It's time for another constellation in the series. I am happy to announce we have reached the 'D's! This post makes number twenty-three in the series, with twenty-six more to go. Nearly half way there. Today's constellation is connected to several myths I have spoken about before, but also to a new account, one that is said to be an actual event that took place in ancient Hellas.

The first dolphin myth Delphinus is linked to is to Poseidon's courtship of Amphitrite, Queen of the sea., and mother to all dolphins. I have written about her before, and the myth goes as follows:

"Poseidon saw Her [Amphitrite] dancing with Her Nereids at Naxos (Νάξος), one of the larger islands of Greece. He fell for Her instantly and tried to take Her. She rebuffed His advances and fled to Atlas, the farthest end of the sea. Poseidon, sick with love, sent His dolphin after Her to persuade Her to talk to Him, at least. He eventually found Her and spoke on behalf of His master. His words were so sweet and rang so true, that Amphitrite decided to give Poseidon a chance. It was because of the dolphin, Poseidon eventually got to marry Amphitrite, and He was so grateful, He placed the dolphin in the sky as the constellation Delphinus."

The second dolphin the constellation is connected to is Apollon Delphinios. I have written about this myth before as well, when I discussed the Delphinia festival. In the Homeric Hymn to Apollon, Apollon shows the Kretan colonists the way to Delphi, while riding on a dolphin or metamorphosing Himself into a dolphin.

"I am the son of Zeus; Apollo is my name: but you I brought here over the wide gulf of the sea, meaning you no hurt; nay, here you shall keep my rich temple that is greatly honoured among men, and you shall know the plans of the deathless gods, and by their will you shall be honoured continually for all time. [...] Take out your goods and the gear of the straight ship, and make an altar upon the beach of the sea: light fire upon it and make an offering of white meal. Next, stand side by side around the altar and pray: and in as much as at the first on the hazy sea I sprang upon the swift ship in the form of a dolphin, pray to me as Apollo Delphinius; also the altar itself shall be called Delphinius and overlooking for ever." (474)

In the other myth, it was again Apollon who placed the dolphin among the constellations, this time for saving the life of Arion of Methymna, a poet and musician born on the island of Lesbos, whose skill with the lyre made him famous in the 7th century BC. He was also the first to invent the dithyrambic measure, to give it its name, and to recite in it at Corinth. During the journey home from a tour, there was a mutiny. Arion was allowed to sing one last song, and drew dolphins to the ship. One of them took Arion home. Herodotos described the story:

"He had lived for many years at the court of Periander, when a longing came upon him to sail across to Italy and Sicily. Having made rich profits in those parts, he wanted to recross the seas to Corinth. He therefore hired a vessel, the crew of which were Corinthians, thinking that there was no people in whom he could more safely confide; and, going on board, he set sail from Tarentum. The sailors, however, when they reached the open sea, formed a plot to throw him overboard and seize upon his riches. Discovering their design, he fell on his knees, beseeching them to spare his life, and making them welcome to his money. But they refused; and required him either to kill himself outright, if he wished for a grave on the dry land, or without loss of time to leap overboard into the sea. In this strait Arion begged them, since such was their pleasure, to allow him to mount upon the quarter-deck, dressed in his full costume, and there to play and sing, and promising that, as soon as his song was ended, he would destroy himself. Delighted at the prospect of hearing the very best harper in the world, they consented, and withdrew from the stern to the middle of the vessel: while Arion dressed himself in the full costume of his calling, took his harp, and standing on the quarter-deck, chanted the Orthian. His strain ended, he flung himself, fully attired as he was, headlong into the sea. The Corinthians then sailed on to Corinth.

As for Arion, a dolphin, they say, took him upon his back and carried him to Taenarum, where he went ashore, and thence proceeded to Corinth in his musician's dress, and told all that had happened to him. Periander, however, disbelieved the story, and put Arion in ward, to prevent his leaving Corinth, while he watched anxiously for the return of the mariners. On their arrival he summoned them before him and asked them if they could give him any tiding of Arion. They returned for answer that he was alive and in good health in Italy, and that they had left him at Tarentum, where he was doing well. Thereupon Arion appeared before them, just as he was when he jumped from the vessel: the men, astonished and detected in falsehood, could no longer deny their guilt. Such is the account which the Corinthians and Lesbians give; and there is to this day at Taenarum, an offering of Arion's at the shrine, which is a small figure in bronze, representing a man seated upon a dolphin."

Herodotos' version does not include the addition that Apollon placed the dolphin in the sky for saving one of the best musicians alive at the time, but Roman author Gaius Julius Hyginus (64 BC - 17 AD) does, in his Atronomica. He also describes the creation of the dolphins:

"Aglaosthenes, who wrote the Naxica, says that there were certain Tyrrhenian shipmasters, who were to take Father Liber [Roman God, associated with Dionysos], when a child, to Naxos with his companions and give him over to the nymphs, his nurses. Both our writers and many Greek ones, in books on the genealogy of the gods, have said that he was reared by them. But, to return to the subject at hand, the shipmates, tempted by love of gain, were going to turn the ship off course, when Liber, suspecting their plan, bade his companions chant a melody. The Tyrrhenians were so charmed by the unaccustomed sounds that they were seized by desire even in their dancing, and unwittingly cast themselves into the sea, and were there made dolphins. Since Liber desired to recall thought of them to men’s memory, he put the image of one of them among the constellations."
Delphinus is visible at latitudes between +90° and −70°, and best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of September.

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 is one of those posts.

"How would ancestral rituals be conducted, would Hermes Chthonios be invoked before and after an ancestral ritual and when could I hold sacrifices to my ancestors?"
Ancestral rituals? To honour the deceased like on Agathós Daímōn? The ancient Hellenes believed that the moment a person died, their psyche--spirit--left the body in a puff or like a breath of wind. Proper burial was incredibly important to the ancient Hellenes, and to not give a loved one a fully ritualized funeral was unthinkable. It was, however, used as punishment of dead enemies, but only rarely. Funerary rites were performed solely to get the deceased into the afterlife, and everyone who passed away was prepared for burial according to time-honoured rituals.
During the actual funeral, a related mourner first dedicated a lock of hair, then provided the deceased with offerings of honey, milk, water, wine, perfumes, and oils mixed in varying amounts. Any libation was a khoe; a libation given in its entirety to the deceased. None was had by the mourners. A prayer to the Theoi--most likely Hermes Khthonios--then followed these libations. It was also possible to make a haimacouria before the wine was poured. In a haimacouria, a black ram or black bull is slain and the blood is offered to the deceased. This blood sacrifice, however, was probably used only when they were sacrificing in honour of a number of men, or for someone incredibly important. Then came the enagismata, which were offerings to the dead that included milk, honey, water, wine, celery, pelanon--a mixture of meal, honey, and oil--and kollyba--the first fruits of the crops and dried fresh fruits.
Unlike the ancient Egyptians, the ancient Hellenes placed very few objects in the grave, but monumental earth mounds, rectangular built tombs, and elaborate marble stelai and statues were often erected to mark the grave and to ensure that the deceased would not be forgotten. Grave gifts were allowed in many places, but could not cost more than a set amount all together. These elaborate burial places served as a place for the family members to visit the grave with offerings that included small cakes and libations. The goal  was to never be forgotten; if the dead was remembered always, and fed with libations and other offerings, their spirit would stay 'alive' forever. That said, especially in Athens, names on grave markers were restricted to women who died in childbirth and men who died in battle.
This is also how we can honour the deceased today. Especially on Agathós Daímōn, we can pour them libations of unmixed wine and small cakes. We can remember how they changed our lives and helped shape us. We can remember their deeds. This way, they will never be forgotten. Hermes Khthonios was invoked during funerary rites because he brought the souls of the deceased down to Haides, but when remembering tour loved ones, He needs not be invoked.

