Some sad news today that I had missed. Barbara Tsakirgis, a noted scholar on ancient Greek domestic architecture as well as a strong community advocate for Nashville’s Parthenon, died Jan. 16. Tsakirgis, 64, had been diagnosed with ALS three years ago and died at her home.
She was a professor of classical studies, emerita, and history of art, emerita, who joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1984.

Betsey A. Robinson, associate professor of history of art and acting department chair: 

"Barbara Tsakirgis had a huge impact on the field of classical archaeology—in scholarship, in leadership roles and in her generosity with her time and thoughts to students and colleagues alike. She was a dedicated teacher, known for being tough but caring, and some of her best students have followed in her footsteps to become professors of classical art and archaeology."

Tsakirgis was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and earned her Bachelor of Arts from Yale University, where she graduated cum laude in 1976. She then enrolled at Princeton University, where, as a graduate assistant, she began excavating and studying the domestic architecture of the Hellenistic and Roman periods at Morgantina, an ancient town in central Sicily. She was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 1980 and studied at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, Greece.
At Vanderbilt, Tsakirgis was an educational pioneer by contributing an archaeological dimension to the curriculum in Greek and Latin. She focused on the complex relationship between private and public spaces and the experiences of households and communities in the ancient Mediterranean world.

Joseph L. Rife, associate professor and founding director of the Program in Classical and Mediterranean Studies.

"It is thanks to Barbara’s masterful teaching that Vanderbilt Classics has come to be recognized for its approach to the Greek and Roman antiquity from the integrated viewpoint of not just language and literature, but also objects and landscapes. For Barbara, Sophocles and Plato are much richer with—and much poorer without—the Athenian Acropolis and Agora."

In addition to her extensive work at Morgantina, she was also a longtime member of the research and excavation team at the Agora, the city center and marketplace of ancient Athens. After receiving a summer stipend for research on the remains of Athenian houses, she noted that they provide insight into the lives of the women residents, a subject that had not been well documented in the written sources. Robinson said:

"While Barbara studied and taught the art and archaeology of the whole Mediterranean world, ancient Near East and Egypt, her greatest love was Greece, where she pursued much of her research, and where I first met her. I came to Vanderbilt largely because of her and feel lucky to have been able to work closely with her for ten years."

Tsakirgis co-edited a groundbreaking study of houses, brothels and taverns in ancient Greece and published noted articles in the American Journal of Archaeology and Hesperia. She chaired the Department of Classical Studies from 2005 to 2011 and served on the Faculty Senate. She also led overseas tours, for which she twice received the Alumni Education Award.

Tsakirgis served many organizations related to her field of expertise with distinction. She was an academic trustee of the Archaeological Institute of America for six years, and led a delegation to the U.S. State Department to testify concerning the international antiquities market. In 2017, her dedication to the institute was recognized with the Martha and Artemis Joukowsky Distinguished Service Award.

She was the longtime coordinator of the institute’s Nashville Society, hosting many prominent visitors to the Parthenon and Vanderbilt. In addition, she served on the board of the Conservancy for Centennial Park.

Tsakirgis gave generously of her time and talents to the American School for Classical Studies at Athens, serving one year as a Whitehead Visiting Professor and as a lecturer for many summer sessions. She also was a longtime member and frequent officer of the managing committee.
Tsakirgis is survived by her husband, Jeremy Spinrad, who is an associate professor of computer science; and two daughters, Demetra and Thalia.

The Archaeological Institute of America has created a fund to establish the Barbara Tsakirgis endowed lecture. A memorial service for Tsakirgis will take place Saturday, Feb. 23, at 2 p.m. in Benton Chapel.
The German head of the British Museum has clarified that the Parthenon sculptures do not belong to Greece and will not be returned or borrowed. Hartwich Fischer, an art historian and director of the British Museum since 2016, categorically ruled out the possibility of "indefinite borrowing," but generally of any borrowing, if Greece did not recognise that the Parthenon sculptures belong to Britain.

In a recent interview published by the Greek newspaper Ta Nea, Fischer spoke "about Britain's legitimate ownership of the sculptures" and described their removal to London as a "creative act".

"I can understand that the Greeks have a special and passionate relationship with this part of their cultural heritage and want to see all the sculptures in Athens. We exhibit the Parthenon sculptures in a context of global civilisations, highlighting achievements from all over the world under the same roof. The history of the monument is enriched by the fact that some of its parts are exhibited in Athens and others in London. In each of these two locations, the sculptures show different aspects of an incredibly rich and multilevel story. Though, of course, it is one thing to display the sculptures in the Acropolis museum, opposite their monument of origin, and another to exhibit them in London. We have excellent relations with our colleagues at the Acropolis Museum, but the British Museum loans out objects only to those who recognize our legitimate ownership of them."

When Fischer was asked about Britain’s Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to return the sculptures to Athens if he becomes Prime Minister, he responded:

"I think that this is Mr Corbyn’s personal view on the matter. Obviously, that is not the stance nor the view of the Trustees of the British Museum."

