The constellation Draco (from the Greek Drakon, meaning dragon) is identified--funnily enough--with some dragons in Hellenic myth but not others. There are quite a few creatures, after all, who would qualify as a dragon in Hellenic myth. For a dragon or hydra not connected to the constellation, think of the one Kadmos vanquished, for example, or the one Apollon vanquished at Delphi, or even the dragon who guarded the Golden Fleece and was slain by Iásōn. In truth, only two dragons were associated with the myth in ancient times, most notably by Hyginus in his Astronomica: Drakon Hesperios, the Hesperian Dragon, and Drakon Gigantomakhios, the Gigantomachian Dragon.



The first of the myths associated with the constellation is the legend of the Drakon Hesperios (Δρακων Ἑσπεριος), who was slain by Hēraklēs during one of his Labours. I will tell the whole myth of the labour soon enough, but I will share what Hyginus wrote about this labour, and Hēraklēs' encounter with Ladôn (Λαδων), as the dragon was often called.

"This huge serpent is pointed out as lying between the two Bears. He is said to have guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides, and after Hercules killed him, to have been put by Juno [Hera] among the stars, because at her instigation Hercules set out for him. He is considered the usual watchman of the Gardens of Juno. Pherecydes says that when Jupiter [Zeus] wed Juno, Terra [Gaea] came, bearing branches with golden applies, and Juno, in admiration, asked Terra to plant them in her gardens near distant Mount Atlas. When Atlas’ daughters kept picking the apples from the trees, Juno is said to have placed this guardian there. Proof of this will be the form of Hercules above the dragon, as Eratosthenes shows, so that anyone may know that for this reason in particular it is called the dragon." [II.3]

The sole other dragon this myth is linked to is Drakon Gigantomakhios (Δρακων Γιγαντομαχιος), who rose up during the Gigantomachy. When the Olympians rose to power, they first fought the Titans during the Titanomachy. Vanquishing them, the Theoi thought They had won. Yet, there was one who sought revenge for the defeat of his father: Typhôeus, the most-feared son of Tartaros and Gaea. Some versions of the myth say that Typhôeus was actually the Drakon Gigantomakhios, or one of his offspring. Hyginus shares what happened to the dragon:

"Some also say this dragon was thrown at Minerva [Athena] by the Giants, when she fought them. Minerva, however, snatched its twisted form and threw it to the stars, and fixed it at the very pole of heaven. And so to this day it appears with twisted body, as if recently transported to the stars."

The constellation Draco is visible at latitudes between +90° and −15°, and best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of July. Tomorrow, we will talk a little more about the types of dragons in Hellenic myth, because I suddenly realized the association with medieval dragons is very easily made when reading 'dragon', but I assure you, the ancient Hellenes were unaccustomed to giant, fire breathing, lizards.

With the stories of heroes triumphing over gods, the appearance of spine-chilling ancient beasts, and a variety of other-worldly locations, mythology in games is a trend that is sure to never cease, with fans being treated to a variety of great titles over the years. The Gamer put together a list of games based on real-world mythology

For players looking to brush up on their Hellenic mythology, there are plenty of games out there that will deliver you to the dazzling temples of Olympia, or delight you with their lore and references based on their ancient tales. From stories of the mythological gods, valiant fabled protagonists, fearsome beasts, and modern games with a Grecian twist, here are some of the best games with lore-based within ancient Hellas.


10 - Theseus

Theseus is an immersive VR experience that places you straight into the story of the Minotaur. The Minotaur, a mythical creature with the head and tail of a bull and the body of a man, was born from King Minos of Crete's wife, Pasiphae, after Poseidon made her fall in love with a bull as revenge on the King Minos of Crete. The Minotaur was then placed into an elaborate labyrinth constructed at King Minos' request by Daedalus and his son Icarus.

The game almost perfectly recreates the legend, with you playing as Theseus, the Athenian Hero who traverses the maze and slays the Minotaur. It mixes exploration of the maze with survival, combat, and some cinematic story elements before your eventual run-in with the large foe.


9 - NyxQuest

NyxQuest sees you playing as Nyx, the embodiment of night within ancient Hellas. Nyx befriends Icarus when he flies into her realm within the sky, but when he disappears without warning, she then heads to the surface to search for him in the crumbling ancient Hellenic landscape.

The mesmerizing setting and game design seem to jump straight out of the artwork of Grecian amphora and temple friezes from the time. Nyx is aided on her journey by the Olympians as she traverses crumbling ruins and defeats ancient monsters like the Hydra with special powers such as manipulating objects, controlling the wind, and casting powerful rays.


8 - Kid Icarus

Kid Icarus first jumped onto screens in 1986, quickly becoming one of the more popular games for NES. It's a cult classic and often centers around the protagonist Pit and his quest to equip sacred treasures, traverse platforms, and defeat bosses in order to save the Grecian-inspired world of Angel Land and the Goddess Palutena, who is thought to be based on Athena.