"I've seen your meditations posts and they are so beautiful. I know you said you would like to have an oracle and I agree. But my question is: what do you think about dreams and the Theoi sending messages through them?"

I completely believe and trust in UPG (unverified personal gnosis), amongst which dreams and meditations. I truly believe the Gods send them and that they should be listened to. That said, I have the same issue with UPG as I have with modern oracles: we haven't been trained to listen and interpret these messages. Ancient oracles lived and breathed the voices of the Gods, that was their purpose. As much as we like to think we understand everything the Gods try to tell us, often only time will tell if we got it right--and more often than not, the message was far more subtle than we thought it was. So while I think dreams and oracles have a lot of value, I also think we need to be very careful in interpreting their messages.

"If you make a vow to the Theoi or promise them a certain votice offering, but you - for some reason- are not able to follow through on that promise, would making an appeasment sacrifice (different from the original promised offering) to make things right?"

That... depends. It depends on why you couldn't give the promised offering and why you promised that specific offering in the first place if it is--appearently-difficult to acquire and give. If there are circumstances outside of your control that totally and completely prevent you from performing the sacrifice (It's a unique item no longer in your possession, you'd have to break the law to perform the sacrifice at the spot you promised, etc.) then a placating sacrifice with an equal votive offering would be alright, I suppose, but I would warn against making grand promises in the future. In essence, if you use your 'get out of jail free'-card, it's gone the next time you'd need it.

In the last three years, as part of the Imathia Ephorate of Antiquities’ research for the maintenance study of the large building complex of Aegae located near the wall’s northwest gate and the queens’ burial cluster, new extremely interesting findings have come to light clarifying its picture and helping to identify its function. 

Head of the Imathia Ephorate Angeliki Kottaridi says:

“The inscriptions on the tiles allow us to associate the building we are excavating with the worship of members of the royal family. This is a building of the 4th century BC with major modifications in the era of Philip V, the late 3rd-early 2nd century BC. These floors come from this phase, as do the plasters, the roof and the figurines; elements that point us to a sanctuary.”

A rare find was also found during the works; a poem, which is probably a student exercise, on a vase. “Very interesting and very special”, notes Ms. Kottaridi, who will present the “New Finds in the City of Aegae” at the 33rd Archaeological Conference on excavations in Macedonia and Thrace (April 22-24 2021), taking place online.

Like the palace and the temples, the complex is built of precious tufa stone that reached Aegae from the quarries of Vermion, covering a distance of 10-20 km. It is made up of a sequence of square and rectangular spaces, some of which are over 100 sq.m., organized in a regular manner round a large courtyard (the south and part of its east and west sides have been uncovered). To the east stands a temple-shaped space with a very deep antechamber and two Doric columns, facing the courtyard.

The building acquires its basic form before the end of the 4th century BC, but in the times of Philip V (221-179 BC) extensive renovation works are carried out. In this phase there are floors with marble inlay , such as those of the palace, the walls are covered with multicoloured plaster, purple being dominant, with touches of ochre and green and are joined with architectural formations in relief foreshadowing the decorations of the houses of Pompeii. 

Like the palace, sanctuaries and walls, the complex was destroyed in the mid 2nd century BC after Macedonia’s final occupation by Metellus’ army. Immediately after the destruction, however, part of its west wing and some spaces next to the east one were rebuilt, while in the years of Augustus (31 BC-14 AD), a large peristyle/colonnade of 1,000 sq.m. was added to its southeast along with an auxiliary building with a patio; building activity particularly remarkable for Aegae which was now in a period of decline.

“Its form, dimensions and elaborate construction, the rich materials and decorative elements, but also the obsession with the use of space, show that it is a public building”, notes the head of the Imathia Ephorate. “Monolithic altars, a marble support for a table, parts of a marble frieze with impressive plant ornaments and figurines of deities found in situ despite the savage looting, form the impression that it was a sanctuary complex; an impression that seems to have been confirmed in the most striking manner just when we started investigating the layer of tiles from its fallen roof that covered the area”.

Stamps with the Macedonian shield, the symbol used on their coins by the Macedonian kings of the Hellenistic period, and signs/panels with the name AMYNTOΥ printed on the tiles of its roof, revealed its close relationship with the royal family and more. 

As in the case of the tiles with the corresponding inscription ΠΕΛΛΗΣ, the name indicates the owner who in this particular sacred building, at least in a part of it, cannot be other than the father of Philip II, Amyntas III who was given hero status and is known from the sources that his cult also existed in neighbouring Pydna. 

Eurydice, wife of Amyntas, is depicted as the goddess Hera in the statue commissioned for the sanctuary of Eucleia in Aegae, and it is certainly no coincidence that in the times of the Antigonids a temple-shaped building was built round the statue of the queen-mother.

“The cult of Alexander and his generation in the years of the successors was a source for legitimizing their power and it is very likely that the large building complex unearthed at the ancestral royal seat and grave site of the Temenides was one of its centers, which yielded another extremely valuable and unexpected finding in 2020. In a modest clay cup found broken in the destruction layer of the 2nd century BC, someone, perhaps a student who confused the o with the ω and the ει with the ι while doing his exercises, carefully carved, as if on a papyrus, an epigram by an anonymous author, which has been handed down to us in its oldest and most authentic form: “the rose blooms for a while and when its time passes and you search for it, you will no longer find a flower, but only  thorns”.

Known from the Palatine Anthology, the epigram of Aegae urges the reader not to waste time that flies by relentlessly and gives us in the most direct and original way a picture of culture in the ancient Macedonian metropolis as it draws its final breath. 

“The first finding is tremendously important for a greater understanding of the city and of history, but the second is very moving.”

 The Mounikhia (Μουνιχιας), the festival after which the month was named, is celebrated on the sixteenth of Mounichion. On this day of the full moon, Artemis Mounikhia (Αρτεμις Μουνυχια) was honored at the hill of Munikhia, for granting the Hellenes victory in the Battle of Salamis (Ναυμαχία τῆς Σαλαμῖνος).

During the festival, young girls walked in procession to the temple on top of the hill carrying green boughs, while the rest of the celebrants followed, carrying special cakes called 'amphiphontes' ('shining all round’). These round white cakes were adorned with dadia (little torches)--lit candle--and were supposed to represent the full moon. A she-goat is also attested as a sacrifice.

During this festival, an amphiphon was sacrificed to Artemis. It was a cheese pie on which candles were lit. Most likely, the amphiphon was a type of popanon; this is a large, round, flat cake with one or more, upright, protruding, knobs made from flour and cheese. The flat version of the cake, the popanon kathemenon was offered to Artemis, amongst others, as well as one with twelve knobs. We've seen this before for the Delphinia.

If you want to learn more about the festival and its history, please read this blog post.

To honour Artemis on this day, Elaion is organizing a PAT ritual. Will you be celebrating the Mounikhia with us? There will be two times: just after your dusk on April 9th, or at our regular 10 a.m. EDT on April 10st. As always, we hope you will join us at your oikos to honour Artemis, our eternal protector. You can join the community page here and find the ritual here.

