Italian authorities recently unveiled to the public an ancient fresco depicting a famous Hellenicmyth in Pompeii, the Roman city which was completely destroyed after the eruption of the Vesuvius volcano in 79 AD.

The fresco, which was first discovered only last year, was unveiled recently to the public following a great deal of archaeological work performed by a group of experts.

The fresco is inside a ”domus,” or a home belonging to the upper class of society at the time. It is believed to have belonged to a rich tradesman who desired to decorate his house with artwork inspired by Greek and Roman myths as a gesture of demonstrating his education and wealth.

The fresco just unveiled to the public depicts the ancient Greek myth of Leda and the Swan.

This is an erotic myth in which the god Zeus, in the form of a swan, seduces (or, according to other variations of the tale, rapes) Leda, the Aetolian princess who later became Queen of Sparta.

Pompeii, located in Campania, southern Italy, is an open-air museum where visitors can easily view the shockingly-vivid remnants of the complete devastation of the city after the violent volcanic eruption. Nearby Mt. Vesuvius is still an active volcano, although it is currently dormant.
After the quiet month of Poseideon brings with it a slew of festivals. We'll start on december 2nd with the Plerosia. Will you be joining us at 10 AM EST? If you are a woman that is; it seems the Plerosia was a women-only festival.

The Plerosia is a non-Athenian festival. As such, the details of the celebration are somewhat vague. So we extrapolate from the placement of the festival and the little information we have. What we know for sure is that Zeus was worshipped, and that it's often linked to the Proerosia. As such, we can assume Demeter was also honored, and that it was a harvest festival of sorts--the name translates roughly to 'festival of completion'. This is where the assumptions begin, but we get an extra hint of the intended purpose of the festival because of Zeus' inclusion and the name of the festival.

Poseideon marks the end of the harvesting season, as well as the trading season. The majority of the work is done. Now it's time to return home, take stock, and stay warm. It's a time to thank the Theoi for all that has been received and all that will get us through the winter. The word ‘plerosis’ means fulfillment, satiated, filled, and implies banqueting and celebration of the bounty of the season that is ending. This is also the spirit we have tried to capture in the ritual.

As a separate--and very important--note: the Plerosia seems to have been a women-only festival, like the Skira(phoria) and the Thesmophoria. We're not sure this is correct, but we'll go with it anyway. Once reason I could think of is that now the winter is upon us, we turn to the domain of the women: the house(hold). As such, it is her prerogative to thank the Gods for the food she can feed her family with.

The ritual for this sacrifice can be found here and you can join our community page here. We hope you will join us in celebrating this joyous event.
On the day of the Hene kai Nea (or sometimes, like now, the day after), I post a monthly update about things that happened on the blog and in projects and organizations related to it. I will also announce Elaion's coming PAT rituals.

PAT rituals for Poseideon:
  • 5 Poseideon - 2 December 2019 - Plerosia - festival at Attic deme of Myrrhinus
  • 10 Poseideon - 7 December 2019 - Rustic or Lesser Dionysiain honor of Dionysos
  • 16 Poseideon - 13 December 2019 - Sacrifice to Zeus Horios at Erkhia
  • 24 Poseideon - 20n-21d December 2019 - Poseidea - festival in honor of Poseidon
  • 26 Poseideon - 23 December 2019 - Haloa - fertility festival in honor of Dionysos and Demeter

Anything else?
Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.

Would you like to support me? Buy me a coffee.

The Centre for Classical and Humanistic Studies of the University of Coimbra, Portugal, announces the first edition of its biennial Conference in Classics and Ancient History (22nd–25th June 2020, at the University of Coimbra. Below is the announcement and open call.

"We welcome proposals from scholars of any country for single-discipline or interdisciplinary panels in such research areas as Greek and Roman literature, ancient history, archaeology, philosophy, art, religious studies, linguistics concerning any period of Antiquity or its reception up to the present day.
The Organizing and Scientific Committees of the conference include scholars from different countries; the Conference aims to be a forum for experts from all over the world.

Each panel must be proposed by at least two organizers. They are responsible for submitting the panel topic for evaluation by the Organizing Committee and, after approval, for elaborating and promoting the Call for Papers for their panel. We recommend 10 as minimum number and 15 as maximum number of speakers per panel.

Accepted languages: it is up to the panel organizers, when recruiting their panel members, to indicate their range of language(s) for academic discourse. All panels should in principle consider submissions in English or Portuguese. The organization of the event will use English as its official language, for the sake of wide international accessibility.

Deadlines (more info here):
-15th January 2020 (panel submissions)
-25th  January 2020 (communication of accepted proposals)
-31st March 2020 (communication to the Organizing Committee of  the final program of each panel)

Detailed information on the Conference is available on the website.

