An international research team, including a member of the Complexity Science Hub Vienna, investigated the role of “big gods” in the rise of complex large-scale societies. Big gods are defined as moralizing deities who punish ethical transgressions. Contrary to prevailing theories, the team found that beliefs in big gods are a consequence, not a cause, of the evolution of complex societies. The results are published in the current issue of the journal Nature.

For their statistical analyses the researchers used the Seshat: Global History Databank, the most comprehensive, and constantly growing collection of historical and prehistorical data. Currently Seshat contains about 300,000 records on social complexity, religion, and other characteristics of 500 past societies, spanning 10,000 years of human history.

“It has been a debate for centuries why humans, unlike other animals, cooperate in large groups of genetically unrelated individuals,” says Seshat director and co-author Peter Turchin from the University of Connecticut and the Complexity Science Hub Vienna. Factors such as agriculture, warfare, or religion have been proposed as main driving forces.

One prominent theory, the big or moralizing gods hypothesis, assumes that religious beliefs were key. According to this theory people are more likely to cooperate fairly if they believe in gods who will punish them if they don’t. “To our surprise, our data strongly contradict this hypothesis,” says lead author Harvey Whitehouse. “In almost every world region for which we have data, moralizing gods tended to follow, not precede, increases in social complexity.” Even more so, standardized rituals tended on average to appear hundreds of years before gods who cared about human morality.

Such rituals create a collective identity and feelings of belonging that act as social glue, making people to behave more cooperatively. “Our results suggest that collective identities are more important to facilitate cooperation in societies than religious beliefs,” says Harvey Whitehouse.
Big data: a new approach to social theories

Until recently it has been impossible to distinguish between cause and effect in social theories and history, as standardized quantitative data from throughout world history were missing. To address this problem, data and social scientist Peter Turchin, together with Harvey Whitehouse and Pieter François from the University of Oxford, founded Seshat in 2011. The multidisciplinary project integrates the expertise of historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, social scientists as well as data scientists into a state-of-the-art, open-access database. Dozens of experts throughout the world helped to assemble detailed data on social complexity and religious beliefs and practices from hundreds of independent political units (“polities”), beginning with Neolithic Anatolians (today Turkey) in 9600 BC.

The complexity of a society can be estimated by social characteristics such as population, territory, and sophistication of government institutions and information systems. Religious data include the presence of beliefs in supernatural enforcement of reciprocity, fairness, and loyalty, and the frequency and standardization of religious rituals.

“Seshat allows researchers to analyze hundreds of variables relating to social complexity, religion, warfare, agriculture and other features of human culture and society that vary over time and space,” explains Pieter François. “Now that the database is ready for analysis, we are poised to test a long list of theories about human history.” This includes competing theories of how and why humans evolved to cooperate in large-scale societies of millions and more people.

“Seshat is an unprecedented collaboration between anthropologists, historians, archaeologists, mathematicians, computer scientists, and evolutionary scientists”, says Patrick Savage, corresponding author of the article. “It shows how big data can revolutionize the study of human history.”
We have all heard of Sappho, but did you know there were many other female poets whose work survives to this day? I'd like to share some of them with you today--and about the women who wrote them.

Anyte of Tegea
Anyte of Tegea (Ἀνύτη Τεγεᾶτις) was an early 3rd century BC Arcadian poet, was the leader of a school of poetry and literature on Peloponnesus, which also included the poet Leonidas of Tarentum. Antipater of Thessalonica listed her as one of the nine earthly muses. At least 18 of her epigrams, written in the Doric dialect, survive in the Greek Anthology; an additional six are doubtfully attributed to her.

"To Pan the bristly-haired, and the Nymphs of the farm-yard, Theodotus
the shepherd laid this gift under the crag, because they stayed him
when very weary under the parching summer, stretching out to him
honey-sweet water in their hands." -- Anyte, to Pan and the Nymphs

Erinna (Ἤριννα) was a Hellenic poet, a contemporary and friend of Sappho, a native of Rhodes or the adjacent island of Telos or even possibly Tenos, who flourished about 600 BC. She wrote in a mixture of Aeolic and Doric Greek. Three epigrams ascribed to her in the Palatine anthology probably belong to a later date, though some debate on the first epigram exists.

"I am of Baucis the bride; and passing by my oft-wept pillar thou
mayest say this to Death that dwells under ground, "Thou art envious,
O Death"; and the coloured monument tells to him who sees it the most
bitter fortune of Bauco, how her father-in-law burned the girl on the
funeral pyre with those torches by whose light the marriage train was
to be led home; and thou, O Hymenaeus, didst change the tuneable
bridal song into a voice of wailing dirges." -- Errina, On a Betrothed Girl

Moero (Μοιρώ) or Myro (Μυρώ) was a 3rd century BCE from the city of Byzantium. She was the wife of Andromachus Philologus and the mother (according to other sources, a daughter) of Homerus of Byzantium, the tragedian. Antipater of Thessalonica includes Moero in his list of famous poetesses. She wrote epic, elegiac, and lyric poetry, but little has survived. Athenaeus quotes from her epic poem, Mnemosyne (Μνημοσύνη), and two dedicatory epigrams of hers are included in the Greek Anthology. She also wrote a hymn to Poseidon and a collection of poems called Arai (Ἀραί).

