Even though the first case of cancer was recorded in Egypt in 1600 BC, it was Hippocrates (410-360 BC), the father of medicine, who identified and gave the name “cancer” to the illness that blights humanity to this day. He also, like many before and after his time, tried to treat it.

Hippocrates described several kinds of cancer, calling them “karkinos”, the Greek word for crab, or karkinoma (carcinoma). The word came from the appearance of the cut surface of a solid malignant tumour, with the veins stretched on all sides as crab’s feet.

Hippocrates’ conception of cancer was the humoral theory, as he believed that the body contained four humors (body fluids) — namely blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. Any imbalance of these fluids would result in disease and excess of black bile in a particular organ site was thought to cause cancer. The humoral theory of cancer was standard through the Middle Ages for over 1300 years. During that period autopsies were prohibited for religious reasons, thus limiting knowledge about cancer. Humoral theory-based treatment remained popular until the 19th century, when cells were discovered.

Since ancient Hellenic tradition prohibited opening the body, Hippocrates only described and made drawings of visible tumors on the skin, nose, and breasts. Treatment was based on the humoral theory. According to the patient’s humor, treatment consisted of diet, blood-letting and/or laxatives.
Hippocrates believed that cancer was the result of an excess in black bile in any possible part of the body. If the spleen failed to clear out this bile, the patient would develop some kind of cancer. He had also described as early symptoms of cancer a bitter taste in the mouth that would be accompanied by a loss of appetite

The physicians of the time described different cancer types, including the hidden and obvious ones, the acquired and non-acquired type, as well as the tumor sizes differing from as small as an eyeball to as big as a melon. The ancient Hellenes had even noticed the presence of vascular dilatation in cases of cancer.

When examining the patient, ancient Hellenic physicians noticed that the cancer tumor was palpable and somewhat hard to the touch, irregular in shape, adherent to the surrounding tissue with dilatation of the veins, rather cool in temperature and sometimes sores would build up in the surrounding area of the body. It also caused swelling and was not accompanied by fever. Another characteristic symptom of cancer was recorded to be acute pain and bleeding.

Regarding treatment, ancient Hellenic doctors gave the patient medical solutions, and if they failed to help the patient, then they proceeded to remove the tumor with surgery. They used herbs such as asclepia, lichen, aristolochia, dragonvosis, erythematosus, erybuminus, ellevaros, raisinus and others.
In order to remove the malignant black bile they performed phlebotomy. If that did not suffice, they removed the tumor through surgery, if possible, and proceeded with  cauterization of the surrounding vessels to stop excessive and dangerous hemorrhage.

After surgery, the patient had to follow a particular health-boosting diet and exercise program to feel better. However, the vast number of herbs and medicines used indicates that ancient doctors already knew how low the chances were for a cancer patient to survive the illness.

Greece has seen much turbulent summer weather with storms, rains and floods lashing different parts of the country.While tourists dash for shelter from the rain, and lightning bolts light up the Acropolis, it is worth considering how the ancient Hellenes explained the weather.

Although Zeus is well known for his thunderbolts, it is the Anemoi which seem to correspond more specifically with the winds and the weather they brought to Greece. Each such God was ascribed a cardinal direction from where they would bring the wind and other weather phenomena.

Boreas is the north wind and bringer of cold winter air. Zephyrus is the west wind and bringer of light spring and early-summer breezes, and Notus is the south wind and bringer of the storms of late summer and autumn. Eurus is another weather God but was not associated with any of the specific ancient Hellenic seasons, of which they had only three.

There were a host of other, more minor, Hellenic deities whose names were gives to the particular winds which would blow at different times of the year. The Romans adopted some of these Gods, giving them new names, but still ascribing to them the power to bring different types of weather.

The Winds were portrayed as either man-shaped, winged Gods who lived together in a cavern on Mount Haimos (Haemus) in Thrake (Thrace), or as horse-shaped divinities stabled by Aiolos Hippotades, "the Reiner of Horses", on the island of Aiolia and set out to graze on the shores of the earth-encircling River Okeanos.

Early poets, such as Homer and Hesiod, drew a clear distinction between the four, relatively benign, seasonal Winds (Anemoi) and the destructive Storm-Winds (Anemoi Thuellai). The latter, spawned by the monster Typhoeus, were either housed in the caverns of Aiolos or guarded by the Hekatonkheires in the pits of Tartaros. Later authors blurred the distinction between the two.

The female counterparts of the Anemoi were the Aellai Harpyiai (Harpies). Mated with the Winds they produced many swift, immortal horses.
Atlantis is a legendary "lost" island subcontinent often idealized as an advanced, utopian society holding wisdom that could bring world peace. The idea of Atlantis has captivated dreamers, occultists and New Agers for generations.

Unlike many legends whose origins have been lost in the mists of time, we know exactly when and where the story of Atlantis first appeared. The story was first told in two of Plato's dialogues, the "Timaeus" and the "Critias," written about 330 B.C.

