Let's do another news round-up, shall we, as much has happened in and concerning Greece--and no, I am nto talking about the current economic situation, which is of course horrible. Today on the agenda: signs of second shipwreck found at Antikythera, the Kore of Thera will be on display as of next year, and the Acropolis Museum celebrates its sixth anniversary with antiquities from Samothrace.

Signs of second shipwreck found at Antikythera

The Archaeology News Network reports that the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, in collaboration with the American Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, has completed the digital underwater surveying and dimensional precision display of the Shipwreck of Antikythera.

Last year’s imprinting pinpointed the exact shipwreck site of the vessel that carried the Antikythera Mechanism. However, the proximity of other findings such as anchors and amphorae from the same era made archaeologists consider the possibility that there was a second cargo vessel that accompanied the original ship. Therefore it became imperative to map a wider area of 350X45 meters approximately.

Archaeologists now can put all the findings together and draw conclusions about the possible relationship between the two wreck positions. The detailed mapping creates a clearer picture of the relationship between the two sites, while the placement of the findings in the now imprinted area enhances the understanding of all the findings in the two positions.

Resources for the investigation/excavation were provided by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, American, European and Greek organizations, to meet the needs in qualified technical and scientific personnel. The Catherine Laskaridis Foundation contributed greatly by offering the vessel that was used as the basis of the research team.

The Ephorate of Underwater Activities and its partners will continue research at the end of the summer season. The Antikythera shipwreck research is conducted on a five-year plan. The mapping was done by a specialized team of the University of Sydney using the autonomous underwater vehicle Sirius.

Kore of Thera will be on display as of next year
A 2.3-meter-high archaic-era statue dubbed the 'Kore of Thera', which was found during excavations on Santorini 15 ago will be exhibited on the renowned holiday island’s archaeological museum next year, the culture ministry announced. Additionally, an agreement between the ministry and the island’s municipal government will fund excavation in the area of Medieval Kastelia. Thera is the ancient name of the island.

Acropolis Museum celebrates its sixth anniversary with antiquities from Samothrace
The Acropolis Museum is celebrating its sixth anniversary on June 20 with the inauguration of the temporary exhibition 'Samothrace. The mysteries of the great gods'. The exhibition, a cooperation of the Acropolis Museum and the Antiquity Ephorates of the prefectures of Rodopi and Evros and the expert of Samothrace antiquities Dimitris Matsas, will open for the public on June 20 and will run until September 30. The museum’s Board of Directors President, Dimitris Pandermalis, stressed in a Press Conference about the exhibition that:

“In our country we have the advantage that most of the exhibitions presented in museums can be related to archaeological sites and excavations. Moreover, the history of the discovery and preservation of antiquities enriches our knowledge and allow for a better interpretation of the exhibits”

The relationship between the ancient Hellenes and their Gods was well known and existed publicly in daily life. However, from very early times, mystery cults began to emerge that were accessible only to those who had been accepted into the rites following certain trials. The most famous ‘Mysteries’ in antiquity were those of Eleusis and Samothrace. The strict prohibition against insiders ever divulging the contents of the sacraments has not allowed much information to be gleaned about the ancient mysteries. Archaeological excavations in the Sanctuary at Samothrace, however, have brought to light buildings and paraphernalia belonging to the cult that allow us to form an impression of events.

“Insiders believed that by invoking the Great Gods they would be saved from any serious dangers at sea and, as members of the Mysteries, they would become more just and pious people. The rituals were held at night, the Sanctuary illuminated with torches, during which initiates had to participate in a purification ceremony, to confess their greatest sins, to attend the sacred narrative speech that included mythological stories, to wear the wide, purple sash around their waists and to witness the unveiling of sacred symbols."

As an introduction to the Mysteries of Samothrace, an assortment of finds has been selected from the site of Mikro Vouni, located a few kilometers southwest of the sanctuary, where excavations have revealed a settlement with an organized social structure of the 2nd millennium BC. Of particular importance are the Minoan stamp seals and seal impressions with representations of a double ax and fish, which have counterparts at Knossos. Perhaps the ancient tradition that gave rise to the Mysteries originated in prehistoric Crete and from there spread to other places, where it became the basis for subsequent historical developments.

The arrangement of the exhibition within the gallery is inspired by two circular constructions in the sanctuary. The first is the Theatral Circle with tiers for standing spectators, an altar in the center and pedestals around the periphery for statues from which survive many examples of bronze eyelashes. In this place was also discovered the golden lion of Persian origin, which once adorned a garment or object. For the content of the exhibition, please visit this article on The Archaeological News Network.
Thales of Miletus (Θαλῆς ὁ Μιλήσιος) was a pre-Socratic Hellenic philosopher and mathematician from Miletus in Asia Minor. According to Herodotus, Thales predicted the solar eclipse of May 28, 585 BC. Diogenes Laërtius quotes the chronicle of Apollodorus of Athens as saying that Thales died at the age of 78 during the 58th Olympiad (548–545 BC) and attributes his death to heat stroke while watching the games.

Thales' parents were Examyes and Cleobuline, and his family traced their line back to Kadmus, the mythological Phoenician prince of Tyre. Many, most notably Aristotle, regard him as the first philosopher in the Hellenic tradition. Thales attempted to explain natural phenomena without reference to mythology, and almost all of the other Pre-Socratic philosophers follow him in attempting to provide an explanation of ultimate substance, change, and the existence of the world without reference to mythology. He was not only a philosopher but also a businessman, and he also became involved in politics in his lifetime--like many of the Sages.

If Thales wrote down any ethical guidelines or other works of prose (a treaty entitle 'On the Solstice' and one entitled 'On the Equinox' are mentioned by other ancient writers), they have sadly been lost to us. Proclus acknowledged Thales as the discoverer of a number of specific theorems, both mathematical, geometric, and philosophical, and he is recognised as one of the--if not the--first mathematician.

Thales was esteemed in his times as an original thinker, and one who broke with tradition and not as one who conveyed existing mythologies. He never attributed organization or control of the cosmos to the Gods. Thales hypothized that water had the potentiality to change the myriad of things of which the universe is made, the botanical, physiological, meteorological and geological states--in fact, he proposed that the primary principle is water. He believed that the disk of the earth rests on water. Thales did not mention any of the Gods who were traditionally associated with the simple bodies; we do not hear of Okeanos or Gaea: we read of water and earth.

Thales has been credited with the discovery of five geometric theorems: (1) that a circle is bisected by its diameter, (2) that angles in a triangle opposite two sides of equal length are equal, (3) that opposite angles formed by intersecting straight lines are equal, (4) that the angle inscribed inside a semicircle is a right angle, and (5) that a triangle is determined if its base and the two angles at the base are given. His mathematical achievements are difficult to assess, however, because of the ancient practice of crediting particular discoveries to men with a general reputation for wisdom.
On the first of July, two days after the Skiraphoria, Elaion is organizing another PAT ritual. This time, the ritual is for the Dipolieia. The Dipolieia appears to have been a sacrifice on the altar of Zeuis Polieus on the Acropolis and not a public festival involving a procession or rites conducted in homes. It was for the administration of Athens. The Dipolieia, because of its association with the Bouphónia, has caused a great amount of ambiguity between scholars.

