Aesop was a serf and story-teller who lived in ancient Hellas between 620 and 560 BC--if he actually existed. No records of him were every recovered and through the years, many fables scattered throughout ancient Hellas became attributed to him. His collected works became known as 'Aesop's Fables', and there are quite a lot of them: nearly enough to read your children one of them for every night for two years. I am very short on time and energy today so you're getting two of his little fables, both about the lion and the mouse--but as you will see the moral of each story is very different.

"Some field-mice were playing in the woods where a lion was sleeping when one of the mice accidentally ran over the lion. The lion woke up and immediately grabbed the wretched little mouse with his paw. The mouse begged for mercy, since he had not meant to do the lion any harm. The lion decided that to kill such a tiny creature would be a cause for reproach rather than glory, so he forgave the mouse and let him go. A few days later, the lion fell into a pit and was trapped. He started to roar, and when the mouse heard him, he came running. Recognizing the lion in the trap, the mouse said to him, 'I have not forgotten the kindness that you showed me!' The mouse then began to gnaw at the cords binding the lion, cutting through the strands and undoing the clever ingenuity of the hunter's art. The mouse was thus able to restore the lion to the woods, setting him free from his captivity."

Moral: No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.

"While a lion was sleeping, a mouse ran over his shaggy mane. This angered the lion and he leaped up from his den, all the hairs of his mane standing on end. A fox made fun of the fact that a lion, king of all the animals, had been startled by a mouse. The lion answered the fox, 'You insolent creature! I was not afraid of the mouse scratching me and running away; I was just worried that he might make a mess on my mane.'"

Moral: Small liberties can be large offenses.

On Mounuchion 6, the Athenian festival of the Delphinia (Δελφίνια) starts in honor of Apollon and Artemis. To celebrate this festival, Elaion is hosting a PAT ritual at 10 am EDT on April 6. Will you be joining us?

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

What is known about this festival is that virgin girls walked to the Delphinion (Δελφίνιον) atop the Acropolis in procession, carrying olive branches bound with wool (known as 'iketiria') and baked cakes known as Popana, made of soft cheese and flower. There is overwhelming evidence that the festival was held on the sixth of the month of Mounukhion, most notably from Plutarch, but the seventh of same month is also considered a possible date, quite possibly because the festivities could have taken place in the daylight hours of the sixth day, which is the same day as the start of the seventh of the month, as dusk rained in a new day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.

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

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

Bake for about 30 minutes for a large cake, or (much) less long for smaller cakes. Just watch them until they are firm and light golden brown. Don't forget to enjoy it yourself!

The ritual for the event can be found here and you can join the community here.
We are proud to announce that Pandora's Kharis members have come through for Oxfam International! Together, they have raised $ 70,- to help support this very worthy cause. Thank you very much!

Over 21 million people in Ethiopia, Somalia, Nigeria, Kenya and South Sudan alone are suffering from hunger. The situation in South Sudan is particularly acute, as 3.2 million people are fleeing the terror of the civil war. A five-country study commissioned by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) in Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, Niger, Mozambique and Malawi estimated that response at four months after a failed harvest costs $49 per household, whereas response at six months after harvest costs $1,294 per household. Oxfam International aims to offer help in the aforementioned areas and in the aforementioned way, and your donation helps them do so. So thank you!

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. Please pitch your cause before April 7th. On to another month of pitching, voting, and giving!
On the day of the Hene kai Nea, I post a monthly update about things that happened on the blog and in projects and organizations related to it. I will also announce Elaion's coming PAT rituals.

Changes to the blog:
  • I think I've answered all reader questions now. If you didn't get an e-mail or message back, please send it again!
  • I've been going through my tags in the right hand menu and weeding out weird and disused ones, making it easier to search my blog.
  • Last month I linked Blogger to Facebook, so my Facebook page is now up to date every day! Have you followed me there yet?
PAT rituals for Mounikhion:
  • 4/1 - Mounikhion 4 - Sacrifice to the Herakleidai at Erkhia
  • 4/3 - Mounikhion 6 - Delphinia - in honor of Artemis, and perhaps Apollon and Theseus
  • 4/13 - Mounikhion 16 - Mounikhia - festival in honor of Artemis as the moon Goddess and Mistress of the animals
  • 4/16 - Mounikhion 19 - Olympieia - festival in honor of Olympian Zeus
  • 4/17 - Mounikhion 20 - Sacrifice to Leukaspis at Erkhia
  • 4/18 - Mounikhion 21 - Sacrifice to Tritopatores at Erkhia

Anything else?
Oxfam International has become Pandora's Kharis' Elaphebolion 2017 cause. Over 21 million people in Ethiopia, Somalia, Nigeria, Kenya and South Sudan alone are suffering from hunger. Oxfam International strives to alleviate the impact of the hunger crisis in (Southern) Africa.

The deadline to donate is today, March 28th, 2017. You can do so by using the PayPal option to the side of the Pandora's Kharis website or by donating directly to Thank you in advance!

Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.
The Herakleidai (Ἡρακλεῖδαι) are the descendants of Herakles. After the death of Herakles, his sons were pursued by Eurystheus. They claimed protection in Athens. The Athenians refused to surrender them and in the war that ensued Eurystheus' sons were killed. Eurystheus himself, who had fled in a chariot, was pursued and had his head cut off by Hyllos, son of Heracles. After the death of Eurystheus, the Herakleidai attacked the Peloponnesos and captured all the cities. When a plague ravaged the country the oracle of Delphi declared that this happened because the Herakleidai had returned before the proper time. So they retired and, after some unfortunate attempts to return, they made themselves masters of the Peloponnesus three generations later. In Erkhia, a yearly sacrifice was made to the sons (and hopefully the daughters) of Herakles and we will do the same on 1 April, at the usual 10 am EDT.

The Herakleidai claimed power in the Peloponnesos because they were descended, through Herakles, from Perseus, the founder of Mycenae. The current ruler op the Peloponnesos, Tisamenus, was a Pelopid, a descendant of Pelops. They also claimed that Tyndareus, ruler of Sparta, had been expelled by Hippokoon and argued that Herakles, having killed Hippokoon and his sons, had given the land in trust to Tyndareus. As such, they were the true rulers of both.

Hyllos, son of Herakles, sought to effect the return to power of the Herakleidai, so he went to Delphi and inquired how to go about this. The oracle declared that 'they should await the third crop before returning'. Hyllos supposed that the third crop signified a three year wait. He did, then returned with his army to Peloponnesos. He failed and was killed by Ekhemos. 

Aristomakhos, son of Kleodaeos, son of Hyllos, had been also killed in battle. His son Temenos blamed the oracle for the death of his father. He said that they had obeyed the oracle but the Oracle answered that they were themselves to blame, for they did not understand the prophecies, seeing that by 'the third crop' it was meant, not a crop of the earth, but a crop of a generation. 

So Temenos waited. He readied the army and built ships at Naupaktos. While the army was there, a soothsayer appeared. Karnos recited oracles but the Herakleidai took him for a magician sent by the Peloponnesians to be the ruin of the army. So Hippotes (son of Phylas, son of Antiochos, son of Herakles) threw a javelin at him and killed him. But Karnos was, indeed, a seer of Apollon and the one who established the cult of Apollo Karneos among the Dorians. Appollon destroyed the naval force and made the army suffer from famine. Eventually it had to disband.