Though today Atlantis is often thought of as a peaceful utopia, the Atlantis that Plato described in his fable was very different. In his book "Frauds, Myths and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology" (McGraw-Hill, 2013) professor of archaeology Ken Feder summarizes the story: "A technologically sophisticated but morally bankrupt evil empire — Atlantis — attempts world domination by force. The only thing standing in its way is a relatively small group of spiritually pure, morally principled and incorruptible people — the ancient Athenians. Overcoming overwhelming odds, the Athenians are able to defeat their far more powerful adversary simply through the force of their spirit.

Archaeology has caught up with much of this documentary already, but there is just something about this myth that will forever speak to me.

Melbourne will soon be welcoming a new relaxation and wellness space: Olympia Daily. As the name hints, it is inspired by the famous Hellenic Baths in ancient Olympia – the earliest baths in the sanctuary established in the 5th century BCE – and it aspires to become a natural part of Melburnians’ daily life; a hub that will allow its members to unwind, reflect and socialise. The initial location is in the inner north of Melbourne – between Fitzroy and Carlton – and plans to open a second location near South Yarra or St Kilda.

Olympia Daily is the brainchild of two accomplished Australian women, spa and wellness consultant Sonja Sorich and PR and marketing specialist Emily King. The two met in 2017 through a mutual friend who knew they shared a passion for the spa and bathing traditions of Europe.

Emily had been living in the UK and Europe for five years where she discovered saunas, hammams and thermal spas as a form of relaxation while working in a very demanding role in fashion PR. She had also travelled to Japan many times and was drawn to the Onsen tradition for its relaxing, therapeutic and social benefits.

"Upon returning to Australia I went in search of the same experience, but have not been able to find a single place that met all the elements I was looking for, so I began researching and putting my ideas on paper."

Sonja has loved relaxing in saunas and steam rooms for many years, and through her international travels has always sought out local spa experiences, which, in most cases, have involved a form of bathing. Back here in Australia, while conceptualising and creating day spas and health retreats for her clients, and through a series of events and observations, Sonja began to realise that ‘thermal bathing’ was missing from the Australian day spa experience. In addition, she noticed that the most popular day spas she came across included some form of bathing.

The two entrepreneurs spotted a hole in the market and have since been working on the concept and development of this project, drawing on the expertise of thought leaders in the wellness, interior design, and commercial technology sectors to ensure they bring a compelling wellness concept to the market. According to Emily:

"Sonja and myself are leading the project, but of course we are leaning on a group of advisors across multiple industries to help us bring the concept to life. Working with key investors, we all believe that the concept has the foundations to provide a much-needed wellness experience for every day and every body, regardless of age, background or social class. A lot of research has gone into understanding the future landscape and global trends in wellness so that we harness all aspects and provide something for everybody."

There are so many different kinds of spa and wellness experiences stemming from different cultures. Why base this new project on a Greek model?

"We have both travelled to Greece a number of times and experienced and loved the bathing culture, but the real connection for the name Olympia is in the original 12 Olympians. Each Olympian, for us, encapsulates the various dimensions of wellness – from the pleasant to the not so pleasant. The 12 characters provide a narrative and put a face to the various reasons people will visit Olympia Daily."

For many people, explains Emily, the word Olympia may conjure up images of the statuesque symbols of physical form and beauty we see everywhere in Greece and also at the Olympics.

"...And since wellness is beauty and the physical form, it makes sense to appeal to the inherent drive we all have to attain these attributes. At the same time we deliver so much more than beauty – we offer a complete experience that touches on all the expressions of human nature."

At the same time, Olympia Daily will not be limited to just the Hellenic bath experience but will offer an array of other services and treatments including sento, ikebana and shibari. There is also a food shop.

"We are so lucky in Australia to have people from all different backgrounds and therefore it made sense that we draw on global wellness traditions, yet connect them back to the original source of spa, which began in Greece and became an integral part of Roman society. We have combined bathing, healing therapies, nourishment, social connection and even physical movement into a concept that people can actually engage with everyday. It’s a complete approach to living wellness in an urban environment and offers guests the opportunity to personalise their journey to health."

Similarly to Ancient Hellas where the baths saw to the needs of the athletes participating in the Olympic Games, later becoming a daily activity of the high society, philosophers and politicians, Olympia Daily’s vision is to become an epicentre of a diverse society; a new social experience for Australians that reimagines bathhouse traditions from around the globe.

“We want it to be fun to use, good for people’s well-being and to foster human interaction and community. Ease and accessibility is very important to us, as we want it to be easy for guests to visit us every day, or easily from the CBD. We love the history of the inner city suburbs, which were formerly industrial hubs. There are plenty of large spaces ripe for reinventing, with a growing number of young professionals and households seeking entertainment and wellness amenities. This area has an active community conscience, and we think this is a great place to kickstart a new way of life that aligns with existing lifestyle and environmental initiatives.”

