I don't usually put the words of a Roman on this blog, but I love the work of Lucretius and I was reminded of a passage yesterday.

Titus Lucretius Carus (99 BC – 55 BC) was a Roman poet and philosopher. His only known work is the didactic philosophical poem "De rerum natura" about the tenets and philosophy of Epicureanism, and which is usually translated into English as On the Nature of Things.

Epicureanism is a system of philosophy based upon the teachings of the ancient Hellenic philosopher Epicurus, founded around 307 BC. Epicurus was an atomic materialist, following in the steps of Democritus. His materialism led him to a general attack on superstition and divine intervention. Following Aristippus—about whom very little is known—Epicurus believed that what he called "pleasure" was the greatest good, but that the way to attain such pleasure was to live modestly, to gain knowledge of the workings of the world, and to limit one's desires. From "De rerum natura":

“When people seem to feel that there is a weight
On their minds, which wears them out with its pressure–
If they were able to understand where it comes from and what causes
So great a burden of misery to press upon their chests,
They would hardly live their lives as we now see most do:
Each person does not know what he wants and always seeks
To change his place as if he could possibly slough of the burden.
Often this man departs from the doors of his great home,
When he has tired of being there, only to return suddenly
When he comes to believe that he is no better off outside.
He rushes out driving his ponies heedlessly to his villa
As if he were bringing crucial help to a burning home.
Yet when he arrives and crosses the threshold of the house,
He either falls into a deep sleep or pursues oblivion,
Or he even rushes to visit the city again,
This is the way each man flees from himself, but it is his self
That it is impossible to escape, so he clings to it thanklessly and hates.
He does this because he is a sick man who is ignorant of the cause.
If he knew the cause, he would abandon all these things
And begin his first study of the nature of things,
Since the problem is not that of a single hour but of eternal time—
In what state we must understand that all time will pass
For mortal man after the death that awaits all of us.”

Source of the translation here.
Despotiko, a small island in the Cyclades, has drawn the attention of archaeology enthusiasts in recent years, after excavations uncovered a religious site of major significance, dating from the Archaic Period. The site encompasses a large temple dedicated to Apollon along with other ceremonial buildings, and is now considered to have been of equal, if not greater, importance to the famous sanctuary of Delos. The excavation project is headed by Yannos Kourayos, a Greek archaeologist with vast experience and rich knowledge of the area.

Kourayos began his excavation at Despotiko in the summer of 1997 but before him, the first exploration was led by archaeologist Christos Tsountas in the 19th century and another one was conducted by Nikos Zafeiropoulosin 1959. Kourayos discovered in 1997 an extensive archaic shrine devoted to Apollo, thitherto unknown from any written ancient source until then. These excavations in Mandra (Despotiko) have brought to light a vast religious complex devoted to Apollon which was completed in the Late Archaic Period. Religious activities are believed to have been taking place at the same site since the Geometric Period.

Despotiko is one of the three islets situated west of the island of Antiparos and is mentioned by Pliny the Elder and Strabo as Prepesinthos. It is in fact situated almost exactly at the centre of the Cyclades. The only way to visit the islet is by boat from Agios Georgios in Antiparos and it sits at just 700m off the coast, which makes it perfect for a quick visit during your stay in Cyclades. This islet has been uninhabited since ancient times, but current excavations indicate that there was possibly an isthmus that may have linked Despotiko and the other two islets with Antiparos until at least the Hellenistic period.

In the Archaic period, the people of Paros built a sanctuary in Despotiko devoted to the cult of Apollo, as well as his sister Artemis and the goddess Hestia. The reason behind the choice of this specific location for the religious complex probably lied in the effort to establish their dominance in the Aegean, especially as part of their rivalry with the island of Naxos. In the Classical period, the Athenian Miltiades, under the pretext that the people of Paros had supported the Persians during the Persian invasion of Greece, led an unsuccessful Athenian campaign against the island of Paros (which also encompassed Antiparos and Despotiko) which had been conquered by the Persians. The islet was also partially burnt down by French pirates in the17th century.
Sorry, low on time, so I'm leaving you with a pretty awesome comparison video between real life Greece now and the graphics in Assassin's Creed Odyssey. It makes my heart hurt and sing at the same time o see these sites as they could have been in their full glory. Can you miss something you never knew?

