Cambridge Journals present a brand new research collection on the Battles of Thermopylae and Salamis – marking 2500 years since the Persian invasion of 480 BC descended on the Greek peninsula. 

Foreword from Chris Carey, a British classical scholar and Professor Emeritus of Greek at University College London.

“2500 years ago this year a massive Persian force descended into Greece. How massive we cannot say. Ancient figures for Persian numbers are wildly exaggerated from the very start. Just a few years after the war an inscription at Thermopylae, site of the first engagement between Greek forces and the invaders, gave a figure of 3 million for the land army. Modern figures by different means generally reduce that figure to about 200,000. Even that may be far too high. But on any calculation this was the biggest force ever seen on the Greek peninsula at that date... It is this pivotal moment which forms the focus of the essays and chapters contained in this selection of works from the classical journals. It designedly contains work published at different periods over the last century. It makes no attempt at comprehensive cover, if that were possible. But it does contain some superb scholarship, and hopefully food for thought.”

The full article collection can be found here on the Cambridge University Press website.

Access to these Cambridge Journal academic articles is free until the end of October 2021.

 I'm low on time today, but I would like to share a beautiful translation of a piece of the Greek Anthology. The Greek Anthology (Anthologia Graeca) is a collection of poems, mostly epigrams, that span the classical and Byzantine periods of Greek literature. Most of the material of the Greek Anthology comes from two manuscripts, the Palatine Anthology of the 10th century and the Anthology of Planudes (or Planudean Anthology) of the 14th century. Needless to say, they are not ancient Hellenic, but use themes from its mythology and I enjoy sampling them.

Now, the Greek Anthology has been translated many times and I am not a fan of most. Take this translation, for example, of the part I'd like to share today:

"Even like unto a storm in springtime, Diodorus, 
is my love, determined by the moods of an uncertain sea. 
At one time you display heavy rain-clouds, 
at another again the sky is clear 
and your eyes melt in a soft smile. 

And I, like a shipwrecked man in the surge, 
count the blind waves as I am whirled 
hither and thither at the mercy of the mighty storm. 

But show me a landmark either of love or of hate, 
that I may know in which sea I swim."

Perfectly fine, but it doesn't flow for me. Here is today's offering, and I love it! From Sententiae Antiquae:

"Just like a spring storm, Diodoros,
My love is decided by an uncertain sea.
Sometimes you show pouring rain, but at others
You are clear, and you pour a soft smile from your eyes.

So I, like the shipwrecked on the swell,
Measure out the blind waves as I spin,
Drawn here and there by the great storm.

But you, shine me a beacon of love or even hate
So I can know by which wave we should swim."

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.

"Hey! I'd really like to do short, easy rituals before I study (30 seconds or less) in dedication to Athena/Apollo (or maybe others depending on the situation) and was wondering if you had any ideas? I would mostly like to do something in terms of miniature sacrifice/self cleansing (or something similar) if possible, words never really work so well for me. Thank you so much!!"

Let me first say one thing I think is very important: Hellenismos is a religion that works on kharis--religious reciprocity. Otherwise put: you get out of it what you put in. So I am not against mini rituals atop of festival celebrations and perhaps daily rituals, but solely mini rituals...? I'm not a big fan. As for not using words: in the ancient Hellenic religion, it was important to raise one's voice when hymns were sung, and especially so when prayers were made.

