Two interesting bits of news today that I wanted to share before running off to a day of meetings.

Towley Venus restored after incident
The Townley Venus, a 2,000-year-old Roman statue was damaged when a waiter preparing for a corporate event at the British Museum broke the thumb off with his head. The accident occurred in December last year, according to The Art Newspaper, but has only just come to light. The waiter, who was from an external company, had bent down underneath the Townley Venus and knocked its right hand while getting up again. The thumb was knocked clean off the statue and fell to the floor intact. The statue has now been restored. The British Museum said it had taken the incident seriously. A spokesman for the museum said in a statement:

 "This was an unfortunate incident. The preservation of the collection is of fundamental importance. Our expert conservators have been able to fully restore the object and it has remained on public display. We have retrained all individuals responsible for events."

The Townley Venus is already missing its index finger, which was broken before the sculpture came to the British Museum. The sculpture, which depicts a half-naked figure of Venus, is a marble copy of the Greek original and dates from the 1st or 2nd Centuries. It was excavated in 1775 from the baths at the port of Ostia in Rome and bought by English collector Charles Townley. It was sold to the British Museum in 1805. The Greek original dates back to the 4th Century BC.

Toledo Museum sale raises $640,000 so far
About a week ago, I wrote about the Toledo Museum in Ohio, USA, who were set to auction off nearly 70 antiquities originally from Greece and other countries despite huge national and international protest. Many of the objects have not been on display for decades, or only have been periodically on display. The objects have not generally appeared in museum literature and scholars have not asked to study them. Some of the objects have been available in an online sale, the rest was sold at an auction of antiquities at Christie’s in New York City on Tuesday.

This Tuesday sale was of nearly two dozen antiquities and brought in $640,000. The 23 pieces sold Tuesday at Christie's in New York included a Cypriot limestone head of a male votary from 6th century B.C. that the Cyprus Embassy had hoped would stay with the museum. The piece fetched $55,000 - about twice what it had been valued. Cyprus' ambassador to the United States had asked on Monday that the sale be postponed. Ambassador Leonidas Pantelides said:

 "What we like about the pieces being at the museum is that they are accessible to so many people. We prefer these artifacts be in Cyprus, but if not, we would like them to be in museums when many people can see them and learn about our history."

He said his country was not insisting that the items be returned, only that the museum consider keeping the Cypriot artifacts in their collection. Egyptian officials also sought to stop the auction and have the items from Egypt returned there. Museum Director Brian Kennedy said the museum respects others' viewpoints but sometimes sells items to maintain a high-quality collection. He said the money from the sale would go toward acquisitions. The entire sale was expected to generate about $500,000.
Antiphanes (Ἀντιφάνης) an ancient writer of Middle Attic comedy who was alive from around 408BC to 334 BC. He was apparently a metoikos, a resident alien; foreigner, from either Cius on the Propontis, Smyrna or Rhodes) who settled in Athens. It seems he started writing around 387 BC and he created a massive body of work--more than 200 of the 365 comedies attributed to him are known from the titles. Nearly all of his work has been lost, save fragments that have survived in the works of others, most notably in the work of Athenaeus. His plays chiefly deal with matters connected to mythological subjects, although others referenced particular professional and national persons or characters, while other plays focused on the intrigues of personal life.

I came across one of his fragments today, not in Athenaeus but in Porphyry's 'On Abstinance'. They deal with sacrifice to the Gods and speak directly to a modern reconstructionistic issue: how much we are truly able to give to the Gods.

In ancient Greece, sacrifices were usually given of meat--lots of meat. Hecatombes were rather commonplace--the sacrifice of a hundred animals for a single (set of) Gods presiding over a festival. Porphyry saw in that a waste and needless slaughter and he quoted Antiphanes to explain why he thought this. His words, taken from the lost work 'Mystis'; 'Woman Initiated Into the Mysteries':

"In simple offerings most the Gods delight:
For though before them hecatombs are placed,
Yet frankincense is burnt the last of all.
An indication this that all the rest,
Preceding, was a vain expense, bestowed
Through ostentation, for the sake of men;
But a small offering gratifies the Gods."
[Book 2]

I find these words comforting, as most of my sacrifices consist of wine, cakes and incense--as I suspect most of our sacrifices today are. Yes, animal sacrifice is traditional, but even in ancient times there were voices raised against it--and they managed to practice their religion with bloodless and small sacrifices that seemed to have satisfied the Gods.
Santorini (Σαντορίνη), classically named 'Thera' and officially Thira (Θήρα), is an island in the southern Aegean Sea, about 200 km (120 mi) southeast of Greece's mainland. Santorini is essentially what remains after an enormous volcanic eruption that destroyed the earliest settlements on a formerly single island and created the current geological caldera.

The island is the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history: the Minoan eruption (sometimes called the Thera eruption), which occurred some 3,600 years ago at the height of the Minoan civilization. The eruption left a large caldera surrounded by volcanic ash deposits hundreds of metres deep and may have led indirectly to the collapse of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete, 110 km (68 mi) to the south, through a gigantic tsunami. Another popular theory holds that the Thera eruption is the source of the legend of Atlantis.

In Greek, the term 'Atlantis' means 'island of Atlas' (Ἀτλαντὶς νῆσος), and it may very well have applied to the island of Santorini. It was Plato who brought life--and myth--to Atlantis. According to him, Poseidon fell in love with Cleito, the daughter of Evenor and Leucippe, who bore him five pairs of male twins. The eldest of these, Atlas, was made rightful king of the entire island and the ocean--called the Atlantic Ocean in his honor--and was given the mountain of his birth and the surrounding area to rule over. It was also Plato who wrote that Poseidon made Atlantis--a huge island with a volcano at its center--His home after Zeus, Hades and He divided the world.

Plato's description of Atlantis would have fit the ancient Hellenic version of Santorini well. It was a large, mountainous island, with an active volcano at its center. The large settlement on the island was build around said volcano. Poseidon's influence on the island isn't a stretch of the imagination at all; there was sea and ocean all around and from time to time, the entire island would tremble due to the volcano.

The volcano eruption decimated the settlement, but from what archeologists and scholars have been able to piece together, the settlement was a sight to behold while it stood. It had walls eight meters tall, three story houses, beautiful frescos and a rich economic climate. The volcano eruption preserved much of the ancient city of Akrotiri, despite the huge lagoon the eruption left at the center of the island.

Using visual effects, scientists and visual artists have created a video  presents the gradual birth of the volcanic rock island after a series of explosions and earthquakes caused by four separate volcanoes. The data was uploaded by user Nikos Korakakis, based on University scientific research and studies.

So, my life is complete chaos at the moment and all I want is a bit of time to relax. Seeing as this is my blog and you as most valued readers are thus part of my journey, you are getting some relaxation too! In the form of a pop quiz! Oh yeah. Three pop quizzes, actually. Let's see if you've learned anything from reading all of my stuff over the years!

Let's start simple with the 'Harry Potter and Greek Mythology' quiz! Some carefully selected questions for the Harry Potter nerd that anyone can answer--if they know their mythology. Oh--a note for question 7: use common knowledge for that one, there is absolutely nothing in Hellenic mythology that links to this. In fact, the word is Latin.

It's time to move on to something a little harder, shall we? 'Ancient Greek Games'--test your knowledge about athletic contests in ancient Hellenic history and myth.Read question four very well for a hint to question nine. als, read the answers to question five very carefully before choosing!