The dragons of ancient Hellas had very little--if anything--to do with the fantasy dragons we are so accustomed to now. The ancient Hellenes knew four types of dragon: the Drakones, the Ketea, the Khimaira and the Drakaenae.

The Drakones were named after the Greek 'drakein' and 'derkomai, meaning 'to see clearly' or 'gaze sharply'. These were guardians, usually of wells and springs, groves, Gods, or treasure. As guardians, they were usually equipped with sharp fangs, deadly poison and/or multiple heads. In essence, they were seen as giant snakes which--and this is wholly a personal observation--makes sense when most protective and purifying Theoi were depicted as snakes.

Yet, some drakones caused mayhem and were slain. These are some of the dragon slayers of ancient Hellenci mythology:

"According to the mythology, a spring nearby the location of the temple [of Delphi] was guarded by the large Python or she-dragon, which Apollo slayed upon arrival, thus freeing the people from their fear of the earth and its power." 

When the Olympians rose to power, they first fought the Titans during the Titanomachy. Vanquishing them, the Theoi thought They had won. Yet, there was one who sought revenge for the defeat of his father: Typhôeus, the most-feared son of Tartaros and Gaea. Some versions of the myth say that Typhôeus was actually the Drakon Gigantomakhios, or one of his offspring. Hyginus shares what happened to the dragon:

"Some also say this dragon was thrown at Minerva [Athena] by the Giants, when she fought them. Minerva, however, snatched its twisted form and threw it to the stars, and fixed it at the very pole of heaven. And so to this day it appears with twisted body, as if recently transported to the stars."

The hero Bellerophon was commanded by King Iobates to slay the Khimaira, a fire-breathing mythical beast whose form was a hybrid of lion, serpent and goat. Bellerophon rode into battle against the beast on the back of the winged horse Pegasos and, driving a lead-tipped lance down the Khimaira's flaming throat, suffocated it. From Hómēros' Iliad:

 "On first deciphering the fatal message, he ordered Bellerephon to kill the monstrous Chimaera, spawned by gods and not men, that had a lion’s head, goat’s body and serpent’s tail, and breathed out deadly blasts of scorching fire. But Bellerephon slew her, guided by the gods." [VI:119-211]

Cadmus (Kadmos)
"On a quest to find his sister, Europa, he stopped at the Delphic temple to consult Apollo’s oracle, which led him to found the city of Thebes. While building the Theban temple, Cadmus’ assistants were slain by a dragon as they attempted to collect water from a nearby spring. Athena instructed Cadmus to slay the dragon and then sow its teeth into the ground like seeds." 

Damasen was a giant, a son of Gaia. He assisted the nymph Moria after her brother Tylus accidentally touched a serpent, which then attacked him. It coiled round his body and suffocated him. Moria implored Damasen to help and he killed the serpent, hitting it with the trunk of a tree he tore out of the ground. Then a female serpent, the slain monster's mate, appeared and used a magical herb, referred to as 'Zeus' flower', to bring the dead serpent back to life. Moria then used the same herb to revive her brother. The myth is only mentioned in Nonnus' 'Dionysiaca', although it may the foundation of  Hēraklēs' second labour.

"This was he whom the Nymphe beheld on the fertile slope of the woodland. She bowed weeping before him in prayer, and pointed to the horrible reptile, her brother’s murderer, and Tylos newly mangled and still breathing in the dust. The Gigas (Giant) did not reject her prayer, that monstrous champion; but he seized a tree and tore it up from tits roots in mother earth, then stood and came sidelong upon the ravening Drakon." [25.452]

Heracles (Hēraklēs)
"Heracles, strangled his first snake when he was still just a baby in the cradle. [...] Throughout his twelve labors he conquered two multi-headed snakes, including the Hydra and the Ladon."

