I love to hike. I love to walk, period. It's meditative for me. After a long day behind the computer, walking an hour or two is my favorite way to unwind. I would love to hike in Greece--many of the ancient monuments can be reached by convenient tourist-friendly roads, but there are hiking paths to a lot of them as well. It's one of my goals--a hiking vacation in Greece. Until then, I'm afraid locations like Mount Olympos are out of reach for me--or so I thought! Then innovation happened in the form of Google Trekker.

Google’s Trekker allows people to feel as though they are actually walking on two of Mount Olympus’s most popular paths, Gortsia and Prionia. The rare images were recorded collated by hooking 15 HD cameras onto a backpack giving a 360 degree panoramic views of the breathtaking scenery. The footage has been embedded into Google Map’s street view. Click on the image below and hike on the mountain where the Gods dwelled.

Elaion is proud to announce that on the sixth and seventh of Thargelion (so 3 and 4 May, 2017), we will be hosting another PAT ritual, this time for the Thargelia. PAT rituals, or Practicing Apart Together rituals, have become a staple for Elaion, where we, as an organization, provide a date, time, and ritual for the festival at hand, and around the globe, as many of our members as possible perform the ritual at their homes. Some do it alone, some in groups, and we create an event to share experiences and photographs of the altar or the festivities on the Elaion Facebook page.

The Thargelia (Θαργήλια) was, as said, held over the course of two days. It was an agricultural festival as well as a kathartic one. The purpose was to purify the city in order to please the Theoi and ensure a succesful harvest come harvesting time. It also celebrates the birth of the divine twins Apollon and Artemis.

The first day, a sheep was sacrificed to Demeter Khloe on the Acropolis, and perhaps a swine to the Fates, but most telling about that first day was the following that took place:

In ancient times, two poor, ugly men (or a man and one woman) were chosen each year to be Pharmakoi.  They were fed for a while at public expense and were then paraded around Athens as scapegoats for the people, one wearing a string of black figs to represent the men, the other white figs to represent the women. At the end of the procession, they were driven out of the city by flogging and beaten them with branches and squills (sea onions), and killed. The bodies were burned and the ashes thrown into the sea or land, to fertilize.

This sacrifice became symbolic as time wore on, first with banishment, then with play acting where they were beaten with branches of figs and pelted with squills instead of beaten with branches and stoned to death.What matters was that they were driven out and with them, so was the pollution of ever man and woman in the city.

The first day focussed on purification and appeasement but the second day was a lot less gruesome: a great pot of vegetables was prepared as an offering of the first fruits to Apollon. A panspermia was ritually sown into the earth. The Thargelia also featured choral contests among pairs of phratriai, and was recognized by phratriai as a day of festival and sacrifice. An eiresione (olive branch of supplication) with fillets of white wool and first fruits attached was carried in procession along with a winnowing basket full of fruit.

Sources tell us clearly that Apollon was linked to the festival as well as the sun, Helios, and the seasons, the Horai. With Apollon's birth, so came the light that grew the vegetation, that ripened the corn and barley. And in line with Apollon is Helios who jouneys across the sky every day and the Horai who precide over the lengthening and shortening of the days, giving Apollon and Helios more or less time with us to ripen our crops.

At its core this festival is a festival of Apollon, but myth tells us Artemis helped bring Him into the world and thus She is honored as well. And we bring Demeter offerings because She taught us how to grow crops and once Persephone leaves for the Underworld again, She will kill them all. Add to that the Horai and Helios and you have a very involved and intricate festival that was absolutely essential to ensure a good harvest. And so we shall celebrate it as well and honour to all these Theoi in appeasement.

You can find the rituals for the events here, for both days, and the community page here.
Interesting news! Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Greece, Italy, China, India, Bolivia, Mexico and Peru--all home to some of the world’s most cherished archaeological sites--have signed up to the 'Ancient Civilizations Forum' launched in Athens by ministers and ambassadors from the nations.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, right, and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi gesture as they pose for the photographers as they attend the "Ancient Civilizations Forum" (ACForum) at Zappeio Conference Hall in Athens, April 24, 2017.  (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, right, and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad
Javad Zarif, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi gesture as they pose for the
photographers as they attend the "Ancient Civilizations Forum" (ACForum) at Zappeio
Conference Hall in Athens, April 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told attendees that their cultures share a heritage of 'positive power, the strength of knowledge, education (and) progress'. He voiced hopes that the 10 countries could benefit from cooperation in areas ranging from the economy to culture. The new club is defined by history, rather than geography or clout, with each of its members having been a top global player at some--often distant--point in the past 4,000 years.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, whose government is spearheading the project along with China, said the group would run joint projects to promote 'dialogue in the face of fanaticism, and culture in the face of terrorism'. According to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi:

"We’re only just getting started."

The new 10-country group is due to meet again in Bolivia next year, the Greek foreign ministry said.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said:

"[T]he project stood in contrast to the idea 'put forward by several intellectuals of a clash of civilizations'. We support dialogue between civilizations against the intolerance of which Daesh [IS] is a symbol."

In March, seven countries including France and Saudi Arabia joined forces with US philanthropist Tom Kaplan to pledge $75.5 million (70 million euros) to a UNESCO-backed fund aimed at protecting the world’s cultural heritage against war and terrorism. Their International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Zones, based in Geneva, aims to raise $100 million by 2019.
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'm behind on reader questions again. Sorry! I'll catch up ASAP!
  • 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.
PAT rituals for Thargelion:
  • 5/1 - Thargelion 4 - Sacrifice to Leto, Pythian Apollon, Zeus, Hermes & Dioskuri at Erkhia
  • 5/3 & 5/4 - Thargelion 6 & 7 - Thargelia - birthday of Apollon and Artemis
  • 5/13 - Thargelion 16 - Sacrifice to Zeus Epakrios at Erkhia
  • 5/16 - Thargelion 19 - Bendideia - festival in honor of Thracian Goddess Bendis
  • 5/16 - Thargelion 19 - Sacrifice to Menedeius at Erkhia
  • 5/22 - Thargelion 25 - Kallunteria & Plynteria - festival of washing, where the statue of Athena was removed from the city of Athens to be cleaned. Auspicious day.
Anything else?
Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.

On the fourth of Thargelion, in the deme of Erkhia--located near the modern Spata, approximately twenty kilometers (twelve miles) east of Athens, with the deme center located at Magoula--a series of sacrifices were held. Most likely, these were in relation to the Thargelia which was soon to follow and to which I will soon dedicate a full blog post. Preporatory rites, of a sort. Elaion will hold a PAT ritual to follow in their footsteps on Monday 1 May, 2016 at the usual 10 am EDT. Will you be joining us?

The Thargelia was one of the major festivals of Athens, and most of ancient Hellas. It celebrates the birthday of Apollon and Artemis and was held over the course of two days, one with the focus on Artemis--the first, as she was born first--and Apollon on the second day, held on the sixth and seventh day of the month of Thargelion, respectively. The thargelia was both an agricultural and a purifying festival: it was a festival intended to lift miasma from the city of Athens (and anywhere else it was celebrated) in order to ensure a good harvest. It was of vital importance and it could be that the people of Erkhia hosted these sacrifices in order to feel entitled to have Erkhia's harvest fall under the results of the katharthic rites of Athens once they would be held a few days later.

The ancient Erkhians would have held separate rituals for (almost) all of the listed deities, more often than not at different locations. It could therefore be that not all of these sacrifices are linked to the Thargelia. The sacrifices to Leto, Apollon and Zeus most likely were. Hermes, perhaps, but it is more likely that He, along with the Dioskuri was honoured due to the influence of Sparta, of whom all three were patrons. Perhaps the sacrifice to Zeus had a joined function as the father of all (Depending on the mythological account, of course).

