I get a lot of questions from readers, and most of the time, the answers are fairly short. When I feel the question or the reply would be valuable to others as well, I make a post with a collection of them and post them in one go. Today's post is one of those.

"Is the word daemon pronounced day-mon, dee-mon, or as something else entirely?"

The words ‘dæmon’ and ‘daímōn’ are Latinized versions of the Greek ‘δαίμων’. Hesiod, in ‘Works and Days’ speak of only one race who became daímōns; those of the Golden Age. He makes clear distinction between the Theoi and daímōns: the Theoi are Gods, daímōns are members of the Gold Age who gained immortality. This differentiation is much less pronounced in the writings of Hómēros, where God and daímōn are used virtually interchangeably.

Daímōns fulfill an important role in mythology and life: all aspects of life can be overseen by Deathless beings, without taking away from—or needlessly adding to—the portfolio of the Theoi.

Especially through Neo-Platonics, comes the placement of daímōns between the Theoi and mankind. Daímōns are less powerful than the Theoi, with lesser domains; more concerned with the daily happenings of life than the Theoi are, but they, too, are immortal, and deserve honours. Important to note is the distinction made between daímōns and Heroes; similar in terms of power over the lives of man, but different in their identities, with the Heroes having very pronounced personalities, accomplishments and cult worship, and the daímōns having none of those.

In this context, the words ‘dæmon’ and ‘daímōn’ are pronounced the same: ‘dahy-mohn’, and not like the demons of Christianity (‘dee-muh n’).

"Which translation of Sappho have you read? There are several, right? Do you have a book with a collection of Sappho's poetry? If so, which book do you have? (I'm trying to figure out which is the best to buy) thank you!!! :) "

Sappho (Σαπφώ) was a Hellenic lyric poet, born on the island of Lesbos (Λέσβος) around 620 BC, although the exact date is unknown. She wrote beautiful and highly romantic poetry that comes and goes straight to the heart.

I have read many, many, many versions of Sappho's poetry--and I have enjoyed different things about every single version. My favourite translation of the hymn to Aphrodite is by Elizabeth Vandiver, but as an overall book, I enjoy the translation by Mary Barnard, who has applied a bit of creative freedom in her work. It's not a literal translation, but it truly brings to life the spirit of the words. It can be found in the book 'Sappho: A New Translation', University of California Press; Reissue edition (December 8, 1999).

A looted Greek vase was discovered recently amongst the renowned Allard Pierson Museum’s collection of antiquities.

Greek forensic archaeologist Christos Tsirogiannis, who works at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies in Denmark, uncovered the vase’s shady provenance as part of his mission to root out looted antiquities from the world’s museums and auction houses.

The Allard Pierson Museum, the archaeological museum for the University of Amsterdam, is home to countless treasures from antiquity. Like many other museums and auction houses, the Allard Pierson is less than forthcoming about the origins of much of their collection.

Various investigations into how the museum came into possession of many of its pieces, conducted by the Dutch newspaper NRC, have exposed many illegally or dubiously-sourced pieces in the museum’s halls.

Tsirogiannis began to look into the background of a particular ancient Greek vase in the Allard Pierson that dates to around 550 BC. The drinking-cup features intricate paintings of Aeneas, the hero of the Trojan war, and other figures from Greek mythology.

While found in Greek mythology and Homer’s Iliad, Aeneas is one of Rome’s most prominent figures as well. He is the central figure in Vergil’s Aeneid, which tells the story of Aeneas and other survivors of the Trojan war and their return from the completely destroyed city, as they make their way back to Rome. Considered the father of the Romans, Aeneas is the ancestor of Romulus and Remus, mythic founders of the ancient civilization.

After discovering that a collector purchased the vase from Sotheby’s in London during the 1980s, when the iconic auction house was notorious for selling looted antiquities, Tsirogiannis decided to dig further into the object’s origins.

His research led him to Polaroid pictures taken of the notorious smuggler and illegal art dealer Giacomo Medici’s stash of antiquities in the 1990s. Upon careful examination of Medici’s illegally excavated pieces, Tsirogiannis was able to positively identify the vase housed in the Allard Pierson amongst the stolen artifacts.

When sold to the collector, it was clear that someone had broken the piece and later glued it back together. Despite this repair, the vase was missing a piece at the time of its purchase.

The collector, a friend of the Allard Pierson Museum, later donated the ancient treasure to the museum’s acquisitions.

A different collector later purchased the missing piece of the vase, upon which the name “Aeneas” was written, and donated it to the museum. During restoration work, the piece was broken again and then joined together with the missing piece.

Looters often break up ancient pieces in order to sell them in multiple pieces for a higher profit.

While it is unclear to what extent the museum knew of the object’s illegal provenance, the discovery reveals the widespread practice of museums and collectors turning a blind eye to looted antiquities.

Representatives of the Allard Pierson have not yet released a statement regarding the shocking findings.

Professor Tsirogiannis’ tireless work to expose the illegal underbelly of the antiquities market has rocked the field, forcing key figures to examine the origins of some of their most prized pieces.

For many years, museums and auction houses have tried to ignore, or even conceal, the illegal provenance of their treasures in order to avoid repatriating their works of art.

Tsirogiannis’s investigations forced Christie’s of London to recently withdraw four Greek and Roman antiquities from the auction block.

In June of 2020, a US court ruled in favor of Greece in a bitter dispute with Sotheby’s over the sale of an exquisite ancient Greek bronze horse, in a case that Tsirogiannis originally uncovered.

When speaking with Greek Reporter in a recent interview, Tsirogiannis clarified that it was not his aim to bring down auction houses and museums, stating:

“The responsibility of an archaeologist is not to go about attacking the major players in the market, but simply to notify the public about his research… It is not my responsibility to knock at the doors of Christie’s or Sotheby’s. If the truth is a thorn in their side, they have a responsibility to deal with it.”

In an age of reckoning, when many countries, like Greece, are demanding the return of their most precious antiquities from the world’s most renowned museums, Tsirogiannis is very busy.