After these two failed attempts, Temenos went back to the Oracle of Delphi to ask how he could stop the misfortune that had befallen them. The Oracle advised him to banish the Hippotes for ten years and to take for his guide 'the Three-Eyed One'. So the Herakleidai banished Hippotes and started searching for the Three-Eyed One.

One day they met Oxylos who was sitting on a one-eyed horse. So, guessing he was the man described by the Oracle, they made him their guide. Oxylos had fled from Aetolia to Elis on account of the accidental murder of Thermios (or Alcidokos, depending on the account). So, with Oxylos as a guide, the Herakleidai invaded the Peloponnesos again and finally defeated them. They slew Tisamenos, the last of the Pelopides to rule the Peloponnesos, and claimed it in its entirety. 

The return of the Herakleidai took place three generations after the end of the Trojan War and the death of Nestor after his return home. When the Herakleidai conquered the Peloponnesos, they cast lots for the cities. Argos was allotted to Temenos. The twin sons of Aristodemos, Prokles and Eurysthenes, got Lacedaemon and Sparta. Messenia was allotted to Kresphontes, who drove the descendants of Nestor from Messenia. Oxylos, for his help, became king of Elis after the victory of the Herakleidai.

What follows is a (probably incomplete) list of those who were called 'Herakleidai' at the time described.

The first generation:
Alcaeos, son of Herakles and Omphale. Father of Belos.
Antiochos, son of Herakles and Meda. Father of Phylas.
Hyllos, son of Herakles and Deianira or Melite. Father of Iole of Kleodaeos and Evaekhme.
Ktesippos, son of Herakles and Astydamia or Deianira. Father of Thrasyanor.
Phaestos, son of Herakles and an unknown mother. Father of Rhopalos.

The second generation:
Belos, son of Alcaeos.
Kleodaeos, son of Hyllos. Father of Aristomachos and Lanassa.
Phylas, son of Antiochos. Father of Hippotes and Thero.
Rhopalos, son of Phaestos. Father of Hippolytos.
Thrasyanor, son of Ktessipos. Father of Agamedidas and Antimachos.

The third generation:
Agamedidas, son of Thrasyanor. Father of Thersander.
Anaxandra, daughter of Thersander. Mother by Eurysthenes of King Agis of Sparta.
Antimakhos, son of Thrasyanor. Father of Deiphontes.
Aristomachos, son of Kleodaeus. Father of Temenos, Kresphontes and Aristodemos.
Eurysthenes, son of Aristodemos. Father of King Agis.
Hippotes, son of Phylas. Father of Aletes.
Hippolytos, son of Rhopalos. Father of Lacestades.
Lathria, daughter of Thersander. Mother by Prokles of King Sous of Sparta.
Prokles, son of Aristodemos. Father by Lathria of Sous and Eurypon.

The fourth generation:
Aristodemos, son of Aristomachos. Father of Eurysthenes and Prokles.
Aletes, son of Hippotes.
Deiphontes, son of Antimakhos. Father of Antimenes, Xanthippos, Argeos, and Orsobia.
Kresphontes, son of Aristomachos. Father of Aepytos.
Lakestades, son of Hippolytos.
Temenos, son of Aristomachos. Father of Agelaos, Eurypylos, Kallias and Hyrnetho (or Kisos, Kerynes, Phalkes, Agraeos, Isthmios and Hyrnetho).
Thersander, son of Agamedidas. Father of Lathria and Anaxandra.

The fifth generation:
Agelaus, son of Temenos.
Agraeus, son of Temenos.
Aepytos, son of Kresphontes.
Eurypylus, son of Temenos.
Hyrnetho, daughter of Temenos.
Isthmios. Son of Temenos.
Kallias, son of Temenos.
Kerynes, son of Temenos.
Kisos, son of Temenos. Father of Phlias and Medon.
Phalkes, son of Temenos.

The ritual for the event can be found here and you can join the community page here.
Archaiologia recently posted a very interesting article on the cemetery of Achlada in Florina (Macedonia). It's in Greek and my Greek is...let's go with "very limited". Thankfully, the Archaeology News Network recently posted a translation and it's a very interesting read because it's not only on the finds made at the cemetery but also on Lynkestis (Λυγκηστίς) or Lynchestia (Λυγκηστία) meaning "land of the lynx". It was a region--and in earlier times a Hellenic kingdom of Upper Macedonia--located on the southern borders of Illyria and Paeonia. The inhabitants of Lynkestis were known as Lynkestai (Λυγκησταί), a northwestern Hellenic tribe that belonged to the Molossian tribal state, or koinon, of Epirus. It's an area and cunture we have very little literary evidence on (a fact also mentioned in the text), so we rely heavily on finds like these. Let me give you the text, but visit either Archaiologia or the Archaeological News Network for more pictures (mostly of some of the amazing finds that were made). I, sadly, have not been able to find a link to the paper mentioned in the text.

Unique archaeological evidence about Lynkestis
A cup in the shape of a ram head
[Credit: Ephorate of Antiquities of Florina ]

A very interesting paper about the “Cemetery of Archaic and Classical times of Achlada in Florina” was presented by archaeologist Liana Gelou (Ephorate of Antiquities of Florina) during the 30th meeting of the Archaeological Work in Macedonia and Thrace, which was organized by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the Ministry of Culture. In her paper Mrs. Gelou referred to the finds of the excavations at the site.

Since 2010, the Ephorate of Antiquities of Florina has been supervising the excavations for the mining of lignite at the mine of Achlada. The research has been funded by the Lignit Mines of Achlada. In December 2014, underneath building remains dating back to the Roman period, an organized cemetery was located. The finds were impressive and shed light on hitherto unknown aspects of the civilization developed in Lynkestis during the Archaic and Classical times.

Researchers had long ago pointed out the existence of an ancient settlement and burials on the left bank of Geropotamos, as the Ephorate of Antiquities of Florina informs us. The site was known to the archaeological service as a cemetery of Roman years – a conclusion based on the human skeletal remains in the basin of a stream, and on the inscribed grave stelai of the 2nd and 3rd c. AD which were found in the area and are now exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Florina.
In ancient Greek literature we find very few references to ancient Lynkestis. In addition to that, up to now there were no archaeological finds to fill in the gaps of our knowledge about the area – in particular, during the period prior to the unification of the Macedonian state by Philip II. Until recently, due to this lack of data, it was assumed that the area had been socially and culturally isolated.

We know from ancient Greek written sources that Macedonia was divided in Upper (mountainous) and Lower (plain) Macedonia. The modern regional units of Kastoria, Florina, Kozani and Grevena belonged to Upper Macedonia. Within the geographical boundaries of these regions the following tribes were living: Orestae, Lynkestai, Eordoi, Tymphaioi and Elimiotes. Upper Macedonia comprised kingdoms of related racial groups – races which had an organized social and political system. Macedonian society remained based on the aristocratic structure of the gene connected through royal power, and preserved its racial organization throughout  its history, even after the inclusion of the local kingdoms in the state of Aigai, in 358 BC, by Philip II.

According to Strabo, the Lynkestai come from the tribe of Bacchiads, which were expelled from Corinth in mid-7th c. BC. The first known king of Lynkestis, in mid-5th c. BC, was the son of Bromeros, Arrhabaios I, the granddaughter of which is considered to be Euridice, mother of Philip II. This tradition has been preserved in myths and shows the relationship of Upper Macedonia inhabitants with the Northeastern Pelopponese and the descent of the royal houses (The royal house of the Temenides of Aigai, the Bacchiads of Lynkestis) from Hercules and Argos or Corinth respectively.