We won't be distinguishing between the two 'branches' and have made a single rite to be performed on the 1th, at 10 am EDT. You can join the community here and find the ritual here. We hope you will join us!
Oh, where does the time go every day? Sorry, I've got zero time to blog, so you can just have some fun with this word search puzzle instead, okay? Regular programming will resume tomorrow!

I get a lot of questions from readers, and most of the time, the answers are fairly short. When I feel the question or the reply would be valuable to others as well, I make a post with a collection of them and post them in one go. Today is one of those posts.

"Were there eating disorders in ancient Greece? And if there were eating disorders back in the times, who would be patrons of them?"

Eating disorders were unknown of in ancient Hellas. The Romans had their share of people who starved themselves for ideals, but they were spiritual ideas, influenced by spiritual teachings from the East, that preached a body was only a cage for the soul. Through a variety of ways, followers gained control over that cage and thus committed suicide-by-weight loss (among others). Eating disorders as we know them today don't appear earlier than the 19th century when the beauty ideal began to shift toward 'tiny'.

Retroactively it's perhaps best to think about eating disorders as other (mental) illnesses and the Gods associated with healing: Asklepios first and foremost, His daughters Hygeia, Iaso, Akeso, Aiglê, and Panakeia, perhaps His father Apollon and last but not least Dionysos who, as a liminal God often influenced the minds of people (both for better or worse).

"Asclepius has daughters, right? Does his daughters have different domains of healing?"

Hygeia is the Theia of health, cleanliness, and sanitation, and a companion of the Goddess Aphrodite. She is perhaps the best known of Asklēpiós' daughters, and has been so since ancient times. She is mentioned alongside her father, grandfather, and sister Panakeia in the original Hippocratic oath. the ancient Hellenes regarded Her as one of the most revered of all Theoi, because without her blessings (good health), nothing could be accomplished in life, and life itself would cease. In fact, She has her own Orphic hymn [67], and in it, She is solely responsible for averting all disease. She is depicted with a snake, usually curled around Her arm.

Iasô is the Theia of cures, remedies and modes of healing. In the temple of Amphiaraus at Oropus a part of the altar was dedicated to Her, along with many of Her sisters and other Theoi petitioned for healing. Recovery is Her domain, and as such, She is one of Asklēpiós' most valued attendants. She is depicted with a mirror.

Akeso is the Theia who oversees the healing of wounds and the curing of illness. She does not bring the cure itself, but oversees the process of healing. Not much is known about Her, but She is a faithful attendant of Her father.

Aiglê is the Theia of the beauty, splendor, glory, magnificence, and adornment that comes with good health. She represents radiance, and Her blessings are very much sought after, because they allow a person to live up to their full potential.

Panakeia is the Theia of cures and panaceas--healing aids in the form of medicines, salves and other curatives. After Hygeia, She is perhaps the best known of Her sisters. Her gifts of medicine are of great value, and she is mentioned in the original Hippocratic oath along with Apollon, Asklēpiós, and Hygeia.

"Someone said Dionysos is a God who watches over social order, but that makes no sense, right?"

It actually does make sense. Um...how do I explain this one... Dionysos breaks down social order. That's His thing. Ancient Hellenic society was very strict about classes and hierarchy. Especially for the lower classes, this was very stifling and there was risk of rebellion. During festivals of Dionysos, these hierarchic structures fell away for a while and sometimes even reversed so the poorest were in charge and free to do what they wanted. This helped ease the tension in society and thus preserved and protected it.

"Is there more than one God of war? Isn't that just Ares?"

Oh Gods, yes! Many, many, many Gods are associated with war--war was very important to the ancient Hellenes and even Gods who might not appear to be linked to it have epithets which are. A selection:

Alala, Goddess of the war cry
Alke, Goddess of courage and battle-strength
Amphillogiai, Goddesses of disputes
Androktasiai, Goddess of battlefield slaughter
Ares, God of war, bloodlust, weapons of war, the defense and sacking of cities, rebellion and civil order, banditry, manliness, and courage; the son of Zeus and Hera
Athena, Goddess of wisdom, war strategy, heroic endeavor, handicrafts, and reason
Bia, Goddess of force and compulsion
Deimos, God of terror
Enyalius, God of battle
Enyo, Goddess of war
Eris, Goddess of discord, chaos and strife
Homados, Goddess of the din of battle
Hysminai, Goddesses spirits of fighting and combat
Ioke, Goddess of onslaught, battle-tumult, and pursuit
Keres, Goddesses of violent or cruel death, including death in battle, by accident, murder, or ravaging disease
Kratos, the personification of strength and power
Kydoimos, God of the din of battle
Makhai, Gods of fighting and combat
Nike, Goddess of victory
Palioxis, God of backrush, flight, and retreat from battle
Pallas, Titan god of warcraft and of the springtime campaign season
Perses, the Titan of destruction
Phobos, God of panic, fear, flight, and battlefield route
Phonoi, Gods of murder, killing, and slaughter
Polemos, God of war
Proioxis, God of onrush and battlefield pursuit

"Is there a deity of poison?"

Of course there is! It's the ancient Hellenic pantheon! Akhlys, Goddess of the Death Mist, misery and sadness as well as deadly poisons. She was represented on the shield of Herakles as pale, emaciated, and weeping, with chattering teeth, swollen knees, long nails on her fingers, bloody cheeks, and her shoulders thickly covered with dust. She's the daughter of Nyx.
Ornaments: decorative patterns and floral designs added to the foot, rim, handles and borders of vessels. Lotus, palmettes, ivy, meander, rays, tongues and rosettes were the most popular to the ancient Hellenes.  Why should you care? Well, you don't have to, but a lot of you enjoy making some form of art or decorations for shrines and as little gifts to the Gods, so I figured you might be interested. The most important ones are listed below:

I think most of those are rather self-explanatory, but let me note a bit about the two most important subgroups, the palmettes and the meander.

It is thought that the palmette originated in ancient Egypt 2,500 years BC and has influenced Hellenic art. Egyptian palmettes (or 'anthemion', in Greek, from 'ανθέμιον', a flower were originally based on features of various flowers, including the papyrus and the lotus or lily representing lower and upper Egypt and their fertile union, before it became associated with the palm tree. From earliest times there was a strong association with the sun and it is probably an early form of the halo.

The essence of the palmette is a symmetrical group of spreading 'fronds' that spread out from a single base, normally widening as they go out, before ending at a rounded or fairly blunt pointed tip. There may be a central frond that is larger than the rest. The number of fronds is variable, but typically between five and about fifteen. In the repeated border design commonly referred to as anthemion the palm fronds more closely resemble petals of the honeysuckle flower, as if designed to attract fertilizing insects.

A meander or meandros (Μαίανδρος) is a decorative border constructed from a continuous line, shaped into a repeated motif. Such a design is also called the Greek fret or Greek key design, although these are modern designations. The meander often represents a labyrinth in linear form and may have symbolized infinity and unity. The many versions with rounded shapes are called running scrolls.

Meanders are common decorative elements in Hellenic and Roman art. In ancient Hellas they appeared in many architectural friezes, and in bands on the pottery from the Geometric Period onwards. They were among the most important symbols in ancient Hellas and many ancient temples incorporated the sign of the meander. Hellenic vases, especially during their Geometric Period, were probably the main reason for the widespread use of meanders.

Image copyright Ori Keren, uploaded by Mark Cartwright.
A few days ago, I wrote about Narkissos and the (relatively late) introduction of his mythology. In it, I mentioned the Oxyrhynchus Papyri...and then discovered that a lot of you have never heard about it. Let's rectify that, shall we!

The Oxyrhynchus Papyri are a group of texts that were discovered at Oxyrhynchus (known today as el-Bahnasa). The city of Oxyrhynchus (meaning ‘sharp-nosed’ in Greek) is located in the Minya Governorate in Upper Egypt, 160 km (99 mi) to the southwest of Cairo. This city lies on the Bahr Yussef (‘Canal of Joseph’), which is a branch of the Nile situated to the west of the main river. For over a millennium, the inhabitants of the city would throw away their rubbish in a number of sites in the desert beyond the city limits. Amongst these items were texts written on papyri that the people of Oxyrhynchus no longer wanted.

