letter, as taken from an inscription allegedly in Olympos. They read anywhere from 'Gaia will give you the ripe fruit of your labors', to 'You will have a parting from the {Tôn} companions now around you', and 'You will have a difficult {Ômos} harvest season, not a useful one'.

Now, I am still researching this myself, but I like the idea of this. I'll probably get to back to this at a later date, once I get to confirm or disprove some of these points. If anyone has more information, I would love to hear of it. Personal experience with this system is also something I would love to hear about. Thank you in advance.
In the never-ending saga entitled the 'Parthenon Marbles', I have another update for you as posted by the Archaeological News Network: international lawyers have been consulted by the Greek government on the issue. I've already talked quite a lot about the Parthenon Marbles on this blog. You can find posts on them here, here, and here. To recap, though, 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.

International lawyers consulted by Greek government on Parthenon Marbles issue
The Parthenon Sculptures as seen on display at the British Museum
in London on June 5, 2000 [Credit: Reuters]
As the president of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, David Hill has seen years of talks between the Brittain and Greece end fruitlessly, despite the tries of large international bodies like UNESCO. He was asked by Prime Minister Samaras to assemble a group of prominent international lawyers to advise the government of what its legal claim might be, resuming a plan Greece had in the works for years. He has been in Greece for the past three weeks getting ready to meet with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, while working to assemble three famous international lawyers, Geoffrey Robertson, Amal Alamuddin and Professor Norman Palmer to work on a legal case to get the marbles back home.

The meeting scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday will be the first time Greece will consider its legal options. Greece has been reluctant in the past to start legal proceedings fearing it will look confrontational, but after 15 years of the same response from the British and trying everything in its arsenal to get them to the negotiating table, the government is out of patience. After so many years, the British approach to the matter hasn't changed despite the growing international chorus of disapproval. In the meetings, Mr Hall and the contingent will also meet with Greece's deputy prime minster Evangelos Venizelos, the culture minister Konstantinos Tasoulas and director of the Acropolis Museum Dimitrios Pandermalis. It's hoped the government can decide on its next steps to tackling the issue before it becomes too late.
A reader question today before I rush off to work, asked on Tumblr:

"Does the term "maiden name" come from the myth surrounding Kore being abducted by Hades? Because Kore becomes Persephone, so I guess you can say Kore is her maiden name? Is anything more said about this change of name?"

I love the theory, but no, it doesn't as far as I am aware. A maiden name is the last name used by a woman before changing her name upon marriage. Some people prefer to use the term 'birth name'.  As a general rule, a woman's maiden name is her father's last name, reflecting the patrilineal system of descent which dominates many cultures.

The ancient Hellenes didn't make use of surnames, but during some periods, formal identification commonly included place of origin. At other times clan names and patronymics ('son of') were also common. In none of these cases, though, were these names considered essential parts of the person's name, nor were they explicitly inherited in the manner which is common in many cultures today. So, while given names have been used from the most distant times to identify individuals, the advent of surnames is a relatively recent phenomenon. In Britain, hereditary surnames were adopted in the 13th and 14th centuries, initially by the aristocracy but eventually by everyone. In Japan, family names were uncommon except among the aristocracy until the 19th century.

The term 'maiden' has its roots in the Old English. It comes from 'mægden', or 'mæden', meaning a (virgin) girl, a maid, or servant, and/or Proto-Germanic 'magadinom', meaning 'young womanhood', or 'sexually inexperienced female'. The first recorded use of the term 'maiden name' comes from the 1680's, and it was applied to the myth of Persephone long after the myth was first recorded in Greek.

'Korê' (Κορη), or 'Kourê' (Κουρη), is a title (or epithet), literally meaning 'maiden' or 'girl' that was applied to Persephone as a Goddess of spring's beauty. Once She married Hades--kidnapped or not--She became the infernal Queen of the Underworld. An epithet is an attachment to the name of a God or Goddess, used to indicate either a specific domain of the Deity, a specific origin myth or region from which the Deity came, or an entirely different entity, through either domain or origin.