The excavations in Achlada are still in progress and the burials found until now are more than 170. In most of these, the skeletal remains are in a bad state of preservation. They date from the 6th to the 4th c. BC, while the burial customs present similarities with other cemeteries of the same period in Macedonia, like the ones in Sindos, Aigai, the Archontikon  of Pella and Aiani. According to the burial customs of Macedonians, the deceased is buried with his/her personal items, like jewelry, which are status symbols, as well as with objects used in burial rituals and refer to beliefs about the after-life.

Men were buried with their weapons, reflecting the ideal of the warrior, and women were buried with their jewelry. Warriors are accompanied by one or two spears or javelins, iron swords and knives, weapons implying real rivalry for dominion and the establishment of territorial possessions. Weapons, jewelry and golden foils characterize the gender and the social status of the deceased, while clay and bronze pottery, figurines and utensils are related to burial rituals and beliefs about the after-life.

Golden mouth-pieces and eye covers with repousse and dotted decoration, golden rosettes and discs for the decoration of clothing, gold and silver-plated earrings were also found. The mouth-pieces, the eye covers and the rest of the foils are possibly related with the widespread belief that gold has a protective power. Due to its imperishable nature, gold has been linked from early on with the ideas of immortality and eternity. Furthermore, an abundance of bronze jewelry has been found. These include fibulae and pins, rings (simple or with depictions on the bezel), earrings and bracelets (simple or spiral ones).

The clay or bronze vases are usually placed near the feet. In early burials, clay pots come mainly from local workshops and feature shapes which have a long tradition in the North Helladic region during the Archaic and Classical period. The oldest (unitl now) imported clay vases were produced in the Corinthian pottery workshop. They were made for aromatic oils and ointments and date to the 6th and early 5th c. BC.

By examining the Achlada pottery it can be concluded that the majority of the craftsmen were indigenous and had been influenced from big artistic centres, like that of Ionia, Corinth and Athens, areas with which the Macedonians had close trade relations. The local craftsmen adopted common types and motifs, the rendering of which depended on the extent to which the artistic trends had been assimilated and the local special characteristics and traditions. There were also foreign craftsmen, goldsmiths, potters, coropolasts, armorers etc. working in Macedonia during the Archaic times.

The burials of the 4th c. BC are accompanied by numerous Attic vases, with shapes which were very popular in cemeteries of the same period throughout the Helladic space. Of special interest is a black-glazed bucket (kados) with plastic decoration, with a relief head at the end of the handle and a sieve across the outflow hole. Also of interest is a vase in the form of a ram head with red-figured decorations and ivy leaves on its neck.

The finds of Achlada confirm the systematic commercial and cultural relations with important centres of south Greece and the colonies. These relations clearly influence the local production and show no differences to the cemeteries of the same period in the rest of the Macedonian territory.

Many answers were hidden in the soil of Achlada and the current research fills in the gaps of the written sources about the history of Macedonia and the national identity of Macedonians. Along with the finds of Aiani, the burial complex of Achlada enriches the archaeological map of the area, documents the historical knowledge and outlines the physiognomy of Hellenism of Upper Macedonia. The recent, unique in the area finds show vividly the unitary nature of Greek culture and prove that, parallel to the Macedonians of Lower Macedonia, the kingdoms of Upper Macedonia of the 6th and 5th c. BC are characterized by a robust economy, a high standard living and a high level of culture.
There are many household Gods in the Hellenic religion and without some background knowledge about how ancient Hellenic houses are built up, it can become a bit of a conglomerated mess when trying to worship all in modern times.  Which God watches out over which area? And where should you place your shrines in a perfect world? And in a realistic world? Why don't we try to suss things out today, hm?

Ancient Hellenic homes were simple structures, made from clay, wood, and stone. The roofs were covered with tiles, or reeds, and the houses had one or two stories. Most houses were small, just a few rooms, with a walled garden or yard in the middle. Others, like the house above, were much larger. They were not solely homes, but often doubled as offices, shops, entertainment areas, and as a place of worship. In many cases, a large wall with a single door connected the house to the street, while insuring maximum privacy tot he occupants of the house. Rooms at the front of the house often served as store rooms or work shops. Other rooms in the house served as bedrooms, as a kitchen, bathroom, and smaller store rooms. Symposia were held in special rooms, reserved only for men. The only women who entered the male-only rooms were serfs. These rooms were called 'andron' (ανδρών). Female-only rooms were called 'gynaikon' (γυναικῶν).

The courtyard of the home often held a bômos, a free standing, raised, altar where the majority of household worship took place. Some houses also had a wall niche, an indoor worship area, either in a room especially designated for worship, or in the main family room. These altars were used to worship the Ephestioi (Εφεστιοι), the most personal of the household Theoi. These almost always included: Hestia, Zeus Ephestios (Overseer of the Hearth), Zeus Kthesios, and Agathós Daímōn. Worship of these deities was highly personal, and many other Theoi could be added to this worship list.

Hestia was represented by the hearth fire that was always kept burning. If it went out, the male head of household would go to the prytaneion (Πρυτανεῖον), the structure where state officials met and where the city kept a fire for Hestia burning day and night, for a new flame. All fires in the house were lit from this one fire, so Hestia would watch over everything and everyone inside the house. Zeus Ephestios was and is a more active defender of the home. He shields the actual structure of the house. Where Hestia watches over the occupants, Zeus Ephestios guards the very walls, the roof, the floor, and any possessions inside the structure. He was worshipped at the main altar.

Zeus Kthesios guards the pantry, and was honored there as well, where he had his own shrine, often adorned with a kathiskos. Agathós Daímōn and the ancestors were also worshipped at the main altar, although they may have had small shrines to themselves, especially in the case of wall niches.

In the courtyard of the house, the Herkeioi (Ἑρκειοι) were honored: those of the herkos or front court. Most notably, this was Zeus Herkeios (Ἑρκειος), protector of the enclosure of the house.

Just outside the house, and especially near the gate to the street, small shrines and altars were placed in honor of the less personal protectors: Apollon (sometimes in his epithet of 'Aguieus' (Ἀγυιεύς), protector of the streets, public places, and the entrances to homes), Hermes Propylaios, Hekate, and especially in Sparta, the Dioskouroi. Hēraklēs sometimes took the place of Apollon.

Zeus Herkeios' altar stood in the courtyard and He, from the inside of the house, protected against anyone wanting to harm the house or the family living in it. These altars were most often pillars, on or around which the offerings could be placed. Hermes, Apollon, and Hekate were represented by a pointy four-sided post. The top was reserved for Apollon, the bottom often held a niche where Deipnon offerings could be placed to Hekate, and Hermes' face (and sometimes his genitalia) was sometimes carved into the post. Hermes sometimes got his own post, called a 'herm', which was a rectangular post, with His face carved on top, and his genitalia carved out on the front.

So how does this translate to modern worship? The structure of houses has changed--many people don't even live in a house but in an apartment without a garden. So, how are the areas divided then? Let's start with a picture of a house with a garden, leading to the street:

The house itself is 'circle' one. It's the realm of the Ephestioi. Their influences reaches right up to the walls. If you live in an apartment, this circle encompasses your entire home. This is where your bômos is, where you might have a pantry shrine to Zeus Kthesios, where you might have a shrine for Hestia if you don't have a fireplace, and so on. This is the main circle of worship.