Iason was sent by Poseidon’s son, Pelias, to fetch the Golden Fleece. Along the way, he acquired additional tasks: to plow a field with fire-breathing oxen, to steal a tooth from a dragon, and to slay the dragon that guarded the fleece. Luckily for Iason, his lover Medea was trained in Hecate’s dark arts and gave him an ointment that would keep him from being burned by the oxen, in addition to a herbal potion with which he could put the dragon to sleep."

"Of his conquests, one of the most memorable is the beheading of Medusa, the snake haired gorgon, with the aid of Athena’s polished shield. Afterwards, Perseus went on to slay another monster, the sea serpent Cetus sent by Poseidon."

Phorbas was the son of Triopas and Hiscilla (daughter of Myrmidon), a hero of the island of Rhodes. When the people of the island of Rhodes fell victim to a plague of masses of serpents (may have been dragons or simply snakes), an oracle directed them to call on a man named Phorbas. Phorbas cleansed the island of the snakes and in gratitude the Rhodians venerated him as a hero. For his achievement he won a place among the stars as the constellation Serpentarius or Ophiuchus. Hyginus, in his 'Astronomica' writes:

"Polyzelus the Rhodian, however, points out that this is Phorbas, who was of great assistance to the Rhodians. The citizens called their island, overrun by a great number of snakes, Ophiussa. In this multitude of beasts was a snake of immense size, which had killed many of them; and when the deserted land began finally to lack men, Phorbas, son of Triopas by Hiscilla, Myrmidon’s daughter, when carried there by a storm, killed all the beasts, as well as that huge snake. Since he was especially favored by Apollo, he was put among the constellations, shown killing the snake for the sake of praise and commemoration. And so the Rhodians, as often as they go with their fleet rather far from their shores, make offerings first for the coming of Phorbas, that such a happening of unexpected valor should befall the citizens as the opportunity for glory which brought Phorbas, unconscious of future praise, to the stars." [II.14]

During the Titanomachy, Zeus needed the giants to win his war. Trouble was, they were locked away in Tartaros by Kronos where they were guarded by Kampê (Καμπη), a she-dragon who, from the waist up, had the body of a serpentine-haired woman. Below that she had the body of a scaly drakon with a thousand vipers for feet and sprouting from her waist the heads of fifty fearsome beasts--lions, boars and other wild animals. Dark wings rose from her shoulders and above her head she lifted a furious scorpion's tail. Zeus slew her and freed His future allies. Apollodorus, in his 'Bibliotheca' writes:

"After ten years of fighting Ge [Gaia] prophesied a victory for Zeus if he were to secure the prisoners down in Tartaros as his allies. He thereupon slew their jail-keeper Kampe, and freed them from their bonds." [1.6]
A few days ago, I reported on statues of Artemis and Apollon that had been discovered in the framework of a systematic excavation carried out by the Ephorate at a Roman home of the ancient Aptera under the direction of archaeologist Vanna Niniou-Kindeli which was funded by the Region of Crete. They have been revealed now and they are, indeed, pretty

The Archaeological Museum of Hania is to unveil on Wednesday two small sculptures depicting the gods Artemis and Apollo, discovered during ongoing excavations at the archaeological site of Ancient Aptera in Souda, on the island’s northwestern coast.

Found in a Roman-era residence in 2016, the statues are a pair that were mounted on a stone pedestal, with Artemis, patron of the once-splendid city, made of bronze, and Apollon, of marble.

The piece has been dated to between the 1st or 2nd century AD and will join the museum’s permanent collection after its first public unveiling.

A large complex from a temple of the Hellenistic period was discovered in Yeroskipou during excavations conducted by the Department of Antiquities, it was revealed on Thursday. The Director of the Department of Antiquities, Marina Solomonidou-Ierominidou, said the excavations took place under the building programme submitted by the Church of Cyprus, according to daily Politis.

The findings

"...include a Greek temple which is situated in the south eastern part of the complex and is enclosed by a courtyard. At the back of the temple there is a patio surrounded by different room."

She added that

"...the complete excavation of the monument and the study of the findings, will allow the department to make more accurate deductions regarding this important monument."