As far as accepting the view that Greece is the rightful owner of the sculptures, Mr. Fischer responded:

"I would not accept it. The objects that are part of the collection of the British Museum and, as such, are in the fiduciary ownership of the Trustees of the Museum."
Ah, I love how we just keep going back and forth on this and absolutely nothing is getting done.
Around Valentine's day, us Hellenists honour a beautiful festival of love and social stability: the Theogamia, also known as the Gamelia or Hieros Gamos. This festival celebrates the anniversary of the marriage (gamos, γάμος) of Zeus Teleios (Τελειος, Of the Marriage Rites) and Hera Teleia (Τέλεια, same). Zeus Teleios and Hera Teleia are considered the patron Gods of marriage. To celebrate this divine marriage and ask for blessings upon the romantic ties we may have in life, Elaion is organising a PAT ritual on 3 February. The time is set for 10 AM EST. Will you join us?

We know very little about the actual Theogamia festival. In ancient sources it's sometimes called 'hieros gamos', the sacred marriage, and was referred to as a domestic festival. A day to spend at home, with your wedded partner. Hera Teleia was the primary deity of the festival, with Zeus Teleios being of secondary importance. It was celebrated for sure in Athens, and most likely also in city-states around Athens. It included a shared dinner, and presumably lovemaking, between husband and wife. Unmarried men were most likely free of religious obligations, and were free to dine out.

There seems to be a suggestion that the gamos of Zeus and Hera was enacted as part of the rituals of a hieros gamos festival, but there is no concrete evidence for this. The closest we get to a Hellenic 'Great Rite' is a ritual performed near Knossos in Krete, but the details are so very vague that we can't be sure about anything.

It doesn't take much imagination to fill in how to best celebrate this festival. If you are married or have a partner, have a nice dinner together, have some romance, spent the night together and bond. Think about ways in which you will help, honor and love your partner in the year to come. And, of course, join our ritual! I want to leave you with a quote from the Ilias that has nothing to do with the Theogamia itself but does describe the eternal love between Zeus and Hera so very beautifully.

“Zeus, the Cloud-Driver, saw her, and instantly his sharp mind was overwhelmed by longing, as in the days when they first found love, sleeping together without their dear parents’ knowledge. [...] ‘Hera, [...] let us taste the joys of love; for never has such desire for goddess or mortal woman so gripped and overwhelmed my heart, not even when I was seized by love for Ixion’s wife, who gave birth to Peirithous the gods’ rival in wisdom; or for Acrisius’ daughter, slim-ankled Danaë, who bore Perseus, greatest of warriors; or for the far-famed daughter of Phoenix, who gave me Minos and godlike Rhadamanthus; or for Semele mother of Dionysus, who brings men joy; or for Alcmene at Thebes, whose son was lion-hearted Heracles; or for Demeter of the lovely tresses; or for glorious Leto; or even for you yourself, as this love and sweet desire for you grips me now.’” (Iliad XIV)

The ritual can be found here and you can join the community here. Enjoy the Theogamia, everyone!
Someone sent me a link to this "Greek Gods Pinup Calendar" yesterday, and I haven't laughed this hard in a long time. I had to share! NOTE: this item is currently on back order. A new batch of calendars is being printed, and will be available to ship after 2/1/2019

This 12-month calendar depicts the major male gods of classical Greece and Rome rendered in classical pin-up style! Each month includes a god, the Greek and Roman versions of his name, and a brief description of his domain of rulership.

The months and Gods are matched as follows:

January - Zeus / Jupiter
February - Eros / Cupid
March - Ares / Mars
April - Pan / Faunus
May - Hypnos / Somnus
June - Apollo / Phoebus
July - Poseidon / Neptune
August - Dionysus / Bacchus
September - Hephaestus / Vulcan
October - Hades / Pluto
November - Hermes / Mercury
December - Cronus / Saturn

From creator HelloGround on Etsy: "This product consists of 13 digitally painted images designed, drawn, and colored by yours truly, and printed by the good people of Costco."

Oh, and because this one had me absolutely in stitches, I present to you: Hades!
Fabric which belonged to an eminent citizen of ancient Lefkandi is now showcased at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens along with other exhibits from the settlement. Lefkandi developed during the so-called Hellenic “Dark Ages,” c.1100-750 BC.

The ancient city of Lefkandi is hidden away on Evia, the Greek island which was the home base of many of the earliest Hellenic colonies. It was from Lefkandi that the first recorded war in Greek history was fought. Most importantly, archaeologists regard Lefkandi the key to understanding how the Mycenean civilization transformed into the period known as Classical Greece.

The spectacular find was found in 1980 when a large mound was excavated, revealing two shaft graves, one with the remains of a man and a woman under a large structure called a hērōön or “hero’s grave”. The other shaft grave held four horses which appear to have been sacrificed at the time of the couples’ burial. Two of the horses were discovered with their iron bits still in their mouths.