That having been said, I suppose it's possible to condense the ritual down to its very bare bones:
- Set out a bowl of water
- Light a candle to Hestia with a match
- Drop the match into the bowl of water and use it as khernips or make a weekly batch on Sunday if you really want to.
- Wash your hands and face and flick the access water off over your shrine to cleanse it.
-  Say a few words to Hestia. Stick the Homeric Hymn 24 to Hestia on your wall and recite it:
"Blessed Goddess Hestia, you who tend the holy house of the lord Apollo, the Far-shooter at goodly Pytho, with soft oil dripping ever from your locks, come now into this house, come, having one mind with Zeus the all-wise—draw near, and withal bestow grace upon my song."
- Pour some wine out to Hestia (straight out of the bottle into the khernips bowl if you have to. This will dilute it, as it is supposed to be sacrificed).
- Recite a hymn to Athena/Apollon. You can pick a short one if you'd like and stick it up to your wall next to the hymn to Hestia.
- Pour some wine out to Athena/Apollon (straight out of the bottle into the khernips bowl if you have to. This will dilute it, as it is supposed to be sacrificed).
- Say your prayers.
- Blow out the candle and clean up.
I just tried it and it took me one minute and twenty-one seconds. Since thirty seconds is... not enough for pretty much anything, I'd say that is a fairly short ritual. Again, I am not a fan, but it will work.
"Hey so I was thinking about the offering the coin to Charon thing. And I how it isn't wholly the monetary value, but the act of it. And what do you think about a tattoo of a coin? Like just a small little thing so you always have the offering with you and ready to give at a moments notice?"
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. As part of thse rituals, a coin could be presented to the dead, and laid under or below the tongue, or even on the eyes, as payment to Kharon.
This ritual was widespread in literature, but archareological evidence tells us it didn't always happen. In fact, only a small percentage (only about 5 to 10 percent) of known ancient Hellenic burials contain coins. Among these there are widespread examples of a single coin positioned in the mouth of a skull or with cremation remains.
The coin for Kharon is conventionally referred to in Hellenic literature as an obolos (ὀβολός), one of the basic denominations of ancient Hellenic coinage, worth one-sixth of a drachma, or other relatively small-denomination gold, silver, bronze or copper coin in local use. You are, thus, right that it wasn't solely abou the monetary value, but it was definitey something that had to have monetary value. It was also something that you could 'physically' give to Kharon. It as payment, after all: 'I give you this coin and you don't leave me stranded on the banks of the river Akheron to wander around as a shade for all eternity'.
So, the coin was not standard practice, but if you would like to have one, tell your family or have it registered. I'm not sure how it is in other countries, but here in the Netherlands, we have insurance to pay for our funeral when we go. As part of that, we get to fill in our wishes for the funeral itself. Get it recorded that you want to be buried with a coin you buy off the internet, or a low value coin of your local currency, in your mouth. Personally, I don't think a coin tattoo will work, not even if you have it tattooed on your tongue.
"Do you think it's possible to practice witchcraft and Hellenic polytheism respectfully?"
I... think that depends on your goal. If you mean a Recon approach to Hellenismos coupled with the modern practice of Witchcraft, based on the work of Crowley and Gardner, then no, I do not think that is possible. the two are entirely incompatible. If you want to practice a version of Reformed Hellenic Polytheism combined with modern witchcraft then.... it does not have my personal preference but it could work. If you want to practice Traditional Hellenismos with ancient Hellenic witchcraft then... yeah, I think that could be done respectfully.
Something I often hear about the ancient Hellenic religion, and prescribed about its modern equivalent, is that there was no magic in ancient Hellas. This is true. It's also a lie. It all depends on your definition of magic, and for the purpose of this reply, we are going to see magic as a form of prayer and ritual, conducted outside of the usual ritual steps. The Theoi were always invoked, but for magic, the sacrifices were usually to the khthonic, or Underworld Gods.
The ancient Hellenes were a competitive people, and struggled with many of the issues we do today: the urge to perform well, the desire for justice to be served, and a need for love. Prayers for these things were made often, usually in their normal ritualized form at the house altar. If these requests were made against, or at the expense of another person, however, they were generally taken out of the realm of regular worship and kharis, and into the realm of the khthonic. The preferred form were katadesmoi.

Katadesmoi are relatively small tablets, inscribed with a desire asked of the Theoi to fulfil. The Katadesmoi that have survived were generally made out of very thin sheets of lead, which were then rolled, folded or pierced with nails. Wax, papyrus, stone, precious metals, and precious minerals would also have been used as a medium. Some katadesmoi were accompanied by a small doll representing the intended victim or even a lock of their hair, especially in the case of love spells. Katadesmoi were usually deposited where they would be closest to the Underworld: in chasms, pools of water, wells, caves, temples to the deity in question, buried underground, or placed in graves. In general, the katadesmoi always included the name of the intended victim and the name(s) of the appropriated Gods--most often Hades, Kharon, Hekate, and Persephone. Exceptions have been found, of course.

In general, katadesmoi were used out of desperation: regular channels had been exhausted, human courts would never convict the perpetrator of a crime, or the murderer could no be found. Pleading with the Gods--who knew more, saw more, had a much farther reach--was considered the only alternative to get justice. This was even the case in many love spells. Katadesmoi were not made willy-nilly: there needed to be a strong incentive to make one.
So I think you can practice witchcraft and Hellenismos, but no, I don't believe modern witchcraft and Hellenismos are compatible and I have exlained why before.


"I do oracle readings to communicate to aphro/apollo but I fear that most of my readings can get invaded is there a secret password I can use to tell if it's them and how can I do this?"

Yeah... sadly, you can't. I'm curious, though: who or what do you think might 'invade' your readings?
Divination played a fairly large role in Hellenic every day life, even though divination of any kind was rarely turned to to predict the future. To desire knowledge of the future was considered hubris. Instead, oracles and seers were petitioned to help answer questions about the present or to advice on a decision which had to be made in the very near future. 'Shall I go to war?', ' Shall I put my sheep out on the high pasture?'. Most often, oracular questions were posed in a way which made it easy for the God(dess)--and the seer--to answer; they did not ask 'Shall I go to war?', they asked 'Don't you think I ought to go to war?'. Most likely, the answer of seers (and perhaps even oracles) depended on the offertory; if it was large enough, the answer was 'yes', if the offertory was dissatisfactory, the answer would be 'no'.

Oracles given directly, like at Delphi, were rare and called chesmomancy. All other forms of divination practiced in ancient Hellas were performed by seers, not oracles. Seer staples were divination through the spotting of birds (ornithomancy and augury), dream interpretation (oneiromancy) and animal sacrifice (hieromancy, haruspicy, empyromancy and extispicy) but other forms of divination were definitely used, including cledonomancy (listening to words spoken by a crowd), oneiromancy (divination through the reading of birthmarks) and Phyllorhodomancy, the reading of the sound rose petals make when slapping them together with your hands. The biggest difference between oracles and seers was that oracles gave long answers which usually needed some for of interpretation while seers usually answered yes-or-no questions.

