This is not really Hellenic, but duuuude! The eruption of Mount Vesuvius turned an incinerated victim’s brain material into glass, the first time scientists have verified the phenomenon from a volcanic blast, officials at the Herculaneum archaeology site said Thursday.

Archaeologists rarely recover human brain tissue, and when they do it is normally smooth and soapy in consistency, according to an article detailing the discovery in the New England Journal of Medicine. The eruption of Vesuvius in the year 79 instantly killed the inhabitants of Pompeii and neighboring Herculaneum, burying an area 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the volcano in ash in just a few hours.

The remains of a man lying on a wooden bed were discovered at Herculaneum, closer to Vesuvius than Pompeii, in the 1960s. He is believed to have been the custodian of a place of worship, the Collegium Augustalium.

A team led by Pier Paolo Petrone, a forensic anthropologist at the Federico II University in Naples, determined that the victim’s brain matter had been vitrified, a process by which tissue is burned at a high heat and turned into glass, according to the new study. The fragments presented as shards of shiny black material spotted within remnants of the victim’s skull.

A study of the charred wood nearby indicates a maximum temperature of 520 degrees Celsius (968 degrees Fahrenheit). "This suggests that extreme radiant heat was able to ignite body fat and vaporize soft tissue," the study said.

The resulting solidified spongy mass found in the victim’s chest bones is also unique among other archaeological sites and can be compared with victims of more recent historic events like the firebombing of Dresden and Hamburg in World War II, the article said.

The flash of extreme heat was followed by a rapid drop in temperatures, which vitrified the brain material, the authors said.

"This is the first time ever that vitrified human brain remains have been discovered resulting from heat produced by an eruption."
One of Hellenismos' most important festivals is the Anthesteria. It is held in honour of Dionysos Limnaios; of wine, and the dead. Elaion will hold a PAT ritual for the festival every day from 5 to 7 February at 10 am EST. Will you join us?

The Anthesteria was held annually for three days, the eleventh to thirteenth of the month of Anthesterion. It is an ancestral festival, the oldest of the festivals for Dionysos in Athens, a time of reflection and trust in the new growing season to come, a time to celebrate with the spirits of the departed the indefatigable resurgence of life. The festival centered around the celebration of the maturing of the wine stored at the previous vintage, whose pithoi were now ceremoniously opened, and the beginning of spring. The three days of the feast were called Pithoigia (after πίθοι 'storage jars'), Khoes (χοαί 'libations') and Khytroi (χύτροι 'pots').

On the first day, the pithoi were brought to the city of Athens and opened in the temple of Dionysos. Everyone from age three and up wore garlands of new flowers, and many were present when the pithoi of new wine were opened, and a libations was offered to Dionysos before drinking of it. It was a truly celebratory day.

On the second day, all temples were closed, except the temple of Dionysos. Social order broke down on this day--as slaves were permitted to celebrate alongside everyone else--and there was a drinking contest in the afternoon where three liters of wine were drunk in complete silence, from khoes. Whomever finished first, won. At the end of the day, the garlands that had been worn were wound around their khoes which they then took to the priestess in charge of the sanctuary at the Limnaios (the marsh) to be dedicated. The wife of the Archōn Basileus--the Archon in charge of religious and artistic festivals--the Basilinna might have taken part in a sacred marriage with Dionysos, either with her husband acting as a conduit for Dionysos, or one of His priests. Geriai, priestesses or followers of Dionysos, might have assisted in this ritual, or would have held their own cult rituals on this day. Young women swung in trees and decorated them to commemorate the death of Erigone, as chronicled below.

On day three, everyone joined in a procession to the temple of Dionysos. It was a somber day consisting of the preparation of a mixture of a panspermia, grains and beans boiled together (a good recipe can be found here), along with honey which was offered to Hermes Khthonios on behalf of the spirits of the dead, especially those who died in Deukalion’s flood. The slaves, as well as the dead, were then told to go home, as 'the Anthesteria had ended'.

The origins of the Anthesteria are based in myth. After the battle of Troy, King Agamemnon returns home to his wife Klytaemnestra (Κλυταιμνήστρα). When Agamemnon returns, playwright Aeschylus in his Oresteia, writes Klytaemnestra as not having been faithful to her husband. She has taken as her new lover and husband Aegisthos (Αἴγισθος), cousin of Agamemnon, and when Agamemnon and his young slave come home, Klytaemnestra kills them both. Orestes (Ὀρέστης), son of Agamemnon and Klytaemnestra ends up killing Aegisthos, as well as his mother for her crime, under orders of Apollon. Yet, the matricide is a terrible offense in the eyes of the Theoi, and the Erinyes--Khthonic deities of vengeance--are sent to kill Orestes. They chased him relentlessly and upon reaching Delphi he is told by Apollon that he should go to Athens to seek Athena's aid.