One of the bodies in the grave had been cremated. The ashes were wrapped in a fringed linen cloth, then stored in a bronze amphora from Cyprus island. The amphora was engraved with a hunting scene and placed within a still-larger bronze bowl. A sword and other grave goods were nearby. It is believed that the ashes were those of a man.

The woman’s body was not cremated, but was buried alongside a wall. Her body was adorned with jewelry, including a ring of electrum and a bronze braziere. Perhaps the most significant find of all was a gorget she wore,  which was already one thousand years old at the time of the burial. The gorget is believed to have come from ancient Babylonia. An iron knife with an ivory handle was located near her shoulder.

The Lefkandi exhibit will be shown at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens until May.
Yesterday's post caused a bit of an unintended stir-up since I didn't word myself right. I apologize for that. I tend to weave mythology into my history because mythology is as real to me as any history book. This causes me to sometimes mix my facts and "fiction." So, let's do some facts today.

Of the Indo-European tribes of European origin, the Greeks were foremost as regards both the period at which they developed an advanced culture and their importance in further evolution. The Greeks emerged in the course of the 2nd millennium BC through the superimposition of a branch of the Indo-Europeans on the population of the Mediterranean region during the great migrations of nations that started in the region of the lower Danube.

From 1800 BC onward the first early Greeks reached their later areas of settlement between the Ionian and the Aegean seas. The fusion of these earliest Greek-speaking people with their predecessors produced the civilization known as Mycenaean. They penetrated to the sea into the Aegean region and via Crete (approximately 1400 BC) reached Rhodes and even Cyprus and the shores of Anatolia. From 1200 BC onward the Dorians followed from Epirus. They occupied principally parts of the Peloponnese (Sparta and Argolis) and also Crete. Their migration was followed by the Dark Ages—two centuries of chaotic movements of tribes in Greece—at the end of which (c. 900 BC) the distribution of the Greek mainland among the various tribes was on the whole completed.

From about 800 BC there was a further Greek expansion through the founding of colonies overseas. The coasts and islands of Anatolia were occupied from south to north by the Dorians, Ionians, and Aeolians, respectively. In addition, individual colonies were strung out around the shores of the Black Sea in the north and across the eastern Mediterranean to Naukratis on the Nile delta and in Cyrenaica and also in the western Mediterranean in Sicily, lower Italy, and Massalia (Marseille). Thus, the Hellenes, as they called themselves thereafter, came into contact on all sides with the old, advanced cultures of the Middle East and transmitted many features of these cultures to western Europe. This, along with the Greeks’ own achievements, laid the foundations of European civilization.

The position and nature of the country exercised a decisive influence in the evolution of Greek civilization. The proximity of the sea tempted the Greeks to range far and wide exploring it, but the fact of their living on islands or on peninsulas or in valleys separated by mountains on the mainland confined the formation of states to small areas not easily accessible from other parts. This fateful individualism in political development was also a reflection of the Hellenic temperament.

Though it prevented Greece from becoming a single unified nation that could rival the strength of the Middle Eastern monarchies, it led to the evolution of the city-state. This was not merely a complex social and economic structure and a centre for crafts and for trade with distant regions; above all it was a tightly knit, self-governing political and religious community whose citizens were prepared to make any sacrifice to maintain their freedom. Colonies, too, started from individual cities and took the form of independent city-states. Fusions of power occurred in the shape of leagues of cities, such as the Peloponnesian League, the Delian League, and the Boeotian League. The efficacy of these leagues depended chiefly upon the hegemony of a leading city (Sparta, Athens, or Thebes), but the desire for self-determination of the others could never be permanently suppressed, and the leagues broke up again and again.

The Hellenes, however, always felt themselves to be one people. They were conscious of a common character and a common language, and they practiced only one religion. Furthermore, the great athletic contests and artistic competitions had a continually renewed unifying effect. The Hellenes possessed a keen intellect, capable of abstraction, and at the same time a supple imagination. They developed, in the form of the belief in the unity of body and soul, a serene, sensuous conception of the world. Their gods were connected only loosely by a theogony that took shape gradually; in the Greek religion there was neither revelation nor dogma to oppose the spirit of inquiry.

The Hellenes benefited greatly from the knowledge and achievement of other countries as regards astronomy, chronology, and mathematics, but it was through their own native abilities that they made their greatest achievements, in becoming the founders of European philosophy and science. Their achievement in representative art and in architecture was no less fundamental. Their striving for an ideal, naturalistic rendering found its fulfillment in the representation of the human body in sculpture in the round. Another considerable achievement was the development of the pillared temple to a greater degree of harmony. In poetry the genius of the Hellenes created both form and content, which have remained a constant source of inspiration in European literature.

The strong political sense of the Greeks produced a variety of systems of government from which their theory of political science abstracted types of constitution that are still in use. On the whole, political development in Greece followed a pattern: first the rule of kings, found as early as the period of Mycenaean civilization; then a feudal period, the oligarchy of noble landowners; and, finally, varying degrees of democracy. Frequently there were periods when individuals seized power in the cities and ruled as tyrants. The tendency for ever-wider sections of the community to participate in the life of the state brought into being the free democratic citizens, but the institution of slavery, upon which Greek society and the Greek economy rested, was untouched by this.