The Oxyrhynchus Papyri first came to light in the final years of the 19th century. In 1896, two British Egyptologists, Bernard Pyne Grenfell and Arthur Surridge Hunt, chose to excavate at El-Bahnasa. One factor that influenced the two men to choose this city as their excavation site was its reputation as a key Christian center in ancient times. The two men were hoping that they would be able to find some interesting pieces of early Christian literature there. On January 11, 1897, a piece of papyrus with unknown Logia, or ‘Sayings of Jesus’ was brought to the surface (it would later be determined that this was the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas). Next was a leaf from the Gospel of Matthew, and then even more pieces of papyri. In three months, the men found enough papyri to fill 280 boxes.

Apart from early Christian literature, the Oxyrhynchus Papyri also contained numerous other types of works. For example, some of the papyri have been found to hold magical spells, texts used in everyday situations such as grocery lists, official records, business contracts, and personal correspondences. These papyri offer scholars a glimpse into the lives of the ancient inhabitants of Oxyrhynchus. In addition, pieces of ancient literature, which would otherwise have been completely lost, have been found amongst the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. Two of the most famous of these are a satyr play by Sophocles and poetry by Sappho.

This group of documents is seen as one of the most important discoveries when it comes to manuscripts because they have works of ancient literature that are not known to have survived anywhere else in the world. Whilst scholars have been hard at work transcribing the texts on the papyri found by Grenfell and Hunt, this undertaking is far from complete, and is still being carried out today.

The Oxyrhynchus Papyri Collection belongs mainly to the Egypt Exploration Society (apart from some personal items of Grenfell and Hunt), and is housed by Oxford University in its Sackler Library. The Society owns over 500,000 papyrus fragments, the largest collection of papyri in the world. The collection mainly comprises literary, documentary and other texts in Greek, dating from the third century BC to the seventh century AD, but also includes a few hundred texts each in Egyptian (hieroglyphic, hieratic, demotic, mostly Coptic), Latin and Arabic, and a very few in Hebrew and Aramaic, Syriac and Pahlavi. Most of these papyri come from the excavations of Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt at ancient Oxyrhynchus in 1896/7 and from 1903 to 1906/7.

Some of the Greek and Latin texts come from ancient village sites in the Fayyum and from the cemeteries of el-Hibeh where Grenfell and Hunt dug between 1895 and 1903, and from the 1913/14 excavations of John de M. Johnson at Antinoopolis. The Society also holds various records of the excavations and the distribution of the finds, including several hundred photographs taken by Hunt and Johnson.

The Sackler Library provides a room equipped for the restoration, photography and decipherment of the papyri. Work is also carried out at University College London and the Institute of Classical Studies of the University of London. In the earlier years some papyri were sent to the Cairo Museum after publication, and others were distributed to appropriate museums and educational institutions in Great Britain and the North America to encourage interest in papyrology, but now all published papyri are retained to facilitate future re-examination and the possible joining of fragments.

Financial support for the care and publication of the collection, which is designated as a British Academy Major Project, is currently provided by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy. The EES appoints a Management Committee to oversee the collection and its publication.

The collection website, POxy: Oxyrhynchus Online, provides digital images of most of the published papyri (except those which were distributed). These images are created by another project, ‘Imaging Papyri in Oxford’. Requests to reproduce the images require the approval both of the Imaging Papyri project and of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri Management Committee.
An MSU professor is setting out to use new technology on old parts of the world. Jon Frey, a professor in the Department of Art, Art History and Design, is working on a project to digitize archaeological sites in Isthmia, Greece.

Greece Archive 3

A comparison of the best imagery possible from Google Earth, left,
and the image Frey's team was able to create from drone work of
ancient sites in Isthmia, Greece. Courtesy of Jon Frey.

In 1993, Frey set out to Isthmia, one of the most important cities in the Ancient World, as part of the Ohio State University Excavations at Isthmia when he was a student at Ohio State University.
Frey came back to work on the excavation in 1995 and 1996, eventually coming back as a field coordinator at the site. Art history and visual culture senior Stephanie Vettese said she first met Frey in a class freshman year and enjoyed his teaching style.

“He’s really animated when he teaches, so he’s jumping all over the place. He’s really excited and passionate about his work and he loves to make modern day comparisons, too, so that helps people learn, but also (he) is just hilarious. He’s great.”

This passion led to Frey coming back to the excavation in 2007, and he used that time to come up with a different approach. Frey has started to digitize the sites at Isthmia and the records of past excavations at those sites by making maps and 3-D models with GPS, drones, aerial photography and more to show where different discoveries were found during previous excavations. Frey said while most archaeologists do keep records of what they dig up, they don’t often share it with the public.
With the digitization, Frey's intention is to make the records public. He said he wants to honor and expand the "unspoken contract" among archaeologists. According to Frey:

“When archaeologists are given the opportunity to dig these things up, we owe it to the people who gave us the permission to do that and we owe it to the international (and) cultural heritage community to tell people what we found. In some ways, to dig something up and then to not really tell the wider community about what you found is about the same thing as not having it dug up at all.” 

Frey said digitizing these records and sites will allow archaeologists to connect them together, so future archaeologists and excavators can see what has been excavated in the past and know what to look for in the future.

“If somebody is digging in 1960 … and then somebody comes back and digs something else in 1980, and they have a general sense of what happened in 1960 but not necessarily a very careful sense, they may not make the connection that we can make today. That’s something you couldn’t necessarily do with the old plans. Now we can do it quite effectively with new, digital plans.” 

Anthropology senior Lucy Steele said Frey's ability to use technology to do excavations was something she didn’t know was possible.

“I think where he’s going with this project is very interesting, just to kind of rethink how to visualize a site, because it’s destroyed as it’s dug. To be able to put that into the digital side and recreate that and look at spacial relationships differently is very exciting.”

Source: Slatenews (Jonathan LeBlanc, April 18, 2017)
Have you ever wondered how the ancient Hellenes took care of the mess after going number two? Me neither, until I found out. If you're eating breakfast right now, you might want to hold off on reading today's post. You have been warned.

Before the age of toilet paper, people still ate and thus they went number two on a regular basis. In fact, it wasn't until 6th century AD China, when wealthy individuals started using regular paper for sanitary purposes, toilet paper came into use. The first known reference to toilet paper in the West does not appear until the 16th century, when satirist François Rabelais mentions that 'it doesn’t work particularly well at its assigned task'.

So what about the ancient Hellenes? Most commonly, they seem to have made use of rounded fragments of ceramic known as ‘pessoi’, meaning 'pebbles'. In an achaeological dig in Athens, American archaeologists found a range of such pessoi 1.2 to 4 inches in diameter and 0.2 to 0.8 inches thick which seemed to be re-cut from old broken ceramics to give smooth angles that would minimize trauma when used. As you can see, some effort went into making these tools and there seems to be a Greek axiom about frugality on the use of pessoi and their purpose stating: 'Three stones are enough to wipe'.

Some pessoi may have originated as ostraca (ὄστρακα), pieces of broken ceramic on which the Greeks of old inscribed the names of people who should be ostracized from the city for appearing to be a danger to it. During an ostracism (ostrakismos, ὀστρακισμός) each member of the ekklesia would choose a politician they wished to have 'ostracized', or exiled for ten years. If any one name received a majority and a total of 6,000 or more votes, that man would have to leave. Ostracism was often used preemptively, as a way of neutralizing someone thought to be a threat to the state or potential tyrant. As such, ostracism had no relation to the processes of justice; there was no charge or defense, and the exile was not in fact a penalty; it was simply a command from the people that one of their number be gone for ten years.