The Dipolieia (Διπολεῖα) has much contradictory evidence and differences of opinion on it's function and importance. It seems to have been primarily for Zeus. The Dipolieia appears not to be a festival involving the Polis as a whole but--like the Bouphónia that was held during it--purification was of great importance. I have written about the Bouphónia before; the post can be found here. In short, the odd ritual of the Bouphónia comes down to this:

"Every year on the fourteenth day of Skirophorion, from the time of Erechtheus (1397 - 1347 BC) to--at least--the second century AD, an odd ritual was reenacted. It was called the 'Bouphónia'  (βουφόνια), and was part of another festival; the 'Dipolieia', a feast in honor of Zeus Polieus (Zeus of the City).
On top of the Acropolis, oxen are released from the temple of Zeus Polieus. Outside lie cakes on a table, and the oxen are herded past them. Nearby, two women with bowls of water in their hands and a man who is sharpening an axe and knife watch. One of the oxen in line reaches for one of the cakes and devours it. One of the nearby men shouts at the ox, and rushes to the man who is sharpening his weapons. He grabs the double-bladed axe and with one big swing, ends the life of the ox. The Ox-Slayer drops the axe and flees the scene. The slain animal is sacrificed properly to Zeus Polieus. And a hunt begins for the murderer of Zeus' sacred ox. He is found and brought to trial. The blame is passed from the Ox-Slayer, to the man with the weapons, to the women with the water and eventually the weapons themselves. They are found guilt and tossed off of a cliff. The ox is stuffed and put out on the field, in front of a plough. 

[...] It seems to me that there is an underlying theme to this myth, and its subsequent festival: that an animal which is slaughtered by a man alone, is killed, yet an animal which is slaughtered by a group becomes a sacrifice. Everyone is 'to blame' for the death of the ox, simply by being there, and in order to break the circle, an inanimate object--which, obviously, cannot defend itself, thus the cycle cannot possibly continue--is chosen to bear the blame, thus taking it off of everyone else. "

The Bouphónia is an ancient ritual, archaic even in classical times. It's most likely best to simply celebrate the Dipolieia, and not the Bouphónia. So for this purpose, we inviteyou all to join us on 1 July at the regular 10 AM EDT to honour Zeus. The ritual can be found here and if you would like to discuss the PAT ritual with others, feel free to do so here.
Bryan Hill of Ancient Origins recently put up a very interesting article on ancient Hellenic theater and the monumental amphitheaters in honor of Dionysos. For the entire article, please visit the website linked above, but I want to post parts of the post here to wet your appitite, so to speak.

To the ancient Hellenes, theater was a form of entertainment taken very seriously. People would come from all across the Hellenic world to attend the popular theaters held in open air amphitheaters. In their glory days, some amphitheaters could hold crowds of up to 15,000 people, and some were so acoustically precise that a coin dropped at the center of the performance circle could be heard perfectly in the back row. The theater was a place where politics, religion, the human condition, popular figures, and legends were all discussed and performed with great enthusiasm. The origin of the dramatic arts in Greece would come in the 6th century BC, when the tyrant Pisistratus, who, at the time, ruled the city of Athens, established a series of public festivals. In the 6th century B.C. a priest of Dionysos, named Thespis, introduced a new element that is considered to be the birth of theater.

For a stage, the Greeks used the existing landscape around them. They found hillsides with large open spaces to construct stone amphitheaters with open sides and staggered rows of seats. Theater buildings were called 'theatrons' or 'seeing places' and consisted of three main elements: the orchestra, the skene, and the audience. The centerpiece of the theater, called the orchestra, was a large circular or rectangular area where the play, dance, religious rites and acting took place. The orchestra was placed on a level terrace at the base of a hill.  Adjacent to it were doorways for actors and chorus members called paodio. These were tall arches that opened onto the orchestra in which the performers entered.

Situated behind the orchestra was the skene: a large rectangular building used as a backstage. In the beginning, the skene was a tent or hut but later it became a permanent stone structure. Here, actors would change their costumes and masks and these structures were sometimes painted to serve as backdrops.Rising from the circle of the orchestra was the audience. Because of the theater’s close connection with religion, they were often located in or near sanctuaries.  For example, the Theater of Dionysos in Athens was situated in the sacred precinct of Dionysos at the foot of the Acropolis. 

One particular theater, built to honor the god Dionysos, was called Epidaurus. It was the greatest theater in the western world and is considered a feat of engineering by today’s standards. Fifty five semi-circular rows of seats were built into the hillside with such precision that the theater has perfect acoustics. Two and a half thousand years later, it is still in use and is the largest of the surviving Hellenic theaters.
For the second PAT ritual of the month, Elaion would like to present to you the rituals for the Skiraphoria. Yes, you read that right--rituals. The Skiraphoria was celebrated mainly by women, perhaps to contrast the Greater Dionysia celebrated mostly by men, but we have decided to create a separate ritual for men which excludes portions of the festival but does allow them to participate. It's the first rite we have ever made gender-specific but we think it's important to do so.

The Skiraphoria was celebrated over a three day period and we have few details about it. What we do know is that the Skira, or Skiraphoria--both are correct--is most likely a fertility festival, mostly of the earth so that a good harvest was ensured for the following year, which started a little more than half a month later. Demeter was certainly honored during the festival, as well as her daughter Kore, as the Goddess of spring growth. Yet, many other deities are tied to the harvest and the success of the nation in some way, especially in Athens from where most of the surviving material originated. There, Athena Skiras, Poseidon Pater, and Dionysos also had a role to play.

What we know of the rites is that a gathering left Athens on the day of the Skiraphoria, and another delegation left Eleusis. At Skiron, a precinct on the road to Eleusis, stood a sanctuary dedicated to Athena Skiras, Poseidon Pater, Demeter and Kore. Here, the two delegations met, and the priests and priestesses of all Theoi involved interacted in some way; Plutarch mentions that one of the three “sacred plowings” of the Athenians took place at this time. It is, perhaps, possible that at this time, the priestesses of Athena and the priests Poseidon made amends with the priestesses of Demeter and Kore--there was bad blood between them for, as Apollodorus reminds us:

"Athena, therefore, called the city Athens after herself, and Poseidon in hot anger flooded the Thriasian plain and laid Attica under the sea." [3.14.1]

The Thriasian plain is where Eleusis is located, and it would have been entirely flooded during this episode. Perhaps the Athenian deities ritually made amends for this during the Skiraphoria? Alternatively, or perhaps additionally, during the reign of Erechtheus in Athens, war broke out against the Eleusinians, who were assisted by Eumolpus, whose mother was Khione, daughter of Boreas, and whose father was said to be Poseidon Himself. Eumolpus attacked Ahens because, as he put it, that land belonged to his father. Could the rituals of the Skiraphoria be penance for this war as well, where Poseidon (and Athena) 'rode out' to meet Demeter and Kore in the middle for a rite that would settle their grievances?

The details of the procession to the Skiron and the subsequent ritual are largely lost to us. Although debated by certain scholars, it seems that those in the procession--or perhaps only the priests and priestesses--carried umbrella-type canopies over their heads which were of a bright white color. It is possible that this was only one large canopy per group, and it was held over the heads of the priests and priestesses by others in the procession. The canopy was or were called 'skiron' as well. Of the sanctuary itself, we know very little besides its location and deities. It is, however, said to have been the place where the first sowing took place, tying the Skiraphoria rituals back in with the purpose of fertility.

The Skiraphoria was celebrated over a three day period, but when this procession took place is unclear. To bring fertility, the women abstained from intercourse on these days, and to this end they ate garlic to keep the men away. We also know that during the Skiraphoria, offerings were thrown into the sacred caves of Demeter located in a cliff at Eleusis: cakes shaped like snakes and phalluses, and very real piglets. These became the Thesmoi--'things laid down'--that were removed in the Thesmophoria. The piglets were fertility symbols, but also related to the myth of Demeter, Persephone and Hades, because it is said that, when Hades opened a chasm to swallow up Persephone--the caves of Demeter--a swineherd called Eubouleus was grazing his pigs and they were swallowed up in the chasm as well.

For the men, there was a race in which they carried vine-branches from the sanctuary of Dionysos to the temple of Athena Skiras. The winner was given the Fivefold Cup, or 'pentaploa', containing wine, honey, cheese, some corn and olive oil. Only the winner was allowed to pour libations to Athena from the cup, and ask Her to bless these fruits of the season.

For these rites, we will honor Demeter, Kore, Athena, Poseidon, and Dionysos. The female version of the rite which includes Demeter and Kore as well as the Thesmoi, and that of the men has sacrifices to Poseidon, Athena, Dionysos, and Demeter. We also encourage the men to perform some sort of athletic feat afterwards to honour Athena.