Over the last fifteen years, the Lone Ranger of the world of antiquities has identified approximately 1,100 looted artifacts within auction houses, commercial galleries, private collections and museums worldwide.

Tsirogiannis has played a significant role in securing the repatriation of many antiquities by alerting Interpol and other police authorities to their illegal provenance. Helping bring stolen artifacts back to their homeland is the archaeologist’s mission:

“As an academic I am happy that my research has made an impact to the real world and helps various countries to claim and repatriate their own cultural property,” he tells Greek Reporter modestly.

Additionally, Tsirogiannis, as a Greek himself, sees the humanity in these ancient artifacts.

“Some of these objects were buried in the tombs of the ancient people. They were dedicated to them. People grieved for their loss. They put these objects there with love and affection. Other objects were at the homes of ancient people, or they were dedicated to ancient gods, placed in sanctuaries and temples.

Tsirogiannis says “Thousands of years later, it is sacrilege for these antiquities to be looted for money and profit. This is what drives me mostly to continue my research.”

 Swamped today, sorry, everyone. Here are some ancient words of wisdom!

“These are the sayings attributed to Pythagoras: don’t mix a fire with a knife; don’t step over a balance beam; don’t sit on a bushel; don’t eat your heart; don’t help with a burden but put it on; always make your bed; don’t put a god’s image on a ring; don’t leave the outline of a pan in ashes; don’t wipe up a mess with a torch; don’t piss towards the sun; don’t walk on the highway; don’t offer your right hand too easily; don’t share your roof with swallows; don’t keep clawed birds; don’t piss or stand on your cut nails and hair; turn sharp blades away from you; when abroad, don’t turn back at the border

This is what these sayings mean: “don’t mix a fire with a knife” means not inciting the rage or swollen anger of people in power. “Don’t step over a balance beam” means don’t transgress equality and justice. “Don’t sit on a bushel” means keep both today and the future in mind since a bushel is a daily ration. “Don’t eat your heart” clearly means not wearing away your mind with troubles and grief. By saying “Don’t turn around when going abroad” Pythagoras advises people when they are leaving life not to cling to it desperately nor to be overcome by its pleasures. The logic of the rest of the sayings are similar to this and would take a while to go through.”

[Diogenes Laertius, Pythagoras 17–18]

A temple-shaped burial monument in white marble standing in the cemetery of Kathyperthen, the ancient municipality of Paiania southwest of the Katsoulerthi hill, came to light during the recent archaeological rescue excavation on the plot of land owned by the municipality of Paiania, where the new City Hall of Paiania was to be built.

The monument is fragmented, broken into two parts. It depicts two life size female figures facing each other: on the right, the deceased woman is seated on an elaborate stool, her legs placed on a low footrest. She is dressed in a transparent Ionic tunic and himation. On the left, the maid stands before her mistress, sadly leaning her head on her left hand.

The subject matter of the monument is typical of 4th century BC bas relief burial sculptures and is encountered in the burial stele built into the wall of the Agia Paraskevi church in Markopoulos, Mesogaia, in the Hegeso stele from the Kerameikos cemetery (National Archaeological Museum) and in the Mnesarete stele from Velanideza (Munich Glyptothek). The almost counter relief rendering of the figures on the Paiania monument is impressive and dates it to the period prior to 317 BC when Dimitrios Phalireos prohibited by law the construction of luxurious burial monuments.

The bas relief was transferred for safekeeping and conservation to the Archaeological Museum of Vravrona (Brauron). The excavation is ongoing and more of the monument’s fragments are likely to be found. Remains from other eras are also being excavated on the plot of land.

Source and more images here.

A Late Archaic temple was located in a central spot of the sanctuary of Artemis Amarysia in this year’s excavation season taking place from July 20 to August 28, 2020, as part of the five-year programme (2020-2024) of archaeological research. It was led by archaeologist Amalia Karapaschalidou and, on the part of the Swiss School of Archaeology, headed by its director Karl Reber with the participation of only a small number of Greek and Swiss students, due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Reconstruction of the eastern stoa [Credit: MOCAS]

Identifying the archaeological site at Palaioekklisies / Palaiochoria, east of today’s Amarynthos, with the sanctuary of Amarysia Artemis mentioned in various ancient sources as the most important sanctuary of Euboea, was made possible in 2017 as part of a five-year programme of collaboration (2015-2019) between the Euboea Ephorate of Antiquities and the Swiss School of Archaeology in Greece.

The Late Archaic temple discovered during this year’s excavation season is a 10x30 m building with a colonnade on its central axis and preserving its solid foundation, inside which a wall was found from an earlier phase and a grate with traces of fire. Votive offerings of the 7th and 6th centuries were deposited in the building’s foundations during the last quarter of the 6th cent. BC.  

Specifically, these included black figure vessels (among them an amphora depicting a Medusa), clay figurines, scarab shaped signet rings and faience figurines imported from the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as locally produced vessels such as long necked prochous vases and small hydriae, similar with vessels found in large numbers in excavations at Eretria of the Archaic sites of worship of female deities. These findings are evidence both of the Amarysia Artemis sanctuary participating in the religious practices of the Eretrians and the Euboeans in general and of  trade relations of the Amarynthos region with the Eastern Mediterranean.

The excavation of the large Post-Classical-Hellenistic portico was also completed inside the expropriated area. The monumental building with 27 Doric columns on its facade, is 69 m long and surrounded the sanctuary to the east. To the north, a portico and a series of three small buildings set the sanctuary’s boundaries. These are perhaps “treasuries” or small temples, which have a ground plan similar to corresponding buildings in other major Greek sanctuaries. No findings from the buildings revealed their proper use except for the fragment of a statue’s marble base bearing a votive inscription with the first letters of the name of Artemis. One of these buildings was destroyed by a lime kiln being installed, probably in Medieval times.

An earlier building of the 7th cent. BC was located to the west of the portico, 38 m long with a rectangular floor plan. This building probably functioned both as a monumental entrance to the sanctuary from the east and possibly for practices of worship.

