Without meaning any disrespect, news about the Parthenon Marbles is like a soap series to me. According to experts, Lord Elgin plundered the Acropolis monument without the Sultan’s permission. This argument defies the British Museum’s claim that there was an Ottoman firman that allowed him to take the sculptures.

According to the British Museum, Elgin removed the Parthenon Sculptures with permission from the Sultan, however this document is not saved, and what the Museum has in its archives, is a later translation into Italian, of a friendly letter from Kaimakam Pasha, authorizing Elgin to take casts of the sculptures but did not authorize him to cause any damages to the monument, says the Honorary General Director of Antiquities, Eleni Korka.

Ms. Korka also stressed the fact that the letter was not by the Sultan himself but by Kaimakam Pasha, who was in Constantinople at the time, replacing the Grand Vizier, and is not an official Ottoman document.

The British argue that they have other documents besides this, however, Iranian researcher Sarian Panahi, one of the few historians who can read Ottoman Turkish and has researched all official documents of the Ottoman Empire, underlines that there is no firman for the transfer of the sculptures.

This fact was confirmed by two Turkish researchers in an interview they gave at the Acropolis Museum. In particular, Turkish researchers Zeynep Aygen and Orhan Sakin presented the results of a long study of the Ottoman Empire’s official documents, which are related to Lord Elgin and stressed the fact that: “All the firmans as well as their contents, were written in a special book “.

Sakin rejected the British claim that Elgin’s documents gave him the permission to export the Marbles. “First of all, this was not a firman. Perhaps, it was a personal letter, but not a firman. The firman could only be signed by the Sultan, not by the Pasha. There was only a permit to visit”, said the Turkish researcher.
Just in case you're already planning your Summer holidays, the full programme for the highly anticipated Athens & Epidaurus Festival 2019 has been announced and the Greek capital’s annual arts festival will again feature great music, theatre, dance, and visual arts. The event will kick off on June 5 and run right through to August 10.

Greek and international productions, partnerships and shows by foreign artists will be included in the 2019 Athens and Epidaurus Festival program, announced artistic director Vangelis Theodoropoulos on Tuesday at the Athens Conservatoire.

Theodoropoulos said that the programme that will be staged in the summer of 2019 at Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, Pireos 260 and many others spaces around Athens and Piraeus, will be pluralistic, with social sensitivities and centered on diversity.

He also stressed that, for the first time, director Bob Wilson will be part of the Festival with a production of Oedipus at Epidaurus theatre.


21 & 22 June 
Directed by Robert Wilson
Co-production: ConversAzioni – Teatro Olimpico Vicenza – Pompeii Theatrum Mundi – Teatro Stabile di Napoli

28 & 29 June 

Directed by Io Voulgaraki

The Libation Bearers
Directed by Lilly Meleme

The Eumenides
Directed by Georgia Mavragani

5 & 6 July 
The Suppliants by Euripides Directed by Stathis Livathinos

12 & 13 July 
Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
Directed by Konstantinos Markoulakis
Co-production: Athinaika Theatra – Municipal and Regional Theatre of Crete

19 & 20 July 
Iphigenia in Aulis by Euripides Directed by Yannis Kalavrianos

26 & 27 July 
Electra/Orestes by Euripides Directed by Ivo Van Hove

2 & 3 Aug. 
The Clouds by Aristophanes Directed by Dimitris Karantzas

9 & 10 August
Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus Directed by Stavros Tsakiris



28 & 29 June
Kassandra by Iannis Xenakis Anaparastasis I: The Baritone by Jani Christou Directed by Alexandros Efklidis

The Day Will Come… by Giorgos Koumentakis Directed by Ektoras Lygizos

5 & 6 July
Theogony by Hesiod Directed by Sofia Paschou

12 & 13 July

Choreographed by Ioanna Portolou

19 & 20 July
Daphnis + Chloe by Longus Un amore bucolico Directed by Dimitris Bogdanos

26 & 27 July
Phèdre by Racine Directed by Efi Theodorou

2 & 3 August
Danaids by Andreas Kalvos Directed by Natasa Triantafylli
In the category "I'll just leave this here," a petition has been started by Greek-American Lee Pashalopoulos to add Greece to the countries in the World Showcase at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Those interested in helping realize this dream can click on thepetitionsite.com, search “Greece Pavilion DisneyWorld.”

Pashalopoulos, a Massachusetts resident, quotes Walt Disney in the petition, noting that the Disney founder said, “If you can dream it, you can do it!” and gives four reasons why Greece should be a part of the World Showcase:

1. The Food
Every year the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival has had the Greece Marketplace as a staple and is always popular with Disney guests. The menu would be a great starting point for a quick service restaurant and later on easily expanded to a table service restaurant. Just think about it… a pavilion that offers gyros, moussaka, spanakopita, and souvlaki every day.

2. Atmosphere
World Showcase pavilions truly look and even sound like the countries they represent. A Greece pavilion could have areas that look like everything from buildings along the Santorini cliffside to ancient Greek architecture with traditional Greek music playing in the background, it would be absolutely amazing!