"Thou liest in the golden portico of Aphrodite, O grape-cluster filled
full of Dionysus' juice, nor ever more shall thy mother twine round
thee her lovely tendril or above thine head put forth her honeyed
leaf." -- Moero, To Aphrodite of the Golden House

Nossis (Νοσσίς) was an ancient Greek woman epigrammist and poet, c. 300 BCE, who lived in southern Italy, at Locri. Her epigrams were inspired by Sappho, whom she claims to rival. Twelve epigrams of hers (one of which is perhaps spurious) survive in the Greek Anthology. Antipater of Thessalonica ranks her among the nine poets who deserved the honour to compete with the Muses.

"Nothing is sweeter than love, and all delicious things are second to
it; yes, even honey I spit out of my mouth. Thus saith Nossis; but he
whom the Cyprian loves not, knows not what roses her flowers are." -- Nossis, Love's Sweetness

Mary R. Lefkowitz, former professor of classical studies at Wellesley College, says we can learn much about what it means to be human by studying the myths of the ancient Greeks. In the Distinguished Faculty Lecture during Wellesley's family weekend and in her fantastic book, 'Greek Gods, Human Lives: What We Can Learn from Myths' (Yale University, November 2003), Lefkowitz shows how myths have fascinated people through the ages while helping them cope with the uncertainties of their lives.

Diana Chapman Walsh, president of Wellesley College, introduces Mary Lefkowitz as she discusses this intriguing topic.

As legend goes, a shepherd herded his flock up the side of Mount Parnassus. The sheep came upon a chasm and seemed to lose their minds. They started jumping around, and darting about. When the shepherd went to inspect the chasm, he fell under the influence of gasses that welled up from it. He lost all his worries and cared not about the time. He simply wished to remain there and gleam the knowledge he felt at the edges of his mind.

When he did not return, his family went to look for him. They took him home and put him to bed. Everyone was worried by his strange behavior, but he seemed to be calmer when the morning came. Yet, the shepherd's behavior had not returned to normal. He was able to foretell the future. Soon, word of the shepherd's ability, and the chasm, spread. People came from far away to either talk to the man or go to the source. Yet, those who visited the chasm lost their minds as well, and sometimes even jumped in the chasm.

A decision was made: this chasm, which must send up messages from Gaea, needed to be managed so no one would get hurt. A woman was chosen and introduced to the vapors, and given servants to keep her safe and healthy. She spoke with the voice of Gaea, and spoke her prophecies for anyone who would visit. It is said that the chasm was protected by a serpent, Python (Πύθωνος), who was put there by Gaea to protect the chasm.

The chasm was seen as the center of the known world, as Zeus himself had once let two eagles fly at the far reaches of the world, and they met over the chasm. It was Gaea's sacred site, but it didn't remain that way for long. Apollon was born, and he soon moved to find the perfect site for His temple. In the Homeric hymn to Pythian Apollon, we find His arrival at the site of Gaea's oracle, and an account of His battle with the serpent:

"In this place I am minded to build a glorious temple to be an oracle for men, and here they will always bring perfect hecatombs, both they who dwell in rich Peloponnesus and the men of Europe and from all the wave-washed isles, coming to question me. And I will deliver to them all counsel that cannot fail, answering them in my rich temple."

"...Whosoever met the dragoness, the day of doom would sweep him away, until the lord Apollo, who deals death from afar, shot a strong arrow at her. Then she, rent with bitter pangs, lay drawing great gasps for breath and rolling about that place. An awful noise swelled up unspeakable as she writhed continually this way and that amid the wood: and so she left her life, breathing it forth in blood. Then Phoebus Apollo boasted over her:

"Now rot here upon the soil that feeds man! You at least shall live no more to be a fell bane to men who eat the fruit of the all-nourishing earth, and who will bring hither perfect hecatombs. Against cruel death neither Typhoeus shall avail you nor ill-famed Chimera, but here shall the Earth and shining Hyperion make you rot."

Thus said Phoebus, exulting over her: and darkness covered her eyes. And the holy strength of Helios made her rot away there; wherefore the place is now called Pytho, and men call the lord Apollo by another name, Pythian; because on that spot the power of piercing Helios made the monster rot away."

And so, the site became sacred to Apollon. At first, young virgins spoke the word of the Lord Apollon, but later on, it was decreed that the oracle--called the Pythia--had to be over fifty years of age. The site was at the epicenter of important travel routes; the road leading from northeastern and eastern Hellas to the plain of Amfissa--where it met the road joining northern Hellas with Naupactus--passed through Delphi. From the beach of Itea, it was easy to pass to nearby Peloponnesus. This not only made Delphi an important religious site, but a commercial one, and it was one of the major keys to its success.

Delphi is no more. The entire site is in ruins. While you can still walk a large part of the grounds, there is no longer an oracle who breaths in the vapors and gives prophesy. Hellenists lost that line to the Theoi.

Most of us know how to work a divinatory tool; we come from other Neo-Pagan paths that encourage it, or developed systems of our own. Some of us are just naturally gifted. I feel the Hellenistic community--when it becomes larger and more standardized and organized--could greatly benefit from another Oracle; someone whom we trust to speak the words of the Theoi and whom we pay for their efforts. A new Pythia, dedicated to the Hellenistic community, who is supported by said community. I honestly hope we get there some day. Delphi is not gone; it lives on in each of us. It's legacy drives us forward as a religion. One day, we may have it again.
So, yesterday, the European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market passed. This is a European Union directive that is designed to limit how copyrighted content is shared on online platforms. EU directives are a form of legislation that set an objective for member states to achieve. For two years, institutions, companies, and individuals have fought hard to scrap this directive, but to no avail. It was passed yesterday, so one of these days, it will be implemented.