Also worth mentioning among this year’s finds  are new fragments of tiles stamped with the name of Artemis, similar to those found in 2017 which then allowed for the sanctuary’s identification. The excavation period just completed was the first in a new five-year programme. In the coming years, research will focus on finding the initial phases of worship in this important sanctuary of Euboea. 

The field research is combined with special analyzes such as micromorphological sampling and archaeobotanical studies, in collaboration with the Wiener laboratory of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.The Field archaeologists are Olga Kyriazi and Tobias Kraft,from the Euboea Ephorate of Antiquities and the Swiss Archaeological School respectively.

Source and far moe images here.

In this part of the constellation series, we'll talk about the unclear constellation of Boötes (Boōtēs, Βοώτης), the herdsman. The ö (or ō) serves as a diaeresis, not an umlaut, meaning that each 'o' is to be pronounced separately. Who the constellation represents is about as clear as who the constellation Auriga represents: not clear at all. The options: Arcas, Ikários, and a random ploughman who drove the oxen in the constellation Ursa Major, are the most likely contestants.

The constellation's name means 'oxen-driver'; the ancient Hellens saw the constellation we now call the 'Big Dipper' as a cart with oxen. Logically, this view influenced the meaning given to the constellation by Ptolomy. Who this ox-driver was, is unclear, though. It may have been Boötes himself, but in a society where agriculture was a way of life, the ox-driver stands for every ox-driver of ancient Hellas; the base workman of society. Boötes may also have been the man who invented the plow and was placed in the sky for his contribution to ancient Hellenic society.

A second interpretation for the source of Boötes is given to us by Latin author, Gaius Julius Hyginus (64 BC – AD 17) is that of Ikários (Ἰκάριος), a grape farmer from Athens who was trained by Dionysos. Ikários is not to be confused with Íkaros from mythology, the son of Daidalos. This Ikários 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 commit suicide in the same way. Zeus, stricken by the events, placed all of them in the sky; Ikários as Boötes, Erigone as Virgo, and Maera as Canis Major, Canis Minor or the star, Procyon.

The third explanation on the story behind the constellation, is that the constellation represents Arcas (Ἀρκάς), son of Zeus and Kallistô (Καλλιστω). After Arcas was born, Hera caught wind of the affair and turned Kallistô into a bear. Alternatively, Kallistô was a priestess of Artemis, and Artemis punished her for losing her virginity by turning her into a bear. Because of the metamorphosis, the boy was raised by his maternal grandfather Lycaon. Due to his close relation with the Theos Zeus, it came to be that Zeus ate at his table one night. Lycaon decided to test the King of the Theoi, to see if He was worth the title. To accomplish this, Lycaon killed his grandson and prepared a meal with his remains. Zeus realized what had happened as soon as he was served the meal and was beyond angry. Lycaon was transformed into a (were-)wolf and Zeus restored His son's body and life. When Arcas grew up, he went out to hunt and found a beautiful bear. He chased her through the woods. The bear--his transformed mother Kallistô--ran towards him as soon as she recognized her son. Arcas was terrified and raised his bow to shoot her. Zeus intervened swiftly and placed Kallistô and her son in the sky. Kallistô became Ursa Major and Arcas either Ursa Minor or Boötes. A furious Hera asked Tethys to chain the two to the night's sky, so that the constellations would never sink below the horizon and receive water. The Hellenic name for Boötes, 'Arctophylax', can also mean 'Bear Watcher'.

Boötes is visible at latitudes between +90° and −50°. It is best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of June.

During the Bronze Age, two important civilizations emerged in Greece: the Minoans and, later, the Mycenaeans, smithsonianmag.com reports.

During the Bronze Age, two important civilizations emerged in Greece: the Minoans and, later, the Mycenaeans. These ancient peoples were among the earliest of the so-called “high cultures” of Europe: they communicated with sophisticated writing systems, painted elaborate frescoes, and—in the case of the Mycenaeans—built fortifications so large that later Greeks believed the structures had been created by giants. As Megan Gannon reports for Live Science, researchers recently conducted an extensive genomic analysis of Minoan and Mycenaean DNA. Their findings suggest that the two groups shared common ancestry, and that they are genetically linked to the Greeks of today.

The study, published in the journal Nature, sought to unravel one of the enduring mysteries of classical scholarship. Although the Minoans and Mycenaeans left behind plenty of material evidence, archaeologists have long puzzled over the groups' origins. Sir Arthur Evans, the archaeologist who found evidence of a distinct Minoan culture, believed that the group may have hailed from Egypt; others have suggested that the Mediterranean, Turkey, or Europe as more likely points of origin. The Myceneans have similarly confounded experts, as Louise Schofield writes in The Mycenaeans. Early researchers thought the culture was established by foreign invaders who spoke an early version of Greek. “However, more recent thinking tends to the view that it is too simplistic to think in terms of a single wave of Greek-speakers sweeping into the area,” according to Schofield.

Additionally, traditional scholarship has posited that the Minoans and Mycenaeans were two distinct peoples, according to Phys.org. But the new study suggests that this might not be the case.

Researchers analyzed DNA samples from 19 Bronze Age individuals. Ann Gibbons of Science reports that the remains belonged to 10 Minoans from Crete, four Mycenaeans, and five people from other early Bronze Age cultures of Greece and Turkey. The team compared 1.2 million letters of genetic code from these individuals to the genomes of 334 people from other ancient cultures, along with those of 30 modern Greeks.

In a significant revelation, researchers found that Minoans and Mycenaeans were closely related. At least three-quarters of DNA from both groups came from “the first Neolithic farmers of Western Anatolia and the Aegean,” the authors of the study write. Both cultures also inherited DNA from the peoples of the eastern Caucasus, located near modern-day Iran. 

“This finding suggests that some migration occurred in the Aegean and southwestern Anatolia from further east after the time of the earliest farmers," says Iosif Lazaridis, a Harvard University geneticist and co-author of the study, according to Phys.org.

Though the genomes of the Minoans and Mycenaeans were similar, they were not identical. 