The PAT ritual will take place on the 29th of June, at the usual 10 am EDT. The rituals can be found here for the women, and here for the men. We look forward to your participation and if you would like to discuss the rite or festival with others, feel free to join us on Facebook on the event page. We hope you will join us!
Protothema recently posted an article on a very interesting find: necrophobia caused Ancient Hellenes in Sicily to make sure that their dead were pinned down in their tombs. Lets explore that fear a little bit today, shall we?

According tot he article, the ancient Hellenes had a real fear of the dead rising from their graves to stalk the living. Passo Marinaro, the necropolis of a Hellenic colony in Sicily, used from the 5th through to the 3rd centuries BC, shows a number of tomb occupants forcibly pinned down to prevent them from rising. More than half of the 2,905 burials had various grave offerings such as terracotta vases, figurines and metal coins covering the individuals inside to prevent them from leaving the tomb.

Pittsburgh University archaeologist Carrie Sulosky Weaver referred to one tomb in particular that belonged to an individual of unknown sex who had experienced serious malnutrition and illness. The head and feet of the individual were covered completely in amphora fragments. According to Weaver in Popular Archeology:

“The heavy amphora fragments found in Tomb 653 were presumably intended to pin the individual to the grave and prevent it from seeing or rising.”

Another tomb, labelled 693, contained a child of unknown sex from around 8 to 13 years of age. There were no signs of disease on the body but five large stones were placed on the child’s body to keep it trapped within the tomb.

Necrophobia, or the fear of the dead, is a concept that has been present in Hellenic culture from the Neolithic period to the present, according to Weaver. She underlines that Katadesmoi – tablets with magic spells inscribed – were also found, suggesting that some inhabitants of Kamarina used incantations to raise the dead from their graves. Petitions on tablets were addressed to underworld dieties so that the spirits of the dead could fulfill the request of the person making the petition.

The ancient Hellenes also believed in ghosts; they were the people who could not find the entrance to the Underworld or who didn't have the money to pay Kharon for their passage. Those who were not properly buried were also doomed to wander the Earth for a hundred years. Interestingly enough, Hellenic heroes were also considered ghosts and were honored in the same type of rites as other types of ghosts. 

The Ancient Hellenes held festivals in honor of ghosts, and the Theoi that presided over them, so they would be sated and appeased and would not haunt them. Most of these festivals included a holókaustos and were solemn affairs, conducted at night and without an offering of wine. 

This fear of spirits and other supernatural entities was named 'deisidaimonia' (δεισιδαιμονία). The ceremonies of riddance were known to the Hellenes as apopompai (ἀποποπμαί), 'sendings away'. There isn't a single word in the English language that conveys the practice. Closest would be 'exorcism'. 

Becoming a ghost was not a good thing. While heroes like Hēraklēs, Theseus and Orpheus head into the Underworld and return from it alive, they never do so without a struggle and the fact that heroes were considered ghosts is food for thought. They have seen the Underworld and have not left the whole of it behind. Ghosts were feared and needed to be appeased, fed with blood to sustain them and/or warded off.

Weaver’s research is to be presented in her forthcoming book, titled “The Bioarchaeology of Classical Kamarina: Life and Death in Greek Citizen”, to be released in September by the University Press of Florida.
Today's topic for the 'Beginner's guide to Hellenismos' is geneology, and specifically the generations of Gods and how we relate to them in our modern worship. The ancient Hellenic philosophers and mythographers were in agreement that the Gods created the universe--or are the universe itself. There are many variations of the divine family tree, and in the ancient writings, there are also creation stories that range beyond this basic framework. When Hesiod wrote his Theogony, he was adament about the sequence the Gods appeared from Khaos. Within the nothingness, Khaos appeared, then Gaia as the earth Herself, the Tartaros and Eros. The Gods and Godesses who rule over the cycle of night and day followed after and then, slowly, the earth itself took shape. The pre-Olypic and Olympic deities came into being. the universe as we know it was born.

Roughly divided, all our Gods and heroes (who were often raised up to become Gods in their own right) fit into five generational categories. These are the:
  • Protogenoi
  • Uranides
  • Titanes
  • Olympic Gods
  • Heroes/deified mortals
The Protogenoi are the Gods from which the universe is made. They are Gods like Khaos, Gaia, Ouranos, and Nyx. In general, these Theoi are more abstract and less defined than, say, the Olympians. They are cruder, more powerful Gods who, together, form the tapistry of earth and life. We simply could not live without Them as They are the air we breath, the earth we walk on, the water we drink and the death that eventually lays us to rest. and yet, neither we, nor the ancient Hellenes revered them often. They are distant and hav very little to do with the individual's lifecycle.

The Uranides formed the world created by the Protogenoi into the world we know now. They are the children of the Protogenoi and They are in charge of  more specific domains. They give us the constellations, intellect, light, memory, navigation, and many other things without which we simply would not be able to live the life we live. Like the Protogenoi, these Gods make up the tapestry of the universe and did not recieve much direct worship in state festivals.

The Titanes are Gods with whom we are more familiar. They are Helios, Hekate, Lêtô, Selênê and many others. This is the first generation of Gods we are more familiar with by name than function--and also the first generation whose names don't always directly relate to the domains they are familiar with, although we know them through mythology. Lêtô, for example, is identified as the Goddess of motherhood and protectress of the young while we mostly know her as mother of Apollon and Artemis. These Gods often times--but not always--recieved individual worship and were sometimes included in state festivals. They feature in mythology and possess well-rounded personalities that we know (unlike, say, the Protogenoi).

We all know the Olympic Gods. They are the Gods we worship most. They are also the sole 'generation' of Gods who span two generations: they are the children of the Uranides (like the Titanes), and the children of the Olympians. Zeus and His brothers and sisters for example, were born from Rhea and Kronos (both Uranides), but Their children (Hēphaistos, Artemis, Apollon, etc.) are also counted amongst the Olympians. In general, if a Gods is said to reside on Mount Olympos, They are known as an Olympic God. Alternatively--or perhaps erroneously--the Olpmpic Gods are interpreted to be solely the Dodekatheon, the Twelve Olympians who ruled over humanity and the Gods from the top of the mountain. The most canonical version of the Dodekatheon is: Aphrodite, Apollon, Ares, Artemis, Athena, Demeter, Hēphaistos, Hera, Hermes, Hestia, Poseidon, and Zeus. Theoi who were held in high regard in a certain city-state would have held the thrones, according to the people who lived in that city-state, and many different Gods have been counted amongst the Dodekatheon over the centuries. Needless to say, most (state) worship in ancient times focussed on the Olympians.

The heroes of Hellenismos recieve(d) quite a bit of worship. Many heroes were local ones, but we have all heard of Hēraklēs, of Perseus and Theseus, of Atalanta and Odysseus. These heroes represent the most powerful, most virtuoes of all humans and teach us the qualities the Theoi enjoy seeing in us. Many of these heroes were fathered (and sometimes mothered) by the divine and they are thus part of the divine line. In fact, the heroes can be counted amongst the Olympians.

While the main body of our worship focusses on the Olympians, the Olympians did not come to power in a vacuum. The Old Gods presided over the building blocks of the previous generation, like the Olypmians preside over the building blocks of all three. Looking over the list, it's easy to trace the domains of the Olympians back to their predecessors--or even the God or Goddess They hold sway over directly. While the Olympian generation of Gods rule our daily lives, They operate in the framework of the Titans, the Uranides and the Protogenoi. These intricate lines built a web that is of vital importance to see in order to understand not only Hellenic mythology but also the Gods themselves.