What does that mean? Well, two articles are problematic for EU bloggers like me: Article 11 and Article 13. Article 13 is the least problematic for my blog. Article 13 requires online platforms to filter or remove copyrighted material from their websites. The Directive on Copyright would make online platforms and aggregator sites liable for copyright infringements. this applies to, for example, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. It's also known as the "meme ban," as memes, gifs, etc. tend to be made with copyrighted material.

Blogger, my blog hosting platform, will have to put filters in place as well, although I have no idea how they will do this yet. I doubt they have any idea yet either, to be honest. So, this will affect me but probably not you, as the reader, so much. I might have to fight against censorship, but you won't notice.

What you will notice is the effect of Article 11. Article 11 is also known as “the link tax.” The article intends to get news aggregator sites, such as Google News, to pay publishers for using snippets of their articles on their platforms. Press publications “may obtain fair and proportionate remuneration for the digital use of their press publications by information society service providers,” the Directive states.

There are a lot of question marks. How much of an article has to be shared before a platform has to pay the publisher? The Directive states that platforms won’t have to pay if they’re sharing “mere hyperlinks which are accompanied by individual words,” but since most links are accompanied by more than a couple of words it seems that many platforms and news aggregators will have to either invest in a license to share or will shut down.

I share a lot of news articles related to archaeology and various other pieces of interest, and link back to the source. I won't be able to do this anymore under Article 11 and I don't have time to create 100% unique content for you every day. So, I will have to figure out how to deal with this. A license will be unaffordable, I'm sure, so two options I am looking at are

1. posting less regularly, like once or twice a week, with 100% original content.
2. inviting guest bloggers who are willing to produce 100% original content to fill in the days in-between so I can still post once a day (or near that ratio). Needless to say, this option depends on if there is interest to do so. If you are someone who would be interested in doing this--and this content can literally be anything from articles, to art, to vlogs--email me at

Back to Article 11, this will mean that our favorite news aggregators like The archaeology News Network will disappear as well (completely, or just in the EU), and this is such a shame. Google's News tab? Gone as well, at least for the EU and perhaps globally.

The Directive does contain an exemption for “legitimate private and non-commercial use of press publications by individual users,” so it doesn’t look like individuals sharing links on social platforms will have to dip into their pockets. But even this is open to interpretation.

I am assuming the ban won't be implemented retroactively. If it is, I will have to go through my blog and delete a lot of content. I won't do that, for now.

I can't figure out yet if the Directive will be enforced from this moment on. I'm researching that. So, for now, I am going to be on the safe side and either re-use original content or post things I am sure are unaffected by either Article. I might still post about archaeological finds, but I'll have to create the actual copy myself and then link you to the article, which is...not as much fun. I'm sorry about that, but I'm fairly certain I can't afford to be fined for breaking the Directive.

If you have original content lying around that you are willing for me to put up, email me. If I think it will be useful for the 700-or-so people visiting this blog every day, we'll work out a bio, backlinks to wherever you want, and a way for us to organize this. I can't pay you. Baring The Aegis has been a daily labor of love and devotion for me for seven years. I don't make money off it myself and I can't lose money on it either.

Please bear with me while I figure out what the Directive means for Baring The Aegis. I really hope I can figure out something that works with my schedule and which means regular content for you!
‟New facts about Hellenistic Thessaloniki resulting from excavations in the Metro” were presented by Polyxeni Veleni, Director of the General Ephorate of Antiquities, in her report at the 32nd meeting on the Archaeological Work in Macedonia and Thrace.

In Hellenistic times, had Thessaloniki originally been a long and narrow city with hills and plains, starting from the Upper Town and reaching the sea? Questions have already been raised by an early construction of a wall, built of green slate and stones transversely positioned, 60 to 90 centimeters wide, located during extensive excavations at Agia Sophia Station while constructing the Metro and whose use as yet cannot be interpreted.

“Could it be the city’s first wall? A fact supporting this hypothesis is the location of a long section of a wall on the same axis and with a southward direction in the western courtyard of the Vlatades Monastery. If that is the case, then we are probably looking at an originally long narrow city built on hills and plains, starting from the Upper Town and reaching the sea”, said Mrs Veleni, noting that “on the occasion of this important work of infrastructure for the city, the opportunity was given to satisfactorily investigate and study Thessaloniki’s stratigraphy from its founding up to its recent history, arriving at more certain results and formulating new theories and interpretations”.

Thessaloniki and its urban development has been the subject of research since the 1960s. At the end of the 1990s, M. Witti’s doctoral thesis had collected all archaeological and excavation data available at the time, while the matter occasionally resurfaced when smaller excavations were conducted on plots in the city’s historic center about to be built on. Data of the Hellenistic city was poor and insufficient to build up an image of early Hellenistic Thessaloniki.

The most indisputable historical fact of the existence of a Hellenistic city is its founding by Kassandros in 315 BC, with a settlement around the Thermaic Gulf made up of 26 neighbouring villages. The city, which evolved into a major urban center of the Macedonian kingdom during Hellenistic times, seems to have taken advantage of the fortified northern slopes of the region during the early years of its establishment, while also spreading out towards the plains, exploiting its closeness to the sea. Many interesting discussions and theories, whether compatible or contradictory are constantly reemerging about the city’s boundaries, the area it covered and its organization, in an attempt to recreate its founding phase.