Interestingly, the Mycenaeans shared four to 16 percent of their DNA with early hunter-gatherers of eastern Europe and Siberia. The authors of the study speculate that this finding points to another early migration to Greece—one that did not reach the Minoan homestead of Crete.

Researchers also observed genetic links between the Mycenaeans and modern inhabitants of Greece, “with some dilution of the early Neolithic ancestry,” the authors of the study write. The team posits that their findings “support the idea of continuity but not isolation in the history of populations of the Aegean.”

As Gibbons points out, the study’s findings are particularly nifty because ancient Greeks believed that they hailed from the early inhabitants of the Aegean. Homer’s account of the Trojan War, for instance, tells of an epic battle waged by Agamemnon—king of Mycenae and leader of the Greek troops. The heroes of ancient mythology were fictional, of course, but the genetic connections between successive Greek cultures may have been very real indeed.

On the first day of the Lênaia (Λήναια), Elaion is hosting a PAT ritual for it. This three-day festival honours Dionysos and has a multitude of links to the Lesser Dionysia. In fact, it's been described as an urban version of the Lesser Dionysia, but without the grander of the greater Dionysia. Will you join us for a nighttime ritual on 25 January (or 10 am on 26 January)?

The Lênaia is held--roughly--at the coldest time of year in Hellas. It's dedicated to Dionysos Lênaios (Ληναιος, of the wine press), and is almost undoubtedly a fertility festival, which was celebrated to encourage the earth to thaw and soften, and become ready for sowing. It is said that the Lênaia celebrates the birth of Dionysos--or at least the version of His birth from Zeus's thigh, but this is most definitely not a supported theory by the whole of the scholastic community. This festival is tied to Dionysos' role as Year-Daímōn in which He was conceived at Agrai, located on the banks of the Ilissus River on the Hellenic peninsula near Athens. The word 'Agrai', pertains to both the place name and the rites of Dionysos held there--most commonly referred to as the 'lesser Mysteries' (20-26 Anthesterion). Another reason for the name of the festival might be the female revelers that often partook of Dionysos' worship and were named Maenads, or Lenai.

The Lênaia starts at the twelfth and ends either on the fourteenth or fifteenth of the month. At Elaion, we feel it ends at dusk on the fifteenth, as that would make up the full three days attested to (from dusk on the twelfth, to dusk on the fifteenth).

The Lênaia was an ancient, local, mostly Athenian, festival, although it was locally celebrated elswhere as well. In Athens, no one from another city could attend. This was partly an inevitability, seeing as the seas at this time were the most dangerous of the year. It's documented that the Lenaion--most likely a theatre outside of the city or a section of the Agora--was the stage for the Lênaia, and might have been the earliest shrine of Dionysos at Athens. Eventually, the Theatre of Dionysos was built, and the Greater Dionysia became the main festival for the performance of drama, but tragedies and comedies were also put on during the Lênaia. In fact, they were the main event.

At the public level this was primarily a theatrical and civic affair, and the city invoked the god Dionysos in his role as bringer of wealth and the blessings of civilization. The festival might have started with a procession from the wilds outside of Athens, into the civilization of Athens itself. During the procession, the Daidukhos (Torch-bearer) yelled, “Invoke the God!” and the celebrants responded, "Son of Semele, Iakkhos, Giver of Wealth!”. (Parke, Festivals of the Athenians, p 104–4) This procession might have played out (parts of) the early myths surrounding Dionysos, where He and his revelers came to His cousin Pentheus, but were imprisoned. Dionysos broke Himself and His revelers out, and tried to explain His worship to His cousin. Yet, Pentheus would not listen, so Dionysos left him to his anger. He took His followers--including many local women, including Pentheus' mother and sister--to the hills. When Pentheus pursued Him, He drove the women mad. To them Pentheus appeared to be a moutain lion. In a berserk rage, they attacked him, and his mother--who was first to reach him--ripped his head off, while the others tore off his limbs.

At midnight on at least one of the days, revellers took to an all-night ecstatic dance, dressed up and bearing various musical instruments (the thyrsus, castanets, tambourines and flutes, primarily). They danced in front of a representation of Dionysos, usually a simple post, dressed in a man’s tunic, with garlanded branches like upraised arms, and with a bearded mask of Dionysos. It's this bear that often discourages scholars from interpreting the Lênaia as a festival to celebrate Dionysos' birth. Wine was a large part of the dance and stood on a table in front of the idol; generally, this wine was the last of the old.

There were massive parades through the streets during the days, which were led by the Archōn Basileus and the officials who oversaw the sacred ceremonies of the Eleusinian mysteries. There were speeches by political figures, awards were given to outstanding citizens, veterans and their families, and business was discussed in the open, and with gusto. Tragedies and comedies were performed, but comedies were the main focus. While the plays were wonderful, many people looked forward to the household part of the festival more, though, as it was encouraged to get at least somewhat tipsy and ward off the cold in bed with your partner.

It's interesting to note that during the midwinter celebrations of Dionysos, a group of revelers roamed Mount Parnassos at Delphi (we mostly know this from an account where they had to be rescued off of the mountain when a blizzard struck), and it is attested that every second year, the Delphic women were joined by women from Athens. The Lênaia might have been the main Dionysian festival for these Athenian women.

You can join the community for the event here, and download the ritual here. We look forward to having you participate!
"What is it like to live in the Netherlands being a lesbian woman and a hellenic polytheist? Are people open minded over there? Is there beautiful nature?"

I have been fortunate in not having found too much prejudice and backlash in my open style of living here in The Netherlands. Very few people understand my religious inclinations, and most think I’m nuts, but in general, they accept that this is what makes me happy and leave it at that. The Netherlands is a pretty progressive country, and it shows. That said, I have no idea if my religion has ever adversely affected a job interview or anything like that.

As for being gay; I’ve been open about my sexuality since high school, and while I’ve had my fair share of bullying and teasing, in general I have been fortunate in that regard as well. The Netherlands has marriage equality, discrimination based on sexual orientation is not allowed, and the older I get, the less issue people have with my sexuality. The older I get, the less I care about the people who do.