In spite of continual internal disputes, the Greeks succeeded in warding off the threat of Asian despotism. The advance of the Persians into Europe failed (490 and 480–79 BC) because of the resistance of the Greeks and in particular of the Athenians. The 5th century BC saw the highest development of Greek civilization. The Classical period of Athens and its great accomplishments left a lasting impression, but the political cleavages, particularly the struggle between Athens and Sparta, increasingly reduced the political strength of the Greeks. Not until they were conquered by the Macedonians did the Greeks attain a new importance as the cultural leaven of the Hellenistic empires of Alexander the Great and his successors. A new system of colonization spread as far as the Indus city-communities fashioned after the Greek prototype, and Greek education and language came to be of consequence in the world at large.

Greece again asserted its independence through the formation of the Achaean League, which was finally defeated by the Romans in 146 bce. The spirit of Greek civilization subsequently exercised a great influence upon Rome. Greek culture became one of the principal components of Roman imperial culture and together with it spread throughout Europe. When Christian teaching appeared in the Middle East, the Greek world of ideas exercised a decisive influence upon its spiritual evolution. From the time of the partition of the Roman Empire, leadership in the Eastern Empire fell to the Greeks. Their language became the language of the state, and its usage spread to the Balkans. The Byzantine Empire, of which Greece was the core, protected Europe against potential invaders from Anatolia until the fall of Constantinople in 1453. (The main treatment of the Byzantine Empire from about 330 to about 1453 is given in the article Byzantine Empire.)

Now, for the Romans. The original Mediterranean population of Italy was completely altered by repeated superimpositions of peoples of Indo-European stock. The first Indo-European migrants, who belonged to the Italic tribes, moved across the eastern Alpine passes into the plain of the Po River about 1800 BC. Later they crossed the Apennines and eventually occupied the region of Latium, which included Rome. Before 1000 BC there followed related tribes, which later divided into various groups and gradually moved to central and southern Italy. In Tuscany they were repulsed by the Etruscans, who may have come originally from Anatolia. The next to arrive were Illyrians from the Balkans, who occupied Venetia and Apulia. At the beginning of the historical period, Greek colonists arrived in Italy, and after 400 BC the Celts, who settled in the plain of the Po.

The city of Rome, increasing gradually in power and influence, created through political rule and the spread of the Latin language something like a nation out of this abundance of nationalities. In this the Romans were favoured by their kinship with the other Italic tribes. The Roman and Italic elements in Italy, moreover, were reinforced in the beginning through the founding of colonies by Rome and by other towns in Latium. The Italic element in Roman towns decreased: a process—less racial than cultural—called the Romanization of the provinces. In the 3rd century BC, central and southern Italy were dotted with Roman colonies, and the system was to be extended to ever more distant regions up to imperial times. As its dominion spread throughout Italy and covered the entire Mediterranean basin, Rome received an influx of people of the most varied origins, including eventually vast numbers from Asia and Africa.

The building of an enormous empire was Rome’s greatest achievement. Held together by the military power of one city, in the 2nd century AD the Roman Empire extended throughout northern Africa and western Asia; in Europe it covered all the Mediterranean countries, Spain, Gaul, and southern Britain. This vast region, united under a single authority and a single political and social organization, enjoyed a long period of peaceful development. In Asia, on a narrow front, it bordered the Parthian empire, but elsewhere beyond its perimeter there were only barbarians. Rome brought to the conquered parts of Europe the civilization the Greeks had begun, to which it added its own important contributions in the form of state organization, military institutions, and law. Within the framework of the empire and under the protection of its chain of fortifications, extending uninterrupted the entire length of its frontiers (marked in Europe by the Rhine and the Danube), there began the assimilation of varying types of culture to the Hellenistic-Roman pattern. The army principally, but also Roman administration, the social order, and economic factors, encouraged Romanization. Except around the eastern Mediterranean, where Greek remained dominant, Latin became everywhere the language of commerce and eventually almost the universal language.

Primary source.
It's one of the questions I get asked most often: Are the Hellenic and Roman Gods the same deities? I am distinctly not of this opinion. Personally, I think that the Hellenic and Roman deities share the same (Hellenic) base, but that the Roman deities differ from the Hellenic ones. Some not so much, other a great deal.

In general, I regard the Roman Gods as epithets of the Hellenic ones, with a few notable exceptions--especially where there is no viable counterpart in Hellenic mythology. Why? Well, for one, the Theoi came first. The Roman empire came up about a thousand years after the rise of the Theoi.  Hellenic mythology featured the Hellenes, their stories and their cities, while Roman mythology focussed on the Roman people, their stories and their cities. The Hellenes had the Iliad as a major introductory and poetic text to introduce the Theoi, and the Romans had their own text: the Aeneid, a Latin epic poem, written by Virgil between 29 and 19 BC, that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who travelled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans.