3. Greek Entertainment
The Greece pavilion could also showcase traditional Greek dancing and music. Disney also has Hercules the 1997 movie that they could have regular meet and greets with the characters from that film. The characters have only appeared sporadically throughout Walt Disney World over the years. A Greece pavilion would be the perfect place for them to meet with guests on a regular basis.

4. Gift & Souvenirs
The gift and souvenir shops would be amazing. Guests could purchase anything from Greek sailor hats to Greek Orthodox iconography and Greek eye charms and jewelry. There could even be a store devoted to food items, like Greek wines, Kalamata olives, olive oil, traditional Greek spices and feta cheese. Tell me that doesn’t sound good!”

Pashalopoulos noted that he is “reaching out to all of you to please sign this petition and pass it around to family and friends and let’s give Greece its rightful place in Disney’s World Showcase!

You can find the petition here.
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. 

The reign of the Hellenes lasted for roughly 650 years. During that time, several major changes took place within the culture and religion of these people. Trying to reconstruct all these practices is not only impractical but also impossible. As a Hellenic Recon, it therefor becomes important to find out which classical, Hellenic, period speaks to us.

Within modern Hellenic Recon, three periods in the history of ancient Hellas stand out and in this blog post, I take on the basics of each and try to explain their differences on practice:
  • Archaic Period (800 BC - 480 BC)
  • Classical Period (480 BC - 323 BC)
  • Hellenistic Period (323 BC - 146 BC)
The Archaic Period
Before the Archaic period, there was no Hellas. As the Mycenaean civilization fell, it signaled the end of the Dark Ages. The founders of ancient Hellas founded their own script, based off of the Phoenician alphabet and small social hubs began to emerge. Because the land they lived on was divided into islands, or intercut with mountains, many of these hubs were self-governed. Many wars were fought over the next 300 years or so, as the cities Athens, Sparta, Corinth, and Thebes tried to expand their land, work force and supply of raw materials.

As the population grew, the territory was expanded and colonies were set up as far as Magna Graecia (Southern Italy and Sicily) and Asia Minor. This expansion reigned in an age of tentative stability and economic prosperity. There was a lot of trade between the core cities and the settlements on the edges of the domain. It was during this time, democracy was created to arrange the rule of the city of Athens.

For Hellenic religion, this age was a formative age. Gilbert Murray in his 'Five Stages of Greek Religion' describes how the various tribes of the Dark Ages brought their Gods with them as they traveled the land and settled in different places. Various Gods with overlapping domains were worshipped in different parts of the region, forming a cohesive but unstructured whole. There are varying incarnations of Gods and Goddesses and their abilities and strength vary greatly across the land.

Hellenics who operate mostly from sources within this time period have the difficult (and often ungrateful) task of reconstructing a period which was largely unformed and ever-evolving. There is a smorgasbord of religious choices to make, all of which will greatly influence their practice. Specifying a region or at least a tribe, may hep forming a daily practice greatly.

The Classical Period
The Classical period is the best know period. Most of what we know about ancient Hellas is from this period. The Classical period was the foundation of modern Western politics, architecture, scientific thought, literature, and philosophy. It was also the age of Athens; most of what we still know about ancient Hellas comes from records from this city who was at its greatest during the two centuries of the Classical period.

Many wars were also fought during this age, the most famous being the Persian war. Although Athens struggled through the wars and a temporary rule under Sparta, many issues settled and solidified during these two centuries. Democracy became well-defined and the major temples were built. This is the age of Herodotos, Euripides, Socrates and Plato. This is also the age in which Alexander the Great came to power.

This was also the Age of the Olympians. Many of the old Gods got merged into single personas with different epithets to accommodate local worship. This more unified faith was introduced to many of the city states and although it was never a unified whole, this was the closest the ancient Hellenic religion ever got to being a solidified faith.

For the modern Hellenic, operating in this time period is relatively easy. There wasn't a completely unified faith to draw from but there are many records from Athens that date back to this period, giving us precious clues about procedures, daily worship, life with the Gods and this high time of Hellas.

The Hellenistic Period
At the start of the Hellenic period, ancient Hellas was at its largest. Alexander the Great had conquered lands as far as Asia Minor, Assyria, the Levant, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Media, Persia, and parts of modern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the steppes of central Asia. The term 'Hellenistic', as applied to this time period is a modern invention, dating back to the mid-19th century. It is defined by the 'Hellenisation' of the conquered lands, something that succeeded only partially, although all areas fell under the Hellenic nation. It is offset by 'Hellenic', which describes Greek culture in its native form.