View of the excavation for the Thessaloniki Metro [Credit: Athens and Macedonian News Agency]
Mrs Veleni also mentioned the Hellenistic remains that resulted from excavations while working on the Metro at the Venizelos Station (where at its south entrance that coincides with Kapnergates Square and in an area of 0.24 acres, new excavations are starting this coming autumn which will last for about a year).

As Mrs Veleni also announced in her report, more detailed facts about more accurate dating of the excavations’ Hellenistic strata will be presented at an upcoming two day conference organized in Thessaloniki by the Ministry of Culture and the Ephorate of Antiquities of the City of Thessaloniki.
The two-day event called 'Excavations on track' will be held on April 11 and 12 and will present archaeological finds from excavations  conducted while roads are being opened for installing fixed-track vehicles throughout the country (from the Athens Metro, the tram of Piraeus and others).
I'm a bit swamped, so you're getting Kallimachos' Hymn to Artemis today. Kallimachos of Kyrēnē (Κυρήνη, Cyrene) was a Hellenic poet and scholar of the Library of Alexandria. He rose to greatness around the third century BC and was the author of a large number of works. Unfortunately, only six hymns and sixty-three epigrams have survived to this day. Kallimachos despised the 'outdated' poetry type of Hómēros and wrote many testimonials against it. His hymns are, therefor, different to the eye than the Homeric and Orphic ones. For the complete hymns, go here


Artemis we hymn – no light thing is it for singers to forget her – whose study is the bow and the shooting of hares and the spacious dance and sport upon the mountains; beginning with the time when sitting on her father’s knees – still a little maid – she spake these words to her sire: “Give me to keep my maidenhood, Father, forever: and give me to be of many names, that Phoebus may not vie with me. And give me arrows and a bow – stay, Father, I ask thee not for quiver or for mighty bow: for me the Cyclopes will straightway fashion arrows and fashion for me a well-bent bow. 

But give me to be Bringer of Light and give me to gird me in a tunic with embroidered border reaching to the knee, that I may slay wild beasts. And give me sixty daughters of Oceanus for my choir – all nine years old, all maidens yet ungirdled; and give me for handmaidens twenty nymphs of Amnisus who shall tend well my buskins, and, when I shoot no more at lynx or stag, shall tend my swift hounds. And give to me all mountains; and for city, assign me any, even whatsoever thou wilt: for seldom is it that Artemis goes down to the town. On the mountains will I dwell and the cities of men I will visit only when women vexed by the sharp pang of childbirth call me to their aid even in the hour when I was born the Fates ordained that I should be their helper, forasmuch as my mother suffered no pain either when she gave me birth or when she carried me win her womb, but without travail put me from her body.” So spake the child and would have touched her father’s beard, but many a hand did she reach forth in vain, that she might touch it.

And her father smiled and bowed assent. And as he caressed her, he said: “When goddesses bear me children like this, little need I heed the wrath of jealous Hera. Take, child, all that thou askest, heartily. Yea, and other things therewith yet greater will thy father give thee. Three times ten cities and towers more than one will I vouchsafe thee – three times ten cities that shall not know to glorify any other god but to glorify the only and be called of Artemis And thou shalt be Watcher over Streets and harbours.” So he spake and bent his head to confirm his words.

And the maiden faired unto the white mountain of Crete leafy with woods; thence unto Oceanus; and she chose many nymphs all nine years old, all maidens yet ungirdled. And the river Caraetus was glad exceedingly, and glad was Tethys that they were sending their daughters to be handmaidens to the daughter of Leto.

And straightway she went to visit the Cyclopes. Them she found in the isle of Lipara – Lipara in later days, but at the at time its name was Meligunis – at the anvils of Hephaestus, standing round a molten mass of iron. For a great work was being hastened on: they fashioned a horse-trough for Poseidon. And the nymphs were affrighted when they saw the terrible monsters like unto the crags of Ossa: all had single eyes beneath their brows, like a shield of fourfold hide for size, glaring terribly from under; and when they heard the din of the anvil echoing loudly, and the great blast of the bellows and the heavy groaning of the Cyclopes themselves. For Aetna cried aloud, and Trinacia cried, the seat of the Sicanians, cried too their neighbour Italy, and Cyrnos therewithal uttered a mighty noise, when they lifted their hammers above their shoulders and smote with rhythmic swing the bronze glowing from the furnace or iron, labouring greatly. Wherefore the daughters of Oceanus could not untroubled look upon them face to face nor endure the din in their ears. No shame to them! 

On those not even the daughters of the Blessed look without shuddering. Though long past childhood’s years. But when any of the maidens doth disobedience to her mother, the mother calls the Cyclopes to her child – Arges or Steropes; and from within the house comes Hermes, stained with burnt ashes. And straightway he plays bogey to the child, and she runs into her mother’s lap, with her hands upon her eyes. But thou, Maiden, even earlier, while yet but three years old, when Leto came bearing thee in her arms at the bidding of Hephaestus that he might give thee handsel and Brontes set thee on his stout knees – thou didst pluck the shaggy hair of his great breast and tear it out by force. And even unto this day the mid part of his breast remains hairless, even when mange settles on a man’s temples and eats the hair away.