'Korê'  remained in use throughout ancient Hellenic history, especially connected to the Eleusinian Mysteries and some of the Eleusinian Festivals. Other cult titles included Khthonia (Χθονια, Of the Earth), Karpophoros (Καρποφοροσ, Bringer of Fruit), Sôteira (Σωτειρα, Saviour), and Praxidikê (Πραξιδικη, Bringer of Justice). In the Latin, Persephone gained another title: 'Juno Inferna', literally translated as 'Infernal Queen', likening her to Juno (Hera) as Her husband was likened to Zeus.

It's important to note that Perrsephone does not become Korê, or the other way around. Persephone's name is 'Persephone' (Περσεφονη) or a variation thereof, depending on author (Persephoneia, Persephoneiê, Persephassa, Phersephassa, Phersephatta, Pherrephatta). Her titles include 'Korê', and because she was well known as such, it was often used as a replacement of her name.
Two nights of three hours of sleep and a very long day at work and driving around and I am completely fried. I'm writing this Monday evening because I have to leave early tomorrow. Would you guy be dears and accept a video today so I can go to bed?

I am a big fan of instructional videos made for children. The information given is compact, informational, but not too dense. It's a great way to glimpse at a subject and get some clues about further research. This video is of that variety. It's about the geography and the early Hellenic civilization(s). The creator, Jeremy Corwin, also discusses the Minoans and Mycenaeans and recounts the story of the Minotaur.  'Mr. Corwin', as he's called, teaches World History and Leadership to middle school children and his YouTube videos are all much fun and very informative. Enjoy!

A few weeks ago, archeologists associated with the project announced the Antikythera dive was sure to pay off--and it has. In the ongoing saga of the new dive down to the Antikythera wreck, the first finds are in, and they are very promising.

Stunning news finds from Antikythera
WHOI Diving Safety Officer Edward O'Brien "spacewalks" in the Exosuit, suspended
from the Hellenic Navy vessel THETIS during the 2014 Return to Antikythera project
[Credit: Brett Seymour, Copyright: Return to Antikythera 2014]

During the first excavation season, from September 15 to October 7, 2014, the researchers have created a high-resolution, 3D map of the site using stereo cameras mounted on an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). Divers then recovered a series of finds which prove that much of the ship's cargo is indeed still preserved beneath the sediment.

Components of the ship, including multiple lead anchors over a metre long and a bronze rigging ring with fragments of wood still attached, prove that much of the ship survives. The finds are also scattered over a much larger area than the sponge divers realized, covering 300 meters of the seafloor. This together with the huge size of the anchors and recovered hull planks proves that the Antikythera ship was much larger than previously thought, perhaps up to 50 meters long. Brendan Foley of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution:

"The evidence shows this is the largest ancient shipwreck ever discovered. It's the Titanic of the ancient world."

The archaeologists also recovered a beautiful intact table jug, part of an ornate bed leg, and most impressive of all, a 2-meter-long bronze spear buried just beneath the surface of the sand. Too large and heavy to have been used as a weapon, it must have belonged to a giant statue, perhaps a warrior or the goddess Athena, says Foley. In 1901, four giant marble horses were discovered on the wreck by the sponge divers, so these could have formed part of a complex of statues involving a warrior in a chariot that was pulled by the four horses.

The archaeologists plan to return next year to excavate the site further and recover more of the ship's precious cargo. The finds, particularly the bronze spear, are very promising, according to the researchers, and they are sure there are still many secrets to uncover.
Epictetus (Ἐπίκτητος) was a Hellenic Stoic philosopher. He was born around 55 AD as a slave at Hierapolis, Phrygia (present day Pamukkale, Turkey). Philosophy, Epictetus taught, is a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline. To Epictetus, all external events are determined by fate, and are thus beyond our control; we should accept whatever happens calmly and dispassionately. However, individuals are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline. His teachings were written down and published by his pupil Arrian in his Discourses. 'The Golden Sayings' collect much of his teachings, and today I would like to share the fragments, which are one-sentence rules to live by, for sure.