Then one more to top it all of; the hardest of the three. Ten out of ten so far? Good luck with this quez on 'The Trojan War and the Iliad'! Careful: number one is already a bit of a trick question! Also, if you have any problems answering the questions, remember Achilles was basically a huge jerk. That'll get you the right answer pretty much ever time.

Good luck!
The 30th of Pyanepsion is the date for the Khalkeia. It's the only festival to be held on a Deipnon and we will be celebrating it on 31 October, 10 am EDT.

The Khalkiea was the festival of bronze workers, a religious festival devoted to the God Hēphaistos and the Goddess Athena Ergane (Εργανη, Worker). In ancient Hellas, this was the day priestesses of Athena started work on a special peplos to be presented to Her during the Panathenaia. This festival involved a procession of workers with baskets of grain for offerings as well as meat sacrifices. Originally, it seems to have been a festival for Athena solely but over the centuries the focus shifted to Hēphaistos instead.

Elaion is holding a PAT ritual for the Khalkeia on 31 October, EDT. You can find the ritual here and join the community here. Also, make sure to celebrate the day by doing something crafty!
In the category 'these things are so very complicated but they make my heart hurt none the less', a moral dilemma. Joan Connelly, a renowned art expert, nationally known archaeologist, professor, and winner of the MacArthur Foundation Genius Award, has strongly criticized the Toledo Museum of Art’s auction of nearly 70 antiquities originally from Greece and other countries. She sees the sale as a great loss to the museum and Toledo (a city in Ohio, USA) while the museum views the objects as inferior and it will use the money generated to aquire new and better objects. What side are you on?

[Among the items being sold on the online auction,
which ends Tuesday, is an Apulian red-figured kantharos]

The Blade reports: Ms. Connelly, a Toledo native and professor of classics and art history at New York University, said she felt sick to her stomach when she learned of the sale. Viewing items such as these antiquities at the Toledo Museum of Art is what inspired her to become an archaeologist, she said.

“It’s just, for me, puzzling and distressing to see this shortsighted decision. As an archaeologist I’m just astounded any museum would sell off items with good provenance, which can be held forever. I think they’re all a great loss to Toledo.”

Even if the museum has other very similar items to those being put up for sale, she said that multiples are always more powerful in teaching about the ancient experience. Modern international cultural heritage laws make it impossible to acquire such antiquities, meaning the Toledo museum is unlikely to ever be able to replace the objects if leaders would choose to do so.

About half of the 68 items for sale are from Egypt and the rest are from Cyprus, Greece, and Italy. The museum’s offerings include:
- pieces of Egyptian pottery, bowls, jars, and cups, along with an alabaster jar lid in the form of the Egyptian god Hapi, bronze cats, a bronze falcon, and a limestone model of Ptolemy I as well as several Egyptian shabtis, or funeral figurines
- a Roman bronze strigil, which is a curved blade used to scrape the skin to get rid of sweat and dirt after a bath or exercise, from the first or second century
- an Apulian red-figured kantharos.

The sale is not only being decried by Ms. Connelly, who knows the antiquities well, but also by officials of the government of Egypt, who have called for the auction to be stopped. Shaaban Abdel Gawad, of the ministry’s antiquities repatriation department, told the news organization that the Egyptian government had contacted UNESCO and the International Committee of Museums, asking that they work with the Egyptian embassy in the United States to halt the auctions and have the items returned to their countries of origin.

Toledo museum director Brian Kennedy said the sale is expected to generate about $500,000, which can be used to acquire new works of art. Mr. Kennedy said the objects were chosen by the Toledo Museum of Art’s art committee during a review of the antiquities collection that took about two years. The museum’s board approved the list of objects for sale, he said. The process is called deaccession. The Toledo museum used a similar process to choose items to sell from its modern contemporary collection in 2002, its Old Masters collection in 2006, and its Asian art collection in 2008. Once the items are selected for deaccession, the museum prefers to sell them at public auction because that method is the most transparent, he said. Mr. Kennedy:

“We have hundreds and hundreds of antiquities. These were determined to be not up to the quality of our current collection.”

Many of the objects have not been on display for decades, or only have been periodically on display, said Candace Harrison, the museum’s communication director. The objects have not generally appeared in museum literature and scholars have not asked to study them, she said. Most of the items for sale have been with the museum since the early 20th century, toledoMr. Kennedy said. Many were acquired directly from their countries of origin in the 1910s and 1920s, with some coming to Toledo as late as 1972.

Some of the objects have been available in an online sale that began October 19 and closes on the 26th. The rest was sold at an auction of antiquities at Christie’s in New York City on Tuesday. A catalog of the items can be seen online at

I have such conflicted feelings about this. I understand the need to gather funds and aquire new items to keep the collection current. these items have not been displayed for many years and are, basically, gathering dust. Still, privatizing these items will fairly automatically mean losing sight of them--and possibily losing them to accident or malice. I would like to see these items preserved by proper (govermental) organisations--in their countryies of origin where possible. Of course, it's once more a money thing...
Whenever I am a little tired or down, there is one piece of ancient Hellenic literature that always cheers me up--and since I have been swamped lately and on my last legs, I need it today! That piece? 'Peace' by Aristophanes--especially the start. Why? Because it's basically about a guy so obsessed with the Gods that he tries to fly up to Them on a dung beetle. It's abolutely awesome.

Peace (Εἰρήνη, Eirēnē) is an Athenian comedy written and produced by the Hellenic playwright Aristophanes. It won second prize at the City Dionysia where it was staged just a few days before the Peace of Nicias was validified (421 BC), which promised to end the ten-year-old Peloponnesian War. The play is notable for its joyous anticipation of peace and for its celebration of a return to an idyllic life in the countryside. However, it also sounds a note of caution, there is bitterness in the memory of lost opportunities and the ending is not happy for everyone. As in all Aristophanes' plays, the jokes are numerous, the action is wildly absurd and the satire is savage.

The play starts with two serves who are frantically working outside an ordinary house in Athens, kneading unusually large lumps of something and carrying them one by one into the stable. They are feeding a giant dung beetle that their crazy master Trygaeus has brought home from the Mount Etna region and on which he intends flying to a private audience with the Gods. He makes it, too, only to find just Hermes home--the rest of the Gods have retured to somewhere far away where there are no idiot humans looking for war. Then Trygaeus discovers that the new tennant War has imprisoned Peace in a cave and After a lot of back nd forth, Trygaeus frees Peache, Harvest and Festival and it becomes Trygaeus' goal in life to ban war in all forms.

Let me quote the first few lines of the play. If it inspires you, you can find the rest here:

Quick, quick, bring the dung-beetle his cake.

There it is. Give it to him, and may it kill him! And may he never eat a better.

Now give him this other one kneaded up with ass's dung.

There! I've done that too. And where's what you gave him just now? Surely he can't have devoured it yet!

Indeed he has; he snatched it, rolled it between his feet and bolted it. Come, hurry up, knead up a lot and knead them stiffly.

Oh, scavengers, help me in the name of the gods, if you do not wish to see me fall down choked.

Come, come, another made from the stool of a fairy's favourite. That will be to the beetle's taste; he likes it well ground.

There! I am free at least from suspicion; none will accuse me of tasting what I mix.

Faugh! come, now another! keep on mixing with all your might.

By god, no. I can stand this awful cesspool stench no longer.

I shall bring you the whole ill-smelling gear.