Kid Icarus has come a long way from his humble NES beginnings, with 3DS game Kid Icarus: Uprising being released in 2012 and Pit, Dark Pit, and Palutena becoming recurring characters in the Smash Bros franchise.


7 - Persona 3

Persona 3 is the game that set the tone of what was to become the success of every Persona game to follow it and is still thought of today as one of the best JRPG's of the 2000s. You play as a character that attends a modern Japanese high school during the day whilst exploring Tartarus in the evening. Tartarus was a location in Hellenic mythology, described as the deep abyss used for the torment and suffering of the wicked, and the prison for the Titans.

Persona 3 has a vast collection of characters you need to maintain relationships with, all of which have Personas based within Hellenic and Roman mythology. Journeying to Tartarus also puts you face to face with a plethora of monsters, including the final boss Nyx, the embodiment of night.


6 - Okhlos

In Okhlos, you play as a mob of ancient Hellenic civilians, warriors, slaves, and animals who have become sick and tired of the abuse and antics of the Gods, and so take up arms to destroy every building, temple, Grecian monster, and Olympian in their path.

Okhlos embodies the scenery and settings of ancient Hellas with lush temples and large fearsome Gods, but that's nothing but an obstacle to your mob of toga and sandal-wearing ruffians. Okhlos is a one-of-a-kind battle game, and can even see you wielding the power of iconic Grecian figures such as the hero Heracles, Pandora, and even Socrates.


5 - Apotheon

A 2D action-adventure game that sees you playing within the minimalist artwork from the pottery of ancient Hellas. Apotheon sees you playing hero Nikandreos as he traverses a vibrant artistic world to ascend Mount Olympus and take on the Pantheon of Gods to save humankind.

In Pantheon, the Gods of Olympus have abandoned the humans, leaving you to traverse Artemis' forests, Apollo's palace, and climb Mount Olympus to take their powers for yourself. The heroic narrative is a direct look into the heroic tales of ancient Hellenic lore, with the game even tying in excerpts from famous stories like the Iliad.


4 - Assassins Creed: Odyssey

Assassins Creed Odyssey places you onto the lush streets and volcanic islands of ancient Hellas, moving from an unknown outcast to a living Spartan legend amongst humans and Gods as you play through a struggling, war-torn world during the mythological Peloponnesian war.

Assassins Creed Odyssey sees you forge your own path and destiny through ancient Hellas, influencing the history of the stories and land around you as you fight a list of formidable Grecian foes from Aegean naval fleets on the sea to legendary beasts of myth such as the Minotaur, Nemean Lion, and even Medusa, the legendary Gorgon.


3 - Immortals Fenyx Rising

Immortals Fenyx Rising is a new take on ancient Hellenic lore, as you play as Fenyx, a newly recruited winged Demigod on a quest to not destroy the Hellenic Gods, but save them! There is also the DLC 'The Lost Gods' which sees you play as Ash, a mortal hero who ventures to the Pyrite islands in order to locate the missing Gods.

This is a grand open-world Hellenic myth adventure brought to life, giving you the ability to wield the powers of heroes and Gods alike from Achilles Sword to Daidalos' wings to battle monsters such as the Cyclops, Cerberus, and Gorgons, as well as encountering rare mythological creatures such as Griffins.


2 - God Of War

The God of War franchise has recently seen lore-based within Norse mythology but began its journey in ancient Hellas, following the story of protagonist Kratos.

Kratos was a war general forced to kill his wife and daughter unknowingly under Ares command. After exacting revenge on Ares and ascending to godhood himself, he then goes on to seek revenge against the Olympians, Titans, and his own father for their betrayal. God of War is based in an alternate 495 BC Hellas, and as well as Gods and beasts also features critical moments from Grecian tales such as Heracles' 12 Labors, Jason and the Argonauts, and the sinking of Atlantis.


1 - Hades

Hades is a rogue-like dungeon crawler where you defy your father, Hades. You'll battle your way through a vivid reimagination of the Grecian Underworld as the immortal prince Zagreus, This game is renowned as one of the best games of its kind to have come out in recent years.

Hades is a new take on the Grecian theme, seeing you hack and slash your way through the underworld to break free of Hades' grip. Zagreus is helped on his journey by the Olympians, who grant him an assortment of powerful boons that help you take on the Underworld's monsters, courtesy of Gods such as Zeus, Athena, and Hade's wife and Zagreus' own mother, Persephone.

Untold stories recounting the glories of ancient Hellas contain the name Pausanias, who lived in the second century AD. But few people appreciate the man behind these ancient chronicles, focusing instead on the subjects he portrayed in his works.

The historian was born approximately 110 AD into a Hellenic family who most likely lived in Lydia; he was certainly familiar with the western coast of Asia Minor, but his travels extended far beyond the limits of Ionia. Before visiting Hellas itself, he had been to Antioch, Joppa, and Jerusalem — even to the banks of the River Jordan.