Then we move out to the garden: anything from the house onward that still belongs to you. In an apartment, this would be the balcony if you have one and arguable also the elevator or staircase and hallway leading to your apartment door. This is the domain of the Herkeioi. You could set up a small shrine near the front door to pour out some libations into. Do you live in an apartment? A flowerpot or plant is a perfect way to hide your little shrine. Do you want to bring things together even more? Zeus is whom is honored here most, and his sacred tree is the oak. Why not plant some acorns and water them with libations of water? This second 'circle' spans the area from the house to the street.

The third 'circle' is not a circle at all: it's a barrier. Just like ancient Hellenic cities often had gated walls, so does the home. There where the driveway, garden fence or building door meets the street, Hekate, Apollon and Hermes (amongst others)  stand tall to guard against any harmful influence from outside. It thus stands to reason that your shrine for Them belongs at that spot.

This third is of course the most tricky of shrines. It's a very visible spot and if you live in an apartment complex, you might not even have the option to put anything of yourself there. I have a friend who lives in an apartment in New York. She has a little mailbox in the entry hall, close to the outer door. At the back of it, she'd put a little bowl and leaves small offerings there whenever she goes to collect her mail. Inventive, hm? Another option would be to 'pull back' this barrier to the door of your house and make a shrine just inside or outside of it. That's what I did when I still lived in an apartment.

I hope this makes things a little clearer and you have a few more handholds to base your worship on.
Phobos (Φοβος) is the God of fear, dread and terror, and his twin-brother Deimos (Δειμος) the god of panic fear, flight and battlefield rout. They are sons of Ares and Aphrodite and often accompany their father into battle, driving His chariot and spreading fear in Their wake. As sons of Aphrodite the twins also represented the fear of loss.

I have been feeling the influence of Phobos and Deimos the last few years. I think the whole world is. Elections that swing to the far right, the 'angry white men', the daily terrorist attacks everywhere in the world. Two days ago, some asshole drove his car into a group of people crossing London Bridge. At least forty were injured and five killed. The attacker then attempted to enter the Houses of Parliament, stabbing a police officer as he tried to force his way in. He was shot and killed by police.

This was by far not the only attack this month alone. Somalia, Cameroon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Mexico, France, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Turkey, Mali, Tunisia, Ivory Coast, India, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen all saw attacks by a wide variety of war and religious extremist parties. The death toll is around the 400 mark in March alone.

People are afraid but I think... I think they are also getting angry. Angry at the right source this time, not at their local governments or refugees but at the people committing these acts of violence. They see now, with Trump's continued idiocy and the uselessness of the screaming right wing, that their anger might have been misplaced.

Full disclosure: I do not like England's Prime Minister Theresa May. I hold her almost personally responsible for the flusterfuck that Brexit will be. But in the wake of the London Bridge attack, I saw in her the voice that's rising more and more: the voice not of fear but of someone fed up with lunacy. Her voice was echoed on the streets, by people interviewed. England will not be afraid and it will not bent to the will of the extremists.

Perhaps the sentiment that is rising now is Phobos and Deimos' influence too: with a fear of loss comes a courage to defend. When exposed to terror enough, one can become almost immune. When flight and fear don't bring safety, people are only left with the option to stand tall. I hope we will feel more of that in the times ahead. I hope we will become stronger in the light of all of this horror. I hope we will become wise.

The people of The Netherlands voted for our own personal Trump, but they voted much more for everyone else. On the whole, on March 15, we voted for the status quo and stability. France is next, then Germany and both have their own national Trumps. Here is to hoping that enough exposure to Phobos and Deimos will have made these voters courageous, unyielding, and immune to the right wing's manipulative message of fear.

I pray for this, and feel a strong debt to those who died to harden us. We owe it to them to do better. Vote better. Act better. I am proud of the Dutch and how they voted. I am proud of the Brits who refuse to break. I am proud of the Belgians who survived a year since their subway bombings and speak of hope. Perhaps we need Phobos and Deimos for that, but I do hope their reign comes to an end soon.
A part of a unique terracotta statue has been found at the Crimean bridge construction site during underwater diggings near the Ak-Burun Cape, the narrowest point of the Kerch Strait. The Kerch Strait connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, separating the Kerch Peninsula of Crimea in the west from the Taman Peninsula of Russia's Krasnodar Krai in the east. The strait is 3.1 kilometres (1.9 mi) to 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) wide and up to 18 metres (59 ft) deep. Since 1944, various bridge projects to span the strait have been proposed or attempted, always hampered by the difficult geologic and geographic configuration of the area. After the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea the government of Russia decided to build a bridge across the Kerch Strait. It is expected to be operational in 2019.

Mass production of terracotta artifacts began in the sixth century BC. Usually, figurines not more than 40 centimeters tall were made. However, the fragment unearthed during the current diggings, is believed to have been part of a bigger sculpture. Sergei Olkhovsky, head of the underwater unit of Russia’s Academy of Sciences, said on Wednesday:

"As far as we know, this unique artifact discovery is the first of its kind in the northern Black Sea area, such objects have never been found here before. In order to figure out what it was used for, when and where it was made, we will cooperate with the leading ancient Greek art experts and will also carry out a laboratory test of the clay."

Two diver teams are operating in the area where the artifact was found. The divers are manually digging in order to diminsh the risk of damaging valuable objects. The archeologists plan to conclude the excavation near the Ak Burun Cape by this summer. Meanwhile, the unearthed artifacts will be handed over to the Eastern Crimean Historical and Cultural Museum and Reserve.

The Crimea Bridge information Center elaborated that for more than 2,000 years, the Ak Burun Cape area of the Kerch Bay had served as the main shipping conduit and base on the trade route connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Sea of Azov. Some of the transported ceramics were thrown into the sea after being damaged, so large deposits of ceramic objects made in various historic periods were formed near the local piers. A significant volume of sediments containing ceramics were later swept by the sea’s currents to shallow areas of the Ak-Burun Cape thus forming a build-up of ceramic fragments that experts have been closely examining after the construction of the Crimea Bridge had begun.
The first results of the excavation research on the finds made at the Thessaloniki metro station, conducted by the Ephorate of Antiquities of Thessaloniki City, were presented by archaeologist Eleni Lambrothanasi at the 30th scientific meeting about the excavations in Macedonia and Thrace, which was organized by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the Ministry of Culture. So far, thousands of artefacts have been unearthed in what is without question the largest excavation ever undertaken in the Macedonian capital of Thessaloniki in Northern Greece ahead of the construction of the new metro.

New finds at Thessaloniki metro station
Mosaic floor at the north entrance [Credit: ANA-MPA]

A crash course on the project for those who are new to the blog. In March of 2013, I blogged about an excavation conducted at the Venizelos metro station which brought to light a very well preserved 70-meter section of a marble-paved road, the remains of buildings dating back to the sixth to ninth centuries AD, as well as big public buildings of the 7th century; a rarity for the Byzantine world. Trouble was (and is) that the site of the find is part of a new subway tunnel and platform which are being built to transport 250,000 passengers daily, and thus decrease traffic congestion and air pollution in the city. The entire subway project has a price-tag of 3.5 billion euros (4.6 billion dollars), and was co-financed by the European Union. To keep the road, the entire subway project would have to be abandoned. To save the subway project, the road would need to be moved, or destroyed--the same thing, according to archaeologists.