However, she said that the ancient findings will coexist with the building programme, ensuring that they will be protected and projected.

The Church of Cyprus is planning to build high-rises with luxury apartments, a 5-star hotel and an artificial island in the area of the findings. In 2017, the Cabinet declassified the area from an Ancient monument schedule, to the surprise of the Department of Antiquities, which claimed that it was the first time that an area which was classified as an ancient monument is declassified while the excavations were still in progress.
The 23th of Hekatombaion is traditionally the first night in a week long series of events that make up the Panathenaia festival. This birthday celebration of the city of Athens and grand honoring of Athena was one of ancient Athens' highlights and people would have flocked there from afar to take part. Will you take part as well during two days of the event, namely the first and last? The first event will take place on the 25th of July and the second on the 1th of August. For details on the times, see below.

The Panathenaia was an Athenian festival celebrated every year in honor of the Goddess Athena. The Lesser Panathenaia (Panathenaia ta mikra) was an annual event, while the Greater (Panathenaia ta megala) was held every four years and assimilated the practices of the Panathenaia ta mikra into itself. The set date for the festival was from the 23rd to the 29th of Hekatombaion and the festival was similar, in practice, to the Olympic Games but it had its own unique elements as well. In short, The Panathenaia was the 'birthday of the city' and referred to Athens. The actual practice was very involved but usually included:

- a procession from outside of the city walls to the Acropolis
- the hanging of a new (and elaborately woven) garment on the shoulders of the statue of Athena inside the Parthenon, named a Peplos.
- a torch race
- an all-night service called the Pannychos
- a large offering (and ritual slaughter) of a hundred cows in honor of Athena
- a meat meal for everyone at the city's expense
- during the Panathenaia ta megala, wrestling competitions, athletic competitions, chariot races and many other horse-based games were also held. The Panathenaia was known for its boat races.

The athletic contests included foot races, wrestling, boxing, pankration (a combination of wrestling and boxing), pentathlon (five-event contest: stade race, javelin-throw, discus throw, long jump, and wrestling), four-horse chariot and two-horse chariot races, horseback race, javelin-throw from horseback, apobatês race, pyrrhic dancing, euandria (physical fitness or beauty contest), torch relay race, and boat race.  All these events, except for the torch and boat races, were held in each of three age categories: boys (12-16), ageneios (16-20), and men (20+) and took place in the Agora until 330 BCE when a stadium was built in the outskirts of Athens.

Boat races were not typically part of Greek athletic festivals, but they may have found a place in the Panathenaic festival because of Athena's connection with boat-building. Pyrrhic dancing, physical fitness, torch relay race, and boat races were tribal competitions restricted to Athenian citizens, whereas even non-Athenians took part in the track and field and equestrian events.  Except for the four last-named contests, the prizes (for first and second place only) were varying numbers of amphoras filled with olive oil. The olive tree and its fruit were sacred to Athena and the oil was a very valuable commodity in the ancient world used for cooking, as soap, and as fuel for lamps.  The winning athletes normally sold their prize oil for cash. Besides the everyday usefulness mentioned above, olive oil was in great demand by administrators of the numerous athletic festivals throughout the Greek world. Athletes rubbed themselves with olive oil before competition and scraped it off afterwards with a metal device called a stlengis.

As an indication of value, in the fourth century B.C. the prize for the victor in the stade race (a 600 ft. long foot race) in the men's category was 100 amphoras of olive oil. In terms of today's dollar, the olive oil would be worth at a minimum $39,000 and the amphoras, which held the oil, about $1600.  Greeks from other cities were allowed to compete in all the athletic contests among individuals.  The competitions among tribes were limited to Athenians.

The two-mile torch relay race with four runners from each of the ten Athenian tribes was run from the altar of Eros outside the Dipylon gate to the Acropolis. The object was to win the race without causing the torch to go out.  The winning tribe received a bull and 100 drachmas. The fire of the winning torch was used to light the sacrificial fire on the great altar of Athena on the Acropolis. The torch race was part of an all-night (pannychos) celebration also involving music and dancing on the night before the most important day of the festival when the procession and sacrifice took place. The apobatês race and the boat race closed out the festival contests.