Using shards of a hard substance to clean, no matter how polished they were, had obvious medical risks. Long term use of pessoi could have resulted in local irritation, skin or mucosal damage, or complications of external haemorrhoids. Yikes! Think of this next time you're longing to go back in time to ancient Hellas!
Alright, forgive me for this one. So, I came across the video below on YouTube, 'ugh'ed at the images, clicked away. Then clicked back because why the heck? What were the criteria for this list? What was the grading based on? Who judged? Did they know Hellenic mythology? I mean, I agree these Gods are powerful, but if we're really doing something as horrible as ranking Them, at least look a little beyond the obvious, please. Here's the list discussed, with the description:

"The stories of gods and goddess from the ancient Greek mythology are immensely popular in pop culture. Their characters were popularized and subsequently immortalized by some famous play writers in ancient Greece that included the likes of Homer and Hesiod. What makes the folklore behind these ancient Greek deities stand apart is the way their stories deviated from that of other contemporary ancient religions. The Greek gods resembled humans not only in their form but also in their nature and emotions. [...] As for the majestic Gods of ancient Greece, lets see how many of your favorites make it on our top 10 list."

Okay, so, yes. All of these Olympians (because They are all Olympians) are powerful. They're Gods, so of course They are. But I'm not exactly sure that I would have held fast to this list. Since watching the video, I've been thinking about my 'ranking', which isn't so much a question of 'who is more powerful', but one of 'are there any Gods who can command Zeus or otherwise hold power over Him'? Mythologically speaking, I would say 'yes'. I'm not going to rank them, but here are six Gods (well, They turned out to be only Goddesses) who hold sway over Zeus, King of the Gods, and are thus, well, pretty darn powerful.

All the Protogenoi, as the First Born Deities of the Hellenic Kosmos, are essential to our survival and thus are held in high regard by the Olympians--Zeus included. Still, Gaia, as the earth Herself is rather critical. On top of that, Gaia was at the head of the rebellion against Her husband Ouranos who had imprisoned several of Her giant-sons within her womb and later, when Her son Kronos defied Her by imprisoning these same sons, she sided with Zeus in His rebellion against Him. Finally She came into conflict with Zeus because She was angered by His binding of Her Titan-sons in Tartaros. She birthed a tribe of Gigantes and later the monster Typhoeus to overthrow Him, but both failed in their attempts. So technically Zeus is stronger than Her, but He needed every single other God and Goddess he could get on His side to pull it off, which brings us to...

After the Titanomachy, Zeus bestowed upon Her the highest of honors. As Hesiod writes in his 'Theogony: "Again, Phoebe came to the desired embrace of Coeus. [...] And she conceived and bare Hecate whom Zeus the son of Cronos honoured above all. He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She received honour also in starry heaven, and is honoured exceedingly by the deathless gods. [...] For as many as were born of Earth and Ocean amongst all these she has her due portion. The son of Cronos did her no wrong nor took anything away of all that was her portion among the former Titan gods: but she holds, as the division was at the first from the beginning, privilege both in earth, and in heaven, and in sea. [...] Also, because she is an only child, the goddess receives not less honour, but much more still, for Zeus honours her."

Styx is a river Goddess, one of many. Hers is the river of hatred. Styx was a firm ally of Zeus in the Titan Wars, who brought Her children Nike, Zelos, Bia and Kratos to stand beside the God in battle. Zeus rewarded Her by making Her stream the agent of oaths which bind the Gods. Read that again: if the Gods swear an oath an They break it, They answer to Styx.

When Hades kidnapped Demeter's daughter Kore, Demeter marched right up to Zeus and told Him to get her daughter back ASAP. Zeus, in very short, told Her it was not His problem, even though Kore was His daughter. Bereft (and possibly mightily pissed off), Demeter stopped performing her divine duties and humanity nearly starved. Since the Gods need humans if They want to receive sacrifices, Zeus caved and got Hades to release Kore.

Themis was an early bride of Zeus and His first counsellor. She was often represented seated beside His throne advising Him on the precepts of divine law and the rules of fate. Not odd, considering Themis is the Titan Goddess of divine law and order--the traditional rules of conduct first established by the gods. She is also a prophetic Goddess who presided over the most ancient oracles, including Delphi. In this role, She was the divine voice who first instructed mankind in the primal laws of justice and morality, such as the precepts of piety, the rules of hospitality, good governance, conduct of assembly, and pious offerings to the Gods. In short: Themis is a Goddess who can see the future, advices Zeus on what to do based on Her insights, taught humankind the rules on which the Gods would judge them and, oh yes, she also does the actual judging.

She is one of the elder Okeanides and the Titan-Goddess of good counsel, planning, cunning and wisdom. If you haven't  heard much about Her it's because Zeus swallowed Her whole when a prophecy was revealed that She was destined to bear a son greater than His father. Metis afterwards bore a daughter, Athena, from Zeus' head and Her wisdom and powers of judgement were entirely absorbed by Zeus, basically making Smarter and a lot more powerful. Without swallowing Metis, things could have turned out very different in the Hellenic pantheon!
Anathema is a noun and in modern times it is used to mean a formal ban, curse or excommunication. It can also refer to someone or something extremely negative, disliked or damned. Curiously enough, the original Greek meaning for this word was 'something offered to the Gods'. So what happened?

Some quick definitions of the modern word from Merriam-Webster:

Definition of anathema
1 a :  one that is cursed by ecclesiastical authority
b :  someone or something intensely disliked or loathed —usually used as a predicate nominative
… this notion was anathema to most of his countrymen. — Stephen Jay Gould

2 a :  a ban or curse solemnly pronounced by ecclesiastical authority and accompanied by excommunication
b :  the denunciation of something as accursed
c :  a vigorous denunciation :  curse

Anathema derives from Ancient Greek: ἀνάθεμα, anáthema, meaning 'an offering' or 'anything dedicated', itself derived from the verb ἀνατίθημι, anatíthēmi, meaning 'to offer up'. That was its sole use.

Things changed when the Bible became involved. In the translation of the Jewish Bible known as the Septuagint the word is used to render the Hebrew word חרם (herem), and appears in verses such as Leviticus 27:28 to refer to things that are offered to God and so banned for common (non-religious) use. The Hebrew word was also used for what was devoted, by virtue of a simple vow, not to the Lord, but to the priest. In postexilic Judaism, the meaning of the word changed to an expression of God's displeasure with all persons, Jew or pagan, who do not subordinate their personal conduct and tendencies to the discipline of the theocracy, and must be purged from the community—thus making anathema an instrument of synagogal discipline.

The noun occurs in the Greek New Testament six times. Its meaning in the New Testament is disfavor of God, a meaning that, according to Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament Word, in Acts 23:14 to the sentence of disfavor, and in the other instances to the object of God's disfavor.

Since the time of the apostles, the term 'anathema' has come to mean a form of extreme religious sanction, known as excommunication. The earliest recorded instance of the form is in the Council of Elvira (c. 306), and thereafter it became the common method of cutting off heretics. When the authority of Rome was split in the Great Schism between Eastern and Western churches in 1054, an anathema was issued by Rome against the Eastern Patriarch who then issued another one against the cardinal who delivered it.
In the most common version of the myth, Narkissos (Narcissus, Νάρκισσος) was a hunter from Thespiae in Boeotia who was known for his beauty. He was the son of the river God Kephissos (Cephissus) and nymph Liriope. He was proud, in that he disdained those who loved him. Nemesis noticed this behavior and attracted Narkissos to a pool, where he saw his own reflection in the water and fell in love with it, not realizing it was merely an image. Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus lost his will to live. Narkissos is the origin of the term 'narcissism', a fixation with oneself and one's physical appearance and/or public perception.