Many divinatory practices remain today but most modern Hellenics divine differently than the Hellens of old. Tarot has become a staple in divination, for example. On very, very, very, rare occasions I do divinatory readings for myself or others, though mostly for others. These readings are done with my Olympus Tarot or through ornithomancy, something I am still developing but which I am slowly getting better at. Reading is morally complicated for me. It is hard to balance the line between helpful and hubris. I'm not an oracle, I'm not even a seer. At most I am someone with good meditative abilities and a pack of tarot cards I can read instinctively. I have very clear ideas on the interpretation of signs and they always play through my mind before I start. Once I start reciting hymns, though, and giving sacrifice, my doubts fade. There is no room for them.

At the end of the day, you present your reading and you hope it's truthful. That whoever gave it decided to give you the (full) truth and that you interpreted things correctly. There is a reason I think divination of any type is not something to be messed with and taken as advice at best: you never truly know how much truth is in it. 

An archaeological discovery in Turkey resulted in the unearthing of dozens of terracotta figurines depicting ancient Hellenic Gods, men, women, and animals. The artifacts, which are over 2,000 years old, were found in the ancient town of Myra, which is now called Demre, in Turkey. Some of the figurines incredibly still had paint on them, and others had inscriptions, providing archaeologists with a view of life in the region in the 1st and 2nd centuries BC.

Nevzat Çevik, the leader of the excavation team and Archaeology Professor at Akdeniz University in Turkey, told Live Science that “Myra is one of the most important ancient settlements in Lycia.” Myra remained an important site throughout history, as the ancient Hellenes, Romans, Byzantines, and later the Ottomans inhabited the town.

In the modern era, the town was home to a rich and vibrant Greek population that was forced to leave Turkey during the population exchange between Greece and the country in the 1920s. 

The figurines give “rich clues about what existed in the mysterious Myra under a thick silt layer in the first and second centuries BC,” Çevik added.

The archaeological team was excavating parts of a 4th-century Roman theater between June and October of 2020 when they suddenly unearthed a second, smaller theater below the Roman remains. The older structure underneath dates back to the Hellenistic period, from 323 BC — at the time of the death of Alexander the Great — to the beginning of the Roman Empire in 30 BC.

What the researchers found was the massive collection of terracotta figurines scattered amongst the remains, along with the Hellenistic theater.

“It is as if the people of ancient Myra were resurrected and ran through the time tunnel all together and came to our day,” Çevik told his team when they found the figurines. There is an almost uncountable number of ancient Hellenic and Byzantine archaeological and historical sites in Turkey, many of which attract hundreds of thousands, even millions, of visitors every year.

Many of them are landmarks not to be missed by any travelers to Turkey, and they should especially not be missed by Greek travelers, since they are incontrovertible evidence of their people’s long, rich history and contributions to Western civilization.

It's been a while since we have tackled a constellation, so let's look at the next one today: Sagittarius, the archer. It was named 'Toxotes' (Τοξότης) in Greek, and is one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd-century astronomer Ptolemy and remains one of the 88 modern constellations. It lies between Scorpius and Ophiuchus to the west and Capricornus to the east.

In Hellenic mythology, Sagittarius is usually identified as a centaur: half human, half horse. Who, exactly, Sagittarius is, exactly, is unclear. Kheiron (Chiron, Χείρων), the wise and educated Centaur who taught heroes like Achilles, Theseus, Iásōn, and Hēraklēs, is a very good candidate, mostly because he died a very tragic death.

Hēraklēs' fourth labour is to capture the Erymanthian Boar, which got his name from the mountainside and swamp it roamed on. It is a difficult task; a boar is a ferocious animal, and even modern day hunters take care when hunting boar. This labour became even harder to complete for Hēraklēs when he met the centaurs on his way to the boar. Our hero went the long way to visit Phontus, a kéntaur who dwelt in a cave on Mount Pholoe, who was the son of Seilenus and the nymph Melia.

Having heard of Hēraklēs, Phontus entertained him in his cave, and provided him with food. Hēraklēs, thirsty from the savory meat dish, asked for wine, but Phontus said he only had the wine that was communal to all the kéntauroi, and he did not dare touch it. Hēraklēs convinced him to do so, regardless, and the kéntauroi came galloping to the cave. Hēraklēs fought them, and many died. Phontus, inspecting one of Hēraklēs' arrows dipped in hydra poison, which the hero had used to kill one of the kéntauros, dropped it onto his foot and he died of the poison as well. Hēraklēs, grieving for the death of Phontus, buried him near his cave. Hyginus, in his 'Astronomica' writes:

"He is said to be Chiron, son of Saturn and Philyra, who surpassed not only the other Centauris but also men in justice, and is thought to have reared Aesculapius and Achilles. By his conscientiousness and diligence, therefore, he won inclusion among the stars. When Hercules was once visiting Chiron, and while sitting with him was examining his arrows, one of them is said to have fallen on the foot of Chiron, and thus brought about his death. Others say that when the Centaur wondered at his being able to kill such huge creatures as Centauri with such slight arrows, he himself tried to draw the bow, and the arrow, slipping from his hand, fell on his foot. For this reason Jupiter, pitying him, put him among the constellations with a victim which he seems to hold above the altar for sacrifice. Others have said that he is Pholus the Centaurus, who was more skilled in augury that the rest. Consequently, by the will of Jove, he was represented coming to the altar with a victim." [II.38]

It is important to note, though, that this could also relate to the constellation Centaurus--Hyginus seems to think so, although he also wonders if it's a Centaur at all...