After Alexander the Great died, there was no logical successor. He left his empire to 'the strongest' and thus his generals fought a forty year battle which resulted in four major domains. Next to those four, much of mainland Hellas and the Hellenic islands remained at least nominally independent, although often dominated by Macedon. the four domains, called dynasties, were:
  • The Antigonid dynasty in Macedon and central Hellas;
  • The Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt based at Alexandria;
  • The Seleucid dynasty in Syria and Mesopotamia based at Antioch;
  • The Attalid dynasty in Anatolia based at Pergam
For modern Hellenics, this is important because all four dynasties developed differently from this point on. Most reconstruction based in this period is focussed on the Antigonid dynasty, but those who feel a draw to both the Hellenic and Kemetic pantheons might find a suitable home in the Ptolemaic dynasty.

The Hellenistic period ended with the rule of Rome over many former Hellenic territories. Both the lands and Gods were integrated into the Roman dynasty. It signaled the end of the Hellenic world as it had stood for centuries.

It may be obvious from this write-up, as well as the general tone of this blog, that I'm a follower of the Classical period. It's the age of Gods, an age where the philosophers held sway, but not as much as the poets. It's the most 'romantic' of the periods, the age in which the power of the Olympians was fragmented but universal none the less. The age of epithets and  unquenchable potential. I have love for the other periods as well, but not as deep as for the Classical period. Where does your heart lie?
Remember when I said Hippocrates was on trial recently? He won. Hippocrates was on trial for potentially violating his oath when administering medical care to the dying King of Thebes. The King, desperate to be cured, offered Hippocrates many treasures and riches for remedies to his several ailments. Upon his death, the king's son and heir charged Hippocrates for violating the Oath he had written when taking up his medical practice, citing that Hippocrates stole his father's last days.

In a resounding victory for the Father of Medicine, Hippocrates was found innocent of violating the Hippocratic oath in administering medical treatment to the dying King of Thebes in the mock “Trial of Hippocrates” on February 20th, 2019.

Some of Chicago’s powerhouse lawyers, including Robert A. Clifford, founder and senior partner of Clifford Law Offices, and Dan Webb, co-executive chairman of Winston & Strawn, defended Hippocrates against the City of Thebes after treating the King on his deathbed for three days, according to ancient Greek history.

Attorneys Patrick M. Collins, partner at King & Spalding and former assistant U.S. Attorney, and Tinos Diamantatos of Morgan Lewis, prosecuted the case before a crowd of more than 600.
Christina Faklis Adair of Gozdecki Del Giudice cross examined a medical expert witness at the mock trial where audience members served as jurors by voting with a chip that was later placed on a scale of justice. The defense team clearly won.

Twelve guest jurors, that included lawyers and community leaders in Chicago, also voiced their individual votes following the arguments. Andrea Darlas, radio and television news anchor and reporter at WGN Radio and WGN-TV, served as moderator for the sixth annual program.

Presiding over the mock trial was Judge the Hon. Charles P. Kocoras of the Northern District of Illinois who was joined by the Hon. William J. Bauer of the U.S. Seventh Circuit, U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman and Cook County Circuit Court Judge Anna H. Demacopoulos.
It also was announced at Thursday night’s trial at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park that last year’s trial, the Trial of Megacles, will be aired in April on Chicago’s Chicago public television station, WYYC, Channel 20. The event was sponsored by the National Hellenic Museum of Chicago.
The Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports has announced that three ancient quarries mining Karystos shale marble were found while wind parks were being installed by the ENEL and Silsio companies, in the greater area of the Karystos Municipality and the sites of Anatoli in the Kafireas region and at Trikorfo, Marmari, under the supervision of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Euboea.

During works on the new main road to the Anatoli wind park run by the ENEL Company, northwest of the village of Amygdalia, an ancient shale marble quarry was found, with two main mining fronts faced by small areas covered with soil.

The largest mining front is close to the second one that is smaller in size and situated at a higher spot to the north east of the first one, carved in tiers into the natural rock. In the greater area, south east of the smaller mining front there are massive carved rectangular blocks in situ, scattered about the natural rock.

While the greater quarry area was being archaeologically cleaned, two half finished columns were found in a clean layer of fine mining gravel.

The ancient quarry is situated exactly above the main road of the works by the Silsio Company. High on the rock two small mining fronts were located and some long box-shaped carvings on their floor, while just a few metres to the east a low pile of mining gravel was found, the only evidence of mining activity.

The second ancient quarry of Trikorfo 2 was located to the north west of Trikorfo 1. The quarry’s main space is much bigger than that of the first quarry with three large, Π shaped, tall mining fronts.
Three large gravel piles dominate the surrounding space, two to the east and one to the west of the main mining and quarrying area, while in front of the quarry’s main area there is a place for depositing massive rectangular stone blocks, as well as other boulders partially worked on, bearing traces of carving and situated on a downward slope to the south of the main mining area, most probably for their removal and transportation.

On the ground of the quarry’s main area are three half finished columns, one next to the other, and most probably more stone blocks that are not particularly visible being covered by considerable backfill and vegetation. In front of the main fronts is a small circular construction for collecting water, covered with slate slabs for washing tools and for other uses.