Therefore right boldly didst thou address them then: “Cyclopes, for me too fashion ye a Cydonian bow and arrows and a hollow casket for my shafts; for I also am a child of Leto, even as Apollo. And if I with my bow shall slay some wild creature or monstrous beast, that shall the Cyclopes eat.” So didst thou speak and they fulfilled thy words. Straightway dist thou array thee, O Goddess. And speedily again thou didst go to get thee hounds; and thou camest to the Arcadian fold of Pan. And he was cutting up the flesh of a lynx of Maenalus that his bitches might eat it for food. And to thee the Bearded God gave two dogs black-and-white, three reddish, and one spotted, which pulled down very lions hen they clutched their throats and haled them still living to the fold. And he gave thee seven Cynosurian bitches swifter than the winds - that breed which is swiftest to pursue fawns and the hare which closes not his eyes; swiftest too to mark the lair of the stag and where the porcupine hath his burrow, and to lead upon the track of the gazelle.

Thence departing (and thy hounds sped with thee) thou dist find by the base of the Parrhasian hill deer gamboling – a mighty herd. They always herded by the banks of the black-pebbled Anaurus – larger than bulls, and from their horns shone gold. And thou wert suddenly amazed and sadist to thine own heart: “This would be a first capture worthy of Artemis.” Five were there in all; and four thou didst take by speed of foot – without the chase of dogs – to draw thy swift car. But one escaped over the river Celadon, by devising of Hera, that it might be in the after days a labour for Heracles, and the Ceryneian hill received her.

Artemis, Lady of Maidenhood, Slayer of Tityus, golden were thine arms and golden thy belt, and a golden car didst thou yoke, and golden bridles, goddess, didst thou put on thy deer. And where first did thy horned team begin to carry thee? To Thracian Haemus, whence comes the hurricane of Boreas bringing evil breath of frost to cloakless men. And where didst thou cut the pine and from what flame didst thou kindle it? It was on Mysian Olympus, and thou didst put in tit the breath of flame unquenchable, which thy Father’s bolts distil. And how often goddess, didst thou make trial of thy silver bow? First at an elm, and next at an oak didst thou shoot, and third again at a wild beast. But the fourth time – not long was it ere thou didst shoot at the city of unjust me, those who to one another and those who towards strangers wrought many deeds of sin, forward men, on whom thou wilt impress thy grievous wrath. On their cattle plague feeds, on their tilth feeds frost, and the old men cut their hair in mourning over their sons, and their wives either are smitten or die in childbirth, or, if they escape, bear birds whereof none stands on upright ankle. But on whomsoever thou lookest smiling and gracious, for them the tilth bears the corn-ear abundantly, and abundantly prospers the four-footed breed, and abundant waxes their prosperity: neither do they go to the tomb, save when they carry thither the aged. Nor does faction wound their race – faction which ravages even the well-established houses: but brother’s wife and husband’s sister set their chairs around one board.

Lady, of that number be whosoever is a true friend of mine, and of that number may I be myself, O Queen. And may song be my study forever. In that song shall be the Marriage of Leto; therein thy name shall often-times be sung; therein shall Apollo be and therein all thy labours, and therein thy hounds and thy bow and thy chariots, which lightly carry thee in thy splendour, when thou drivest to the house of Zeus. There in the entrance meet thee Hermes and Apollo: Hermes the Lord of Blessing, takes thy weapons, Apollo takes whatsoever wild beast thou bringest. Yea, so Apollo did before strong Alcides came, but now Phoebus hath this task no longer; in such wise the Anvil of Tiryns stands ever before the gates, waiting to see if thou wilt come home with some fat morsel. 

And all the gods laugh at him with laughter unceasingly and most of all his own wife’s mother when he brings from the car a great bull or a wild boar, carrying it by the hind foot struggling. With this sunning speech, goddess, doth he admonish thee: “Shoot at the evil wild beasts that mortals may call thee their helper even as they call me. Leave deer and hares to feed upon the hills. What harm could deer and hares do? It is boars which ravage the tilth of men and boars which ravage the plants; and oxen are a great bane to men: shoot also at those.” So he spake and swiftly busied him about the mighty beast. For though beneath a Phrygian oak his flesh was deified, yet hath he not ceased from gluttony. Still hath he that belly wherewith he met Theiodamas at the plough.

For thee the nymphs of Amnisus rub down the hinds loosed from the yoke, and from the mead of Hera they gather and carry for them to feed on much swift-springing clover, which also the horses of Zeus eat; and golden troughs they fill with water to be for the deer a pleasant draught. And thyself thou enterest thy Father’s house, and all alike bid thee to a seat; but thou sittest beside Apollo.
But when the nymphs encircle thee in the dance, near the springs of Egyptian Inopus or Pitane – for Pitane too is thine – or in Limnae or where, goddess, thou camest from Scythia to dwell, in Alae Araphenides, renouncing the rites of the Tauri, then may not my kine cleave a four-acred fallow field for a wage at the hand of an alien ploughman; else surely lame and weary of neck would they come to the byre, yea even were they of Stymphaean breed, nine years of age, drawing by the horns; which kine are far the best for cleaving a deep furrow; for the god Helios never passes by that beauteous dance, but stays his car to gaze upon the sight, and the lights of day are lengthened.