In particular, we would like to draw your attention to the need to consult the information relating to:
– Call for Panels
– Instructions for Panel Organizers
– Registration

E-mail address for submitting proposals:"
Neanderthals and early humans may have made it to the Greek island of Naxos, about 24 miles south of Mykonos, some 200,000 years ago, much earlier than thought, which could require a rewriting of the country’s ancient history’s beginnings, a team of scientists from Ontario’s McMaster University said after research.

Lead author and associate anthropology professor Tristan Carter in a university release, C/Net news reported:

"Until recently, this part of the world was seen as irrelevant to early human studies, but the results force us to completely rethink the history of the Mediterranean islands."

They surmised it may have been done using crude boats after using foot routes along the Aegean Sea coastline, pushing back initial estimates.

The research, published in the journal Science Advances after years of excavation by the scientists disputed current theories on Stone Age migration across Europe with scholars believing Neanderthals and early hominids settled Mediterranean islands to have been settled for only about 9,000 years. Stone Age hunters, meanwhile, are known to have been on mainland Europe for more than 1 million years, but the research team discovered evidence of human activity on islands spanning almost 200,000 years in a prehistoric quarry.

This research is part of the Stelida Naxos Archeological Project, a larger collaboration involving scholars from all over the world, also suggesting that early humans were more cognitively advanced than previously believed.

The team unearthed the evidence at a prehistoric quarry site called Stelida on the island of Naxos, located in the Aegean basin between southern mainland Greece and western Turkey. Hominins, likely including Neanderthals, used chert stone found at the site to make tools and weapons, although no bones were found at the site, said the Times of Israel in its report.

The Stelida site, a hill 152 meters above sea level, was first excavated in 1981 and was initially believed to be 20,000-4,500 years old.

The Canadian-led research teams uncovered some 12,000 artifacts from the site, including tools for cutting, scraping and piercing, representing some 200,000 years of history. The age and type of the artifacts, as well as Neanderthal remains found in southern Greece alongside similar artifacts, point to the species’ presence on the island, the researchers said. Earlier human species may have also been on the island.

The team suggests that scholars rethink the dispersal of hominins during the Pleistocene epoch, which stretched from 2.58 million years ago until around 11,700 years ago.

While the Aegean Sea was thought impassable then, during the Ice Age, at certain points the receding sea level in the Mediterranean may have exposed a land route connecting Europe and Africa, allowing early humans to cross marshy plains in the Aegean to get to the island.

Scholars previously argued that only anatomically modern humans had been able to voyage over water and colonize islands, as well as other remote or extreme environments, including deserts and mountain ranges, the paper said, citing the findings.

Evidence of Neanderthals has previously been found in mainland Greece and Turkey, and indirect evidence in Greece suggested they may have been able to undertake short trips across water.

"In entering this region the pre-Neanderthal populations would have been faced with a new and challenging environment, with different animals, plants and diseases, all requiring new adaptive strategies."
It has been a long, long time since I did one of these, but a long time ago, I started a series about plants, trees and herbs which are mentioned in Hellenic mythology. You can find previous installments here. Today, I want to talk about valerian (root).

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis, Caprifoliaceae) is a perennial flowering plant native to Europe and Asia. In the summer when the mature plant may have a height of 1.5 metres (5 ft), it bears sweetly scented pink or white flowers. Crude extract of valerian root may have sedative and anxiolytic effects, and is commonly sold in dietary supplement capsules to promote sleep.

Valerian has been used as a medicinal herb since at least the time of ancient Greece and Rome. Hippocrates described its properties, and Galen later prescribed it as a remedy for insomnia.

The name valerian or Valeriana was not mentioned by Hippocrates, Theophrastus, Pliny, or Dioscorides, the major Greek authors from 500 B.C. until 100 A.D whose writings survive. Valerian first appeared in the literature sometime around the 9th or 10th century, but it is not certain whether the word originated from an earlier time in Greece, during the Roman Empire or later from Anglo-Saxon medicine or Arabian medicine (9th-12th centuries). As early as 1515 Valeriana was repeatedly said to be synonymous with fu or phu.

Although not a major medicinal plant in the Hellenic pharmacopoeia, valerian was valued as a bitter compound with digestive and diuretic uses. Its aroma was described as pleasant by these authors and it was often included in perfumes—certainly not the case for today’s users who often complain about the pungent, "dirty socks" odor of valerian.
The creation of an archaeological park at the ancient administrative acropolis of Idalion was announced by the Antiquities Department on Friday.

Idalion was an ancient city where modern day Dali is now found, near Nicosia. It was founded on the copper trade in the third millennium BC.

According to the Antiquities Department they have been working with the architectural office of Pefkios Georgiades on infrastructure projects within the archaeological site of Idalion. Specifically, the project will enclose the ancient acropolis area in Idalion where many sites have been excavated which will encompass the archaeological park.

The Local Archaeological Museum of Idalion will be included in the park. A study has also been carried out to test the viability of two extra shelters which will cover sensitive areas of the ancient palace. The shelters will be similar to those installed at the ancient palace in 2016. These projects are expected to begin in December 2019.

