The Anacreontea (Ἀνακρεόντεια) is the title given to a collection of some 60 Hellenic poems on the topics of wine, beauty, erotic love, Dionysus, nd many others. The poems date to between the 1st century BC and the 6th century AD, and are attributed pseudepigraphically to Anacreon. The collection is preserved in the same 10th-century manuscript as the 'Anthologia Palatina', together with some other poetry.

Anacreon (Ἀνακρέων ὁ Τήϊος) was alive from 582 to 485 BC. He was a Hellenic lyric poet, notable for his drinking songs and hymns. Later Hellenes included him in the canonical list of nine lyric poets. Anacreon was born at Teos, an Ionian city on the coast of Asia Minor. For a long time, Anacreon was popular in Athens, where his statue was to be seen on the Acropolis, together with that of his friend Xanthippus, the father of Pericles. On several coins from Teos he is represented holding a lyre in his hand, sometimes sitting, sometimes standing. A marble statue found in 1835 in the Sabine district, and now in the Galleria Borghese, is said to represent Anacreon. Anacreon wrote all of his poetry in the ancient Ionic dialect. Like all early lyric poetry, it was composed to be sung or recited to the accompaniment of music, usually the lyre. Anacreon's verses were primarily in the form of monody rather than for a chorus.

Today I would like to share one of his poems, a hymn to Artemis, although it was meant to be recited, not sung. I am always looking for new hymns, new ancient words to use in PAT rituals and my own practice. And I think Anacreon's words fit the bill nicely. It was probably Magnesia on whose behalf the poet supplicates the Goddess, which was situate on the river Lethe, near Ephesus. It is thought that this hymn was written on the occasion of some battle wherein the Magnesians were defeated. 

Anacreon - A Prayer to Artemis 

On my knees do I entreat thee, O Pheraean 
Goddess golden - helmed, of wild beasts huntress. 
Come with all thy train of nymphs Pelasgian 
To Lethe's whirlpools. 

Daughter of Zeus, swift slayer of the mountain Deer,
View propitiously this suffering city.
Cheer thy stricken people; no barbarous citizens 
Crave thy divine aid.

 After closing its doors for over 100 days due to Covid-19, the British Museum opened on Thursday. Among the first visitors to the museum were protestors demanding the return of the Parthenon marbles to Greece. During its period of closure, the British Museum attempted to alter and rearrange their collection after receiving heavy criticism regarding the possession of artifacts stolen from colonies and linked to slave owners.

One of these changes included removing the bust of Hans Sloane, a collector whose spoils formed the first displays in the museum upon its foundation. Sloane was a slave owner, and the presence of his bust in the museum recalled both the country’s and the museum’s brutal connections with the slave trade. Despite implementing changes, the museum still faces intense scrutiny and criticism, especially from the governments and citizens of countries whose artifacts are in its collections.

Greece’s Parthenon Marbles belong to this category. For decades, Greece has called for the return of these stunning marble sculptures, taken from Athens by Lord Elgin, after he claimed to have made a deal with the Ottoman ruler of the country in the 19th century. The British Museum has consistently refused to return the priceless marbles, despite pleas and protest by not only Greeks, but also by those who view Athens as the marbles’ rightful home.

A group of such protestors gathered at the museum’s entrance to bring awareness to the issue and fight for the repatriation of the sculptures to Greece. The protestors arrived in costume to bring attention to their cause. A woman dressed up as a Caryatid, a stunning sculpture from the Erechtheion that is currently housed in the British museum. She held a sign featuring the phrase “#LOSTMYMARBLES,” in reference to the marble sculptures. Her male counterpart appeared as Thomas Bruce, or Lord Elgin, the man who brought the marbles to England.

This is not the first protest at the museum regarding the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece. In recent years, pressure has mounted on the British Museum to release the sculptures so they can be housed in Athens. Many celebrities, including George Clooney, Matt Damon, and English actor Stephen Fry, as well as lawyers and activists, have expressed support for the cause.

The Demokratia festival celebrates the blessings of democratic government, constitutional law and freedom of speech. Because of our current political climate, we thought it was time to bring it back. We will hold the ritual on 12 Boedromion, which is 31 August, at the usual 10 am EDT.

The festival included sacrifices to Zeus Agoraios, Athena Agoraia (literally "Zeus and Athene of the low place") and to the Goddess Themis.  Images of Zeus and Athena were paraded in the agora, the lower city below the Acropolis ("High Place"). Themis, one of the Titans, is Goddess of divine law--the primal, unwritten laws governing human conduct which were first established by the gods of heaven. She was believed to have issued these edicts to mankind through the great oracle of Delphoi over which she presided alongside the God Apollon.  Clearly, the establishment of democracy in Athens was seen as a divine gift of Themis, especially, as well as Zeus (her father) and Athena.

Today, we use the term demokratia to mean a direct democracy, as opposed to our more familiar modern invention, representative democracy. The demokratia was first begun in Athens around 500 BCE. In such a government, citizens’ (no women or slaves) votes were counted directly. By the same token, in a true demokratia, each citizen is also directly responsible for the various duties of keeping the society running. That is, every voting citizen is expected to participate in some way, in the functioning of the necessary social services, governance, and so on.

Will you join us in honoring the Gods who guard our democracy? You can find the ritual here and join the community page here.


Polyphemus (Πολύφημος Polyphēmos) is the giant son of Poseidon and Thoosa in Hellenic mythology, one of the Cyclopes described in Homeros's Odyssey. His name means "abounding in songs and legends". 