 Did you know Greece has things called "dragon houses" that are thousands of years old? I actually did not, until Ancient Origins wrote a post about it. You're going to have to head over to them for the full story (because they are awesome and write great content!), but I'll give you a little sample here.

"Likely dating to the Preclassical period of ancient Greece, the dragon houses of Euboea are among the mysteries of the past which have yet to be understood. Resembling the stepped pyramid of Djoser in Pre-Dynastic Egypt and the temple complexes of Pre-Columbian Teotihuacan, these megalithic houses are structures built without mortar. Small, thin, mostly flat stones make up the buildings, stacked atop one another, kept in place with the uses of jambs and lintels. Large megaliths are used in various places throughout the structures, usually toward the roofs, positioned in a fashion that is similar to what is seen at Stonehenge.

While little is understood of these dragon houses, the number of the structures is far more than expected. Around twenty-three of these houses exist on the island of Euboea—most between Mounts Ochi and Styra—each building made of megaliths. In fact, scholars are constantly boggled by the sheer size and weight of the single megalith resting on two equally large post stones, together forming a doorway. How this megalith could have been lifted and placed atop the posts is as much a mystery as the reason behind the building of these structures.

Some theories have arisen that the structures might have been shrines to Hera, Zeus, or Herakles. Theories regarding the rituals that might have taken place within, however, are few. Another popular belief is that these megalithic buildings were either stations at which guards were positioned during the Hellenistic period, or they were warehouses in which supplies may have been stored."

Read more here.

The recent injury of a man in a wheelchair during his tour on the Acropolis has rekindled the debate on the safety and quality of construction that was undertaken on the monument in 2020. The implementation of concrete pathways had caused outrage amongst local cultural heritage experts and unions when they were first presented to the public in October, after being approved by Greece’s Central Archaeological Council.

Archaeologists and architects had immediately opined, individually as well as collectively, that disabled accessibility was an excuse to fast-track the project while skipping the legal  procedures that should have been considered in a place of inestimable archaeological importance to the world.

In light of the recent developments, the Association of University Graduate Architects – PanHellenic Union of Architects (SADAS-PEA) in the department of Attica, is adamant that the new pathways do not even conform to safety specifications for wheelchair users. The group is also calling for the implementation of an international competition to take over the project, which was financed by the Onassis Foundation.

The recount of the disabled man’s accident on the Acropolis which triggered the safety discussion was shared on social media by his wheelchair assistant. Ironically, the accident took place on World Heritage Day. The two men were moving along a temporary wooden deck towards the Propylaea, when the wheelchair reached a step for which there was no warning sign.

The disabled man was hurt as he fell onto the wooden deck, while there was no medical staff on-site other than a team of Red Cross volunteers who rushed in to assist. After finally being transported to the hospital, he received eight stitches to his face and upper lip. Both the disabled visitor and his assistant have opted for anonymity; however the recounting of the incident is still live on Facebook.

Although the accident happened on a temporary wooden walkway, the wheelchair assistant maintains that the steep concrete pathways are equally dangerous for wheelchair users as the hidden step.

“How are you supposed to descend on the concrete pathway when the center of gravity of the wheelchair user is shifted to the front? So, as an assistant, you are obliged to push them by holding the chair on a wheelie, in order to restore the center of gravity towards the back — whoever has served as a wheelchair assistant should understand what I mean. Needless to describe how you are going push the wheelchair back up the pathway on the return, with a 75-kg individual sitting on it.”

In its announcement dated April 21, SADAS-PEA Attica notes that the alleged purpose of the improvement works — that of improving accessibility — is recanted in effect, since the pathways were constructed using steep angles that are unsuitable for wheelchair users.

As reactions spiraled following the publicity of the accident on social media, Greece’s Ministry of Culture contacted the National Confederation of Disabled People (NCDP) and invited them to an on-site study of the area. The study was performed on Thursday, in the presence of Minister Lina Mendoni, and a representative of the Onassis Foundation, among other involved stakeholders from the public works and antiquities departments.

According to the NCDP, the detailed technical study examined the functionality and accessibility of the area from the public parking lot up to the construction on the Acropolis; the mechanical equipment that replaced the old elevator; the temporary structures in place; and the area outside the old Archaeological Museum.

“A comprehensive technical conclusion and proposals for the improvement of the accessibility of the Acropolis to be included in the study for the completion of the ongoing interventions project, will be submitted institutionally and in writing, and will be made public.”

It adds that a commission will be founded in which the NCDP will act as a consulting partner to the Ministry of Culture on optimizing the accessibility of additional ancient monuments across Greece to the disabled.

While the safety concerns on the suitability of the new pathways for wheelchair users seem to move toward being addressed, the official response to criticism on the aesthetic result and the use of concrete on the site remains unconvincing for experts. The SADAS-PEA announcement says:

“The (expressed) view of the Ministry that the use of a less durable material would require frequent maintenance, which would burden the monument, and that the specific choice of material makes the paving reversible, is not substantiated by the project study. The examining of other solutions and the rejection of other types of more environmental-friendly materials is absent from the study.”

The response, which was issued following a separate study by the SADAS-PEA and with related information from different sources taken into consideration, brands the project study as “completely inadequate,” despite being approved by “the otherwise strict Central Archaeological Council.”

“The study’s title, referring to works for the disabled, is disorienting; in order for it to gain wider social acceptance, which, under this umbrella, paves the way for a white pass on interventions on the Rock of the Acropolis. A monument of such scale deserves a different approach. It requires interdisciplinary processes and an International Architectural Competition to select the best solution.”

The Greek National Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) had already raised similar concerns for the works on the Acropolis in November, which extended far from basic safety concerns.

Alexander D. Tripodakis (NTUA-MCPUD Harvard GSD), President of the Greek Architectural Society and former Professor of Architecture and Urban design at the Technical University of Crete, is one of many experts who have publicly criticized the works on a well-documented basis.

“The internationally most projected image of the leading monument of the Western civilization by Ictinus, Callicrates and Phidias, is now undermined due to its tight encirclement by an alien structure.”

In a recent interview with Greek newspaper Avgi, the President of the Greek Archaeologists Union (SEA), Despina Koutsoumba, insists that “the goal (of these works) is to turn the Acropolis into a place of mass tourism at all costs for the monument.”

She warns that the present cement paving is only still half of what has been approved, and argues that the intention to restore the entire scale of the Propylaea to the form of 40 AD, with hundreds of square meters of new material, is in violation of any international charter for the restoration of monuments.

The interdisciplinary underwater research on the east coast of Salamis continued in September and October 2020, for the fifth year in a row, as part of a new three-year programme (2020-2022). It was a collaboration between the Institute of Marine Archaeological Research (IENAE) and the Ephorate Of Underwater Antiquities of the Ministry of Culture, under Head of the Euboea Ephorate of Antiquities Dr. Angeliki G. Simosi and Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology of the University of Ioannina and President of IENAE Giannos G. Lolos.

The research was limited to the northern side of the cove of Ambelaki Bay, where sunken architectural remains of the ancient city of Salamis have been investigated since 2016, with clear evidence of its extending along today’s coastline. The results of the 2020 research are thought to be particularly important since, despite the port, the course of the sea wall of the classical city was conclusively calibrated when a large stretch of it was uncovered.