The Roman poet Ovid is our primary source on the myth of Narkissos, but he was, as I said, Roman. Ovid, and Roman mythology in general, has been a subject on this blog before, and always comes with a disclaimer that these views were not, in fact, Hellenic. I have mentioned in passing that I don't feel the Hellenic and Roman Gods are one and the same, although they are often painted as the same Gods with a different name, and often times, the myths the Romans knew were different from the Hellenic myths they were based on. Sometimes these differences are subtle, sometimes (like in the myth of Médousa) and also Narkissos, they are not.

The version by Ovid, found in book 3 of his Metamorphoses (completed 8 AD) is the story of Echo and Narcissus. One day Narcissus was walking in the woods when Echo, an Oread (mountain nymph) saw him, fell deeply in love, and followed him. Narcissus sensed he was being followed and shouted "Who's there?". Echo repeated "Who's there?" She eventually revealed her identity and attempted to embrace him. He stepped away and told her to leave him alone. She was heartbroken and spent the rest of her life in lonely glens until nothing but an echo sound remained of her. Nemesis learned of this story and decided to punish Narcissus. She lured him to a pool where he saw his own reflection. He did not realize it was only an image and fell in love with it. He eventually recognized that his love could not be reciprocated and withered away like Echo did.

The oldest version of the myth currently known to us, ascribed to the poet Parthenios of Nicaea (Παρθένιος ὁ Νικαεύς), composed around 50 BC, differs. It was found in fragments in ancient rubbish dumps at Oxyrhynchus in Egypt. The papyrus fragment is one of tens of thousands that were found in the late 19th and early 20th century. These dumps, now fully excavated, are the world's largest source of ancient writings, accounting for 70 percent of all known literary papyri. Many are kept at Oxford but the majority have still not been fully transcribed and translated. It was during work on these remaining manuscripts that the Narkissos fragment was found. This is what was written:

... god-like ...
... ...
He had a cruel heart, and hated all of them,
Till he conceived a love for his own form:
He wailed, seeing his face, delightful as a dream,
Within a spring; he wept for his beauty.
Then the boy shed his blood and give it to the earth
... to bear

There is also another ancient Hellenic version by Conon, in his Narrations 24, which differs from Ovid's account even though they were contemporaries. Conon was a Hellenic mythographer who lived from the 1st century BC to 1st century AD.

"Ameinias was a very determined but fragile youth. When he was cruelly spurned by Narkissos (Narcissus), he took his sword and killed himself by the door, calling on the goddess Nemesis to avenge him. As a result when Narkissos saw the beauty of his form reflected in a stream he fell deeply in love with himself. In despair and believing that he had rightly earned this curse for the humiliation of Ameinias, he slew himself. From his blood sprang the flower."

These versions of the Narcissus story is much more concise than Ovid's. Ovid devotes many verses to the nymph Echo, who in her unrequited love for Narkissos wastes away. There is no trace of her either in the papyrus text, nor Conon's account. There, Narkissos is a young boy and his lovers are all male. Ovid also distinguishes himself from the other two authors by having Narkissos, like Echo, simply waste away. His body mysteriously disappears, and when the nymphs come to collect it, they find a flower in its place. In Conon's version, as in the new papyrus, the boy kills himself. In Parthenios' version, no flower is mentioned, but (as a kind of midway form) the narcissus flower is mentioned by Conon.

There are no older versions of this myth we are aware of than the version by Parthenios, which stems from 50 BC. If the ancient Hellenes in the fourth or third century BC even knew of Narkissos is thus questionable. They may have, or they may not have. The more you know, right?
Many of the ancient Hellenic philosophers were scientists. We call them philosophers only because they couldn't prove many of their theories. While many of their theories were discredited once the option to truly research these issues were developed, it were their theories that caused later generations to seek this proof. One of these examples is Demokritos' theory on atoms.

Demokritos (Δημόκριτος) was born in Abdera, Thrace, around 460 BC, although, some thought it was 490 BC. His exact contributions are difficult to disentangle from those of his mentor Leucippus, as they are often mentioned together in texts. Largely ignored in ancient Athens, Democritus is said to have been disliked so much by Plato that the latter wished all of his books burned. He was nevertheless well known to his fellow northern-born philosopher Aristotle. Many consider Democritus to be the "father of modern science". None of his writings have survived; only fragments are known from his vast body of work.

The atomic theory of Democritus held that everything is composed of "atoms", which are physically, but not geometrically, indivisible; that between atoms, there lies empty space; that atoms are indestructible, and have always been and always will be in motion; that there is an infinite number of atoms and of kinds of atoms, which differ in shape and size. Of the mass of atoms, Democritus said, "The more any indivisible exceeds, the heavier it is". But his exact position on atomic weight is disputed. Materialist philosophers Democritus and Leucippus posed that everything--including humans--existed from atoms from the same source. The way these atoms moved and reacted to each other controlled causal laws.

Demokritos knew that if a stone was divided in half, the two halves would have essentially the same properties as the whole. Therefore, he reasoned that if the stone were to be continually cut into smaller and smaller pieces then; at some point, there would be a piece which would be so small as to be indivisible. He called these small pieces of matter 'atomos', the Greek word for indivisible. In addition, Democritus believed that the atoms differed in size and shape, were in constant motion in a void, collided with each other; and during these collisions, could rebound or stick together. Therefore, changes in matter were a result of dissociations or combinations of the atoms as they moved throughout the void. Here is some more background on his theory, Aristotle's idea and what happened next in atomic theory.

Interestingly, enough, Demokritos based his theory largely on his desire to prove another philosopher wrong, namely Zeno. Zeno theorized that motion is nothing but an illusion. Demokritos's atomic theory is based upon the notion that everything is made up of atoms that are eternally in motion, thus rendering Zeno's theory false. Zeno also stated that something can always be divided into smaller versions of the same thing, like the stone, while Demokritos stated that eventually there is nothingness in which atoms reside--this proving Zeno false again.

For a long time, we believed this was true. Now we know atoms are themselves made up of smaller particles, which require more and more energy for us to split into constituent components, in fact to so much more energy that the basement particle is the moment of the big bang, when it was a single point. This seems to prove Zeno right, in a very roundabout way: if the smallest base point is a single infinite point, there is no movement, only abstracted illusion.
On the 21th of Mounukhion, the sacrificial calendar of Erkhia dictates a sacrifice to the Tritopatores (Τριτοπατορες). We'll host a PAT ritual for the event on April 18th, at 10 a.m. EDT.

Suidas describes the Tritopatores as follows:

"Tritopatores : Demon in the Atthis says that the Tritopatores are winds (anemoi), Philochoros [Greek poet C4th B.C.] that the Tritopatores were born first of all. For the men of that time, he says, understood as their parents the earth (gê) and the sun (hêlios), whom then they called Apollon. Phanodemos [C4th B.C.] in [book] 6 maintains that only [the] Athenians both sacrifice to them and pray to them, when they are about to marry, for the conception of children. In the Physikos of Orpheus the Tritopatores are named Amalkeides and Protokles and Protokleon, being doorkeepers and guardians of the winds (anemoi). But the author of Explanation claims that they are [the offspring] of Ouranos (Heaven) and (Earth), and that their names are Kottos, Briareos and Gyges."

Which version(s) of the Tritopateres were worshipped at Erkhia is unclear. The latter in Suidas are often seen as the Hekatonkheires: Kottos (Κοττος, 'Grudge', 'Rancour'), Gyês (Γυης, 'Of the Land'), Briareôs (Βριαρεως, 'Strong', 'Stout'), Obriareôs (Οβριαρεως, 'Strong', 'Stout'), and Aigaiôn (Αιγαιων, 'Goatish', or 'Stormy'). As the Anemoi, the Tritopateres are: Amalkeidês (Αμαλκειδης, 'Bound to That Place'), Prôtoklês (Πρωτοκλης, 'First Locked Away), and Prôtokleôn (Πρωτοκλεων, 'First Confined').
Which version(s) of the Tritopateres were worshipped at Erkhia is unclear, but we find favour with the theory that they are connected to the wind-Gods. According to the Greater Demarkhia, the sacrifice to the Tritopatores was a ram, along with a 'libation not of wine'. In modern times, a libation of milk, honey, and/or water will most certainly do.