Which now of islands, what hill finds most favour with thee? What haven? What city? Which of the nymphs dost thou love above the rest, and what heroines hast thou taken for thy companions? Say, goddess, thou to me, and I will sing thy saying to others. Of islands, Doliche hath found favour with thee, of cities Perge, of hills Taygeton, the havens of Euripus. And beyond others thou lovest the nymph of Gortyn, Britomartis, slayer of stags, the goodly archer; for love of whom was Minos of old distraught and roamed the hills of Crete. And the nymph would hide herself now under the shaggy oaks and anon in the low meadows. And for nine months he roamed over crag and cliff and made not an end of pursuing, until, all but caught, she leapt into the sea from the top of a cliff and fell into the nets of fishermen which saved her. Whence in after days the Cydonians call the nymph the Lady of the Nets (Dictyna) and the hill whence the nymph leaped they call the hill of Nets (Dictaeon), and there they set up altars and do sacrifice. And the garland on that day is pine or mastich, but the hands touch not the myrtle. For when she was in flight, a myrtle branch became entangled in the maiden’s robes; wherefore she was greatly angered against the myrtle. Upis, O Queen, fair-faced Bringer of Light, thee too the Cretans name after that nymph.

Yea and Cyrene thou madest thy comrade, to whom on a time thyself didst give two hunting dogs, with whom the maiden daughter of Hypseus beside the Iolcian tomb won the prize. And the fair-haired wife of Cephalus, son of Deioneus, O Lady, thou madest thy fellow in the chase; and fair Anticleia, they say, thou dist love even as thine own eyes. These were the first who wore the gallant bow and arrow-holding quivers on their shoulders; their right shoulders bore the quiver strap, and always the right breast showed bare. Further thou dist greatly commend swift-footed Atalanta, the slayer of boars, daughter of Arcadian Iasius, and taught her hunting with dogs and good archery. They that were called to hunt the boar of Calydon find no fault with her; for the tokens of victory came into Arcadia which still holds the tusks of the beast. Nor do I deem that Hylaeus and foolish Rhoecus, for all their hate, in Hades slight her archery. For the loins, with whose blood the height of Maenalus flowed, will not abet the falsehood.

Lady of many shrines, of many cities, hail! Goddess of the Tunic, sojourner in Miletus; for thee did Neleus make his Guide, when he put off with his ships from the land of Cecrops. Lady of Chesion and of Imbrasus, throned in the highest, to thee in thy shrine did Agamemnon dedicate the rudder of his ship, a charm against ill weather, when thou didst bind the winds for him, what time the Achaean ships sailed to vex the cities of the Teucri, wroth for Rhamnusian Helen.

For thee surely Proetus established two shrines, one of Artemis of Maidenhood for that thou dist gather for him his maiden daughters, when they were wandering over the Azanian hills; the other he founded in Lusa to Artemis the Gentle, because thou tookest from his daughters the spirit of wildness. For thee, too, the Amazons, whose mind is set on war, in Ephesus beside the sea established an image beneath an oak trunk, and Hippo performed a holy rite for thee, and they themselves, O Upis Queen, around the image danced a war-dance – first in shields and armour, and again in a circle arraying a spacious choir. And the loud pipes thereto piped shrill accompaniment, that they might foot the dance together (for not yet did they pierce the bones of the fawn, Athena’s handiwork, a bane to the deer). And the echo reached unto Sardis and to the Berecynthian range. And they with their feet beat loudly and therewith their quivers rattled.

And afterwards around that image was raised a shrine of broad foundations. That it shall dawn behold nothing more divine, naught richer. Easily would it outdo Pytho. Wherefore in this madness insolent Lygdamis threatened that he would lay it waste, and brought against it a host of Cimmerians which milk mares, in number as the sand; who have their homes hard by the Straits of the cow, daughter of Inachus. Ah! foolish among kings, how greatly he sinned! For not destined to return again to Scythia was either he or any other of those whose wagons stood in the Caystrian plain ; for thy shafts are ever more set as a defence before Ephesus.

O Lady of Munychia, Watcher of Harbours, hail, Lady of Pherae! Let none disparage Artemis. For Oeneus dishonoured her altar and no pleasant struggles came upon his city. Nor let any content with her in shooting of stags or in archery. For the son of Atreus vaunted him not that he suffered small requital. Neither let any woo the Maiden; for not Otus, nor Orion wooed her to their own good. Nor let any shun the yearly dance; for not tearless to Hippo was her refusal to dance around the altar. Hail, great queen, and graciously greet my song.
An exact replica of the imposing marble statue of the Nike of Samothrace which since 1884 promotes Greek culture across the world as one of the most impressive exhibits of the Louvre Museum, recently has pride of place on the coastal avenue of Alexandroupoli, a stopover, a few months before travelling to its ‟birth place” the island of Samothrace.

Efforts to have the statue returned to our country have been long standing, despite our lack of success so far. Deputy governor of the Evros region, Dimitris Petrovic, spoke to the Athens and Macedonian News Agency about how we arrived to the present day and about the making of this exact replica:

"The idea of asking the Louvre Museum for a 3D file digitization used to create the exact replica came about in 2012, during our visit to Samothrace as regional advisors with the late George Pavlidis. When we visited the island’s museum, he expressed his dislike of the replica that was on display, which he said conveyed none of the aura of its original. The request to the Louvre for the acquisition of two certified exact replicas was sent shortly after George Pavlidis was elected regional governor of East Macedonia and Thrace and was accepted by the Museum under certain conditions."

The exact replica of the Nike of Samothrace was made of Thasos marble at a factory in Drama, its dimensions are identical to those of the original and weighs approximately 6.5 tons.