Knowing that consumers are looking for more meaningful social experiences, and are eager for entertainment that offers a healthy outcome, the Olympia Daily founders want to offer an experience that has the potential to change the way they live, work, and play.

"Olympia Daily is essentially a contemporary bathhouse that introduces the mainstream to a new idea of the spa experience: a regularly attended social space that captures both people looking to improve their health, and a place to connect outside of the ‘pub scene’. At the end of the day, we want to create a culture of real well-being that enables individuals to find supportive and rewarding relationships and fuel happiness."

For more information, go to olympiadaily.com.
On the sixteenth of Metageitnion, so on 10 am EDT on the third of August, we honor Kourotrophos (κουροτρόφος, child nurturer) and the two Goddesses who protect women and children, Hekate and Artemis with sacrifice. Elaion will be organizing another Practicing Apart Together ritual, which we would love to have you join.

The Kourotrophoi are (mostly) female deities who watched over growing children--Gaea, Artemis, Hekate, Eirênê, Aglauros and Pandrosos, especially. Offerings to them are known from the demos Erkhia, but duplicates similar offerings on the Acropolis of Athens. Especially at Erkhia, it varied per sacrifice which Kourotrophoi was/were sacrificed to. In this ritual, we honor Kourotrophos Herself, a deity whose main function was to watch over nursing children and their mothers. We also honor Artemis and Hekate.

Artemis is named Kourotrophos by Diodorus Siculus, a Hellenic historian, in book five of his library:

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

You can find the ritual here and join the community here.

What I love most about Hellenismos is the treasure trove of ancient texts at our disposal. This wisdom, information, and simple insights into daily life or ritual worship help us form our practice, and shape our world views. As I try to devote as much time to research for this blog and my personal practice as I can responsibly spare, I come across many of these gems in scholarly notes, or straight there by way of Google. Today's beautiful text, however, comes courtesy of my good friend and fellow core member of Elaion, Robert Clark. In many of our PAT rituals that honour Zeus, he includes this text to recite. It was written by Aratos, and comes from his excellent Phaenomena.

Aratos of Soli (Ἄρᾱτος ὁ Σολεύς) was a Hellenic poet who flourished in Macedonia in the early third century BC. His major extant work is his hexameter poem Phaenomena (Φαινόμενα, 'Appearances'), the first half of which is a verse setting of a lost work of the same name by Eudoxus of Cnidus. It describes the constellations and other celestial phenomena. The second half is called the Diosemeia (Διοσημεῖα, 'Forecasts'), and is chiefly about weather lore. Although Aratos was somewhat ignorant of Hellenic astronomy, his poem was very popular in the Hellenic and Roman world, as is proved by the large number of commentaries and Latin translations, some of which survive.

Aratos kicks off his Phaenomena off with something of a hymn to Zeus, a bit of text to praise the King of the Gods which has become a favourite of Robert and I. Enjoy!

Aratos - Hymn to Zeus
From the Phaenomena, translated by G. R. Mair

From Zeus let us begin;
him do we mortals never leave unnamed;
full of Zeus are all the streets and all the market-places of men;
full is the sea and the havens thereof;
always we all have need of Zeus.

For we are also his offspring;
and he in his kindness unto men giveth favorable signs
and wakeneth the people to work, reminding them of livelihood.
He tells what time the soil is best for the labor of the ox and for the mattock,
and what time the seasons are favorable both for the planting of trees
and for casting all manner of seeds.

For himself it was who set the signs in heaven,
and marked out the constellations,
and for the year devised what stars chiefly should give to men right signs of the seasons,
to the end that all things might grow unfailingly.

Wherefore Him do men ever worship first and last.
Hail, O Father, mighty marvel, mighty blessing unto men.
Hail to thee and to the Elder Raced!
Hail, ye Muses, right kindly, every one!
But for me, too, in answer to my prayer direct all my lay,
even, as is meet, to tell the stars.

According to the News Agency TASS, a team of archaeologists has uncovered fragments of two ancient Hellenic musical instruments during an excavation in the Taman Peninsula, in southern Russia. The unearthing of remnants of musical instruments is quite rare, and the discovery is the first of its kind in many years. The discovery is an exciting one and it is showing the extent of the Hellenic presence in the Black Sea area in ancient times. The find will allow experts to have a better understanding of the local Hellenic societies.

The Hellenes colonized the north Black Sea area from at least the 8th century BC, drawn to the region by its rich natural resources. They established a series of colonies in the area, especially in what is now southern Russia. Over time, these became city-states or polis that became rich and powerful because of the trade in fish, grain, and slaves. The settlements remained largely Hellenic in culture, but they also interacted with the Steppe nomads such as the Scythians.  The Taman Peninsula became the core area of the Bosporan Kingdom that endured in one form or another from the 4th century BC to the 4th century AD.