By April it looked like Thessaloniki's government and archaeological institutions had found a solution to the problem: they were going to temporarily remove the finds during the station's construction and then restore about 85 percent to 95 percent after the station was completed. The solution proposed had a low cost--0,6 percent to 0.8 percent of the budget--with zero or only a few months delay to the works’ completion. Only a 45 square meter space (out of the area’s 1.600 square meters) would not be restored, due to the placement of vents and escalators.

By February of last year, word got out that the removal of the antiquities from the construction site was suspended in July of last year following a decision reached by the Council of State. In the beginning of April I blogged about the estimation that it will take at least another three years and some 40 million euros for the excavation of ancient ruins to be completed. Well, it seems that that was a careful estimate: the new numbers weren't pretty. the new completion date was somewhere in 2020 and it might cost another 42 million euros in funding for the archaeological work it has lined up to complete the digs, on top of 92 million already spent.

In September, 2015, a new decision issued by the Central Archaeological Council (KAS) favored the in situ preservation of the antiquities found, however, KAS rejected the proposal about the enhancement of the monument on the ground of lacking documentation and asked the Municipality to conduct a complete architectural proposal in collaboration with the relevant services of the Cultural Ministry and the Attiko Metro. The Thessaloniki Municipality claimed that the ministerial decision violated the constitutional principle of proportionality, but the court ruled that the ministerial decisions were legal and in line with the constitution.

More on New finds at Thessaloniki metro station
Selection of artefact from the pre-Cassandrian settlement of the 4th century BC at Pylea
[Credit: Ephorate of Antiquities of Thessaloniki City]

Five excavations were undertaken in 2016 at the main stations of metro line from Pylea Station to New Railway Station with a stopover on the 'Decamanus Maximus' which for centuries was the commercial heart of the city. The pre-Cassandrian settlement of the 4th century BC at the Pylea Station, the monumental complex at the junction of the main Roman road 'Decumanus Maximus' (Egnatia Odos) and the 'cardo' of Aghia Sofia (located on the axis of two important Early Christian monuments at the site of the Aghia Sofia church), and the rich burials from two ancient cemeteries spread over three other stations, have brought to light major discoveries. The archaeologists say:

"[The discoveries] complement our knowledge about the city from its inception in 316/317 BC by King Cassander of Macedon (who in fact named the city after his wife Thessalonike, half-sister of Alexander the Great and princess of Macedon as daughter of Philip II) to the development of a civitas libera in Roman times, and the reigning co-capital of Constantinople until its transformation into a modern European city."

You can read (and see!) a lot more about these discoveries and the history behind them here and here, over at the Archaeology News Network. Some of these finds are absolutely beautiful! I have been invested in this project for five years now and I am still shocked by the amount of support (both governmental and financial) this huge project has had over the years. To see it pay off so beautifully is just icing on the cake. I can't wait to read the reports of the first studies done on all that has been revealed!
Have you heard of the 'Greece is...' magazine? It was inaugurated in the summer of 2015, with its first issue dedicated to Santorini, one of the world’s most beloved and coveted travel destinations. The second issue, 'Greece Is Athens - Summer Edition', is a treasure trove of information on Athens from past to present, distributed exclusively at the Acropolis Museum. The third was about the Peloponnese and the fourth issue, 'Greece Is Democracy', was on the occasion of the 3D Athens Democracy Forum, celebrates and relates to the birth, reality and influence of Athenian democracy, through a compilation of original articles by esteemed Greek and international academics, authors and journalists. If you have not read them yet, you might want to invest the time!

After those came eight more magazines, on the Greek city Thessaloniki, the Greek city of Athens, the Greek island Mykonos and the last was on The Olympics. Then on Athens again, on wine, on the peninsula and regional unit of Greece named Halkidiki and finally on democracy.

Now there are four more: on the Greek city Thessaloniki again, Athens again, the new subject of health and what do you know, wine again! Enjoy!

Ancient Origins recently posted a very interesting article about something writer Jason König from The Conversation noticed on his last visit to Greece: that the money toward preservation and restoration of the ancient Hellenic monuments never ends up on the mountaintops.

Turbines on Arachnaion.

"The mountains of the Mediterranean are permanent reminders of the past. The ancient Greeks climbed to their summits to offer sacrifices to the gods for centuries, even millennia, and handed down stories from generation to generation of the battles and myths which played out on their slopes – Zeus’s defeat of the Titans on Mt Olympus in northern Greece, for instance; or the legendary cave on Crete’s Mt Ida where the goddess Rhea concealed the infant Zeus from his father Cronus to prevent him from being eaten.

There are still traces of these ancient places of worship today. We know of about ten mountaintop sanctuaries with surviving material in mainland Greece and the Aegean, and many more in other parts of the eastern Mediterranean, including dozens on Crete. You might think that these reminders of European life from thousands of years ago would be among the most cherished and protected sites in the world. Instead they are mostly neglected, unloved and ignored.

[...]The lack of interest in these treasures is well illustrated by Mt Arachnaion in the Peloponnese region in southern Greece. Its highest point is home to the ruins of altars to Zeus and also Hera, queen of the Greek gods. It was a place for ritual and sacrifice dating back to the time of the Mycenaeans, Greece’s first ancient civilization (1600 BC to 1100 BC). Now it is the site of a wind farm. [...] Mountain archaeological sites are usually too inconspicuous to be targets for the deliberate destruction we have seen at Palmyra in Syria, but accidental damage is another matter. The summit of the great mountain of Jebel Aqra on the Turkish border with Syria is the site of the biggest surviving ash altar from the ancient world, 55 meters wide and eight meters deep, containing the remains of countless sacrifices. It now stands within a Turkish militarized zone, inaccessible to archaeologists."

The article ‘ Why Do We Ignore the Ancient Treasures on top of Mediterranean Mountains?’ by Jason König was originally published on The Conversation and has been republished under a Creative Commons license. You can read the full article on Ancient Origins or at the source site.
Proklos (Πρόκλος) was a Greek Neoplatonist philosopher, one of the last major Classical philosophers. He was alive from 8 February 412 AD to 17 April 485 AD, and amongst other things, he wrote five beautiful hymns about the Roman Gods, which can be interpreted for the Hellenic ones as well. The surviving works consist of two hymns to Venus (Aphrodite), one to the Sun (Helios), one to the Muses, and one to Minerva (Athena). Today, you are getting his hymn to the Muses, because I pray they give my mind and words wings today. Today, because one can never have enough love in their life, I'm sharing his hymn to Aphrodite (or Venus).