Three musical contests involved singers accompanying themselves on kithara (kitharôidos), singers accompanied by an aulos (a reed wind instrument similar to a clarinet or oboe), and aulos players.  The prizes for these contests were crowns (for first place winners only) and cash. For example, the first prize for the kithara-singer was an olive crown in gold worth 1,000 drachmas (at least $32,000 and 500 silver drachmas (at least $16,000).

Reciters called rhapsodes (literally, 'stitchers of song') competed at public festivals in the recitation of epic poetry, in particular the Homeric poems and other poems belonging to the Epic Cycle. They performed without musical accompaniment. Prizes are unknown.

The great procession the Panathenaia was known for assembled before dawn in the following order:

- four little girls carrying a peplos for the life-size statue of Athena Polias 
- priestesses of Athena and Athenian women carrying gifts 
- sacrificial animals (bulls and sheep) for the communal meals of thanksgiving
- metics (resident aliens), wearing purple robes and carrying trays with cakes and honeycombs for offerings 
- musicians playing the aulos and the kithara
- a colossal peplos (for Athena Parthenos) hung on the mast of a ship on wheels 
- old men carrying olive branches
- four-horse chariots with a charioteer and fully armed man (apobatês) 
- craftswomen (ergastinai - weavers of the peplos) 
- infantry and cavalry 
- victors in the games 
- ordinary Athenians arranged by deme

The procession made its way on the Panathenaic Way through the Agora towards the Acropolis.  Some sacrifices were offered on the Areopagus and in front of the temple of Athena Nikê next to the Propylaea (Gateway). Only Athenian citizens were allowed to pass through the Propylaea and enter the Acropolis. The procession passed the Parthenon and stopped at the great altar of Athena in front of the Erechtheum. Each year a newly woven peplos (robe) was taken by the craftswomen (ergastinai) into the Erechtheum and placed on a life-size old wooden statue of Athena Polias ('Guardian of the City'), while every four years in the Great Panathenaea, an enormous peplos was taken to the Acropolis for Athena Parthenos (Athena the Virgin) in the Parthenon. This peplos was so large that it was carried on the mast of a ship on wheels (like a float in a modern parade). The connection between the ship and Athena is unknown, but the use of a ship to carry the peplos must have seem appropriate in the fifth century after Athens had built the great fleet with which it dominated a large part of the Aegean world. This was followed by a huge animal sacrifice at the Athena's altar and representatives from each deme in Attica, chosen by lot, enjoyed a meat banquet along with bread and cakes.

The rituals the Panathenaia can be found here. The first day includes a torch-lit procession (which can also be conducted with a wind light or electric candle) and libations to Athena in Her many forms related to the Panathenaia. It can be performed either in the night of the 25th of July or the daylight hours of the 26th (the 25th is the encouraged time). The ritual for the last day of the Panathenaia honors Athena, Zeus, Agathos Daimon, Hera, Poseidon, and Hestia. We will be performing it at 10:00 AM EDT on the 1th of August. If you would like to join our group for the event, please go here.
On the 21th of Metageitnion, so on 10 am EDT on the 24th of July (so today!), we honor Kourotrophos (κουροτρόφος, child nurturer) and the two Goddesses who protect women and children, Hekate and Artemis with sacrifice. Elaion will be organizing another Practicing Apart Together ritual, which we would love to have you join.

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

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

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

You can find the ritual here and join the community here.
BookRiot recently published a list of 50 must-read Hellenic mythology books, and it's quite a list! The list is accompanied by the following disclaimer (of sorts):

"If you’re still fascinated with Greek mythology books, or looking for Percy Jackson or Circe read-alikes, you’ll find the best of them here for adults, teens, and kids alike.

Books are broken down by category: translations of the classics, fictional retellings, nonfiction commentary, as well as books for teens, middle graders, and kids. I’ve also only included one book per author to increase our scope here. All book descriptions come from Amazon."