The find was in an area of southern Russia, that is located near the Crimea. Two important urban centers were situated there in antiquity, which became capitals of the Bosporan Kingdom. There have been extensive archaeological finds related in the Taman area in recent decades, that have deepened our understanding of Hellenic society in southern Russia.

The find was made by archaeologists of the Russian Academy of Sciences, led by Roman Mimokhod, who have been working in the area for three years. They made the discovery of the fragments near Volna, which is located near an extensive ancient Hellenic settlement. The fragments were unearthed at a large necropolis and they were buried with individuals, a common practice in antiquity.

The remains of the instruments are only the latest important discovery from the archaeological site. The team of archaeologists have excavated some 600 tombs in the necropolis and have made many discoveries that have thrown a light on Hellenic society in the region and the level of their interactions with local groups.

The fragments unearthed were a piece of a harp and a lyre and they have been dated to be from the 6th century BC.  The instruments are only partially preserved because they were made from perishable material, namely wood. Because of this, such musical instruments are very rare to find and most of what we know about them is from images on vases. The discovery of the pieces of a harp and lyre are particularly important as, Tass quotes Mimokhad as stating that,

"...the harp unearthed in Taman is one of the most ancient and well-preserved as far as ancient Hellenic musical instruments are concerned. The fragments of the instruments, according to the News Network Archaeology are believed to be older than previous significant discoveries, including those at the ‘Piraeus necropolis in Athens and the tuning pegs of a harp uncovered from a necropolis in Taranto, southern Italy."

The find of the fragments of a harp and a lyre was unexpected and demonstrates the archaeological importance of the necropolis near the Volna settlement. The musical instruments will be investigated further and compared to the few other examples from antiquity. Such discoveries in the Taman Peninsula underline how the settlements north of the Black Sea remained culturally Hellenic, despite their interactions with native groups.
Mythologically speaking, Pegasos was originally only one winged horse, born from the neck of Médousa when she was beheaded by the hero Perseus. Poseidon, Tamer of Horses, is his father. Hesiod describes in his ‘Theogony’ the curious circumstances of his birth:

"…Medusa who suffered a woeful fate: she was mortal, but the two [of her Gorgon sisters] were undying and grew not old. With her lay the Dark-haired One [Poseidon] in a soft meadow amid spring flowers. And when Perseus cut off her head, there sprang forth great Chrysaor and the horse Pegasus who is so called because he was born near the springs [pegae] of Ocean [Okeanos]; and that other, because he held a golden blade [aor] in his hands. Now Pegasus flew away and left the earth, the mother of flocks, and came to the deathless gods: and he dwells in the house of Zeus and brings to wise Zeus the thunder and lightning." [ll 270-294]

Pegasos was tamed by Bellerophon, a Korinthian hero, who rode him into battle against the fire-breathing Khimaira. Pindar, in his beautiful Olympian Odes describes this cooperation wonderfully:

"Bellerophon, who once suffered greatly when beside the spring he wanted to harness Pegasus, the son of the snake-entwined Gorgon; until the maiden Pallas brought to him a bridle with golden cheek-pieces. The dream suddenly became waking reality, and she spoke: “Are you sleeping, king, son of Aeolus? Come, take this charm for the horse; and, sacrificing a white bull, show it to your ancestor, Poseidon the Horse-Tamer.” The goddess of the dark aegis seemed to say such words to him as he slumbered in the darkness, and he leapt straight up to his feet. He seized the marvellous thing that lay beside him, and gladly went to the seer of the land,  and he told the son of Coeranus the whole story: how, at the seer’s bidding, he had gone to sleep for the night on the altar of the goddess, and how the daughter herself of Zeus whose spear is the thunderbolt had given him the spirit-subduing gold. The seer told him to obey the dream with all speed; and, when he sacrificed a strong-footed bull to the widely powerful holder of the earth, straightaway to dedicate an altar to Athena, goddess of horses. The power of the gods accomplishes as a light achievement what is contrary to oaths and expectations. And so mighty Bellerophon eagerly stretched the gentle charmed bridle around its jaws and caught the winged horse. Mounted on its back and armored in bronze, at once he began to play with weapons. And with Pegasus, from the chilly bosom of the lonely air,7 he once attacked the Amazons, the female army of archers, [90] and he killed the fire-breathing Chimaera, and the Solymi. I shall pass over his death in silence; but Pegasus has found his shelter in the ancient stables of Zeus in Olympus." [13. 63]

Pegasos was not worshipped with ritual and sacrifices like the Theoi—the Hellenic Gods—were; only the Theoi were worshipped in that manner, and even then there were huge differences in Ouranic, Khthonic, and hero worship. He/they were featured in art, though, and was/were a beloved part of the Hellenic mythology; especially the Pegasos Bellerophon rode on, as he was featured on many coins throughout the years.
All right, this is an old one, but bear with me, it's a very interesting one. "Sculpture: The Human Figure, Greece 478-336 B.C." came out in 1978. It analyzes Hellenic works of art that demonstrates the changing attitude of sculptors toward the human figure and explains that the style of a sculpture does not necessarily relate to the place it was found, because ancient sculptors were itinerant artists working wherever commissions arose throughout the Hellenic world.