Phanodemus (Athenaeus 10.437c-d) describes what happens to Orestes next, as it is this practice that was reenacted again and again, during the second day of the Anthesteria:

“When Orestes arrived at Athens after killing his mother, Demophon [king of Athens] wanted to receive him, but was not willing to let him approach the sacred rites [to Dionysos] nor share the libations, since he had not yet been put on trial [and had not yet been cleansed of miasma]. So he ordered the sacred things to be locked up and a separate pitcher of wine to be set beside each person [instead of sharing a drinking vessel as usual], saying that a flat cake would be given as a prize to the one who drained his first. He also ordered them, when they had stopped drinking, not to put the wreathes with which they were crowned on the sacred objects, because they had been under the same roof with Orestes. Rather each one was to twine them around his own pitcher and take the wreathes to the priestess at the precinct in Limnai, and then to perform the rest of the sacrifices in the sanctuary.”

As mentioned, Orestes arrives at Athens during an existing festival to Dionysos. It is posed that this festival was the Aiora, a festival instituted to commemorate the death of Erigone, her father, and their dog Maera. The story goes that Ikários (Ἰκάριος) was such a fine winemaker that he could produce wine so strong, those who drank it appeared to be poisoned. His skill turned out to be his undoing; Íkaros was killed by those who drank his wine, thinking the wine maker was out to kill them. His daughter Erigone was taken to his body by the family hound, Maera, whereupon both she and the dog committed suicide by hanging. It may have been that Dionysos was so angry over the murder and the following suicides, He punished Athens by making all of the city's maidens (or only the daughters of those who had killed Ikários) commit suicide in the same way. The citizens of Athens turned to the oracle of Delphi to stop these suicides, and the oracle told them to burry the three with honors, and appease their spirits. The Athenians buried the bodies with full honors, and a festival was founded where young Athenian women swung in swings, and hung ribbons, cups, and dolls in trees.

The Anthesteria might sound like a confusing festival, and it was, in a way. The three days were almost completely separate events, but have a few things in common. It's a fertility festival, but birth is linked to death. All life is linked to death, after all, and both birth and death were miasmic events. After the rough winter, everything was dead: the soil, the remaining food stores, people... miasma tainted everything. So, as new life began from the ashes of the old, Dionysos was invoked and sacrificed to, to cleanse the old, to remove the miasma resting upon the earth and the people. It is not odd to find mythology connected to this festival which is so strongly linked to miasma, birth and death.

How does a modern Hellenist celebrate the Anthesteria? The first day should focus upon the fertility aspects of the festival: the coming abundance of flowers, wine, and fruit now the spring is almost upon us. Day two began at night, and was filled with... well... sex. People were intoxicated, enthusiastic about the upcoming spring and the end of winter, and they tended to find each other in the dark of night. I would suggest starting there for day two, if you have the option.

On this second day, I cover all other shrines I have in the house but the one on which I will honor Dionysos, to prevent them from becoming tainted with miasma. This is optional, of course. Do think about Orestes, and what he was forced to do--fail either his father by not punishing his killer, or fail his mother by killing her, and dooming himself, regardless--and think about hard decisions you have had to make, and ask forgiveness for them. If you are of legal age and have the opportunity to do so, empty a glass of wine, and feel it swirl in your stomach, as restless as the spirits of the mythic dead who will come up from the Underworld tomorrow. Swing on a swing, as high as you can, and revel in the feeling. Decorate trees with knick-knacks. If you made yourself a garland, take it outside, preferably somewhere wet, and beg that Dionysos accept it and cleanse you of the pollution you carry within you. Again, this night is perfect for making love, especially in honor of Dionysos.
Keep your shrines covered for the third day if you chose to do this, as miasma has not yet been lifted, and the dead roam the earth freely. Give honors to family members and others who were close to you, who have died. Speak with them and try to find closure. Make them a meal; a panspermia is best, but eggs, leeks and garlic also work well. There are different stories surrounding the eating of the panspermia yourself. Some say no one was to eat from it, but Walter Burkert in 'Greek Religion' notes:

"On the 13th Anthesterion, the day of the Pots, grains of all kinds are boiled together in a pot along with honey. This is the most primitive cereal dish of the early farmers, older than the discovery of flour-milling and bread-baking; in funeral customs it has survived down to the present day. But the idea of food for the dead, conjoined to an abridged version of an ancient source, has lead to the mistaken view that the living were actually prohibited from eating from the Pots. According to the full text, it is only the priests who are barred from eating this food, in accordance with the fact that all sanctuaries are closed on the Choes day. The meal of pottage is linked to the myth of the flood: once the water had subsided, the survivors threw everything they could find into a pot and cooked it as their first meal after the cataclysm, an occasion for summoning up new courage and yet in memory of the dead. One sacrifices to the chthonic Hermes for the sake of the dead and eats from the Pots in the certainty of life regained. The day of defilement is over, the masks and the dead lose their rights: 'Out you Keres, the Anthesteria are over' became a proverbial saying."

Yet, Harrison in 'Themis: A Study of the Social Origins of Greek Religion' has the following to say:
"The panspermia has not, I think, been rightly understood. In commenting on it before, misled by the gift-theory of sacrifice, I took it to be merely a 'supper for the souls.' No doubt as such it was in later days regarded when primitive magical rites had to be explained on Olympian principles. But it was, to begin with, much more. The ghosts had other work to do than to eat their supper and go. They took that 'supper', that panspermia, with them down to the world below and brought it back in the autumn a pankarpia. The dead are Chthonioi, 'earth people', Demetreioi, 'Demeter's people,' and they do Demeter's work, her work and that of Kore the Maiden, with her Kathodos and Anodos."

