Myrtis is the name given by archaeologists to an 11-year-old girl from ancient Athens, whose remains were discovered in 1994–95 in a mass grave during work to build the metro station at Kerameikos, Greece. The name was chosen from common ancient Greek names. The analysis showed that Myrtis and two other bodies in the mass grave had died of typhoid fever during the Plague of Athens in 430 BCE.

Myrtis' skull was in an unusually good condition and Greek orthodontics professor Manolis Papagrigorakis requested help from Swedish specialists to recreate her facial features. A special scanner was employed for the non-invasive acquisition of high-resolution anatomic data of Myrtis' skull. The volume of the skull was determined at 446 cm3. Following scanning, an exact replica of her skull was created, which became the basis for subsequent forensic facial reconstruction. The reconstruction process followed the so-called 'Manchester method': the facial tissues were laid from the skull surface outward by using depth marker pegs to determine thickness.

The shape, size and position of the eyes, ears, nose and mouth were determined through the features of the underlying skeletal tissues. 20 different muscles were sculpted. The thickness of the facial tissues were evaluated according to average values taken from corresponding reference tables for age, gender and race. The mouth width and the lip thickness were estimated by the pattern and the skeletal craniofacial attributes of the associated area. Myrtis' reconstructed face was given brown eyes and brown hair, but the true colours of these can only be determined by DNA analysis. The hairstyle she was given follows the fashion of the time. Following her reconstruction, the United Nations Regional Information Centre made Myrtis a friend of the Millennium Development Goals and used her in the UN campaign 'We Can End Poverty'.

Now, Myrtis returns to the fore as a spokesperson for disease and a voice from antiquity on May 13.
A conference, titled '5 years with Myrtis', will be held at the Acropolis Museum on May 13 to mark the 5-year-anniversary since the reconstruction of the 11-year-old girl. A letter posted next to her picture says:

“My death was inevitable. In the 5th century BC we had neither the knowledge nor the means to fight deadly illnesses. However, you, the people of the 21st century, have no excuse. You possess all the necessary means and resources to save the lives of millions of people. To save the lives of millions of children like me who are dying of preventable and curable diseases. 2,500 years after my death, I hope that my message will engage and inspire more people to work and make the Millennium Development Goals a reality.”

The event taking place at the Acropolis Museum is being held under the auspices of the University of Athens, the Ministry of Research and Innovation, the UN and the Norwegian Embassy in Greece.
We are doing a museum-related news update today, because there is a lot going on in the world of ancient Hellenic art.

Louvre Museum Exhibition on Ancient Thracian Culture

The Louvre Museum in Paris, France, is presenting a new exhibition featuring ancient Thracian artefacts, giving visitors a rare glimpse in the way of life and culture of the ancient civilization. The Thracians were a group of Indo-European tribes inhabiting a large area in Southeastern Europe, thus reports Greek Reporter.

The exhibition includes artefacts such as the Panagyurishte, a ritual beverage set made of 23-carat gold and consisting of a phial, an amphora, rhytons and drinking vessels, weighing a total of six kilos.
Louvre’s Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities director, the exhibition will not be the umpteenth exhibition in France about Thracian gold: It will offer the general public an opportunity to gain broader insight into this culture.

The collection of exhibits aims to show the ancient Thracians’ way of life through the tools they used to carve their masterpieces. Furthermore, it will also include replicas of four Thracian tombs discovered in Bulgaria. According to French archaeologist Alexandre Baralis:

"What we want to do is to present a historical and archaeological synthesis that allows us to go further, to give substance, and offers a global perspective on the history of the Odrysian kingdom from 479 to 278 BC.”

Missing Karyatid virtually unified with her sisters
Visual Artist & Photographer Amalia Sotiropoulou has completed her artistic trilogy with her exhibition titled 'Missing Sister-Trilogy'. The exhibition opened on the 23rd of April in the Skoufa gallery.

This is the last of a trilogy of exhibitions concerning the Erehtheion Caryatids. The first part saw the Karyatids moved to an urban setting. The sequel had Amalia travelling to the British Museum to take pictures of the stolen Karyatid. In this last part of the trilogy, the missing sister returns home to be virtually unified with her sisters and history itself.

Nat’l disabilities group wants better access to sites and museums
Members of the National Confederation of Persons with Disabilities, ESAmeA, has free access to all museums, monuments and sites around Greece, but cannot actually make use of this due to the difficulty of gaining access to these. In a letter to Deputy Culture Minister Nikos Xydakis, the group calls for the government to make the required changes to allow for people with disabilities from around the world to visit all the archaeological sites around Greece, thus reports Protothema.

The association is calling for a lift at the Acropolis as the one that is currently there, created for the 2004 Olympics and Paralympics, is not functional.
Would you like to gain a broad-based understanding of warfare in ancient Hellas through Hómēros' account of the Trojan War in the Iliad and receive a certificate as well by joining the course that kicked off on April 27? Colgate University’s free online course examines different accounts of Ancient Hellenic Warfare and you can join the course for free (yes, even a day late--sorry about that. News travels slow when you fall ill).

Hómēros'  account of the Trojan War in the Iliad explores the effects of warfare upon Hellenes and Trojans alike. It illustrates not only the challenges that the combatants faced, but also the plight of innocent victims – women, children, and the elderly. Though the Iliad is often regarded as a kind of Greek national epic, Hómēros'  is remarkably even-handed in his treatment of the two sides, even seeming to favor the Trojans over the Hellenes at times. He repeatedly emphasizes the horrors of war and his varied descriptions of deaths on the battlefield are unparalleled in both intensity and, paradoxically, poetic charm. The primary objective of warfare in the imaginary time period depicted by Homer is to attain personal glory through acts of individual prowess, with the good of the community seen as a secondary goal.

The course explores the idea that war is both universal and particular. The Vietnam War was not the same as the Iraq War. In every war, some things are the same, while some are different. Intense suffering and horrific acts are inevitable. However, the mode of fighting, the resources, the arms, the equipment, the treatment of prisoners, the command structure, and the ideology driving men and women to fight all differ. Students will learn:
  • The causes and contentions of the Trojan War through the eyes of Homer
  • What made the Trojan War unique and historically significant
  • What links the experience of this war to the men and women serving their country today, as well as innocent civilians caught up in the crossfire
The course is taught by Robert Garland, who  is the Roy D. and Margaret B. Wooster Professor of the Classics at Colgate University, where he has taught since 1986. A British citizen by birth, he obtained his B.A. from Manchester University, his M.A. from McMaster University, and his Ph.D. from University College London.  He is a Fulbright Scholar, a former Junior Fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington D.C., a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., and former Benjamin-Meaker Distinguished Professor at Bristol University. As a historian of Greece and Rome,  he has published numerous books, including 'The Greek Way of Death', 'The Piraeus', 'The Greek Way of Life', 'Introducing New Gods', 'Religion and the Greeks', 'The Eye of the Beholder: Deformity and Disability in the Graeco-Roman World', 'Daily Life of the Ancient Greeks', 'Celebrity and the Greeks', 'Julius Caesar', 'Surviving Greek Tragedy', and 'Hannibal'. His most recent book is 'Wandering Greeks', published by Princeton University Press (2014), an investigation of refugees and other displaced persons in the Greek world.

CLICK HERE to enrol.
Remember how last week, I said that our heroes had gotten themselves into quite a pickle? Double that for this week. Now the only way to save Ariadne from a certain and excruciating death is to sacrifice Medusa instead, and oh yeah, Pasiphaê took over Atlantis while we weren't looking. I do not like this. I do not like this one bit.

Cassandra, the new Oracle, is passionately praying. She's calling to the Gods. Literally everyone who hears her pray--Pasiphaê, Melas, Medea, Ariadne, and Delmos most of all--is anxious of what she's perceiving. The Gods are angry. fucking angry. Not just a little bit angry, but 'we will fuck up your city'-angry, because 'the rightful heir of Atlantis is not recognised'. Pasiphaê is not at all happy to hear that, but even though she is scared, she still has Cassandra taken away and tries to discredit her vision. This will not end well, I promise you that.