Alongside infrastructure projects it is planned that by May 2020 information signs will be installed at all points of interest and information leaflets distributed free of charge to visitors.

Finally, by July 2020, a digital application will be created, which visitors can download on their smart devices and will act as a digital guide to the site with information and surveillance material.The developments are part of the long-term goal of the Antiquities Department to create a major archaeological site in Dali.

The ancient city included two acropolises while houses were in the lower city. The fortified palace was built in 750-600 BC on Ampileri Hill, the west acropolis of the city, and rebuilt in 600-475 BC against attacks by Kition.

The work will be carried out under the Promoting Cultural Heritage as a Local Development Instrument programme.

According to the department’s announcement the project is funded 85 per cent by the Business Cooperation Programme Interreg V-A Cyprus-Greece 2020 and 15 per cent through national funds.

The projects are being implemented by the Antiquities Department, Antiquities Authority of Lesbos and Nicosia Development Corporation. The aim is to promote a common methodology for the protection, management and promotion of the cultural heritage of Cyprus and Greece.
I don't know how things are in your neck of the woods, but it's cold here. It finally feels like winter has arrived. I read some Plutarch today, as a little pick-me-up. He was a Hellenic historian, biographer, and essayist, who later in his life became a Roman citizen and he wrote a lot about a lot of things. Of course, he also wrote about cold, in his "Moralia." Well, about the philosophy behind cold.

"Is there, then, Favorinus, an active principle or substance of Cold (as fire is of Heat) through the presence of which and through participation in which everything else becomes cold? Or is coldness rather a negation of warmth, as they say darkness is of light and rest of motion? 

Cold, indeed, seems to have the quality of being stationary, as heat has that of motion; while the cooling off of hot things is not caused by the presence of any force, but merely by the displacement of heat, for it can be seen to depart completely at the same time as the remainder cools off. 

[...] It is the nature of coldness, however, to produce affects and alterations in bodies that it enters no less than those caused by heat. Many objects can be frozen solid, or become condensed or made viscous, by cold. Moreover, the property whereby coldness promotes rest and resists most is not inert,
but acts by pressure and resistance, being constrictive and preservative because of its strength. This explains how, though negation is a disappearance and departure of the contrary force, many things may yet become cold while all the time containing within themselves considerable warmth.

[...] Furthermore, we find that cold can be perceived as well as heat; but mere negation cannot be seen or heard or touched or recognized by the other senses. [...] If, therefore, cold were a privation of warmth, we ought not to be able to feel it, but only to infer it from the deficiency in warmth; but if cold is perceived by the contraction and condensation of our flesh (just as heat is by the warming and loosening of it), clearly there is some special first principle and source of coldness, just as there is of heat.

[...] Is cold, then, so like this sort of privation that it produces no effects that differ? Or is the contrary true: Do not great and useful pleasures accrue to our bodies from the presence of cold, as well as mighty detriments and pains and depressions, before which the heat does not always depart and quit the field? Often, rather, though cut off within, it makes a stand and gives battle. This struggle of hot and cold is called shivering or shaking; and if heat is overcome, freezing and torpor set in; but if cold is defeated, there is diffused through the body a relaxed and pleasantly warm sensation which Homer calls "to be aglow." Surely these facts are obvious to everyone; and it is chiefly by these effects that cold is shown to be in opposition to heat, not as a negation or privation, but as one substance or one state13 to another: it is not a mere destruction or abolition of heat, but a positive substance or force. Otherwise we might just as well exclude winter from the list of seasons or the northerly blasts from that of winds, on the pretext that they are only a deficiency of hot weather or southerly gales and have no proper origin of their own."
Busy, busy, busy, so have a video today. This lecture was taught by Professor Eric H. Cline, Ph.D., He is a Professor of Classics and Anthropology and the current Director of The George Washington University (GWU) Capitol Archaeological Institute.

He holds a Ph.D. in Ancient History from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.A. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from Yale University, and a B.A. in Classical Archaeology modified by Anthropology from Dartmouth College. He is also a National Geographic Explorer, a Fulbright Scholar, and a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Public Scholar.

In this video you can "Follow the exploits of Heinrich Schliemann, a 19th-century amateur archaeologist who was determined to find the site of Homer’s Troy. Learn about his dig through nine stratified cities, the astonishing finds, and the intense debates concerning which city was the actual Troy. Trace subsequent work at the site and examine the compelling conclusions."

Linear A is the yet-undeciphered language of the ancient Minoan civilization of Crete that flourished from roughly 1700 BCE to 1490 BCE. Linguist and archaeologist Brent Davis, a lecturer at the University of Melbourne, is one of only a handful of people around the world to have made any significant headway on solving Linear A in the last 50 years.

The Minoans live on in myth as people of the land of King Minos who kept the half-bull, half-man Minotaur in a labyrinth below his palace at Knossos. They are also possibly the oldest civilization of Western Europe, and their language could reveal more about a people and culture that was the foundation on which Ancient Greek and (ultimately) Roman culture were built.