"Many have called this sign the Centaurus; others deny the name, for the reason that no Centaurus makes use of arrows. The question is raised, too why he is formed with horse flanks but a Satyr’s tail." [II.27]

A competing mythological tradition, as espoused by Eratosthenes, identified the Archer not as a centaur but as the satyr Krotos (Κροτος), son of Pan, who the ancient Hellenes credited with the invention of archery. According to myth, Krotos often went hunting on horseback and lived among the Muses, who requested that Zeus place him in the sky, where he is seen demonstrating archery. Hyginus again, in his 'Fabulae' on mortals who were made immortal mentions Krotos:

"Crotos, son of Pan and Eupheme, foster-brother of the Muses, put into the constellation Sagittarius" [224]

The arrow of this constellation points towards the star Antares, the 'heart of the scorpion', and Sagittarius stands poised to attack should Scorpius ever attack the nearby Hēraklēs, or to avenge Scorpius' slaying of Orion. The constellation Sagittarius is visible at latitudes between +55° and −90°, and best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of August.

Can you put in an Olympic performance, or will you succumb to the myths? Test you knowledge of ancient Hellas with History Extra's history quiz!

How did you do? 

New research into a little-known text written in ancient Hellenic shows that "stressed poetry," the ancestor of all modern poetry and song, was already in use in the 2nd Century CE, 300 years earlier than previously thought.

In its shortest version, the anonymous four-line poem reads "they say what they like; let them say it; I don't care." Other versions extend with "Go on, love me; it does you good."

The experimental verse became popular across the eastern Roman Empire and survives because, as well as presumably being shared orally, it has been found inscribed on twenty gemstones and as a graffito in Cartagena, Spain.

By comparing all of the known examples for the first time, Cambridge's Professor Tim Whitmarsh (Faculty of Classics) noticed that the poem used a different form of meter to that usually found in ancient Greek poetry. As well as showing signs of the long and short syllables characteristic of traditional "quantitative" verse, this text employed stressed and unstressed syllables.

Until now, "stressed poetry" of this kind has been unknown before the fifth century, when it began to be used in Byzantine Christian hymns. Professor Whitmarsh says:

"You didn't need specialist poets to create this kind of musicalized language, and the diction is very simple, so this was a clearly a democratizing form of literature. We're getting an exciting glimpse of a form of oral pop culture that lay under the surface of classical culture."

The new study, published in The Cambridge Classical Journal, also suggests that this poem could represent a "missing link" between the lost world of ancient Mediterranean oral poetry and song, and the more modern forms that we know today.

The poem, unparalleled so far in the classical world, consists of lines of 4 syllables, with a strong accent on the first and a weaker on the third. This allows it to slot into the rhythms of numerous pop and rock songs, such as Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode." Whitmarsh says: 

"We've known for a long time that there was popular poetry in ancient Greek, but a lot of what survives takes a similar form to traditional high poetics. This poem, on the other hand, points to a distinct and thriving culture, primarily oral, which fortunately for us in this case also found its way onto a number of gemstones."

Asked why the discovery hasn't been made before, Whitmarsh says:

"These artifacts have been studied in isolation. Gemstones are studied by one set of scholars, the inscriptions on them by another. They haven't been seriously studied before as literature. People looking at these pieces are not usually looking for changes in metrical patterns."

Whitmarsh hopes that scholars of the medieval period will be pleased: 

"It confirms what some medievalists had suspected, that the dominant form of Byzantine verse developed organically out of changes that came about in classical antiquity."

In its written form (which shows some minor variation), the poem reads:

Λέγουσιν            They say
ἃ θέλουσιν         What they like
λεγέτωσαν         Let them say it
οὐ μέλι μοι         I don’t care
σὺ φίλι με           Go on, love me
συνφέρι σοι       It does you good

The gemstones on which the poem was inscribed were generally agate, onyx or sardonyx, all varieties of chalcedony, an abundant and relatively inexpensive mineral across the Mediterranean region.

Archaeologists found the most beautiful and best-preserved example around the neck of a young woman buried in a sarcophagus in what is now Hungary. The gem is now held in Budapest's Aquincum Museum.

Whitmarsh believes that these written accessories were mostly bought by people from the middle ranks of Roman society. He argues that the distribution of the gemstones from Spain to Mesopotamia sheds new light on an emerging culture of "mass individualism" characteristic of our own late-capitalist consumer culture.