In Egypt, he had seen the pyramids. While at the temple of Ammon at Siwah, he had been shown the hymn once sent to that shrine by Pindar. In Macedonia, he appears to have seen the tomb said to be that of Orpheus in Libethra (modern Leivithra). Crossing over to Italy, he visited some of the cities of Campania, as well as Rome. He is one of the first known to write of seeing the ruins of Troy, Alexandria Troas, and Mycenae.

Pausanias’ Description of Greece, or Periegesis, is in the form of ten books, each dedicated to some portion of Hellas, with a heavy emphasis on the glories of ancient Hellas — although he lived at a time of Roman domination of the area. 

His many works are geared toward a Roman audience, since Romans wanted to know everything about the glories of ancient Hellas — and many times adopt Hellenic ways for themselves. The project is more than topographical; it is a cultural geography of ancient Hellas — in a way, a snapshot taken in time to capture what was left of the height of Classical Greece.

Pausanias often digresses from his description of architectural and artistic objects to review the mythological and historical underpinnings of the society that produced them, giving us today a much clearer picture of how mythology and culture are interwoven into the Hellenic landscape. He begins his tour in Attica, where the city of Athens and its demes dominate the discussion.

He describes what he saw at Athens’ Temple of Olympian Zeus, which is of course still extant in the city, although of course greatly changed over the millennia.

“Before the entrance to the sanctuary of Olympian Zeus – Hadrian the Roman emperor dedicated the temple and the statue, one worth seeing, which in size exceeds all other statues save the colossi at Rhodes and Rome, and is made of ivory and gold… before the entrance, I say, stand statues of Hadrian, two of Thasian stone, two of Egyptian. Before the pillars stand bronze statues … The whole circumference of the precincts is about four stades, and they are full of statues; for every city has dedicated a likeness of the emperor Hadrian, and the Athenians have surpassed them in dedicating, behind the temple, the remarkable colossus. Within the precincts are antiquities: a bronze Zeus, a temple of Cronus and Rhea and an enclosure of Earth surnamed ‘Olympian.’ Here the floor opens to the width of a cubit, and they say that along this bed flowed off the water after the deluge that occurred in the time of Deucalion, and into it they cast every year wheat meal mixed with honey.”

Pausanias’ subsequent books describe Corinthia, Laconia, Messenia, Elis, Achaea, Arcadia, Boetia, Phocis and Ozolian Locris (Λοκρῶν Ὀζόλων).

As a Hellenic man writing at the zenith of the Roman empire, he was in an awkward cultural space, between the glories of the Hellenic past he was so keen to describe and the realities of a Hellas that was now beholden to Rome as a dominant imperial force.

He was not technically a naturalist, although he commented on the physical aspects of the Hellenic landscape. He notices the pine trees on the sandy coast of Elis, the deer and the wild boars in the oak woods of Phelloe, and the crows amid the giant oak trees of Alalcomenae.

He says “Among the sights of Thesprotia are a sanctuary of Zeus at Dodona and an oak sacred to the god. Near Cichyrus is a lake called Acherusia, and a river called Acheron.” However, he tells things as he sees them with a bit of an insult here and there, saying “There is also Cocytus, a most unlovely stream. I believe it was because Homer had seen these places that he made bold to describe in his poems the regions of Hades, and gave to the rivers there the names of those in Thesprotia.”

Pausanias even touches on the natural bounty of Hellas, including the wild strawberries of Helicon, the date palms of Aulis, and the olive oil of Tithorea, and remarking on its animals, such as the tortoises of Arcadia and the “white blackbirds” of Cyllene.

The chronicler makes history come alive when he says that the Phocian War was concurrent with a man who won a race in the Olympics, saying “In the tenth year after the seizure of the sanctuary, Philip put an end to the war, which was called both the Phocian War and the Sacred War, in the year when Theophilus was archon at Athens, which was the first of the hundred and eighth Olympiad at which Polycles of Cyrene was victorious in the foot-race.”

Placing them firmly into the rich cultural history of the country, he then relates “The cities of Phocis were captured and razed to the ground. The tale of them was Lilaea, Hyampolis, Anticyra, Parapotamii, Panopeus and Daulis. These cities were distinguished in days of old, especially because of the poetry of Homer.”

Even in the most rural corners of Hellas, he is fascinated by all kinds of depictions of deities, holy relics, and many other sacred and mysterious objects. He makes a note on the ruins of the house of Pindar, and the statues of Hesiod, Arion, Thamyris, and Orpheus in the grove of the Muses on Helicon, as well as the portraits of Corinna at Tanagra and of Polybius in the cities of Arcadia.