Inscriptions, stylistic criteria, and ancient writers' descriptions provide clues to the accurate dating and identification of sculpture. It's part of the "Ancient Greece" series, was produced by the BBC for the British Open University, and was narrated by David Thomson

Commentary: Martin Robertson, Lincoln Professor of Classical Archaeology and Art, University of Oxford.

We all know mythology is not reality. Ancient mythology, however, is always based on at least a little truth--an event, a person, etc. Especially when it comes to the ancient Hellenic heroes and their deeds, there is a lot of embelished truth, but truth none the less. The difficulty is in finding it--and archeological finds are our best bet.

Take Theseus and the minotaur: Theseus (Θησεύς) was fathered by Aegeus and Poseidon, whom had both slept with his mother Aethra, and was thus destined to become a hero. All heroes were given at least one divine parent--usually one connected to their later deeds. The same held true for kings. When he heard about the Minotaur of Krete, and the nine-yearly sacrifices to it--a punishment by King Minos of Krete for the death of his son Androgeus, at the hands of Athenian assassins--Theseus offered to be one of the youths who sailed for Krete. Once there, Ariadne, daughter of the king, fell for him and offered him a ball of yarn so he would be able to find his way out off the labyrinth that housed the Minotaur the youths would be sacrificed to. With Ariadne's aid, Theseus defeated the Minotaur, and brought the sacrificial children home.

It is very difficult to sort out fact from fiction with legends from such a long time ago. The palace at Knossos, where the labyrinth was supposed to have been built, certainly existed. Knossos was undeniably the capital of Minoan Krete. The ruins of the palace are located about twenty minutes south of the modern port town of Iraklio. Knossos was inhabited for several thousand years, from the neolithic to 1375 BC, when it was abandoned after its destruction. The first palace on the low hill beside the Krairatos river was built around 1900 BC on the ruins of previous settlements. It--and many of the other buildings--were destroyed around 1700 BC by an earthquake or invaders. It was rebuild and destroyed or damaged again and again by earthquakes, volcano eruption, invaders and fires, until its abandonment. With its demise came the demise of the Minoan civilization.
Knossos has been an archeological treasure trove--and amongst its ruins was a chilling find: a collection of bones, belonging to eight to eleven children aged ten to fifteen, of which about a third bore the marks of flesh being cut from them with a knife. We don't know what happened to them, but given the myth, it's tempting to leap to the obvious conclusion--as many scientists have done with me: human sacrifice. This possibility is made even more probabable when taken into account a very grim find in the Anemospilia, an ancient Minoan temple on the island.

The temple was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 2000 BC from Thera and the resulting earthquakes. Traces of ash and charcoal were found on the ground, and from this, one can postulate that the building was burnt down. The temple is set out with three chambers and one annex that leads into them, and inside, archaeologists have found something somewhat unusual.

The east chamber held an altar and various pithoi with sacrificial itmes like honey and milk. In the central chamber was anther altar--this was the main worship room. What has my attention, however, is the western chamber. In the western chamber, two skeletons were found on the floor, one in the south west corner of the room This body was of a 28 year old female; because the average life expectancy in ancient civilisations was around 55, she would have been a middle aged woman. She could have been a high priestess of some sort. The other skeleton was that of a male, he was aged in his late thirties, and 183 cm tall, and powerfully built, he was lying on his back with his hands covering his face, as if to protect it.

On top of the platform another body was found. This was a body of an 18-year-old male; he was found in the foetal position, lying on his right side. Amongst the bones was found an ornately engraved knife, it was 40 cm long and weighing more than 400g. Each side of the blade had an incised rendering of an animal head, the snout and tusks of a boar, ears like butterfly wings and slanted eyes like a fox. His legs were forced back so that his heels were almost touching his thigh, indicating that they were tied there.

Just like the bones of the cut up children found in one of the ruined houses, we do not know if this youth was truly about to be sacrificed, or if it was some sort of other, non lethal, rite, but the possibility is certainly there. So who were these youths? Could this be Athenian children sacrificed in vengance? Could this be the practice Theseus came to put an end to? Then what about the minotaur? Some authors and scholars assume that the minotaur was a priest who wore a bull mask--the sacred aminal of the Minoans. Theseus could have killed him in the escape (possibly aided by Ariadne) and saved the children from human sacrifice. It certainly sounds plausible at least.