Once in private, Pasiphaê freaks out. Medea tries to calm her, but Pasiphaê knows that when word of the Oracle's vision gets out, the people of Atlantis will turn against her. Thankfully, Cilix has an even more devious mind than her, and he spins the story: the Gods did not tell Cassandra who, exactly, the rightful heir is, so it could be Pasiphaê since she has not officially been crowned queen. It could work, Pasiphaê realizes, especially if the bribed priests tell the world all is well in the world.

Wasting no time, Pasiphaê goes to work in manipulating Ariadne to step down and make Pasiphaê queen in return for her life. She refuses, and Pasiphaê takes Delmos to torture until she can.

At the temporary oikos in the woods, Jason wants to go back to free Ariadne and fight for Atlantis. Pythagoras wisely says they can't. With Pasiphaê back, there is no way they will even be able to get into the palace, let alone to Ariadne. Jason is not happy. Someone else who is not happy is Medusa. She's sitting out in the sun, enjoying the sounds of the birds best she can. Pythagoras comes to find her. He shares his blanket (and a hug) with her. She tells him she's cursed, that she hurts everyone in her life. She'd just... damned. And she doesn't want Hercules to suffer because of her.

Ariadne's getting an update from (who I think to be) Nestor (Sam Swainsbury): Pasiphaê is killing everyone who opposes her, he doesn't have news on Delmos, nor Jason. She forces him to look for Jason outside of the city and the poor boy--because he's no more than a boy--doesn't really have a choice than to go into the mountains to the hunting lodge where Jason once took her to meet her brother.

At said lodge, Jason is experiencing epic amounts of manpain and even Hercules, King of Manpain, is done with it. He gets him some food, tries to cheer him up, taunts him, teases him, and tries to get him to react in every way possible. But, of course, it doesn't work. Jason haz a sad, and it can't be taken away with kind words, taunts, or food. Then Hercules brings up how Jason told him to keep faith and to keep fighting for Medusa and look now: they are together. Jason will have to do the same for Ariadne. It restores a little but of his old spirit.

Nestor has made it to the cabin! Hurray! He tells Pythagoras that Ariadne is still alive and that she needs them. He tells them everything that has been going on, and it's not pretty. Pythagoras sends him back to Ariadne to protect her and they will tell Jason. Medusa tells Pythagoras as soon as he is gone that they can't tell Jason. He'll just run into the fray like a lunatic and get himself killed. She has a plan to get Ariadne out of the city, but he can't tell the others. Medusa tells him to trust her.

They announce the plan (well, whatever part of it Medusa feels comfortable of sharing): Pythagoras is going back to the city. He's the only one they won't execute on the spot and he has friends who can help him. This way, they can get an update on the situation. The boys take some convincing, but they agree eventually.

Meanwhile Melas visits Cassandra in the dungeons. She's cold and shit scared. She clings to him in desperation. Melas tells her that he knows her gift came with the condition she always tell the truth, but that she has to learn how to deliver that message carefully. In other words, to lie in order to safe her life. He hates to do it, and she hates hearing it even more. But she knows that he is only doing the things he's doing to keep her safe. the Gods will punish those who deserve punishment--he taught her that, and he mustn't forget that now.

Pythagoras packs up and leaves. Jason tells him to get word to Ariadne, Hercules to get himself wine and pie. Medusa just tells him to be strong and stay safe. He leaves.

Returning to their cell is Delmos, who has been brutally tortured. He's bloody and broken, and yet the first thing he says is that she must never, ever, give in to Pasiphaê's wishes, no matter what they do to him. She promises him, but when he turns his head away, she cries bitter tears out of guilt.

Pythagoras has reached the city and has snuck back in. It's not the city he knows though: there are bodies hanging in the street and the only people out are guards on patrol. He's not heading home, he's heading to the inventor Daidalos. Ikaros is also there, and neither of them enjoys Pasiphaê rule very much. the plan, by the way, is to retrieve Pandora's Box from the temple of Poseidon. Daidalos is in, instantly.

Ikarus goes to scout and finds out there is a group of lepers scheduled to seek Poseidon's aid. He thinks that Daidalos and Pythagoras will be cursed alongside them if they hide amongst them, but Daidalos thinks that's just superstition and refuses to entertain the thought. Meanwhile, Daidalos is making gunpowder bombs.

That night, Pythagoras and Daidalos join the lepers and enter the temple. the guards check a few of the leper to see if they are actually afflicted, but before the guards can get to them, Daidalos tosses his bomb into a fire and BOOM! No one gets seriously hurt, and no one spots Pythagoras as he sneaks into the temple to retrieve the box. Well--no one but Melas, who spots him on the way out. He wants to call the guards, but Pythagoras reminds him that this is basically all his fault and Melas guides him out of the temple by a safer route. Meanwhile Pasiphaê orders the perpetrators found and hung in the streets for all to see.

Delmos is pretty much at the end of his rope. Ariadne tries to keep him alive with words alone, but he's not doing well. He tells her he believes in her and trusts in all she will accomplish in the future. His words give her the strength she needs to turn Pasiphaê's offer down once more, even when she promises her a physician to tend to Delmos' injuries. She stands strong, she defies Pasiphaê. When Pasiphaê takes a sword and treathens to kill Delmos, she has a harder time, but he nods to tell her it's okay and she stands strong. Pasiphaê kills Delmos and tells her that if Ariadne defies her again, she will be begging for sucha  swift death. She leaves Delmos' corpse in Ariadne's cell.

Pythagoras, meanwhile, has gotten out of the temple with Melas' help and out of the city with Ikaros'. He journeys back to the cabin with Pandora's box in his backpack and a heavy heart in his chest. He delivers the box to Medusa, who is waiting anxiously. He tells her she does not have to go throguh with this, but she reminds him that she is cursed and to not tell Hercules about any of this. Or Jason. In the hunting lodge, Pythagoras tells them of the state of affairs in Atlantis, and as expected, Jason immediately grabs his sword to charge the windmill. Pythagoras cools him down, but just barely.

Back in prison, Ariadne has been hung from the ceiling and she's livid. When Pasiphaê comes to once more threaten her into giving up the throne, she just snarls. That is until Pasiphaê introduced Medea, whose special brand of magic is apparently very well suited for interrogation. Pasiphaê leaves the two alone to get to work.

At the lodge, Medusa shares what she knows to be her last meal with Hercules. She tells him she loves him with such intensity that she almost gives herself away, but she manages to cover it up well enough for Hercules buys it. Pythagoras has spiked the food: he falls asleep after a few bites and she holds him tightly for long seconds before slipping from their bed and involving Jason in their plan: she wants to get back to rocking her snakes so they can use her as a weapon I do wonder why the snakes would suddenly work on Pasiphaê and Medea now, while they so clearly did not before but ey, details, right?

Jason won't have it. He says it's madness. She tells him she cannot live with what she's done. She killed the Oracle, and her curse for that is not physical, but that the guilt is killing her. This way, her death can do some good: she wants to turn back into the Gorgon, and then she wants Jason to chop off her head. Her body will only slow them down, and her head will continue to turn people to stone after her death. She rushes out in tears, and tells him to come to a nearby cave soon, because he is the only one immune. Jason rushes to wake Hercules, but Pythagoras stops him: it's the only way to save Atlantis--and by extension, Ariadne. In the cave, Medusa gathers her strength and opens the box.

Medea has done her work well. Ariadne is a ragdoll, lolling in Pasiphaê's arms when she turns her over on the ground. She whimpers and shudders. But when she blinks her eyes open, she tells Pasiphaê that there is only one true queen of Atlantis, and that it is not Pasiphaê. That's my girl! Pasiphaê says it's okay, that they will go another round tomorrow. It's only a matter of time now.

Jason comes to the cave, and the sound of serpents greets him. Medusa waits for him. She's so happy he came. She begs him to do this for her, for all of them, and while Jason cries bitter tears, he beheads her...

Hercules wakes up and finds Pythagoras waiting for him. Pythagoras tells him of the decision medusa made and he is... beyond anger, beyond sadness. He throws Pythagoras around the cabin and then sags into a heap to cry like no man should ever have to cry in their lives--like no person should. Meanwhile Jason returns to Atlantis and turns an entire squadron of guards to stone.