As noted by the announcement, the discovery of these ancient quarries gives us more information on the location of new sites for the mining of Karystos stone, demonstrating the latter’s significance as a key factor in the region’s economic activity from antiquity to the present day.
Pursuit recently published an article concerning the luckiest fiends of ancient history. I've filtered out the Hellenic ones for you.

Dr Brent Davis: The Rosetta Stone
The story of the Rosetta Stone starts with Napoleon Bonaparte, who invaded Egypt in 1798 on one of his many campaigns to become master of the world.

In 1799, a group of French soldiers working near the town of Rosetta in the Nile Delta tore down an ancient Egyptian wall so they could use the stones to repair a French fort. One of these stones was the Rosetta Stone, an inscribed slab of granite now in the British Museum.

The stone is inscribed in three different scripts: the top section is in full hieroglyphs, the middle section is in Demotic (a cursive form of hieroglyphs), and the bottom section is in Greek which, of course, could easily be read.

Scholars quickly realised that the stone contains the same text written three times, once in each script.
Everyone saw that this stone might unlock the secret of hieroglyphs—as indeed it did. In 1822, the brilliant French scholar Jean-François Champollion made a major breakthrough in deciphering the hieroglyphic portion, giving birth to the modern field of Egyptology.

Professor Louise Hitchcock: Linear A and B
One of the last frontiers in the discovery and decipherment of ancient texts are the Aegean scripts Linear A and Linear B. These are the scripts of the Minoan, Cypriot and Mycenaean civilisations of ancient Greece – Homer’s Age of heroes.

The decipherment of Linear B, an early form of Ancient Greek preserved mostly on clay tablets, was dramatically announced in a famous 1952 radio announcement on the BBC by architect and war time codebreaker, Michael Ventris.

As a fourteen-year-old, young Ventris had heard Sir Arthur Evans – the discoverer of the Knossos palace on Crete fabled as the home of the Minotaur – present a lecture on the Linear B texts, and made it his lifetime dream to decipher it.

Linear B dates to the era of Mycenaean palaces around 1500 to 1200 BCE, and pushes the study of classical languages back into the Bronze Age, the time before the Trojan war.

However, these are not texts recording events or deeds by famous people. Rather they are temporary administrative palace documents consisting of allocations of goods or labour to the likes of smiths, temples, ships, cloth workers, and chariot makers. They give us valuable insights into the structure of the Mycenaean political system, as well as trade, manufacturing, and the economy.

But the language written in the earlier Linear A script is yet to be deciphered.

It originated on Crete initially as a hieroglyphic or pictographic script around 1900 to 1700 BCE and is preserved on clay tablets, stone libation tables, gold jewellery and even on magic bowls inscribed with octopus ink.

So far, we simply haven’t discovered enough Linear A to decipher it, which means archaeologists and codebreakers continue to dream of cracking it.

Dr James H.K.O. Chong-Gossard: Sappho’s poems
“My knees, that were once swift for the dance like little fawns, do not carry me. I lament this often, but what can I do? To be ageless when one is mortal, is not possible.” So writes the incomparable ancient Greek poetess Sappho in the late 7th century BCE in the “Tithonus poem”, a gem of only twelve lines that speaks to us across centuries of the sadness of ageing.

But fragments of the poem had long been lost, including these beautiful lines, and it is only because of a material similar to papier-mâché that they have been preserved for publication in 2004.
Sappho’s poetry highlights the agelessness of human feeling. Picture: ‘Sappho and Alcaeus’ by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema/Wikipedia

The original fragments of the poem had survived on papyri from 2nd to the 3rd century CE Roman Egypt, and had been unearthed at Oxyrhynchus in the early 20th century.

But, in 2002, the Cologne Papyrus Collection acquired from a private collector papyri that preserved the rest of Sappho’s poem.

These missing fragments had survived as “cartonnage” – a hard material comprising papyri, linen and plaster that was used in ancient times as book covers and mummy cases.

Another rediscovered Sappho poem first published in 2014, the “Brothers Poem,” was similarly preserved in cartonnage and was only uncovered when the papyrus fragments were separated by dissolving the cartonnage in warm water.

Some 2,600 years ago, Sappho lamented that people cannot be ageless, but the continual re-discovery of her words is proving the agelessness of her poetry.
For the fourth year, Elaion will be hosting the celebration of the Lesser Eleusinian Greater Mysteries. As a basic viewpoint, Elaion believes that the Mysteries need not be pursued; they are not a spiritual ‘formula’ that experimentation will eventually rediscover. That said, we also acknowledge that it's a festival many have been drawn to--both then and now--and we want to give our members a chance to celebrate it in a way that is as Recon as possible once you accept that we know far too little about it to ever accurately be so. Since the proceedings of the Eleusinian Mysteries were kept secret in fear of the punishment of death, we will never be able to restore these rites. But we do know a few basics and we have formulated our celebration accordingly. Please read through all information as well as the rituals before deciding to join.