Take, for example, light. Light allows us to see, the sun that provides it gives us heat and makes it possible to grow crops. Without light, there would be no life, so let's trace the concept of light through these generations:
  • Protogenoi: In Ancient Hellenic literature, Ouranos is the son and husband of Gaia. In some versions of geneology, Aether, God of Light is his father. He Himself is God of the sky.
  • Uranides: Hyperion is the God of light, father of Helios, son of Ouranos. Theia, Helios' mother, incidentally, is the Goddess of sight. It is interesting to note that the ancient Hellenes believed that light came from the eyes, so that the eyes allowed us to see what's in front of us. Sight.
  • Titanes: Helios is generally considered the God of the sun--either as the sun itself or as the driver of the chariot that guides the sun across the sky dome every day. Hyperion is His father.
  • Olympians: by Hellenistic times Apollon had become closely connected with the sun in cult. and in his epithet 'Phoibos' He became the shining one, the God to thank for the light.
  • Heroes: there are many heroes who were involved with the sun in some way to remind us of this fact. Take Phaëton, son of Helios, who attempted to drive his father's chariot but lost control and set the earth on fire.
Save for Apollon (but He is included because He was/is so often conflated with Helios), all of these Gods are related. Their domains are related. Their tasks become more focussed, specialized, specific, but all their domains are on the same tree--the same subject: light and all it does. It's also interesting to note that in some versions of genealogy, the Horae (seasons) are said to be the children of Helios.

We see this tracing of domains through the generations a lot in Hellenic mythology, if not in family line then in a system where abstract concepts are passed down to younger Gods in a more specialized version. For example, Uranides Iapetos (God of the mortal life-span) and His son Menoitios (God of violent anger and rash action), Titanes Pallas (God of warcraft and the Hellenic campaign season of late spring and early summer), and Olympians Ares and Athena were all involved with warfare, although the act became more and more defined through the generations.

When we pray for something in a specific domain, we often focus on the Olympians who rule over it. Logical, as They seem to have taken over these tasks from the older generations. Yet, there is value in looking beyond the Olympians on ocassion, if only to understand better how these domains influence our lives. This is why it is worth the effort investing time in genealogy.
A news roundup today as I am incredibly pressed for time. Lots happening in the world, after all!

Amazonian 'Wonder Woman' found on ancient Hellenic vase
The Archaeological News Network reports that an accidental archeological discovery on a small cylindrical vase dated between 480-450 BC in the University of Mississippi’s David M. Robinson Memorial Collection revealed a warrior woman on horseback who had previously gone unnoticed. The image, drawn on a cyindrical box with a lid used by women of antiquity to keep jewelry or cosmetics showed an image of a woman embroiled in battle against an Hellenic warrior. More intriguingly, the woman, much like the DC Comics heroine Wonder Woman, has a lariet, a lasso, that she is preparing to throw over the warrior as he crouches behind his shield.

Amazons depicted in battle are not unusual per se, however Stanford University’s Departments of Classics and History of Science Professor Adrienne Mayor says that it is the only ancient artistic image of an Amazon using a lariat in battle though historians have given us descriptions of the warrior women using these. She discovered the vase while researching her book, titled 'Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World'. Mayor says that ancient Hellenic women would have enjoyed scenes of Amazons getting the better of their male counterparts. She says that the illustration on the vase is both erotic and subversive.

Bonhams returns looted Hermes head to Greece
At the presentation of an ancient marble head depicting the god Hermes, returned to Greece on Monday from Bonhams auction house as the product of illegal antiquities smuggling, Alternate Culture Minister Nikos Xydakis said it was proof of what Greece's archaeological service could accomplish. The ancient marble head is a Roman copy of a major Classical-era Hellenic sculpture  by Alkamenes, originally housed in the south wing of the Acropolis Propylaea.

Xydakis went on to say that these actions are a reply to some of the exaggerated claims that the Greek government does not pursue stolen or auctioned antiquities. He noted that the case was unprecedented in that the artifact had not been on any of the archaeological service's lists and the evidence showing it was illegally exported had to be put together from scratch but was sufficiently strong as to convince the auction house.

The ancient marble head, about 24 cm high, was discovered among the works put up for auction by Bonhams and it was withdrawn after the culture ministry intervened. The minister stressed that Greece's efforts for the protection of its heritage were constant and in recent years had given the country considerable prestige and influence within international organisations. He also noted that changes during the EU presidency of the European Council had strengthened the EU legal framework for the return of stolen antiquities.

1-euro screenings at the Acropolis Museum
Every Saturday and every Sunday, the Acropolis Museum welcomes visitors to its Virtual Reality Theater where visitors have the opportunity to learn more about the Acropolis monuments from brief 3D video screenings. The ten-minute film “Acropolis in Antiquity” presents the topography and the monuments of the Rock of the Acropolis during the prehistoric, the Archaic and the classical period. The film aims to help visitors recreate and imagine the impressive sanctuary with the aid of 3D models.

Projections are held every Saturday and Sunday, at 11:00 a.m. in English and at 12 noon in Greek (1 euro special admission fee). For group reservations (more than 10 persons) a telephone booking is required on +30 210 9000903. Bookings can be made Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m..

Concert at Athens Panathinaiko Stadium to fund new Delos museum
The new archaeological museum of Delos will be 'built' through voices of Greek and foreign artists, during the grand performance of July 2 in the Panathinaiko Stadium. The concert is being organized by the International Foundation for Greece (IFG). Proceeds will be donated for the building of the new Delos Museum, the design and study of which has been undertaken by the aforementioned Foundation.

The stage will play host to the following: Eleftheria Arvanitaki, Dimitra Galani, Alexandra Gravas, El Q, Luz Casal, Marc Lavoine, Lavrentis Mahairitsas, Yorgos Mihail – Alexandros Iakovou, Panos Mouzourakis, Nana Moushouri, Maria Nazionale, Yorgos Dalaras, Lambert Wilson, Vasilis Papakonstantinou, Dimitra Papiou, Yorgos Perris, Nikos Portokaloglou, Alkistis Protopsalti, Marios Frangoulis, Yannis Haroulis and Yorgos Horafas.

The presenters of the fabulous concert will be Nikos Aliagas and Stephan Bern.
Chilon of Sparta was a Lacedaemonian--a Spartan--and one of the Seven Sages of ancient Hellas. Like his peers, Chilon flourished around the beginning of the 6th century BC.

Chilon brought greater strictness to Spartan training. As an ephor (c.556 B.C.) he strengthened the power of that position, and he introduced the custom of joining the ephors to the kings as their counselors, though Satyrus attributes this institution to Lycurgus.

The ephors (Ἔφορος) were leaders--overseers--of ancient Sparta who shared political power with the Spartan kings. Five ephors were elected annually, who 'swore on behalf of the city', while the kings swore for themselves. The institution may have arisen from the need for governors while the kings were leading armies in battle. The ephors were elected by the popular assembly, and all citizens were eligible for election. They were forbidden to be reelected. The ephors provided a balance for the two kings, who rarely cooperated with each other.

It is recorded that he composed verses in elegiac metre to the number of two hundred, which also included many of his ethical and philosophical sayings which were eventually recorded by Diogenes Laertius. His poetry has been lost to time.

"Do not speak evil of the dead."
"Honor old age."
"Prefer punishment to disgraceful gain; for the one is painful but once, but the other for one's whole life."
"Do not laugh at a person in misfortune."
"If one is strong be also merciful, so that one's neighbors may respect one rather than fear one."
"Learn how to regulate one's own house well."
"Do not let one's tongue outrun one's sense."
"Restrain anger."
"Do not dislike divination."
"Do not desire what is impossible."
"Do not make too much haste on one's road."
"Obey the laws."

Chilon is also credited with the change in Spartan policy leading to the development of the Peloponnesian League in the sixth century BC.The Peloponnesian League was an alliance in the Peloponnesus from the 6th to the 4th centuries BC. It is known mainly for being one of the two rivals in the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC).

By the end of the 7th century BC Sparta had become the most powerful city-state in the Peloponnese and Sparta continued to aggressively use a combination of foreign policy and military intervention to gain other allies, which eventually included all Peloponnesian states except Argos and Achaea. This was the Peloponnesian League.