The ritual for the Tritopatores may seem rather strange (at least different) but it is based on elaborate and specific instructions from the inscription from the Selinus tablet and we think it is in the spirit of ancient sacrifice. The arrangement and sequence is crucial. Robert will conduct the sacrifice for the foul Tritopatores as that had to be done by a specific priestly group and as the senior member of Elaion, and with the facilities to conduct this sacred rite, he should be the one to do this. We have marked in the ritual which parts of the rite you should perform and which you should not.

You can find the ritual for the PAT ritual for the sacrifice to Tritopatores here and join the community page here. The sacrifice to Tritopatores will take place on April 18th at the standard 10 AM EDT. We hope you will join us!
I very much enjoy art in all its forms. Contemporary art, especially. My girlfriend is a visual artist and teacher in the field, and through her, I am exposed to some of the latest and most intriguing of all art movements as they appear. So very often, I have to smile because, you know what? We're still building on the art of the ancient Hellenes to this day. Example: the beautifully kitsch art of Damien Hirsh in his latest exposition: "Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable" in Venice.

Damien Steven Hirst (born 7 June 1965) is an English artist, entrepreneur, and art collector. He is internationally renowned, and is reportedly the United Kingdom's richest living artist, with his wealth valued at £215m in the 2010 Sunday Times Rich List.

‘Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable’ is Hirst' most ambitious and complex project to date. It has been almost ten years in the making. Exceptional in scale and scope, the exhibition tells the story of the ancient wreck of a vast ship, the ‘Unbelievable’ ('Apistos' in the original Koine Greek), and presents what was discovered of its precious cargo: the impressive collection of Aulus Calidius Amotan – a freed slave better known as Cif Amotan II – which was destined for a temple dedicated to the sun.

Hirst borrows heavily from ancient Hellenic, Egyptian and even Aztec art motives to make his artpieces. Creating the vast collection cost him anywhere beteen 20 and 100 million dollars, not only because of the size of some of the items but also the material: if it looks like gold, it is gold; if it looks like jade, it is jade, if it looks like bronze, it is bronze. Hirst even went so far as to sink his art (or a replica) down to the bottom of the sea only to film it and hoist it back up again. These images and bits of 'documentary footage' are displayed with the art to sell the elaborate fantasy.

You can think of Hirst's new work what you want (personally I'd absolutely love to see it with my own eyes and think it's magnificent!) but one thing is clear: ancient art continues to inspire and it continues to sell. I will bet you everything I own tht Hirst will quadruple his investment, at least!

Copyright: © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2017
The Attikos deme Erkhia was located near the modern Spata, approximately twenty kilometers (twelve miles) east of Athens, with the deme center located at Magoula. The deme of Erkhia is unique as we have recovered an elaborate sacrificial calendar--the Greater Demarkhia--listing sacrifices, costs and rules for the festivals held under the supervision of the demarch. The calendar prescribes 59 annual sacrifices to 46 separate divinities, including heroes, nymphs and Gods, and some of them seem unique to the deme.

The Gods most frequently honored at Erkhia were Zeus, Apollon, Kourotrophos ('She who raises the young') and Athena. A few times a year, the men traveled to Athens to sacrifice to Zeus an Athena 'of the city', to Apollon Lykeios, and to Demeter of Eleusis. For worship at the deme, Erkhia had its own Akropolis, where the same Theoi were worshipped as on the Akropolis at Athens, as well as more obscure Gods, like Zeus Epopetes, the Heroines, the Herakleidai, the nymphs, and the Tritopateres, as well as local heroes like Leukaspis ('he of the white shield') and Epops.

Two of these sacrifices are upcoming: the one to the Leukaspis on the 20th of Mounikhion and the sacrifice to the Tritopatores on the 21th of Mounikhion. This is an announcement for the PAT ritual for the sacrifice to Leukaspis.

Leukaspis is the name of a good few heroes in Hellenic mythology. The most famous is the one depicted here on a drachma from Syracuse--designed around 405-400 BC by Eukleidas. Leukaspis, 'He of the White Shield' was a famed warrior and hero and tied to the myth of Herakles:

“While Heracles was making the circuit of Sicily at this time he came to the city which is now Syracuse, and on learning what the myth relates about the Abduction of Kore, he offered sacrifices to the Goddesses on a magnificent scale, and after dedicating to Her the fairest bull of his herd and casting it in the spring Cyanê, he commanded the natives to sacrifice each year to Kore and to conduct at Cyanê a festive gathering and a sacrifice in splendid fashion. He then passed with his cattle through the interior of the island, and when the native Sicani opposed him in great force, he overcame them in a notable battle and slew many of their number, among whom, certain writers of myths relate, were also some distinguished generals who receive the honours accorded to Heroes even to this day, such as Leucaspis, Pediacrates, Buphonas, Glychatas, Bytaeas, and Crytidas.” (Diod. Sic. IV 23)

As he was a Sican of Sicily, and apparently non-Hellenic, it's quite unlikely he was the one worshipped at the deme of Erkhia. It was most likely another Leukaspis that was a local hero. What, exactly, the source of this Leukaspis' renown was has been lost to us.

Alternatively, Noel Robertson in 'Religion and Reconciliation in Greek Cities', page 173, notes:
“When we meet Leupaspis at Erchia, we should not imagine that a Sican hero was brought to Attica.  Instead, the same name has been given to similar powers in the two places.”

Leukaspis appears not to be so much a war hero in Erkhia but a, what Robertson describes as a 'functional hero'. In Hellenic warfare a hoplite presses on the enemy with his shield, so that a buffering wind may well be likened to a shield-bearing warrior. As such, Leukaspis might have been a power associated with winds and tied to the begetting of a good harvest. So we wrote the ritual in that sense and used the two Orphic Hymns that best fit, To Zephyros and To Notos.

According to the Greater Demarkhia, the sacrifice to Leukaspis was a ram, along with a 'libation not of wine'. In modern times, a libation of milk, honey, and/or water will most certainly do.

You can find the ritual for the PAT ritual to Leukaspis here and join the community page here. The sacrifice to Leukaspis will take place on April 17th at 10 am EDT.
Wikipedia says that, in a typical English dictionary of 80,000 words, which corresponds very roughly to the vocabulary of an educated English speaker, about 5 or 6 percent of the words are borrowed from Greek directly, and about 25% indirectly (if one counts modern coinages from Greek roots as Greek). Seeing as it's Wikipedia, I'm not at all sure those numbers are correct, but it is something to think about, at least.

The Greek language is one of the few ancient languages in the world that is still spoken in its modern form today. It is considered a separate branch of the Indo-European languages, and has influenced many languages across the world, including Latin, the root of the Romance languages of French, Italian, Spanish etc., and English, among many others.

The use of Greek words in all fields of science, regardless of language, is vast. But there are also many words in English that although at first sight might not seem to be related to Greek, are in fact the product of Greek suffixes or prefixes. The video below shows how much Greek has influenced the English language and how important it is for the understanding of science.

The point of this post: we use with roots in the ancient Hellenic language almost daily. Many concepts from science, politics, medicine and society are derived from ancient Hellenic roots, and the names often stuck. Feeling close to the society our religion rose to greatness in is a lot easier than one might expect, if one only learns to listen.
Greece’s Central Archaeological Council has given the go-ahead to a project to help restore some of the most important monuments on the island of Delos, using a grant donated by the Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos Foundation.


The project will launch a new era for the ‘sacred isle’ of Delos, which was considered the most important sanctuary of antiquity and the birthplace of the gods Apollo and Artemis. The project will be begin with the Stoa of Philip V, which is one of the first monuments that a visitor comes across but also the hardest to understand, since it is missing its ‘3rd dimension’.