I am very fortunate to live in an area with exceptionally beautiful nature; even my back yard is wild and overgrown. I live ten minutes from a heath and forest. I am very, very, blessed with both.

"I'm a polytheist just getting past the theory and into the practice part of the faith. I've set up a home shrine/altar according to the guidelines from your videos and I'm ready to do a libation. I'm having a bit of trouble with my ethanol. I was doing a test light in my sacrificial bowl, and instead of a nice orderly flame like in your video, I got a small blue fire ball exploding out of the bowl. I wasn't hurt, but I'm worried that I might not be so lucky next time. Have you ever had problems with your ethanol flaring up? If so, how did you take care of them?"

I haven't encountered that specific reaction, but I'm using bio-ethanol as a burning agent, not raw ethanol. Make sure you use something that says 'safe to use in indoor fireplace' or something like that; it will say something about indoor use on the packaging. It could be that you are using something that evaporates too quickly, causing the rapid consummation of the liquid--and thus causing a fireball? Please be careful!

"What would be recommended to burn for the smoldering leaf, if you don't mind my asking? (For khernips) Thank you so much!"

I tend to use verbena or bay leaf for my khernips, but any smouldering herb or scented piece of wood would work well. Unfortunately, we don’t have a perfect guide left over from the ancient Hellenes, so I try to burn something that would be appreciated by the deity in question. Verbena is a good one, though, because it burns easily and gives off its scent right away. Make sure to check if the herbs can't negatively affect your health before burning!

"[H]ave you heard of Daimonia Nymphe? They're a group that plays music in the Ancient Greek style. They do a lot of Orphic hymns, and they're really useful if you want to hear the words spoken and pronounced correctly.

I have definitely heard of Daemonia Nymphe, and while they don't perform a genre of music I enjoy very much, I have listened to them exactly for the reason you describe. In fact, I made a post about some of their work a while back. For anyone looking to get a bit of practice on their Greek, Daemonia Nymphe is a great help! Thank you! 

"Is your calendar different from the one on the Hellenion site? Thanks for any explanation. I hope you are well."

I use the HMEPA (Hellenic Month Established Per Athens) calendar as the base for my calendar, and I have added a lot of events to it from my own research, mostly the events of the Mên kata Theion, 'sacred month', and many of the sacrifices I could find in Erchia, Athens, and several other city-states. I think I also ended up disagreeing on a couple of the dates after doing my own research, but in general, if it's on the Hellenion calendar, it's also on mine. I'm not sure how true that is the other way around, though.

The mystery over two magnificent ancient Hellenic statues remains almost half a century since the day they were recovered off the coast of the Italian region of Calabria in August 1972. To this day, archaeologists and other scientists have been unable to identify with certainty who the bronze statues depict, when they were created — and how they ended up in Calabria.

Discovered by Stefano Mariottini in the town of Riace, the two statues were transported to the National Museum of Reggio Calabria, where they underwent an initial restoration that eliminated the layers of concretized sand coating them. However, it still has not been established with absolute certainty if the pair of statues was, from the beginning, a single group, or if their juxtaposition had occurred during transport over the sea.

Their exact identification is also quite uncertain and debated: were they athletes, heroes, such as Agamemnon and Ajax, Mirone and Alcamene, Achilles and Patroclus, Tydeus and Amphiaraus, or deities?

Scientists are quite certain that the statues were created either in Attica or Argolis, in the Peloponnese. They have almost the same height, around two meters, and they are both nudes – an emblem of divine or heroic status – and their stance is the same (the right leg is straight, the left is bent). Originally they were accompanied by arms as well: helmets, coats of arms (supported by the bent left arm) and a lance (held by the lowered right hand).

Anatomical details are represented with extreme precision — the veins and arteries are visible — and the powerful musculature radiates strength and the perfection of the human form. The lips, eyelashes, and nipples of the statues are made of copper, while the teeth are made of silver paper. Both are produced using the “lost wax” casting technique.

“Bronze A” has hair that is bound by a band, and a thick and abundant beard, with their locks individually modeled.

“Bronze B” has a smoother head, sloping upward to better accommodate the Corinthian helmet, which is raised above his head to reveal the face.

While dating for the Riace Bronzes is controversial, they certainly represent two masterpieces of the bronzes from the fifth century BC.

Two more sacrifices took place at the start of Gamelion: a sacrifice to Apollon Apotropaios, Nymphegetes, and the Nymphs, and a sacrifice to Athena. Will you join us for these on January 22th and January 23th, at the usual 10 am EST?

Sacrifice to Apollon Apotropaios, Nymphegetes, and the Nymphs
On 22 January, 10 am EST, we honour Apollon in His epithets of Apotropaios and Nymphegetes as well as His consorts, the Nymphs. This ancient sacrifice was held at Arkhia on Gamelion 8 and we invite you to join us.

Apollon Apotropaios (Ἀποτρόπαιοs) was and is the averter of evil. Rituals dedicated to the deity were apotropaic, intended to turn away harm or evil influences, as in deflecting misfortune. This could be anything from warding off a plague to keeping mice out of the grain storage.

Apollon Nymphegetes (Νυμφηγέτης) is 'Apollon who looks after nymphs', or 'Apollo who leads nymphs'. In this epithet, Apollon was and is a pastoral God, who was considered the protector of shepherds and pastoral life.

Nymphs are the female divinities of the natural features of the landscape, and there are many kinds, depending on the landscape they frequent.

Combining these traits into a single ritual can tell you all about it you need: this was a ritual to ward of the dangers of rural living (by addressing Apollon in his two protective epithets) and to invite blessings (from the nymphs) onto those who partook.

We welcome you to worship with us at 10 am EST on 4 January. You can join the community here and find the ritual here.

Sacrifice to Athena
At ancient Erkhia, on the 9th of Gamelion, a sacrifice was performed in honour of Athena. The calendar does not state a specific epithet or further details, so we will be honouring Her in all Her glory. Will you join us at 10 am EST on 23 January?

The ritual for the event can be found here and the community page here.

Beginning at sundown on the 20th of January, on Gamelion 7, Kourotrophos were honoured at Erkhia along with two epithets of Apollon. Elaion will be organizing two Practicing Apart Together rituals for this event in the daylight hours of the 21st.