Legend says that he died of joy in the arms of his son, who had just won a prize for boxing at the Olympic games, and that his funeral was attended by all the Greeks assembled at the festival.
This is it, the last constellation in the Constellation series. Of course, I will ahve a little bonus for you--a closer so to speak--but as for the actual contellations, Virgo is the last. Naturally, the ancient Hellenes, with their appreciation of beauty, associated thic contellation with beautiful women.

The ancient Hellenes associated Virgo with Demeter, Goddess of agriculture and the firtile earth. In her hand is a wheat of corn. Alternatively, she was sometimes identified as the virgin Goddess Astraia, holding the scales of justice in her hand as the constellation Libra.

A third interpretation for the source of Virgo is given to us by Latin author Gaius Julius Hyginus (64 BC – AD 17) is that of Ikários (Ἰκάριος), a grape farmer from Athens who was trained by Dionysos. Ikários is not to be confused with Íkaros from mythology, the son of Daidalos. This Ikários was such a fine winemaker that he could produce wine so strong, those who drank it appeared to be poisoned. His skill turned out to be his undoing; Íkaros was killed by those who drank his wine, thinking the wine maker was out to kill them. His daughter Erigone was taken to his body by the family hound, Maera, whereupon both she and the dog committed suicide by hanging. It may have been that Dionysos was so angry over the murder and the following suicides, He punished Athens by making all of the city's maidens commit suicide in the same way. Zeus, stricken by the events, placed all of them in the sky; Ikários as Boötes, Erigone as Virgo, and Maera as Canis Major, Canis Minor or the star, Procyon.

Another myth identifies Virgo as Erigone, the daughter of Icarius of Athens. Icarius, who had been favoured by Dionysus, was killed by his shepherds while they were intoxicated and Erigone hanged herself in grief; Dionysus placed the father and daughter in the stars as Boötes and Virgo respectively. You can read more about them here, in this post about the Anthesteria festival in which Icarius' death is commemorated.

As per husual Hyginus in his 'Astronomica' is our main source of information on this constelation. He writes:

"Hesiod calls her the daughter of Jove and Themis. Aratus says that she is thought to be daughter of Astraeus and Aurora, who lived at the time of the Golden Age of men and was their leader. On account of her carefulness and fairness she was called Justice, and at that time no foreign nations were attacked in war, nor did anyone sail over the seas, but they were wont to live their lives caring for their fields. But those born after their death began to be less observant of duty and more greedy, so that Justice associated more rarely with men. Finally the disease became so extreme that it was said the Brazen Race was born; then she could not endure more, and flew away to the stars.

Others call her Fortune - others, Ceres, and they dispute the more about her because her head is dimly seen. Some have called her Erigone, daughter of Icarus, whom we have spoken of before. Others call her a daughter of Apollo by Chrysothemis, an infant, named Parthenos. Because she died young she was put by Apollo among the constellations." [II.25]

Virgo is visible at latitudes between +80° and −80°, and best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of May.
Beginning at sundown on the 19th of June, the Kourotrophos (child nurturers) were honoured. Gaea, Artemis, Hekate, Aglauros and Pandrosos shall be sacrificed to. Elaion will be organizing another Practicing Apart Together ritual for this event in the daylight hours of the 20th (so today!). You can follow the event of Facebook here.

The Kourotrophos are (mostly) female deities who watched over growing children--Gaea, Artemis, Hekate, Eirênê, Aglauros and Pandrosos, especially. This specific offering is known from the demos Erchia, but duplicates similar offerings on the Acropolis of Athens.

In this ritual, we honor Gaea, Artemis, Hekate, Aglauros and Pandrosos. Artemis is named Kourotrophos by Diodorus Siculus, a Hellenic historian, in book five of his library:

"And Artemis, we are told, discovered how to effect the healing of young children and the foods which are suitable to the nature of babes, this being the reason why she is also called Kourotrophos." [5.73.5]

Hesiod, in his 'Theogony', explains why Hekate is Kourotrophos:

"So, then. albeit her mother's only child, she is honoured amongst all the deathless gods. And the son of Kronos made her a nurse of the young who after that day saw with their eyes the light of all-seeing Eos (Dawn). So from the beginning she is a nurse of the young (kourotrophos), and these are her honours." [404]

Aglauros and her sister Pandrosos seem to have been fertility deities in Athens. They were eventually regarded as daughter of the Athenian king Cecrops, however, and myth tells us the sisters were entrusted with the care for Erichthonios, hidden away in a basket. He was the son of Athena and Hēphaistos, who grew to term in the Earth (Gaea), and would later rule Athens as king. Aglauros had a sanctuary on the Acropolis in which young men of military age swore an oath to her as well as to Zeus and to other deities. Herse, sometimes regarded as a third sister, has no mention in these accounts.

Gaea, as a mother and raiser of many children, of course receives honors as well during the Kourotrophos. Pausanias, in his 'Description of Greece' says:

"There is also a sanctuary of Ge (Earth) Kourotrophe (Nurse of the Young) [at Athens], and of Demeter Khloe (Green). You can learn all about their names by conversing with the priests." [1.22.3]

We are also considering adding Eirene, as Euripides, in Bacchae says the following about Her:

"The god [Dionysos], the son of Zeus, delights in banquets, and loves Eirene (Peace), giver of riches (olbodotes), goddess who nourishes youths (thea kourotrophos). To the blessed and to the less fortunate, he gives an equal pleasure from wine that banishes grief." [420] 

As the ritual is quite lengthy, you can find the full version here.
With another successful donation run, we have raised $65,- for the fundraiser for the Bakcheion, raising the total to $741,-! Formed with the sole intent of hosting a Dionysian ritual at Many Gods West 2015, the Bakcheion includes members from all over the United States and the polytheist and pagan spectrums. The ritual will be held on the 1st of August at the conference hotel. The ritual will be open to registered participants and conference members. It will include a devotional performance, music and offerings in honour of Dionysos and His retinue.

I would like to thank you for your generosity, and for bringing the goal a little closer for the many volunteers working on this event. 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.
Archeologists excavating at the Athenian agora (marketplace) were shocked in the 1930s when they looked inside a well and found skeletons of hundreds of human infants intermingled with the bones of puppies and dogs. For years they were mystified, speculating on the mystery behind the bizarre discovery. Was it mass infanticide or a plague that caused the deaths?

Over the last two decades researchers are using technology to help them analyze the remains. Research published in Hesperia, an academic journal published by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, points out that the 450 dead infants and 150 dogs and puppies as well as one adult with some serious physical deformity were placed in the area between 165 and 150 BC at the end of the Hellenistic period following the conquests of Alexander the Great.

The majority of the deaths, researchers found, were due to natural consequences, not a result of a pandemic. All infants, except three, were less than a week old. A third died of bacterial meningitis, an infection of the brain caused by cutting the umbilical cord with an unsterile object. The other babies died from many other diseases common at the time.

In ancient Hellenic times, when a child was born, it was presented to the father, who had the right to refuse it as his own. In Sparta, the child was also presented to the Elders, who could refuse it, even if the father did not. If the child was refused--usually due to deformities which would prevent the child from performing his or her duties to the hearth--the child was left out in the woods as an offering to the Gods--or, it seems, dropped into a well.

Something that's important to understand is that children in ancient Hellas were born with a different sentiment than children are born these days. Children, now, are born out of love and a need of the parents to create something of 'theirs'. A child is precious, irreplaceable. We tend to have few children and place all our eggs in their basket(s). In ancient Hellas, families tended to be as large as possible. Children could help out around the house, the farm or with sustaining the family any other way but they also tended to die. Children were made for the hearth, not the other way around, and many children died in their infancy due to illness or malnourishment.