"Elias Kyriakidis, owner of a very large marble company in Drama, offered to make the first statue using highly weather-resistant marble from Thasos and to donate it to the Region. Accuracy in its design required the use of a state of the art robotic machine which the company provided. Three months were needed to shape the statue’s general outline and its basic details on a block of marble weighing about 18 tons. Three more months were subsequently needed and two sculptors from the school of Tinos who carved the details, completing this exceptional work in the summer of 2018."

Mr. Petrovic also referred to the ‟symbolic orientation of the statues”, since the statue to be placed in Alexandroupolis will ‟look” towards Samothrace and the one soon to be placed in the courtyard of the Samothrace museum will ‟look” in the direction of the Louvre museum, so as to demonstrate ‟our constant demand for the return of the Nike to its rightful place”, he says.

"The company’s offer is invaluable, because it shows that there are true gentlemen in our country today setting an example, since this is our cultural heritage which we have an obligation to preserve, even through replicas… Of course, this does not cancel out our constant demand and wish for the return of the Nike to its rightful place”."

According to Mr. Petrovic’s estimations, the marble statue will remain for the next few months in the courtyard of the Alexandroupolis Prefecture, on the coastal avenue, until a pedestal on which the Nike will be placed in Samothrace, is designed and created by the archaeological service.
Anthesterion is Dionysos' month. Many--if not all-- sacrifices and festivals feature Him in some form or another. The Erkhian calendar holds a sacrifice to Dionysos and His mother Semele on the 16th of the ancient Hellenic month. Will you join us for it today, on 23 March, at the usual 10 am EDT?

There are many versions of Dionysos' birth. In one--perhaps the most famous--Dionysos is born from Semele and Zeus, and while Semele is pregnant with Him, Hera plants seeds of doubt in her mind about the father of the child truly being Zeus. Semele asks Zeus to reveal Himself to her in His true form, and when He is left with no other option, He does so, killing her in the process. Zeus takes pity on His child, and takes Him into either His thigh or testicle, where He is eventually born from. When Dionysos grows up, He raises Semele to Olympos and grants her eternal life. He also places a wreath into the sky to honor her, the Corona Australis. The wreath would be made of myrtle leaves, for Dionysos left a gift of myrtle in the Underworld in return for His mother, and the followers of Dionysos wore crowns of myrtle.

Although the Erkhians left no explanations of the reason of their sacrifices, I am inclined to believe this sacrifice was a local sacrifice in line with the Anthesteria that took place in Athens two days earlier. Most likely, many Erkhians travelled to Athens for the Anthesteria, then back home to sacrifice to Dionysos and His mother in their own hometown as well.

If you are celebrating the Greater Dionysia with us, you could perform this sacrifice instead of the basic ritual we've provided for that day in the rituals for the Dionysia.

Will you join us and honor Dionysos and His mother in your hometown on 23 March, at 10 am EST? You can find the ritual here and join the community here.
Archaeologists have recently discovered an ancient shipwreck which proves the Greek Historian Herodotos was accurate in his description, almost 25 centuries ago, regarding the construction of a Nile river boat called a 'baris'.

An artistic rendition of the discovered shipwreck. The upper half of the model illustrates the wreck
as excavated. Below this, unexcavated areas are mirrored to pro­duce a complete vessel outline
[Credit: Christoph Gerigk/Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation]

The shipwreck, discovered recently off the Mediterranean coast of Egypt near the ancient, and now sunken, city of Thonis-Heracleion was of a vessel called a ”baris. This exact type of ship was described in great detail by Herodotos in his book Historia following a visit he made to the port city of Thonis-Heracleion in Egypt. Herodotos was impressed by the way people were constructing the ship, which was used to sail across the Nile River.

For centuries, scholars and archaeologists believed that the type of ship Herodotos described never actually existed, because such ships had never once been found by anyone on the planet. This theory was recently blown up when a group of archaeologists discovered a well-preserved shipwreck off the coast of Egypt in the Canopic Mouth of the Nile, in the Mediterranean Sea. What the archaeologists saw witnessed when they dove into the waters was exactly the kind of vessel Herodotos had perfectly described in his book exactly 2,469 years ago.

The 28-metre long vessel was one of the first ships used by the Egyptians to trade during ancient times. The vessels Herodotos described in his book must have been the exact same type of ship, but were only slightly smaller. Dr. Damian Robinson, the director of Oxford University’s center for maritime archaeology, points out that 

”...where planks are joined together to form the hull, they are usually joined by mortise and tenon joints which fasten one plank to the next. Here we have a completely unique form of construction, which is not seen anywhere else.”

Most likely, this unique construction was the reason why Herodotos was so amazed when he saw this type of ship. The eminent historian was also astonished by the peculiar types of wood they were using to construct the ships, which to him was completely unknown.

Archaeologists believe that what Herodotos saw could have even been constructed in the very same shipyard as the vessel they discovered, as a word-by-word analysis of Herodotos’ text exactly matches the appearance of the ship.

Belov's exploration of the ship's construction has been published in a monograph by the Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology, Ship 17: a baris from Thonis-Heracleion.
A friend of mine, Riley, has put together a document with an assortment of poetry, literary sources, and quasi-hymns to the twelve Olympic Gods that are not Homeric or Orphic. These are great for your personal worship and a wonderful resource to connect with the Theoi. Some are Hellenic in origin, some are much later Roman additions, but I enjoy the sentiment of them.

You can find the document here.
On 21 March, at 10 AM EDT, Elaion hosts a PAT ritual for the Galaxia. This rather obscure festival was held in many places in ancient Hellas, but most notably at Olympia. The Galaxia was closely linked to the vernal equinox, which was used to date it and was (amongst others) in honor of Kronos and Rhea.