The Cyclades Antiquities Ephorate, using the 550,000-euro donation from the Kanellopoulos Foundation, will now take action to restore the damage and the result of wear caused by salt water to the various architectural elements on the ground.

According to the head of the Cyclades Antiquities Ephorate Dimitris Athanasoulis, the restoration work on Delos – as in the case of the Philip V Stoa – was essential for the protection of the monuments, not just to help visitors understand them.

“Delos is a small island, where the salt corrodes everything. Architectural elements in such a hostile environment degenerate rapidly. Their restoration on the monument will greatly reduce the wear.”

While the urban neighbourhoods on Delos were well-preserved, Athanasoulis said, the same was not true of the sanctuary. He said the Ephorate’s strategy was to use EU and state funds on the 'emergency' projects and try to find sponsors and grants for the rest. He pointed out that the needs on Delos, due to the special conditions prevailing on the island, were similar to those in Pompeii where millions of euros in European funds were given each year.
I like the feeling of being useful. I like having goals and meeting them, be they mental or physical. I work long hours on projects that challenge me mentally, and I have fitness goals to fuel my body. I don't have a lot of spare time to do nothing, but I've found that doing nothing is a pretty terrible thing for my mental health anyway. I feel much better after a run than a day of lying about and playing video games. It's a state of mind the ancient Hellenes valued as well: they divided their time between education, philosophy, sports, combat training and,  of course, religious pursuits.

This type of life--a life in service of providing for your family and bettering yourself was called, by Latin poet Albius Tibullus (c. 55 BC – 19 BC)  the 'True Life'. His poem, The True Life is one of my favorite ancient writings. It always puts a smile on my face and relaxes me. I'd like to share parts of it with you today. The start first, as that's the part that relaxes me so much:

Let other men gather bright gold to themselves
and own many acres of well-ploughed soil,
let endless worry trouble them, with enemies nearby,
and the peals of the war-trumpets driving away sleep:
let my moderate means lead me to a quiet life,
as long as my fireside glows with endless flame.

If only I might now be happy to live with little,
and not always be addicted to distant journeys,
but avoid the rising Dog-star’s summer heat
in the shade of a tree by a stream of running water.

Nor be ashamed to take up the hoe at times
or rebuke the lazy oxen with a goad:
or object to carrying a ewe-lamb home
or a young kid deserted by its mother.

Then another reminder, one perhaps even more important than the one above, which serves as a reminder to be humble and grateful for what one has.

Gods, be with me, and do not scorn what’s given
from a humble table in pure earthenware.
The cups were earthenware the ancients made,
at first, themselves, from ductile clay.

I don’t need the wealth of my forefathers,
that the harvest brought my distant ancestors:
a little field’s enough: enough to sleep in peace,
and rest my limbs on the accustomed bed
What joy to hear the raging winds as I lie there
holding my girl to my tender breast,
or when a wintry Southerly pours its icy showers,
sleep soundly helped by an accompanying fire!
On April 16  Elaion wil host a PAT ritual for the Olympieia, in honor of Olympian Zeus. Will you join us at the usual 10 a.m. EDT?


Most worship of Olympian Zeus took place around or during the Olympic games in Olympia. In 550 BC BC, however, the tyrant Peisistratos (Πεισίστρατος) decided to build a temple to Olympian Zeus in Athens. The temple, which became known as the Naos tou Olympiou Dios (Ναὸς τοῦ Ὀλυμπίου Διός), was demolished by his sons, Hippias (Ἱππίας) and Hipparchos (Ἵππαρχος), after Peisistratos' death, but replaced by the foundations of a grander structure. Hippias was expelled in 510 BC, and the project abandoned for three hundred years. The project--which was epic in scale--was seen as hubristic and bad form. Aristotle wrote about it in his Politics:

"Another art of the tyrant is to sow quarrels among the citizens; friends should be embroiled with friends, the people with the notables, and the rich with one another. Also he should impoverish his subjects; he thus provides against the maintenance of a guard by the citizen and the people, having to keep hard at work, are prevented from conspiring. The Pyramids of Egypt afford an example of this policy; also the offerings of the family of Cypselus, and the building of the temple of Olympian Zeus by the Peisistratidae, and the great Polycratean monuments at Samos; all these works were alike intended to occupy the people and keep them poor." (Part XI)

The temple project was revived from 174 BC to 164 BC, when King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who presented himself as the earthly embodiment of Zeus, changed the design and put builders to work. The project halted again after his death. What followed was a period of disarray with looting, some minor attempts at restoration, and lots of neglect, until the project was finally completed in the second century AD, by Roman emperor Hadrian.

In 267, the temple was badly damaged during the Herulian sack of the city, and very few--if any--attempt was made to restore it. By 425, the worship of the Hellenic and Roman Gods was banned by Christian emperor Theodosius II, and the temple was slowly dismantled for building materials.

Even in its half finished state, Peisistratus and those who came after him, held a festival at the structure: the Olympieia, celebrated on the 19th of Mounikhion. For how long the festival was celebrated is unclear, but it died out somewhere during the reign of Hellas--most likely after the death of the Peisistratidae--before being brought back in the second century BC, as the temple was completed. The festival was a military one and featured a procession and contests by the Athenian cavalry. Also attested are large scale sacrifices of bulls to Olympian Zeus.

You will find the ritual for the event here and you can join the community page here.
Researchers at the University of Huddersfield have visited Rethymnon in Crete, to collect samples from the late Bronze Age Necropolis of Armenoi, one of the world's finest archaeological sites. DNA analysis of the ancient skeletal remains could provide fresh insights into the origins of European civilization. This reports the Archaeological News Network.

Dr Ceiridwen Edwards and PhD student George Foody were permitted to take bone samples and teeth from over 110 of the more than 600 skeletons discovered in the Necropolis, a rock-hewn burial site from the Late Minoan period dating to more than 4,000 years ago. During their two-week visit, the Huddersfield researchers – part of a team that included colleagues from Oxford University and the Hellenic Archaeological Research Foundation – also took DNA swabs from more than 100 contemporary Cretans. They sought people whose grandmothers were from Crete in order to analyze links to the Minoan period.

When the ancient DNA samples are compared with those of modern Cretans, there is the potential to find solutions to many issues surrounding the ancient migration of people and culture to an island where the Bronze Age Minoans and their successors the Mycenaeans laid foundations for later European civilization and culture. George Foody:

"The Minoans are one of Europe's earliest civilizations and research will affect the interpretation of a number of fields – archaeological, historical and social."

For example, fresh light could be thrown on the migration of the Mycenaeans to Crete, and on the origins of the early script known as Linear B. Also, the DNA analysis might establish family relationships between the occupants of the tombs, and it might be possible to establish the presence of a high status dynasty.

"We are trying to establish family relationships within the necropolis itself, as well as see how the site compares to other Minoan sites, and compare it to sites in mainland Greece."

His PhD supervisor, Dr. Edwards, is Senior Research Fellow in Add to dictionary at the University of Huddersfield, which is home to the University's Archaeogenetics Research Group. It has fully-equipped modern and ancient DNA lab facilities and studies the geographic distribution of human genetic variation, aiming to address questions from archaeology, anthropology and history.

The Research Group is the recipient of a £1 million award by the Leverhulme Trust, under its Doctoral Scholarships scheme, which will train 15 new evolutionary geneticists. George Foody, from Cork in Ireland, is one of the second cohort of doctoral trainees, and his visit to Crete was part-funded by the Leverhulme Award. His PhD thesis will focus on the results of this research.

During her research career, Dr Edwards has studied DNA of archaeological samples from many species, including giant Irish deer, domestic horse, wild boar, domestic pig, brown bear, and red deer, dating from 1,000 to 40,000 years ago. Her specialty has been the study of aurochs, the ancestors of domestic cattle, as well as ancient cattle breeds.
I have a fascination with Gods we don't know much about, with Gods whose mythology is limited to  a single snippet that sparks the imagination enough to form a complete image of the deity in question, regardless. Two of those deities for me are Aniketos (Ανικητος) and Alexiares (Αλεξιαρης).