I - A life entangled with Fortune is like a torrent. It is turbulent and muddy; hard to pass and masterful of mood: noisy and of brief continuance.
II - The soul that companies with Virtue is like an ever-flowing source. It is a pure, clear, and wholesome draught; sweet, rich, and generous of its store; that injures not, neither destroys.
III - It is a shame that one who sweetens his drink with the gifts of the bee, should embitter God's gift Reason with vice.
IV - Crows pick out the eyes of the dead, when the dead have no longer need of them; but flatterers mar the soul of the living, and her eyes they blind.
V - Keep neither a blunt knife nor an ill-disciplined looseness of tongue.
VI - Nature hath given men one tongue but two ears, that we may hear from others twice as much as we speak.
VII - Do not give sentence in another tribunal till you have been yourself judged in the tribunal of Justice.
VIII - If is shameful for a Judge to be judged by others.
IX - Give me by all means the shorter and nobler life, instead of one that is longer but of less account!
X - Freedom is the name of virtue: Slavery, of vice. . . . None is a slave whose acts are free.
XI - Of pleasures, those which occur most rarely give the most delight.
XII - Exceed due measure, and the most delightful things become the least delightful.
XIII - The anger of an ape--the threat of a flatterer:--these deserve equal regard.
XIV - Chastise thy passions that they avenge not themselves upon thee.
XV - No man is free who is not master of himself.
XVI - A ship should not ride on a single anchor, nor life on a single hope.
XVII - Fortify thyself with contentment: that is an impregnable stronghold.
XVIII - No man who is a lover of money, of pleasure, of glory, is likewise a lover of Men; but only he that is a lover of whatsoever things are fair and good.
XIX - Think of God more often than thou breathest.
XX - Choose the life that is noblest, for custom can make it sweet to thee.
XXI - Let thy speech of God be renewed day by day, aye, rather than thy meat and drink.
XXII - Even as the Sun doth not wait for prayers and incantations to rise, but shines forth and is welcomed by all: so thou also wait not for clapping of hands and shouts and praise to do thy duty; nay, do good of thine own accord, and thou wilt be loved like the Sun.
XXIII - Let no man think that he is loved by any who loveth none.
XXIV - If thou rememberest that God standeth by to behold and visit all that thou doest; whether in the body or in the soul, thou surely wilt not err in any prayer or deed; and thou shalt have God to dwell with thee. 
This week, US television network SyFy took a tiny dip into the pond they'll be exploring come 2015 in their new series 'Olympus'; in the seventh season of the series, Face Off went Greek. Face Off is a competition/elimination series exploring the world of special-effects make-up artists and the unlimited imagination that allows them to create amazing works of living art. Each week the artists are tasked with using their considerable talent to create original movie-worthy characters such as aliens, human-animal hybrids, horror villains, cyborgs and others. Challenges incorporate a wide range of skill sets including design, sculpting, molding and application. It all builds to incredible reveals of the competitors' finished work and the drama of one artist being sent home by the expert panel of judges.

This week, the contestants had two challenges: one minor in which the contestants had to create Médousa's victims, and a major one, in which they had to transform their models into Hellenic Gods carrying the severed heads of their enemies. Now, I am a huge fan of Face Off. It's the only competition show I watch, and I have seen every minute of every season ever aired. For those of you who have not, let me give you a tiny bit of warning before we look at some Hellenic Gods: the whole point is to find a creative angle to tackle your charatcer and find a viaually appealing way to portray that angle. Authenticity is not the main goal, the goal is to get across that this character is a Greek God, and--if they are good--even which one. The difficulty is in avoiding the lowest hanging fruit while still finding (stereotypical) characteristics everyone knows about. The focus is always the face, and the body needs to match. I'm going to be sharing pictures of the face only, but with a link to an image of the entire character. With all of this in mind, let's see what the contestants came up with.