This, obviously, refers to mythology. Societally speaking, the Romans and the Roman Gods didn't "evolve" out of the Hellenic empire. In fact, the barbaric tribes which later went on to conglomerate and form the Roman empire were in the area long before the ancient Hellenes came together as a people. The above is not a societally reflection, it's a mythological one. For more on this, see tomorrow's post.

Differences in the two societies also reflected on the Gods and Their importance. For one, the Hellenes valued  physical prowess, but it were poets and scholars who were held in the highest regards. For Rome, it were the warriors who received the most attention. This reflected in the Gods of both people as well: the Roman Gods resemble the Hellenic Gods, but they are stricter, harder and possess more bloodlust. At the same time, they were also pruder when it came to excesses of any kind. Ares, temperamental God of War, has his Roman counterpart in Mars, yet, Mars is a much stabler God, who is also in charge of agriculture and fertility. Bacchus, the Roman equivalent of Dionysos, lost all ecstatic rites that made the worship of Dionysos so famous.

Another major example of the differences between the two religions was that the Romans had no set shape for their Gods: they looked different to every individual. They were not revered for Their beauty, like their Hellenic counterparts. The Hellenes knew exactly how their Gods looked. They were often described as having muscular bodies (for the men), beautiful eyes and hair (both men and women), and delicate ankles (women). They were role-models to strive towards. Not so for the Romans.

The Roman culture also had a thing for the afterlife. Where the Hellenes focussed on this life and saw death as an inevitable conclusion of it, the Romans struggled to do good deeds and live good lives to be rewarded in the afterlife. They felt that, if they had been good enough, brave enough, warrior-like enough, they would take their place with the Gods after death. The Hellenes worried more about the judgement of the Theoi while they were still alive and knew they would go to the Underworld afterwards. Of course, things changed in that regard already: the mysteries brought the idea of awareness after reincarnation, and parts of the Underworld fell into disuse.

It seems to me, that the Romans tried becoming Gods their whole lives, while the Hellenes accepted their lot as mortals, and respected the Theoi as all-powerful and all-ruling. A frame of mind like that shows in Gods that get neatly packaged, made non-threatening and can be rivalled by mortals. Yet, because of the warrior mentality of the Romans, the Gods that became more predictable and less formed, also became harder. They still punished socially unacceptable behaviour, however, and myths from the Hellenic period got retold from the viewpoint of a warrior's society.
Dr Katherine Hall, a Senior Lecturer at the Dunedin School of Medicine and practising clinician, believes Alexander the Great did not die from infection, alcoholism, or murder, as others have claimed. Instead, she argues he met his demise thanks to the neurological disorder Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).

In an article published in The Ancient History Bulletin, she says previous theories around his death in 323BC have not been satisfactory as they have not explained the entire event.

"In particular, none have provided an all-encompassing answer which gives a plausible and feasible explanation for a fact recorded by one source - Alexander's body failed to show any signs of decomposition for six days after his death. The Ancient Greeks thought that this proved that Alexander was a god; this article is the first to provide a real-world answer,."

Dr Hall believes a diagnosis of GBS, contracted from a Campylobacter pylori infection (common at the time and a frequent cause for GBS), stands the test of scholarly rigour, from both Classical and medical perspectives. Most arguments around Alexander's cause of death focus on his fever and abdominal pain. However, Dr Hall says the description of him remaining of sound mind receives barely any attention. She believes he contracted an acute motor axonal neuropathy variant of GBS which produced paralysis but without confusion or unconsciousness. His passing was further complicated by the difficulties in diagnosing death in ancient times, which relied on presence of breath rather than pulse, she says.

These difficulties, along with the type of paralysis of his body (most commonly caused by GBS) and lowered oxygen demands, would reduce the visibility of his breathing. A possible failure of his body's temperature autoregulation, and his pupils becoming fixed and dilated, also point to the preservation of his body not occurring because of a miracle, but because he was not dead yet.

"I wanted to stimulate new debate and discussion and possibly rewrite the history books by arguing Alexander's real death was six days later than previously accepted. His death may be the most famous case of pseudothanatos, or false diagnosis of death, ever recorded."

Dr Hall believes people are still interested in Alexander because he was a psychologically complex and complicated person who was viewed as a warrior-hero.

"While more modern analyses have attempted to be broader and more nuanced, whatever way people want to conceive of Alexander there is a desire to try and understand his life as fulsomely as possible. The enduring mystery of his cause of death continues to attract both public and scholastic interest. The elegance of the GBS diagnosis for the cause of his death is that it explains so many, otherwise diverse, elements, and renders them into a coherent whole."
The ancient Hellenes did not have a consensus on the Dodekatheon, or "The Twelve," or even "The Counsel of Twelve." What mattered was that there was a council of twelve, the Dodekatheon, at all. Who resided on the golden thrones atop Snowy Olympos was subject to debate and varied per location.