We don't know what happened at Knossos. We will never know for sure what happened at Knossos. But we do know that mythology is oh so often based in fact, and there are facts that support a very grizzly truth--one that Theseus might have ended.
On the 16th of Hekatombaion, the Synoikia (συνοίκια or συνοικέσια) festival was held in Athens. It was a community festival, sacred to primarily Athena, and was a festival held every year. Why the Sunoikia was celebrated, and what its origins are is not entirely clear; best I can tell is that it reaches back to the unification of twelve small towns into the metropolis of Athens, and is thus linked to the myth of Theseus. Will you celebrate with us on July 28th and 29th?

The Synoikia was 'somewhat' of a two-day festival; the 16th was the official sacred day, but the 15th was important as well. Parke, in 'Festivals of the Athenians' (1977), states that:

"Some light on the subject comes from a fragment of the fifth-century code of sacrificial regulations found in the Agora. It records among the festival held every second year as the earliest in the calendar sacrifices held on the 15th and 16th of Hecatombaion. This is evidently the Synoikia though the name does not appear in the inscription. Thuclydides did not mention anything about a two-yearly celebration, and one would naturally expect the commemoration of a historic even to take place annually. But the part of the code dealing with the annual festivals of Hecatombaion is lost, and it probably contained references to the annual Synoikia on the 16th, and one should picture the celebration as taking place on this one day every year, and every second year being held in a larger and more extended form over the two days of the 15th and the 16th." [p. 31]

The second day was the main event, and it contained sacrifices to Zeus Phratrios, Eirênê (Ειρηνη, Goddess of peace and spring), and most importantly: Athena. The Synoikia was believed to have been instituted by Theseus to commemorate the concentration, the Synoecism, of the government of the various towns of Attica and Athens. This unification is described by Thucydides, in his 'History of the Peloponnesian War':

"In this manner spake the Mytilenaeans. And the Lacedaemonians and their confederates, when they had heard and allowed their reasons, decreed not only a league with the Lesbians but also again to make an invasion into Attica. And to that purpose the Lacedaemonians appointed their confederates there present to make as much speed as they could with two parts of their forces into the isthmus; and they themselves being first there prepared engines in the isthmus for the drawing up of galleys, with intention to carry the navy from Corinth to the other sea that lieth towards Athens, and to set upon them both by sea and land. [2] And these things diligently did they. But the rest of the confederates assembled but slowly, being busied in the gathering in of their fruits and weary of warfare." [3. 15]

Prior to this mythical event taking place, it seems the Synoikia was solely a festival for Athena, as caretaker of Athens. All sacrifices went to Her. After the Synoecism, however, Zeus Phatrios gained importance: he oversaw the various phratries (clans) of Athens who had come together to form a unified people. The content of the Synoikia was solidified in a time of many wars, and it seemed many people were not only tired of them, but saw them as a threat to the solidity of Athens and Attica. As such, the inclusion Eirênê makes sense, as well as Elaion's additions of Aphrodite and Peitho.

Even in ancient times, the sacrifices were a bit lacklustre: a young ewe on the 15th, and two young bullocks on the 16th. Neither sacrifice included a feast and the meat--save for what was sacrificed, of course--was sold right away, indicating not many people attended and that the festival was held most for form; and antiquated festival even then. Today, reading up on the history of Athens and sacrificing to Athena, Zeus Phatrios, and Eirênê suffices to celebrate the Synoikia--and join in with our PAT ritual, of course! You can find the rituals here and the community page here.
Something to ponder...

Have you ever wondered why the Percy Jackson books are so popular or why we have Greek symbols on our buildings? Lilly explores this in her talk and might even have an answer. Learn more about how Lilly discovered Greek Mythology as a way to connect with others.

Lilly LeJeune is a ninth-grade student at Mountain Brook Junior High and a member of the MBJH TEDEd Club. She loves to write, read, and have fun. Her passion for writing leads her to explore many interesting topics such as Greek Mythology.

This talk was filmed at TEDxYouth@MBJH 2018 held April 14, 2018 at Mountain Brook Junior High School in Mountain Brook, Alabama. Lilly LeJeune is a ninth-grade student at Mountain Brook Junior High. She loves to write, read, and have fun. Her passion for writing leads her to explore many interesting topics such as Greek Mythology. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.
Giresun Island, the only island with human settlement in the East Black Sea, attracts a lot of visitors thanks to its historical remains and mythological stories. The island is home to the mythical Amazons, a tribe of warrior women. It is also mentioned in the myth of Hercules and the search for the Golden Fleece. Now local tour organizers hold special shows that take visitors on a journey back in time. They include the stories of Amazons, Hercakles, the meeting of the Argonauts and the Saka people.

Giresun Governor Harun Sarıfakıoğulları told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the city has a historical past predating even the Christian era. He noted that it was their duty to promote the city's tourism sector, protect its historical sites and values. The mayor added that Giresun Island was one of the city's most popular tourist attractions. He said that more and more local and foreign tourists are coming to visit the island every year. Talking about the island's mythological past, the governor said:

"Local tour organizers host special shows on mythical figures, like Hercules and Amazons, for the visitors. There are also some archaeological excavations going on. The work will continue this year. We invite everyone who wants to be in touch with ancient history to visit Giresun Island."