With the excavation’s progress and roughly on an imaginary straight line to the north of the later pier, a significant stretch of the sea wall was completely uncovered on a N-S axis, as part of the whole (inner) fortification system of the ancient city whose perimeter can now be almost completely restored, based on older and newer data from land and underwater surveys in the area of Ambelaki-Pounta.

Through careful excavation it was possible to identify two construction phases of the wall, definitely within the limits of the Classical period. Based on the black painted Attic ceramics discovered in the foundation of the western (inner) front, the first phase of the wall can initially be dated to the early 4th c. BC, if not a little earlier.

A large amount of pottery resulted from the 2020 excavation, in fragmentary condition and from different eras, generally covering periods from the Classical to the Medieval and Modern times. In addition to a large number of fragments of undecorated and black painted vessels, the Classical and Hellenistic ceramics originating mainly from the 4th and 5th Layers include: the lower half of a red figure Attic krater vessel (from the foundation level of the D front of the wall on the most northern block), 3 stamped handles of commercial amphorae and a fragment of a jar’s thick rim, with part of an engraved (or printed) inscription: NAN. 

Of the other movable finds, the following deserve to be mentioned: a fragment of the rim and sides of a shallow marble basin (perirrhanterion), part of a marble architectural component (either a pedestal or altar), an ancient bronze coin (unidentified) and clay objects (the fragment of relief sculpture, a loom weight and stoppers).

For more images: here.

The Amphiareion of Oropos (Greek: Άμφιάρειο Ωρωπού), situated in the hills 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) southeast of the fortified port of Oropos in East Attica, is one of the lesser-known treasures of Greek antiquity. The site of a holy spring where tales of heroes blended into myth, it is said that the earth once opened up and swallowed a chariot owned by Amphiaraos in that very spot. It became a site of worship and the place where athletic games took place once every five years.

A sanctuary was dedicated in the late 5th century BC there to the hero Amphiaraos, where pilgrims went to seek oracular responses to their questions as well as healing from infirmities. The cult that grew out of the site was both public and private.

The sanctuary became very busy during the 4th century BC, judging from the intensive building at the site, which came to include the Temple of Amphiaraos (with an acrolithic cult statue); a theater; a stoa, or roofed colonnade; clepsydra, or water clock, used to measure time by the passage of water; and domestic structures. Its Temenos, or piece of land marked as part of the sanctuary, runs along 240 meters of a streambed.

Located just 37 kilometers northeast of Athens, near the modern town of Markopoulo Oropou, it is near the noted cable-stay Euripus bridge to Evia Island from the Greek mainland. The sanctuary of the Amphiareion of Oropos was located near the border of Attica and Boiotia, the respective spheres of control of Athens and Thebes; control over the site passed back and forth between the cities until Alexander the Great destroyed Thebes in 335 BC.

The area first came into prominence after the hero Amphiaraos, who was a descendant of the seer Melampos, initially refused to participate in the attack on Thebes — which is detailed in the “Seven Against Thebes” of Aeschylus — because he foresaw that it would be a disaster.

In some versions of the myth, the earth opens up and swallows the chariot belonging to Amphiaraos, transforming him into a chthonic hero, a figure of the underworld.

Amphiaraos’ foresight may have in itself contributed to the area becoming known as a place where the future could be foretold. Herodotus relates that the oracular response of this shrine was one of only two correct answers to the test put to them all by the Lydian king Croesus.

Amphiaraos was worshipped there, at the Temple dedicated to him, as well as at Rhamnous about 17.5 km southeast of the Amphiareion, and at Athens, Argos, Sparta, and other sites.

There was an upswing in the sanctuary’s reputation as a healing site during the plague that hit Athens in the late 5th century BC. There were many dedications from Greeks, influential Romans, and others over the centuries, many with inscriptions, at the Amphiareion of Oropos.

At the Amphiareion of Oropos, in addition to its presumed annual festival, Greater Amphiareia were celebrated in a festival of athletic games every fifth year. Two reliefs from the late 5th to the early 4th century BC seem to provide the earliest attestations of the festival games; there is even an inscribed catalogue of victors at the Greater Amphiareia that dates back to before 338 BC.

In 414 BCE, Aristophanes produced a comedy called Amphiaraos, of which fragments still survive as quotations.

“I think that Amphiaraos most of all dedicated himself to interpreting dreams: it is clear that, when he was considered a god, he set up an oracle of dreams ... And the first thing is to purify oneself, when someone comes to consult Amphiaraos, and the purification ritual is to sacrifice to the god, and people sacrifice to him and to all those whose names are on (the altar), and – when these things are finished – they sacrifice a ram and spread out its skin under themselves, lie down waiting for the revelation of a dream.”

An inscription from the site, however, states that each man may sacrifice what he desires.

The Temple of Amphiaraos, constructed in the 4th century BC, was of an unusual Doric hexastyle in its plan, having six columns across the front façade between small projecting walls. The antae were capped with half columns, giving the appearance of an octastyle façade. It measures 14 by 28 m (46 by 92 feet). Behind the columns was a pronaos, leading into a cella with two rows of five unfluted internal columns. Alongside the second pair of columns back from the pronaos there was a base for the acrolithic cult statue of Amphiaraos — of which one arm remains in situ.

The baths at the Amphiareion were famous in antiquity. The locations of a stadion and a hippodrome, which may be part of the complex, are unfortunately unknown at the present time.

The remains of the altar divided into sections with inscriptions to a number of gods and heroes still survive at the Amphiareion of Oropos. According to Pausanias, the altar was dedicated to five groups of gods — and rivers:

- Heracles, Zeus and Apollo the Healer (Παιών)
- Heroes and heroes’ wives
- Hestia, Hermes, Amphiaraos, and of the children of Amphiaraos, Amphilochos
- Aphrodite, Panacea (“all-cure”), Iaso, Hygeia, and Athena the Healer (Παιωνία)
- Nymphs and Pan; as well as the rivers Achelous and Cephisus

Wrapping around the altar on the west side is a stepped structure that may have served as an early theatral area before the construction of the theater. Immediately to the east is the sacred spring, where Pausanias says worshipers threw coins when they were healed of a disease.

To the northeast of the temple was a line of dedications of statuary, of which the bases  have largely survived; the avenue stretched for around 70 meters (230 feet) along the road into the sanctuary. Among the more notable dedications, all from the Roman era, are the following:

- 42 BC inscription honoring Marcus Junius Brutus as a Tyrannicide
- 86–81 BC inscription for the Roman dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla
- post-27 BC inscription for Marcus Agrippa
- 1st century BC inscription for Appius Claudius Pulcher
- An inscription for Gnaius Calpurnius Piso

There are also the remains of another small temple at the southwest extremity of this area.

The theatre at the Amphiareion has been dated back to the 2nd century BC by the inscriptions found there. Its seating area was likely composed of wooden seats on stone supports. however, five remarkable marble prohedria (seats of honor at the front of the seating area) were discovered placed around the orchestra, which had a radius of 12.4 meters (41 feet).

Two parodoi (side entryways) led off from the orchestra between the seating area of the cavea and the stage building. The Doric order proscaenium of the stage structure (approximately 12 meters, or 40 feet, wide) is well preserved and is important for the study of theater design. The theater would have held approximately three hundred spectators.