The study points out that "they say what they like; let them say it; I don't care" is almost infinitely adaptable, to suit practically any countercultural context. The first half of the poem would have resonated as a claim to philosophical independence: the validation of an individual perspective in contrast to popular belief. But most versions of the text carry an extra two lines which shift the poem from speaking abstractly about what "they" say to a more dramatic relationship between "you" and the "me." The text avoids determining a specific scenario but the last lines strongly suggest something erotic.

The meaning could just be interpreted as "show me affection and you'll benefit from it" but, Whitmarsh argues, the words that "they say" demand to be reread as an expression of society's disapproval of an unconventional relationship.

The poem allowed people to express a defiant individualism, differentiating them from trivial gossip, the study suggests. What mattered instead was the genuine intimacy shared between "you" and "me," a sentiment which was malleable enough to suit practically any wearer.

Such claims to anticonformist individuality were, however, pre-scripted, firstly because the 'careless' rhetoric was borrowed from high literature and philosophy, suggesting that the owners of the poetic gems did, after all, care what the classical litterati said. And secondly because the gemstones themselves were mass-produced by workshops and exported far and wide. Whitmarsh says: 

"I think the poem appealed because it allowed people to escape local pigeon-holing, and claim participation in a network of sophisticates who 'got' this kind of playful, sexually-charged discourse. The Roman Empire radically transformed the classical world by interconnecting it in all sorts of ways. This poem doesn't speak to an imposed order from the Imperial elite but a bottom-up pop culture that sweeps across the entire empire. The same conditions enabled the spread of Christianity; and when Christians started writing hymns, they would have known that poems in this stressed form resonated with ordinary people."

Whitmarsh made his discovery after coming across a version of the poem in a collection of inscriptions and tweeting that it looked a bit like a poem but not quite. A Cambridge colleague, Anna Lefteratou, a native Greek speaker, replied that it reminded her of some later medieval poetry. Whitmarsh says:

"That prompted me to dig under the surface and once I did that these links to Byzantine poetry became increasingly clear. It was a lockdown project really. I wasn't doing the normal thing of flitting around having a million ideas in my head. I was stuck at home with a limited number of books and re-reading obsessively until I realized this was something really special."

There is no global catalog of ancient inscribed gemstones and Whitmarsh thinks there may be more examples of the poem in public and private collections, or waiting to be excavated.

 The beautiful thing about our religion is that not only do we have a clear way to honor the Theoi, and incentive to do so, we also get to live in a world governed completely by the Theoi. Hellenismos is special in that regards because it also largely matches up with science. To me--and many others with me--that is something very comforting. Now, as you are probably all aware, I live in a world full of Gods and Nymphs; for example, I take great strength in greeting Eos each morning as she paves the way for Helios, but there are many Gods who are, or who control, the cycle of day and night, and I would like to write out this cycle, if I may.

For all things geneological, I will always turn to Hesiod first. In his 'Theogony', he speaks of the birth of the Dawn, Sun and Moon:

"And Theia was subject in love to Hyperion and bare great Helios, and clear Selene, and Eos." [177]

Diodorus Siculus, in his 'Library of History' shares this world vieuw and moves a (pseudo-scientific) step beyond it:

"Of Hyperion we are told that he was the first to understand, by diligent attention and observation, the movement of both the sun and the moon and the other stars, and the seasons as well, in that they are caused by these bodies, and to make these facts known to others; and that for this reason he was called the father of these bodies, since he had begotten, so to speak, the speculation about them and their nature." [5.67.1]

Hyperion (Ὑπερίων), meaning 'The High-One', was a Titanes God born from Gaea and Ouranos. Theia and Euryphaessa (as mentioned in, for example, the Homeric Hymns) are generally regarded as the same Deathless woman: 'Theia' is the Hellenic word for 'Goddess', so it was likely 'Theia Euryphaessa' translated to 'Goddess Euryphaessa'. This means that the family tree is as follows:

     Khaos ------------ Gaea
         |         |
   Ouranos --- |
                       Hyperion --- Euryphaessa
                  Eos - Helios - Selene

The three of them--put into motion by Hyperion--form the basic cycle of these planets associated with specific times of day. Yet, the ancient Hellenes saw Night and Day as quite seperate from the heavenly bodies that are associated with them today. I have spoken before of the Protogenoi, and how They--contrary to the Olympians--are actually of the world; They, together, form the tapistry of earth and life. They literally make up our universe. As such, the further towards the Big Bang you go, the more abstract the Theoi become; They take on large, mostly unformed, chunks of the material that makes up our world and the further away you go from Khaos, the more specialized the Gods become--as well as numerous.