A CELEBRATED royal fount I sing,
From foam begotten, and of Loves the spring,
Those winged, deathless powers, whose gen'ral sway
In diff'rent modes all mortal tribes obey.
With mental darts some pierce the god-like soul,
And freedom rouse unconscious of control;
That anxious hence the centre to explore
Which leads on high from matter's stormy shore,
The ardent soul may meditate her flight,
And view their mother's palaces of light.
But others, watchful of their father's will,
Attend his councils and his laws fulfil,
His bounteous providence o'er all extend,
And strengthen generation without end.
And others last, the most inferior kind,
Preside o'er marriage, and its contracts bind,
Intent a race immortal to supply
From man calamitous and doomed to die.
While all Cythera's high commands obey,
And bland attention to her labours pay.
O venerable goddess! hear my prayer,
For nought escapes thine universal ear:
Whether t'embrace the mighty heav'n is thine,
And send the world from thence a soul divine;
Or whether, seated in th'aetherial plain
Above these seven-fold starry orbs you reign,
Imparting to our ties, with bounteous mind,
A power untamed, a vigour unconfined;—
Hear me, O goddess, and my life defend,
With labours sad, and anxious for their end;
Transfix my soul with darts of holy fire,
And avert the flames of base desire.
A 20-member scientific team was involved in the underwater research that took place in three sides of Ampelakia Bay on the eastern coast of Salamis island in the months of November and December 2016. They say they have discovered the site where the Hellenic fleet gathered for the Battle of Salamis against the Persians in 480 BC, after finding antiquities in the waters of the bay.

Salamis was a large port city located on the island of Cyprus. According to Homeric legend, Salamis was founded by archer Teucer (or Teukros)from the Trojan War. Salamis was believed to have been the capital of Cyprus as far back as 1100 B.C. Located on the eastern side of the island of Cyprus, it was considered a very important port city. Ships arrived from all over the world, making it a major hub of activity.

When the Persians invaded Greece in 480 BC, they sacked Athens and marched across the mainland after defeating the Hellenes at Thermopylae. The Persian navy then sought to destroy the rest of the Hellenic force in the naval battle at Salamis. If the Persians won at Salamis, Hellas would be lost, and so the site is of great historical value.

According to the Ministry of Culture and Sports, the 2016 main field of research (which is under a three-year program) was the inner (western) part of the Ampelakia Bay. A Ministry of Culture statement says:

"This is the commercial and possibly military port of the Classical and Hellenistic city-municipality of Salamis, the largest and closest to the Athenian state, after the three ports of Piraeus (Kantharos, Zea, Mounichia). It is also the place where at least part of the united Greek fleet gathered on the eve of the great battle of 480 BC, which is adjacent to the most important monuments of Victory: the Polyandreion (tomb) of Salamis and the trophy on Kynosoura. References to the ancient port of Salamis responded to works geographer Skylakos (4th c. BC), the geographer Stravonas (1st Century BC-1st Century AD) and Pausanias (2nd century AD).”

The statement also confirms that submerged antiquities were found on three sides of the Ampelakia Bay (north, west and south:

"...which gradually sink and emerge depending on the change in sea level, with the ebb, especially the February, reaching half a meter. The ancient remains found in shallow waters include traces of harbor structures, fortifications and various buildings. After aerial photography, photogrammetric processing and topographical and architectural documentation of all visible data, the first underwater archaeological map of the region was created, which will be the basis for further research in the coming years."

At the same time, it said, the geophysics and geoarchaeological research conducted by the University of Patras team, generated high quality digital data that “should greatly contribute to the reconstruction of the coastal palaeography of the region.”

The research is the result of cooperation between the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities (EEA) of the Ministry of Culture and Sport, under the direction of the Head of the Inspectorate, Dr. Angeliki Simossi and the Institute of Marine Archaeology (HIMA), under the direction of Ioannina University professor and president of the Institute, Yannos Lolos, with the participation of the Laboratory of Marine Geology and Physical Oceanography at the University of Patras, under Professor George Papatheodorou and with financial support from the British Honor Frost Foundation.
Full disclosure before I start this post: I am a feminist, a nerd and a comic book geek. Of course I am also a fan of anything (ancient) Greek. As such, it won't surprise you when I say that every scrap of information (and video especially) released on the Wonder Woman movie makes me squeal and rewind several times. Feast your eyes on this, people:

For those of you who are not comic book geeks: Wonder Woman is a fictional superheroine appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. In her homeland Themyscira, she is known as Princess Diana, and outside of her homeland, she is known by as Diana Prince. Themyscira (pronunciation: them-IS-kair-ə) is a fictional, lush island nation on Earth. The island is named after the mythological city of Themiscyra, the capital of the Amazon tribe in Greek mythology. Wonder Woman's origin story relates that she was sculpted from clay by her mother and Amazonian Queen Hippolyta and given life by Athena, along with superhuman powers as gifts by the Hellenic Gods. However, in recent years artists updated her profile: she has been depicted as the daughter of Zeus, and jointly raised by her mother Hippolyta and her aunts Antiope and Menalippe. Her Amazonian-training helped to develop a wide range of extraordinary skills in strategy, hunting and fighting. She possesses an arsenal of advanced technology, including the Lasso of Truth, a pair of indestructible bracelets, a tiara which serves as a projectile, and, in older stories, a range of devices based on Amazon technology.

(Warped) Hellenic mythology is woven into her story at every turn. The 1987 (to present) relaunch of Wonder Woman establishes that the Amazons are the reincarnated souls of women slain throughout pre-history by men. Shaped from clay over 3,000 years previous and given new lives by five Olympian Goddesses--Artemis, Athena, Demeter, Hestia, and Aphrodite--the Amazons are granted immortality, great physical strength, highly acute senses, beauty, wisdom, and love for one another. They are tasked to teach the merits of virtue, love, and equality to the men of 'Patriarch’s World'. For centuries, the Amazons of Themyscira live in a perfect state of harmony with their surroundings, under a theocracy. They know no racism, do not think in terms of male gender ('police' instead of 'policeman'), and homosexuality is completely natural to them.

Their city is composed entirely of Greco-Roman architecture from 1200 BCE, and they wear Hellenic garb, togas, sandals, and period armor. The Amazons also all wear the Bracelets of Submission as constant reminders of their Enslavement and obedience to their patrons, although only Diana is able to deflect bullets with them. They are fervently religious, worshipping their Gods as living deities. Artemis is their primary Goddess, and they worship Her with a sacrifice of a deer. The Amazons celebrate their creation each year in a Feast of Five, remembering the Goddesses who brought them to life. A great range of Gods, Goddesses, mythological figures and items is featured in the coming. Beyond the above, Ariadne makes her appearance, Eris, Kirke,Khiron the Kentaur, Pegasos, Ladon, Athena's Aegis (reformed into Diana's bracers), and many more.

Of course, how much of that ends up in the movie, I do not know. Not much, I fear, but I still look forward to it. Womde Woman is a hero to me. I might be an Image Comics girl at heart, but DC has done good with Wonder Woman over the years (for the most part). If they live up to the legacy on June 2, 2017, we will see.
Greece has tried lawsuits, appeals to European and global humanitarian and cultural courts, please, threats--anything to get the Parthenon Marbles back to Greece. Now Greece is offering the British Museum unique ancient archaeological pieces in exchange for the Parthenon Marbles, reports the Independent.

The Parthenon Marbles, also known as the Elgin Marbles, is a collection of classical Greek marble sculptures, inscriptions and architectural members that originally were part of the Parthenon and other buildings on the Acropolis of Athens. Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin obtained a controversial permit from the Ottoman authorities to remove pieces from the Parthenon while serving as the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1799 to 1803. Since then, there has been great controvercy surrounding the legitimacy of this permit and the validity of the UK's claim to keep the Marbles instead of sending them home to Greece. The UK, however, maintains its claim and it does not look like they will release it any time soon.

Now it seems the Athenian government, which decided against taking legal action against the UK last year, will instead renew diplomatic efforts with an offer to regularly loan some of the wonders of Ancient Greece to British institutions in exchange as a symbolic act in the fight against anti-democratic forces seeking 'the dissolution of Europe'.