The Eleusinian Mysteries (Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια) had festivals throughout the year, which were tied to agriculture through Demeter's refusal to perform her duties as an agricultural Goddess while her daughter Persephone is with Hades, and to the afterlife and Underworld through Persephone's return to the surface of the earth after Her mandatory stay with Hades has ended. Initiation ceremonies were held every year at Eleusis. Of all the mysteries celebrated in ancient times, the mysteries at Eleusis were assumed to be of great importance to a large portion of the ancient Hellenes. The cult itself likely had origins dating back to the Mycenean period of around 1600 to 1100 BC, and it is believed that the cult of Demeter Herself was established in 1500 BC.

The Eleusinian Mysteries consist mostly of two festivals, but the worship of Demeter and Persephone consist of a cycle of seven festivals: the Greater Mysteries (13-23 Boedromion), the Proerosia (6 Pyanepsion), the Stenia (9 Pyanepsion), the Thesmophoria (11-13 Pyanepsion), the Haloa (26 Poseideon), the Lesser Mysteries (20-26 Anthesterion), and the Skiraphoria (12 Skirophorion). These are placed in sequence of the Athenian year.

Mythologically, the foundations of the Eleusinian Mysteries can be found in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Within the hymn, Demeter travels the globe in her grief over losing Her daughter. She eventually settles at the home of Keleus. Demeter plans to make one of his sons immortal in return for his hospitality but She is interrupted. Instead, she tells Keleus to build Her a temple and altar so she can teach human beings the knowledge they need to have a good life.

The Mysteries were obviously celebrated to honor Demeter--Demeter Eleusinia, specifically. Through the honoring of Demeter, the ancient Hellenes prayed for a good harvest, and through the worship of Persephone--Kore--those who were initiated in the Mysteries assured they would be looked upon favorably in the Afterlife.

The Lesser Mysteries were not always a part of the mysteries; around the middle of the fifth century BC, Eleusinian officials decreed that the Lesser Mysteries could serve as a necessary prerequisite to the Greater Mysteries. From that point on, they took place at a shrine located near the Ilissos river, from 20 to 26 Anthesterion, while they had most likely taken place at a special building at Eleusis, the Telesterion, before that. The river is located between Athens and Eleusis, and served as a meeting point when Athenian and Eleusinian worshippers came together. The location is also important for another reason: it was said to be the place where the first Lesser Mysteries were held; the place where Hēraklēs underwent purification before his initiation, so he could travel to the Underworld and not forget who he was, and through that, make sure he could get back to the surface world.

Hēraklēs, son of Zeus and the mortal Alcmene (Ἀλκμήνη)--who was a bane in Hera's life, simply for being born--was stricken mad by the Queen of the Gods and killed his five sons by his wife Megara (Μεγάρα), oldest daughter of Kreōn (Κρέων) of Thebes. When he was released from his madness by a hellebore potion--provided by Antikyreus--and realized what he had done, he cried out in anguish, and went on a long journey to cleanse himself of the miasma caused by these killings.

First, he visited the oracle at Delphi, who, unbeknownst to him, was whispered to by Hera. The Oracle told Hēraklēs to serve the king of Tiryns (Τίρυνς), Eurystheus (Εὐρυσθεύς), for ten years and do everything Eurystheus told him to do. Eurystheus gladly provided Hēraklēs with these labors--ten of them, one for each year--and eventually ended up adding two more, resulting in the Twelve Labors of Hēraklēs. Hēraklēs was told to: slay the Nemean Lion, slay the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra, capture the Golden Hind of Artemis, capture the Erymanthian Boar, clean the Augean stables in a single day, slay the Stymphalian Birds, capture the Cretan Bull, steal the Mares of Diomedes, obtain the girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon, steal the apples of the Hesperides, and to capture and bring back Kerberos.

This twelfth labor caused a problem for Hēraklēs, because he had to enter the Underworld to capture Kerbaros, and come back up, something that the Underworld was not intended for. Yesterday I explained how the river Lethe, the river of forgetfulness, runs through the Underworld, and all who come to the afterworld are eventually forced to drink from it in order to forget their old lives. Those who were initiated in the Eleusinian Mysteries, however, could drink from the fountain (or well) of Mnemosyne (memory) and were allowed to remember. Hēraklēs had to go through the mysteries, but initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries excluded those who were guilty of murder, and of course Hēraklēs was quite guilty of that. He was tainted not only with the miasma of killing his family, but also for killing the kentaur Nessus (Νέσσος), the kentaur who carried Hēraklēs' third wife Deïaneira (Δῃάνειρα) over the river Evinos (Εύηνος), and was killed by Hēraklēs for attempting to abduct and rape her.