As such, starting this explination with Hyperion is actually incorrect--I should have started with Khaos itself, but if not there, than at least with Nyx, who is the deep Night, and Her daughter Hêmera (Ἡμερα), who is the Protogenos of the Day and the sister-wife of Aither (Light). In Hellenic mythology, Nyx draws a veil of darkness between the shining atmosphere of the aither and the lower air of earth (aer) at set times in the day, bringing night to man. In the morning, Hêmera removes this veil, and exposed the Earth once more to Light. As Hesiod writes in the Theogony:

"[At the ends of the earth, where lie the roots of earth, sea, Tartaros :] There stands the awful home of murky Nyx wrapped in dark clouds. In front of it [Atlas] the son of Iapetos stands immovably upholding the wide heaven upon his head and unwearying hands, where Nyx and Hemera draw near and greet one another as they pass the great threshold of bronze: and while the one is about to go down into the house, the other comes out at the door. And the house never holds them both within; but always one is without the house passing over the earth, while the other stays at home and waits until the time for her journeying come; and the one holds all-seeing light (phaos) for them on earth." [744]

Once we reach AD times, Hêmera is often identified with Eos, but in centuries prior, she was very much Her own Goddess, and Hêmera was as well. Hómēros, for example, in the 'Odysseia' writes: 

"The ship [of Odysseus] in due course left the waters of the river Okeanos and reached the waves of the spacious sea and the island of Aiaia; it is there [Okeanos] that Eos the early-comer (Erigeneia) has her dwelling place and her dancing grounds, and the sun himself has his risings. We came came in; we beached our vessel upon the sands and disembarked upon the sea-shore; there we fell fast asleep, awaiting ethereal Dawn." [12.1]

So, to recapitulate: Nyx and Hêmera continually work to both create and dissolve darkness on Earth; Selene moves with Nyx, and Helios with Hêmera, as heralded by Eos. In this recap, it is quite obvious we are yet missing a speciffic time of the day: dusk, or the evening. This was in the domain of the Nymphs, in this case the Hesperides (Ἑσπεριδες), who--depending of source--are either the daughters of Nyx or Atlas. Diodorus Siculus, in the 1st Century BC., wrote in his 'Library of History': 

"Now Hesperos (Evening) begat a daughter named Hesperis (Evening), who he gave in marriage to his brother [Atlas] and after whom the land was given the name Hesperitis; and Atlas begat by her seven daughters, who were named after their father Atlantides, and after their mother Hesperides." [4. 26. 2]

Yet, older sources agree that the Hesperides were born from Nyx; Hesiod, for example:

"And Nyx (Night) bare hateful Moros (Doom) and black Ker (Violent Death) and Thanatos (Death), and she bare Hypnos (Sleep) and the tribe of Oneiroi (Dreams). And again the goddess murky Nyx, though she lay with none, bare Momos (Blame) and painful Oizys (Misery), and the Hesperides who guard the rich, golden apples and the trees bearing fruit beyond glorious Okeanos."

Of course, there are more Gods--motly Titans--who are in some way connected to the cycle of night and day, but these are the most important ones and it's quite a hand full already. So perhaps next time when you awake, you will think of Hêmera, and rosy Eos, and when the sun is high in the sky, you will think of Him as well, and when you look upon the Moon before going to bed, you will give honors to Selene and Nyx, who holds Her and Gaea in Her embrace. Our Gods are everywhere; you only have to be aware of Them to notice.

 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.

"What do you think of offering beer to the Theoi?"

Beer has been around for a very long time, at least six thousand years, although the art of beer-making could date back as far as fifteen thousand years ago. The ancient Hellenes certainly were not the ones who invented it. Most likely, it travelled to them by way of the Egypt, but the Egyptians could probably trace the art back to Mesopotamia. A four thousand year old seal to the Goddess Ninkasi--the Goddess of beer--has been found, which is as well a hymn to Her as a recipe for beer.

The beer that was drunk by the ancient Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Greeks--or anyone else, really--had very little to do with the beer we pick up at the grocery store today. They share the same base component--fermented barley--but that's about it. Ancient records ascribed to the following method of creating beer, which is somewhat similar to modern day practices, but vary greatly in execution:

According to Athenaeus Naucratis, a Hellenic rhetorician and grammarian, a grain, typically barley but also millet, rye and wheat, was malted. The grain was dampened with water and allowed to germinate. Nature took its course to converted some of the starches into fermentable sugars and the resulting malt was heated to dry it. The dried malt was often shaped into loafs which were then backed for a small amount of time. These loaves were crumbled, mixed with cereals, and then soaked overnight. To add flavor, spices, honey, dates or other types of sweeteners were used. After the mash had fermented, the liquid contained roughly six to twelve percent alcohol and was sucked out of large bowls with straws, because the gruel-like mash was left in.

Depending on the country or region of origin, the ancient Hellenes knew a wide variety of beers, all mixed slightly differently. Zythos (ζῦθος) came from Egypt. The beer or barley-wine of Crete was known as 'korma' (κόρμα) or 'kourmi' (κοῦρμι). A similar beverage was known in the north of Hellas and in Asia Minor under the name of 'βρῦτον', which simply means 'fermented' or 'something brewed', being made of barley by the Phrygians and Paeonians, of barley or of roots by the Thracians, while the Paeonians also made another mixture which they called 'παραβίας' or 'παραβίη' from millet and fleabane for which I have no translation.

The Roman Plinius reported of the popularity of beer in the Mediterranean area before wine took hold, but the Hellenes were much bigger fans of the fermented grape than fermented barley. Still, the ancient Hellenes associated beer with the Theoi. Dionysos was lauded for the drink, but the prime Theos of beer was (and is) Seilenos (Σειληνός), foster-father of Dionysos and son of Hermes. Please note that the preferred drink of Demeter, Kykeon, which is also made with barley, was not fermented and does not contain alcohol.