Where you stand, you must decide for yourself. Personally, I will not taste of the panspermia. Like with the Deipnon, however, setting outside the meal will lift the miasma from your person and the house, so afterwards, you can uncover your shrines again if you covered them in the first place.

The Anthesteria is a festival of deep, emotional, involvement, and it is best celebrated by emerging yourself as completely as you can. As with any rites to Dionysos, transformation within yourself is almost always a consequence. The Anthesteria is a heavy festival, but filled with joy, regardless, because you are working towards spring. Burdens will be lifted from you. Rejoice with us and you will get through these festivals just fine. You can find the rituals here and join the community here. Enjoy!
The blue monkeys painted on the walls of Akrotiri on the Greek island of Santorini are among many animals found in the frescoes of this 3,600-year-old city. Historians have studied the murals for decades since they were unearthed in the 1960s and 1970s on the island, which was once known as Thera. But when a team of other primatologists recently examined the paintings, they realised the monkeys could provide a clue that the Bronze Age world was much more globalised than previously thought.

Archaeologists had assumed the monkeys were an African species, with which the Aegean people that built Akrotiri probably came into contact via trade links with Egypt. But we think the paintings actually depict Hanuman langurs, a species from the Indian subcontinent. This suggests the Aegean people, who came from Crete and the Cycladic islands in the Aegean Sea, may have had trade routes that reached over 2,500 miles.

The wall paintings of Akrotiri were preserved by ash from a volcano that destroyed the city some time in the 16th or 15th century BC and offer an incredible glimpse of an early civilisation in Europe. We haven’t been able to translate the earliest Aegean writing, but the paintings suggest just how developed these people’s society, economy and culture were.

Much animal art from this period is generalised, meaning it’s hard to confidently identify individual species. In the case of the monkeys, we also don’t have any physical remains from Aegean settlements to provide additional evidence of which species are depicted.

The reason why archaeologists and art historians have assumed they came from Egypt is because that was the nearest location with an indigenous monkey population that had known trade links with the Aegean. As a result, the Akrotiri monkeys have been variously identified as baboons, vervets and grivet monkeys, all African species that live across a wide area.

Marie Pareja decided to take a different approach, gathering a team of primatologists who study apes, monkeys, and lemurs, including renowned taxonomic illustrator Stephen Nash. Together, we examined photos of the art and discussed the animals depicted, considering not only fur colour and pattern but also body size, limb proportions, sitting and standing postures, and tail position. While we all agreed that some of the animals depicted were baboons, as previously thought, we began to debate the identification of the animals from one particular scene.

The monkeys in the paintings are grey-blue. But although some living monkeys have small patches of blue skin – the blue on a mandrill’s face, for example – none have blue fur. There is an African forest monkey called the blue monkey, but it is mainly olive or dark grey, and the face patterns don’t match those in the paintings. So we needed to use other characteristics to identify them.

They were previously believed to be vervets or grivets, small monkeys weighing between 3kg and 8kg (roughly the size of a housecat) that are found in the savannas of north and east Africa. Despite their silvery white fur, they also have dark-coloured hands and feet and an overall look that matches the depictions in the paintings.

However, Hanuman langurs, which weigh a more substantial 11kg to 18kg, have a similar look. They also move quite differently, and this was crucial to the identification.

Both primates primarily live on the ground (as opposed to in trees) and have long limbs and tails. But the langurs tend to carry their tail upward, as an S- or C-shape or curving towards the head, while vervet monkeys carry their tail in a straight line or arcing downward. This tail position, repeated across multiple images, was a key factor in identifying the monkeys as Hanuman langurs.

We know from archaeological evidence that Aegean peoples had access to minerals such as tin, lapis lazuli and carnelian that came from beyond the Zagros mountains on the western border of modern Iran. But the artistic detail of the Akrotiri paintings, compared to other monkey art of the period, suggests that the artists had seen live animals, perhaps while travelling abroad.

It’s understandable that earlier scholars thought the monkeys were African since relations between the Aegean and Egypt were already well known and supported by archaeological evidence. If you expect to find an African monkey, you will only look at African animals for possible explanations. But as primatologists, we were able to bring a fresh look at the evidence without preconceived notions of ancient peoples or trade routes, and consider species living further afield.

This study is an excellent example of the importance of academics from different disciplines working together. Without the expertise of primatologists, it may not have been possible to confidently identify these animals. Conversely, primatologists may not have considered these ancient human-primate interactions without a prompt from archaeologists.
Parmenides of Elea was a Presocratic Greek philosopher. As the first philosopher to inquire into the nature of existence itself, he is incontrovertibly credited as the “Father of Metaphysics.” Parmenides’ only written work is a poem entitled, supposedly, but likely erroneously, On Nature. Only a limited number of “fragments” (more precisely, quotations by later authors) of his poem are still in existence, which have traditionally been assigned to three main sections—Proem, Reality (Alétheia), and Opinion (Doxa).