Hēraklēs traveled to Eleusis in search for a way into the mysteries. Eventually, the officials of the mysteries decided that, in order for Hēraklēs to take part, he would have to be cleansed of the blood of his crimes first. As such, he was put through a rite, most likely at the shrine at the Ilissos river. Hēraklēs was cleansed, and eventually, he was initiated into the mysteries. He traveled to the Underworld--aided by a lot of Theoi--and eventually, he returned successful in his quest. For the ancient regular mortal, returning from the Underworld was not the goal. They did, however, want to be initiated. In order to qualify for initiation, participants would sacrifice a piglet to Demeter and Persephone.

In ancient texts, the rituals of the Lesser Mysteries were often referred to as 'myesis', as opposed to the rites of the Greater, which were referred to as 'epopteia'. The word myesis means 'to teach', as well as 'to initiate', while epopteia has a similar meaning, but with an important difference; it means 'to witness', as well as 'to be initiated'. This difference equates the major difference between the two rites: in the Lesser Mysteries, candidates underwent a teaching course. They were educated on the gifts of Demeter, on the mythology surrounding Her and Her daughter, and on the mysteries. They went through a rite of purification--possibly in the river. Upon completion of the Lesser Mysteries, participants were deemed mystai ('initiates') worthy of witnessing the Greater Mysteries.

While what exactly happens on which day, is completely unknown due to the vow of silence--which was most likely placed upon the seekers the first day. What we do know from artwork is that a pig was sacrificed on a eschára, a low-lying altar to the khthonic deities--most likely Persephone. Also sacrificed by the seeker was a stack of flat cakes called 'pelanoi', although the actual sacrifice is not depicted. A priest gave a libation, and may also have burned poppies, a plant linked to both Demeter and Persephone, as Demeter might have used it to relief the burden of Her grief over losing Her daughter. Other options for offerings include pomegranates, the seeds of the pomegranate, cakes, or cheese.

The seeker was--assumable after this sacrifice--told of Demeter and Persephone, and he or she might have been seated on a chair, coated by a ram's fleece, while these stories were told to them. Again, we know this from artwork, but we do not know why they were seated as such, save that Demeter also sat on a chair with a ram's fleece on it as she grieves over Persephone's abduction. A ram appears to have been a favored sacrificial animal for Persephone, so it might be that the ram--minus its fleece--was sacrificed as well.

Next--and I use this term loosely, because we have no idea about the order of things--the seeker was blindfolded and led on a journey--either physically, or as a meditative exercise. As a journey into the Underworld is also a journey into the darkness, one can assume this was the main goal of the exercise; for the seeker to feel he or she was being led deeper into the mysteries of the Underworld, deeper into a sense of sacredness and trust in the Theoi and priests who overlooked the mysteries, and deeper into him or herself, possibly to face their own crimes and impure actions. Anyone who has ever walked to an initiation in a blindfold knows the power of the act. It brings a finality, a true sense of entering a new world, and a leaving behind of the old. It may be that especially the latter was the goal of this exercise; a continuation of the purification that started with sacrifices.

During the blindfold exercise, a winnowing fan, a 'liknon', which was used to separate wheat from the chaff was held over the head of the seeker. It's a common symbol of Dionysos, and withing the mysteries, it may have signified the separation of the soul from the body--a start of the preparation for the demise of the seeker at the end of life, and the control they would have not to drink from Lethe.

After this ritual, the seeker was purified, and 'brought before Demeter'. This was most likely a priestess representing the Theia for the rite. She was seated on the kiste--a basket which held the ritual items used in the Greater Mysteries--and on her lap (or somewhere close) would be a snake. The seeker had to reach out and touch the snake, to show they had no fear of death, nor dying. It appears this was the final step in completing the Lesser Mysteries, and becoming a mystes, but there may have been be a dozen more rites the seeker would have had to go through that were lost in time.

Because so much is lost of the mysteries, celebrating the Lesser Mysteries as a modern Hellenist is virtually impossible. We'll give it a try, though, while being fully aware that it's a mere shadow of it at best. For those who wish to join us, the Lesser Eleusinian Mysteries will be a seven day event, starting on February 25th and ending on March 3rd. Many of the days will be study days with meditations of smaller rituals in order to understand the mythology and reasoning behind the Mysteries. In this regard, the Lesser Mysteries differ from the Greater Eleusinian Mysteries.

To make things easier, we have laid out a time table:

  • February 25: Opening rite (daytime)
  • February 26: Study day: Demeter (daytime)
  • February 27: Purification rite (daytime)
  • February 28: Study day: the Underworld (nighttime)
  • March 1: Study Day: Iakkhos (daytime)
  • March 2: Initiatory rite (nighttime)
  • March 3: Closing rite (daytime)

  • We truly hope you will join us for this event. You can share your experience with the community here and the rituals can be found here. Note, these are ALL rituals, seven of them in total, one for every day. It is highly encouraged you read through them before the Mysteries start.

    We are very excited about the opportunity of offering this experience to you and we hope you will find a glimmer of what the ancient Hellenes might have experienced during the some of the most anticipated days of the year.
    Following highly-acclaimed successes with The NHM Trials of Socrates, Antigone, and The Parthenon Marbles, the National Hellenic Museum once again partners with prominent judges and attorneys to take on another case with ancient roots and modern consequences – The NHM Trial of Hippocrates.