Dating to the mid-4th century BCE, the stoa, or long, narrow building with a colonnaded facade, measured 11 by 110 meters with 39 exterior Doric columns and 17 internal Ionic columns.There were stone benches set into the back walls of the structure, perhaps where the suppliants of the god slept and awaited their dreams. The sexes may have been segregated as may have been the case for the bath to the northeast of the stoa, which is traditionally called the women’s bath.

On the southeast side of the streambed opposite the sacred spring there are extensive remains of domestic structures as well as an unusually well-preserved clepsydra, which incredibly still has its bronze stopper. This artifact is especially important in the study of ancient methods of timekeeping in that it is an example of an inflow water clock.

Since an inflow clock measures time by the filling of a known volume from a constant rate of inflow, it is much more accurate than an outflow water clock in measuring the gradations between full and empty.

The clepsydra was composed of a central, square reservoir with a steep stairway on the south side to allow access to the bronze plug at the bottom of the reservoir.

Incredibly, the bronze stopper still survives today, leading the visitor to marvel at the seemingly unending historical treasures Greece offers in every corner of the country — even in out-of-the-way places which still need much further excavation and research.

Some constellations have barely any mythology connected to them, or are so entrenched in a major epic that writing about them is very straight forward. Others, not so much. Cygnus is one of them. This particular swan can be any of six mortal or immortal men.

One can not mention a swan in connection to Hellenic mythology and not think of the love affair between Zeus and Leda, the affair that led to the birth of some very influential people in Hellenic mythology. Leda (Λήδα) was the daughter of the Aetolian king Thestius (Θέστιος), and wife of the king Tyndareus (Τυνδάρεως), of Sparta. Zeus looked upon the beautiful Leda and fell for her instantly. In the guise of a swan, He came to her, seeking refuge in her arms from an eagle. Leda sheltered Him, and lay with Him--either after He transformed into a man, or while He was still a swan. That night, she also slept with her husband. She became pregnant and gave birth to two eggs, one housing Helene (Ἑλένη) and Klytaemnestra (Κλυταιμνήστρα), and the other Kastor and Polideukes (Κάστωρ καὶ Πολυδεύκης). Its also said that Zeus laid with Nemesis and She gave birth to an egg that housed either Helene alone, or her sister as well. A shepherd found the egg and took it to Leda, who hatched it, and adopted the child or children. In the first case, the swan is Zeus, in the latter, the swan was placed in the sky to celebrate the birth of Helene.

The second male the constellation is identified with is Orpheus. After being forced to leave Euridice in the Underworld, he travels the world with his lyre. He renounces both women, and many of the Theoi, pained as he is by the loss of his beloved wife. One day, he either sacrifices to Apollon--one of the few, or even the only Theoi he still offers to--at a shrine to Dionysos, and is discovered by the female revelers. Alternatively, the revelers stumble upon him as he plays, and they can't appreciate his divine music, or a group of women falls upon him for denouncing women. Whatever the case, Orpheus is ripped apart. His lyre is placed into the sky, and he is placed in the sky near the lyre by Zeus in the form of a swan. Plato explains this odd choice in his 'Republic', when he speaks of reincarnation:

"He said it was a strange, pitiful, and ridiculous spectacle, as the choice was determined for the most part by the habits of their former lives. He saw the soul that had been Orpheus’, he said, selecting the life of a swan, because from hatred of the tribe of women, owing to his death at their hands, it was unwilling to be conceived and born of a woman." (X, 620a)

I'm going to conflate the last four. All of them were named 'Kyknos' (Κύκνος). The first was a bloodthirsty son of Ares, who slaughtered all his guests when they came to his door. Hēraklēs killed him, either in self-defense, or in honorable battle. In one version of the story, Ares transforms His son into a swan before Hēraklēs can deliver his deathly blow, preferring this solution over his son's death. The second Kyknos was the son of Poseidon, and King of Kolonai. As the son of Poseidon, he was impervious to both spear and sword attacks, as such, he was suffocated by Achilles during the battle for Troy. After his death, this Kyknos, too, was turned into a swan.

The third Kyknos was a human King of Ligûria, and friend--or lover--of Phaëthon, son of Hēlios. When Phaëthon was killed by Zeus after scorching the earth, Kyknos was inconsolable. He spent the rest of his life mourning Phaëthon. To relief his suffering, Zeus transformed him in a swan, and was later put into the sky by Apollon. The last of the Kyknos' associated with this myth was a son of Apollon. This Kyknos was a handsome but arrogant man. Many young boys fell for his looks, but his personality drove them off again. One of the young men, Phylios, loved Kyknos unconditionally, but Kyknos felt the need to test Phylios' resolve, trying to scare him off. The first task was to kill a lion that was threatening the neighborhood without use of any weapons. The second task was to catch two man-eating vultures of enormous size that were posing an equal threat to the neighborhood, again without use of any devices. Finally, Phylios had to bring a bull to the altar of Zeus with his own bare hands. With divine help, Phylios managed to complete all three tasks, but Hēraklēs cured the boy of his love for Kyknos. Kyknos, enraged and humiliated, took his own life by drowning. His mother did the same. Out of love for the both of them, Apollon turned them both into swans. In the words of Roman poet Ovid, in his Metamorphoses:

"Whilst here, within the dismal gloom, alone, 
The melancholy monarch made his moan, 
His voice was lessen'd, as he try'd to speak, 
And issu'd through a long-extended neck; 
His hair transforms to down, his fingers meet 
In skinny films, and shape his oary feet; 
From both his sides the wings and feathers break; 
And from his mouth proceeds a blunted beak: 
All Cycnus now into a Swan was turn'd, 
Who, still remembering how his kinsman burn'd, 
To solitary pools and lakes retires, 
And loves the waters as oppos'd to fires."
(II 374-382)

The next time you look to the heavens and see constellation Cygnus, you'll have quite the stories to tell. The constellation is visible at latitudes between +90° and −40°, and best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of September.

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 is one of those posts.

"I've got a question, but I don't know if its appropriate... I know that when we pray, we should sing hymns to the gods beforehand. But I've got very little fantasy for these things, and it ends up being a sort of mess. Do you use hymns like the Homeric or do you make your own?"

Personally, I only use ancient hymns in my worship. Both because I am not exactly a creative light when it comes to writing poetry and because I prefer to worship the gods with the words They were worshipped with in ancient times.

"Do you know any hymns to the heroes, or should I create my own for rituals for them, or is there some other way of honouring their heroic deeds?"

There were many of hymns to the heroes in ancient times. Every city state had their own and they honoured a huge variety of heroes. Hero worship was very widespread. Unfortunately these hymns were passed on mostly by oral tradition and they have pretty much been lost to us. If you wish to honour heroes, making your own hymns is perhaps wisest, or you can use the descriptions of their deeds as recorded by the ancient mythographers.

"When sacrificing to nature spirits (nymphs for example), or when making offerings to Hestia before dinner, can I just recite an invocation and prayer to them, or do I have to do it in the standard ritual format?"