"Cig emphasized the fire element for Apollo, god of the sun -- and as he's also the god of the plague, his victim is some diseased abomination."
"For Aphrodite, Dina went back to the roots of the goddess of love and beauty -- or, rather, the water, as Aphrodite was born in the sea and her symbol is a seashell."
"Drew imagined Hades, god of the underworld, as shriveled and corpse-like, holding the head of an impish servant that displeased him."
"George imagined Zeus, the god of the sky and thunder, as a Renaissance oil painting come to life, holding the head of the last remaining titan of the sea."
"Sasha was inspired by Athena, goddess of wisdom and warfare, as the guiding hand behind Perseus's slaying of Medusa. Her Athena has been turned to stone, a bittersweet image as she holds the severed Gorgon's head."
"Stella imagined Poseidon, the god of the sea and 'tamer of horses,' as a sea creature with sea horse elements, with the head of an octopus impaled by his trademark trident."
Dina's Aphrodite won the challenge, while Sasha's Athena sent her home. How do you think the contestants did, reimagining the Hellenic Gods? All photo credit goes to SyFy and Brett-Patrick Jenkins.
A very interesting announcement from Western Connecticut State University today, for anyone in the area (I think):

Dr. Richard McKim, the fall 2014 Macricostas Chair in Hellenic and Modern Greek Studies at Western Connecticut State University, will discuss the polytheistic vision of life in ancient Greek religion in a lecture on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, on the university’s Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury.

McKim, who earned his Ph.D. in classics and philosophy at Princeton University, is a specialist in ancient Greek philosophy who previously served on the classics faculty at the University of Texas at Austin. His lecture, “Back to Polytheism? How Ancient Greek Religion Made Sense of Human Experience,” will be at 5:30 p.m. in Science Building Room 125. Admission will be free and the public is invited to attend; a reception will follow the talk.

In describing his lecture, McKim observed that modern debate about religion focuses exclusively on monotheism versus atheism. “The third main alternative in Western tradition, Greek polytheism, has been demoted to the realm of myth, its gods merely colourful characters in a rollicking set of tall tales,” he said. “We forget that Greek religion was once a deeply felt and highly sophisticated worldview that gave meaning to people’s lives.”

“Maybe the Greeks were on to something,” McKim remarked. “What if their polytheistic view of life is in many ways more intuitive, more satisfying and more consistent with our experience than anything that monotheists or atheists can offer?” Through his lecture, he said, “we’ll try to imagine what it was like for the Greeks to believe that the world is full of gods, and in the process raise some questions about our own beliefs.”

McKim, who also holds a bachelor’s degree in classics from the University of Toronto, has published widely on themes ranging from the works of Plato to the gospels and Latin poetry. He complements his passion for the study and teaching of classical culture and philosophy with a diversity of pursuits outside the academic world as a lecturer on cinema and as a music producer, songwriter and composer. He recently completed a rock-based musical, “Down at the Inferno,” inspired by Dante’s vision of hell in “The Divine Comedy.”

For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486. McKim’s lecture will be presented by the WCSU School of Arts and Sciences as part of the lecture series sponsored by the foundation of Brookfield industrialist and philanthropist Constantine “Deno” Macricostas and his wife Marie.
An archaeological team equipped with a mini-submarine made a spectacular discovery while exploring in deep water around the Aeolian Islands of Pantelleria, Lipari and Panarea, according to a report in, translated by

One of the clay vessels recovered from the wreck near Lipari
One of the clay vessels recovered from the wreck near Lipari.
Credit: Division The Republic, Gruppo Editoriale L'Espresso SpA

The research team, coordinated by the Superintendent of the Sea in cooperation with Global Underwater Explorers, made the rare discovery while investigating the sea floor at depths of 130 metres near the island of Lipari. Next to a large amount of amphorae, the team pulled up plates, bowls, anchors, and a well-preserved sacrificial altar.

The terracotta altar on a pedestal contains decorative carvings of waves, and this is one of the first examples of an altar on a ship that may have been used for ritual purposes during a journey. While historical sources have referred to sailors making sacrifices to the gods to ensure a safe journey or to give thanks for having navigated a difficult passage, evidence was never found--until now.