Pitch it down the sewer sooner, and yourself with it. 

Maybe, one of you can tell me where I can buy a stopped-up nose, for there is no work more disgusting than to mix food for a dung-beetle and to carry it to him. A pig or a dog will at least pounce upon our excrement without more ado, but this foul wretch affects the disdainful, the spoilt mistress, and won't eat unless I offer him a cake that has been kneaded for an entire day.... But let us open the door a bit ajar without his seeing it. Has he done eating? Come, pluck up courage, cram yourself till you burst! The cursed creature! It wallows in its food! It grips it between its claws like a wrestler clutching his opponent, and with head and feet together rolls up its paste like a rope-maker twisting a hawser. What an indecent, stinking, gluttonous beast! I don't know what angry god let this monster loose upon us, but of a certainty it was neither Aphrodite nor the Graces.
An expedition mapping submerged ancient landscapes, the first of its kind in the Black Sea, is making exciting discoveries. An international team, involving the University of Southampton's Centre for Maritime Archaeology and funded by the charitable organisation for marine research, the Expedition and Education Foundation (EEF), is surveying the Bulgarian waters of the Black Sea, where thousands of years ago large areas of land were inundated as the water level rose following the last Ice Age.

Professor Jon Adams, Founding Director of the University of Southampton's Centre for Maritime Archaeology and Principle Investigator on the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (Black Sea MAP) says:

"We're endeavouring to answer some hotly-debated questions about when the water level rose, how rapidly it did so and what effects it had on human populations living along this stretch of the Bulgarian coast of the Black Sea. As such, the primary focus of this project – and the scope of our funding from the EEF – is to carry out geophysical surveys to detect former land surfaces buried below the current sea bed, take core samples and characterise and date them, and create a palaeoenvironmental reconstruction of Black Sea prehistory."

Photogrammetric model of a wreck from Ottoman period
Credit: Rodrigo Pacheco-Ruiz

Based on board the Stril Explorer, an off-shore vessel equipped with some of the most advanced underwater survey systems in the world, the international team of researchers is surveying the sea bed using two Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs). One is optimised for high resolution 3-D photogrammetry2 and video. The other is a revolutionary vehicle developed by the survey companies MMT and Reach Subsea. Surveyor Interceptor 'flies' at four times the speed of conventional ROVs and carries an entire suite of geophysical instrumentation, as well as lights, high definition cameras and a laser scanner. In the course of the project it has set new records for both depth (1,800m), sustained speed (over 6 knots), and has covered a distance of 1,250 km.

During these surveys, members of Black Sea MAP have also discovered and inspected a rare and remarkable 'collection' of more than 40 shipwrecks, many of which provide the first views of ship types known from historical sources, but never seen before. The wrecks, which include those from the Ottoman and Byzantine Empires, provide new data on the maritime interconnectivity of Black Sea coastal communities and manifest ways of life and seafaring that stretch back into prehistory. Professor Adams comments:

"The wrecks are a complete bonus, but a fascinating discovery, found during the course of our extensive geophysical surveys. They are astonishingly preserved due to the anoxic conditions (absence of oxygen) of the Black Sea below 150 metres. Using the latest 3-D recording technique for underwater structures, we've been able to capture some astonishing images without disturbing the sea bed. We are now among the very best exponents of this practice methodology and certainly no-one has achieved models of this completeness on shipwrecks at these depths. Maritime archaeology in the deep sea has often been a contested domain, but this project, the largest of its type ever undertaken, demonstrates how effective partnerships between academia and industry can be, especially when funded by enlightened bodies such as EEF."

The Black Sea MAP team comprises of researchers from the University of Southampton's Centre for Maritime Archaeology (CMA), who have established a formal partnership with the Bulgarian National Institute of Archaeology with Museum and the Bulgarian Centre for Underwater Archaeology (CUA). Partner institutions include the Maritime Archaeological Research Institute at Södertörn University, Sweden; the University of Connecticut, USA; the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Greece; and MMT, the company whose founder Ola Oskarsson designed the Surveyor Interceptor. Core samples recovered from the Black Sea will be analysed at the British Ocean Sediment Core Research Facility at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton.

The project operates under permits from the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Foreign Affairs in strict adherence to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001).
Herbert List (7 October 1903 – 4 April 1975) was a German photographer, who worked for magazines, including Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and Life. His austere, classically posed black-and-white compositions taken in Italy and Greece have been highly formative for modern photography. From 1937 to 1939 List traveled in Greece and took photographs of ancient temples, ruins, sculptures, and the landscape, many of which were published in magazines and books. I would like to share some of those today.
Statue and temple of Apollon in the background
Corinth, Peloponnese, Greece, 1937
Athéna, 1937
Cleopatra’s house
Island of Delos, Cyclades, Greece, 1937
Temple of Olympian Zeus
Athens, Greece, 1937
The Acropolis, Athens, Greece, 1937
'Turned into stone'
Ancient Corinth, Greece, 1937
Palace of King Minos
Knosos, Crete, Greece, 1937
 The Acropolis Propylae columns
Athens, Greece, 1937
The Acropolis (Parthenon interior)
Athens, Greece, 1937
This month's Pandora's Kharirs cause is American Friends of the Blind Greece, but I have next month's cause picked out already. Veto. Sorry everyone! No, just kidding, but this is most definitely going to be one of the pitches! Restoring the ancient theatre of Cassope, in the region of Epirus, is the latest cultural project to be crowdfunded under National Bank’s act4greece program. The target is set at 80,000 euros, and it must be reached by December 31.

The Grand Theatre of Cassope is located in the ruined hill northwest of cassope. It was constructed in the 3rd century BC and had a capacity of about 2,500 people. According to some authors it could accommodate 6,000 people. It was the largest of a total of two theaters that existed in the city. The other, called the Conservatory of distinction, could seat 300 to 500 people. The large theater is now largely destroyed due to natural decay and is nearly inaccessible. This is about to change, though.

The act4Greece program is run by National Bank of Greece, with strategic partners including the Alexander S. Onassis Foundation, the John S. Latsis Foundation, the Bodossaki Foundation, the Hellenic National Commission for UNESCO, and the Hellenic Network for Corporate Social Responsibility.

Diazoma, a citizens’ group that works to protect and promote Greece’s ancient monuments, recently came up with a proposal to include the Cassope theatre in the act4greece program – an idea that received the green light from National Bank.

The Cassope campaign was officially launched on September 17 at the Little Theatre of Epidaurus, in the Peloponnese, where Diazoma was hosting its ninth annual conference. Participants discussed a wide range of ideas regarding how scientific and funding initiatives can put monuments into the service of regional growth.

The ruins of the ancient city of Cassope, which flourished in the 3rd century BC, are located in a privileged position in the Preveza region, at the southern foot of Mount Zalongo, with a spectacular view of the Ionian Sea and the Ambracian Gulf.

Cassope, Nicopolis, Ambracia, Dodoni and Gitanae are the main highlights on a cultural itinerary for Epirus designed by Diazoma. Funded by the Epirus Regional Authority, the cultural itinerary is part of an effort to improve the tourism product of the region and includes booklets, an e-tour of the itinerary with a relevant app, information signs, minor accessibility interventions and much more.