The eccentric English architect Michael Ventris famously cracked Linear B, a slightly later but closely related script found in Crete and mainland Greece, in 1952. He discovered that Linear B was actually a very early form of ancient Greek—Mycenaean—and his finding extended the origin of ancient Greek civilization back a further 500 years earlier than first thought.

The Linear B tablets were preserved by chance when the dried clay that had been written on was fired as a result of palaces and other buildings burning down during natural and human-made calamities.
The information they revealed proved to be largely inventories of people, produce, accounts, offerings, and other goods, giving us glimpses of people and their occupations.

Linear A is likely to reveal similar information, but Davis says much Linear A occurs as religious script. “If we can decipher these inscriptions, we will have the personal prayers of Minoan people,” he says.

At the time he cracked Linear B, Ventris told the BBC it was like having to solve a crossword puzzle without knowing which spaces are blacked-out. In fact, Ventris’ achievement was built on the crucial work of little-acknowledged US classicist Alice Kober, who died in 1950. It was Kober who identified similar word endings in Linear B, allowing her to find some root words she thought were place names and which Ventris would later realize were akin to Greek. She also devised a method for tabulating the relationships between signs that Ventris would build on—leaving behind more than 180,000 index cards.

Deciphering Linear B was a monumental achievement, but the challenge of Linear A is even more difficult. That’s partly because the language behind the script doesn’t appear to be like any other language. Davis says:

"It seems to be a wholly unknown indigenous language. Linear B took most of its signs from Linear A, and because we can read Linear B, we can actually pronounce Linear A inscriptions, but if you do pronounce them, it just sounds like complete gobbledygook."

Like Ventris, Davis became fascinated with deciphering ancient languages as a boy, particularly the story of how Egyptian hieroglyphs were deciphered using the Rosetta Stone that Napoleon’s soldiers found in Egypt. But he’s always known that solving Linear A was a tough task.

"Ventris vowed, when he was just 14, that one day he’d solve Linear B. At the same age I was saying I’d love to solve Linear A, but I’m not promising anything."

By establishing the word order of the language, linguists can identify the function of a word in a sentence just from its position. It’s like finding a key word in a massive crossword puzzle.

"The definite word order in English is subject (S)-verb (V)-object (O), as in the phrase John likes cats. And we know that about 97% of human languages are either in this form or S-O-V (John cats likes) or V-S-O (Likes John cats). What we really need to find is a palace archive, which is where we are likely to find enough Linear A to finally decipher it."

But when Davis looked at other Bronze Age languages of this period in the region, none were like English. They were either S-O-V (like early Greek and Sumerian), or V-S-O (like ancient Egyptian). He guessed Linear A was likely to have one of these two word orders. He then applied this framework to a series of inscriptions that appear on Minoan offering bowls. To put it simply, he found that the words on the bowls tended to recur in what was obviously a formula, except for the second word in the inscription, which was always different from bowl to bowl. His guess was that this word was probably the name of the person (the subject) making the offering. If correct then Linear A was likely a V-S-O language.

That was confirmed when he found the Linear B sign for “olives” (which it borrowed borrowed from Linear A), occurring after the name as the object of the phrase. The repeated start of the phrase was therefore a verb, like “gives”, yielding the phrase “gives Yasumatu olives,” or in English, “Yasumatu gives olives.” Just such an offering of olives in a goblet has been found, preserved at the bottom of a sacred Minoan well. “It was a huge feeling of discovery, completely thrilling,” says Davis.

But he cautions that understanding the word order alone won’t be enough to solve Linear A.

"Examining the word order provides something of a magic key, but we if we are to crack it what we need most is simply more material."

Material was another advantage that Ventris had in deciphering Linear B. There were 20,000 examples of Linear B signs occurring in inscriptions, compared to just 7,000 examples of Linear A signs.

"That is about three-to-four A4 pages worth. Mathematicians tells us that if we are to crack Linear A, we’ll need something like 10,000 to 12,000 examples of signs, which means we aren’t that far away—but it all depends on archaeology. Discoveries are still being made, so I’m optimistic, but what we really need to find is a palace archive, which is where we are likely to find enough Linear A to finally decipher it."

Davis is the 2019 winner of the Michael Ventris Award at the University of London, which the Michael Ventris Memorial Fund supports.

Source: University of Melbourne.
Those who visit this blog on a regular basis know that I'm a fan of Solon and his reformations of the political landscape of Athens in the sixth century BC. Solon (Σόλων) was an Athenian statesman and lawmaker who lived from 638 BC to 558 BC. He spent most of his adult life trying to legislate against political, economic, and moral decline in archaic Athens. His ideologies are often credited with having laid the foundations for Athenian democracy. Solon's reforms created a system where the power was in the hands of the people, because instead of leaving justice to be administered by the aristocracy. He was also a poet and some of his work has miraculously survived. Today, I would like to share one of the fragments of his work that have survived.