In Homeros's epic, Odysseus lands on the island of the Cyclops during his journey home from the Trojan War and, together with some of his men, enters a cave filled with provisions. When the giant Polyphemus returns home with his flocks, he blocks the entrance with a great stone and, scoffing at the usual custom of hospitality, eats two of the men. Next morning, the giant kills and eats two more and leaves the cave to graze his sheep.

After the giant returns in the evening and eats two more of the men, Odysseus offers Polyphemus some strong and undiluted wine given to him earlier on his journey. Drunk and unwary, the giant asks Odysseus his name, promising him a guest-gift if he answers. Odysseus tells him "Οὖτις", which means "nobody" and Polyphemus promises to eat this "Nobody" last of all. With that, he falls into a drunken sleep. Odysseus had meanwhile hardened a wooden stake in the fire and drives it into Polyphemus' eye. When Polyphemus shouts for help from his fellow giants, saying that "Nobody" has hurt him, they think Polyphemus is being afflicted by divine power and recommend prayer as the answer.

In the morning, the blind Cyclops lets the sheep out to graze, feeling their backs to ensure that the men are not escaping. However, Odysseus and his men have tied themselves to the undersides of the animals and so get away. As he sails off with his men, Odysseus boastfully reveals his real name, an act of hubris that was to cause problems for him later. Polyphemus prays to his father, Poseidon, for revenge and casts huge rocks towards the ship, which Odysseus barely escapes.

The above artwork breaks my heart, seeing the gentleness of the giant knowing his fate. So, today's post is in honor of Polyphemus. Your life would have been much better if a certain stray hero hadn't set foot on your island.

“Oh gentle ram, why do you come from the cave behind the rest of the flock? You never before tarried behind the other skeep, but striding far before the others you snatched the mild blossoms, you came first to the banks of the rivers, and you ever desired first to return home in the evening. But now you are last by far. Are you worried about my eye, which that rotten bastard Noone and his awful friends took from me after wrecking my mind with wine – I do not say that he has escaped death. Would that you could be of one mind with me, and could tell me where that man has fled from my wrath. Once slain, his brain would drip through my cave here and there to the ground, and it would ease my heart from those troubles which that worthless bastard Noone gave me.”
(Odyssey 9.446-460)

When the Italian prosecutor Paolo Giorgio Ferri visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2004, he posed for a picture beside an ancient terra cotta mixing bowl so rare and celebrated that it had held pride of place in the Met’s Greek and Roman galleries for 32 years. Four years later, as a result of Mr. Ferri’s dogged work as an investigator and antiquities hunter with Rome’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage, that object, known as the Euphronios krater, was back on Italian soil, as were scores of other looted treasures that had been acquired by American museums and collectors since the 1960s.

Mr. Ferri, who had recently retired after 45 years as a judicial magistrate, public prosecutor and legal consultant, died on June 14 at a hospital in Rome. He was 72. His family said the cause was a heart attack.

Colleagues say his legacy includes dismantling multinational looting and trafficking rings; recovering tens of thousands of Greco-Roman artifacts from secret storehouses; and compelling what is sometimes called “the great giveback,” a period that began in 2006 and continues to this day, during which American museums have returned at least 120 ill-gotten antiquities valued at more than $1 billion to the Greek and Italian authorities. Fabio Isman, his friend and biographer, stated:

“No one before him had used the courts to attack the art predators and big museums and corrupt dealers. He was very stubborn, and what he did was very daring.”

In an email interview with The New York Times last year, Mr. Ferri said he did not know what to expect in 1994 when he began investigating the theft of a statue from a villa in Rome and its sudden appearance at a Sotheby’s auction in London. After much digging, he said, he discovered that a dozen prominent American museums housed Roman and Etruscan items that Italian officials never knew existed. His list eventually grew to 47 museums worldwide.

 Sorry, I'm swamped again! Let me leave you with this fable by Babrius. Babrius (Βάβριος, Bábrios), also known as Babrias (Βαβρίας) or Gabrias (Γαβρίας), was the author of a collection of Greek fables, many of which are known today as Aesop's Fables. Practically nothing is known of him. He is supposed to have been a Hellenized Roman (Living in the second century AD), whose original name may have been Valerius. He lived in the East, probably in Syria, where the fables seem first to have gained popularity. There is no mention of Babrius in ancient writers before the beginning of the 3rd century AD. As appears from surviving papyrus fragments, his work is to be dated before c. 200 AD (and probably not much earlier, for his language and style seem to show that he belonged to that period).

A super fat dog and a wolf once met
Who was asking him where he was fed
To become a dog so big and filled with grease.
“It is a rich man” he said, “who is feeding me”.
“But,” asked the wolf, “why is your neck so bare?”
“there’s an iron collar which wears my skin there,
A collar which my feeder forged and placed.”
The wolf laughed at him and said to his face:
“I say this kind of luxury can go to heck,
The kind of life where iron wears down my neck.”
[Fable 100]

You thought we were done, weren't you? Nope! But these will be the last two rituals until the Eleusinian Mysteries, which we will be organizing a sort of ten day PAT festival for. The Kharisteria ritual will be held today. The Boedromia is for tomorrow. Both are at 10 AM EDT. Will you be joining us?

The Kharisteria
The Kharisteria takes place on the sixth of the month--a day sacred to Artemis. This festival is another commemoration of a battle, in this case, the battle of Marathon which took place in 490 BC. It was also a festival to pay off a debt to the Theoi. During the battle of Marathon, around 10,000 Hellenes stood their ground against a Persian force between 30.000 and 100.000 men. 192 Hellenes fell, opposite 6.400 Persians. That was quite a victory--especially if you consider that the Hellenes were the attacking side. The casualty numbers are known because the Hellenes set up a memorial for their fallen comrades. The Persian dead were counted for a very specific reason: the Hellenes had promised to the Theoi a sacrifice of one goat for ever Persian killed. In the end, they discovered they'd killed so many Persians that they couldn't find enough goats. A payment plan of sorts was devised, and over the course of thirteen years, roughly 500 goats per year were sacrificed, a practice that was still performed in Plutarch’s day. Plutarch also confirms that the sacrifice took place at Artemis Agrotera’s sanctuary at Agrai.