    The Case: Hippocrates, the father of medicine, was called to the bedside of the dying King of Thebes. The physician saw immediately that nothing could cure this illness. The King offered the physician a herd of horses for his care, which Hippocrates accepted, offering a potion for fever. The fever subsided, replaced by boils. Once again, Hippocrates said there was nothing to do, yet the King demanded treatment. Gold was given for a salve. Vineyards and a villa offered for a potion. Despite treatments, the King grew worse and died.  Hippocrates was arrested and brought before the King’s son and heir. Hippocrates had sworn to “help the sick . . . but never with a view to injury and wrong-doing.”

    The National Hellenic Museum asks: Did Hippocrates violate his own Oath?

    Attendees of The NHM Trial of Hippocrates will experience the court in the style of ancient Athens, for one night only, with a modern twist featuring the non-scripted wit of dynamic legal arguments, as professional lawyers debate whether the great Greek physician Hippocrates is guilty of violating his oath when administering medical care to the dying King of Thebes. 

    Andrea Darlas, an award-winning Radio and Television News Anchor and Reporter at WGN Radio and WGN-TV, will open the trial as the Moderator and Dr. Peter Angelos, Associate Director of the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago, will serve as the Expert Witness.

    Members of the 2019 jury include George Bellas, Senior Partner, Bellas & Wachowski, Attorneys at Law; Darby Dickerson, Dean, The John Marshall Law School; Michael L. Galaty, Director, University of Michigan Museum of Anthropological Archaeology; Hal R. Morris, Partner and Deputy General Counsel, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP; Constance Stavropoulos Palas, Vice President & Associate Counsel, Calamos Investments; Leon Platanias, Director, Robert H Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center; Emily Reusswig, Executive Director, Chicago Cultural Alliance; Leah Rippe, Vice President, Marketing & Communications, Brookfield Zoo; Herm Schneider, Head Athletic Trainer-Emeritus, Chicago White Sox Baseball Club; Kris Swanson, Vice President and Forensic Services Practice Leader, Charles River Associates; Terri E. Weaver, PhD, RN, FAAN, ATSF, Dean and Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing; and Dr. Athanasios Zervas, Associate Professor, University of Macedonia Thessaloniki Greece.

    Presiding over The NHM Trial of Hippocrates will be U.S. District Judge Charles P. Kocoras (presiding), U.S. Court of Appeals Judge William J. Bauer, U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman and Cook County Circuit Judge Anna H. Demacopoulos, while the counsel will include Robert A. Clifford of Clifford Law Offices, Patrick M. Collins of King & Spalding, Tinos Diamantatos of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, Christina Faklis Adair of the Cook County's State Attorney's Office, former U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and former U.S. Attorney Dan K. Webb of Winston & Strawn.
    This is not a sponsored post. Let's start with that. I'm just posting because it looks good! I recently stumbled upon Sanuk Games's kickstarter for "Mythic Battles: Pantheon - The Videogame".

    "Mythic Battles: Pantheon is a tightly crafted turn-based strategy game where you play as Olympian Gods and lead the greatest heroes, monsters and warriors to ever live in Ancient Greece. It is based on a board game published by Monolith Board Games that, itself, was a KickStarter sensation, with more than 13,000 backers in a first campaign and more than 10,000 in a second campaign, raking in more than $3.7 million of pledges overall. 

    It will bring the rich universe of this board game to life with state-of-the-art visuals and animations, while relying on its solid, proven gameplay. The mighty Titans awoke and unleashed a massive attack on Olympus. They were ultimately defeated but the world was ravaged, and the surviving Olympians became mere mortals. As the former Gods awake to a broken world, Mythic Battles: Pantheon begins their adventure through Olympus, Styx and the Labyrinth of Minos to regain the glory left decimated by the wrath of the Titans. 

    Playing as Gods such as Zeus and Athena, alongside an army of heroes such as Achilles and Hercules and monsters such as the Hydra and Medusa, players will fight to regain their lost status and become the king of the Gods."

    "Mythic Battles: Pantheon" will be released on PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It will will offer solo play against the AI as well as online multiplayer game sessions.

    Sanuk Games is a 15-years-old independent game studio based in France and in Thailand, with a team of 18 skilled and experienced professionals. Sanuk Games shipped over 70 games on almost all systems over the years, both as an indie and as a work-for-hire studio with 3rd party publishers. For more information, please visit https://www.sanukgames.com.

    Back the Kickstarter here.

    Theokritos was a Hellenic bucolic poet who flourished in Syracuse, Kos and Alexandria in the 3rd century BC. His surviving work can mostly be found within an old compendium of 30 poems known as the "Idylls of Theocritus," Many of these works, however, are no longer attributed to the poet. In "Idyll 1" Thyrsis sings to a goatherd about how Daphnis, the mythical herdsman, having defied the power of Aphrodite, dies rather than yielding to a passion the Goddess has inflicted on him. It's a lovely song and I would like to share it with you today.