PAT ritual for the sacrifice to Kourotrophos and Apollon Delphios
The Kourotrophoi are mostly female deities who watch over growing children--Gaea, Artemis, Hekate, Eirênê, Aglauros and Pandrosos, especially. 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.

In conjunction with Kourotrophos, Apollon Delphinios was sacrificed to. Apollon Delphinios is the epithet of Apollon of the Oracle (of Delphi in Phokis). Its advice has saved the lives of many a man, woman, and--most importantly in this case--child.

The ritual for this sacrifice can be found here, and you can join our community page here. We truly hope you will join us for this important rite on 21 January, at 10 am EST.

PAT ritual for the sacrifice to Apollon Lykeios‏
On that same day but at a different location in Erkhia, a sacrifice to Apollon Lykeios was attested to. Apollon Lykeios (Λυκειος) is the epithet of Apollon of the Wolves and Apollon of the Light. Apollon, by the name of Lykeios, is therefore generally characterised as the destroyer. He who preys, He who scorches with his light. It might seem odd to honour him on a day sacred to the nurturer of children, but nothing could be further from the truth. In this epithet, Apollon can be sung and offered to in order to appease and sated. Perhaps, if enough kharis is established, Apollon Lykeios will pass your children by...

The ritual for this sacrifice can be found here, and you can join our community page here. You can join us on 21 January, at 11 am EST. 

There are many well known chariots and charioteers in ancient Hellenic mythology. All of the Theoi have one, and Helios and Apollon use one to bring light to the world. Hades kidnapped Persephone with His. Kastor and Polideukes were very skilled at driving the fast, light, open, two-wheeled conveyance drawn by two or more horses. Helios lost a son when he let his son Phaethon (Φαέθων) drive his chariot for its morning track through the sky. Phaethon flew too close to the earth and scorched it all; Zeus then cast him down with a lightning-bolt. Yet, these are not the charioteers the constellation is associated with. In this next installment of the constellation series, we will look at the Divine child the constellation refers to... and a few others, because the constellation Auriga has had many interpretations over the years.

For a very long time, war chariots were pulled by two horses only. The charioteer of the constellation is therefor most likely Erichthonios (Ἐριχθόνιος), child of Hēphaistos and Athena, through Gaea, as he invented a chariot pulled by four horses. 

As the myth of his birth goes; Athena went to Hēphaistos' workshop for weaponry, but Hēphaistos--overcome with lust--tried to rape Her instead. Athena fled, but could not flee fast enough. Hēphaistos caught up to Her. Athena fought off Her attacker, but could not prevent Hēphaistos from ejaculating on Her thigh. She wiped Hēphaistos' semen away with a scrap of wool (ἔριον, erion) and flung it to the earth (χθών, chthôn). From it was born Erichthonios, who was part man, and part snake.

In my post about the many legends of Médousa, I posed the following about Athena and the source of Erichthonius' myth and birth as part-snake:

"Athena's role as a snake and fertility Goddess is still visible in the myth about the child she had with Hephaestus; Erichthonios (Ἐριχθόνιος), who was half man, half snake. It's even posed that in the early days, Athena was married to Hephaestus and had His child willingly. As Athena was stripped of Her roles as a fertility and snake Goddess, Médousa's myth came into being, where Athena distances Herself from sex and snakes, by punishing an epithet of herself (Athena Tritogeneia, perhaps: 'born of Trito', a lake which was supposedly located in Libya), or the Libyan snake Goddess Médousa, who may have still been attached to Her worship. By placing Médousa's head on Her breastplate or shield, Athena's mythology is continuously linked to Her Libyan heritage, but harmlessly so, to Her new image of a virginal warrior."

No matter the source, Erichthonios was born, and placed in a box by Athena. She placed the box in the care of three of Her attendants at the Acropolis, with clear instructions not to open the box. They did, of course, and were scared so by the sight of either a snake in the box, or Erichthonios' deformities, they cast themselves off of the Acropolis in terror. Yet, despite his deformities, Erichthonios became king of Athens and ruled it long and well.

He married Praxithea (Πραξιθέα), a naiad, and had a son, Pandion I. He founded the Panathenaiac Festival in the honor of Athena, and set up a wooden statue of her on the Acropolis. He taught his people to yoke horses and use them to pull chariots, to smelt silver, and to till the earth with a plough. His deformities and lameness inspired him to invent the quadriga--or four-horse chariot--to get around easier. He was very skilled as a charioteer, and won many games. Zeus was said to have been so impressed with his skill that he raised him to the heavens to become the constellation Auriga after his death.

There are also other charioteers to whom the constellation could refer; Myrtilus (Μυρτίλος), for example, who was Hermes's son and the charioteer of Oenomaus. Myrtilus's chariot was destroyed in a race intended for suitors to win the heart of Oenomaus's daughter Hippodamia. Myrtilus earned his position in the sky when Hippodamia's successful suitor, Pelops (Πέλοψ), killed him, although he helped him win the woman's hand. After his death, Myrtilus's father Hermes placed him in the sky. 

The constellation could also represent Theseus's son Hippolytos who was rejected from Athens after he refused the romantic advances of his stepmother Phaedra, who committed suicide as a result. He was killed when his chariot was wrecked, but revived by Asklepios. Another possibility is that the constellation does not represent a whole person at all, but is a limb of Mēdeia's brother after she killed and dismembered him.

Occasionally, Auriga is also seen as the Charioteer but as Bellerophon (Βελλεροφῶν), the mortal rider of Pegasus who dared to approach Mount Olympus. In this version of the tale, Zeus pitied Bellerophon for his foolishness and placed him in the stars.

Whomever--or whatever--it represents, Auriga reminds us that the chariot had an important place in ancient Hellenic society. As for the constellation, it is visible at latitudes between +90° and −40°, and best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of late February to early March.

The world’s most famous ancient theatres, the Roman Odeon, goes digital through Landmark, GeoSLAM’s Greek distributor.