One note: Robert Graves. Graves is a storyteller; he spun stories based on facts he could find. If he could not find a fact, he made it up to fit the story. Because of this, his books are a great read, but they are not reliable as far as ancient mythology goes. 

The Chania Ephorate of Antiquities will present an important archaeological discovery on Wednesday, July 24, at the island’s Archaeological Museum in Crete, Greece.

It is a group of small-size sculptures depicting Artemis and Apollo, that, according to a communiqué issued by the Chania Ephorate of Antiquities, were discovered in the framework of a systematic excavation carried out by the Ephorate at a Roman home of the ancient Aptera under the direction of archaeologist Vanna Niniou-Kindeli which was funded by the Region of Crete.

According to the announcement: “Artemis, the protector goddess of Aptera, has been made of copper, while her twin brother Apollo, is made of marble. The goddess stands on an elaborate box-shaped copper base and is depicted in intense stride, wearing a short, slender chiton and she is ready to shoot. Although Apollo is depicted in a more modest way, his attitude conveys internal tension”.

The two statues, works of exquisite artistic quality, will be exhibited for the first time in their place of origin and will be part of the Chania Archaeological Museum’s permanent collection.

They were probably imported from artistic centers outside Crete in order to become the home sanctuary of the Roman luxury home they adorned. They are dated back in the second half of the 1st to the beginning of the 2nd century AD.

I'll try to find you an image of the statues after the 24th!
Bonhams has withdrawn an ancient Greek drinking vessel from sale amid accusations that it was excavated illegally and that major auction-houses are failing to make adequate checks into whether antiquities were looted from their country of origin.

Archaeologist Christos Tsirogiannis alerted Interpol and other police authorities after producing evidence linking the Bonhams antiquity to convicted traffickers in stolen artefacts. He described the case as yet another example of auction-houses worldwide not taking “basic steps” in tracing an artefact’s history.

This is not the first time Bonham has been forced to pull an artifact for this reason and because of Tsirogiannis's investigative work. Back in 2014, Bonhams withdrew a Roman marble head of Hermes after Tsirogiannis provided evidence of links to Gianfranco Becchina, who was convicted in 2011 in Italy of dealing in illegal antiquities.

Bonhams withdrew the head, which was estimated at $17,000–25,000 at the request of Greece’s Directorate of Documentation and Protection of Cultural Property of the Ministry of Culture and Sport. The work was displayed in seized photographs showing a possible origin and illegal export from Greece. Dr. Christos Tsirogiannis, back then a research assistant with the Trafficking Culture Project, at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, turned up pictures that were posted on ARCA showing the image in the so-called “Becchina Archives,” a collection of photos and documents confiscated by Italian and Swiss authorities in 2002 and 2005. The archives were particularly damning as they laid out the scope and extent of Becchina’s trade in looted objects. Tsirogiannis wrote to David Gill of Looted Matters:

"The origins of the head is Greece, because it is a Greek looter named Costas Gaitanis…who sent to Becchina on May 29th, 1987, the Polaroids depicting the head."

The details surrounding this current withdraw aren't yet clear.
A magnitude 5.1 earthquake rattled the Greek capital Athens on Friday, briefly knocking out power and telecommunications in parts of the city and sending people running from buildings in panic. The European Earthquake Monitoring Centre recorded the quake’s epicentre at a point 22km northwest of the city. Its website quoted a witness as saying the quake was “strong but fortunately not very long”, while another compared it to a “strong bounce” lasting about 15 seconds.

The Acropolis, including the Parthenon, is intact, according to the authorities.

Two people were lightly injured by falling debris, health ministry officials said. In the port city of Piraeus, an abandoned structure on a port quay collapsed. The earthquake occurred at a depth of 15km in an area affected by earthquakes in the past. Greece, along with Turkey, is among the most tremor-prone regions of Europe. Seismologist Manolis Skordilis told Greece’s Star TV:

"The earthquake was close to the surface, which is why it was felt so much."