The first project to be subsidized by the act4greece program was the Theatro Technis Karolos Koun. A total of 108,176 euros was raised.
Porphyry of Tyre (Πορφύριος, Porphyrios) lived from 234 to 305 AD. He was a Neoplatonic philosopher who was born in Tyre, in the Roman Empire. He wrote many works on a wide variety of topics but one was on his dislike of idolatry--the worship of an idol or a physical object as a representation of Deity. It is only the uneducated, Porphyry says, who identify the gods with the images. The images are to be taken purely as symbols, both as regards their material, their color, and their form. White marble typifies the quality of light in the Gods, gold Their stainlessness, and so on. He then goes into detail about Zeus to make the point that any representation of the God is chosen by men to portray His characteristics and attributes. His image, however, does not define Him.

Fragment 3
Now look at the wisdom of the Greeks, and examine it as follows. The authors of the Orphic hymns supposed Zeus to be the mind of the world, and that he created all things therein,containing the world in himself. Therefore in their theological systems they have handed down their opinions concerning him thus:

Zeus was the first, Zeus last, the lightning's lord,
Zeus head, Zeus centre, all things are from Zeus.
Zeus born a male, Zeus virgin undefiled;
Zeus the firm base of earth and starry heaven;
Zeus sovereign, Zeus alone first cause of all:
One power divine, great ruler of the world,
One kingly form, encircling all things here,
Fire, water, earth, and ether, night and day;
Wisdom, first parent, and delightful Love:
For in Zeus' mighty body these all lie.
His head and beauteous face the radiant heaven
Reveals and round him float in shining waves
The golden tresses of the twinkling stars.
On either side bulls' horns of gold are seen,
Sunrise and sunset, footpaths of the gods.
His eyes the Sun, the Moon's responsive light;
His mind immortal ether, sovereign truth,
Hears and considers all; nor any speech,
Nor cry, nor noise, nor ominous voice escapes
The ear of Zeus, great Kronos' mightier son:
Such his immortal head, and such his thought.
His radiant body, boundless, undisturbed
In strength of mighty limbs was formed thus:
The god's broad-spreading shoulders, breast and back
Air's wide expanse displays; on either side
Grow wings, wherewith throughout all space he flies.
Earth the all-mother, with her lofty hills,
His sacred belly forms; the swelling flood
Of hoarse resounding Ocean girds his waist.
His feet the deeply rooted ground upholds,
And dismal Tartarus, and earth's utmost bounds.
All things he hides, then from his heart again
In godlike action brings to gladsome light.

Zeus, therefore, is the whole world, animal of animals, and god of gods; but Zeus, that is, inasmuch as he is the mind from which he brings forth all things, and by his thoughts creates them. When the theologians had explained the nature of god in this manner, to make an image such as their description indicated was neither possible, nor, if any one thought of it, could he show the look of life, and intelligence, and forethought by the figure of a sphere.

But they have made the representation of Zeus in human form, because mind was that according to which he wrought, and by generative laws brought all things to completion; and he is seated, as indicating the steadfastness of his power: and his upper parts are bare, because he is manifested in the intellectual and the heavenly parts of the world; but his feet are clothed, because he is invisible in the things that lie hidden below. And he holds his sceptre in his left hand, because most close to that side of the body dwells the heart, the most commanding and intelligent organ: for the creative mind is the sovereign of the world. And in his right hand he holds forth either an eagle, because he is master of the gods who traverse the air, as the eagle is master of the birds that fly aloft - or a victory, because he is himself victorious over all things. 
Remember when I said yesterday that you were going to get something I wrote soley by myself? Ha! Yeah, I'm sorry but life has exploded. I hope to get a few more moments tomorrow to get you something all me! Excusez moi!

The Cantor Arts Center's Art + Science Learning Lab, art and science faculty, and the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have teamed up to do something extraordinary: x-ray ancient Hellenic art to expose the elements within--iron potassium, calcium and zinc. Together they're rewriting art history.


A chemical map of Greek art revealed that a calcium-based color additive was used for white, which would have added an additional step. It also raised questions about the firing process due to the absence of zinc in the black regions. It had been assumed that a zinc additive was key to achieving the black figures in the heating process.

Having a facility like SSRL just up the hill from the Cantor's conservation lab lends a unique opportunity for students to probe cultural mysteries with advanced scientific tools, says Susan Roberts-Manganelli, director of the Learning Lab. About two years ago, she started a fellowship for science students interested in studying art conservation. She works closely with SSRL scientific staff to mentor students bringing delicate, valuable art objects to SLAC in search of discoveries that benefit art and science.

"We can do a lot of testing here at the Cantor. But some studies need more robust collaboration and more powerful X-rays to actually get answers to our questions."

One such study, done by Kevin Chow, BS '13, when he was a senior in collaboration with Stanford, SLAC and the Getty Conservation Institute, took a deeper look at the techniques of the ancient Greek potters, which are difficult to reproduce and not entirely understood. Using a technique called synchrotron X-ray fluorescence, the team was able to uncover surprising steps in the production process that challenge the conventional understanding. Chow's advisor Jody Maxmin, associate professor of art and art history and of classics, stated:

"Under what they thought was a single coat, they found other instances of painting that the naked eye could not see. It was thrilling to learn that a very humble vase -- hundreds of these were produced for the Festival of Athena every four years -- shows certain standards of aesthetic excellence. The artist invested more in his work than we had given him credit for."

Such collaborations spark scientific innovation as well. Well-conserved art objects allow researchers to look at uniquely complex materials of a certain age that generate intriguing chemistry questions and require new techniques, says SLAC staff scientist Apurva Mehta, who is also an affiliated faculty member at the Stanford Archaeology Center.

"We had to find a way to see all layers of the Greek pot in detail, which is something we want to do for other materials that might be used in batteries or electronics."

For Maxmin, seeing science students step boldly into art history is inspiring. So is watching her colleagues learn things in fields not their own.

"We are complicating the issues, and that's good. By looking across disciplines we are enabling unconventional friendships and discoveries."

Roberts-Manganelli concurs:

"You can't do science, art history or conservation in isolation. We all thought we could at one time, but now we realize we are stronger and better as a group."
I am completely swamped at the moment, so I am going to leave you with a news round-up today. I'll have something different for you tomorrow, I promise!

Aphrodite statue of dubious provenance spotted at Christies Auction House
One more ancient statue that has passed through the warehouses of Robin Symes, convicted for dealing in illicit antiquities, has been spotted by archaeologist Christos Tsirogiannis in the Christie's auction house catalogue: the torso of a draped goddess, believed to be a Roman copy of a Hellenistic work that may represent Aphrodite (Venus).

Dr. Tsirogiannis, who works as a researcher at the University of Oxford, has sent a written report to Interpol and New York Police Department. According to the report, the ancient sculpture, listed in the Christie's catalogue as lot number 92, appears to be identical to that found in the confiscated archives of Robin Symes. The auction house has failed to list the 'Symes collection' in the history of the statue's provenance.

 "As over 93% of the antiquities sold by Symes were illegal, it would be useful to investigate the full collection history and true source of the sculpture, especially before 1991."

Christie's auction house has yet to respond to these allegations. Read more at the Archaeological News Network.

Ancient Hellenic sculpture perhaps inspiration for China's Terracotta Warriors
Archaeologists studying the Terracotta Warriors say that inspiration for the famed army built to guard the tomb of China’s first emperor near today’s Xian may have come from Ancient Hellas. Experts believe that the 8,000 statues may have been crafted under the guidance of ancient Hellenic sculptors in 3rd Century BC. Their findings suggest that western contact with China began long before European explorer Marco Polo arrived in China. Senior archaeologist Li Xiuzhen, from the Emperor Qin Shi Huang's Mausoleum Site Museum was quoted as saying:

"We now have evidence that close contact existed between the First Emperor's China and the West before the formal opening of the Silk Road. This is far earlier than we formerly thought."