The most canonical version of the Dodekatheon is represented in a relief currently located at the Walters Art Museum. The relief dates back to the 1st century BC to the 1st century AD and depicts the Twelve Olympians carrying their attributes in procession: from left to right, Hestia (scepter), Hermes (winged cap and staff), Aphrodite (veiled), Ares (helmet and spear), Demeter (scepter and wheat sheaf), Hēphaistos (staff), Hera (scepter), Poseidon (trident), Athena (owl and helmet), Zeus (thunderbolt and staff), Artemis (bow and quiver), and Apollon (cithara). No mention of Dionysos.

There is a story floating about the internet and even some modern texts on Hellenic mythology, that Hestia gave up Her throne to Dionysos. Apparently, this is an ancient myth, and the ancient Hellenes would have believed this as well. It's a story so frequently told, one that is so common-knowledge, that very few people bother to check the source. Well, the source is Robert Graves' 'The Greek Myths', written in 1955. From that book (27.12):

"Finally, having established his worship throughout the world, Dionysus ascended into Heaven, and now sits at the right hand of Zeus as one of the Twelve Great Gods. The self-effacing goddess Hestia resigned her seat at the high table in his favour; glad of any excuse to escape the jealous wranglings of her family, and knowing that she could always count on a quiet welcome in any Greek city which it might please her to visit."

Graves provides two sources for this story: Apollodoros’ Bibliotheka 3.5.3, and and Pausanias’ Hellados Periegesis 2.31.2. As you can read for yourself, there is no mention what so ever of Hestia giving up Her throne. In fact, the sources only address the part of Graves' text that follows afterwards, about Dionysos bringing His mother Semele up to Olympos as well.

So, did Graves lie? Well, yes and no. Graves is a storyteller; he spun stories based on facts he could find. If he could not find a fact, he made it up to fit the story. Because of this, his books are a great read but they are not reliable as far as ancient mythology goes.

Obviously, Theoi who were held in high regard in a certain city-state would have held the thrones, according to the people who lived in that city-state. This means that it's quite likely there were people in ancient Hellas who firmly believed that Dionysos occupied one of the thrones of the Dodekatheon. Most likely, there were also people who believed Hestia did not occupy one of the thrones. It's entirely possible that some people--perhaps even the same people who believed Dionysos was part of the Dodekatheon, but not Hestia--believed that Hestia gave up Her seat to Dionysos. The problem is that there are no ancient sources to support this, and there was most certainly not a wide-spread myth to this effect that held sway in ancient Hellas.

In my personal practice, who hold the thrones of the Dodekatheon is nearly irrelevant. I follow the festival calendar and have my daily ritual practice. through that, all 'major' Theoi are honoured and many of the 'lesser' as well. The pantheon, after all, is much larger than just the children of Kronos and Rhea.
Have this beautiful chorus from Euripides’ Bacchae to enjoy on this last day of the Lenaia. It's the second chorus (370-433). Translation borrowed from here.

Sacred queen of the gods
Sacred one who flies
Over the earth on golden wing—
Did you hear these things about Pentheus?
Did you hear
Of his unholy outrage against Bromios
Semele’s son, the first of the gods
Called upon in the finely-wreathed
Feasts? He holds sway here,
To entwine us in the dances
To make us laugh with the flute
To dissolve our worries
Whenever the grape’s shine
Arrives at the feast of the gods
And in the ivy-wound banquets of men
Where the winebowl lets down its sleep.
The fate for unbridled mouths
And lawless foolishness
Is misfortune.
The life of peace
And prudence
Is unshaken and cements together
Human homes. For even though
They live far off in the sky
The gods gaze at human affairs.
Wisdom is not wit;
Nor is thinking thoughts which belong not to mortals.
Life is brief. And because of this
Whoever seeks out great accomplishments
May not grasp the things at hand.
These are the ways of madmen
And wicked fools, I think.
I wish I could travel to Cyprus
The island of Aphrodite
Where the enchanters of mortal minds live,
The Erotes, at Paphos
Where the hundred mouths
Of the barbarian river
Water fertile earth despite no rain;
I wish to go where Pieria
Looms so fair, that seat of the Muses,
The sacred slope of Mount Olympos—
Take me there, Bromios, my Bromios,
Divine master of ecstasy.
There are the Graces, there is Longing, there it is right
For the Bacchants to hold their sacred rites.
The god, the son of Zeus,
He delights in the feast,
He loves wealth-granting peace
The child-rearing goddess.
He has granted equally to the rich
And those below to have
The grief-relieving pleasure of wine.
He hates the person who has no care for these affairs.
During the day and during lovely nights
To live a good life,
To protect wisdom and thoughts and heart
From men who go too far.
Whatever the rather simple-minded mob believes
This is welcome enough belief for me.
A list of the thousands of archaeological sites and buildings were made public the archaeological association, reports Protothema. The Greek government plans to transfer 587 monuments and cultural buildings in 37 provinces across the country to the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF), despite reassurances to the contrary by Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos.

The Association of Greek Archaeologists, which has appealed to the Council of State (CoE) against the move, the nation’s highest administrative court, accused the government of failing to exclude the monuments and sites, many of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The HRADF is the fund managed by Greece’s creditors for the development and exploitation of state-owned and managed properties and sites.