The terracotta altar recovered from the shipwreck
The terracotta altar recovered from the shipwreck.
Credit: Division The Republic, Gruppo Editoriale L'Espresso SpA.

The exploration was only made possible thanks to the use of two high-tech submersibles called ‘Triton’, as diving at such depths is extremely dangerous. It's one of many dives for ancient treasure completed with the help of modern technology--a trend that makes it possible to reach wrecks which we thought would stay forever out of our reach.
Khaire, everyone. A new reader question today. This post is written especially for people new to the faith, but heck, most of you might find something in there that you connect with. The question(s) is/are as follows:

"Hello Elani! I'm having some trouble with my faith in the Gods... how do you incorporate them every day in your life at the beginning of your path? How do you work as HP and recon while living in a Christian household? How do you feel the Gods on a daily basis? Does any of this make sense?! Thank you very much."

So, let's break these down. Let's talk about incorporating the Gods into your (daily) life first. I have a tendency to go adopt new things in a very specific way: in general, I dive in without any restraint, give it my all, and spent every waking moment in it until the obsession normalizes. I don’t believe in the slow build, in the careful exploration. I tend to go in full force and always believe I can do it. It was the same with adopting Hellenism. I started my new practice, read up as much as I could in a day or two, and started morning and evening libations, as well as a blog so I could share my new obsession with the world. I'm the type of person who would rather correct the course of the train than drive slow until I'm sure of the course.

I am aware not everyone is like me, and honestly, I would not recommend my approach to religious practice to everyone. That said, what I would recommend is knowing the way you are wired. Starting and maintaining a religious practice--especially a Hellenic one where traditional sources place emphasis on at least twice-daily religious observance--is always an undertaking. When you're still in the infancy of your practice, it can be the most overwhelming thing: there is so much you don't know, so much you know you will still have to learn before you'll have a grip on all of it.

That first period is both the most exciting as the most frustrating and the scariest. On the one hand, you feel exhilarated because you've found something you feel really at home with, but you're scared to do it wrong, scared of not being good enough, and you're still missing the terminology to even Google for the things you should be doing. How you make it through this first period is dependent upon only yourself, I fear. My advice is to read as much as you can, ask questions to anyone willing to answer them, and find a community to help you out.
Once you get a handle on your practice comes phase two, and this is also the final phase: shaping your practice. You will never have a practice that you are fully satisfied with, that's fully perfect--not if you keep investing time and effort into your studies, into your rituals, into developing yourself. A religion is more than the rites you perform; religion is a lifestyle and it seeps into the food you eat, the clothes you wear, the people you meet, the person you become and everything else there is to you. No one is defined by a single aspect in their life, but your religion does say something about you as a person.
Developing your practice can be a hard thing to do, and it requires you to have an intimate knowledge of yourself, of your needs and desires. What do you want to get out of your religion? Why did you get into it? What religious baggage do you take with you? And most of all, perhaps, what are you willing to do for it? Are you willing to turn your life around if the Gods desire it of you, or would you rather just have a religion as a hobby? Both are fine, but you need to figure out the answer going in. 
I have found that the way only religion becomes a part of your daily life is to live it. Perform rituals, talk about it, read, research, and live the ethics and philosophies. I don't have a direct connection to the Gods. No one talks to me, nor makes Their presence known in any other way. I don't have chats with Aphrodite, nor does Hypnos visit me in my dreams. I'm just a person who gives Them their daily due, and in return, I trust They steer my life towards a place of quiet comfort. I love believing in the Gods, though. It gives me something to hold on to during the dark days, someone to thank during the good, and it gives me a purpose in life. Including the Gods in all these moments will make it feel like They are always there. The key word? Repetition, repetition, repetition. Do it until it sticks, because then, when you stop, you'll miss it. That's the point where your religion becomes integrated into your life. Here are a few thing to do on a daily basis that will help greatly.
As for practicing under the care of naysayers, I wrote a post partly about that a while ago. Hopefully that will help you out. Thank you for your question(s) and good luck! Gods bless!