Meanwhile, a separate study cited by the BBC shows that European-specific mitochondrial DNA was found in China's westernmost Xinjiang Province, indicating that Westerners traveled, settled and died in the area before and during the time of the First Emperor. That would be 1,500 years earlier than commonly held. Read more ar the Archaeological News Network.
I've talked about 3-D printing projects before, especially in relation to ancient Hellenic art. I truly think 3-D printing is a wonderful tool in the preservation, reconstruction and popularization of ancient Hellenic art, ancient Hellenic culture and the ancient Hellenic Gods as a consequence. It is also a wonderful study and teaching tool, as this article posted by proves.

Greg Lewis, at the time a fourth-year student double-majoring in mechanical engineering and classics, enjoyed associate professor Tyler Jo Smith's 2014 art history class so much that he decided to make Smith a thank-you gift. Combining his interests in art and engineering, he used UVA's Rapid Prototyping Lab to create a miniature, 3-D-printed vase mimicking the ancient Hellenic vases he studied in class. Smith loved the gift – and it gave her an idea. What if she and Lewis teamed up to create exact replicas of ancient Greek vases and teach students about 3-D printing in the process?

Over the past year, Smith and Lewis, now a graduate student in the mechanical engineering program, have used a Dream Idea grant from UVA's Mead Endowment to realize Smith's goal, working with digital resources coordinator Leah Stearns and collections manager Jean Lancaster at The Fralin Museum of Art at UVA, as well as UVA Library information visualization specialist Will Rourk. Six students – two graduate students and four undergraduate students studying art, archaeology and art history – also joined in on the fun.

Lewis used a specialized scanner with two cameras and a laser to capture even the tiniest contours of the vases, accurate down to about 0.3 millimeters. The vase Lewis is scanning above was made in southern Italy and dates back to the fourth century. The design on the vase references Dionysos. It was likely used as a wine cup and then stored in the tomb of its owner, where it remained intact until it was unearthed centuries later.

Rourk helps students scan the vases and explained the inner workings of the software programs that use scans to build virtual 3-D models of objects. Data from the scanner is transferred to a software program that builds an intricate virtual model of the object. That file gives the 3-D printer the information needed to create a replica.

Many of the objects that the group scanned are on display in The Fralin Museum of Art's Joanne B. Robinson Object Study Gallery. The gallery has approximately 140 objects on view, ranging from Chinese ceramics and sculptures to ancient Mediterranean coins, African masks and figures and beadwork, ceramics and silver from the Museum's American Indian collection. Once scanned, Lewis printed 3-D replicas of the vases using 3-D printers in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. The school's Rapid Prototyping Lab is home to several different types of 3-D printers available to students, faculty, staff and external clients.

The printers can create extraordinarily intricate objects with many moving parts or oddly shaped components. Objects are printed using acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, the same plastic used to create LEGO toys. Creating one vase takes about nine hours, as the machines print hundreds of extremely thin layers on top of each other, eventually building the whole object.

The finished product is a colorful replica that exactly reflects the contours and thickness of the original vase created so many centuries ago. Unlike the original, students pick up, handle and measure the replicas as often as they wish, creating a tactile learning experience not often found in the study of ancient art.
We are very happy to announce that the American Friends of the Blind in Greece has become Pandora's Kharis' Pyanepsia 2016 cause!

[A blind woman visiting the Tactile Museum,
supported by American Friends of the Blind in Greece]
The American Friends of the Blind in Greece identifies, acquires, and delivers the best possible resources and opportunities available to organizations in Greece, dedicated to improving the lives of Greece’s blind and severely sight- impaired people.

Starting small, The American Friends of the Blind in Greece first brought visually impaired children to the United States to study agricultural methods so they would have essential, in-demand skills upon their return to Greece to facilitate the ability to earn a living on their own. Eventually the organization established a small school for the blind outside of Athens. Over the years, our contributions in conjunction with other charitable donations led to the creation of The Lighthouse for the Blind In Greece. For almost 70 years, the American Friends of the Blind in Greece has contributed to the blind in Greece to improve their quality of life.

Recently, the situation for the blind in Greece has become increasingly dire. Government funding has been cut dramatically; grants have decreased by 90 percent and the Lighthouse for the Blind in Greece is continually presented with adults who need our assistance with education, training, life skills and the ability to support themselves.
We urge you to help those who need help the most, and join theAmerican Friends of the Blind in Greece in their efforts to provide support for the blind in Greece.

The deadline to donate is Oktober 31th, 2016. You can do so by using the PayPal option to the side of the Pandora's Kharis homepage or by donating directly to Thank you in advance!
The Apatouria was a paternity festival. The first day was celebrated with a communal feast within the brotherhood, the second day sacrifice were made to Zeus Phratrios and Athena Phratria, and the third day young boys admitted to their father's brotherhood. We don't have these kinships anymore and we won't be celebrating all days of the festival because of it. What we do want to do is sacrifice to Zeus Phratrios and Athena Phratria in gratitude of the kinship we have found in Hellenismos and Elaion. Will you join us on Monday 17 October at the usual 10 AM EDT?

Apaturia (Ἀπατούρια) were ancient Hellenic festivals held annually by all the Ionian towns, except Ephesus and Colophon. In Athens, the Apatouria was the central element in the ritual calendar of the phratries, the kinship organizations crucial for determining Athenian citizenship. The three-day festival occurred in the autumn in the month Pyanepsion and was celebrated at the separate phratry shrines throughout Attica.

On the first day of the festival, called Dorpia or Dorpeia (Δορπεία), banquets were held towards evening at the meeting-place of the phratries or in the private houses of members.

On the second, Anarrhysis (from ἀναρρύειν, 'to draw back the victim's head'), a sacrifice of oxen was offered at the public cost to Zeus Phratrios and Athena Phratria.

On the third day, Kureōtis (κουρεῶτις), children born since the last festival were presented by their fathers or guardians to the assembled phratores, and, after an oath had been taken as to their legitimacy and the sacrifice of a goat or a sheep, their names were inscribed in the register. The name κουρεῶτις is derived either from κοῦρος, 'young man', i.e., the day of the young, or less probably from κείρω, 'to shear', because on this occasion young people cut their hair and offered it to the gods. The children who entered puberty also made offerings of wine to Herakles. On this day also it was the custom for boys still at school to declaim pieces of poetry, and to receive prizes.

Ancient scholarship links the Apatouria to the myth of the ritual combat between the Athenian Melanthos (the 'dark one') and the Boiotian Xanthos (the 'fair one') for the kingship of Attica, which Melanthos won through a trick (apate). Although some modern scholars have therefore seen a connection to the ephebes and to rites of passage involving social inversion, the rituals of the festival have no apparent connection to the narrative of the myth, and most modern scholars now link the Apatouria to the control, maintenance, and affirmation of kinship and of membership in society at every level.

Will you join us for this event? The ritual can be found here, the community page here.
The ancient Hellenic writers were dedicated historians, but they often neglected to mention the achievements of ancient Hellenic women. Now it so happens that I am a woman and I quite like having a few female heroes to look up to, so I want to introduce you to them. Today: Diotima of Mantinea.