"Glorious children of Olympian Zeus and Memory
Pierian Muses, hear me as I pray.
Grant me happiness from the blessed Gods and possession
Of a good reputation among all people forever.
In this may I be sweet to my friends and bitter to my enemies,
Revered by the former and terrible for the latter to see.
I long to have money, but I do not want to obtain it

Unjustly—punishment inevitably comes later."

[Fr. 13. 1–8
Translation here.]
Italian art police have searched houses and buildings in four countries, including Britain, and arrested 23 people on charges of trafficking archeological artefacts. Italian police say the trafficked items included antique jars, jewellery and vases worth millions of euros.

The Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, a branch of the Italian carabinieri responsible for combatting art and antiquities crimes, believe the suspects are members of an criminal gang operating in Calabria that trafficked ancient items, such as antique jars, jewellery and vases from the 4th and 2nd century BC and worth millions of euros.

Dario Franceschini, the Italian culture minister, said the operation had led to the recovery of thousands of artefacts that came from illegal archaeological digs in Calabria. The items were eventually exported to countries outside of Italy, including Germany, Britain, France and Serbia. The investigation was supported by the Metropolitan police in London, the criminal police of Baden-Württemberg and French and Serbian forces.

According to Italian police officials, the items were stolen using bulldozers that dug craters several metres deep in the areas within the provinces of Crotone and Catanzaro. The thieves then used sophisticated metal detectors to scour the area.

"The stolen finds were finally transferred abroad where they were put up for auction in important international auction houses and sold at very high figures,"

Some of the artefacts, including vases and jars from ancient Greece, were also found in the homes of the men arrested, who are all Italian.

The Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage has been operating since 1969 to defend Italy’s cultural heritage. For 50 years, this special squad – nicknamed Monuments Men, after the George Clooney film based on an allied group of investigators given the task of finding and saving pieces of art during the second world war before the Nazis stole them – has tracked down stolen paintings and statues in a country with the highest number of art thefts in the world.

According to the most recent stolen artworks bulletin issued by the carabinieri, in the last year alone 8,405 items have gone missing in Italy. These include archaeological artefacts, ancient weapons and medieval texts. Statues and paintings have been taken from churches, which often have no security systems.

Despite the carabinieri’s record of recovering more than 3m objects of art and archaeology, over 1m pieces of art are still missing.
Today I would like to share with you one of the prayers from the Papyri Graecae Magicae, also known as the 'Greek Magical Papyri'. They are a body of papyri from Graeco-Roman Egypt, which each contain a number of magical spells, formulae, hymns and rituals. The materials in the papyri date from the 2nd century BC to the 5th century AD. The manuscripts came to light through the antiquities trade, from the 18th century onwards.

Today, I will quote to you from the first book of spells and invocations. This prayer was noted down to Selene, Goddess of the moon, and served as an interlude to 'Any Spell'. It came with the instructions too:

'Offering for The Rite: For doing Good, offer Storax, Myrrh, Sage, Frankincense, a Fruit Pit. But for doing Harm, offer Magical Material of a Dog and a Dappled Goat (or in a similar way, of a Virgin Untimely Dead).

Protective Charm for The Rite: Take a Lodestone and on it have carved a Three-faced Hekate. And let the Middle Face be that of a Maiden wearing Horns, and the Left Face that of a Dog, and the One on the Right that of a Goat. After the Carving is done, clean with Natron and Water, and dip in the Blood of One who has died a Violent Death. Then make Food Offering to it and say the same Spell at the time of the Ritual.'

The prayer goes as follows:

"Come to me, O Beloved Mistress, Three-faced
Selene; kindly hear my Sacred Chants;
Night's Ornament, young, bringing Light to Mortals,
O Child of Morn who ride upon the Fierce Bulls,
O Queen who drive Your Car on Equal Course
With Helios, who with the Triple Forms
Of Triple Graces dance in Revel with
The Stars. You're Justice and the Moira's Threads:
Klotho and Lachesis and Atropos
Three-headed, You're Persephone, Megaira,
Allekto, Many-Formed, who arm Your Hands
With Dreaded, Murky Lamps, who shake Your Locks
Of fearful Serpents on Your Brow, who sound
The Roar of Bulls out from Your Mouths, whose Womb
Is decked out with the Scales of Creeping Things,
With Pois'nous Rows of Serpents down the Back,
Bound down Your Backs with Horrifying Chains
Night-Crier, Bull-faced, loving Solitude,
Bull-headed, You have Eyes of Bulls, the Voice
Of Dogs; You hide Your Forms in Shanks of Lions,
Your Ankle is Wolf-shaped, Fierce Dogs are dear
To You, wherefore they call You Hekate,
Many-named, Mene, cleaving Air just like
Dart-shooter Artemis, Persephone,
Shooter of Deer, night shining, triple-sounding,
Triple-headed, triple-voiced Selene
Triple-pointed, triple-faced, triple-necked,
And Goddess of the Triple Ways, who hold
Untiring Flaming Fire in Triple Baskets,
And You who oft frequent the Triple Way
And rule the Triple Decades, unto me
Who'm calling You be gracious and with Kindness
Give Heed, You who protect the Spacious World
At night, before whom Daimons quake in Fear
And Gods Immortal tremble, Goddess who
Exalt Men, You of Many Names, who bear
Fair Offspring, Bull-eyed, Horned, Mother of Gods
And Men, and Nature, Mother of All Things,
For You frequent Olympos, and the broad
And boundless Chasm You traverse. Beginning
And End are You, and You Alone rule All.
For All Things are from You, and in You do
All Things, Eternal One, come to their End.
As Everlasting Band around Your Temples
You wear Great Kronos' Chains, unbreakable
And unremovable, and You hold in
Your Hands a Golden Scepter. Letters 'round
Your Scepter Kronos wrote Himself and gave
To You to wear that All Things stay steadfast:
Subduer and subdued, Mankind's Subduer,
And Force-subduer; Chaos, too, You rule.
Hail, Goddess, and attend Your Epithets,
I burn for You this Spice, O Child of Zeus,
Dart-shooter, Heav'nly One, Goddess of Harbors,
Who roam the Mountains, Goddess of Crossroads,
O Nether and Nocturnal, and Infernal,
Goddess of Dark, Quiet and Frightful One,
O You who have Your Meal amid the Graves,
Night, Darkness, Broad Chaos: Necessity
Hard to escape are You; You're Moira and
Erinys, Torment, Justice and Destroyer,
And You keep Kerberos in Chains, with Scales
Of Serpents are You dark, O You with Hair
Of Serpents, Serpent-girded, who drink Blood,
Who bring Death and Destruction, and who feast
On Hearts, Flesh Eater, who devour Those Dead
Untimely, and You who make Grief resound
And spread Madness, come to my Sacrifices,
And now for me do You fulfill this Matter."
[VI. xxvii]
In the ancient Hellenic society, there was very little--if any--difference between honouring and worshipping; this was also why mortals (especially kings) were sometimes revered as Gods. That said, looking at the difference in meaning of the ancient Greek words for both practices, we can identify a difference.

'Honouring' is best covered by the ancient Greek word 'timaó (τιμάω), meaning to value, to honour, to have in honour, to revere, or to venerate. 'Worship', however, is best covered by the word 'proskuneō' (προσκυνέω), meaning to prostrate oneself in homage, to do reverence to, to adore, or simply to worship. 'Proskuneō' is also used to describe the actual act of worshipping. For the ancient Persian people, for example, we know that the word was used to describe the act of falling upon the knees and touching the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence. Of course, there are many other words that mean something along the same lines, but for today's post, I'm going to go with these.

In essence, one of these terms has to do with admiration and esteeming and the other has to do with acknowledging one as superior and service to them, be they human or God. One naturally follows the other--is an extension of the other--but they do not mean exactly the same. That said, within the Hellenic pantheon, you can be sure I honour every single God or Goddess; They are all my Gods, but some have a larger impact on my life and daily worship than others.

Let me give you an example: Aristeos (more often spelled 'Aristaios' (Αρισταιος). He is the rustic God of shepherds and cheese-making, bee-keeping, honey, honey-mead, olive growing, medicinal herbs and the Etesian winds which eased the scorching heat of midsummer. His name was derived from the Greek word 'aristos', meaning 'most excellent' or 'most useful'.

Now, Aristaios is a God, a beautiful God who has quite a bit of ancient writing to His person. The ancient Hellenes obviously honoured and worshipped Him often. I, however, am not in the business of cheese-making or bee-keeping. I do not regularly grow or use medicinal herbs, and while I enjoy honey, I dislike olives. the Etesian winds have very little influence in my life, and I am definitely not a shepherd. Aristaios' direct influence in my life is therefor very limited--in essence, our paths don't cross much. As such, he is not a part of my daily worship and the only reason I would have to actively worship Him is for a festival or some such, because as much as I honour Him, His domains don't influence me directly. In short: I honour Aristaios, but I don't worship Him.

The Hellenic religion knows hundreds of Gods, many of Them with specialized domains like Aristaios. Worshipping all of them on a daily or even weekly or monthly basis is impossible, and it would also be quite useless. Looking at kharis--a cornerstone of the Hellenic faith--it's prudent to have at least neutral standing with all the Gods, but to foster only a great amount of it with the gods who directly impact your life and person. This religious reciprocity is achieved by active worship--so by performing sacrifices to Them--but simply reading Their mythology, speaking well of Them, and thinking of Them whenever you come in contact with one of their domains--bee-keeping, for example, for Aristaios--goes a long way to establishing this relationship.