One of Pausanias’ modern editors, Christian Habicht, stated: 

“In general, he prefers the old to the new, the sacred to the profane; there is much more about classical than about contemporary Greek art, more about temples, altars and images of the gods, than about public buildings and statues of politicians. Some magnificent and dominating structures, such as the Stoa of King Attalus in the Athenian Agora (rebuilt by Homer Thompson) or the Exedra of Herodes Atticus at Olympia are not even mentioned.”

Unlike a mere travel guide, in “Periegesis” Pausanias stops in many places around the nation for a brief excursus on a point of ancient ritual or to tell a myth, in a genre that would not become popular again until the early nineteenth century.

Pausanias is fond of digressions on the wonders of nature, the signs that herald the approach of an earthquake, the phenomena of the tides, the ice-bound seas of the north, and the noonday sun that at the summer solstice, casts no shadow at Syene (Aswan). As scientists know, the observation of the noonday sun at this very place enabled the great scientist Eratosthenes to determine the circumference of the earth.

While he never doubts the existence of the deities and heroes, the cultural geographer sometimes criticizes the myths and legends relating to them. His descriptions of monuments of art are plain and unadorned, but crucially, their accuracy is confirmed by the extant remains that one can often see today.

Pausanias is perfectly frank in his confessions of ignorance in his works. When he quotes a book at second hand he takes pains to say so. This is an invaluable aid to the modern reader, who can become troubled by the fantastic observations and sometimes fabrications of ancient writers.

His life’s work, however, left only faint traces in Hellas for many centuries after his death. “It was not read”, Habicht relates; “there is not a single mention of the author, not a single quotation from it, not a whisper before Stephanus Byzantius in the sixth century, and only two or three references to it throughout the Middle Ages.”

The only manuscripts of Pausanias are three fifteenth-century copies, full of errors and lacunae, which all appear to depend on a single manuscript that survived to be copied. Niccolò Niccoli had this archetype in Florence in 1418. At his death in 1437, it went to the library of San Marco, Florence. A part of the manuscript is held at the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana.

Until twentieth-century archaeologists realized that Pausanias was a reliable guide to the sites they were excavating, the peripatetic chronicler had been largely dismissed by nineteenth- and early twentieth-century classicists.

Modern archaeological research, however, has tended to vindicate Pausanias in his many descriptions of his beloved country, which have gone on to form an invaluable cultural record of the glories of ancient Hellas.

 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.



"Is the agathos daimon a ouranic or chthonic being?"

I would say it's complicated? If I had to make a choice, I would say Ouranic, but like heroes, His worship has a link with, and a touch of, death. I wrote a detailed piece about Him long ago that might help?

~~~

"What power over mortals do heroes have? It is, of course, important to honor them because of the things they did in their lifetime, but what about now, when they're dead? How can they influence mortals?"

Heroes are complicated. Hero worship was very specific and it's a concept that translates with more difficulty than straight-up deity worship. In essence, heroes are the bridge between mortals and Gods. They were born  mortal (although often with a bloodline to the Gods) but through their deeds, they were rewarded with immortality themselves. They became Gods. Still, the lessons they teach us are all mortal lessons. Heroes were honoured more than worshipped, and we do that today as well. So heroes, like Gods, can be called on for counsel and aid, and like the Gods, you can establish kharis with them. But they don't judge us, not like the Gods anyway, because they were all just like us once.
 
~~~
 
"Tomorrow is Hekate's Deipnon. I've seen some posts about the calendar on your blog so... We should pray to Hekate tonight and not tomorrow's according to the Hellenic way, right? It's a bit confusing..."

I got this e-mail on the 17th, and yes, that was the evening of the Deipnon. For those of you confused by the placement of the Deipnon in relation to the moon, perhaps this post will help make the schedule clearer. I think it boils down to the fact that Hekate is a Khthonic deity and is thus worshipped at night, after dusk. Since the Hellenic day spreads from dusk on day one to dusk on day two, rituals for Kthonic deities need to be held in the night of day one, and ritual for the Ouranic deities during the daylight hours on the second day. 

~~~

"During my Hecate's Deipnon ritual, do I kneel when worshiping Hecate (she is, after all, a chthonic goddess, though I've heard she can be 'interpreted' in more than one way)?"

I tend to kneel for Hekate, yes. Her worship has gone through many stages of evolution, however, so a case can be made for either. She most certainly started out as an Ouranic deity, but with the introduction of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter--composed somewhere in the late seventh century BC or the sixth century BC--she becomes an Underworld Goddess, and She receives a Khthonius character. By the fifth century BC, as the Eleusian Mysteries are in full swing, Hekate's association with the crossroads emerges and by that time, she becomes an appropriation Goddess, associated with the cleansing of the home and whole-animal sacrifices. As this version of Her is associated mostly with the Deipnon, I tend to kneel, and I keep Her worship away from my main shrine, choosing a low altar instead to make the sacrifices.

~~~

"I would have a question, which is more to do with theology, than with worship and religious practice. Why do you think our gods are not perfect and can change, not just in character, but also in their domains, like Hecate?"