As for the dogs, in ancient times, a dog was often sacrificed to ensure katharmos--ritual purity. During the Deipnon, for example, a dog was sometimes taken in, touched by all members of the oikos so any lingering miasma was transfered to it and sacrificed in a holókaustos. This was most likely not a monthly thing, but only performed when the household was troubled. As Hekate's sacred animal is a dog, the sacrifice also served to regain, or keep, Hekate's favor upon the household. In relation to the sacrifices in the well, these dogs were most likely also sacrificed to ensure katharmos.

Further more, Hekate was both an ouranic and a kthonic Goddess and as such could carry these babies safely down to the Underworld--like she does for Persephone every year. Hekate is also a Kourotrophos; (mostly) female deities who watched over growing children--and especially boys. Other Goddesses who are part of the Kourotropos are: Gaea, Artemis, Eirene, Aglauros and Pandrosos.

Archeology Professor at the University of California, John Papadopoulos, says that few babies are found buried in graves in ancient Greece, more often they were buried under floor boards or city dumps. This finding, along with previous discoveries, builds a case that Greek babies weren’t considered full individuals until a special naming ceremony called the Dekate, held around ten days after birth. Poor families held the naming ceremony during the Amphidromia--at five or seven days--instead. Most of the children in the well never made it to that date.
Where did this month go? Seriously, where did this month go? It feels like barely a week since I typed up the last monthly update! Whew! Well, it's time for another one, I guess. A while ago, I decided that on the day of the Hene kai Nea, I'd post a monthly update about things that happened on the blog.

Changes to the blog:
  • This month, Pandora's Kharis raised a record breaking amount for CARE in order to help out the victims of the Nepal earthquakes: $1300,-. I am still so thankful of this major achievement! You can still donate to the fundraiser for the Bakcheion for another 24 hours! 
  • Last  month, Atlantis ended (RIP, Atlantis!) and the recaps have been completed. I will start tracking completed series in the box to the left, for clarity. This month, I suspect I will add the Constellation Series and the Labours Series to the list.
  • I did start up a new one, though, focussing on the Seven Sages of ancient Hellas.
Anything else?
Robert and I have taken to planning our PAT rituals ahead of time (yes, finally!) so during these updates I will tell you when and which we will host. For Skirophorion these will be: PAT ritual: sacrifice to Kourotrophos (20/06), PAT ritual for the Skiraphoria (29/06), and the PAT ritual for the Dipolieia (1/7). Rituals and Facebook announcements to follow.

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!
Protothema recently put up a short but interesting examination of the hit series 'Game of Thrones' in relation to ancient Hellenis mythology. Warning, spoilers for the latest episode (not many, but still)! Before I discuss a few of those, let me share this video that accompanied the post of the theme of the series redone with ancient instruments. I don't really watch Game of Thrones, but I like this!

Personally, I would say many modern shows--fantasy ones especially--borrow heavily from Hellenic mythology. Why? Becasue it's good storytelling. A huge portion of the ancient Hellenic heroes fit the 'Mythic hero archetype' after all. This archetype is a set of 22 common traits shared by many heroes in various cultures, myths and religions throughout history and around the world. The concept was first developed by FitzRoy Somerset, 4th Baron Raglan (Lord Raglan) in his 1936 book, The Hero, A Study in Tradition, Myth and Drama. Raglan argued that the higher the score, the more likely the figure is mythical. Otto Rank and Alan Dundes later elaborated on the list:
  1. Mother is a royal virgin
  2. Father is a king
  3. Father related to mother
  4. Unusual conception
  5. Hero reputed to be son of god
  6. Attempt to kill hero as an infant, often by father or maternal grandfather
  7. Hero spirited away as a child
  8. Reared by foster parents in a far country
  9. No details of childhood
  10. Returns or goes to future kingdom
  11. Is victor over king, giant, dragon or beast
  12. Marries a princess (often daughter of predecessor)
  13. Becomes king
  14. For a time he reigns uneventfully
  15. He prescribes laws
  16. Later loses favor with gods or his subjects
  17. Driven from throne and city
  18. Meets with mysterious death
  19. Often at the top of a hill
  20. His children, if any, do not succeed him [i.e., does not found a dynasty]
  21. His body is not buried
  22. Nonetheless has one or more holy sepulchers or tombs
Even without watching Game of Thrones for more than a hand full of episodes, I can tell a lot of these properties can be described to the male and female characters of this show. Many themes from Game of Thrones appeared first in Hellenic mythology and daily life. The sacrifice of a child to the Gods or the Powers that Be, colonialization, massive battles, virtuous heroes saving the girl (or boy), heroes traveling the world with a sidekick in tow...? All Hellenic themes as well. And Norse, and Egyptian, and many other religious mythologies. So the next time you watch Game of Thrones, imagine Perseus, Hēraklēs, and Atalanta traveling through Westeros and tell me they wouldn't fit right in.
Solon (Σόλων) was an Athenian statesman, lawmaker, and poet, who lived from 638 BC to 558 BC. His family was Athenia nobility although they only possessed moderate wealth. Solon's father was probably Execestides. Solon's lineage, therefore, could be traced back to Codrus, the last King of Athens. According to Diogenes Laërtius, he had a brother named Dropides who was an ancestor (six generations removed) of Plato.

Solon spent most of his adult life trying to legislate against political, economic, and moral decline in archaic Athens. His ideologies are often credited with having laid the foundations for Athenian democracy. As a statesman, Solon put principles before expediency. In a time when Athens was struggling under the burden of civil war, his reforms strove to bridge the gap between the rich an the poor. He cancelled all debts, and purchased the freedom of all slaves, allowing everyone to start with a clean slate. This caused a massive financial crisis, for which new reforms were necessary, including new trade ties, and an halt in the export of all foodstuffs but olive oil, of which there was plenty.

Solon's reforms created a system where the power was in the hands of the people, because instead of leaving justice to be administered by the aristocracy, Solon formed a 'boule' (a group of 500 men who were representatives of their tribes). Solon's reforms were substantial, and took a lot of power away from the aristocracy. They gave every free man the hope that they could hold office one day, if they worked hard to reach the upper class. For those without political aspirations, Solon's reforms provided judicial safety and a sense of power: no matter who you were, if you were an adult male citizen, your opinion counted, and you could influence the course of the city's political and social landscape. Obviously, Solon's reforms did not create a democracy, but they did lay the groundwork for further reforms, and they did so wisely, and with consent from the elite--at least for his lifetime.

Solon gave the following advice, as is recorded by Apollodorus in his Treatise on the Sects of Philosophers (as written down by Laértios):

"Consider your honour, as a gentleman, of more weight than an oath."
"Never speak falsely."
"Pay attention to matters of importance"
"Be not hasty in making friends; and do not cast off those whom you have made."
"Rule, after you have first learnt to submit to rule."
"Advise not what is most agreeable, but what is best."
"Make reason your guide."
"Do not associate with the wicked."
"Honour the gods."
"Respect your parents."

Pausanias, in his 'Description of Greece', lists Solon as one of the seven sages whose aphorisms adorned Apollo's temple in Delphi (XXIV), and so it is not odd that many of Solon's tenets have a Delphinian counterpart in the maxims. These are common themes, reflected in most of the ethical teachings listed above. Common themes are honor, honesty, intelligent decision making, and family. Coincidentally--or perhaps not so much--these are also at the base of arête.
It has been a while since I last talked to you about the Delphic Maxims, but while I will be referencing them today, I won't be talking about any one of them specifically. Today, I want to talk to you about the Seven (Ancient) Sages, or the Seven Wise Men--and introduce a new mini series.

The maxims are said to have been delivered by Apollon Himself to his Oracle at Delphi. They represent a honest, worthy way of living but are not to be taken as commandments. They are guidelines, forming a framework to life, without restraining the mortal soul. Once noted down, they were shared with any who would listen.