There are two types of sponde: one used as a toast--usually to Hestia and/or the Agathós Daímōn--and one as a general libation. A toast is traditionally poured on the floor, but may also be poured onto a dish to be taken out after the meal or be poured into a potted plant or measure of earth in a pot. Some people give the sponde before the meal, others after the meal, and some give both before and after the meal, as a way of thanks. You don't have to perform a full rite, just lift the cup with your right hand, say a hymn and a few words of thanks, and tip out a few drops after transferring your cup to the left hand.
"It causes me huge distress when I can't celebrate some festivals on the days they are held or in the time of day they should be carried out. This worried me because, as you wrote before, rituals to Olympic deities should be carried out in daylight. What do you think I should do in similar situations? Should I just hold the rituals the day after the festival? Please help."
Not being able to celebrate a festival on a given day is certainly frustrating and not recommended, but it is not the end of the world. Even in ancient times, these delays happened. Fortunately for them, they could proclaim that the next day would be the same as this one and do the ritual on schedule. We don't have that luxury, so we make do.

In general, it is always best to do the ritual on the day of the festival. If that is not an option, do it the day before (if you can plan for it) or the day after, preferably first thing. Don't hold night-time celebrations in daylight, and don't hold daytime celebrations at night-time. If you are too late to do the ritual, move it to the day after. Daytime and night-time were very important distinctions for the ancient Hellenes, and they held great significance.

It happens. It happens to me, too. In modern society, not much stock is put in proper timing of Hellenic festivals, I fear, and some things just can't be planned around. Thankfully, there are 'safeguards' of a sort built into the way we celebrate: hymns. With hymns, we call upon the Gods and Goddesses we will sacrifice to, and make Them aware of the rites taking place. Even though the ritual is thus not held on the required day, the Theoi will know we honour Them and kharis can be built.

Heavy rainfall in southern Greece has led to the discovery of a bronze bull figurine believed to have been a votive offering made to Zeus in Ancient Olympia as early as 3,000 years ago.

Greece’s Culture Ministry said Friday that the small, intact figurine was found after an archaeologist spotted one horn poking out of the ground following recent rainfall in the area.

The excellently preserved figurine was transported to a lab and initial examination indicates it dates from the Geometric period of ancient Greek art, roughly 1050 B.C. to 700 B.C. It is believed to have been a votive offering to Zeus made as part of a sacrifice, as the sediment cleaned from the statuette bore distinct burn marks, the Culture Ministry said.

Thousands of votive offerings are believed to have been made at the altar of Zeus. Many have been found in a thick layer of ash and are exhibited at the archaeological museum in Olympia.

Most of us take big and small risks in our lives every day. But COVID-19 has made us more aware of how we think about taking risks. Since the start of the pandemic, people have been forced to weigh their options about how much risk is worth taking for ordinary activities – should they, for example, go to the grocery store or even turn up for a long-scheduled doctor’s visit?

One of the earliest written works in Greek is “Works and Days,” a poem by a farmer named Hesiod in the eighth century B.C. In it, Hesiod addresses his lazy brother, Perses. The most famous section of “Works and Days” describes a cycle of generations. First, Hesiod says, Zeus created a golden generation who “lived like the gGods, having hearts free from sorrow, far from work and misery.”

Then came a silver generation, arrogant and proud. Third was a bronze generation, violent and self-destructive. Fourth was the age of heroes who went to their graves at Troy. Finally, Hesiod says, Zeus made an iron generation marked by a balance of pain and joy.

While the earliest generations lived life free of worries, according to Hesiod, life in the current iron generation is shaped by risk, which leads to pain and sorrow. Throughout the poem, Hesiod develops an idea of risk and its management that was common in ancient Greece: People can and should take steps to prepare for risk, but it is ultimately inescapable. As Hesiod says, 

“summer won’t last forever, build granaries,” but for people of the current generation, “there is neither a stop to toil and sorrow by day, nor to death by night.”

In other words, people face the consequences of risk – including suffering – because that is the will of Zeus.

If the outcome of risk was determined by the Gods, then one critical part of preparing to face uncertainty was to try to find out the will of Zeus. For this, the ancient Hellenes relied on oracles and omens. While the rich might pay to petition the oracle of Apollon at Delphi, most people turned to simpler techniques to seek guidance from the Gods, such as throwing dice made of animal knuckle bones.

A second technique involved inscribing a question on a lead tablet, to which the god would provide an answer such as “yes” or “no.” These tablets record a wide range of concerns from ordinary ancient Hellenes. In one, a man named Lysias asks the god whether he should invest in shipping. In another, a man named Epilytos asks whether he should continue in his current career and whether he ought to wed a woman who shows up, or wait. Nothing is known about either man except that they turned to the Gods when confronted with uncertainty.

Omens were also used to inform almost every decision, whether public or private. Men called “chresmologoi,” oracle collectors who interpreted the signs from the Gods, had enormous influence in Athens. When the Spartans invaded in 431 B.C., the historian Thucydides says, they were everywhere reciting oracular responses. When plague struck Athens, he notes that the Athenians called to mind just such a prophecy.

Chresmologoi played so much of a role in bolstering public confidence that the wealthy Athenian politician Alcibiades privately contracted them as spin doctors in order to persuade people to overlook the risks of an expedition to Sicily in 415 B.C.

For the ancient Hellenes, putting faith in the Gods alone did not fully protect them from risk. As Hesiod explained, risk mitigation required attending to both the Gods and human actions. Generals, for example, made sacrifices to Gods like Artemis or Ares in advance of battle, and the best commanders knew how to interpret every omen as a positive sign. At the same time, though, generals also paid attention to strategy and tactics in order to give their armies every advantage.

Neither was every omen heeded. Before the Athenian expedition to Sicily in 415 B.C., statues sacred to Hermes, the god of travel, were found with their faces scratched out. The Athenians interpreted this as a bad omen, which may have been what the perpetrators intended. The expedition sailed anyway, but it ended in a crushing defeat. Few of the people who left ever returned to Athens.

The evidence was clear to the Athenians: The desecration of the statues had put everyone in the expedition at risk. The only solution was to punish the wrongdoers. Fifteen years later, the orator Andocides had to defend himself in court against accusations that he had been involved.

This history explains that individuals might escape divine punishment, but ignoring omens and failing to take precautions were often communal rather than individual problems. Andocides was acquitted, but his trial shows that when someone’s actions put everyone at risk, it was a community’s responsibility to hold them accountable.

Oracles and knuckle bones are not in vogue today, but the ancient Hellenes show us the very real dangers of risky behavior, and why it is important that risk not be left to a simple toss of the dice.

*Joshua P. Nudell, is an Assistant Professor of Classics, Westminster College. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

On Mounuchion 6, the Athenian festival of the Delphinia (Δελφίνια) starts in honor of Apollon and Artemis. To celebrate this festival, Elaion is hosting a PAT ritual at 10 am EDT on April 18. Will you be joining us?

The Delphinia is a festival to ask for the protection of all ships and sailors, to ask for guidance for young boys and girls transitioning into adulthood and--as a festival of purification--the Delphinia can be interpreted to be open to all who are going through a time of transition and/or struggle.

What is known about this festival is that virgin girls walked to the Delphinion (Δελφίνιον) atop the Acropolis in procession, carrying olive branches bound with wool (known as 'iketiria') and baked cakes known as Popana, made of soft cheese and flower. There is overwhelming evidence that the festival was held on the sixth of the month of Mounukhion, most notably from Plutarch, but the seventh of same month is also considered a possible date, quite possibly because the festivities could have taken place in the daylight hours of the sixth day, which is the same day as the start of the seventh of the month, as dusk rained in a new day.