Hekate is an extreme example, of course, but many Theoi, indeed, change(d) throughout the years. I would not say this means They are not 'perfect' (what is perfect anyway?), simply that the Gods adapt with Their people. Life becomes more complicated, the wishes of worshippers change. Domains are divided between existing Gods and those added to the pantheon, imported from other places around the world. To quote Malcolm Reynolds: 'It's getting awfully crowded in my sky' ;-)
 
The Theoi adapt because we need Them to adapt. Look at modern worship: who do we pray to when we need a new job? Or when our computer breaks down? Who do we pray to we travel by airplane? Based on the domains we know the Theoi had in ancient times, we make assumptions and guesses, and eventually, domains shift and evolve to include our modern lifestyle: Zeus to guide us towards a new job, Hephaestos to help us with our computer issues, and Hermes to watch over our journey by plane, for example. And the Gods tend to be willing to adapt to the change out of Kharis with their worshippers.

The study of the largest ancient cemetery for infants found on Astypalea island in Greece continues, shedding light on the worship of the goddess of childbirth and the Earth mother. The Dodecanese Ephorate of Antiquities that is carrying out the study has found that almost all the infants buried there were newborns or, at most, a few months old. There are also a few toddlers that were up to two years of age.

The bodies of the babies were placed in ceramic containers, mainly amphorae or hydrias, whichwere buried in shallow pits with stones on top, which indicated that there was a tomb there. Burial of newborns and babies in such receptacles was a rather common way of burial in ancient times. What distinguishes the infants’ cemetery of Astypalea is the huge number of tombs and its use for almost an entire millennium. So far, a total of 3,000 vessels containing the skeletons of babies have been excavated, but many more are buried in the cemetery.

With few exceptions, the tombs did not contain favorite objects of the dead, which was common for newborns and infants since they were not considered “full” persons at that point, thus were not buried ceremoniously and traditionally as all adults were.

The number of tombs and the fact that the containers come from various parts of the Mediterranean indicate that it is possible that many of the infants did not belong to  Astypalea’s inhabitants.

The uniqueness of the ​​Kylindra area on the island lies in the fact that it is a burial ground exclusively for newborns and infants, most of whom died at birth. Such a large cemetery for infants is certainly not justified by the size of the island’s population. There was a city there, but it was not one of the most important in ancient Hellas.

The most realistic theory for the existence of a cemetery for infants on the island is that there could have been a sanctuary on Astypalea where women went to give birth. Indeed, inscriptions have been found on the island that mention not only Asclepius, but also Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth and midwifery. She helps women give birth and endure its great pains. She is also worshiped as a goddess who takes care of newborns.

The latter seems more likely to be associated with the presence of newborns and infants on the island. Such sanctuaries existed in other parts of the Hellenic world, but perhaps that of Astypalea was one of the most famous and had pan-Hellenic significance. Thus, women who were not from Astypalea would prefer to give birth there, much like, for example, patients from all over Greece would visit the Asclepieion of Epidaurus for cures of their diseases.

It is even possible that there were doctors specializing in obstetrics in the sanctuaries of Eileithyia, something that would be especially helpful to midwives at a time when childbirth was particularly dangerous and many newborns and mothers died in the process. Even under these conditions, many newborns would die in the sanctuary, and perhaps these were the ones who were buried in the cemetery of Astypalea.

Eileithyia had many sanctuaries in Crete. The most famous places of her worship were in Amnisos, Olounda, Diktynnaio and Inato, but the main seat of the Goddess was in ancient Lato.

I am fairly swamped right now. May I interest you in the words of Sophocles on Aphrodite and love? I'll give you something more tomorrow.



“Children, the Cyprian is certainly not only the Cyprian
But she is a being of many names.
She is Hades. She is immortal life.
She is mad insanity. She is desire undiluted.
She is lamentation. In her is everything
Earnest, peaceful, all that leads to violence
She seeps into the organs of everything
In which life resides. Who is ever sated by the goddess?
She enters into the fishes’ swimming race,
She is in the four-limbed tribe on the land
And guides her wing among the birds.
Among beasts, mortals, among the gods above.
Whom of the gods has she not thrown three times?
If it is right for me—if it is right to speak the truth,
She rules Zeus’ chest without a spear or iron
The Cyprian certainly cuts short
All the best plans of humans and gods.”
[fr. 941 [=Stobaeus 4, 20.6]]

Plans for a major renovation project to the western entrance of the Acropolis have met with strong opposition from archaeologists in Greece and across the world. In an open letter to the public, the signatories, including figures from the universities of Oxford, Durham and Brown, called for the -cancellation of a project they believe will lead to the “devaluation, concealment and degradation of the greatest archaeological and artistic treasure that has been bequeathed to modern Greece”.