You can join the community page for this event here and download the ritual from here. As a personal note, this would be a great day to break out your copy of 300 because that's definitely the spirit of the battle that took place! We hope you join us for the ritual on 25 August, at 10 AM EDT.

The Boedromia
The festival that gives its name to the month. It might have been sacred to Apollon, and was thus most likely held on His sacred day--the seventh of the month. The Boedromia might have been another war commemoration. The epithet of Apollon associated with this festival is 'Boedromios', the helper in distress. The origin of the epithet and festival are explained in different ways. According to Plutarch, the name was awarded to Him (and the festival created) because he had assisted the Athenians in the war with the Amazons, who were defeated on the seventh of Boedromion, the day on which the Boedromia were afterwards celebrated. According to others, the name was awarded after the war of Erechtheus and Ion against Eumolpus, because Apollon had advised the Athenians to rush upon the enemy with a war-shout (Boê), if they wanted to win--and they did.

We have already commemorated many ancient wars but with this ritual, we would like to address the many wars currently taking place in our world. We want to plead the Theoi to bring them to a swift end and bring refuge to the many displaced. We ask that xenia--hospitality--prevail in a time where many would turn these refugees away.

You can join the community page on Facebook here and the ritual can be found here. We hope you join us on 26 August, at 10 AM EDT.

Two more PAT ritual announcements today, both today, the 24th of August. This time it's a sacrifice to the Erkhian hero Epops and an optional celebration of the dead: the Genesia. Join us for both (in that order) starting 10 AM EDT.

Sacrifice to Epops at Erhia
In the calendar from Erkhia, the hero Epops received two holókaustoi on the fifth of Boedromion. The victims of the two holókaustoi to Epops were piglets and the sacrifices were to be followed by wineless libations designated. Sacrifices to Epops are known only from the Erkhia calendar. The mythological context of Epops is not clear, but he was a hero, perhaps linked (by Kallimachos) to the conflict between the city-states Paiania and Erkhia.

We hope you will join us for this sacrifice! The community page on Facebook can be found here and the ritual here.

The Genesia seems to have been a festival of the dead--especially of dead parents. It was celebrated on the fifth of the month of Boudromion in Athens, but that is all we know for sure. There is reason to believe that the Genesia was panhellenic--although we do not know if all city-states performed the rites on the same day. We are also unsure if the Genesia was a set day for all children to visit their parents' grave and perform sacrifices there, or if there was a public commemoration of all the dead. It's most likely linked to honouring fallen warrior (for which there was a state festival) and it was a day to visit the tombs of deceased family members. The day is also sacred to Gaea, who housed the remains of the dead, and brought fertility and wealth to the living.

If you have family members--especially parents--to commemorate, we invite you to take part in this ritual. For our community page, please go here. You can find the ritual here.

On August 23rd, we will hold a PAT ritual for the sacrifice to the heroine Basile, at 10 AM EDT. Will you join us for the event?

In the calendar from Erkhia the heroine Basile was given a holókaustos on the 4th of the month of Boedromion. The sacrifice to Basile consisted of a white, female, lamb and was followed by a wineless libation. The colour of the animal is noteworthy, since holókaustoi have commonly been classified as khthonian sacrifices, and it is usually assumed that the victims used in such rituals were black. Basile was also worshipped elsewhere in Attica, but nothing is known of the kind of sacrifices she received at those locations. Basile seems to have been a local heroine. Nothing survives about her deeds, as far as we have been able to find, but she was important enough to warrant her own personal sacrifice--the Erkhian calendar also makes note of collective sacrifices to 'the heroines'.

For this ritual, you can join us here. The ritual can be found here.

Two PAT ritual announcements, both for today, August 22rd, we will hold a PAT ritual for the Niketeria, followed by the Plataia.

The Niketeria
We are coming upon another festival celebrated in ancient Athens: the Niketeria. Surviving sources date the festival to the third of Boudromion, and it was in honor of one of the most important events in Athens' history: its naming and tutelage by Athena. We will be celebrating it at the usual 10 AM EDT.

Many of us know there was a contest between Poseidon and Athena over who would rule the growing city of Athens (in the name it had before being called 'Athens'), and it is clear who won that contest. The earliest reference to this event we still have access to is from the fourth century BC by Plato, but it does not quite have the poetic touch Ovid's account has. For that reason, I will give the account of Ovid, and build from there. From the Metamorphoses, (trans. Melville):

"The rock of Mavors [Ares] in Cecrops' citadel is Pallas' [Athena's] picture [in her weaving contest with Arakhne] and that old dispute about he name of Athens. Twelve great gods, Jove [Zeus] in their midst, sit there on lofty thrones, grave and august, each pictured with his own familiar features: Jove [Zeus] in regal grace, the Sea-God [Poseidon] standing, striking the rough rock with his tall trident, and the wounded rock gushing sea-brine, his proof to clinch his claim. Herself she gives a shield, she gives a spear sharp-tipped, she gives a helmet for her head; the aegis guards her breast, and from the earth struck by her spear, she shows an olive tree, springing pale-green with berries on the boughs; the gods admire; and Victoria [Nike] ends the work." [6. 70]

Ancient Hellenic Neoplatonist philosopher Proklos (Πρόκλος) in 'On the Timaeus of Plato' speaks of this event as well, and notes that there is still a festival held to commemorate this event in his time (between 412 and 485 AD)

 "Farther still, the victories of Minerva are celebrated by the Athenians, and there is a festival sacred to the Goddess, in consequence of her having vanquished Neptune, and from the genesiurgic being subdued by the intellectual order, and those that inhabit this region betaking themselves to a life according to intellect, after the procurement of necessaries. For Neptune presides over generation; but Minerva is the inspective guardian of an intellectual life." [p. 153]

When this was celebrated, Proklos does not mention, but Plutarch does. One of these is in the Quaestiones Convivales, from the Moralia. Here, he answers the question: 'What is Signified by the Fable About the Defeat of Neptune? And Also, Why Do the Athenians Omit the Second Day of the Month Boedromion?'.