Instead (or in addition to) the Oracle of Delphi, the maxims are sometimes contributed to the Seven Sages or the Seven Wise Men (οἱ ἑπτὰ σοφοί, hoi hepta sophoi). This was the title given by ancient Hellenic tradition to seven early 6th century BC philosophers, statesmen and law-givers who were renowned in the following centuries for their wisdom. They are usually identified as: Solon of Athens, Chilon of Sparta, Thales of Miletus, Bias of Priene, Cleobulus of Lindos, Pittacus of Mitylene and Periander of Corinth.

Solon of Athens (Σόλων ὁ Ἀθηναῖος)
Solon was an Athenian statesman, lawmaker, and poet, who lived from 638 BC to 558 BC. He spent most of his adult life trying to legislate against political, economic, and moral decline in archaic Athens. His ideologies are often credited with having laid the foundations for Athenian democracy.

Chilon of Sparta (Χίλων or Χείλων)
Chilon was an early 6th century BC Lacedaemonian (Spartan). Like Solon, he was a politician and a reformer of the way the city-state was ran in the time he was alive. He was part of the Spartan assembly, became an ephor in the 6th Olympiad, and it is clamed that he introduced the system where kings took ephors as their counselors for their term. The ephors (Ἔφορος) were leaders of ancient Sparta and shared power with the Spartan kings. Five ephors were elected annually, who 'swore on behalf of the city', while the kings swore for themselves. Chilon is said to have helped to overthrow the tyranny at Sicyon, which became a Spartan ally. He is also credited with the change in Spartan policy leading to the development of the Peloponnesian League in the sixth century BC.

Thales of Miletus (Θαλῆς ὁ Μιλήσιος)
Thalēs was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher and mathematician from Miletus in Asia Minor. What made his philosophical musings uniue at the time was that he attempted to explain natural phenomena without reference to mythology. Of his time and of tyhe sages, he was often considered the most wise--which actually spared his life when he became a captive of war. Many commentators state that Thales was named as Sage because of the practical advice he gave to Miletus in particular, and to Ionia in general. Thalens is the only one of the Sages who did not leave behind a body of ethical sayings which can be attributed to him.

Bias of Priene (Βίας ὁ Πριηνεύς)
Bias, along with Thales, Pittacus, and Solon was one of the four men always named amongst the Sages. He was known for his goodness and was an advocate of many who had to appear in ancient Hellenic courts--very succesfully so.

Cleobulus of Lindos (Κλεόβουλος ὁ Λίνδος)
Cleobus (or Kleoboulos) was an ancient Lindosian poet and statesman. He was considered a tyrant but famed for his strength and beauty of person.

Pittacus of Mitylene (Πιττακός  Μυτιλήνη)
Pittacus was a Mytilenaean general who, with his army, was victorious in the battle against the Athenians and their commander Phrynon. As a result, he reigned over Mytilene for ten years before he resigned his position. As a ruler and lawmaker, many of his sayings were recorded.

Periander of Corinth (Περίανδρος ὁ Κόρινθος)
Periander was the Second Tyrant of the Cypselid dynasty that ruled over Corinth. Periander was said to be a patron of literature, who both wrote and appreciated early philosophy. Some scholars have argued that the ruler named Periander was a different person from the sage of the same name.

Four names have become canonical (Thales, Pittacus, Bias, Solon), but there were many candidates for the remaining three positions. Diogenes Laertius, the author of the entertaining Lives of the Philosophers, mentions several writers who had included lists of seven sages in their books on the history of Greek philosophy, like Dicaearchus of Messene (late fourth century), Maeandrius of Miletus (early third century), and three authors whose names are not mentioned. The candidates for inclusion include: Myson, Anacharsis, Pythagoras, Aristodemus, Pamphylus, Epimenides, Leophantes, Acusilaos, Scabras, Pherecydes, Lasus, Aristoxenus, Anaxagoras, Orpheus, Linus, and Epicharmus.

Unlike collections of sages from other (religious) traditions--like the saptarishi from Hindu tradition or the seven apkallū from Babylon--the ancient Hellenic Seven Sages were not (semi-)mythical. The only (semi-)mythical thing about them was their relation to Apollon and the involvement of the Delpic oracle in forming the Delphic Maxims.

Personally, I think these men bundled their own ideals and ideologies into a coherent ethical framework, but that does not negates Apollon's involvement at all, as He would be credited with their wisdom and inspiration--and rightfully so. And Delphi was a meeting place of many people--likeminded or not, especially for the Phyian games. These men could have come together there or anywhere else to discuss philosophy and ethics. They were all essentially practical men who played leading roles in the affairs of their respective states, and were far better known to the earlier GHellenes as lawgivers and statesmen than as profound thinkers and philosophers, althoughn their Maxims were picked up quickly.

The coming seven weeks, every Monday, I would like you to get to know these men better--and the ethical guidelines they brought into the Delphic Maxims. We will be starting tomorrow with Solon, a man who has been featured on this blog before for his wisdom and legistrative skill. See you tomorrow for part one of the Seven Sages Series.
With roughly 88 percent of the votes, the fundraiser for the Bakcheion has won out for Pandora's Kharis cause for Thargelia 2015. Bakcheion (Βακχεῖον) is a sacred guild honoring Dionysos Bakcheios, the God of ecstatic deliverance. Formed with the sole intent of hosting a Dionysian ritual at Many Gods West 2015, the Bakcheion includes members from all over the United States and the polytheist and pagan spectrums. The ritual will be held on the 1st of August at the conference hotel. The ritual will be open to registered participants and conference members. It will include a devotional performance, music and offerings in honour of Dionysos and His retinue.

This sacred act is dedicated to Dionysos with the intent of honoring and pleasing our beloved god. However, this ritual will also be an opportunity for pagan community members to come together in joint celebration; some, for the first time. Participants come from different backgrounds, but a majority are members of The Thiasos of the Starry Bull, making this the first live Thiasos ritual.

The Bakcheion consists of volunteers with members offering their services for free and out of their own pockets. As some relief, the organisation is calling for donations to help cover member travel expenses, accommodation and performance costs; including props and materials, libations /offerings and whatever other expenses. If donations exceed the asking amount--$3,270--it will be distributed back into supporting the polytheist community.

Apart from donating to the cause, spreading the word is of great value. The organisers are also offering unique, original designed t-shirts and apparel on CafePress with any revenue going towards the cause. If you want direct involvement, feel free to join them.

Donating to the Pandora's Kharis' fundraiser for this cause can be done by clicking the 'donate' button to the side of the Pandora's Kharis website, or by transferring the funds directly to baring.the.aegis@gmail.com with PayPal. The deadline to donate is 17 June. Thank you in advance!
Last night marked the start of the Plyntheria festival, whch means that any celebration at the address of Athena should be performed today, in the daylight hours. This minor festival was held solely in Athens and surrounding areas, and was in honor of Athena Polias, Protector of the city. It was considered an auspicious day by the ancient Hellenes, because on this day, they did not have the protection of Athena.

During the Plynteria, the wooden statue of Athena was disrobed of the peplos that She received during the Panathenaia by Her priestesses, veiled, and then taken down to the sea for a wash. Veiling a Theos' image from head to toe was considered apophras, unlucky, as it removed Their presence. You can read more about the history and practices surrounding this festival here.

There is another, smaller, festival connected to the Plynteria the Kallunteria, which was celebrated somewhere in the vicinity of the Plynthria. During this festival, the temple of Athena was swept out--the name of the festival means 'sweeping out' or 'to beautify by sweeping'--and cleaned thoroughly, so that the washed statue would have a clean home to return to. The lamp of Her eternal flame was also refilled and relit by the priestesses on this day. The lamp was a golden vessel, created in the late fifth century by Kallimachos, and was big enough to hold enough oil to burn day and night for the whole year.

Mikalson, in his 'The sacred and civil calendar of the Athenian year', stresses that the 24th is merely a estimation, and we, in fact, do not know when the festival was held. He assumes it could even have taken place after the Plynteria, and places the Kallunteria between the 24th and the 28th of the month, with the exception of the 25th, as that was the date of the Plyneria.