The Roman Odeon, among the most important and best preserved monuments in Nicopolis, is a true architectural masterpiece by some unknown but great architect. It lies at the centre of the town, on the west side of the Early Christian wall, adjacent to the Roman agora (forum). It was used for lectures, literary and musical contests and theatrical performances during the Nea Aktia religious games honouring Apollon

Being adjacent to the agora, it probably operated as a bouleuterion (council chamber) for the remaining months of the year. It was built during the reign of Augustus (early first century AD) and frequently repaired and remodelled in the late second century – early third century AD.

The odeon consisted of the cavea, the orchestra and the scene. The cavea contained 19 rows of seats and was divided into two sections by a small horizontal central corridor.

Considering the monument’s age and impressive structure, the survey called for a mobile mapping system that was lightweight and could navigate the depth of the structure and difficult-to-access spaces. Using the ZEB Revo’s ‘walk and scan’ method of data collection, the device enabled the team to capture the historic site and understand its layout in an impressive 15-minutes. 

Once completed, the scans of the cavea – picked up some areas that needed further restoration and, as a result, the scan data was passed on to the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports. For some time now, GeoSLAM solutions have been used widely in the understanding and maintenance of historic monuments.

A statue of the ancient Hellenic God of health Asklepios and a bust of the God Zeus-Serapis were found during an excavations in the ancient city of Cibyra (Κιβύρα), also referred to as Cibyra Magna, in southern Polydorion (Πολυδώριον, Turkish: Burdur) province.

Stating that the discovery of the statuette of Asklepios and the bust of Zeus-Serapis in Cibyra is very important, the head of excavations, Mehmet Akif Ersoy University (MAKU) Archeology Department faculty member Şükrü Özüdoğru said:

“The Asclepius statue was found during excavations in the Kaisarion [Emperor Cult Temple] structure in Kibyra. This 38-centimeter-high figurine was unearthed in six pieces in a fire layer during excavations. These pieces were integrated after careful cleaning, conservation and consolidation by experts.”

Stating that it is known that Kibyra was once a very famous city in the field of medicine according to ancient sources and referring to the inscriptions found in Kibyra, Özüdoğru said:

“The statue has verified what we know about it. The figurine was traced back to 2nd century A.D.”

Stating that during the excavations carried out in the Roman Bath Complex in Kibyra in 2019, a bust without a head made of Afyon marble was found and it was taken under protection in the excavation house.

“In the 2020 excavation season, a bearded head was found during the short-term cleaning and excavation work in the same part of the Roman Bath Complex. This head merged with the bust found in 2019 so that the bust of Serapis was completed in full. It is an Egyptian god with many attributes such as the god of light.”

By this time, the worship of Serapis was combined with Zeus.

He said that the statue of Asklepios and the bust of Zeus-Serapis, delivered to the Burdur Archeology Museum, will be displayed in the coming days

Asklepios is the ancient Hellenic God of medicine, and he was also credited with powers of prophecy. The God had several sanctuaries across Greece. The most famous was at Epidaurus which became an important centre of healing in both ancient Greek and Roman times and was the site of athletic, dramatic, and musical games held in Asklepios’ honour every four years.

Zeus-Serapis is a Greco-Egyptian God of the Underworld and fertility. He is also the main deity of Alexandria in northern Egypt, established by Alexander the Great.

 Sometimes I get asked questions which require only short answers, but which would be interesting to readers of this blog, or questions which I have answered in the past but could bear repeating. I'd like to collect some of those questions today.

"Did you ever felt drawn to the Norse gods? Or any particular deity outside Hellenismos?"

I feel a fluxuating religious draw to the Kemetic belief system—reconstruction of the old Egyptian religious practices. It’s not always there, but when I was looking to commit myself to Hellenismos, it played through my mind quite heavily. Most of the Egyptian religion is not for me, and while the ancient Hellenes made it work somehow, I can’t imagine mixing the two. There is one concept, however, in Kemeticism, that I am drawn to so much: Ma’at. Ma’at, to me, means the active endeavour to promote order (as opposed to Isfet—chaos). This means living to the letter of the law, fostering stability within yourself so you are not swayed by Isfet, and actively removing chaos from the world when possible (the famous shopping cart example comes to mind here). There are philosophical equivalents in Hellenismos, but Ma’at is the Kemetic kharis, or xenia, or any other core value. It’s inseparable from the Kemetic religion, where it would be possible for us to simply not adhere to this.

Solely for the beautiful lifestyle that Ma’at dictates, I considered the Egyptian Gods—who, I admit, speak to me as well. I have never truly worshipped Them—They have never seemed like the forgiving sort, and where the Hellenic Gods accommodated the Neo-Wiccan style rituals of days past, I never felt like the Kemetic Gods would do so. The mythology and the rituals are beautiful, though, and I have often mused about how incredibly easy it is here in the Netherlands to get statues of the Egyptian Gods while I have to mail order statues of the Hellenic Gods. That always seemed unfair to me.

I have a great appreciation for the Norse Gods, and one of my very, very, dear friends is an Asatruar, so I think of Them fondly… but no. Their mythology and their entire feel (if that makes sense) is not for me. they are far more detached than the Hellenic Gods, and I like that the Hellenic Gods are so close to their followers.

So, for about two seconds, there was a chance I would take a detour into Kemeticism first… but it would always have been a detour. I belong here, in Hellenismos, and while I acknowledge all the Gods exist, I am solely called to worship the Theoi.

"Are there many Hellenic Polytheists in the Netherlands? How would you say Hellenismos in Dutch?"

I know of literally three Hellenic Polytheists in The Netherlands (myself included), a hand full in Belgium, and one in Germany, so no… not many, I fear. Which is a shame, because I still long for community. As for how to say ‘Hellenismos’, I either use that term or ‘Hellenisme’.

"Does my shrine/altar where I perform the lustral rite need to be facing any certain direction?" 