Greek museums hold astonishing art works created in antiquity. The arrival of art such as the 'golden mask of Agamemnon' or the statue of Zeus/Poseidon, which could be expected to cause widespread interest. Lydia Koniordou, the Greek Minister of Culture and Sport, said allowing the restoration of this founding monument of Western values would send a message about Europe’s commitment to democracy – at a time when many believe this is under threat from rising nationalism.

"The reunification of the Parthenon Marbles will be a symbolic act that will highlight the fight against the forces that undermine the values and foundations of the European case against those seeking the dissolution of Europe. The Parthenon monument represents a symbol of Western civilization. It is the emblem of democracy, dialogue and freedom of thought."

Greece is carrying out restoration work on the Parthenon and has built a museum specifically designed to display the sculptures, but currently only has slightly less than half of them. Other fragments are held by several museums in Europe.  Elgin’s staff removed the sculptures somewhat crudely – for example, the heads of a centaur and a human in a dramatic fight scene are in Athens, while their bodies are in London.

Professor Louis Godart, the newly elected chairman of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures (IARPS), said:

"It’s unthinkable that a monument which has been torn apart 200 years ago, which represents the struggle of the world's first democracy for its own survival, is divided into two. We must consider that the Parthenon is a monument that represents our democratic Europe so it is vital that this monument be returned to its former glory. [The Greek government has] resolved to renew and intensify its efforts for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures. The centrepiece of Greece’s renewed push for the return of the sculptures will be a proposal – made in a true spirit of compromise – to offer recurring, long-term loans of rare archaeological treasures from Greek museums in exchange for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures from the British Museum. Greece and its supporters will not rest until all the known surviving sculptural elements from the Parthenon are reunited in the Acropolis Museum in full view of the monument which they once adorned."

Andrew George, chairman of the British Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, said returning the sculptures to Athens would help the UK's reputation in Europe following the Brexit referendum vote.

“Britain has nothing to lose and so much to gain from engaging with the Greek Government in this way. A gracious act by the British would lift our reputation at the very moment our otherwise threadbare negotiating position with the EU appears so grubby and self-seeking. Such a high level and deeply symbolic gesture of this kind would also help counteract the tide of growing right-wing intolerance that is taking hold across Europe. Britain has nothing to lose but a deeply damaged reputation – having clung on for over 200 years to such important artefacts which were stolen from the Greeks when they could do nothing to stop it – and has much to gain at the very time Britain's reputation needs enhancing amongst those countries it wants to do a deal with. And the offer of ancient treasures from Greece “would more than compensate for the apparent loss [of the Marbles].

The British Government has routinely dismissed calls for the return of the sculptures to Greece.
A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said:

"The Parthenon sculptures were acquired legally in accordance with the law of the time. They are the responsibility of the trustees of the British Museum who are legally responsible for their care."
My parents got divorced when I was in my early twenties. They stayed together just long enough for me to grow up (and I always wished they'd just split once the relationship turned sour, but that's beside the point). I always knew it was the very best thing for them to do and I did not mind it one bit. I know others have a different experience. I was recently asked about divorce in Hellenismos: do we have a standpoint on it? Is it allowed? And how was it for the ancient Hellenes? So, I figured I'd put a few things together.

Marriage in ancient Hellas was a family affair. The father of the son--who was often in his thirties by the time he got married--opened negotiations with the family of a bride in her teens. The two families came to an agreement about dowry, a contract was signed by the father of the groom and the father of the bride in front of witnesses, and the groom met his new wife--often for the first time--before taking her to bed.

Men married to have children, and to have someone to tend to the home while he was out, dealing with public affairs. Romance didn't counter into it. Demosthenes, a prominent statesman and orator in ancient Hellas, once said: "We have prostitutes for our pleasure, concubines for our health, and wives to bear us lawful offspring."

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.

So, was there divorce? Yes. These lawful offspring were so important that, if a wife had not bore a husband children by the end of the tenth year of their marriage, the man was forced to file for divorce. This was a costly affair because a divorce meant parting with the dowry that was paid to the husband upon marriage, as the ex-wife was entitled to it.

Adultery was a punishable offense. If a married woman had intercourse with a man other than her husband, she could be killed. Another option was to divorce. She was then sent back to her father. If he rejected her (and he usually did), she was left to fend for herself, which often led to a life of slavery. The man she cheated with was often worse off. He was also liable to get killed, especially if caught in the act, because the husband had the right to kill him, without getting punished for it.

So what abut this divorce? Were the Gods involved? The ancient Hellenes invited the Gods to things for which mortals needed protection and good luck. They invited Them into their homes, and invited Them into their marriages as well. A wedding was an occasion to bring the Gods into because they hoped for children in their marriage, for a partnership at least somewhat productive and enjoyable, and maybe even love.

As far as I am aware, there were no rituals involved with divorce. A divorce was a legal affair and the ancient Hellenes went to court for it. I have found no evidence the Gods were involved, which makes sense. There was no need to include the Gods, nothing to hope or pray for was involved. If and when the people involved married again, they celebrated again. I suppose it's much the same today. Divorce, I suppose, is something human which is taken care of between humans. Perhaps purification rites before partaking in ritual again as there might be a process of loss and grief, but at its foundation it's not a matter for the Gods.
Sorry dear readers, I'm absolutely swamped! Can I interest you in a reconstruction video of the ancient Minoan palace of Knossos, Krete?

The Minoan civilization was an Aegean Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and other Aegean islands and flourished from approximately 3650 to 1400 BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of British archaeologist Arthur Evans. Historian Will Durant referred to it as "the first link in the European chain."

It was not until roughly 5000 BC in the late Neolithic period, that the first signs of advanced agriculture appeared in the Aegean, marking the first signs of civilization. The term "Minoan" refers to the mythic King Minos. Minos was associated in Greek myth with the labyrinth and the minotaur, which Evans identified with the site at Knossos, the largest Bronze Age Minoan site. The poet Homer recorded a tradition that Crete once had 90 cities.

The Minoans were primarily a mercantile people engaged in overseas trade. Their pottery provides the best means of dating. As traders and artists, their cultural influence reached far beyond the island of Crete — throughout the Cyclades, to Egypt's Old Kingdom, to copper-bearing Cyprus, Canaan, and the Levantine coasts beyond, and to Anatolia. Some of its best art is preserved in the city of Akrotiri, on the island of Santorini, very near the Thera eruption.

Though we cannot read their language (Linear A), and there is much dispute, it is generally assumed there was little internal armed conflict in Minoan Crete itself, until the following Mycenaean period. The armed Mycenaeans or the eruption at Thera are two popular theories for the eventual demise of Minoan civilization around 1,400 BC.
On Monday, 20 March, at 10 AM EDT, Elaion hosts a PAT ritual for the Galaxia. This rather obscure festival was held in many places in ancient Hellas, but most notably at Olympia. The Galaxia was closely linked to the vernal equinox, which was used to date it and was (amongst others) in honor of Kronos and Rhea.

The Galaxia is a festival held in honour of the Mother (of the Gods), who in Hellenic mythology is Rhea, although the title is also strongly associated with Gaia and Kybele, who have similar functions. She was worshipped as the mother of Zeus and the Galaxia celebrated His birth just as much as Her giving birth to him. Kronos--as Her consort and His father--was most likely also sacrificed to, along with Hera, who as Zeus' wife deserved honour alongside Him. In our ritual, we have included Helios and the Horai as well, as the Galaxia was associated so closely with the Spring Equinox.