As modern practitioners, this day can be used for a spring cleaning of your altar and shrine to Athena. It can also serve as a day to clean all shrines. Covering all shrines is encouraged in reflection of the temples being closed on the 25th. If you have a statue of Athena, this is the time to wash it. Taking Her to the sea is best, but any source of running water will do, even the kitchen faucet. Clean Her peplos, if you have made one for Her, and restore Her to the shine around dusk. Sacrifice to Her, figs or fig cakes preferably. If you do not possess a statue of Athena, simply washing your temple space and offering to Her will suffice.

Because this is a festival that cannot be reconstructed to have any semblance with the ancient festival, there will be no PAT ritual. We do encourage you to enjoy your Kallunteria and Plynteria in the privacy of your own home!
Rupert Goold and Robert Icke will direct a complete reading of Hómēros' Iliad this summer as part of the Almeida Theatre’s incredible one-off festival celebrating Ancient Hellenic theatre. The Almeida Theatre’s Artistic Director Goold and 1984 co-director Icke will direct more than 50 artists in an epic staging of the mythical poem on 14 August. It will begin at the British Museum at 09:00 and finish at the theatre’s Islington home that evening. The entire show will be streamed online for 15 consecutive hours.

The ambitious project is just one of many events, talks, readings and performances taking place between June and October as part of Almeida Greeks, a festival to tie in with the theatre’s trio of Greek tragedies playing in the current season.

As part of the festival, leading theatremakers including Ivo Van Hove – who recently won an Olivier Award for his hugely successful A View From The Bridge – Deborah Warner, Bijan Sheibani and the Guardian’s chief culture writer Charlotte Higgins will discuss the importance of bringing Greek tragedies to contemporary audiences and unpick some of the themes at the centre of these legendary works across a number of talks at the theatre.

Taking inspiration from Bacchus and the Ancient Hellenic spirit of revelling from dusk to dawn, on 18 July audiences are invited to join Midnight Run, a 12-hour walking journey through the hidden spaces of London led by poet, playwright and performer Inua Ellams.

Alongside an eclectic programme of fun activities, from The Big Fat Greek Quiz (2 August) to a musical day of wine and feasting in Orlando Gough: That Feeling (13 September), the festival will also play host to a number of performances including a series of readings of Ancient Greek comedies by rising star directors Blanche McIntyre, Fiona Laird and Ramin Gray.

Other highlights include an all-female retelling of Lysistrata by acclaimed theatre group Gaggle (7 & 8 August), award-winning drag artist Dickie Beau’s brand new performance lecture Masking Tapes (11 September) that delves into the performer’s fascination with the Greek canon, and Early Opera Company’s performance of Médée Furieuse (4 October) featuring mezzo-soprano Ciara Hendrick.

For the full Ancient Greeks Festival line-up, as well as details of the season itself that features Lia Williams in Oresteia, Ben Whishaw in Bakkhai and Kate Fleetwood in Medea, visit the Almeida Theatre website.
Love is such an inportant emotion. It may be caused by chemicals in the brain, but it rules over our entire social life. Today I am grateful for the people in my life and those who have walked along my path for a while. I am grateful to my communities, my circles of friends and family. This gratitude made me ponder the concept of love, and its many forms.

Ancient Greek has four distinct words for love: agápe, éros, philía, and storgē. As it is historically difficult to separate the meanings of these words when used outside of their respective contexts, I am hesitant to put a definition on them, but it's interesting to speak of the different types of love we feel so I am going to do it, regardless.

Agápe (ἀγάπη)
This type of love is usually associated with the Gods. It can mean brotherly love, but is more often used in the context of the love of God for man and of man for God. Agape is a kind of love that does not respond to the antecedent value of its object but instead is thought to create value in the beloved; it has come through the Christian tradition to mean the sort of love God has for us persons as well as, by extension, our love for God and our love for humankind in general. Agape is also used in ancient texts to denote feelings for one's children and the feelings for a spouse, as this love is equally uncontitional. The translation of the word agape is love in the verb – form: it is the love demonstrated by your behavior towards another person. It is a committed and chosen love.

Éros (ἔρως)
This type of love refers mostly to sexual passion or the love to join two bodies as one through the joy of touch. Plato had his own definition: appreciation of the beauty within a person, or even appreciation of beauty itself. Plato does not talk of physical attraction as a necessary part of love, which is why we use the word 'platonic' to mean, 'without physical attraction'.

Philia (φιλία)
This type of love is often classified as friendship. It is the love between equals, often dispassionate, virtuous love. According to Aristotle it requires virtue, equality, and familiarity. This type of love can also be felt towards family members, business partners, and one's country at large. The translation of the word phileo is love in the noun – form: it is how you feel about someone. It is a committed and chosen love.

Storge (στοργή)
This type of love is related to family, usually. It's the common or natural empathy, like that felt by parents for offspring. It is rarely used in ancient works, and then almost exclusively as a descriptor of relationships within the family. Storge love is unconditional, accepts flaws or faults and ultimately drives you to forgive. It’s committed, sacrificial and makes you feel secure, comfortable and safe. It is also known to express mere acceptance or putting up with situations, as in 'loving' the tyrant.

You may hear about three other types if you delve into these terms (and then Philia is often left out): mania, pragma, and ludus. These are actually not ancient Hellenic concepts but part of a moder (1973) theory on love by John Lee. He identified six 'Love styles' and based them on the four ancient Hellenic ones. To give you a quick rundown of the three:

Ludus is used by those who see love as a desiring to want to have fun with each other, to do activities indoor and outdoor, tease indulge and play harmless pranks on each other. The acquisition of love and attention itself may be part of the game.

Pragma is based on the perceptions of practicality. People who prefer this style approach their relationship in a "business-like" fashion and look for partners with whom they can share common goals.

Mania usually flows out of a desire to hold one's partner in high esteem and wanting to love and be loved in this way seeing specialness in the interaction.
I love documentaries. A lot. I have pretty much seen every single documentary on netflix save for wildlife documentaries (sorry, I can only see a lion hunt so many times), and pro-cannabis documentaries (awesome if that is your thing, but as a child of addicts, I'd prefer not to hear hw awesome drugs are). So, every once in a while, I will share a documentary with you I found interesting or just plain beautiful. Today's documentary is a combination of both. It's a slightly older documentary but I love the premise: what do the ancient Hellenic Gods offer us today? 'Greece: Quest for the Gods' has the following description:

"This time we embark on a great odyssey in Greece, land of the Gods. From the amber of ancient times to the present, the Western world has basked in the glorious inspiration of the Greek myths. These strangely magnificent stories are deeply embedded in our culture and even our collective unconscious. On this trip we seek to discover the relevance and meaning the great gods of Olympus might have for us today.
To help us in our quest for understanding we meet up with author, Agapi Stassinopolous, who has written several books on Greek gods and goddesses.
According to Agapi, “The Gods of the Pantheon are still alive. They are alive in all of us and they are alive in everything you see in Greece. They are the archetypes and they are everywhere—in the land, in the tavernas, in the people talking.” As they tour the country Richard and Agapi search for manifestations of the gods in today’s Greeks, not just in the ruins and temples along the way but in modern life as well.
We begin in Athens, side-trip to Poseidon’s Temple at Cape Sounion and then head to Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic Games. Their quest takes them on to the island of Ithaca, to the site of mystical oracles at Delphi and finishes at the home of the gods, Mt. Olympus."

I have found the documentary respectful, beautifully made, and of course we all know that the ancient Hellenic Gods have a lasting and beautiful influence on modern life. The beauty of this documentary? Pretty much everyone interviewed agrees, including the host, Richard Bangs. And on top of it, who can resist these beautiful shots of the ancient temples and monuments? It filled me with longing, and that is why I wanted to share it with you.

Of course, you might not agree with everything: information about the Theoi is generalized and minimized for easy consumption, and there are strong philosophical influences in the opinions of the experts. It still has a lot to teach you, and to inspire in you--so enjoy.