The Proem (prelude) features a young man on a cosmic (perhaps spiritual) journey in search of enlightenment, expressed in traditional Greek religious motifs and geography. This is followed by the central, most philosophically-oriented section (Reality). Here, Parmenides positively endorses certain epistemic guidelines for inquiry, which he then uses to argue for his famous metaphysical claims—that “what is” (whatever is referred to by the word “this”) cannot be in motion, change, come-to-be, perish, lack uniformity, and so forth.

The final section (Opinion) concludes the poem with a theogonical and cosmogonical account of the world, which paradoxically employs the very phenomena (motion, change, and so forth) that Reality seems to have denied. Furthermore, despite making apparently true claims (for example, the moon gets its light from the sun), the account offered in Opinion is supposed to be representative of the mistaken “opinions of mortals,” and thus is to be rejected on some level. 'd like to share some of those framents today.

"The steeds that bear me carried me as far as ever my heart
Desired, since they brought me and set me on the renowned
Way of the goddess, who with her own hands conducts the man
who knows through all things. On what way was I borne along; 

For on it did the wise steeds carry me, drawing my car,
and maidens showed the way. And the axle, glowing in the socket -
for it was urged round by the whirling wheels at each
end - gave forth a sound as of a pipe, when the daughters of the
Sun, hasting to convey me into the light, threw back their veils

...from off their faces and left the abode of Night.
There are the gates of the ways of Night and Day, fitted
above with a lintel and below with a threshold of stone. They
themselves, high in the air, are closed by mighty doors, and
Avenging Justice keeps the keys that open them. 

Her did the maidens entreat with gentle words and skilfully persuade
to unfasten without demur the bolted bars from the gates.
Then, when the doors were thrown back,
they disclosed a widepening, when their brazen
hinges swung backwards in the sockets fastened with rivets and nails. 

Straight through them, on the broad way, 
did the maidens guide the horses and the car,
and the goddess greeted me kindly, and took my right hand
in hers, and spake to me these words: -
Welcome, noble youth, that comest to my abode on the car

...that bears thee tended by immortal charioteers! It is no ill
chance, but justice and right that has sent thee forth to travel
on this way. Far, indeed, does it lie from the beaten track of
men ! Meet it is that thou shouldst learn all things, as well
the unshaken heart of persuasive truth, 

as the opinions of mortals in which is no true belief at all. 
Yet none the less shalt thou learn of these things also, 
since thou must judge approvedly of the things that seem to men as thou goest
through all things in thy journey."
On 27 January, at 10 am EST, Elaion hosts a PAT ritual to Dionysos in compliance with the Erkhian calendar, which mentions one such sacrifice on 2 Anthesterion. Will you join us?

Dionysos is a very varied Theos. His domains range from fertility and exuberance, to death and dying. He is both an Ouranic Theos and a Khthonic one. He is a Year-Daímōn and the God of wine. He is associated with ecstatic rites, sex, and madness. He can bring on obsession and cure you of it. He does not shy away from either the light or dark and speaks to the side of us that will always be wild, that chafes against the restraints of polite and societal living.

Help us honour Dionysos in His many guises on 27 january, at 10 am EST. You can visit the community page here and download the ritual from here.
On the day of the Hene kai Nea (or sometimes the day after, like this month), 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 Anthesterion:

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.

Let's put this under the heading of 'goals'. Dentist Özkan Arıkantürk, 69, collected 4,000 artifacts in 25 years, beginning collecting first after he bought a Roman-era glass bottle that he admired.

Living in the Burhaniye district in the western province of Balıkesir, Arıkantürk said, “A glass bottle caused me to start creating this collection. It was a very thin bottle that survived until today under the ground without getting any damage for more than 2,000 years.”

Throughout the years, Arıkantürk collected nearly 600 antique works such as glass, terracotta items, bronze works, ornaments and jewelries. His collection also includes 3,500 coins, which were used by civilizations that existed in the region.

Dentist collecting ancient artifacts for 25 years

Stating that he was interested in history and archaeology since his childhood, Arıkantürk said that he wanted to be an archaeologist, but he became a dentist in the course of life.

He said that his interest in history continued, adding, “I decided to create my own collection with the information I have read and learned over the years. With the collector certificate I received from the Culture Ministry 25 years ago, I started collecting ancient artifacts. During this time, I had nearly 600 works. There are many works such as glass, terracotta items, bronze works, ornaments, and many others.”

Speaking about the Roman-era glass bottle, his first item in the collection, Arıkantürk said, “It was a very thin bottle that survived underground without any damage for more than 2,000 years. Who knows, who got it? It was a great feeling to have this bottle. It is a great feeling to protect, preserve and even exhibit it today."

"In the following period, I improved my archaeological artifact collection. From war tools such as glass, which are actually perfume bottles and publicly known as tear bottles, to various jewelry, terracotta materials, ax used in wars, arrowheads and sling stones made of lead, I created a large collection that also includes olive oil lamps used in antiquity and the products used for food and beverage," he added.

From Troas to Mysia and Aiolis

Along with his nearly 600 artifacts, Arıkantürk also has another collection of 3,500 coins. He chose three ancient regions in northwestern Anatolia as the target area and is currently displaying coins of 70 ancient cities in his collection.