"While all were making a disturbance, Menephylus, a Peripatetic philosopher, addressing Hylas: You see, he said, how this investigation is no foolery nor insolence. But leave now, my dear fellow, that obstinate Ajax, whose name is ill-omened, as Sophocles says, and side with Poseidon, whom you yourself are wont to tell has often been overcome, once by Athene here, in Delphi by Apollo, in Argos by Here, in Aegina by Zeus, in Naxos by Bacchus, yet in his misfortunes has always been mild and amiable. Here at least he shares a temple in common with Athene, in which there is an altar dedicated to Lethe. And Hylas, as if he had become better tempered: One thing has escaped you, Menephylus, that we have given up the second day of September [Boudromion], not on account of the moon, but because on that day the gods seemed to have contended for the country." [Book 9, question 5]

Because of this, the official view of Elaion is that the festival of Niketeria--'Victory'--was celebrated not on the second of Boudromion as many modern researchers say, but on the third. The second day, after all, was no longer a part of the month. The question remains why the victory of one Goddess over one God was commemorated at all, and there is no adequate ancient explanation. None of the surviving works mention why and how the festival was celebrated. All we know is that it was noted--it might not even have been a true festival at all. We believe that by omitting the second day, the defeat of Poseidon was omitted, so as not to anger Him. A day later--in a somewhat unrelated fashion to Poseidon's defeat--there was a (possibly somewhat subdued) celebration of the victory of Athena, with sacrifices to Athena, Niké, and perhaps even Poseidon for the many wonderful gifts They had provided--and would hopefully continue to provide--for the city of Athens.

We will hold a subdued PAT ritual in honor of the Niketeria at 10 AM EDT on August 22rd. Will you be joining us? The ritual can be found here and you can join the community here.


The Plataia
The Plataia (or Plataea) seems to have been a commemorative festival, for the Hellenes fallen at the battle of Plataea. The Battle of Plataea was the final land battle during the second Persian invasion of Hellas. It took place in 479 BC near the city of Plataea in Boeotia, and was fought between an alliance of the Greek city-states, including Sparta, Athens, Corinth and Megara, and the Persian Empire of Xerxes I. Some 38,700 Hellenes stood their ground against 300.000 Persians. The Hellenes marched out of the Peloponnesus and the Persians retreated to Boeotia and built a fortified camp near Plataea. The Hellenes surrounded the camp, but refused to enter the bare terrain surrounding the camp. They waited for eleven days, and then found their supplies dwindled. They attempted to retreat, and Persian general Mardonius ordered his forces to pursue them. The Hellenes, however--particularly the Spartans, Tegeans and Athenians--stood their ground, and won a great victory over the Perians. The Persian infantry was slaughtered, and Mardonius killed. Plutarch gives the date for the battle to be the fourth of this month, but also attested that the Athenians commemorated the event on the third. In Boeotia (and especially in Plataea), the remembrance seems to have been held on the fourth.

Herodotus, in his Histories (9. 52. 1), and Plutarch, in his 'Life of Arestides' both remark the following about what is most likely this battle:

"The seer slew victim after victim, Pausanias turned his face [historical general of the Persian Wars], all tears, toward the Heraion, and with hands uplifted prayed Kithaironion Hera and the other gods of the Plataian land that, if it was not the lot of the Hellenes to be victorious, they might at least do great deeds  before they fell."[Life of Aristides, 18. 1]

As such we can assume that, besides the fallen, a sacrifice to Hera was also made. For this ritual, you can join us here. The ritual can be found here. We'll perform the ritual at 11 am EDT.

 The Greek Anthology (Anthologia Graeca) is a collection of poems, mostly epigrams, that span the classical and Byzantine periods of Greek literature. Most of the material of the Greek Anthology comes from two manuscripts, the Palatine Anthology of the 10th century and the Anthology of Planudes (or Planudean Anthology) of the 14th century.

I'd like to share two of the epigrams with you today, about Ganymede. In Greek mythology, Ganymede or Ganymedes (Γανυμήδης, Ganymēdēs) is a divine hero whose homeland was Troy. Ganymede was abducted by Zeus from Mount Ida, near Troy in Phrygia. Ganymede had been tending sheep, a rustic or humble pursuit characteristic of a hero's boyhood before his privileged status is revealed. Zeus either summoned an eagle or turned into an eagle Himself to transport the youth to Mount Olympus.

Greek Anthology, Antipater 5.77
“Hera twisted by the beauty of Ganymede once spoke
As she suffered the heart-rending stab of jealousy in her heart:
“Troy ignited a male fire for Zeus—and so I will send
A fire at Troy, a pain bearing Paris.
No eagle will come to Troy again, but vultures
Will go to the feast when the Greeks get the spoils for their toils.”

Greek Anthology 12.211
“Go to bright heaven, go carrying the child,
Eagle, keep your twin wings spread wide.
Go holding gentle Ganymede and do not drop
Zeus’ wine-bearer of the sweetest cups.
But be careful not to bloody him with your clawed feet
So that Zeus, upset, won’t hurt you.”