A fire brigade official said there had been several calls asking for help in rescuing people trapped in elevators, while some abandoned buildings were damaged. Athens is a sprawling metropolis of almost four million people. Nikos Hardalias, general secretary for Civil Protection, said:

"The situation is gradually subsiding. The city withstood this and can handle it. There is no cause for concern."

About 40 minutes after the earthquake, residents felt another strong tremor, which the EMC rated magnitude 4.4, with an epicentre in the same region at the foot of Mount Parnitha.

The outcome is considered a good one; in 1999, an earthquake of magnitude 5.9 in the same area killed 143 people.
Oedipus Rex, also known by its Greek title, Oedipus Tyrannus (Οἰδίπους Τύραννος), or Oedipus the King, is an Athenian tragedy by Sophocles that was first performed around 429 BC. Originally, to the ancient Hellenes, the title was simply Oedipus (Οἰδίπους), as it is referred to by Aristotle in the Poetics. It is thought to have been renamed Oedipus Tyrannus to distinguish it from another of Sophocles' plays, Oedipus at Colonus. In antiquity, the term “tyrant” referred to a ruler with no legitimate claim to rule, but it did not necessarily have a negative connotation.

Of Sophocles' three Theban plays that have survived, and that deal with the story of Oedipus, Oedipus Rex was the second to be written. However, in terms of the chronology of events that the plays describe, it comes first, followed by Oedipus at Colonus and then Antigone. Prior to the start of Oedipus Rex, Oedipus has become the king of Thebes while unwittingly fulfilling a prophecy that he would kill his father, Laius (the previous king), and marry his mother, Jocasta (whom Oedipus took as his queen after solving the riddle of the Sphinx). The action of Sophocles' play concerns Oedipus' search for the murderer of Laius in order to end a plague ravaging Thebes, unaware that the killer he is looking for is none other than himself. At the end of the play, after the truth finally comes to light, Jocasta hangs herself while Oedipus, horrified at his patricide and incest, proceeds to gouge out his own eyes in despair.

Oedipus Rex is regarded by many scholars as the masterpiece of ancient Hellenic tragedy. In his Poetics, Aristotle refers several times to the play in order to exemplify aspects of the genre.

I am an active follower of the Delphic Maxims, and they are standard reading material for me. The one that always cuts the deepest, and it one of the most valuable ones in my life is number 90: 'live without sorrow' (Αλυπως βιου). I have struggled with that in my life, an it's good to have a reminder.

I should try to describe what I read when I read this maxim. To me, living without sorrow means to not dwell in the past, to accept your own actions, and to move past them if they were somehow shaming or less than up to par. For me, living without sorrow means to accept my own faults and strive to better them, without wearing myself down over events I cannot change.

In a Hellenistic perspective, this maxim goes hand in hand with a lot of others, mostly those which describe perfection. 'Control anger', for example, or 'make just judgements'; these type of maxims call for a perfect way of being. Yet, we are all human, and in some ways, that will always make us imperfect. What matters is that we strive to be the best we can be, to practice arête. If we fall or struggle in this quest sometimes, accept that it happened an move on. Better yourself.

It seems that, in this interpretation of the maxim, it clashes with another of the maxims: 'regret falling short of the mark' (Αμαρτανων μετανοει). It doesn't; 'live without regret' comes after regretting to accomplish what one sets out to do. Regret is a valuable and powerful emotional response. No only does it signal that our ethical framework is intact, it is also one of the ways we learn. Regret is a signal to examine events and draw conclusions from them. It offers a chance to learn. Getting stuck in that regret, however, is counterproductive.

Once lessons are drawn, it is time to move on, to leave the situation behind and put what has been learned to the test. You set new goals, once more, you will strive for perfection. You forget the regret, because you have a new purpose, new inspiration, to do and be better.

I have tried all my life to be perfect, and there are only two events in my life that I truly regret. These events still hurt to think about, although my examination of the Delphic Maxims has lessened the sting. After each event, I examined the situation and my behavior, and located the warning signs. I haven't relapsed into them so far, and I doubt I ever will. As such, I can live without sorrow that the original events took place... although there are still moments I wish they had not happened at all.