Goran rushes to Pasiphaê to tell her about the one man army with the Gorgon's head and she panics. She tells him to keep the men away, takes his sword, and waits for Jason to come to her. Because he will. She knows he will. They play a game of cat and mouse in the palace halls and eventually, they stumble upon each other. She is still not affected by the snakes, but he doesn't need them to: he has his sword, and he will kill her. The struggle is very quick: Pasiphaêis not a trained fighter, and he is. She tells him why he won't kill her:  because she's his mother. He's shocked, amazed, and indeed removes his sword from her neck. Then he knocks her unconscious with the pummel of the sword. He tries to kill her again, but he can't. He tosses his sword and Medea shows up. She tells him it's true, that Pasiphaê is his mother. That he is touched by the Gods. That this is why he can look upon the Gorgon without turning to stone. That is when she drops the other bomb: they feel this way about each other because they are both touched by the Gods. He snarls that he doesn't feel anything for her.

Jason rushes to free Ariadne and he hands her a blindfold. She ties it around her head instantly and takes his arm. With the Gorgon's head in hand, he guides her out of the dungeons, out of the palace, and out of Atlantis.

Next time on Atlantis: Jason is feeling the weight of his heritage, daddy dearest returns, and Jason and Medea kiss. Saturday on BBC One, recap on Monday.
Yesterday, I introduced the concept of Popana (or Popanon), loaf-like cakes that were solely made for sacrifice. They were a staple of the Delphinia sacrifices, but there is a lot more to them than that. For example, they varied in shape and size, depending on whom they were sacrificed to. Today, I would like to share a little more about the various cakes the ancient Hellenes consumed and sacrificed.

This cake was specific to Athens. It was a cheese pie on which candles were lit, offered to Artemis on the day of the full moon in the month of Mounichion. Philocorus says that an amphiphon would be brought to the temples of Artemis or to a crossroads, because on this day the moon sets at the same as the sun rises, and the sky is lit by both.

Animal-shaped cakes:
Cakes in the shape of animals were offered to the deities to whom they were especially suited. A wheat cake called a 'Elaphos', made with honey and sesame and shaped like a deer was offered to Artemis at her Elaphebolia festival. A large loaf full of lard, modeled in the shape of a goat, was offered to Demeter Achaina (sorrowful) at the Megalartia (Big Loaves) festival in Boiotia. Another cake, decorated with horns and said to represent either the new moon or an ox, was offered to Apollo, Artemis, Hekate, Selene, Demeter, and Kronos. Apparently, this cake could be substituted for an actual ox.

Ames is often translated as ‘milk cake’. The smaller versions are called ametiskoi: pastries.

The arister was a cake to be burned in a fire, in honour of Helios, Mnemosyne and the Fates, as described by Pollux.

This cake was native, so to say, to Delos. They were made of a dough of wheat flour boiled with honey, to which pomegranate seeds, a dried fig and three nuts were edit. They were offered to Iris on the island of Hekate.

This cake is connected to the Pyanepsia festival in honour of Apollon. It seems these cakes were part of the sacrifices to Him on this day, and part of the decorations on the eiresiône. It was most likely a cake made of barley meal.

It was a cake made from various cheeses.

This was a doughnut, fried in oil or lard and dipped in honey.

This kind of cake is a flat oblong that may represent a cake of fruit or nuts compressed with honey. Common ingredients (especially on Krete) were: walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, and roasted poppy seeds which are roasted, mashed, and softened with boiled honey and pepper. White sesame is put through the same process to produce a contrasting white layer that is placed above and below the dark, flattened square of poppy seeds and nuts.

Kretan cakes made with sweet wine and olive oil.

A light dough made from sesame and honey.

These are the smallest of all the cakes. They are a small wheaten cake whose name derives from its resemblance to a small coin. Kollyba were used in the ritual welcome of a new family member or a slave, who recieved various 'nibbles' such as dates, kollyba, figs, and nuts. Kollyba were offered in sacrifices to Zeus, to the foreign god Men, and to Damia and Auxesia, goddesses usually identified with Demeter and Kore.

The kreion was a kind of sweet bread loaf, and in Argo, brides would give it to their husband. It was served with honey.

These are a kind of plakous (cheese cakes) that Athenaeus, citing Sosibius (Spartan source) describes as being breast-shaped. It seems Spartans use them during women’s feast days, and the members of the chorus lead them in procession when they are about to sing the encomium to the bride.

Maza (also known as neelata, prokonia, or ompai)
This type of cake is a shapeless flat mass with circular incisions or stippling that seems to represent a grainy texture. The lack of height and shape makes one think of a mass of porridge or boiled grains. Maza is first mentioned by Hesiod in his description of the delights of early summer: to sit in the shade, drink wine, and eat it as it just runs dry. Traditionally, it's made with goat's milk, but Maza could be made with water, oil, milk, or even the bile of a calf; the grain used was most frequently coarsely ground, uncooked barley meal, or groats. Maza consisting of boiled wheat flour, honey, a fig, and walnuts, was offered to Iris by the Delians. Apollon received Maza offerings in Sparta, and a variation where wheat soaked in honey was burned in the fire as an offering to Demeter.

The pelanos was a cake which was also used in offerings. It was made from wheat flour obtained from the plain of the Rharus, and was offered to the Goddesses during the Great Mysteries.

These were round cakes used in sacrifices, consisting of wheat flour, cheese and honey. They were eaten along with the flesh of the animals which had been sacrificed. In inscriptions, they are associated with Hestia, Zeus, Apollo and Asklēpiós.

This type is a thick, single-knobbed, cake with deep scoring or ribbing on sides and top meeting under the large central knob. The plakous was a light, flaky cake, which consisted of honey and goat's milk cheese alternating with thin layers of pastry dough inside a firm cake shell. A variation of the plakous is a cake scored evenly into four parts, sometimes with a central knob, or scored into three parts without a central knob. It was sacrificed to Apollon, at least.

This is a larger, round, flat cake with one, upright, protruding, central knob. The knobbed cakes were offered to Zeus Georgos, the Anemoi (Winds), and Herakles. The flat version of the cake, the popanon kathemenon was offered to Poseidon, Kronos, Apollo and Artemis. Its size is often mandated in leges sacrae; it must be made from a full choinix (a dry measure of less than a quart) of flour. The other main ingredient was soft cheese. A flat version with the same ingredients was sacrificed to Poseidon and to Kronos.

Popanon polyomphala
This type is the flat cake described before, but with more than one knob, which is also called a 'popanon'. The number of knobs on the cakes is usually five, arranged with one in the center and four evenly distributed around the perimeter, frequently with two strips of dough bisecting the cake and connecting the knobs to each other; in appearance the cake is not unlike a "hot cross bun". Clement of Alexandria described multi-knobbed popanon to Dionysos, Gaea, and Themis. Twelve-knobbed cakes known as 'popana dodekonphala' are offered to Demeter, Persephone, Apollo, Artemis, Zeus Arotrios, Poseidon, the Winds, Kronos, and Herakles.

Sesame (or sesamis)
This type of cake is spherical and is made up of pellets that may represent seeds. It was made of roasted sesame, honey, and oil, was one of the cakes carried in the rites of Dionysos and Giae, according to Clement of Alexandria. A Spartan cult calendar devoted to chthonic deities stipulates the offering of a sesame cake to Demeter and to Despoina, who is possibly Kore. A round cake that was made by crumbling up thin little sesame honey cakes, boiling them in honey, forming them into balls, and wrapping them in thin papyrus to keep their shape was also a variation of the sesame. In a private cult calendar of the 1st century A.D., sesame are offered to Zeus the Farmer.

The term ‘Pemma’ refers to a small cake, either with, or without a cereal element. That element could have been replaced by other ingredients such as nuts or dried fruit. The word ‘Pemma’ is generally used to refer to the cakes offered to Demeter, Zeus and Athena.

Pyramis and Pyramous
These were pyramidal in form. It was a wheat cake made from sesame and honey, and was given as a reward or prize for religious and sporting event, as well as dance competitions. It's associated with the Thesmophoria. It seems to have been a staple of banquets and was much used in hero worship.