Translation here.

 On the day of the Hene kai Nea, or sometimes on 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 Boedromion:
  • Boedromion 2 - August 22 - Niketeria - festival in honor of Athena, Nike, and perhaps Poseidon
  • Boedromion 2 - August 22 - Plataia - festival of reconciliation, sacred to Hera Daidala
  • Boedromion 4 - August 23 - Sacrifice to Basile in Erkhia
  • Boedromion 5 - August 24 - Genesia - public festival for the dead in honor of Gaea
  • Boedromion 5 - August 24 - Sacrifice to Epops at Erkhia
  • Boedromion 6 - August 25 - Kharisteria - festival in honor of Artemis Agrotera
  • Boedromion 7 - August 26 - Boedromia - a festival of thanksgiving for Apollon as a god who rescues people in war
  • Boedromion 12 - August 31 - Democratia - festival in honor of Democracy
  • Boedromion 13-23 - September 3 - September 11 - Eleusinian Greater Mysteries - in honor of Demeter
  • Boedromion 17 - September 6 - Epidauria - in honor of Asklēpiós
  • Boedromion 27 - September 15 Sacrifice to the Nymphs, Achelous, Alochus, Hermes & Gaea at Erkhia

    Anything else?
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     More than 3,500 years ago a catastrophic volcanic eruption struck ancient Thera, known today as the Greek island of Santorini. Ash and pumice rained across the Mediterranean, and tsunami waves rolled onto faraway shores in Crete. In the 1960s archaeologists on Santorini uncovered a Minoan settlement frozen in time, with vibrant wall frescoes decorating multistory houses, all buried by volcanic debris.

    The eruption was one of the most powerful volcanic explosions of the past 10,000 years and a crucial time point of the Mediterranean Bronze Age. It is also a major area of controversy in archaeology; researchers have argued for decades over the date of this cataclysm.

    Although it does not settle the debate, a recent adjustment to the radiocarbon-dating process narrows down the possibilities. This much anticipated new calibration curve, a set of data points used to convert radiocarbon-dating results into calendar years, is highlighted in a special August issue of Radiocarbon. Called IntCal20, it draws from nearly twice the data of the previous curve, from 2013—and may prompt scientists to reevaluate the age of sites, artifacts and events around the world. Thomas Higham, a radiocarbon-dating specialist at the University of Oxford, who was not involved in the calibration effort, says: 

    “It's a really massive increase in the data set, and with each revision our ability to confidently date the past improves. A lot of people are excited about this new curve because it is going to give us the opportunity to sharpen our chronologies and understand more about the way the earth works and the way the earth has changed through time.”

    All living things absorb carbon 14, a radioactive carbon isotope that decays at a regular rate over time. This means that shells, bone, charcoal and other organic materials that archaeologists find contain a chemical timestamp. Discovered in the late 1940s, radiocarbon dating transformed the study of prehistory and became the gold standard for establishing chronologies in archaeology. A second revolution came when scientists realized atmospheric carbon 14 levels vary over time as the result of fluctuations in solar activity—and, more recently, atomic bombs and fossil-fuel burning. Thus, radiocarbon dates need to be calibrated against independent measurements, primarily from chunks of ancient wood. These have annual growth rings that scientists can directly tie to calendar years and can also analyze for radiocarbon.

    For the earliest internationally accepted calibration curves, developed in the 1980s, tree-ring measurements were available only for the past few thousand years. In contrast, IntCal20 draws from nearly 14,000 years' worth. It also includes far more single-year tree-ring measurements than previous versions, accounting for shorter-lived spikes from phenomena such as bursts of solar radiation. Other absolute measurements from natural archives, including ice cores, seasonal lake sediments and cave stalagmites, extend the new curve back to 55,000 years, close to the earliest age radiocarbon dating can track.

    The International Calibration Working Group, formed in 2002, crowdsources data to produce new versions of the widely used curve. And besides IntCal20, which is intended for samples from the Northern Hemisphere, the group has created separate curves for objects from the Southern Hemisphere and the ocean, which have slightly different radiocarbon levels.

    Of the 12,904 raw measurements included in IntCal20, more than 800 come from 1700 to 1500 B.C.—the best-dated prehistoric section of the curve. Scientists know Thera's cataclysmic eruption happened during that span, but they want to pinpoint when. Charlotte Pearson, a tree-ring scientist at the University of Arizona, who was part of the IntCal20 effort and studies Thera, says: 

    “If you had a really good, firm calendar date for this event ... it would mean that at any archaeological site in that region where you hit the ash, you would have an exact dated layer. That would pull together all the time lines for all these incredible cultures in this region, including the Minoans, the Hittites, the Hyksos and the ancient Egyptians."

    But the date is elusive. Some pottery and ancient records point to the late 16th century B.C.; radiocarbon results have suggested a century or more earlier. Measurements that went into IntCal20 tighten the focus, but because the curve plateaus in this range, the data offer probabilities for a few windows of time rather than a definitive answer.

    “The major difference is that the possible ranges are now substantially narrower,” says Sturt W. Manning, a Cornell University archaeologist, who led early Thera-related radiocarbon work and was involved in IntCal20. The calibration suggests a late-17th-century B.C. date is most likely, with another window in the earlier to mid-16th century B.C., he says. With these new data, the estimate “has become greatly more precise—but it's the same debate, ironically.” Nevertheless, Pearson thinks scientists are getting closer to a calendar year for the event. “I do think it is dateable,” she says. “It's just [a question of] which of the records is going to produce the clinching evidence.”