Plutarch connects the sixth of the month Mounukhion to Apollon and Theseus--most importantly to Theseus' quest for the Minotaur--in his 'Life of Theseus'. Theseus vows to look over those the lots choose to be offered to the Minotaur in the maze on Krete. Roughly in the month of Mounukhion, the seafaring season started. It's therefor not odd that lots would have been cast about this time, for the youths--and everyone else with business across the sea--would set sail as soon as the weather allowed. The rising of the Pleiades, located in the constellation of Taurus, around late April, the beginning of May, was a signal for the boldest of sea-goers that the treacherous sea was at least moderately accessible. Still, it would be at least several months before the favoured seafaring season started, so anyone braving the sea, could probably use some protection. Somewhere shortly after the Delphinia would have been Theseus' first opportunity to sail to Krete, but it would place his return almost five months later; quite some time for a three day journey (one way) in favourable conditions.

During the Delphinia, young maidens presented Apollon Delphinion, and perhaps Artemis Delphinia, with the iketiria Theseus had presented them with as well, in the hopes of receiving for the Athenians the same guidance and protection at sea as the Kretan colonists, as well as Theseus and the youths, had gotten.

A connection can also be made with Theseus visiting the shrine of Apollon Delphinios as an opportunity for purification before his great quest, as the young supplicants who prepared for their personal collective journeys into adulthood would desire purification of their own, and Apollon in many of his epithets is a purifier. Also, in a little less than a month, the Thargelia took place in Delos, an event where the births of Artemis, and especially Apollon were celebrated. The rites at the Delphinia might have been part of the purification processes for those who were to go to Delos (with thanks to Daphne Lykeia for this interpretation).

As a festival of purification, the Delphinia can be interpreted to be open to all who are going through a time of transition and/or struggle. A divine purification of miasma might allow you to focus better on these issues, and receive guidance from the Theoi more easily--like Theseus, who purified himself  at the Delphinion and prayed for the guidance of Aphrodite directly thereafter. Aphrodite made Ariadne fall for him, saving his life and those of the young men and women in the process.

One can celebrate this day by offering both Apollon and Artemis hymns, libations, and Popana cakes, and presenting Artemis with an iketiria, an olive branch wrapped with white wool, if you are a young female looking for aid. An iketiria was primarily used in rites of supplication.

The popana (or popanon) should be a flat cake with a single 'knob' in the center. We don't have a surviving recipe, but Cato's recipes for 'libum' seems to hold many of the same ingredients. It goes as follows:

"'Make libum by this method. Break up two pounds of cheese well in a mortar. When they will have been well broken up, put in a pound of wheat flour or, if you wish it to be more delicate, half a pound of fine flour and mix it well together with the cheese. Add one egg ...and mix together well. Then make into bread, places leaves beneath, and cook slowly on a hot hearth under an earthen pot."

That's a lot of Popana. Make this if you're with a large group, else the recipe would look something like this for something the size of a good loaf of bread or its equivalent in smaller portions:

- 14 ounces good ricotta or any fresh cheese, preferably unpasteurized (ricotta should always be drained overnight in a colander)
- 4 ounces (approx) flour, preferably farro
- 1 large egg
- a pinch of salt
- several bay leaves, preferably fresh
- olive oil, for the pan

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.

You can either make large cakes or small ones. If you're making large ones, line a baking pan or sheet with bay leaves and brush them lightly with olive oil. If you don't have enough leaves to cover the surface, distribute the leaves as best you can. If you are going to make smaller cakes, brush one leaf with oil for each cake you are going to make.

Knead all the ingredients (except the bay leaves) until well blended. Add flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Shape the dough into a single, or several smaller cakes. Place either the large cake on top of the bay leaves, or put each little one on top of one. Then put it in a baking pan and into the oven.

Bake for about 30 minutes for a large cake, or (much) less long for smaller cakes. Just watch them until they are firm and light golden brown. Don't forget to enjoy it yourself!

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

 Greece's Epirus region hosts five of the country's most important ancient theatres. Some are famous, but others little-known. Now, a European-backed project will restore these architectural treasures from antiquity and weave them into a brand new tourist trail. The circuit includes the sites of Dodona, Gitana, Amvrakia, Kassope and the Roman theatre of Nikopolis. From its inception, this project has been backed and co-financed by the European Union.


One of the most famous archaeological sites in Greece, as it was the home of the ancient oracle of Zeus.

It is the smallest ancient Greek theatre unearthed to date. The West Necropolis has also survived. Both are visible from the street.

Octavian was so overjoyed at defeating Mark Antony and Cleopatra’s combined fleet in the Battle of Actium that he constructed an entire city in his own honor to celebrate his victory. “Nikopolis” means “Victory City.”

Its construction was based on the Hippodamian Plan grid system, and faithfully adhered to Aristotles’ suggestions on how to create the ideal city.

Two names are inscribed on each one of the seats found in the lower tier of the ancient theatre; According to one theory, the first name belonged to the slave owner and the second to the slave he had set free.

Though key to the project, the team's ambition goes beyond just renovating these ancient landmarks for people to observe.

"We are used to archaeological sites being extensive ruins that must be discovered. Yet, theatres are constructions that have, an inherent sociability. An ancient theatre can be used to teach theatre; it can be used for educational purposes," explains architect and engineer Georgios Smyris. "People can meet and interact. The goal is not only to see but to use. This is the great challenge faced."

The Epirus region joined forces with the Diazoma association to launch this project called "The Cultural Route of the Αncient Τheaters of Epirus". It boasts 5 archaeological sites, 344 km of trails to travel, 2,500 years of history. The project has a total budget of 24 million EUR of which 80% comes from the EU.

The aim of this trail is to attract Greek and foreign visitors who are interested in archaeology, history and the arts. To support this vision, a business cluster has been created with the participation of hotels, restaurants, tourist agencies and local producers.

"The cultural route will succeed when the visitors taste and feel the current culture, the daily culture of the region they're visiting," says Nikos Karabelas from the project's monitoring committee. "The tourists should have the chance to taste our excellent olive oil, sample some herbs that grow throughout Epirus and get some honey. In short, to experience Epirus' warm, authentic hospitality".

The region of Epirus is bursting with stories to tell. Τhe Ottoman castle of Ioannina and the silversmithing museum are some other gems on offer. Tourists delving into the world of antiquity at the renovated amphitheatres will also have plenty to experience on Epirus' modern side. Epirus Development Agency Historian Georgia Kitsaki asserts:

"The cultural path follows the trend at European and international level. The visitor wants to come and experience a holistic product. The visitor wants to get a complete, unique experience. The impressive ancient theatres of Epirus are only the beginning. It is a journey back in time that finally leads you to Epirus' charming and multi-faceted present".

When pandemic restrictions permit it, the Region intends to launch an advertising campaign to attract tourists from European countries and beyond.

The Herakleidai (Ἡρακλεῖδαι) are the descendants of Herakles. After the death of Herakles, his sons were pursued by Eurystheus. They claimed protection in Athens. The Athenians refused to surrender them and in the war that ensued Eurystheus' sons were killed. Eurystheus himself, who had fled in a chariot, was pursued and had his head cut off by Hyllos, son of Heracles. After the death of Eurystheus, the Herakleidai attacked the Peloponnesos and captured all the cities. When a plague ravaged the country the oracle of Delphi declared that this happened because the Herakleidai had returned before the proper time. So they retired and, after some unfortunate attempts to return, they made themselves masters of the Peloponnesus three generations later. In Erkhia, a yearly sacrifice was made to the sons (and hopefully the daughters) of Herakles and we will do the same on 16 April at the usual 10 am EDT.