Tagenites, taganies, or tagenias
A sort of crêpe or pancake consisting simply of flour and water. Could be eaten or made with sesame seeds.

Another round cake is made of maza. Since tolype also means a ball of yarn, it is usually assumed to be a round cake. It is not described as being made of seeds, however, and so its appearance would not match the round seedcakes previously described. What it was made of, I am not sure, though.

Other cakes:
There are various other cakes I don't have the name of, am unsure of when it comes to the name, of of which I just have very little detail:
  • Cone-shaped loafs or cake that had a rich sauce inside, composed of honey with ground raisins and almonds.
  • A cake that may have been called 'nastos'. The comic cult calendar in Aristophanes' Birds prescribes a honeyed nastos as sacrifice to the cormorant. In Attic cult Zeus the Farmer receives a nastos made from a full choinix of flour, as does the Asiatic god Men.
  • The melipekton and melitoutta, names meaning ‘curdled honey’ and ‘tasting of honey’, cakes of which nothing is known apart from their names.
  • The oinoutta, whose main ingredients are wine and cheese.
Yesterday at dusk, the Athenian festival of the Delphinia (Δελφίνια) started. What is known about this festival is that virgin girls walked to the Delphinion (Δελφίνιον) atop the Acropolis in procession, carrying olive branches bound with wool (known as 'iketiria') and baked cakes known as Popana, made of soft cheese and flower. There is overwhelming evidence that the festival was held on the sixth of the month of Mounukhion, most notably from Plutarch, but the seventh of same month is also considered a possible date, quite possibly because the festivities could have taken place in the daylight hours of the sixth day, which is the same day as the start of the seventh of the month, as dusk rained in a new day. To celebrate this festival, Elaion is hosting a PAT ritual at 10 a.m. EDT today. Will you be joining us?

The Delphinia is a festival to ask for the protection of all ships and sailors, to ask for guidance for young boys and girls transitioning into adulthood and--as a festival of purification--the Delphinia can be interpreted to be open to all who are going through a time of transition and/or struggle.

Plutarch connects the sixth of the month Mounukhion to Apollon and Theseus--most importantly to Theseus' quest for the Minotaur--in his 'Life of Theseus'. Theseus vows to look over those the lots choose to be offered to the Minotaur in the maze on Krete. Roughly in the month of Mounukhion, the seafaring season started. It's therefor not odd that lots would have been cast about this time, for the youths--and everyone else with business across the sea--would set sail as soon as the weather allowed. The rising of the Pleiades, located in the constellation of Taurus, around late April, the beginning of May, was a signal for the boldest of sea-goers that the treacherous sea was at least moderately accessible. Still, it would be at least several months before the favoured seafaring season started, so anyone braving the sea, could probably use some protection. Somewhere shortly after the Delphinia would have been Theseus' first opportunity to sail to Krete, but it would place his return almost five months later; quite some time for a three day journey (one way) in favourable conditions.

During the Delphinia, young maidens presented Apollon Delphinion, and perhaps Artemis Delphinia, with the iketiria Theseus had presented them with as well, in the hopes of receiving for the Athenians the same guidance and protection at sea as the Kretan colonists, as well as Theseus and the youths, had gotten.

A connection can also be made with Theseus visiting the shrine of Apollon Delphinios as an opportunity for purification before his great quest, as the young supplicants who prepared for their personal collective journeys into adulthood would desire purification of their own, and Apollon in many of his epithets is a purifier. Also, in a little less than a month, the Thargelia took place in Delos, an event where the births of Artemis, and especially Apollon were celebrated. The rites at the Delphinia might have been part of the purification processes for those who were to go to Delos (with thanks to Daphne Lykeia for this interpretation).

As a festival of purification, the Delphinia can be interpreted to be open to all who are going through a time of transition and/or struggle. A divine purification of miasma might allow you to focus better on these issues, and receive guidance from the Theoi more easily--like Theseus, who purified himself at the Delphinion and prayed for the guidance of Aphrodite directly thereafter. Aphrodite made Ariadne fall for him, saving his life and those of the young men and women in the process.

One can celebrate this day by offering both Apollon and Artemis hymns, libations, and Popana cakes, and presenting Artemis with an iketiria, an olive branch wrapped with white wool, if you are a young female looking for aid. An iketiria was primarily used in rites of supplication.

The popana (or popanon) should be a flat cake with a single 'knob' in the center. We don't have a surviving recipe, but Cato's recipes for 'libum' seems to hold many of the same ingredients. It goes as follows:

"'Make libum by this method. Break up two pounds of cheese well in a mortar. When they will have been well broken up, put in a pound of wheat flour or, if you wish it to be more delicate, half a pound of fine flour and mix it well together with the cheese. Add one egg ...and mix together well. Then make into bread, places leaves beneath, and cook slowly on a hot hearth under an earthen pot."

That's a lot of Popana. make this if you're with a large group, else the recipe would look something like this for something the size of a good loaf of bread or its equivalent in smaller portions:

- 14 ounces good ricotta or any fresh cheese, preferably unpasteurized (ricotta should always be drained overnight in a colander)
- 4 ounces (approx) flour, preferably farro
- 1 large egg
- a pinch of salt
- several bay leaves, preferably fresh
- olive oil, for the pan

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.

You can either make large cakes or small ones. If you're making large ones, line a baking pan or sheet with bay leaves and brush them lightly with olive oil. If you don't have enough leaves to cover the surface, distribute the leaves as best you can. If you are going to make smaller cakes, brush one leaf with oil for each cake you are going to make.

Knead all the ingredients (except the bay leaves) until well blended. Add flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Shape the dough into a single, or several smaller cakes. Place either the large cake on top of the bay leaves, or put each little one on top of one. Then put it in a baking pan and into the oven.

Bake for about 30 minutes for a large cake, or (much) less long for smaller cakes. Just watch them until they are firm and light golden brown. Don't forget to enjoy it yourself!
Did you know there was a constellation called 'the triangle'? And that the ancient Hellenes were aware of it, too? Triangulum is a small constellation in the northern sky. It was one of the 48 constellations listed by the second century astronomer Ptolemy, and so named for its three brightest stars, which form a long and narrow triangle. The Ancient Hellenes called Triangulum 'Deltoton' (Δελτωτόν), after the upper-case letter delta (Δ). Hellenic astronomers such as Hipparchos and Ptolemy called it Trigonon (Τρίγωνον).

There is not a lot of mythology connected to this tiny constellation, but the lore that it has is quite important. Hyginus, in his 'Astronomica' explains the options:

"This constellation, which has three angles like the Greek letter Delta, is so named for that reason.
Mercury [Hermes] is thought to have placed it above the head of Aries, so that the dimness of Aries might be marked by its brightness, wherever it should be, and that it should form the first letter in the name of Jove [Zeus] (in Greek, Dis).
Some have said that it pictures the position of Egypt; others, that of Aethiopa and Egypt where the Nile marks their boundaries. Still others think that Sicily is pictured there.
Others, say that three angles were put there because the gods divided the universe into three parts." [II.19]

The latter is the only one that might need some explaining. Zeus, the greatest of the Olympian Gods, and the father of Gods and men, was a son of Kronos and Rhea, a brother of Poseidon, Hades, Hestia, Demeter, Hera. When Zeus and His brothers drew lots for the rule of the world, Poseidon obtained the sea, Hades the lower world, and Zeus the heavens and the upper regions, but the earth belonged to them all. To quote the 'Iliad' by Hómēros:

"Poseidon was very angry and said, "Great heavens! strong as Zeus may be, he has said more than he can do if he has threatened violence against me, who am of like honour with himself. We were three brothers whom Rhea bore to Kronos--Zeus, myself, and Hades who rules the world below. Heaven and earth were divided into three parts, and each of us was to have an equal share. When we cast lots, it fell to me to have my dwelling in the sea for evermore; Hades took the darkness of the realms under the earth, while air and sky and clouds were the portion that fell to Zeus; but earth and great Olympus are the common property of all." [XV.187]

The constellation Triangulum is visible at latitudes between +90° and −60°, and best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of December.
In a study published in the journal Applied Optics, Rosa Weigand, professor of the department of optics of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM), and a team of researchers have attempted to reproduce the lighting conditions that occurred in this ancient Greek temple more than 2,000 years ago, using samples of the two types of marble that were used in the roof, thus reports the Archaeological News Network.