Within modern Hellenistic practice, beer is most likely not a suitable offering for the Theoi, and should not replace wine offerings. Even in ancient Hellas, beer was viewed as inferior and barbaric. Peasants drank it, as it was a lot cheaper than wine, but that's about it. On principle, I'm against offering anything sub-par to the Theoi, even if the modern process has made the drink a lot more palatable. Still, it's good to know the ancient Hellenes had options, although getting drunk was frowned upon even if you drank beer.


"Read on your blog that your Hellenistic has, in a way, freed you from certain aspects of witchcraft. I’m intrigued, can you explain? Of course its personal to you and wont apply to all, but I feel like you probably have interesting points to raise."

In my twenty-three years of practice, I have progressed at least four times; from Neo-Wicca to Technopaganism, from Technopaganism to Hedgewitchery, from Hedgewitchery to Eclectic Religious Witchcraft and from Eclectic Religious Witchcraft on to Hellenismos. Some were easy, some a good lot harder to reconcile with my heart and mind.
Progression is never easy as you do step away from a practice you have spent many years building. It takes a lot of guts to finally admit your current practice is not for you anymore. It’s a process. It’s generally not a sudden thing that happens (although for some, it might be).

All the times I’ve progressed, it has been a relief. I took all I had learned with me into my next step of religious evolution. I never looked for a new home, but every time I progressed, it was a new homecoming.

Religion is the process of finding personal truth. For me, it’s also a way to reconcile my many thoughts about Divinity with the experiences I have had with it. Which practices I use gives me a framework to do what I feel that needs to be done. I can still do Neo-Wiccan and Eclectic ritual; I have the tools, the knowledge and the faith in the God and Goddess but the Theoi are the Gods that bring me closer to myself and the world around me. That particular framework gives me everything I have ever wished my pervious practices were–and that is why it was natural for me to progress into it.

I practiced Eclectic Religious Witchcraft for about seven years. I was initiated into a coven and initiated others. I was a priestess with a specialization in the ancient Hellenic pantheon. I summoned the Theoi into circles, bastardized Their festivals to suite the Pagan way of practice and circle of the year, and did a lot of research. I have always liked research.

The last year or so of my practice, I behun to feel uneasy as I summoned the Theoi. I had begun to understand the ways of the ancient Hellenes and realized that I was not worhipping the Theoi, I was abusing them. This became my personal truth. I felt it down to my bones. Then I had a UPG experience–two actually. Both shook me to my very foundation. One was during a ritual to Dionysos, and He tapped me upside the head so hard that I was out of sorts for days. Dionysos takes no shit from anyone, and most certainly not a snot nosed kid like me who tried to summon Him into a circle. Then, two days after, I had a UPG experience with Hecate, during the new moon. I’m not going to go into details but let me suffice by saying she was kinder about it and gave me a mission: to build a temple. I thought she meant an actual temple, now, years later, I know she meant my personal practice in combination with the blog and the work I do for Elaion.

Progressing into Hellenismos at break-neck speed (I started Baring the Aegis about two or three days before actually progressing) has been the wildest ride of my life. The break with Eclectic Religious Witchcraft was painful. It meant leaving so much of myself behind. And yet, I am better for it, because the more I learned, the more I came to realize that Hellenismos was what I had been searching for my entire life. A religion with a set fromawerk that was not a modern invention but founded upon religious truths that carried across most ancient religion; an intricate web of trust and love between mortal and the divine.

Has progression freed me from anything? Yes, I suppose. My guilt and shame over the way I treated the Theoi, for one. It has given me a religious home and through it, I have met so many beautiful people, amongst which my best friend and spiritual and religious partner Robert Clark, co-founder of Elaion. I have been fortunate enough to fulfill much of the mission Hekate has put me on eleven years ago and I am proud and happy about that. But mostly… mostly progressing into Hellenismos was inevitable. It’s where I belong. It’s my home, and I doubt that will ever change.

 Today we'll examine a constellation not many people will have heard about. It is called 'Sagitta' and is located beyond the north border of Aquila, the eagle, east of Delphinus, the Dolphin, and north of the constellation of Hercules. The ancient Hellenes called the constellation 'Oistos', and even though it is the third-smallest area of all constellations, it was included among the 48 constellations listed by  Ptolemy. It remains one of the 88 modern constellations defined by the International Astronomical Union. Located to the north of the equator, Sagitta can be seen from every location on Earth except within the Antarctic circle.

Sagitta looks like an arrow, and obviously, it is identified with pretty much every archer in ancient Hellenic mythology. For such a tiny constellation is has a lot written about it, mostly by Hyginus in his 'Astronomica'. Above all, he attributes the flying arrow to Hēraklēs, shot to kill the eagle that ate the liver of Prometheus night after night.