Diotima of Mantinea (Διοτίμα) is a female philosopher and priestess known solely through the works of Plato. She is best portrayed in his Symposium. It is uncertain whether she truly existed or is merely a fictional creation, but nearly all of the characters named in Plato's dialogues have been found to correspond to real people living in ancient Athens. aS such, I feel free to assume she, indeed, existed.
As a philosopher, the ancient Hellenic writers focussed on her ideas, not her life so we don't know much about her as a person. The name Diotima means 'honoured by Zeus'. She came from Mantinea, and ancient Hellenic city on the Peloponnese which was the site of the largest battle of the Peloponnesian War.

All we have to base our knowledge of Diotima on are Plato's words--and those words have been 'filtered' through the character of Socrates, too! Based on the writing, however, she seems to have possessed a very strong personality and she was very sure of herself. She could see things that were beyond the scientists’ universe and that puzzled Socrates--who was at the time of meeting her very much a scientist. Socrates sees in her a natural philosopher to whome understanding of the world came easy. He admired (and desired) that in her. She is described as incredibly beautiful but in describing her as such, Socrates hints that she was also witty and very intelligent--qualities he admired greatly. Meeting Diotima changed how Socrates percieved the world and--perhaps more importantly--how he wanted to percieve it. She put him onto the path of philosophy, which is quite a legacy to leave behind!

Diotima's ideas are the origin of the concept of Platonic love. In Plato's Symposium the members of a party discuss the meaning of love. Socrates says that in his youth he was taught 'the philosophy of love' by Diotima. In her view, love is a means of ascent to contemplation of the Divine. For Diotima, the most truthful way to love others is to embrace a love that transcends the earthly plane, to touch divinity. A genuine Platonic love recognizes the beauty and loveliness in another person in a way that inspires the mind and soul to the spiritual, rather than the physical.
On October 15th, we will host a PAT ritual for a sacrifice originally performed at Erkhia. This is a sacrifice to the Heroines. Will you be joining us at 10 AM EDT?

The ancient Erkhians honoured the Heroines twice a year, once on the 19th of Metageitnion, and once on the 14th of Pyanepsion. Certain heroines--like Basile--were worshipped separately from the group as well, most likely because they were local heroines instead of universally accepted heroines like Atalanta, who hunted the Calydonian boar, slew Centaurs, defeated Peleus in wrestling, or Kallisto, who was an Arcadian princess and hunting companion of the Goddess Artemis. The Heroines received a white sheep in sacrifice, of which the meat was partly sacrificed and partly eaten by those who came out to sacrifice. The skin of the animal went towards the priestess.

Heroes and heroines have a special place in Hellenismos, as they had in ancient Hellas. These were humans--most with at least a part divine heritage--who were considered so brave, so skillful, so extraordinary in their lifetime that they became revered. Some were priests or priestesses of a temple, some excelled in battle, others were skilled healers or good rulers. Once they passed to the realm of Hades, their names were remembered at least once a year on a special occasion, because the ancient Hellenes believed that if the name and deeds of a person were remembered, they would live forever and potentially look out for those they had looked out for before.

Archaeological evidence suggests that hero worship was closer to Khthonic sacrifices in execution than Ouranic ones the further back in time you go; especially in the archaic period, it seems that hero worship consisted of destructive sacrifices--sometimes in the form of a holókaustos where the entire animal was burned, sometimes in a sacrifice where only a part (most often 'a ninth' of the animal) was burned and the rest remained on the altar for the heroes to eat from until gone. The sacrifices were generally burned in an offering pit known as a bothros. The food offered to heroes consisted of meat, blood, and 'food eaten by men' like grains, fruits and other every-day dishes. These were usually offered to the heroes on a table--known as a trapeza--and the heroes were sometimes offered chairs or a bench to sit on. As time went on, the living began to eat part of the meal laid out for the heroes, joining them in celebration.

You can find the ritual here, and join our community page here. We have added some of the main Hellenic Goddesses to the ritual as well. Feel free to add more of our Goddesses and heroines to your own ritual, especially if you feel close to Them! This ritual will be a celebration of the feminine power in our religion!
Greek police have broken up a major gang that illegally dug up thousands of antiquities and exported them for sale by conniving European auction houses or directly to private buyers. A spokesman for the southern Patras police directorate, which headed the 14-month nationwide investigation, said more than 50 people allegedly were involved in the criminal organization.

Greece's rich history has for centuries attracted antiquities thieves, who feed a strong demand from private collectors and museums. Under law, all ancient artifacts found in the country are state property. Police said they confiscated more than 2,000 relics that were dug up in various parts of Greece, mostly coins from as early as the 6th century BC. The illegally acquired items also included a large marble Cycladic figurine from the 3rd millennium BC, gold butterfly-shaped jewelry, rings, bronze statuettes of animals, police photos showed. Authorities said they found two large stone statues — apparently from medieval times — hidden in a well in southern Greece.

The antiquities were mostly sold online by auction houses based in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Britain. Police said the auctioneers knew about the illegal provenance of the artifacts and sometimes helped finance the gang. The auction houses were not named, in accordance with Greek laws on protecting suspects' identities. Police spokesman Sfetsos told The Associated Press:

"For very many of the coins we have full documentation, starting from when they were discovered in the earth to the auction at which they were sold."

He said the paperwork would help Greek officials recover artifacts that already had been sold. Police said the smuggling ring appeared to have been active for at least 10 years, targeting areas near — or even inside — known ancient sites and sometimes using satellite imagery to pinpoint potential locations. The antiquities allegedly were smuggled out of Greece by the gang's leaders, who often delivered them in person to auction houses. They were auctioned off with fake documents that presented them as belonging to private European collections.

Twenty-six suspects have been arrested so far, ranging from the alleged leaders to people believed to have been carrying out the illegal, nighttime excavations, police spokesman Haralambos Sfetsos said. They face criminal charges that carry prison terms of 5 to 25 years. When two of the alleged ringleaders were arrested Sunday at the Greek-Bulgarian border, they allegedly were carrying nearly 1,000 coins and small artifacts concealed in the bumper of their car.
Epictetus (Ἐπίκτητος) was a Greek-speaking Stoic philosopher who lived from 55 – 135 AD. He was born a slave at Hierapolis, Phrygia (present day Pamukkale, Turkey), and lived in Rome until his banishment, when he went to Nicopolis in north-western Greece for the rest of his life. His teachings were written down and published by his pupil Arrian in his Discourses and Enchiridion.

Epictetus' primary philosophical lesson was that philosophy is a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline. To Epictetus, all external events are beyond our control; we should accept whatever happens calmly and dispassionately. However, individuals are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline. In short: a true Stoic.

In 'Discourses' Epictetus' views on the beginning of philosophy are noted down, which I believe to be an interesting read. As such, I would like to share it with you today.