“The coins in my collection consist of the ones printed by the ancient cities around us. These are the periods that begin from the 6th century B.C. until the Byzantine and Roman times. The coins I collected belong to different periods of each city. Some cities printed Greek coins only, while others printed coins of even Roman times along with the Greek ones," he said.

Dentist collecting ancient artifacts for 25 years"Among these ancient cities, for example Antandros is a city of Troas. Adramytteion, or today’s Edremit, belongs to Mysia region. There are 3,500 coins from three ancient regions including Aiolis, which includes today’s Cunda – Ayvalık,” he explained.

Founder of Sarıkız Kazdağı Ethnography Gallery, where the collection of Arıkantürk is exhibited, Uğur Bostancıoğlu said, “In our museum, we introduce Ida Mount and Edremit region, its mythology, culture, fauna and vegetation. We have also displayed Özkan Arıkantürk’s collection in our gallery with a special permission from the Culture Ministry for about three years. The collection, which generally contains works from the Roman and Byzantine periods, draws great attention.”
This aerial photograph shot on Sunday of a snow-capped Mount Olympus, the home of Zeus and the ancient Greek gods, has gone viral. The photo was captured by Kostas Rossidis of the Hellenic Seaplane Association as a way to mark “World Snow Day.”

World Snow Day, an initiative of the World Ski Federation (FIS) was celebrated on January 19. An array of events were organized on that day at ski resorts in many countries.

Mount Olympus’s Mytikas peak rises to a majestic 2,918 meters, or around 9,573 feet, and is the highest point in all of Greece.

August 2 marks the anniversary of the first time it was climbed successfully in 1913, and every year tens of thousands of people travel to the mountain to climb it. The Olympus region was declared Greece’s first national park in 1938.

The noble aim of this important act was cited at the time as “the preservation in perpetuity of the natural environment of the region, i.e. of wild flora, fauna and natural landscape, as well as its cultural and other values.”

The entire area around Mt. Olympus was proclaimed ‘Biosphere Reserve’  in 1981 by UNESCO.
New hopes emerged last week that the Parthenon Marbles could eventually be returned to their rightful home after the British authorities ordered the country’s museums to assess their collections with a new “decolonizing” checklist to ease the repatriation of cultural treasures.

The Arts Council, the supreme body championing and developing art and culture across Britain, has called on experts to draw up new guidelines to address sacred and significant objects like the Parthenon Marbles, which have long provoked pleas for repatriation from Greece after being seized in the age of empire.

An Arts Council spokeswoman said: “The aim of the guidance is to encourage a more proactive and coordinated approach across the UK museum sector by providing museums with a practical resource to support them in engaging with and responding to all aspects of restitution and repatriation.”

The idea follows the promise made by French president Emmanuel Macron to repatriate colonial objects.

Foreseeing ever-increasing demands for repatriation in future, the Arts Council has offered a £42,000 contract to experts who can draw up guidance on decolonization.

The contract states: “There is significant government, public and press interest and increasing calls for action by UK museums and sector bodies to address this agenda.”

It is understood that planned guidance will work as a checklist to handle claims, from how to deal with publicity and activist agitation, to possible repatriation.

An Easter Island Moai looming in the British Museum, an Aboriginal shield, and Ethiopian sacred tablets are among the many artefacts acquired amid imperial expansion which have been demanded back by their ancestral owners.
Please, take this with the uttermost grain of salt, but it was too good not to share. We all knwow hat Atlantis is, right? Atlantis is the (fictional?) island first described by Plato in his texts Timaeus and Critias, said to be an antagonist naval power that besieged Ancient Athens. In the story, Athens repels the Atlantean attack unlike any other nation of the known world, supposedly giving testament to the superiority of ancient Greece. The story concludes with Atlantis falling out of favour with the deities and submerging into the Atlantic Ocean.

In two YouTube video posted on his channel Ancient Architects, the expert claimed that Rockall is the most likely location for Atlantis and there are clear and obvious manmade features that leave no doubt of a lost ancient civilisation.

"The description of Atlantis should be our starting position when looking for it. First of all, to simplify his words, Plato says that beyond the Straits of Gibraltar, in the Atlantic Ocean is an island as big as Libya and Asia put together. From this island, you could pass to yet more islands before ending up at the opposite continents that surround the Atlantic Ocean. The opposite continent has to be the Americans, it is on the opposite side of the Atlantic Ocean and therefore this piece of information must rule out the Americas as a possible location. 

With this in mind, geologically speaking, there is no huge sunken supercontinent within the Atlantic Ocean, between the Strait of Gibraltar and the Americas that match the description. Therefore, in my opinion, Plato, or whoever this piece of information came from, was exaggerating the size for political reasons. If any specific place fits Plato’s words, I would say that this area is Rockall. For a start, Plato is explicit that Atlantis isn’t a city, but an island, that leads to other islands, then to the enormous opposite continent, which can only be the Americas. The other islands he refers to must be situated between the Americas and sunken continental landmass of Atlantis, close to Europe and Africa as Plato says it is outside of the Pillars of Hercules."

Mr Sibson went on to identify Rockall, an uninhabited granite islet off the coast of the UK, as a possible candidate.