The Acropolis has been subject to continual restoration and excavation projects since the emergence of the independent Greek state and the choice of Athens as its capital city

The Acropolis is a Unesco World Heritage Site and the most visited archaeological site in Greece, welcoming more than three million visitors in 2018, according to the Hellenic Statistical Authority. The site has been subject to continual and regular restoration and excavation projects since the emergence of the independent Greek state and the choice of Athens as its capital city in the early 19th century. These have variously affected both access to, and the appearance of, the site.

This latest renovation is intended to improve access and traffic management of visitors and, according to a statement from the ministry of culture, “remove erroneous interventions of the past”. However, for the opposition, the plans are “contrary to the internationally recognised and established principles concerning the preservation, conservation and safeguarding of antiquities” and “mark an extremely dangerous path”.

The plans were unanimously approved by the Central Archaeological Council on 3 February, after a proposal made by the architectural restorer Manolis Korres, the president of the Acropolis Monuments Conservation Committee (ESMA). Following this approval, the ministry announced that a comprehensive scientific study will be carried out in the autumn.

The focus of the plan is on the -restoration of the ascent to the Acropolis, including a large marble staircase constructed in the first century AD, the return of an ancient southern access to the terrace and the removal of what ESMA deem to be incorrect -restoration work.

The plans show the government again at loggerheads with the archaeological community following a recent dispute regarding the legal status of Greece’s five largest archaeological museums. The signatories fear that these interventions “will change dramatically the form of the Acropolis Monument”, and will cause serious functional and conservational problems.

A major concern is what constitutes the “correct appearance” of the site. According to the critics, the planned work places a modern framework of renovation which has no basis in history. Most notably, they question why the specific form of the western access to the Acropolis in the fifth century AD has been chosen as the “correct form” of this part of the site, while for the plateau, it is the form of the fifth century BC.

The works apparently also bypass “international and national legal frameworks and standards”. In particular they state the Central Archaeological Council “examines and decides only on completed studies and not mere proposals”. This follows criticism of restoration work already done in 2020, whereby the old pathways to the Acropolis were paved with reinforced concrete and a new, larger lift access was added to upgrade access and accommodate people with disabilities.

Heavy rains in December 2020 led to flooding on the site, which the signatories state was a “predictable consequence” of the new paving. These interventions were also criticised for their negative aesthetic impact and the damage caused to the ancient architecture and the rock itself, as well as not “fulfil[ling] the stated justification” to improve disabled access. Ultimately, they say, the focus of the works was “to accommodate even larger crowds of summer tourists”.

Open-air archaeological sites were finally reopened in Greece on 21 March, following the ongoing national lockdown that began in November 2020, allowing the public and the wider archaeological community to see the impact of the works so far.

The Greek government is desperately trying to push forward with its typical summer season-—despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic—that is a vital part of the national economy.

The ministry of culture could not be reached for comment; but, in a statement released on 15 March, ESMA rejected the claims of the letter, stating that the new paving is “easily reversible” and that the interventions to the Propylaea gateway will return it to its “original ancient form” of the first century AD, based on “exhaustive archaeological-architectural documentation”. They also state that the “oldest traces will not be covered but will remain visible and accessible”.

However, speaking with The Art Newspaper, Tasos Tanoulas, an architect and member of the technical staff of committee for the restoration of the Acropolis Monument since 1977, refuted these comments, in particular the reversibility of these works.

On the 21th of Mounukhion, the sacrificial calendar of Erkhia dictates a sacrifice to the Tritopatores (Τριτοπατορες). We'll host a PAT ritual for the event on May 3rd, at 10 a.m. EDT.



Suidas describes the Tritopatores as follows:

"Tritopatores : Demon in the Atthis says that the Tritopatores are winds (anemoi), Philochoros [Greek poet C4th B.C.] that the Tritopatores were born first of all. For the men of that time, he says, understood as their parents the earth (gê) and the sun (hêlios), whom then they called Apollon. Phanodemos [C4th B.C.] in [book] 6 maintains that only [the] Athenians both sacrifice to them and pray to them, when they are about to marry, for the conception of children. In the Physikos of Orpheus the Tritopatores are named Amalkeides and Protokles and Protokleon, being doorkeepers and guardians of the winds (anemoi). But the author of Explanation claims that they are [the offspring] of Ouranos (Heaven) and (Earth), and that their names are Kottos, Briareos and Gyges."

Which version(s) of the Tritopateres were worshipped at Erkhia is unclear. The latter in Suidas are often seen as the Hekatonkheires: Kottos (Κοττος, 'Grudge', 'Rancour'), Gyês (Γυης, 'Of the Land'), Briareôs (Βριαρεως, 'Strong', 'Stout'), Obriareôs (Οβριαρεως, 'Strong', 'Stout'), and Aigaiôn (Αιγαιων, 'Goatish', or 'Stormy'). As the Anemoi, the Tritopateres are: Amalkeidês (Αμαλκειδης, 'Bound to That Place'), Prôtoklês (Πρωτοκλης, 'First Locked Away), and Prôtokleôn (Πρωτοκλεων, 'First Confined').
Which version(s) of the Tritopateres were worshipped at Erkhia is unclear, but we find favour with the theory that they are connected to the wind-Gods. According to the Greater Demarkhia, the sacrifice to the Tritopatores was a ram, along with a 'libation not of wine'. In modern times, a libation of milk, honey, and/or water will most certainly do.