With a height of twelve metres and built from ivory and gold overlaid on a wooden frame, the statue of Zeus was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Located in the interior of a temple at Olympia in ancient Greece, it was crafted in the year 432 BC by the sculptor Pheidias.

Despite its large size, and the darkness of the temple, which had neither windows nor a door of great size, various classical sources describe the eyes and the hair of the god in detail, which would indicate some type of lighting by natural means. This natural lighting was sufficient for the statue to be perceived by any person when entering the temple, once their eyesight had become accustomed to the darkness.
According to Paul A. Garcia, co-author of the study and project collaborator from the Institute of Languages and Cultures of the Mediterranean and the Middle East (CSIC), whose doctoral dissertation is the basis of the research, the best light is transmitted by the Pentelic marble rather than the marble from Paros. This property of the marble could be one of the reasons that led the Greeks to replace the original material of the temple, brought from the island of Paros, with plates of Pentelic marble, although, as the authors say, this could also have been due to economic or commercial issues.
Jose Jacobo Storch of Grace, Professor of the Faculty of Geography and History of the UCM and director of the study says the researchers first became interested in the phenomenon because of the frequent descriptions of the hair and eyes:
"The reason that made us consider the lighting from the roof is that ancient sources place great emphasis on the eyes and hair when describing the Zeus of Olympia. The results [of our tests] reveal a high transmission area in the yellow-red end of the spectrum, which is suitable for illuminating an object made of ivory and gold."
In order to reach these conclusions, the researchers--among which are also experts from the Institute of optics of the CSIC--used a light meter, which estimated the transmittance (amount of light that passes through a body) of the samples, and a spectrophotometer, to measure the resulting spectrum and see what wavelengths are more efficient.
Unfortunately nothing remains of the sculpture today, except for representations on ancient coins and paintings on ceramics, in addition to detailed literary descriptions. Following the destruction of the temple in Olympia after several earthquakes, the statue moved to Constantinople (now Istanbul) where it was destroyed by fire in the year 475 A.D.
Members of Pandora's Kharis have come together to raise $65,- for Naoto Matsumura. He is known as the ‘guardian of Fukushima’s animals’ because of the work he does to feed the animals left behind by people in their rush to evacuate the government’s 12.5-mile exclusion zone. He is aware of the radiation he is subject to on a daily basis, but says that he “refuses to worry about it.” With our donation, Matsumura will be able to continue his good work and save many animals in need.

Because the donation needs to be made through bank transfer, it will take a while to transfer the funds, but you will be updated accordingly. 

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. Well, that did not happen this time, and then there was the new recap for Atlantis so... you're getting it a few days later. Same with the Pandora's Kharis donation. Sorry about that!

Changes to the blog:


Anything else?
Pandora's Kharis, a charity circle for and by Hellenistic Polytheists has selected Naoto Matsumura as its cause for Elaphebolion 2015. If you want to donate, you have until tomorrow! Join us on Facebook if you would like to pitch a cause for next month!

If you're 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 month!
So, last week our heroes got into quite the jam: the Oracle was killed by Medusa in exchange for the return her regular hairdo, the Oracle's helper/priest of Poseidon, Melas, has been on Pasiphaê's side all the time, and he managed to get Jason convicted for the murder of the Oracle. I guess that means the wedding is off for now.

Hercules is heading to Medusa and the cottage he told her to go to. She's there, sobbing in a corner. She feels guilty, and so very scared: she killed the Oracle and now she has cursed herself forever. Back in Atlantis, someone else is feeling the het: Jason will be killed by the Bronze Bull in two days time. He'll be killed as a traitor to Atlantis.

It seems Melas didn't work for Pasiphaê out of his own free will: they have the new Oracle of Poseidon, Cassandra, who is like a daughter to him, and his responsibility. Pasiphaê and Medea know very well that Melas will do everything in his power to keep Cassandra safe. Melas does, however, try to save Jason's life by pleading with Pasiphaê to spare the boy. Pasiphaê says she can't and won't spare him. He'll eventually be a threat and she can't risk his future interference, even if he is her son. Cassandra will be released to Melas when Pasiphaê is on the throne, and for that to happen, Jason needs to die. It's as simple as that.

Hercules returns to the oikos and finds Pythagoras up and awake. Pythagoras wonders where he's been and Hercules lies. They should get some sleep, Pythagoras says. Tomorrow they will be seeing Ariadne: she has finally granted their request for an audience.

Speaking of which, Ariadne is playing to Poseidon, and Melas watches her pray. She is there to ask for clemency for Jason, but Melas knows he can't. He turns her request down, but it pains him. He tells Ariadne that he isn't her enemy and that they can't question the will of the Gods. Problem is: Ariadne knows that Jason's death is not the will of the Gods but the will of men. She just can't prove it.

In the morning, Pythagoras and Hercules petition Ariadne for clemency for Jason... which she can't give. Without Medusa's testimony that she killed the Oracle, there is nothing Ariadne can do. She turns them down. The boys are shocked--and rightfully so Everyone is trapped in their roles.

Jason is shattered. He wonders if it was all a lie, if Ariadne ever did love him if she can send him to his death as easily as this. When Pythagoras and Hercules are alone, Hercules confesses he knows where Medusa is, but he refuses to offer her up in exchange for Jason's life. He needs there to be another way--but Pythagoras says there isn't one. And so Hercules goes to fetch Medusa... who is still faithfully waiting at the cabin.

Medusa says she will earn Hercules love again--which he says she already has. She will do better, make amends. Hercules brought flowers and a guilty conscience. She says she's the luckiest woman alive for having found Hercules and Hercules can't make himself take her to Atlantis. Instead, he watches her sleep peacefully while time runs out.

Jason tried to get an audience with Ariadne through Delmos, who reluctantly agrees to ask her. Melas and Ariadne are busy, however--preparing the Bull for the sacrifice. Cilix says she is doing the right thing, and she agrees--but it's obviously killing her. She refuses Jason's request for an audience when Delmos asks her. She bows to the will of the Gods.

In the morning, Hercules flat out lies to Medusa about the people's views of her--he tells her that they blame Pasiphaê for the Oracle's death--and leaves to either go on a foolish rescue attempt of his friend, or his execution. Or, you know, a bar. He gets shit drunk and then gets himself (and Critias, the guy who cheated him at gambling ages ago) locked up in jail.

It seems Critias is in on it--whatever 'it' is. They break out of their jail cell, grab the guard's sword, and Hercules sends Critias off to save him. Then, Hercules sets the prison on fire and takes out the guards in the fog. He frees Jason--who grabs a sword and follows Hercules through the castle. they run into a few guards, and then a few more, and then the entire platoon.

Delmos summons Pythagoras to tell him that now both Jason and Hercules will be sacrificed through the Bronze Bull, and Pythagoras can't say goodbye to either of them because they are being purified. Pythagoras walks out and eyes the Bull as he goes. He's shell-shocked.

In the cell, Hercules says it's all his fault and Jason forgives him. He's been a good, loyal friend. When they walk to the temple of Poseidon to make peace with him, Ariadne watches them. For a moment it looks like Jason will act out, but he submits to Melas and the will of the Gods. Ariadne is barely keeping it together but she is doing as she must: be a good queen and servant of Poseidon. She does, however, leave. Instead, she stares at the Bull, knowing what will happen soon.

Another person who is barely keeping it together is Pythagoras, who all but thrashes the oikos in his sorrow. When there is a knock on the door, he opens it to find a note. He rushes out and to the cells, where he finds a few guards unconscious. He enters. Meanwhile, Delmos frees Hercules and Jason--because sometimes even the Gods need some help--and sends them on their way with clothes and provisions. Another guard helps them descend down the wall. Pythagoras is there with swords and they run. They'll meet up at the sacred grove of Artemis, because Pythagoras has to lead the guards onto a wild goose chase through the city.