The list of the 2,327 sites, monuments, and buildings identified by the Greek archaeologists includes among other buildings Knossos, the Venetian castle walls in Heraklion, the prehistoric settlement at Akrotiri in Thira and the tomb of King Leonidas of Sparta, as well as the Royal Tomb of Philip II in Vergina.

The government has denied it plans to transfer the sites to the fund, however, the Minister of Culture refused to make the list public.
Menander (Μένανδρος Menandros) was alive from 342/41 to around 290 BC. He was a Hellenic dramatist and the best-known representative of Athenian New Comedy. He wrote 108 comedies and took the prize at the Lenaia festival eight times. His record at the City Dionysia is unknown but may well have been similarly spectacular. One of the most popular writers of antiquity, his work was lost during the Middle Ages and is known in modernity in highly fragmentary form, much of which was discovered in the 20th century. Only one play, Dyskolos, has survived almost entirely.

Dyskolos (Δύσκολος) translates as The Grouch, The Misanthrope, The Curmudgeon, The Bad-tempered Man or Old Cantankerous. It's an ancient Hellenic comedy that won Menander the first-place prize at the Lenaian festival in 317–316 BCE. It was long known only through fragmentary quotations; but a papyrus manuscript of the nearly complete Dyskolos, dating to the 3rd century, was recovered in Egypt in 1952 and forms part of the Bodmer Papyri and Oxyrhynchus Papyri.
In it, Menander has his character say the following that I stumbled upon recently.

“I would like to tell you a few things about me and my character.
If everyone were like me, there wouldn’t be any courts at all,
They wouldn’t take each other to prison.
There would be no war and everyone would be happy because they had enough.
Ah, maybe the way things are is more pleasing. Act as you will.
This old cranky grump will be out of your way.”
[Menander, Dyskolos 742-746]

I love these lines, as they make clear something very prudent: that we all look at life from our own perspective, and with only a small level of ability to incorporate the views of others into it. We are, especially in the eyes of the Gods, very human. The Theoi don't have these limitations, which is why we place divine justice and retribution into their hands and work hard to better ourselves, not others in our lifetimes. To me, this is a message of hope and I wanted to share it with you today.
The archaeological park at Herculaneum, the ancient sister city of Pompeii, has several new initiatives and changes in store as the new year begins. The site saw a 9% increase in visitors over the past year, according to figures released by the park's administrators, for a total of 534,328 visitors compared to 490,030 in 2017.

Park administrators announced several new developments for this year, including the permanent opening of the ancient theatre, exhibitions throughout the area, "archeo-aperitif" events that combine educational seminars with tastings, and restoration work on the site's domus.

The park plans to collaborate more extensively this year with schools and institutions in the area, including Vesuvius National Park and the Foundation of Vesuvian Villas. Park director Francesco Sirano said:

"The 2019 programme establishes some openings permanently, such as the theatre; presents a summer review that will be more structured and richer than last year; welcomes residents and enthusiasts for a conference cycle and a summer school. It opens the park to exhibitions throughout the area, in continuing the strategy of collaboration with area institutions, as well as schools, associations, and national and international institutions so that everyone can enjoy the growth of this UNESCO site, which must become common and shared."

One of the pre-established goals is to complete the overall restoration of the domus and renew conservation programmes so that the site never again finds itself in the conditions it was in before 2002.

The park will enact a project to stabilise the area of the Villa of the Papyri as well as another area, in collaboration with the City of Herculaneum and the Packard Foundation, to connect the ancient city with the modern one.

This project includes knocking down a wall on via Mare and replacing it with a much more well-ventilated type of protection, in order to make the road a strategic point between the ancient theatre and the used clothing market on Via Pugliano. There will also be summer evening programmes as well as free afternoon openings and the traditional free first Sunday openings as part of the #domenichealmuseo initiative.
Today's post is a repost of a blog I posted near the start of Baring the Aegis. I do this occasionally when I think the post deserves to be read by more people, like this one. It's about the practice of the washing of feet within the context of xenia. It's something I have been curious about ever since I first read the Odysseia. 

When I first read the Odysseia, I was struck by a two of the later passages, where Odysseus is home, but in disguise, waiting to take his revenge on the suiters of his wife Penelope. During these passages, Penelope offers xenia to Odysseus, disguised as beggar.

"But, come, my maids, wash the strangers’ feet and make his bed, with blankets and bright rugs over the bedstead, so he may rest till golden-throned Dawn in warmth and comfort. In the morning early, bathe and oil him, so he is ready to breakfast in the hall, sitting by Telemachus’ side. And if any man vexes him and pains his spirit, so much the worse for that man’s prospects: he’ll gain nothing here, rage as he might."