    "‘Tis Thyrsis sings, of Etna, and a rare sweet voice hath he.
    Where were ye, Nymphs, when Daphnis pined? ye Nymphs, O where were ye?
    Was it Peneius’ pretty vale, or Pindus’ glens? ‘twas never
    Anápus’ flood nor Etna’s pike nor Acis’ holy river.

    Country-song, sing country-song, sweet Muses.

    When Daphnis died the foxes wailed and the wolves they wailed full sore,
    The lion from the greenward wept when Daphnis was no more.

    Country-song, sing country-song, sweet Muses.

    O many the lusty steers at his feet, and may the heifers slim,
    Many the claves and many the kine that made their moan for him.

    Country-song, sing country-song, sweet Muses.

    Came Hermes first, from the hills away, and said “O Daphnis tell,
    “Who is’t that fretteth thee, my son? whom lovest thou so well?”

    Country-song, sing country-song, sweet Muses.

    The neatherds came, the shepherds came, and the goatherds him beside,
    All fain to hear what ail’d him; Priápus came and cried
    “Why peak and pine, unhappy wight, when thou mightest bed a bride?
    “For there’s nor wood nor water but hath seen her footsteps flee –

    Country-song, sing country-song, sweet Muses –

    “In search o’ thee. O a fool-in-love and a feeble is here, perdye!
    “Neatherd, forsooth? ‘tis goatherd now, or ‘faith, ‘tis like to be;
    “When goatherd in the rutting-time the skipping kids doth scan,
    “His eye grows soft, his eye grows sad, because he’s born a man; –

    Country-song, sing country-song, sweet Muses –

    “So you, when ye see the lasses laughing in gay riot,
    “Your eye grows soft, your eye grows sad, because you share it not.”
    But never a word said the poor neathérd, for a bitter love bare he;
    And he bare it well, as I shall tell, to the end that was to be.

    Country-song, more country-song, ye Muses.

    But and the Cyprian came him to, and smiled on him full sweetly –
    For thou she fain would foster wrath, she could not choose but smile –
    And cried “Ah, braggart Daphnis, that wouldst throw Love so featly!
    “Thou’rt thrown, methinks, thyself of Love’s so grievous guile.”

    Country-song, more country-song, ye Muses.

    Then out he spake; “O Cypris cruel, Cypris vengeful yet,
    “Cypris hated of all flesh! think’st all my sun be set?
    “I tell thee even ‘mong the dead Daphnis shall work thee ill: –

    Country-song, more country-song, ye Muses.

    “Men talk of Cypris and the hind; begone to Ida hill,
    “Begone to hind Anchises; sure bedstraw there doth thrive
    “And fine oak-trees and pretty bees all humming at the hive.

    Country-song, more country-song, ye Muses.

    “Adonis too is ripe to woo, for a ‘tends his sheep o’ the lea
    “And shoots the hare and a-hunting goes of all the beasts there be.

    Country-song, more country-song, ye Muses.

    And then I’ld have thee take thy stand by Diomed, and say
    “’I slew the neatherd Daphis; fight me thou to-day.’

    Country-song, more country-song, ye Muses.

    “But ‘tis wolf farewell and fox farewell and bear o’ the mountain den,
    “Your neatherd fere, your Daphnis dear, ye’ll never see agen,
    “By glen no more, by glade no more. And ‘tis o farewell to thee
    “Sweet Arethuse, and all pretty watérs down Thymbris vale that flee.

    Country-song, more country-song, ye Muses.

    “For this, O this is that Daphnis, your kine to field did bring,
    “This Daphnis he, led stirk and steer to you a-watering.

    Country-song, more country-song, ye Muses.

    “And Pan, O Pan, whether at this hour by Lycee’s mountain-pile
    “Or Maenal steep thy watch thou keep, come away to the Sicil isle,
    “Come away from the knoll of Helicè and the howe lift high i ’ the lea,
    “The howe of Lycáon’s child, the howe that Gods in heav’s envye;

    Country-song, leave country-song, ye Muses.

    “Come, Master, and take this pretty pipe, this pipe of honey breath,
    “Of wax well knit round lips to fit; for Love hales mé to my death.

    Country-song, leave country-song, ye Muses.

    “Bear violets now ye briers, ye thistles violets too;
    “Daffodilly may hang on the juniper, and all things go askew;
    “Pines may grow figs now Daphnis dies, and hind tear hound if she will,
    “And the sweet nightingále be outsung I ’ the dale by the scritch-owl from the hill.”

    Country-song, leave country-song, ye Muses.

    Such words spake he, and he stayed him still; and O, the Love-Ladye,
    She would fain have raised him where he lay, but that could never be.
    For the thread was spun and the days were done and Daphnis gone to the River,
    And the Nymphs’ good friend and the Muses’ fere was whelmed I ’ the whirl for ever."