The ritual for the Tritopatores may seem rather strange (at least different) but it is based on elaborate and specific instructions from the inscription from the Selinus tablet and we think it is in the spirit of ancient sacrifice. The arrangement and sequence is crucial. Robert will conduct the sacrifice for the foul Tritopatores as that had to be done by a specific priestly group and as the senior member of Elaion, and with the facilities to conduct this sacred rite, he should be the one to do this. We have marked in the ritual which parts of the rite you should perform and which you should not.

You can find the ritual for the PAT ritual for the sacrifice to Tritopatores here and join the community page here. We hope you will join us!

A 2100-year-old grave of a woman laid on a bed was discovered under the foundations of a demolished modern residence in Mavropigi, in the municipality of Eordaias, Kozani, in western Macedonia, during the proposed expansion of a lignite mine by the local Public Power Corporation (PPC). It constitutes a find unique to the wider Greek area, said the head of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Kozani, Areti Chondrogianni-Metoki, who is also responsible for the excavation. "Bed legs or parts thereof have been found, bronze ones, and they are the only ones that have survived the test of time, but they are scattered. Until now, not a single bed had been found in situ," Mrs. Chondrogianni-Metoki points out. 

From the location where the bronze parts of the bed were found and based on the designs made at the museum, Mrs.Chondrogianni and her colleagues tried to reconstruct the way these pieces were bound together and proceeded to produce a miniature. 

"In our estimation the proposed reconstruction is very close to the original, despite the fact that we are missing the wooden elements, which was based on the preliminary study of the excavation data, bibliographical data and the preserved parts, as well as X-ray and CT scans of the legs."

This particular burial dates back to the Hellenistic period, to the late Hellenistic period, to the 1st century BC, perhaps even to the end of the 2nd century BC. "At this time it was common to place the dead on beds in the region, particularly in Pella and Pieria. But because they were wooden they have decayed and their existence is usually inferred only from the positions of the nails, which are the only remaining items as the wood disintegrates. There are also stone beds, as well as brick beds in Macedonian tombs", explains the archaeologist, describing the find as "important and unique", which also offers many insights into the forms of ancient beds in the area. 

"This bed belongs to the Hellenistic type. All the evidence points to a local workshop", notes Mrs. Chondrogianni. However, nowhere in the wider area of Mavropigi and the prefecture of Kozani in general, no evidence of similar beds have been found, although hundreds of graves have been excavated. One possible explanation is that while there seems to have been a local workshop for beds, no other beds have been found, because of grave robbing and the ability to recycle the material. 

"Many copper and iron parts because they are recyclable materials were taken by later generations and melted down."

The rare find confirms that there were valuable objects, meaning wealth and prosperity had grown in the ancient settlement in the region of Mavropigi, perhaps even a royal family, as was the case throughout Western Macedonia at that time, with ancient Aiani being a typical example, where the names of kings of the ancient city are attested.

The deceased woman, of high, as it seems, economic and social class, middle-aged, may have belonged to such a royal family - suggested by the golden laurel leaves found on her head, which may have been sewn into a wreath of another material -, but she may also have held some religious authority. Both scenarios are being considered. 

From the study conducted by Mrs. Chondrogianni-Metoki, it appears that this bed was of lavish construction. "It was the most luxurious and expensive thing a person of the time could have had, which refers us to a person of high economic and social status." The settlement to which the burial belongs is located in ancient Eordia which was one of the four kingdoms of Upper Macedonia, today's Western Macedonia. The capital of this kingdom has not been found. The two fulgrae of the bed are decorated with a mermaid, - the head of the Gorgon - and the upper part of the fulgrae also bore an aquatic bird holding a snake in its mouth. The snake - associated with Apollon, who according to mythology killed the snake at Delphi and saved the world.

The deceased woman carried in her mouth a gold plate - probably a mouthpiece and ten double gold laurel leaves and they were sewn onto  leather or cloth material - perhaps a veil - or a wreath on her head. On her right hand were found golden threads, as if she had something embroidered on her hand. "All of these appear to have been sewn somewhere, perhaps on the clothing the deceased was wearing or on some cloth with which she was covered," Mrs. Chondrogianni-Metoki notes. The woman also had a bone needle and a stone bead and was crowned with four clay myrrh pots, a clay amphora, a glass myrrh pot.