"The only sizeable piece of continental crust under the sea our side of the Pillars of Hercules is Rockall. Furthermore, you can island hop from Rockall to the Americas via Iceland and Greenland. Plato goes on to say that a wonderful empire had arisen in Atlantis, which had rule over the island, as well as many others. I would suggest that the islands that belonged to Atlantis were the ones that connected it to the Americas. Plato says there was a time of extraordinary earthquakes and inundations, and in one terrible storm the warriors of Atlantis were swallowed and Atlantis likewise sank into the sea and vanished. He says this is why the ocean in this part can not be navigated or explored, owing to the great depth of mud caused by the subsiding of the island."

Mr Sibson explained why geological activity near Rockall may have caused it to fall into the Atlantic.

"It is still the case that the sea is too shallow to sail over, with numerous ships in history caught in the rocks. This part of the northern Atlantic has quite a complex geological history and there is clear evidence that Rockall was torn apart through numerous faults. The highly faulted Atlantic Ocean would have been forced into moving geologically both vertically and horizontally, leading to increasing volcanic activity and major water displacement in the form of tsunamis. Interestingly, the northernmost part of the ridge looks somewhat different to the main rift valley, in that there is one enormous fault zone in the ocean crust."

On the Erkhian calendar, Kourotrophos, Hera, Zeus, and Poseidon are all sacrificed to on 27 Gamelion, at the same location: the temple of Hera. Also, as Kourotrophos Herself was often honored first with other deities and especially on this occasion, it seems to make sense that it was one ritual with four sacrifices as listed on the calendar. Will you join us for this sacrifice on January 23, after the ritual for the Theogamia? We've set the time at 11 AM EST.

The Kourotrophoi are mostly female deities who watch over growing children. Specific offerings to Them are known from the demos Erkhia (or Erchia), but duplicate similar offerings on the Acropolis of Athens. Especially at Erkhia, it varied per sacrifice which Kourotrophos was/were sacrificed to. In this case, where no specific deity is listed, none of the above were most likely honored. The deity in question was Kourotrophos Herself, a deity whose main function was to watch over nursing children and their mothers.

You can find the ritual here and join the community here.
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 instead of leaving justice to be administered by the aristocracy. With current affrairs being what they are, I'd like to quote Aeschines today, from "Against Timarchus"

“[Solon] believed that someone who managed their own personal affairs badly would manage matters of state similarly. It did not seem likely to the lawgiver that that the same person who was a scoundrel in private would be a useful citizen in public. He also did not think right that a person should come to speak in public before being prepared for it, not just for words but in life.

And he also thought that advice from a good and noble person, however poorly and simply it was framed, is beneficial to those who hear it, while the words of a person who has no shame, who has made a mockery of his own body and who has shamefully managed his inheritance—well, these words he believed would never help the people who heard them, not even if they were delivered well.

This is why he keeps these kinds of people from the platform, why he forbids them from addressing the public. If someone speaks, then, not merely against these precepts but also for the sack of bribery and criminality, and if the state can no longer endure such a person, he adds “Let any citizens who desires it, and who is able, sue him…”

[translation source here]

Around Valentine's day, us Hellenists honour a beautiful festival of love and social stability: the Theogamia, also known as the Gamelia or Hieros Gamos. This festival celebrates the anniversary of the marriage (gamos, γάμος) of Zeus Teleios (Τελειος, Of the Marriage Rites) and Hera Teleia (Τέλεια, same). Zeus Teleios and Hera Teleia are considered the patron Gods of marriage. To celebrate this divine marriage and ask for blessings upon the romantic ties we may have in life, Elaion is organising a PAT ritual on 23 January. The time is set for 10 AM EST. Will you join us?

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

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

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

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

The ritual can be found here and you can join the community here. Enjoy the Theogamia, everyone!
These nine muses were born from Zeus and his aunt and fifth wife, Mnemosyne, who was the personification of memory. The Muses, back then, were simply Deities, in charge of Their own aspects of mortal life. Euterpe was the 'Giver of light', for example. Their function and status as Muses was a later, Roman, addition.

Although most sources say there are nine Muses, the archaic poet Sappho of Lesbos was called the tenth by Plato, a great compliment. It's Sappho's status as 'the tenth Muse' that paved the way to the conventional compliment paid to female poets and those who inspire.

I refer to the muses often; when I'm trying to write but can't find the inspiration, or when I'm trying to sleep but can't because my mind is full of words that want to come out are the most common occurrences. I also thank Them for the inspiration I have gotten to write blog posts or articles.

The muses are well represented in both mythology as Hellenic art. Not only does nearly every hero, poet and even some of the Theoi call out for Them when They're in a bind, but there is even a tragic story in which nine young women get turned into birds for their hubris. In this myth, King Pierus, king of Macedon named his nine beautiful and talented daughters after the muses and went on to boast that the Pierides--his daughters--were equal or even better in their arts than the Muses ever were. Needless to say, neither the Muses, nor the Gods took to this kindly. As punishment for his hubris, Pierus had to watch as his beautiful daughters were transformed into Magpies.

Apollon Mousagetēs, an epithet of Apollon, is said to lead the Muses. His name means 'Apollon Muse-leader'. As such, he can be seen depicted on vases and murals with the Muses.