Aniketo and Alexiares are the sons of Hebe and Hēraklēs. Together, They guard the Gates of Olympos and presided over the defense of fortified towns and citadels. Their names mean respectively 'the unconquerable one' and 'he who wards off war'.  Little else is known about them. In fact, pseudo-Apollodorus, in his 'Bibliotheca' is the only one who makes sure mention of Them as far as I am aware:

"[Herakles] achieved immortality, and when Hera's enmity changed to friendship, he married her daughter Hebe, who bore him sons Alexiares and Aniketos. [2. 158]

Modern scholars mention Aniketos and Alexiares were probably the same as two boy-God sons of Herakles worshipped in Thebes (and Rhodes). I question this. I believe there might be confusion between Alexiares and Aniketos, and the Alkaidai--the sons/children of Alkaios/Alkeides. Herakles, from 'Hera' and kleos, 'glory', was born as Alkaios (Ἀλκαῖος) or Alkeidēs (Ἀλκείδης).

Due to Hera's jealousy this young Herakles was stricken mad and killed the five sons he had by his wife Megara. When he was released from his madness by a hellebore potion--provided by Antikyreus--and realized what he had done, he cried out in anguish, and went on a long journey to cleanse himself of the miasma caused by these killings. This resulted in his Twelve Labours. It also resulted in his name change. These sons were entombed and later worshipped with sacrifices as heroes at Thebes, under the name Alkaidai.

There is a very strenuous link that encourages the idea that at least Aniketos had a child--and grandchild. Clement of Alexandria, in his 'Recognitions' writes in a list of Zeus' adulteries:

"Hippodamia, the daughter of Anicetus (Aniketos)." [Chapter XXI]

No other mention is made of this Hippodameia, or her parentage, or whether or not she bore Zeus any offspring but, if her father Aniketos is the same as the son of Herakles and Hebe, it means that Zeus consorted with his own great-granddaughter, whose grandparents Hebe and Herakles were also his children. This makes the whole family tree very complicated, indeed, but not very surprising.

Aniketo and Alexiares are perfect examples of the tapestry that makes up the Hellenic pantheon. The major displays woven into it are undoubtedly of Zeus and Hera, of Their brothers and sisters, of their parents and well-known children like Apollon and Artemis. Aniketo and Alexiares are the embodiment of my firm belief that it's impossible to practice Hellenism and only worship one or a handful of Gods. One must invest in at least the pursuit of knowledge about every single God or Goddess in our pantheon to fully grasp the parts you thought you already understood. The fringes of the tapestry are just as colorful as the main display--and without these minor mythologies, the tapestry would not only be plain, it would be threadbare.
The Mounikhia (Μουνιχιας), the festival after which the month was named, is celebrated on the sixteenth of Mounichion. On this day of the full moon, Artemis Mounikhia (Αρτεμις Μουνυχια) was honored at the hill of Munikhia, for granting the Hellenes victory in the Battle of Salamis (Ναυμαχία τῆς Σαλαμῖνος).

During the festival, young girls walked in procession to the temple on top of the hill carrying green boughs, while the rest of the celebrants followed, carrying special cakes called 'amphiphontes' ('shining all round’). These round white cakes were adorned with dadia (little torches)--lit candle--and were supposed to represent the full moon. A she-goat is also attested as a sacrifice.

During this festival, an amphiphon was sacrificed to Artemis. It was a cheese pie on which candles were lit. Most likely, the amphiphon was a type of popanon; this is a large, round, flat cake with one or more, upright, protruding, knobs made from flour and cheese. The flat version of the cake, the popanon kathemenon was offered to Artemis, amongst others, as well as one with twelve knobs. We've seen this before for the Delphinia.

If you want to learn more about the festival and its history, please read this blog post.

To honour Artemis on this day, Elaion is organizing a PAT ritual. Will you be celebrating the Mounikhia with us? There will be two times: just after your dusk on12 April, or at our regular 10 a.m. EDT on 13 April. As always, we hope you will join us at your oikos to honour Artemis, our eternal protector. You can join the community page here and find the ritual here.

Neos Alexandria, a community for Greco-Egyptians, Hellenics, Kemetics, Romans, Neopagans and others interested in learning about the Gods, their ancient and contemporary forms of worship, and the Greco-Egyptian culture, has published a new anthology. This time it is about Hestia, and yours truly was roped into contributing:

"Goddess of Little Renown, But Lasting Prominence"
by Elani Temperance (page 154)

Edited by Terence P. Ward
Price: $12.99
Publication Date: 4 April 2017
Place of Publication: Asheville, North Carolina
ISBN: 978-1544055886
Pages: 218 pp
Binding Type: US Trade Paper
Trim Size: 5″ x 8″

"She is the First, and She is the Last. Eldest and Youngest Child of heaven and Earth. The Hearth at the Center of Creation. Few myths and rites for Hestia survive from the classical world. A Goddess primarily of the domestic sphere, She was so central to ancient beliefs and practices that the Greeks actually wrote down very little about Her. She simply Was. And Is."

And so we come to the purpose of this anthology: not just to present ancient material about the Goddess, but, more importantly, to fill in the gaps in belief, practice, and understanding which were not handed down through the intervening millennia. Within these pages, Her devotees recreate Her worship, craft new devotional practices, write new hymns and songs and even myths, develop new recipes, and create new artwork in Her honor.

Hestia remains highly revered and respected, and new devotees are finding their way to Her. As in ancient days, she receives both the least and greatest of offerings. May she never be forgotten.

First and Last can be purchased in paperback format from their online store, and will be available shortly through Amazon, and through Barnes and Noble. If possible, they would ask you to purchase it through Createspace since that will give Bibliotheca Alexandrina a higher portion of the royalties without changing the price for you. Why does that matter? Because all of the proceeds from First and Last – as well as many of the other volumes in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina series – will be used to help promote the revival of the worship of the Greek and Egyptian Gods, with a portion of the proceeds given to a worthy charitable organization in their name.  So, not only will you be getting a wonderful book about the modern worship of Hestia – but your money will be going to do good work and help the revival of ancient polytheistic religions.

ATTENTION Librarians, Teachers and Retailers: First and Last is also available at reduced cost for academic institutions, lending libraries (public and private) and retailers. Check their online store, or email baeditor@gmail.com with any questions.
A question I get quite a lot is the question why I use 'Hellas' and not 'Greece' to describe the country of origin of my Gods. Even today the country is known abroad as Greece, while the Greeks call themselves 'Ellines' and their country Ellada or Hellas in English. The official name of the country is Hellenic Republic as it is written on Greek passports, however the ethnicity on the same documents is described as 'Greek'.

Greek Reporter interviewed Katerina Zacharia, a professor of Classics and Archaeology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA to find out how the term Greece came to be the country’s international name as well as the semantics of the different names of the country throughout its long history. Watch the videos below:

Dr. Zacharia is a renowned speaker on the subject of Hellenism as well as the editor and major contributor for the book “Hellenisms: Culture, Identity and Ethnicity from Antiquity to Modernity (Ashgate Variorum 2008).” She is also the author of “Converging Truths: Euripides’ Ion and the Athenian Quest for Self-Definition (Brill 2003)” is a Professor of Classics at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. She holds a B.A. degree in Psychology and Philosophy and minor in Pedagogy, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Classics from University College London.

For clarity: I use 'Hellas' or 'ancient Hellas' to indicate ancient Greece and everything connected to it, and 'Greece' or 'Modern Greece' for anything concerning the present. That said, 'Hellas' is the preferred term for both, and I know that. It's simply clearer to use the terms like this on this blog because it differentiates so beautifully.