Which of the Gods you establish the greatest amount of kharis with--and thus actively worship--depends on your person and your life; a farmer will worship different deities than a soldier or lawyer, the old may worship other Gods than the young, etc. That is the way it should be; what matters is that we all honour all the Gods, that we speak well of Them and are aware of Their influence on our lives. For the ancient Hellenes, both acts were noble and logical, and it should be for us as well.
Ancient Origins has a new, and very lovely, article up on Apollonia. Apollonia was a city founded by Hellenic colonists from Corfu and Corinth sometime in the 6 th century BC. It was originally named after its semi-legendary founder, Gylax, but was later renamed in honor of Apollon and widely known as Apollonia of Illyria as this area was dominated by the war-like Illyrians at the time. Apollonia became a renowned center of learning and the young Augustus studied philosophy in the city. 

For a full run-down of its history and the beautiful archaeological discoveries made there, visit Ancient Origins.

Have you ever heard of the Cornus mas? It's a well-known small tree as cornelian cherry or cherry dogwood. The berries are a seeded summer fruit native to the Black Sea region of Turkey. The fruits can be eaten fresh, dried whole, pickled, or used to produce jams and drinks like kompot--and they have been used as such since the time of ancient Hellas.

In Homer time, the plant was known as "Krania" (Ilias, cited by Kavadas,1956) and states that cornelian cherry fruits were given as food for pigs. Theofrastus refers the Cornelian cherry fruit as kranion (Plant history 3, 3,1 and 4,4,5).

Cornelian cherry was an important medicinal plant in old years. The astringency of the fruits is well known since antiquity. The use of edible fruit is used against diarrhea enteritis, not completely ignored by the medicine. Bark, shoots, and roots were used against fever with relative action as Kichone Wood or bark extracts can cure dog itch. The fruit contents a great percentage of vitamin C, other vitamins, antioxidants flavonoids, anthocyanin, iron, and polyphenols. Recent research has showed that these fruits are richer in flavonoids and other nutrients than raspberries and blueberries and nearly the same vitamin C with Rosa canina.

The fine hard wood can be used to obtain different articles of turnery. As ornamental Cornelian cherry (with brilliant leaves and abundant flowers) can be employed with very interesting effect in parks and small gardens.

Fruits of the tree are sweet and sour and are usually made as juices, jams, liqueur, and aromatics.
”Skyphos,” an ancient pottery vessel won by Spyros Louis, the first winner of the Marathon in the first modern Olympic Games of Athens in 1896, was returned to Greece from Germany recently and was put on public display in Athens on Wednesday. The prize, awarded to the great Greek runner along with his gold medal, was presented in the altar room of the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, where people will be able to view it until February of 2020.

The ancient vessel, awarded as a prize for winning the first marathon of the modern Olympics, had gone missing for years. An immense effort began in 2012 by the National Archaeological Museum to locate the priceless piece of ancient pottery, but the task proved too difficult at the time. The almost-perfectly-preserved vessel was eventually found in the University of Munster, Germany several years later.

The process of verifying its authenticity took a great deal of time, but it was eventually declared that the object at this German university was indeed the very bowl once awarded as a prize to Louis in 1896.

The object itself, which dates back to 540 BC, had first been unearthed from a tomb located in Boetia. The ancient vessel, and eventual Olympic prize, was secretly transported from Greece to Germany in the 1930s. A Nazi officer serving in the German Archaeological Institute of Athens at that time secretly took the object — along with other diplomatic material — out of the country back in 1934, following an official visit of Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Reich’s Minister of Propaganda.
It is understood that this was accomplished without the knowledge of the German Embassy in Athens. Since that time, the object had seemingly dropped off the face of the earth.

The University of Munster, which had originally maintained that it had obtained the object lawfully, decided to return it to the country of its origin when it eventually discovered that it had been stolen from Greece. Following its repatriation from Germany, the ”skyphos” will be on permanently exhibit in the Museum of the Olympic Games in Olympia, Western Greece.

Greek Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni thanked the German university for its gesture, noting that this was ”a wonderful gift to the Greek people.”
In the new book by Geoffrey Robertson AO QC, the British Museum is accused of exhibiting 'pilfered cultural property' and urged to ‘wash its hands of blood and return Elgin’s loot’. His views appear in the book, 'Who Owns History? Elgin’s Loot and the Case for Returning Plundered Treasure.'

Along with a distinguished career as a trial lawyer, human rights advocate and United Nations judge, Robertson has appeared in many celebrated trials, defending Salman Rushdie and Julian Assange, prosecuting Hastings Banda and representing Human Rights Watch in the proceedings against General Pinochet.

In his just released book, he scores the British Museum for allowing an unofficial 'stolen goods tour', "which stops at the Elgin marbles, Hoa Hakananai’a, the Benin bronzes and other pilfered cultural property". The three items he mentioned are wanted by Greece, Easter Island and Nigeria respectively.

"The trustees of the British Museum have become the world’s largest receivers of stolen property, and the great majority of their loot is not even on public display. That these rebel itineraries are allowed is a tribute to the tolerance of this great institution, which would be even greater if it washed its hands of the blood and returned Elgin’s loot."