    With IntCal20's release, scientists and archaeologists expect a rush of new studies that recalibrate data—and not just from the Bronze Age. The new curve bumps the transition period at the end of the last ice age to 50 years earlier. This may influence how archaeologists interpret data connected to the mass extinction of megafauna and the arrival of humans into the Americas—other contentious dates. IntCal20 also suggests the oldest Homo sapiens fossil known in Eurasia, the Ust'-Ishim man found in Siberia, may be 1,000 years younger than previously believed. Higham is particularly excited about new measurements in the range of 50,000 to 55,000 years ago; he hopes these will show more about how anatomically modern humans, migrating out of Africa, interacted and exchanged genes with archaic humans, including Neandertals and Denisovans.

    Manning says the next IntCal will incorporate more regional variations in radiocarbon measurements, possibly explaining discrepancies from the period around the Thera eruption. 

    “We've moved to a new generation of accuracy and precision. With that will come a new focus on exactly what has been dated and how that radiocarbon age has been created.”

     Rather randomly, I thought of Ariadne today. You'll know Ariadne best from her role in the myth about Theseus and the Minotaur. Theseus was fathered by Aegeus and Poseidon, whom had both slept with his mother Aethra, and was thus destined to become a hero. All heroes were given at least one divine parent, usually one connected to their later deeds. When he heard about the Minotaur of Krete, and the nine-yearly sacrifices to it--a punishment by King Minos of Krete for the death of his son Androgeus, at the hands of Athenian assassins--Theseus offered to be one of the youths who sailed for Krete. 

    Once there, Ariadne, daughter of the king, fell for him and offered him a ball of yarn so he would be able to find his way out off the labyrinth that housed the Minotaur the youths would be sacrificed to. With Ariadne's aid, Theseus defeated the Minotaur and took Ariadne and her sister Phaedra from their home in thanks for their help. That night, they slept on the beach but Athena woke up Theseus and told him to sail out now, and to leave Ariadne and Phaedra behind. He did, although it pained him greatly.

    This is the best known version of the myth, but there are others. Plutarch already summarized them in 75 AC in "Theseus." I'd like to quote those passages to you today. 

    “There are many other versions circulated about these matters still and also about Ariadne, none of which agree. For some say that she hanged herself after she was abandoned by Theseus. Others claim that after she was taken to Naxos by sailors she lived with Oinaros a priest of Dionysus and that she was abandoned by Theseus because he loved another.

    “A terrible lust for Aiglê the daughter of Panopeus ate at him” [fr. 105]—this is a line Hereas the Megarean claims Peisistratus deleted from the poems of Hesiod, just as again he says that he inserted into the Homeric catalogue of dead “Theseus and Perithoos, famous children of the gods” [Od. 11.631] to please the Athenans. There are some who say that Ariadne gave birth to Oinipiôn and Staphulos with Theseus. One of these is Ion of  Khios who has sung about his own city “Oinopiôn, Theseus’ son, founded this city once.” [fr. 4D]

    The most reputable of the myths told are those which, as the saying goes, all people have in their mouths. But Paiôn the Amathousian has handed down a particular tale about these events. For he says that Theseus was driven by a storm, to Cyprus and that he had Ariadne with him, who was pregnant and doing quite badly because of the sea and the rough sailing. So he set her out alone and he was carried back into the sea from the land while he was tending to the ship. The native women, then, received Ariadne and they tried to ease her depression because of her loneliness by offering her a counterfeit letter written to her by Theseus and helping her and supporting her during childbirth. They buried her when she died before giving birth.

    Paiôn claims that when Theseus returned he was overcome with grief and he left money to the island’s inhabitants, charging them to sacrifice to Ariadne and to have two small statues made for her—one of silver and one of bronze. During the second day of the month of Gorpiaon at the sacrifice, one of the young men lies down and mouns and acts as women do during childbirth. They call the grove in which they claim her tomb is that of Ariadne Aphrodite.

    Some of the Naxians claim peculiarly that there were two Minoses and two Ariadnes. They claim one was married to Dionysus on Naxos and bore the child Staphulos, and the young one was taken by Theseus and left when he came to Naxos with a nurse named Korkunê—whose tomb they put on display. They claim that Ariadne died there and has honors unequal to those of the earlier one. The first has a festival of singing and play; the second has one where sacrifices are performed with grief and mourning.”

     Ancient ruins give us a fascinating window into the past: how people lived, the spaces they inhabited and their daily lives. Historians, architects and travelers alike marvel at these remnants of time past, but it’s often hard to get a sense of what these spectacular buildings would have looked like at their peak. Expdia decided to step back in time and recreate some of their favorite ancient ruins in their original locations. Of course there weren't a ton of Hellenic ones, but some are close enough.

    The Parthenon
    Back in ancient times, this temple sheltered a monumental golden statue of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, craft and war. Sitting atop the hill at the Acropolis, an ancient citadel in Athens, the Parthenon cuts an imposing shape. In 1687 it was severely damaged in the Great Turkish War, but much of the sturdy Doric architecture withheld the blast, and a good chunk of it is still intact to this day. Nowadays it’s a tourist hotspot attracting millions of visitors a year. Here it is, fully restored to its original glory. Athena herself would be proud.

    Temple of Jupiter
    Built in dedication to Jupiter, the god of the sky and thunder, this temple was the main center of religious life in the ancient city of Pompeii, a small Roman town on the Bay of Naples. It stood dominant in the Forum, with Mount Vesuvius looming ominously behind it. The volcano erupted in August of 79 AD, tragically destroying Pompeii. The site was rediscovered in the 16th century, and many years of excavation have given the millions of yearly visitors a fascinating insight into the daily life of this 1st century Roman city.