The Galaxia had a special beverage attached to it--well, a special food item: a milk and barley porridge that may have been sacrificed to the Mother, but which was at least consumed at the festival. Pliny the Elder names the porridge a 'puls', which seems to have been a more general term which included pastes made from lentils and beans as well as from grain. On barley-based porridge, he has the following to say in his 'Natural History':

"There are several ways of making barley porridge: the Greeks soak some barley in water and then leave it for a night to dry, and next day dry it by the fire and then grind it in a mill. Some after roasting it more thoroughly sprinkle it again with a small amount of water and dry it before milling; others however shake the young barley out of the ears while green, clean it and while it is wet pound it in a mortar, and wash it of husk in baskets and then dry it in the sun and again pound it, clean it and grind it. But whatever kind of barley is used, when it has been got ready, in the mill they mix in three pounds of flax seed, half a pound of coriander seed, and an eighth of a pint of salt, previously roasting them all. Those who want to keep it for some time in store put it away in new earthenware jars with fine flour and its own bran. Italians bake it without steeping it in water and grind it into fine meal, with the addition of the same ingredients and millet as well." [XVIII-XIV]

Sources which mention the festival speak only of a milk and barley beverage that can be poured. Fundamentally, porridge is made by mixing oats with a fluid (normally water and or milk) and then heating it. Combine barley, water, and salt in a heavy saucepan. Cover, and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring continuously. Turn the heat to low and steam until grains are soft and all the liquid is absorbed. Add the milk once the water level drops below the level of the barley. Cooking time depends on the form of barley used. Use one cup dry barley on three cups of water.

- Hulled barley is unprocessed and takes the longest to boil, about an hour and 15 minutes before it's soft.
- Pearl Barley or Pearled Barley is the most common form of barley available and is sold in most supermarkets. Because the outer hulls including the bran have been removed, the grains have a pearly white color. Cooking time: 50-60 minutes.
- Quick Barley, or instant barley is pearl barley that is pre-steamed then dried, shortening the cooking time considerably, about 10 to 12 minutes.
- Barley Grits are processed similar to bulghur wheat. The grain is cracked, and toasted or parboiled, then dried, making it a quick-cooking product--about 2-3 minutes. As such, add a little less water or milk.
- Barley Flakes, Pressed Barley, or Rolled Barley have the appearance of rolled oats and are often included in muesli-type cereals. The cooking time is about 30 minutes.
- Barley Flour is hulled barley that is finely ground and has a lightness and delicate sweetness. It can be stirred into milk until the right consistency is reached.
To get a consistency where the puls can be poured, add milk or water to thin the porridge. If you want to sweeten the porridge a little, add warmed honey to the mixture.

We hope you will join us a week from now, on March 20 at the usual 10 AM. The ritual can be found here and you can join the community here.
When we, in Hellenismos, petition the Gods for aid, we always do so with an offering. This offering can be incense, a libation, a food offering or anything else. It must be something tangible. Good thoughts and intentions don't count. This offering is given freely, joyfully, with pleasure, out of respect and love for the Gods. We ask what we feel we need--sometimes that's a new job, sometimes just a sentiment like honor and prosperity to the household--and never expect to be granted this request. Petitions aren't bribery. We give to the Gods and should They feel inclined to grand us our request, we thank Them by offering to Them again, to which the Gods might respond, to which we will sacrifice, and so on. This circular practice of voluntary giving is called kharis (xάρις), and through it, we built relationships with all Theoi.

Kharis is one of the pillars of Hellenismos, together with xenia and katharmos. Those who practiced kharis properly in ancient Hellas were seen as humble, grateful and good people in general. Kharis is the base of a good few words we use to describe related acts and characteristics to this day; charisma, for instance, and charity. To word it differently; kharis represents your reputation with a specific Deity. Building a relationship with the Theoi was vital for the ancient Hellenes and it's vital in Hellenismos today. It's the foundation of daily practice, of the large-scale festivals of old, of Xenia, katharmos and the whole of Hellenismos. You can't practice Hellenismos without striving for a reciprocal relationship with the Gods.

Literary and artistic evidence from ancient Hellas shows that daily worship centered around the oikos, the household. The courtyard of the home often held a bômos, a free standing, raised, altar where the majority of household worship took place. Some houses also had a wall niche, an indoor worship area, either in a room especially designated for worship, or in the main family room. These altars were used to worship the Ephestioi (Εφεστιοι), the most personal of the household Theoi. These almost always included: Hestia, Zeus Ephestios (Overseer of the Hearth), Zeus Kthesios, and Agathós Daímōn. Worship of these deities was highly personal, and many other Theoi could be added to this worship list.

Most Hellenes gave daily or twice daily sacrifice to the list of deities they'd selected for their household worship. But how do you select these Gods? Can you do that respectfully without leaving any out? There was no definite list everyone had to follow for the ancient Hellenes. The only list there was, was the festival calendar, and through that, most of the 'major' Gods were worshipped throughout the year. This left the ancient Hellenes free to add any Theoi they felt drawn to or whose influence they felt they needed in their life. Ancient fishermen would undoubtedly have included aquatic Gods, merchants Gods connected to trade and travel. Sometimes the choice was sheerly made because they felt a draw to a particular God or Goddess. Aeschylus' Eumenides describes it quite accurately:

"First, in this prayer of mine, I give the place of highest honor among the gods to the first prophet, Earth; and after her to Themis, for she was the second to take this oracular seat of her mother, as legend tells. And in the third allotment, with Themis' consent and not by force, another Titan, child of Earth, Phoebe, took her seat here. She gave it as a birthday gift to Phoebus, who has his name from Phoebe. Leaving the lake1 and ridge of Delos, he landed on Pallas' ship-frequented shores, and came to this region and the dwelling places on Parnassus. The children of Hephaistos, road-builders taming the wildness of the untamed land, escorted him with mighty reverence. And at his arrival, the people and Delphus, helmsman and lord of this land, made a great celebration for him. Zeus inspired his heart with prophetic skill and established him as the fourth prophet on this throne; but Loxias is the spokesman of Zeus, his father.
These are the gods I place in the beginning of my prayer. And Pallas who stands before the temple is honored in my words; and I worship the Nymphs where the Corycian rock is hollow, the delight of birds and haunt of gods. Bromius has held the region—I do not forget him—ever since he, as a god, led the Bacchantes in war, and contrived for Pentheus death as of a hunted hare. I call on the streams of Pleistus and the strength of Poseidon, and highest Zeus, the Fulfiller; and then I take my seat as prophetess upon my throne. And may they allow me now to have the best fortune, far better than on my previous entrances. And if there are any from among the Hellenes here, let them enter, in turn, by lot, as is the custom. For I prophesy as the god leads." [Pythia in the temple of Apollon at Delphi - 1]

I can't help you decide which Gods you should add to your daily practice, but my list can be found here. Perhaps you have UPG experiences with any God that makes you want to include them, perhaps you want to honour the Gods mythically connected to night and day as we perform these rites at the cusp of when Their time starts. Pro tip: start with a short list and build up once you feel comfortable and you have found your rhythm. Remember: there is no manual for this, just go with your heart.