Ariadne was in on the plan, by the way. Delmos informs her the plan worked. Ariadne is ecstatic, but they both know it's far from over. The guards are going to sweep the street and they are appearing to do all they can to apprehend the fugitives. Cilix, meanwhile, brings Pasiphaê up to speed, and she is not fooled for a minute by this 'escape'. She knows Ariadne orchestrated it, and she is going to use it to dethrone her. Medea is worried but Pasiphaê isn't concerned. She has a plan now.

Cilix summons Melas for a walk. He all but orders Melas to tell the people of Atlantis that Poseidon is angry with the escape. That way there will be panic and Ariadne's position will weaken. Melas is shocked, but with Cassandra in their hold...

Out in the forest, Jason wakes Hercules. There are men in the forest--Delmos' men. Hercules questions Pythagoras loyalty but Jason refuses to budge: Pythagoras told them to wait, and so they will wait.

Melas has meanwhile received a 'negative' oracle from the Gods--and Ariadne knows that he's betrayed them. Ariadne and Delmos strategize, but they have very little wiggle room. Cilix is talking to the Counsel, who believe his story about angry Gods and runaway blasphemers. Delmos tries to lessen Cilix's story, but well... all mortals are afraid of Poseidon. And when Cilix says the people think Ariadne helped Jason and Hercules escape, the counsel is hesitant. Cilix is a smart man: he tries to get her to re-swear her oath to Poseidon on the Golden Bull, but she refuses. She tips her hand and gives Cilix exactly what he needs. with Melas in his back pocket, he can arrest Ariadne for blasphemy.

Delmos immediately sends a messenger to Pythagoras with the news and the request to tell Jason. The only way to save Ariadne from going into the Bronze Bull is to turn themselves in. Pasiphaê played her game well: Ariadne is Jason's weakness, just like he is hers. they would die for one another, and with a little bit of 'luck', they will now die together.

Pythagoras makes it out of the city with great difficulty. He catches up to the boys and tells them what has happened. As predicted, Jason wants to go back, but Pythagoras knows there is another way: Medusa. She can save them all--except herself.

Delmos, meanwhile, has been tortured and beaten, and thrown in jail with Ariadne. He's still loyal and he would till do anything to protect his queen. I really, really like that man. Cilix is now in control of the army.

Hercules tells Medusa what has happened, and she immediately wants to return to Atlantis and make this right. Hercules wonders how the Gods can let this happen, but Medusa knows that as soon as she opened the box that gave her her snake hair, her fate was sealed. She's brave for the both of them and I can't say I am not a little pissed off at the world for letting it come down to this.

Atlantis is deserted--no, not deserted, under martial law. Everyone is in their houses, the only ones in the street are guards. Jason, Hercules, Pythagoras, and Medusa make their way to the palace just in time to catch a shocking sight. Standing on the steps to address the soldiers is not Cilix--it's Pasiphaê. She has reclaimed the throne, and all the guards follow her. She's won.

Next on Atlantis: Daidalos is back, Medusa has a plan to save Ariadne--if the boys will trust her--and Pandora's Box is a big part of that plan. Next week on BBC One, recap on Monday.
Remember when I told you about the mystery of incuse coins? It goes as follows: how did the ancient Hellenes mint coins which shows the same image on the front and back, but with the image on the back sunk into the metal so that it appears as a negative or incuse version of the front? Researchers at Macquarie University's Australian Centre for Ancient Numismatic Studies (ACANS) have joined forces with scientists from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), on a joint research program to solve a twenty-five century-old mystery behind the technology, and there are results to report.

The Metapontum Coinage Project jointly undertaken by the Australian Centre
for Ancient Numismatic Studies and ANSTO [Credit: Chris Stacey]

The Numismatic Centre provided scientists at ANSTO with 34 Ancient Greek coins, consisting of 30 incuse coins from four different cities (Metapontum, Kroton, Taras and Caulonia) and four non-incuse coins dated from the 6th to the 4th century BC for investigation. In addition four other non-incuse silver coins were studied that are dated from medieval times and are originated from different regions of the non-Greek world.

The selected coins were studied by using three different neutron analysis techniques. All the coins were studied by crystallographic texture analysis using the Kowari instrument; twelve coins were imaged with neutron tomography using the Dingo instrument, and two coins compared by neutron powder diffraction using the Echidna instrument, thus reports the Archaeology News Network.

The wide range of coins studied enabled a qualitative comparison of the incuse coins against similar incuse silver coins of the same period from different cities, silver non-incuse coins of the same period and silver non-incuse coins of later periods. The incuse coins or non-incuse coins (e.g. a medieval silver penny) can reveal similarities or differences in texture pattern suggesting similarities or differences in the mechanical processes used to produce them.

The KOWARI data demonstrated that all incuse coins of the same kind were very similar in their texture characteristics and depicted a distinct pattern (symmetry and parameters of distribution) that is characteristic of a forging process. Temperature is an important parameter of any metal deformation processes because it can cause the grain atomic lattices to realign themselves differently.

A graphical representation of the orientation distribution of the crystallites is known as a pole figure and it can be measured in the texture experiment. When metals are worked by forging or hammering, these actions cause the atomic lattices of the metal grains to realign themselves, producing a characteristic pattern of grain orientations that we call texture, which can be experimentally studied. The physical conditions of the coinage process, temperature, amount of plastic deformation and heat treatment can be forensically reconstructed since the texture patterns are preserved in the metal.

The pole figure for a silver Greek coin from the 4th century BC showed a texture pattern with weaker features that is characteristic of deformation caused by high temperature. Coins from Naxos, which were minted at the same time, demonstrated a very different texture that indicated far less forging but rather casting or metalworking at a temperature close to the melting point of silver.
Today I would like to share two questions (and my answers) I got this week and which are related to each other in spirit. They both refer to the influence the Theoi have on the world, even though the spheres of influence differ.

"Yesterday I watched the film 'Agora' for the third time, I'm asking myself- what happened that the gods allowed for things so unbelievable to happen? For their sacred statues to be broken to pieces, their temples profaned, their followers persecuted and the wisdom that the Hellenists built up over more than nine hundred years treated in the way they were ... Why did they let those things happen, or did they? It's probably hubris to think that, but I'm just a little confused. Please, tell me what you think?"
You ask a question to which I can only give a complicated and speculative answer. I think that answer is two-part: our Gods are not all-powerful, and Their sphere of influence ends where humanity wants it to end. By-and-large, religion is in the heart of its followers. I believe that is how the Gods were created--out of the stories of man, which shaped the Gods, who made stories of Their own--and I also believe that is how They had to let these atrocities happen.
Humans at their very core are weak. They are scared. They tend to like the path of least resistance. Hellenism (and similar for the Romans) offered a world with Gods whom you have to work to please, and when you pass, you pass into a land of eternal shadow. It was a bleak outlook and a lot of work for, well, very little guaranteed pay-off. And then came Christianity, which was... simple. It offered a great reward at the end of the line, and a smooth ride through life without much effort. Show up at mass, don't fuck up too badly throughout life (or ask forgiveness) and voila! Set up for all eternity. Long story short: people turned away from the ancient Gods and flocked under the banner of the new one.
That leads me to the first part: our Gods are not all-powerful. There are things even They can't stop. Zeus had to let his son Sarpedon die, many Gods let loved ones and beloved heroes die, in fact. Most had to do so because the mortal in question refused to listen to Their advice. I have no doubt that the Gods would have liked to interfere in the destruction of Their temples, in the prosecution of Their dwindling worshippers--but humanity as a whole had made its choice, and that choice was to move on, to abandon Them and go with the new God(s) in town. And so They let them. The Gods can't make anyone believe in Them.
What happened to the ancient temples--to the ancient religion--we let happen. For whatever reason, we let it happen and in our religion, it is us who need to come to the Gods. When we stopped coming, They did not--could not--force us to come back, and so They let us go. But they are not the type to hold grudges. They may have been disappointed, may have been angry, but they are immortal. We are coming back to Them now and They accept us with kharis. We do not have to make up for our religious ancestor's choices. We just have to worship the Theoi as best we can, and They will provide the same things they promised the ancient Hellenes: a good life if you are willing to work for it.
"I was a Hellenist for awhile but felt called to research and follow other paths since then. Now I'm feeling like the Theoi are calling me back to Their worship. Do you have any advice about what I should do to make amends for leaving off Their worship and be welcomed back into Their good graces? What about the miasma of not worshiping Them for so long? What specific steps do you think I should take?"
Thank you for coming to me with your question. I am happy to hear you feel called back to the Theoi.
This morning, I answered a question by another reader. It had to do with how the Gods could have allowed their temples to be destroyed and their worship to dwindle. I want to tell you what I told him: that what happened to the ancient temples--to the ancient religion--we let happen. For whatever reason, we let it happen and in our religion, it is us who need to come to the Gods. When we stopped coming, They did not--could not--force us to come back, and so They let us go. But they are not the type to hold grudges. They may have been disappointed, may have been angry, but they are immortal. We are coming back to Them now and They accept us with kharis. We do not have to make up for our religious ancestor's choices. We just have to worship the Theoi as best we can, and They will provide the same things they promised the ancient Hellenes: a good life if you are willing to work for it.
The same goes for a personal return to the Theoi. They let you go because you chose to take your break, and now you have decided to return, They will welcome you. I am sure you have seen that scene in the movies or television series where the rebellious youth joins the family he rejected at the start welcome him back with open arms near the end? I always feel coming back to faith is like that--or at least it should be. Come back with an open heart, an open mind, and an open smile. Recite the hymns with all the emotion and love you can muster. Perform katharmos, apply khernips, but mostly cast fear and doubt from your heart. Those emotions disrupt your ability to worship and that is the worst miasma of all.
The Gods will welcome you back just like they accept modern worship after being abandoned centuries ago. They want our worship--need our worship--and if you truly wish for Them to be in your life, They will be. If it makes you feel better, make a special sacrifice to proclaim your wish to return to Their worship. I dare say They haven't left your life, so don't worry too much about that. Kharis does not fade, it just gets put on hold when no longer desired. Reclaim it, be worthy of it, and the Theoi will gladly accept your sacrifices.
Enjoy your time with the Theoi, respect Them, and respect their worship. They will welcome you back with open arms.
The Minoan civilization was an Aegean Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Krete and flourished from approximately 2000 to 1450 BC. Although not Hellenic per se, the Minoans had a great influence on Hellenic society, as well as it's mythology.