    Area Sacra di Largo Argentina – Temple B
    This square in Rome houses not one, but four Roman temple ruins. It was discovered during construction work in the 1920s. Temple B is the most recent of the four temples, and six of its columns, the original flight of steps and the alta are all still intact. Visitors to the area will not only find a fascinating archaeological site, but also hundreds of cats living among the ruins. Volunteers feed, clean and look after the cats and visitors are encouraged to say hello or even adopt one of them. Here is what the temple would have looked like, minus the cats.

     The Hellenic religion is a religion of multitudes--of many, many multitudes of Gods, mostly. some are very well known and much hailed and some... well, not so much. Like Hesykhia, daughter of Diké, personification of tranquality and peace. Through Her mother, she is linked to Justice and thus Her tranquality is the tranquality of victory. She is only mentioned once in the surviving Hellenic poetry we have at our disposal and that is in Pindar's Pythian odes.

    Pindar is generally considered both Hellas' best poet, and its most difficult to understand. He is most famous for his epinicians, poems celebrating victors at the major Hellenic games. Pindar was paid to write them, which is probably why so many have survived. 

    According to ancient scholars, Pythian 8 was performed in 446 BC, shortly before Pindar's death. Pythian 8 is the first Pindaric ode known to have been performed on Aigina since the island lost its freedom to Athens. It opens with invocation of Hesykhia, who is besought to accept the song in honor of Aristomenes, the victor. But peace and justice bring out hatred and pride, as embodied in the giants Porphyrion and Typhon. They were slain by Zeus and Apollon; and Apollon, lord of Pytho, brings completes the circle to bring us back to the victory, the victor, and Aigina. I won't quote the whole poem, but here is the part about Hesykhia for your enjoyment and contemplation. If you would like to read more, you can find it here.

    Pindar - Pythian Ode 8
    "Hesychia, kind goddess of peace, daughter of Justice 
    and lady of the greatness of cities: 
    you who hold the high keys of wars and of councils, 
    accept for Aristomenes this train of Pythian victory.
    For you understand, in strict measure of season, 
    deeds of gentleness and their experience likewise. 
    And you, when one fixes anger without pity fast in his heart, 
    are stern to encounter the strength of the hateful ones, 
    and sink pride in the bilge."

    The memorial tomb of the ancient Greek didactic poet Aratus in the southern Turkish province of Mersin (Greek Myrsini), continues to intrigue archaeologists. The team led by academic Remzi Yağcı from Dokuz Eylül University, have been carrying out excavations to unearth the monumental grave of the ancient Greek poet Aratus, which is inside the ancient city of Soli Poempiopolis.

    The tomb was already discovered three years ago, but archaeologists were not allowed to open it. The tomb of Aratus is of great importance for the region and so are the ruins of the ancient city.

    According to reports, the team who were given the ‘green light’, reached the inner walls on the sixth day of the works.  Yağcı said that the team was unearthing pieces one relic at a time, hence, why they don’t know what exactly they are dealing with and how its shape will turn out to be.

    Deniz Kaplan, an academic from Mersin University’s archaeology department, said he was thrilled by the findings. “We’re still at the start of things. But we’ve encountered a circular structure surrounded by two rows of hexagonal shapes. The shapes, however, can change the more the digs continue and become clearer. We can say clearer things in the future,” he said.

    The team previously unearthed many glorious artefacts from thousands of years ago, including statues of gods, streets lined by columns with busts of emperors and senior managers, a theatre, as well as the city’s harbour and aqueduct.

    Mezitli Mayor Neşet Tarhan said he has been visiting the site frequently to encourage the digs and is keen to see the findings unveiled, so that they can be introduced to the world.

    The annual sacrifice at Erkhia to Zeus Epoptes (Εποπτες) was held on 25 Metageitnion. It is a sacrifice to the King of the Gods, and we will celebrate it on August 15th, at 10 AM EDT. Will you be joining us?

    'Epoptes' (sometimes 'Epopteus' or 'Epopetei') is often translated as 'overseer' or 'watcher'; 'to look down upon'. Among the ancient Hellenes, the title of 'epoptes' was used of those who had attained the third grade of initiation, the highest, of the Eleusinian Mysteries; a religious cult at Eleusis, with its worship, rites, festival and pilgrimages open to all Hellenes willing to undergo initiation. The epopteia were--appropriately--charged with overseeing the proceedings at Eleusis, but seemingly received the name mostly because they had beheld the full mysteries of the Mysteries.

    From the calendar we have recovered from Erkhia, we know that the sacrifice to Zeus Epoptes was a pig, burned completely in a holókaustos, without an offering of wine. It cost the Erkhians three drachmas.

    You can find the ritual for the sacrifice here, and if you would like to join our community page for it, come on over to Facebook here. We would love it if you could join us!

     Aeschylus (Aiskhulos, Αἰσχύλος) is of the three Hellenic tragedians whose plays can still be read or performed. He was alive from around 525/524 BC to 456/455 BC, and according to Aristotle, he expanded  the number of characters in plays to allow for conflict amongst them, whereas previously characters had interacted only with the chorus. Aeschylus' most famous works are undoubtedly the Seven against Thebes, the Supplicants and the Orestia. Also usually attributed to him is 'Prometheus Bound'.

    Prometheus Bound (Promētheus Desmōtēs, Προμηθεὺς Δεσμώτης) is an Ancient Greek tragedy. The tragedy is based on the myth of Prometheus, a Titan who defies the Gods and gives fire to mankind, acts for which he is subjected to perpetual punishment. Much of the play is performed by the chorus, who are, in this play, the representation of the Oceanids. In Hellenic mythology, the Oceanids (Ὠκεανίδες) are sea nymphs who are the three thousand daughters of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys. Each is the patroness of a particular spring, river, sea, lake, pond, pasture, flower or cloud.