In ancient Hellas, the altar—called the bômos—was located in front of the temple, not inside it. If a temple did have an indoor altar, it was almost always used for bloodless sacrifices. The bômos almost always faced east, in front of the temple. If a temple was replaced by another, the altar usually remained in place. In some cases, this led to a misalignment of temple and altar. The altar of Athena Polias and the Erechtheum on the Athenian Acropolis are great examples of this. It was doubtful this was seen as a huge problem, though.

Those who performed the rites—the magistrates, usually, priests and priestesses solely maintained the temples; festivals were officiated by magistrates—stood on the west side of the altar. If you have the choice to align your bômos as such, then go for it, but in many modern households, this is not doable, and I don’t think household altars adhered to the same rules even in ancient Hellas. So, no, I don’t think you need to face a specific way, but if you have the option, face east.

"So, when making khernips, should I cleanse myself with them and then cleanse my deities' altar with them afterward? I've been slightly confused with the order. Thank you! Also, I’ve used bay leaves as the smoldering leaf to put in the khernips, is that alright? I was told it’s fine to use dried bay leaves but I just want to make sure. Thanks again!"

I prefer to cleanse first myself, then sprinkle the space, and then go on with the ritual. In ancient Hellas, celebrants would enter the sacred site after sprinkling themselves and the sacrificial animal, then clockwise walk around the altar. I assume the altar was sprinkled with khernips and barley then.

I haven’t found an ancient instance where bay leaves were used, but modern practitioners seem to use it quite often. It should be fine to use it, except for (maybe) Apollo, as Daphne—his love interest—got turned into the first laurel against his will. Hum… maybe he would actually prefer you use bay leaf, then?

"Do you like praying in dutch? Some people say it's quite a poetic language."

I’m fairy certain that Dutch is one of the least poetic languages in the world, but yes, I appreciate praying in Dutch. I would like to pray in Greek, but my skills with it aren’t high enough to do that without the risk of messing up, and I don’t want to stumble along phonetically praying. At least Dutch is a language I understand and I can vocalize my thoughts and true intentions. There is also something devotional in translating hymns and prayers, trying to find a way to establish flow and trigger memory. I quite like doing that.

Archeology experts are excitedly examining an array of ancient coins recently rescued from a criminal gang.

Security services have announced approximately 480 historical coins have been apprehended following a major police operation. An anti-smuggling operation in Turkey’s capital Istanbul has resulted in the seizure of many rare coins, with some believed to date back thousands of years.

A source involved close to the operation revealed the suspect, identified by the initials A.Ş, was detained by gendarmerie forces in Istanbul’s Gaziosmanpaşa district.

During the operation, gendarmerie forces stopped the suspect's vehicle and seized the 479 coins.

The bronze, lead, and copper vintage tender reportedly dates back to the Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman eras.

The coins were then handed over to the Istanbul Archaeological Museum.

Wonder Woman is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics, a TV-series, and recently, two feature length films. But the Amazons of Greek mythology and the real-life warrior women that led to this iconic modern-day Wonder Woman might, in fact, have roots in ancient Persia – modern-day Iran.

Adrienne Mayor, scholar at Stanford University and author of The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World, tells BBC Culture:

"There have always been stories of Amazons and Amazon-like women; sometimes they have circulated hidden under the surface and other times, like today, they break through into popular culture. It is no longer possible to deny the reality behind the myths of Amazons."

While the story of a race of warrior women first appeared in Greek mythology, excavations across the north and east of the Black Sea region have revealed that warrior women like the Amazons existed in real life. In December 2019, the graves of four female warriors from the 4th Century BC Sarmatian region were found in the village of Devitsa, in what is now Western Russia. The Sarmatians were a people of Iranian heritage, with men and women skilled in horsemanship and battle. Excavations within the modern borders of Iran have revealed the existence of female warriors. In the northwestern Iranian city of Tabriz, 109 warrior graves were unearthed. Archeologist Alireza Hejebri-Nobari confirmed in a 2004 interview that the DNA found in one belonged to a woman. DNA testing was due to take place on other warrior graves, 38 of which are still intact, but according to Mayor's contacts in Iran, that DNA research was halted in August 2020 due to a lack of resources.

The great rivalries of the ancient Greeks and Persians are well documented in Greek art, history and mythology, so much so that historians of Ancient Persia rely on the Greek interpretation of the region to unlock its history. Experts have identified depictions of the women in battle with Greek men on vases and other ceramics as dressed in Persian-style clothing: the Kandys cloak, the Anaxyrides trousers, the Persikay shoes. By the 470s, the Greeks began to refer to portrayals of the Persians as the Amazons, turning their real-life adversaries into mythological folklore. Even the word "Amazon", meaning "warrior", is likely rooted in the Iranian language.

According to Herodotus, a 5th-Century Greek writer and geographer often credited with being the first historian, the Amazons maintained an idyllic all-female existence in modern-day Turkey. They pillaged the Persian Empire and procreated with neighbouring tribes, keeping the baby girls to raise as the next generation of warriors. They would meet their ultimate fate at an encounter with the Greeks in the battle of Thermodon. Sent out to sea, The Amazons eventually entered Scythia near the Black Sea. The Amazons and Scythians, slated to fight one another, would instead join forces, whose descendants are the Sarmatians. Both the Scythians and Sarmatians are connected to modern-day Iran.

 On the day of the Hene kai Nea, 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 Gamelion:
  • Gamelion 7 - January 21 - Sacrifice to the Kourotrophos and Apollon Delphios
  • Gamelion 7 - January 21 - Sacrifice to Apollon Lykeios
  • Gamelion 8 - January 22 - Sacrifice to Apollon Apotropaius, Apollon Nymphegetes, & the Nymphs at Erkhia
  • Gamelion 9 - January 23 - Sacrifice to Athena at Erkhia
  • Gamelion 12-15 - January 25 - 29 - Lenaia - festival in honor of Dionysus in the Attic deme of Limnai
  • Gamelion 27 - February 10 - Theogamia/Gamelia - celebrating the sacred marriage of Zeus Teleios and Hera Telei
  • Gamelion 27 - February 10 - Sacrifice to Kourotrophos, Hera, Zeus Teleius, and Poseidon at Erkhia

Anything else?
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