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

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

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

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

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

We hope you will join us tomorrow, on March 21 at the usual 10 AM. The ritual can be found here and you can join the community here.
The Dionysia ta en Astei (Διονύσια τὰ ἐν Ἄστει), Dionysia ta Megala (Διονύσια τὰ Μεγάλα), Great(er) Dionysia, or City Dionysia, was and is a true theatric festival of Dionysos. The City Dionysia is held on the 10th to 17th days of Elaphebolion and I have realized I have not posted up the PAT ritual yet! Elaion usually hosts an eight day festival for it, which is now two days less. Oops! Apologies! The Dionysia ta en Astei runs from 17 - 24 March, at the usual 10 am EDT.

The City Dionysia is thought to have been founded, or at least revived, by the tyrant Pisistratus (around 530 BC), and was held in Athens, when the city was once again full of visitors after the winter. The festival honors Dionysos Eleuthereus (Διονυσος Ελευθερευς), who was said to have been introduced into Athens from the village of Eleuterae (Ελευθέραι). The festival focuses on the performance of tragedies, but has included the performing of comedies since 487 BC. It was the second-most important festival after the Panathenaia.

According to myth, the festival was established after Eleutherae, a border-town between Attica and Boeotia, chose to become part of Attica. The Eleuthereans had an established festival of Dionysos--which then became the rural Dionysia--and celebrated to occasion by bringing a statue of Dionysos to Athens. The Athenians, by then not big on the worship of Dionysos, initially rejected the statue, but Dionysos punished the Athenians with a plague affecting the male genitalia. The Athenians, rightfully spooked, accepted the statue and honor of Dionysos, and the plague was cured. These events were recalled each year by two processions, the first, carrying the statue of Dionysos from His temple outside of the city of Athens into the city, and the second where various groups proceeded through the city to the theater, arrayed in groups distinguishable by color or other articles of dress.

Dionysos was a métoikos in a city of Athens, a resident alien, and on the first two days of the festival, the métoikoi of the city got to wear brightly colored festival clothes--mostly purple--and carried trays of offerings in the processions, something métoikoi never got to do otherwise. The Athenian citizens, on the other hand, wore their day-to-day clothes and carried wine and bread with them, or herded the bulls which would be sacrificed. At the end of the processions, the statue of Dionysos was placed in His temple in the theater district, and sacrifices were made to Him. Flute players and poets held contests, and were eager to outdo each other. After all of this, the festival most likely became very Dionysian, indeed.

Singing and dancing had always been a big part of the City Dionysia, but after a while, the structure of the eight day festival became more apparent. Instead of random singing and dancing, from the third day onward, everyone flocked to the theaters to view the plays, whose names and creators had been announced the day prior. The next three days of the festival were devoted to the tragic plays. The three chosen playwrights performed three tragedies and one satyr play each, one set of plays per day. Famous playwrights include Aeschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles. They were judged by judges (agonothetai) chosen on the second day.

On the seventh day of the festival, five comedies by famous playwrights like Philemon, Chionides, and Aristophanes were performed. Comedies were of secondary importance at the Dionysia--the Lenaia was far more important for those--but winning the comedic prize at the Dionysia was still regarded a great honor. It seems that, from the fifth century BC onwards, plays could be recycled, and the audience seemed to have appreciated it. These plays were fan favorites, and were not rushed to completion.

Another procession and celebration was held on the final day and the winners of the competitions were declared. The winning playwrights won a wreath of ivy or a goat, and when old plays were performed, the producer was awarded the prize rather than the long-dead playwright.

For the city Dionysia, we will be reading 'The Bacchae', a play by Euripides. We did it last year as well and we wanted to keep it a tradition. The play premiered posthumously at the Theatre of Dionysus in 405 BC as part of a tetralogy that also included 'Iphigeneia at Aulis' and 'Alcmaeon in Corinth', and which Euripides' son or nephew probably directed. It won first prize in the City Dionysia festival competition.

The Dionysus in Euripides' tale is a young God, angry that his mortal family, the royal house of Cadmus, has denied him a place of honor as a deity. His mortal mother, Semele, was a mistress of Zeus; while pregnant she was killed, through trickery, by Hera, who was jealous of her husband's affair. When Semele died, her sisters said it was Zeus' will and accused her of lying; they also accused their father, Cadmus, of using Zeus as a cover-up. Most of Semele's family refuse to believe Dionysus is the son of Zeus, and the young God is spurned in his home. He has traveled throughout Asia and other foreign lands, gathering a cult of female worshipers (Maenads or Bacchantes).

At the play's start he has returned, disguised as a stranger, to take revenge on the house of Cadmus. He has also driven the women of Thebes, including his aunts, into an ecstatic frenzy, sending them dancing and hunting on Mount Cithaeron, much to the horror of their families. Complicating matters, his cousin, the young king Pentheus, has declared a ban on the worship of Dionysus throughout Thebes. The Bacchae is considered to be not only Euripides' greatest tragedy, but one of the greatest ever written, modern or ancient. You can find links to several versions of the play in the rituals document.

You can find the rituals for the event here and join the community here. The first and last days have larger rituals and we've made a small ritual for the days in-between. You can skip two of those to catch up. The idea is that you read part of the play every day and finish it on the day of the last ritual. We hope you will join us in honoring Dionysos in his many, many forms.