The laurel leaves again refer to Apollon because it is the sacred plant, his emblem, while in Mavropigi a ruined sanctuary of Apollon and a votive column have been found, which confirms its existence. "The archaeologist Maria Akamatis, who studied some fulgra from Pella where there were laurel leaves, departs from the connection of the depicted figure with the god Apollon, based on its other characteristics, and associates it with descent from a royal lineage", says the head of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Kozani, adding that:

"...with the evidence we have so far, we have not concluded whether it is a woman of a royal family or a person with religious authority. There is evidence of both. She was certainly an eminent woman who had power and the luxury of the bed alone leaves no doubt." 

Regarding the possibility that the woman had religious authority, Mrs. Chondrogianni-Metoki notes that 

"...it was common in ancient Greece to assign luxurious beds to the sanctuaries. The ancient Greeks used more simple, humble beds, mainly wooden ones. This 'smells' of luxury. Luxury refers either to royalty or to a sanctuary and because there is evidence of a sanctuary at Mavropigi, neither scenario can be ruled out. The bones of the woman have been transferred to the laboratories of the Archaeological Museum of Aiani and through the anthropological study the sex, age and even the cause of death will be determined. The aim of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Kozani is to make a real reconstruction of the bed, to be exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Aiani for "the whole world to see."

In 2020, the remains of another farmhouse were excavated in a parcel of land on the outskirts of the modern community of Mavropigi, which dates back to the Hellenistic period (3rd-1st century BC). It is a makeshift structure, including a basement section. A similar structure was found at another location in Mavropigi in 2018. It appears that in the area, at Mavropigi, and further north (at Perdika), there was a custom of constructing makeshift, utilitarian buildings, of the hut type, with a basement or semi-basement area. In the same place there is a pit with finds from the late Bronze Age (1600 BC - 1100 BC), i.e. the Mycenaean period, which shows the use of the site in this period as well.

In another location, findings of the Hellenistic period and the early Iron Age (1100 BC-700 BC) were found. Settlement remains and a cemetery of these two periods were excavated. The cemetery contained 40 graves dating from 1100 BC to the Hellenistic period, "i.e. it has a long period of use, with a gap during classical times", Mrs. Chondrogianni-Metoki adds. The dead were covered with clay vessels, jewellery and weapons. Women wore bronze jewellery, and in one case a gold-plated ring. The men carried their weapons. The tombs are pit tombs, except for one cist and two stone tombs, and many of the pit tombs were marked with a stone.

Mrs. Chondrogianni-Metoki presented these finds in the framework of the 33rd Scientific Meeting on the Archaeological Project in Macedonia and Thrace (AEMTH).

Today, on May 1st, Elaion will host a PAT ritual for the Olympieia, in honor of Olympian Zeus. Will you join us at the usual 10 a.m. EDT?


 

Most worship of Olympian Zeus took place around or during the Olympic games in Olympia. In 550 BC, however, the tyrant Peisistratos (Πεισίστρατος) decided to build a temple to Olympian Zeus in Athens. The temple, which became known as the Naos tou Olympiou Dios (Ναὸς τοῦ Ὀλυμπίου Διός), was demolished by his sons, Hippias (Ἱππίας) and Hipparchos (Ἵππαρχος), after Peisistratos' death, but replaced by the foundations of a grander structure. Hippias was expelled in 510 BC, and the project abandoned for three hundred years. The project--which was epic in scale--was seen as hubristic and bad form. Aristotle wrote about it in his Politics:

"Another art of the tyrant is to sow quarrels among the citizens; friends should be embroiled with friends, the people with the notables, and the rich with one another. Also he should impoverish his subjects; he thus provides against the maintenance of a guard by the citizen and the people, having to keep hard at work, are prevented from conspiring. The Pyramids of Egypt afford an example of this policy; also the offerings of the family of Cypselus, and the building of the temple of Olympian Zeus by the Peisistratidae, and the great Polycratean monuments at Samos; all these works were alikeintended to occupy the people and keep them poor." (Part XI)

The temple project was revived from 174 BC to 164 BC, when King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who presented himself as the earthly embodiment of Zeus, changed the design and put builders to work. The project halted again after his death. What followed was a period of disarray with looting, some minor attempts at restoration, and lots of neglect, until the project was finally completed in the second century AD, by Roman emperor Hadrian.

In 267, the temple was badly damaged during the Herulian sack of the city, and very few--if any--attempt was made to restore it. By 425, the worship of the Hellenic and Roman Gods was banned by Christian emperor Theodosius II, and the temple was slowly dismantled for building materials.

Even in its half finished state, Peisistratus and those who came after him, held a festival at the structure: the Olympieia, celebrated on the 19th of Mounikhion. For how long the festival was celebrated is unclear, but it died out somewhere during the reign of Hellas--most likely after the death of the Peisistratidae--before being brought back in the second century BC, as the temple was completed. The festival was a military one and featured a procession and contests by the Athenian cavalry. Also attested are large scale sacrifices of bulls to Olympian Zeus.

You will find the ritual for the event here and you can join the community page here.