Here is Apollon to the left, followed by the Muses. If I tell you Calliope carries a writing tablet, Clio carries a scroll and books, Erato is often seen with a lyre and/or a crown of roses, Euterpe carries a flute, Melpomene is often seen with a tragic mask, Polyhymnia is often seen with a pensive expression, Terpsichore is often seen dancing and carrying a lyre, Thaleia is often seen with a comic mask and Urania carries a pair of compasses and the celestial globe, how many can you pick out?

Within Hellenismos, worship, libations and offerings to the Muses is an individual choice. If you feel a need to do so--and poets, musicians, writers and other artists might definitely feel that need--do so. I know I do. As did the ancient writers; there is both an Homeric and an Orphic Hymn to the Muses one can use to honor Them:

Homeric Hymn to the Muses:

I will begin with the Muses and Apollon and Zeus. For it is through the Muses and Apollon that there are singers upon the earth and players upon the lyre; but kings are from Zeus. Happy is he whom the Muses love: sweet flows speech from his lips. Hail, children of Zeus! Give honour to my song! And now I will remember you and another song also.

Orphic Hymn to the Muses:

Daughters of Jove, dire-sounding and divine,
Renown'd Pierian, sweetly speaking Nine;
To those whose breasts your sacred furies fire
Much-form'd, the objects of supreme desire:

Sources of blameless virtue to mankind,
Who form to excellence the youthful mind;
Who nurse the soul, and give her to descry
The paths of right with Reason's steady eye.

Commanding queens who lead to sacred light
The intellect refin'd from Error's night;
And to mankind each holy rite disclose,
For mystic knowledge from your nature flows.

Clio, and Erato, who charms the sight,
With thee Euterpe minist'ring delight:
Thalia flourishing, Polymina fam'd,
Melpomene from skill in music nam'd:

Terpischore, Urania heav'nly bright,
With thee who gav'st me to behold the light.
Come, venerable, various, pow'rs divine,
With fav'ring aspect on your mystics shine;
Bring glorious, ardent, lovely, fam'd desire,
And warm my bosom with your sacred fire.

Yet, I strongly feel one honors the Muses best when being creative and inspired. Write, make art, sing, make music, do whatever you can that invites the inspiration of the Muses. Be aware of your inspiration, allow it to flow freely, and if you feel the need, give honor to the Deities who granted it.
The site of the ancient city of Oeniadae, in the regional unit of Aetolia-Acarnania in Greece, boasts one of the best preserved shipyards of the antiquity. An important city in the antiquity, Oeniadae used to have three ports, strong fortifications and a large theatre. Its well-preserved ruins make it a monument of great interest to this day.

Oeniadae was an ancient city of southern Acarnania on the northern bank of the Achelous River; the river, stretching from Aeolia (modern Thessaly) to the Ionian Sea, forms a natural boundary between what used to be the ancient regions of Acarnania and Aetolia. Oeniadae was Acarnania’s second most important city after Stratos. Its position allowed it to control the entrance to the Gulf of Patras; surrounded by marshes, it was naturally barricaded, while strong additional fortifications were built to protect it. Its position was also favourable for the development of commercial activities, as well as for shipbuilding.

Its name appears linked to the mythical Oeneus, king of Calydon; according to the myth, its founder was the Argive leader Alcmaeon, who fled there pursued by the Furies for having committed matricide. Many historians place its founding in the sixth century BC, as a Corinthian colony. While in the early years of the Peloponnesian War the city was hostile to Athens, in 424 BC it joined the Athenian Alliance and served as a base for the Athenian warships.

It continued to be a place of importance during the Macedonian and Roman wars. In the time of Alexander the Great, the Aetolians, who had extended their dominions on the west bank of the Achelous, obtained possession of Oeniadae and expelled its inhabitants.
The city remained in their hands until 219 BC, when it was taken by Philip V of Macedonia who strongly fortified the citadel, and commenced uniting the harbour and the arsenal with the citadel by means of walls. In 211 BC it was taken by the Romans under Marcus Valerius Laevinus, and given to the Aetolians, who were then their allies; in 189 BCE it was finally restored to the Acarnanians by virtue of one of the conditions of the peace made between the Romans and Aetolians in that year. Thereafter, progressive silting of its harbours diminished the city’s usefulness.

The remains of the ancient city are located on a flat-topped hill, over the surrounding alluvial plain, which used to be a marshland in the ancient times. Since the medieval times, the site’s name has been Trikardo or Trikardokastro. The walls of the ancient city, built along the brow of the hill in a polygonal style, are still well preserved, while the port and shipyards are protected by separate fortifications. Inside the central fortification we find public buildings, forming part of the Agora, as well as private buildings, a small temple close to the port and a bath complex. No signs of medieval occupation of the site exist. The modern-day municipal unit Oiniades, of the Missolonghi municipality, was named after the ancient town of Oeniadae.

Oinades had three different ports. The fortified port, which also featured a shipyard and ship sheds, is one of the best preserved from the antiquity. It was used for hauling and repairing ships and storing them in the winter months. It was a roofed structure, with its floor carved into the rock, divided by five colonnades. This served as a tow ramp. The site was in full operation until the 3rd century BC when the roof receded and the colonnades collapsed.