"The beginning of philosophy, at least to such as enter upon it in a proper way, and by the door, is a consciousness of our own weakness and inability [p. 1145] in necessary things. For we came into the world without any natural idea of a right-angled triangle; of a diesis, or a semitone, in music; but we learn each of these things by some artistic instruction. Hence, they who do not understand them do not assume to understand them. But who ever came into the world without an innate idea of good and evil, fair and base, becoming and unbecoming, happiness and misery, proper and improper; what ought to be done, and what not to be done? Hence, we all make use of the terms, and endeavor to apply our impressions to particular cases.
"Such a one hath acted well, not. well; right, not right; is unhappy, is happy; is just, is unjust." Which of us refrains from these terms? Who defers the use of them till he has learnt it, as those do who are ignorant of lines and sounds? The reason of this is, that we come instructed in some degree by nature upon these subjects; and from this beginning, we go on to add self-conceit. "For why," say you, "should I not know what fair or base is? Have I not the idea of it?" You have. "Do I not apply this idea to the particular instance? " You do. "Do I not apply it rightly, then?" Here lies the whole question; and here arises the self-conceit. Beginning from these acknowledged points, men proceed, by applying them improperly, to reach the very position most questionable. For, if they knew how to apply them also, they would be all but perfect.
If you think that you know how to apply your general principles to particular cases, tell me on what you base this application.
"Upon its seeming so to me."
But it does not seem so to another; and does not ne too think that he makes a right application?
"He does."
Is it possible, then, that each of you should rightly apply your principles, on the very subjects about which your opinions conflict?
"It is not."
Have you anything to show us, then, for this application, beyond the fact of its seeming so to you? And does a madman act any otherwise than seems to him right? Is this, then, a sufficient criterion for him too?
"It is not."
Come, therefore, to some stronger ground than seeming.
"What is that?"
The beginning of philosophy is this: the being sensible of the disagreement of men with each other; an inquiry into the cause of this disagreement; and a disapprobation and distrust of what merely seems; a careful examination into what seems, whether it seem rightly; and the discovery of some rule which shall serve like a balance, for the determination of weights; like a square, for distinguishing straight and crooked. This is the beginning of philosophy.
Is it possible that all things which seem right to all persons are so? Can things contradictory be right? We say not all things; but all that seem so to us. And why more to you than to the Syrians or Egyptians; than to me, or to any other man? Not at all more.
Therefore, what seems to each man is not sufficient to determine the reality of a thing; for even in weights and measures we are not satisfied with the bare appearance, but for everything we find some rule. And is there, then, in the present case no rule preferable to what seems? Is it possible that what is of the greatest necessity in human life should be left incapable of determination and discovery?
There must be some rule. And why do we not seek and discover it, and, when we have discovered, ever after make use of it, without fail, so as not even to move a finger without it? For this, I conceive, is what, when found, will cure those of their madness who make use of no other measure but their own perverted way of thinking. Afterwards, beginning from certain known and determinate points, we may make use of general principles, properly applied to particulars.
Thus, what is the subject that falls under our inquiry? Pleasure. Bring it to the rule. Throw it into the scale. Must good be something in which it is fit to confide, and to which we may trust? Yes. Is it fit to trust to anything unstable? No. Is pleasure, then, a stable thing? No. Take it, then, and throw it out of the scale, and drive it far distant from the place of good things.
But, if you are not quick-sighted, and one balance is insufficient, bring another. Is it fit to be elated by good? Yes. Is it fit, then, to be elated by a present pleasure? See that you do not say it is; otherwise I shall not think you so much as worthy to use a scale. Thus are things judged and weighed, when we have the rules ready. This is the part of philosophy, to examine, and fix the rules; and to make use of them, when they are known, is the business of a wise and good man." [2.11]
The Thesmophoria was another harvest festival tied to the Eleusinian Mysteries and the mythology surrounding Demeter and Persephone. This is another female only festival. Will you join us for it from 12-14 October, all at 10 am EDT?

Two days after the Stenia, the three day festival of Thesmophoria took place. There was a male and female encampment at the Thesmophorian and the division was clearly set; no men were allowed in the female encampment, and no women in the male encampment. Sex was not allowed. From what I have been able to gather, the three days in the female encampment followed a strict regime.

On the first day, called Anodos ('ascent') and Kathodos ('descent'), the women sacrificed the rotting piglets to Demeter and Persephone. The remains were mixed with seeds and would be ploughed into the earth after the festival to assure a good harvest. 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, a swineherd called Eubouleus was grazing his pigs and they were swallowed up in the chasm as well. The women ate on this day, but only food which would not upset Demeter. Pomegranate fruits were off the menu.

The second day was called Nēsteia ('feast of lamentation'). On this day, the women did not eat. They recreated the time before Demeter taught humankind to cultivate the fields. It was a dark time, a time of hunger and pain. At the same time, this day was also used to remember the time when Demeter sought her daughter and neglected her duties as a harvest Goddess. This had also been a time of great hunger.

The third day, Kalligeneia ('she who is of beautiful birth'), was a happy one. The women prayed to Demeter and Persephone for fertility for themselves, their loved ones and the earth. They celebrated the magic of new life, fertility and the kindness of the Gods.

Needless to say, this festival was huge. All free women, except for maidens, were allowed to participate. While we can never be entirely sure why this is, I dare to wager an educated guess. The Stenia and Thesmophoria were festivals in honour of Demeter Thesmophoros, the law-giver. She was seen as the foundation of law and society: agriculture allowed settlements to thrive, allowed societies to be built, and humanity to evolve into what it was now. In short, Demeter was at the root of modern life. A huge part of that modern life was the institution of marriage, which was far more important then as it was now.

Demeter is, perhaps, ancient Hellas' most famous mother, and marriage allowed for the continuation of the family line. Children born out of wedlock were frowned upon, and as such, maidens were excluded from a festival intended to raise fertility in the ground and the women who took part in it. As women married young, maidens were often teens, and they would represent Persephone more than Demeter--and since the Stenia and Thesmophoria commemorated Demeter's separation from her daughter, the inclusion of maidens was most likely discouraged because of that fact.

The Stenia and especially the Thesmophoria were festivals intended for mothers, for those who sought to bear children. They acknowledge the powerful position of women in a patriarchal society. It was because of that that women could say no to their husbands when it came to sex, and why they all left their marital homes. Many women rarely left their homes, and never overnight. To do so for not one but two nights was huge. These were powerful festivals for women because they celebrated their fertility: the one thing they were always respected and honoured for by the men in their lives.

We don't know what happened for the men on these days (sorry), so this is another female only festival. You can find the ritual here and the Facebook page here.
I'm a little late with this, sorry! Today will be a PAT ritual day, for the Stenia. The Stenia will is connected to the Eleusinian Mysteries, Demeter, and Persephone.

The Stenia is celebrated on 9 Pyanepsion. It was a festival dedicated solely to Demeter and Persephone and was held three days before the Thesmophoria. Not much information about this festival has survived, but because bits and pieces have survived of the Thesmophoria and the preceding Skiraphoria, we can put parts of the festival back together.

A little background first: On 12 Skirophorion, the Skiraphoria was celebrated. The Skiraphoria was one of the few days when the women of ancient Athens would gather in public to honor Demeter and bless the harvest. They refused to sleep with the men on this day and took part in a very odd tradition: casting piglets down into a chasm where they were left to rot until the Stenia.