In Hellenic mythology, the Golden Fleece is the fleece of the gold-haired winged ram, which was held in Colchis. The fleece is a symbol of authority and kingship. It was the object of desire for Jason, who organized an expedition with the Argonauts in order to retrieve it. The myth has it that Athamas, king of the city of Orchomenos, married the Goddess Nephele, with whom he had two children, Phrixus and Helle.

Later, he took Ino as his second wife, who hated her stepchildren and plotted to kill them. She would have succeeded, but at the last second, Nephele sent a flying golden ram to save her children from their stepmother. She then told her children not to look down while the ram was flying. However, Helle looked down, felt dizzy and fell into the part of the sea that took her name, Hellespont.

The ram and Phrixus eventually reached Colchis, where the boy was warmly welcomed by the king, Aeetes. Phrixus gave the golden fleece of the ram as a gift to the king, grateful for his hospitality. Aeetes placed the Golden Fleece in a garden which was guarded by a never sleeping dragon. Jason later arrived in Colchis, and after successfully completing the three tasks that Aeetes had given to him, he retrieved the Golden Fleece.
The 12th of Hekatombion marks the start of the ancient Hellenic Kronia festival. The Kronia honours Kronos, Zeus' father, not to be confused with Khronos; creator of the Gods and Lord of Time. Will you be joining us for the celebration on July 25th, at the usual 10 am EDT?

In Athens, Kronos and Rhea--His wife and sister--shared a temple. They represented an age before the Theoi took to rule; a time when societal rules did not exist yet, and there was no hierarchy. As such, on the day Kronos was worshipped, the fixed order of society was suspended, and slaves joined--and even ruled over--a banquet given by their masters; they ran through the streets screaming and hollering. On Krete, they could whip their masters. As much fun as this was, the day served as a reminder that for a society to function, societal rules were necessary, and as such, it was also necessary for Zeus to overthrow His father and assume the throne.

Besides a banquette, the Kronia must have been celebrated with an official sacrifice as well, in the temple to Him and Rhea, as the Kronia was a harvest festival of sorts. Unlike many rites to Demeter, the Kronia focused on the harvest--most likely of cereals--that was completed around this time. It was the end of a hectic period where slaves were worked hard, and their masters as well. A communal meal and a little bit of payback on the side of the serfs was most likely at the root of this festival, along with gratitude for the successful harvest; the Hellenic summers were too hot to grow much of anything, so the food eaten in this barren season ahead needed to be taken in and thrashed (where needed) prior to the swell of summer heat. The Kronia was a good mark for this.

There is a little bit of evidence that human sacrifice--in the form of 'scapegoat' rituals was performed on or around the date of the Kronia in the very distant past, but by the time Hellas--and especially Athens--became civilized in the way we speak of today, this practice was long outdated. It seems that a criminal condemned to death was taken outside of the city gates for a reason now lost to us, possibly fed copious amounts of wine, and then killed in honor (or placation) of Kronos. Needless to say, there is no reason to bring this practice back.

You can find the ritual here and the community page here.
"...but most of all I love Icarus, who knew the wax would melt but still flew towards the sun."
 -- 'Ik hou van Icarus' - Tjitske Jansen (translated from Dutch)

One of my all-time favorite Hellenic myths is about Íkaros; Daidalos' son who escaped the labyrinth on the island of Krete with wings made of feathers and wax. He was warned not to fly too high because the sun would melt the wax, or too low because wet feathers wouldn't carry him, yet Íkaros got too caught up with the marvel of flying, and did fly too high or too low. As a result, he drowned somewhere between the Island and the main land.

Daidalos (Δαίδαλος) was an inventor, a craftsman, who had murdered a gifted student of his--his nephew--in a fit of jealousy. This caused him to flee his home town (most often referred to as Athens, although there are some timeline problems if this was the case) and find refuge on Krete. King Minos saw in Daidalos a gifted man, and asked him to draw and constructed the labyrinth of the Minotaur, son of King Minos. Because he knew the secrets of the labyrinth, and the deformations of the Minotaur, he was never permitted to leave the Island.