The city’s largest harbour, used for commerce, was on the southwest side of the hill, near the large central gate of the city, with easier access to Achelous River, while a third smaller port also used to exist.

The site of Oinades also features a theatre, which was built close to the Agora, with with great acoustics and panoramic views of the Achelous River and the coastal lowlands.
The theatre was constructed in two separate phases: it was built when the Athenians occupied the city, in the 4th century BC, with a one-storey stage and a particularly large orchestra.
In the 3rd century, reconstruction operations were carried out, possibly by the Macedonian king Philip V. Among other alterations, a foreground was added, as well as an additional storey for the stage. Its capacity reached 4,600 spectators. The theatre is open to the public, and concerts and plays are held every summer as part of the Oeniades Festival, held by the Messolonghi municipality.
One thing I love about research is that you are never done. No matter how much you know, or how well you know a text, there will always be some reference inviting further research. While I was researching for my post on abstinence, I came across a small mention of something interesting: the 'handle-kiss'. In Hans Licht's 'Sexual Life in Ancient Greece', he makes note of the following:

"Eunicus wrote a comedy, Anteia, yet we can say nothing more explicit of the hetaira of this name nor of the comedy itself than that from it only a single verse is preserved - 'Take me by the ears and give me the handle-kiss'." [p.308]

Intrigued, I took to the internet, as my bookshelves offered no further explanation. Here, I found an excellent paper by Richard Hawley, titled 'Give Me a Thousand Kisses', which focusses on kissing practices in ancient Hellas. It's quite a wonderful read. He also mentions the handle-kiss--or as he calls it, the 'jug-kiss', translated from the same source Licht used.
"The affectionate kissing of children, indeed, spawns a unique type of special kiss, the chutra, or ‘jug-kiss’. The Greek lexicographer Pollux records (Onomasticon 10.100) that the chutra is a type of kiss when one kisses one’s children, holding them up by the ears, as if they were two handles of a jug. By way of illustration Pollux cites a fragment (fr. 1) of the comedy Anteia by Eunicus: ‘lift him up by the ears and give him the chutra kiss.’ Bizarrely perhaps, this classical custom is still alive and kicking by the time of Tibullus in the late first century BC, who refers to a child kissing his father while holding his father’s ears (2.5.92), and Plutarch, who writes in the first-second century AD that ‘many people kiss little children by holding their ears and asking the children to do the same’ (Moral Essays 38c).

It is significant that in these instances, it is the parent who is generally described as the active agent, the kisser, and the child as the passive recipient of the kiss. Although sometimes the child kisses back, the narrative focus is upon the kiss as a symbol of the love the parent bears the child, and thus acts to characterise the parent’s virtue of familial affection." [p.5]

From his, we can gather that the handle-kiss (or jug-kiss, or chutra kiss) was a kiss between parent and child, a non-sexual kiss, meant to convey affection by reaching for the ears of the child, or sometimes where the child reaches for the ears of the parent as well. It sounds like a sweet practice.

Julius Pollux's Onomasticon--a collection of ten books which functions as a dictionary for ancient Hellenic life--is not available in English online, not even for purchase, I fear. from him, we will thus learn no more about this practice. Albius Tibullus was a Latin poet, and we can access his works. the full sentence Hawley refers to goes as follows:

"And the mother will bear him a child, the child grab his father’s ears to snatch a kiss: and the grandfather won’t be bored with watching his little grandson, the old man babbling with the young." [2.5.92]

It is part of a poem about the blessings of Apollo(n), should Apollon chose to place blessings upon mankind. 'So once it was, but at last, you, kind Apollo, submerge monstrous things in the savage depths...'. We can also find the reference to Plutarch. In full, it reads:

"Most people in bestowing an affectionate kiss on little children not only take hold of children by the ears but bid the children to do the same by them, thus insinuating in a playful way that they must love most those who confer benefit through the ears. For surely the fact is plain, that the young man who is debarred from hearing all instruction and gets no taste of speech not only remains wholly unfruitful and makes no growth towards virtue, but may also be perverted towards vice, and the product of his mind, like that of a fallow and untilled piece of ground, will be a plentiful crop of wild oats. For if the impulses towards pleasure and the feelings of suspicion towards hard work (which are not of external origin nor imported products of the spoken word, but indigenous sources, as it were, of pestilent emotions and disorders without number) be allowed to continue unconstrained along their natural channels, and if they be not either removed or diverted another way through the agency of goodly discourse, thus putting the natural endowments in a fit condition, there is not one of the wild beasts but would be found more civilized than man." [38c-d]

Thus, Plutarch gives us a valuable clue about the 'why' of the handle-kiss: he feels that the kiss exists because children need to learn that listening--to knowledge being shared, but also military orders and sound advice--needs to be associated with good things (kisses and affection) very early on, and that they must listen to those who speak with hat same affection. He also stresses that those who confer wisdom need to be appreciated for it, this is why the child is asked to hold the ears of his father as well.

The tradition of the handle-kiss suddenly makes a lot of sense in the grand, Hellenic, scheme, doesn't it? With its focus on knowledge, temperance and learning, it seems like a wonderful way to confer to your children from a long age that their ears are there to use and gain great things through. Perhaps, if I ever have a child, I will place the kiss on them as well. It never hurts to try.