The Herakleidai claimed power in the Peloponnesos because they were descended, through Herakles, from Perseus, the founder of Mycenae. The current ruler op the Peloponnesos, Tisamenus, was a Pelopid, a descendant of Pelops. They also claimed that Tyndareus, ruler of Sparta, had been expelled by Hippokoon and argued that Herakles, having killed Hippokoon and his sons, had given the land in trust to Tyndareus. As such, they were the true rulers of both.

Hyllos, son of Herakles, sought to effect the return to power of the Herakleidai, so he went to Delphi and inquired how to go about this. The oracle declared that 'they should await the third crop before returning'. Hyllos supposed that the third crop signified a three year wait. He did, then returned with his army to Peloponnesos. He failed and was killed by Ekhemos. 

Aristomakhos, son of Kleodaeos, son of Hyllos, had been also killed in battle. His son Temenos blamed the oracle for the death of his father. He said that they had obeyed the oracle but the Oracle answered that they were themselves to blame, for they did not understand the prophecies, seeing that by 'the third crop' it was meant, not a crop of the earth, but a crop of a generation. 

So Temenos waited. He readied the army and built ships at Naupaktos. While the army was there, a soothsayer appeared. Karnos recited oracles but the Herakleidai took him for a magician sent by the Peloponnesians to be the ruin of the army. So Hippotes (son of Phylas, son of Antiochos, son of Herakles) threw a javelin at him and killed him. But Karnos was, indeed, a seer of Apollon and the one who established the cult of Apollo Karneos among the Dorians. Appollon destroyed the naval force and made the army suffer from famine. Eventually it had to disband.

After these two failed attempts, Temenos went back to the Oracle of Delphi to ask how he could stop the misfortune that had befallen them. The Oracle advised him to banish the Hippotes for ten years and to take for his guide 'the Three-Eyed One'. So the Herakleidai banished Hippotes and started searching for the Three-Eyed One.

One day they met Oxylos who was sitting on a one-eyed horse. So, guessing he was the man described by the Oracle, they made him their guide. Oxylos had fled from Aetolia to Elis on account of the accidental murder of Thermios (or Alcidokos, depending on the account). So, with Oxylos as a guide, the Herakleidai invaded the Peloponnesos again and finally defeated them. They slew Tisamenos, the last of the Pelopides to rule the Peloponnesos, and claimed it in its entirety. 

The return of the Herakleidai took place three generations after the end of the Trojan War and the death of Nestor after his return home. When the Herakleidai conquered the Peloponnesos, they cast lots for the cities. Argos was allotted to Temenos. The twin sons of Aristodemos, Prokles and Eurysthenes, got Lacedaemon and Sparta. Messenia was allotted to Kresphontes, who drove the descendants of Nestor from Messenia. Oxylos, for his help, became king of Elis after the victory of the Herakleidai.

What follows is a (probably incomplete) list of those who were called 'Herakleidai' at the time described.

The first generation:
Alcaeos, son of Herakles and Omphale. Father of Belos.
Antiochos, son of Herakles and Meda. Father of Phylas.
Hyllos, son of Herakles and Deianira or Melite. Father of Iole of Kleodaeos and Evaekhme.
Ktesippos, son of Herakles and Astydamia or Deianira. Father of Thrasyanor.
Phaestos, son of Herakles and an unknown mother. Father of Rhopalos.

The second generation:
Belos, son of Alcaeos.
Kleodaeos, son of Hyllos. Father of Aristomachos and Lanassa.
Phylas, son of Antiochos. Father of Hippotes and Thero.
Rhopalos, son of Phaestos. Father of Hippolytos.
Thrasyanor, son of Ktessipos. Father of Agamedidas and Antimachos.

The third generation:
Agamedidas, son of Thrasyanor. Father of Thersander.
Anaxandra, daughter of Thersander. Mother by Eurysthenes of King Agis of Sparta.
Antimakhos, son of Thrasyanor. Father of Deiphontes.
Aristomachos, son of Kleodaeus. Father of Temenos, Kresphontes and Aristodemos.
Eurysthenes, son of Aristodemos. Father of King Agis.
Hippotes, son of Phylas. Father of Aletes.
Hippolytos, son of Rhopalos. Father of Lacestades.
Lathria, daughter of Thersander. Mother by Prokles of King Sous of Sparta.
Prokles, son of Aristodemos. Father by Lathria of Sous and Eurypon.

The fourth generation:
Aristodemos, son of Aristomachos. Father of Eurysthenes and Prokles.
Aletes, son of Hippotes.
Deiphontes, son of Antimakhos. Father of Antimenes, Xanthippos, Argeos, and Orsobia.
Kresphontes, son of Aristomachos. Father of Aepytos.
Lakestades, son of Hippolytos.
Temenos, son of Aristomachos. Father of Agelaos, Eurypylos, Kallias and Hyrnetho (or Kisos, Kerynes, Phalkes, Agraeos, Isthmios and Hyrnetho).
Thersander, son of Agamedidas. Father of Lathria and Anaxandra.

The fifth generation:
Agelaus, son of Temenos.
Agraeus, son of Temenos.
Aepytos, son of Kresphontes.
Eurypylus, son of Temenos.
Hyrnetho, daughter of Temenos.
Isthmios. Son of Temenos.
Kallias, son of Temenos.
Kerynes, son of Temenos.
Kisos, son of Temenos. Father of Phlias and Medon.
Phalkes, son of Temenos.

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

A portal created by the CNR for the study of "linear B", the ancient writing system in use in Greece at the end of the Bronze Age (14th-13th centuries BC), is now available to the world. It is a writing system, like cuneiform and hieroglyphic, based on the use of logographic (words) and syllabic (sounds) signs. The texts are mainly of an economic nature and constitute one of the main sources for studying the so-called 'Mycenaean civilisation'.

Thanks to the CNR's LIBER-Linear B Electronic Resources, a special search engine now makes it easy to query a constantly updated database. Currently, LiBER contains texts from Knossos, Mycenae, Tiryns and Midea, but new inscriptions from other sites will soon be made available.

On the site recently opened to the public it is now possible to research and analyse texts written in the oldest Greek dialect known to date: a heritage made available not only to scholars and experts, but also to students, enthusiasts and lovers of the subject.

The database contains transcriptions of the Linear B texts and their images, enriched with information on the scribes, the places where the documents were found, their chronologies and their places of preservation. The ultimate goal is to create a complete electronic edition of all Mycenaean texts known to date, in order to make available to everyone an incredible heritage that can still reveal much about this ancient civilisation.

The functions integrated in the system allow even very complex textual searches to be carried out and the results to be presented in the form of indexes or lists of documents, while also allowing the visualisation of the sites of discovery thanks to a powerful Web-GIS. It is therefore possible to virtually enter inside the buildings to fully appreciate the complex administrative organisation of their offices. 

At the same time, thanks to a sophisticated geo-localisation system, LiBER allows users to explore in presence the archaeological sites from which the texts originate, enriching them virtually with the information contained in the database.

The LIBER-Linear B Electronic Resources project was developed by Francesco Di Filippo (Institute of Studies on the Mediterranean, CNR-ISMed) and Maurizio Del Freo (Istituto di Scienze del Patrimonio Culturale, ISPC).