    Somewhere a little past the middle, Prometheus still firmly chained to the rock Zeus condemned him to, the chorus speaks to Prometheus through a plea to Zeus. It's this plea to Zeus I'd like to share with you today.

    "May Zeus, who apportions everything, 
    never set his power in conflict with my will,
    nor may I be slow to approach the gods, 
    with holy sacrifices of oxen slain, 
    by the side of the ceaseless stream 
    of Oceanus, my father;
    and may I not offend in speech; 
    but may this rule abide in my heart 
    and never fade away.
    Sweet it is to pass all the length of life 
    amid confident hopes, 
    feeding the heart in glad festivities." [529-544]

    I have talked about slavery in ancient Hellas quite a bit on my blog. You an read the masterpost, if you will, here. The word 'slave' wasn't known in ancient Hellas, in fact, the first mention of the word dates back to the seventh century C.E.. A Hellenic slave was called a doûlos (δούλος), which would translate best as a 'servant' or 'serf'.  In ancient Hellas, doûlos were the working class. They were teachers, farmers, shop owners, herders, doctors, city militia, cleaners, etc. 

    In democratic city states, the doûlos were protected by law and their masters were urged to care for them and treat them as fellow human beings. If a serf felt they were being mistreated by their master, they could seek asylum in a temple and request a new master. Murdering a doûlos was an equally severe crime as the murder of a free man. No servant could be executed on a whim; a court ruling was required. For a serf to be executed there should be a special reason imposed to the court. Any slave could buy his freedom for a certain amount of money and the state itself sometimes freed its serfs on their own accord. 

    Of course, this all sounds a bit too positive. These conditions were prevalent in democratic city states but outside of those, life was hard for serfs. In Sparta, for example, serfs could be executed at will and were worked hard. Revolts happened on occasion. Punishment was prevalent, even in the democratic city states, and lashings were common place. Even if that wasn't the case, a huge portion of serfs were 'barbarian' men, women and children who had been kidnapped from their homes in non-Hellenic territories or who had lived for centuries on the land that the Hellens overtook.

    Still, slavery was an ideal condition for some people in ancient Hellas. Poverty and diseases were so prevalent in those days that people preferred to be slaves to wealthy people so that they could survive those hardships. This gave them a level of economic security in that poverty-stricken world. Were all the slaves treated in the same manner? Here are three classifications of slaves.

    Domestic Slaves

    Domestic slaves in ancient Hellas would do everything around the house, including cooking, gardening, cleaning, washing, reading, writing, taking care of babies, and the sick. They also escorted their masters, carried and delivered messages, acted as travel companions, and did pretty much anything that has to be done at home. Since the slaves were regarded as a breathing piece of property, the quality of their lives just depended on their luck. If they were lucky enough to be acquired by a kind and humane master or mistress, they would perhaps be treated as a family member, of course, with strict limits. The slave would be incorporated into the family through a special ceremony. It was similar to the ceremony for a newborn baby to be incorporated into the family. These domestic slaves were likely to strengthen their ties with their masters or mistresses. If the slave took care of the children as a female nurse or a male paidagôgos, they were more likely to develop such ties. Interestingly, the words pedagogue and pedagogy come from the Greek word paidagôgos, which means a slave working as a tutor.

    One such close relationship is portrayed in the Odyssey. We see this in the relationship between Odysseus and his nurse, Eurycleia. They were so close that when Odysseus returned from Ithaca disguised as a beggar, she notices the scar on his thigh. She is particularly trusted by Odysseus and his family because she was a freeborn, and was captured and sold by pirates.

    Although there were many cases in which the masters were not totally satisfied with the services of their slaves, they were likely to win the hearts of their masters or mistresses. This was especially true if they had been with them from childhood as their nurses or tutors. Another sign that indicated the slaves were parts of the family was that they were buried in the family plots.

    Despite all these close relationships, the owner was free to abuse his slave physically or sexually. Also, if the slave was too old or weak to fulfill their duties, the owner was at liberty to throw them out. At the time of economic crisis or famine, slaves would lose their rations, but otherwise, domestic servants were mostly paid well and their livelihood was secured.

    Agricultural Slaves

    The size of this slave workforce is much disputed. In Athens, the number depended on the number of peasant proprietors and large landowners. Peasant farmers were more likely to hire seasonal workers than having slaves for the job because the former were considerably cheaper.

    The status, comfort, and security of the agricultural slaves were not the same as that of the domestic slaves. That’s because the agricultural slaves had limited contact with their master and couldn’t develop personal relationships with them. If they fell sick, they could be killed because they were not worthy anymore. Although there are no clear clues, it is speculated that the agricultural slaves were restrained in leg irons at night, like those who worked for the Romans.

    Other Types of Slaves

    In addition to domestic and agricultural slaves, there was a class of slaves called chôris oikountes, or those living separately. They did not live with their masters and worked as managers of shops and factories, bankers, captains of trading ships, bailiffs, artisans, and so on. This class of slaves existed because the Greeks did not like to work for other people. These slaves were considerably free and independent and worked on behalf of their masters on commission.

    The dêmosioi, or the public ones, was another class of slaves in ancient Hellas. These slaves were owned by the state. Notaries, coin testers, jury clerks, and public executioners belonged to this class of slaves. Their jobs were generally considered demeaning. Road menders or masons also belonged to this group.

    The industrial workers in ancient Hellas were also slaves. Their condition was the worst of the lot. They worked in mines or quarries, like Egyptian slaves. The working conditions were so adverse that some of them died because they had to work 24/7 non-stop.