A little later on, Odysseus has refused the washing of his feet by anyone but Eurykleia, his nursemaid whom is still alive, and living at the house. Penelope agrees to have the old woman wash Odysseus' feet, which she does while she laments the fate of Odysseus:

"Perhaps the women of some great house mocked at him in a far-off foreign land, just as these shameless hussies here mock you, sir.  You will not let them wash your feet, for fear of their insults, but wise Penelope, Icarius’ daughter, knowing my willingness, has asked me to wash them. So I shall wash your feet for Penelope’s sake and yours, while my heart is stirred with sadness. But listen to one thing I must say. Many a long-suffering traveller have we welcomed here, but never a man resembling another as you resemble Odysseus in looks and voice – even your feet.’

Then resourceful Odysseus answered her, saying: ‘That is what everyone says who has met us both, old woman, that we are very alike, as you remark.’

With this, the old woman, preparing to wash his feet, poured cold water into the shining basin then added hot. Odysseus swiftly sat down by the hearth, and turned towards the shadows, though he had a sudden premonition that as she handled him she would notice his scar and the truth would be out. As she approached and began to wash him, so it was: she immediately knew the scar Odysseus had received from a white-tusked boar, while hunting on Parnassus, when visiting his mother’s father, noble Autolycus, the greatest of all in thievery and oath-making.


It was this scar the old woman felt as she passed her hands over his leg, and recognising it she let his leg fall. The bronze rang as his foot struck the basin, upsetting it, and spilling the water on the ground. Joy and pain filled her heart at the same moment, her eyes filled with tears and her voice caught in her throat. She touched Odysseus’ face and said: ‘It is Odysseus, it must be. Child, I did not know you, until my hands had touched my master’s limbs."

Ancient evidence suggests there were three major contexts in which foot-washing was important: body hygiene, xenia, and religion. The first is easy to grasp: the ancient Hellenes rarely wore shoes. They tended to travel barefoot, or with light, open sandals. Boots were only for the rich. As roads were unpaved, and often dusty in the dry and hot climate, a traveler's feet tended to get dusty and dirty. Upon arrival at their destination, it was customary--and part of xenia--to offer the traveler a chance to wash their feet. Those with female serfs could offer the service of one of them to have their guest wash the guest's feet for them. In cases where no serfs were present, in case of very special guests--especially those above the host in standing--or between great friends, the host could offer to wash the feet of his guest for them.

Foot-washing was often the chore of female serfs, and was considered lowly work. For the ancient Hellenes, honor was very important. To wash the feet of those below themselves in standing was a breach of societal rules and would most likely be looked upon negatively, or even outright refused. I have found no ancient texts to support this, but I suspect that washing the feet of one of equal standing would be done only between dear friends, perhaps between those who had fought together and saved each other's lives. I suspect that, if this is true, this would extend also to the son(s) of one of the men: the son of the deceased host would extend these honors to the family guest to whom the father was indebted.

At home, washing the feet of elderly family members was considered a form of respect. Aristophanes, in The Wasps (Sphēkes/Σφῆκες ), mentions the pride and joy felt by a rich man when his daughter washes and anoints his feet upon his return from a day of hard work:

"But I am forgetting the most pleasing thing of all. When I return home with my pay, everyone runs to greet me because of my money. First my daughter bathes me, anoints my feet, stoops to kiss me and, while she is calling me "her dearest father," fishes out my triobolus with her tongue; then my little wife comes to wheedle me and brings a nice light cake; she sits beside me and entreats me in a thousand ways, "Do take this now; do have some more." All this delights me hugely." 

Women rarely traveled--if at all--so as far as I can tell, no record of the washing of feet of women, or between women, has survived. I also suspect that this has to do with modesty: in an age where women often went around baring one or two breasts, the ankles and feet were almost always covered up. To bare one's feet--to a man--might have been a sign of seduction. In the rare event of a woman traveling, she would travel with her husband, father, brothers, and/or female serfs. Once arriving at her destination, she would undoubtedly have been allowed and encouraged to wash up and change her clothing. If she had serfs, she would be assisted by them. Else, serfs of the hosting household might have lend a hand, or even the wife of the host. I do wonder if they would ever was the feet of one another.

It seems it was also considered unclean and disrespectful to the Theoi to enter a temple with unwashed feet. Some temples, therefor, offered special basins which a traveler could make use of. It's difficult to find proper information about this, however, because the washing of feet in a religious context is now considered a near-solely Abrahamic thing, and bible quotes are far easier to find than ancient Hellenic texts on the subject. I'm still picking apart Christian and Jewish writings for clues about the Hellenic practice.

I am not sure why this subject interests me so. There is something so very intimate and humbling in the practice; it speaks to me in a way that goes beyond the intellectual. I imagine that having your feet washed upon arrival would make you feel both welcome and respected--as that was what it was, a sign of respect. I would also imagine it would be wonderful to bestow a honor like this to a valued guest. If shared between host and guest--or simply very good friends, or even lovers--it would strengthen the bond between them, and be a wonderful way to practice strong xenia. I think it's a beautiful practice, although not very applicable in modern Hellenismos. Agreements could be made about this, though, like the giving of gifts--another vital part of xenia.