As the article says: Krete has long been known as the subject of myth and legend. Fearing the wrath of her husband Kronos, who had devoured his other children, the Goddess Rhea secretly gave birth to Her son Zeus in the Dikteon Cave in the mountains of central Krete. It was back to Krete, too, that Zeus, in the form of a white bull, took the Phoenician woman Europa, where she became queen of the island and mother to King Minos. And for the Athenians of the Golden Age, their great hero and king, Theseus, also had a Kretan past, for it was on the island that he slew the Minotaur and escaped the prison of King Minos’ labyrinth. has a very interesting piece up on the discovery and subsequent research done on Minoan society and one of its major towns: 'Gournia'. The article focusses on how Harriet Boyd and her colleague Blanche Wheeler were brought to Gournia by a local farmer who was aware of a multitude of 'old things' to be found at the site.

Over several hours on May 19, 1901, Boyd collected a few potsherds and located the tops of several ancient walls, enough to convince her it was worth sending a team of workmen to the site the next morning. When she arrived at Gournia on the afternoon of the 20th, Boyd was astonished to see the men holding a bronze spear and sickle and numerous fragments of stone and pottery vessels, and clearing the threshold of a house and a well-paved road complete with a clay gutter. The following day Boyd returned with 51 workmen, and within three days, additional houses and roads had been uncovered, as well as more vases and bronze tools, making her certain that she had found what she was seeking—a Bronze Age settlement of what she called 'the best period of Cretan civilization'.

During three seasons ending in 1904, Boyd and her team, which averaged more than a hundred workmen along with a number of local girls whose job was to wash the finds, excavated the remains of an ancient town that had lain buried and unknown for nearly 3,500 years. Of all the sites in the prehistoric Aegean, Gournia gives the best idea of what a Minoan town looked like, which Harriet Boyd understood after just three years of working there. She wrote in her site publication:

“The chief archaeological value of Gournia is that it has given us a remarkably clear picture of the everyday circumstances, occupations, and ideals of the Aegean folk at the height of their true prosperity.”

The entire article is a very interesting read about the history of excavations and discoveries on the island. If you are interested in the Minoan culture, please head over to for a very interesting read.

Image: The well-preserved remains of the ancient Minoan town of Gournia in eastern Krete still stand after more than 3,500 years. Copyright: Chronis Papanikolopoulos.
Ever since Christos Pandion Panopoulos posted his piece on blood sacrifice in ancient Hellenic life, and bringing the practice back in modern times, it's been on my mind. I've been thinking about it at least once a day, trying to figure out my position.

By now I am quite certain that society is not ready for the practice to be brought back. Very few people are willing or able to see past the obvious thoughts of animal abuse, and view the practice in the spirit of holistic living. In the spirit of being one with nature, raising cattle specifically with the purpose of sacrificing, and then doing so in a well-trained and humane manner, with respect to the animal, the humans involved in the rite, and the Gods to whom the animal is sacrificed.

There is animal sacrifice in the modern world, but it's either tied to the Islam (which is problematic in this time of fear and phobia against the religion), or fringe religions like Voudon and... well... us. And those are problematic in their own right as they have a large amount of 'boogie boogie' according to the Regular Joe's of this world. But not even Christianity is safe when it comes to animal sacrifice. I read this news article a few days ago, about the St. Paul’s Church in Patra, the Peloponnese, and their Easter sacrifice of a lamb. In it, it reads:

"St. Paul’s Church in Patra, the Peloponnese, has its own Easter time-honored traditions. For starters, there is the ceremony of throwing red eggs to the faithful and offering a live lamb to a parish family after a draw. This year, the lamb in question stood in the parish courtyard throughout the church service. Miserable and evidently distraught the lamb was uneasy throughout the service, possibly understanding the fate that would befall it.
A group of animal rights activists decided that the time had come to put an end to the barbaric custom that has been observed for decades. Taking legal action against the church, they called for police intervention citing animal abuse. They were opposed to the church’s callous display of the suffering animal at the courtyard as a 'show' for the children who attended the Holy Saturday service and wondered what sort of principles the church was instilling in these young people by offering such an attraction."

Of course, the circumstances are different, but the basic premise remains the same: killing animals for a religious purpose is both shameful and outdated. So what does that say about any need we may have to bring the practice back? Should we give up on it because society is not ready or should we kick until society has been made ready? Is this the battle we should be fighting right now? Is this what our focus should be on?

Personally, I think we are not ready to revive the practice of animal sacrifice. We are small, scattered, and divided on many things. We have no set or standardized practice--and we even differ on the opinion if we need one. I think we have quite a lot of other things to sort out before we can form a united front that can declare--unambiguously--why we need to perform animal sacrifices to fully practice our religion, and set up rules, guidelines, and classes to make these a reality in a legal, responsible manner.

I think we can and should bring back the practice, but not now. Not yet. Perhaps in ten years or so, maybe twenty. Once we are secure, once we are more recognised, once we are done chipping away at ourselves from the inside out. Perhaps then we will be able to bring back something so very important to the ancient Hellenes and the Gods we love so much.
Would you like a job at the Herod Atticus Theatre and the Epidaurus theatre?

The Greek Festival is seeking cashiers and theatre ushers for summer season performances at the Irodion and Epidaurus theatres. Ticket booth cashiers need a high school diploma as well as experience in using computers (Windows XP, MS Office, Internet). They also need to have a good knowledge of English, whereas a second language would be desirable. Candidates need to be good communicators.

Ushers and ticket checkers at the site of the performance need to have college or university degrees. Previous experience will also be taken into account.Positions are available at Athens or Epidaurus theatres. To apply, fill in an application from the Greek Festival’s site.

CLICK HERE for cashier job in Athens | CLICK HERE for cashier job at Epidaurus | CLICK HERE for ticket entrance/usher job in Athens | CLICK HERE for ticket entrance/usher job at Epidaurus

Coastal guards arrested a man for antiquities smuggling
A small fortune lay hidden inside an unaccompanied parcel that travelled from Piraeus to the isle of Rhodes. The coastal guard’s suspicions were raised. They carefully observed the parcel and arrested the foreigner, aged 32, who went to pick it up.