During the Stenia, women came together and begun the extensive purification rituals needed to partake in the Thesmophoria. How, exactly, the women purified themselves is unknown but it is known that the women engaged in Aiskhrologia, insulting each other and using foul language. To understand this practice, it's important to know the mythology behind it. Nearly all festivals where Demeter is included, recount the myth of Kore/Persephone who was abducted by Hades. While Demeter grieved and vowed to get her daughter out, Persephone was seduced to eat of the pomegranate fruit. This decision allowed Hades to keep Persephone in the Underworld for a part of the year, while she was allowed to rejoin her mother for the rest of it. While Demeter grieved, there was only one who could make her laugh: the strange old woman Iambe. From the Homeric Hymn 2: To Demeter:

"But Demeter bringer of seasons and giver of perfect gifts, would not sit upon the bright couch, but stayed silent with lovely eyes cast down until careful Iambe placed a jointed seat for her and threw over it a silvery fleece. Then she sat down and held her veil in her hands before her face. A long time she sat upon the stool without speaking because of her sorrow, and greeted no one by word or by sign, but rested, never smiling, and tasting neither food nor drink, because she pined with longing for her deep-bosomed daughter, until careful Iambe - who pleased her moods in aftertime also - moved the holy lady with many a quip and jest to smile and laugh and cheer her heart." [188]

I believe that a large part of the Stenia was to make the other women laugh by shouting witty insults, making crude jokes or any other way they could think of that was out of character and liberal. It's a laughing day. Yet, there was also a serious note to it. At the Stenia, some women, called 'Bailers', hiked to the chasm where the piglets had been thrown into months ago. Then, in a gruesome display of devotion, the women hauled out the rotting corpses of the piglets and carried them to the Thesmophorion, a site probably on the hillside of the Pnyx, in preparation for the Thesmophoria.

The Stenia is a female only festival, sorry guys! We can't really provide you with laughter and jokes, so here is my suggestion: get all your friends together and have a girl's night. Find Magic Mike on Netflix and break out the wine and popcorn. The ritual will focus on the religious part. You can find the ritual here and chat amongst yourselves here.
It seems like one of the absolute hardest things about Hellenismos to truly understand for new (and experienced) practitioners is miasma. It's especially difficult to understand in regards to a work situation that involves events that traditionally cause miasma. Let's see if I can shed some light today.

Within Hellenic practice, miasma describes the lingering aura of uncleanliness in regards to a person or space through which contact is made with the Gods. Miasma comes into play whenever a space or person comes into contact with death, sickness, birth, sex, excessive negative emotions and bodily fluids. It also comes from a lack of contact with the Hellenic Gods. Miasma is an incredibly complicated and involved practice and it's often misunderstood. The most important things to remember about miasma is that it holds no judgment from the Gods, and that everyone attracts miasma. It's a mortal, human, thing. The ancient Hellenes washed their hands as a precaution before ritual and then attended rites every single day.
I recently recieved a message from a reader who works both in the obstetrics wing and the morgue--both fields which could, judging by the above discription, carry heaps of miasma--who was worried that in his line of work, there was no way to avoid miasma or any way to ever get clean. It made me realize I need to really lay out the mechanics of miasma better--because I doubt this reader ever incurs miasma beyond the 'level' of, say, an office worker or gardener. I'm going to try to explain.

After a lot of research into the workings of miasma, I have come to the conclusion that true, practice stopping, miasma is linked to distraction. Anything that takes your mind off of the Gods during ritual can be considered miasmic. For example, the ancient Hellenes agreed that murder caused miasma but only once other people became aware of the fact that you had committed an act of murder. As such, if you were exiled and you travelled to another town where no one knew what you had done, in essence, you were not miamic to the rites and people around you.

Death, birth, and life treathening illness are traditionally miasmic because they are linked to the Underworld; souls travel to the Underworld during death and (especially in ancient Hellas,) the threat of death and the Underworld hangs over births and over those close to dying. It is important to note here that soldiers--who murdered people for a living!--were not believed to incur miasma. With modern psychological discoveries, I'd dare to contend that, but I'll get to that. Now, not the actual acts of dying, childbirth, being ill or even engaging in sexual relation cause miasma. If it did, soldiers and babies would not only carry miasma but perhaps even be a source of it--and neither were considered to be either.

If you take a look at the events that cause miasma, you can see they are all events that are very emotional. The (imminent) death of a loved one, the birth of your (grand)child, making love to your significant other--these are events that take up our thoughts not only during but after the events. They linger in our minds. These events even have an influence on our hormones; they literally change our brain chemistry for a while. The ancient Hellenes did not know that, of course, but they knew that these events were impactful.

When we are involved, mentally, with these events, we can't practice arete; we can't be our best. We are too absorbed with another human or ourselves to give our full attention to the Gods. That, in a nutshell, is miasma. Miasma occurs when we are too absorbed with human affairs to give our very best to the Theoi. This does not mean that any involvement with death, or birth, or sex, or anything else that traditionally carries miasma causes miasma for the practitioner.

Conciser miasma as throwing a stone in a pond; the closer you are to the point of impact, the more you will be affected by the resulting waves. Please note that I am talking about being emotionally affected; all the physical stuff is handled with water and soap. Some examples:

- If you or a loved one are dying, well, you can't get closer to the point of impact than that. You're going to be affected. The people who love you are going to be affected. The waves of a death reach very far.

- If you've just had a baby and you are worrying about being a good parent, about the health of the baby (in ancient Hellas, especially, children often died in the first days of life) and just generally extatic, it's going to be hard to focus on a rite that focusses on the opening of the first wine barrels of the season, for example, or placating Poseidon to send calm seas so trade can pick up again. Yet, the ripples might extend to the parents of the new parents but probably not too far beyond that circle--except if the baby cries through the entire ritual, but that's a whole different ball game.

- Everyone who has ever made love to a person you are so very in love with knows how hard it is to focus on anything but that other person the day after. The impact of that, however, is not going to be felt by anyone but the two people involved and that kind of miasma can be cleared by a good shake of the head, a shower and ritual katharmos.

Now, there are people--like the author of the message--who are professionally involved with events that traditionally carry miasma. In general, these people will be close to the point of impact physically--namely the people they take care of--but far removed from the point of impact emotionally. This is their job, they have perhaps a dozen patients or clients a day, maybe more, and while they give the best care they can while at work, once the day is done, they drive home and return to their own life. For these people these traditionally miasmic events aren't miasmic beyond the regular, every day occurring, type of miasma. Just like the soldiers of ancient Hellas, they are trained not to be emotionally affected by the job and in general they are not.

Of course you will always want to practice katharmos--the practice of purification through, for example, applying khernips. We all occur miasma, after all. And there are always those special cases that slip right past the training. I have been in health care, I know that sometimes you really connect with a person you take care of. When something happens to them, you take that home. Those people and their situation linger in your mind--and that, as we have seen above, is miasma. At that point you will have to consider to either sit out the ritual or take some extra steps to shake these throughts and regain focus for the Gods at least for the duration of the rite.

Remember I said that I dare to contend that (ancient) soldiers didn't occur miasma while performing their job? With our renewed understanding of the psychological burden of warfare and the legitimization of PTSD, I dare say that soldiers can most certainly incur miasma while performing their job. It's all about the psychological burden, after all, just like a doctor when (s)he loses a patient or a mortician when (s)he has to bury a child. A very dear friend of mine and a fellow Hellenist practiced faithfully every day while he battled cancer and never once felt like he could not give 100% to the Gods. Illness does not have to mean miasma at all, as long as your focus is not on it.

I cannot stress enough that miasma is not negative; it's human. And we are all human. The Gods created us as humans and They fully accept our nature in this regard. All They ask is that we try to live up to arete while we engage with Them. So while professionals dealing with miasmic events are more 'at risk', so to speak, of incuring miasma they do not incur miasma by default. And even if they do incur miasma, it's taken care of by katharmos, just like the rest fo us. So please rest assured.