He accused the museum of telling 'a string of carefully-constructed lies and half- truths' about how the marbles 'were 'saved' or 'salvaged' or 'rescued' by Lord Elgin, who came into possession of them lawfully.' He criticized 'encyclopedic museums” such as the British Museum, the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan in New York that 'lock up the precious legacy of other lands, stolen from their people by wars of aggression, theft and duplicity'.

'This is a time for humility,' he observed, 'something the British, still yearning for the era when they ruled the world do not do very well. Before it releases any of its share of other people’s cultural heritage, the British Museum could mount an exhibition – ‘The Spoils of Empire’.'

Advocating the return of cultural property based on human rights law principles, Robertson observes that the French president, Emmanuel Macron has 'galvanized the debate' by declaring that 'African cultural heritage can no longer remain a prisoner of European museums'.

"Politicians may make more or less sincere apologies for the crimes of their former empires, but the only way now available to redress them is to return the spoils of the rape of Egypt and China and the destruction of African and Asian and South American societies," he writes. "We cannot right historical wrongs – but we can no longer, without shame, profit from them."
The Maimakteria is one of those festivals not a lot has survived about. We know it was in honor of Zeus Maimaktes, the Blustering, and that it was connected to the weather and protection of crops. Protecting our crops is a desire we have to this day so we will celebrate the Maimakteria, regardless. Will you join us on November 13nth, at the usual 10 am EST?

The months of late fall and early winter are relatively light on the festival agenda. This could have at least three reasons: It's getting cold and wet out and the ancient Hellenes held their rituals outdoors, most of the harvesting was done so food was assured or there was nothing that could be done to decrease the shortage, and with the fall of winter, warfare came to a halt; the seas were too rough to go on campaigns and it would soon be too cold to exist comfortably in a war camp. Seeing as these two latter two reasons were the major ones to have festivals, these months are quiet ones. In the Athenian calendar, only two festivals are attested to take place this month: the Maimakteria and the Pompaia.

Most likely, the Maimakteria was connected to the Pompaia, which took place at a later date in the month. I say 'a later date' because we are not sure of the dating. Parke (in 'Festivals of the Athenians', page 96) states that the Pompaia in honor of Zeus Meilichios was held during the last third of Maimakterion which would be on or after 20 Maimakterion. Parke cites the treatise on the Pompaia by Polemon of Ilion so we're fairly confident he is correct on the date. He also states that the Maimakteria took place 'mid-month'. The sixteenth is as viable a date as any other around this time.

The Pompaia was linked to purification. During this rite a white sheep's fleece--the 'Diòs Koidion', as it was called--was placed on the ground and the priests who took part in the rite stood on it with their left foot to be purified and blessed. We believe the Maimakteria was when this sheep was sacrificed.

If the rite followed the standard practice of Hellenic ritual, the sheep was led to the altar--most likely that of Zeus--in procession and then sacrificed. The animal was skinned and the fleece cleaned. The Diòs Koidion was said to have purifying and other magical qualities that would rub off on he who interacted with it, if he stood on it with his left foot.

The sheep skin was most likely not connected to Zeus at the start of the practice. The connection with Zeus most likely happened through assimilation: the rite fell in a month where people prepared for winter and where the weather got harsher. As such, Zeus had a major impact on the inhabitants of Athens; he controls the weather after all. The sheep from which the skin was used became sacrificed to Him as an appeasement, and then the ritually charged skin made its way through the city.

We hope you will join us for the Maimakteria on November 13. You can download the ritual here and join the community for the event here.
Important architectural remains and movable finds dating back to the period of Mycenaean civilization were recently revealed during excavations at the Acropolis of Gla in Boeotia, the Greek Ministry of Culture announced this week.
The Mycenaean Acropolis of Gla, part of a settlement dating from the 13th century BC, was built on a natural rock outcrop. After its fortification it became a fortress for the outlying population, who were engaged in cultivating the fertile plain below it. The area also served as a flood control center associated with the Mycenaean-era drainage and irrigation system, which used water from Lake Kopais.

The 50-acre area which was fortified by stout walls during Mycenaean times is seven times larger than Mycenae itself. The stone walls, which are miraculously preserved along their total length of 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) and thickness of 5.40 to 5.80 meters (up to 19 feet), are easily visible today and form an extraordinarily impressive sight.

According to the Ministry of Culture, the most recent excavations conducted as part of the 2018-19 archaeological dig uncovered six symmetrical stone blocks used in building construction.

Numerous storage vessels, including jars and amphorae, as well as cups and utensils, decorative frescoes, lead sculptures, and figurines — all of which represent a familiar, common cultural and artistic tradition of the times of Mycenaean expansion — were also unearthed.

The Mycenaean Acropolis of Gla itself was destroyed by fire and abandoned a little before 1200 B.C.
The painstakingly-constructed drainage system on the plain below was abandoned as well and the lake once again flooded the area, as it had before the years of improvement and development in the golden age of Mycenae.

Many more images here.