Archaeologists are currently studying the contents of the package and are trying to date the artefacts as well as determine their origins. From the images released, the contents seem to be ancient Hellenic coins.
Today's topic for the 'Beginner's guide to Hellenismos' is sacrifice, the 'offering of food, objects or the lives of animals to a higher purpose, in particular divine beings, as an act of propitiation or worship'. It is one of the--if not the--cornerstones of the modern Hellenistic faith, and was most definitely the cornerstone of the ancient Hellenic faith.

A sacrifice to the Gods is a way of bonding, of kharis. It's a way of showing our devotion to the Gods and bringing Them, actively, into our homes and lives. It's a way of acknowledging Their greatness and recognizing our loyalty to Them. Practically, this means that whatever the sacrifice, it should be given with this kharis in mind. It should be given with love, dedication and with respect to the bond between immortal and mortal.

Kharis is an important word. It means everything from beauty to joy, delight, kindness, good will, grace, favour, benefit, boon, charm, attraction, appeal, elegance, gracefulness, pleasure, cheerfulness, wit, gratitude, thankfulness and gratification. It's the name of a Goddess as well; the Goddess of Grace and Beauty. When we give sacrifice, we give it freely, joyfully, with pleasure, out of respect and love for the Gods. We ask what we feel we need in prayer and never expect to be granted this request. Petitions aren't bribery. We give to the Gods and should They feel inclined to grand us our request, we thank Them by offering to Them again, to which the Gods might respond, to which we will sacrifice, and so on. This circular practice of voluntary giving is kharis.

Closely linked to sacrifice are the rituals they were conducted at, so we will discuss those as well. Ritual has a purpose: it is 'a stereotyped sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed in a sequestered place, and designed to influence preternatural entities or forces on behalf of the actors' goals and interests'. In short, it is a way to take oneself out of the every day world and into the sacred. There are five steps to proper, Hellenistic, ritual: procession, purification, hymns and prayers, sacrifice/offerings, prayers of supplication and thanks, usually followed by a feast and/or theatre and sporting events.

Sacrifice was and is the highlight of Hellenic ritual. In ancient Hellas, communal sacrifices almost always included animal sacrifice. Worshippers processed to the ritual site, consciously leaving the mundane behind. The scent of incense would have filled the air, and hymns would have been sung. The ritual that took place took the celebrants out of the regular world and the animals they brought with them stepped out with them. They cleansed themselves with lustral water (named khernips) and sprinkled the area and altar with it. The mood would have been tense: a death was about to occur and they were about to receive a huge boost of kharis from it. Hymns would have continued, building the tension. Water was dripped on the head of the animal, trying to get it to say 'yes' to being sacrificed and purifying it in the process.

All participants threw barley groats onto the animal, the ground and the altar to sow good fortune. The barley came from a single basket and by the time everyone had had a handful to throw, the ritual knife would have been displayed at the bottom of the basket. Meanwhile, libations would have been made in or around the fire. As Hellenics, we have two general types of libations at our disposal; a sponde (Σπονδή) or a khoe (χοαί). Both are poured sacrifices, libations, but the practice differs, as does the goal. A sponde is a libation given, partly, to the Deity or Deities offered to, and partly drunken by those given the libation. A general sponde is a measure of wine, oil, honey, milk or even water.

A sponde, no matter to whom, is poured in a specific manner. After the procession, cleansing, hymns and prayers, the Spondophoroi (Σπονδοφοροί), the vessel which holds the sponde, is held up in the right hand, and presented to the Gods. It is dedicated to the Deity or Deities who will receive it. Then, the Spondophoroi is transfered to the left hand and a sponde is poured to Hestia first, then to whomever the sponde was intended for.

A khoe is a type of libation which is reserved for Khthonic Theoi and other Underworld beings, like spirits or ghosts, as well as earth deities. It consists of a measure of honey, milk and dark-red wine. The major difference with the sponde is that in a khoe, the entire content is poured out; the practitioner drinks nothing of it, like with a holókaustos. A khou is poured from a khoi, a large vessel which is tipped over or slowly emptied while (most often) remaining in contact with the ground.

After the libation, the person who would kill the animal would have taken the knife and cut a lock of the animal's hair. Swiftly, the lock would be tossed into the fire as a warning of the impending sacrifice. The tension would have reached its height at this time and with a swift motion, the animal's throat would have been cut. All of its blood was collected and later dripped onto the fire or--in case of a smaller animal--dripped onto the fire directly. Women would scream, possibly to cover up the dying sounds of the animal, and then the tension would have most likely been broken and the ominous mood turned festive: while the entire animal belonged to the Gods, They saw fit to give much of it to Their followers for rare meat consumption. Then, Hestia receives the last sponde.

After the sacrifice, the meat was boiled or roasted and divided amongst the people celebrating. There were other dishes as well, which were eaten in a communal meal. Afterwards, depending on the festival, there would have been sporting events, or myths were recited. There could have been plays performed or any type of other entertainment until the festival was over. And the Theoi would have been invited to enjoy all of these activities as well.

Modern worship is organized somewhat the same way as ancient sacrifice was: we start with a procession (no matter how short) towards the altar, where we purify ourselves and the space around us with khernips. We also sow barley groats. This is not only a form of purification, it was the start of the process of kharis where the strewing of barley groats on and around the altar of the Theoi is like a spiritual sowing to reap the benefits of later (asked for through prayer later on in the rite). As such, the barley that we use is whole form, just like it is for actual sowing of the crop.

During the procession, songs are sung, and once purification is performed, a hymn is sung or proclaimed. Hymns are sung to please, to bring forth. It is a way to celebrate the deity in question, but also to make Him or Her more inclined to grant the following request. Hymns were accompanied with music and dancing; they were true celebrations in that regard. They are performed to proclaim existing kharis and built upon it by showing respect and knowledge of the lives of the Gods.

Prayers are next on the agenda. Prayers are attempts by men and women to communicate with Gods by means of the voice. A prayer is carefully formulated to convey a message as persuasively as possible to the God, and was thus often spoken. The idea is not to please, but to request. They make use of the established and just now strengthened kharis to petition the Gods for aid. Where the hymn is an offering to go along with material sacrifice, the prayer is not an offering at all. To soften the request, prayers are often accompanied by the sacrifice--the main event of the rite.

Modern worship rarely includes animal sacrifice, although meat sacrifices are more common. There were sacrifices in ancient Hellas that did not include the death of an animal, especially in later years. Some were just libations, other included the offering of (dried) fruits, called a 'pankarpia'. Another staple for a variety of festivals was the panspermia (a mixture of seeds and lentils). According to legend, as mentioned by Plutarch, this was the votive offering Theseus and his crew made to Apollo when they returned to Hellas on this day, for it was all that was left of their provisions.

First Fruit offerings were especially sacred. First Fruits were any fruit, vegetable, fish or hunted animal that was the first of the season. Just like the Theoi are granted the first portion of the sacrificed animal, the First Fruit sacrifice extended the same privilege with any other type of sacrificial type as well.

Especially for poorer families, it was acceptable to sacrifice a cake in the shape of an animal instead of animals themselves. When you read the ancient and scholarly texts having to do with ancient Hellas, you will often come upon references to 'honey cakes' or 'cakes' in general. We might be tempted to interpret these to mean modern day cakes, but the ancient Hellenes would have most likely used flat cracker-type 'cakes', made from barley meal and honey.

Sacrifice and ritual are important. Even more important is regular sacrifice and ritual. It maintains and builds the kharis that keeps safe and blessed not only us as worshippers but our loved ones as well. Learning how to conduct ritual properly and to ingrain these practices into your life are the most important lessons any Hellenist will ever learn, and mostly you will have to learn them on your own. We can base our practices off of the ways of the ancients, but household worship is intimate, personal, and routine. That routine you will find yourself, and it will change through the years. What matters most is that it follows the basic steps of ritual, and that it's conducted with the beauty and greatness of the Gods in mind.