As often, many details of this myth come from the Roman poet Ovid. In earlier versions of the tale, the labyrinth is an actual labyrinth: it has one pathway that leads inexorably from the entrance to the goal, albeit by the most complex and winding of routes. In Ovid's version--and other like him--the labyrinth is not a labyrinth at all, but a maze: a design with choices in pathways, aimed to confuse the seeker. In fact, Ovid's version of the 'labyrinth' is so complex that Daidalos himself almost gets lost in it:

"Great Daedalus of Athens was the man
That made the draught, and form'd the wondrous plan;
Where rooms within themselves encircled lye,
With various windings, to deceive the eye.
As soft Maeander's wanton current plays,
When thro' the Phrygian fields it loosely strays;
Backward and forward rouls the dimpl'd tide,
Seeming, at once, two different ways to glide:
While circling streams their former banks survey,
And waters past succeeding waters see:
Now floating to the sea with downward course,
Now pointing upward to its ancient source,
Such was the work, so intricate the place,
That scarce the workman all its turns cou'd trace;
And Daedalus was puzzled how to find
The secret ways of what himself design'd."
(The Labyrinth)

It takes many years for Daidalos to get restless on the Island, but when he does, he goes to King Minos and asks to be set free. Minos refuses him every time, and eventually, Daidalos is forced to think of another plan. Being a master craftsman, he constructs wings of feathers, wax, and string, and creates one for his young son, Íkaros (Ἴκαρος) as well. Apollodorus describes the tale in a very compact manner in his Epitome:

"On being apprized of the flight of Theseus and his company, Minos shut up the guilty Daedalus in the labyrinth, along with his son Icarus, who had been borne to Daedalus by Naucrate, a female slave of Minos. But Daedalus constructed wings for himself and his son, and enjoined his son, when he took to flight, neither to fly high, lest the glue should melt in the sun and the wings should drop off, nor to fly near the sea, lest the pinions should be detached by the damp.
 But the infatuated Icarus, disregarding his father's injunctions, soared ever higher, till, the glue melting, he fell into the sea called after him Icarian, and perished.15 But Daedalus made his way safely to Camicus in Sicily. [E.1.12 / E.1.13]

It's important to note that not all historians and writers in ancient Hellas quite agreed with the story of Íkaros and his wings. Pausanias mentions that it were not wings at all that carried Daidalos and Íkaros, but boats, crafted especially well by Daidalos:

"Here [at Thebes] is a sanctuary of Herakles. The image, of white marble, is called Promakhos (Champion), and the Thebans Xenokritos and Eubios were the artists. But the ancient wooden image is thought by the Thebans to be by Daidalos, and the same opinion occurred to me. It was dedicated, they say, by Daidalos himself, as a thank-offering for a benefit. For when he was fleeing from Krete in small vessels which he had made for himself and his son Ikaros, he devised for the ships sails, an invention as yet unknown to the men of those times, so as to take advantage of a favorable wind and outsail the oared fleet of Minos. Daidalos himself was saved, but the ship of Ikaros is said to have overturned, as he was a clumsy helmsman. The drowned man was carried ashore by the current to the island, then without a name, that lies off Samos. Herakles came across the body and recognized it, giving it burial where even to-day a small mound still stands to Ikaros on a promontory jutting out into the Aegean. After this Ikaros are named both the island and the sea around it." (Description of Greece 9.11.1.)

Daidalos makes it to the main land. The island Íkaros' body washed upon, was called 'Ikaria' (Ικαρία) from that point on. It still carries that name, and is located ten nautical miles (nineteen kilometer) southwest of Samos. Minos was of no mind to let Daidalos go, however, and so he went from court to court, knowing that a mind as sharp as Daidalos' would be noticed wherever he went. King Minos posed a riddle to every king, as described by Apollodorus:

"And Minos pursued Daedalus, and in every country that he searched he carried a spiral shell and promised to give a great reward to him who should pass a thread through the shell, believing that by that means he should discover Daedalus. And having come to Camicus in Sicily, to the court of Cocalus, with whom Daedalus was concealed, he showed the spiral shell. Cocalus took it, and promised to thread it, and gave it to Daedalus;
And Daedalus fastened a thread to an ant, and, having bored a hole in the spiral shell, allowed the ant to pass through it. But when Minos found the thread passed through the shell, he perceived that Daedalus was with Cocalus, and at once demanded his surrender. Cocalus promised to surrender him, and made an entertainment for Minos; but after his bath Minos was undone by the daughters of Cocalus; some say, however, that he died through being drenched with boiling water." [E.1.14 / E.1.15]

And this was the end of King Minos' hunt and his life. Depending on the source, it might have been Daidalos himself who poured boiling water over King Minos, leading to his death. What happens to Daidalos afterwards is unclear. I hope he found a place to remember his son, and build more of his wonderful inventions.

This myth encourages people to look at the consequences of their actions, even those--or especially those--with good intentions. Daidalos' genius cost him his son. On the other hand, whenever I read this myth, Íkaros reminds me that, although great risk comes with a leap of faith, it might just be worth it sometimes. Íkaros chose the dangerous path, and while it led to his death, it also led to one of the most beautiful moments of his life. I'm a cautious person, a tempered person, and remembering Íkaros is a great help in my life sometimes. It reminds me to hunt for happiness, even though the quest requires me to let go of the familiar. I live my life looking for small flights of Íkaros, and I wish the same for you.