"This arrow, they say, is one of the weapons of Hercules, with which he is said to have killed the eagle which ate the liver of Prometheus. The following reason for the release of Prometheus has been handed down. When Jupiter, moved by the beauty of Thetis, sought her in marriage, he couldn’t win the consent of the timid maiden, but none the less kept planning to bring it about. At that time the Parcae were said to have prophesied what the natural order of events should be. They said that the son of Thetis’ husband, whoever he might be, would be more famous than his father. Prometheus heard this as he kept watch, not from inclination but from necessity, and reported it to Jove. He, fearing that what he had done to his father Saturn in a similar situation, would happened to him, namely, that he would be robbed of his power, gave up by necessity his desire to wed Thetis, and out of gratitude to Prometheus thanked him and freed him from his chains. But he didn’t go so far as to free him from all binding, since he had sworn to that, but for commemoration bade him bind his finger with the two things, namely, with stone and with iron. Following this practice men have rings fashioned of stone and iron, that they may seem to be appeasing Prometheus. Some also have said that he wore a wreath, as if to claim that he as victor had sinned without punishment. And so men began the practice of wearing wreaths at times of great rejoicing and victory. You may observe this in sports and banquets.

But to come back to the beginning of the inquiry and the death of the eagle. Hercules, when sent by Eurystheus for the apples of the Hesperides, out of ignorance of the way came to Prometheus, who was bound on Mount Caucasus, as we have shown above. When victor, he returned to Prometheus to tell him that that dragon we have mentioned was slain, and to thank him for his kindness since he had pointed out the way. Straightway he gave what honour he could to the one that deserved it, for [he killed the eagle?] and since it was slain, men began, when victims were sacrificed, to offer livers on the altars of the gods to satisfy them in place of the liver of Prometheus."

Another explanation Hyginus gives--along with Hesiod, Apollodorus, and Diodorus, amongst others--is that the arrow belongs to Apollon. It was the arrow with which He avenged the death ofHhis son Asklepios, who had been killed by a lightning bolt design by the Kyclopses. Obviously, Apollon could not attack Zeus, so he attacked the Kyklopses instead, and murdered them. To quote Hyginus

"Eratosthenes says about the Arrow, that with this Apollo killed the Cyclopes who forged the thunderbolt by which Aesculapius died. Apollo had buried this arrow in the Hyperborean mountain, but when Jupiter pardoned his son, it was borne by the wind and brought to Apollo along with the grain which at that time was growing. Many point out that for this reason it is among the constellations."

Sagitta is visible at latitudes between +90° and −70°, and best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of August.

An ancient Corinthian helmet was found recently in a fifth century BC grave in the Taman Peninsula, southwest Russia. Made of bronze, ancient Corinthian helmets covered the entire head and neck, with slits for the eyes and mouth, protruding cheek covers (paragnathides) and a curved protrusion in the back to protect the nape of the neck.

The helmet has a padded interior made of fabric or leather to protect the warrior’s skull. These helmets were essential for the Hellenic hoplites, the famous foot soldiers of the phalanxes. While the Corinthian helmet is named after the ancient Greek city state of Corinth, where it originated, it was used across Hellas in ancient times, from the sixth century to the first, when it fell out of fashion.

The helmet found in Russia is corroded and highly fragmented, but its discovery is extremely important for historical purposes. The Corinthian helmet found in southwest Russia is the only one of its kind discovered north of the Black Sea. 

Corinthian helmets appeared in Hellas around the 6th century BC and is one of the symbols of ancient Hellas. Athena and the famed Athenian statesman Pericles are both frequently depicted wearing them in ancient Hellenic art.

In antiquity, when a warrior died his helmets would be buried next to him. According to Roman Mimohod, director of the expedition of the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IA RAS), “the helmet of the Taman peninsula belongs to the Corinthian Hermione-type and would date back to the first quarter of the fifth century BC,” as stated to the Archaeology News Network.

For two years now, Russian archaeologists have excavated a necropolis of 600 burial mounds where many Hellenic warriors of the Bosporus kingdom are buried. The kingdom, with Panticapaion as its capital, lasted almost a millennium, with the last written traces going back to the 5th century AD.

It was a place where the Hellenic culture merged with the successive nomadic cultures of the steppe, be it the Scythians or the Sarmatians. Between the 6th and 3rd centuries BC, Hellenes and Scythians maintained extremely close cultural as well as commercial ties.

Several Hellenic colonies were established in the region. Their settlement extends from the end of the 7th century BC until the second quarter of the 4th century BC.

The Hellenics founded large cities on the northern coast of the Black Sea. The main ones were Olbia, at the mouth of the Dnieper, Panticapaion, today’s Kerch in the extreme west of the Crimea, and Chersonese (Sevastopol) on the Russian bank.

One of the ancient Hellenic settlements in the area, Phanagoria (Taman), also gave name to to the peninsula on which the Corinthian helmet was discovered.

 Some plants in Greece are so deeply connected with Hellenic history, mythology, and tradition that is hard to find a starting point. Perhaps the most prominent is the pomegranate. Maybe the oldest report about the pomegranate bush is by Homer, who first called this beautiful bush ‘Ria’ and this name remained until it was replaced with ‘Rodia’ in modern Greek. Punica granatum, the scientific name of pomegranate may derive from punicum, meaning red color in Latin. The name pomegranate is derived from the Latin words pomum and granum meaning apple and seed respectively.

Homer described this plant in the gardens of king of Faiakon (Kerkira island nowadays). A famous myth featured Persephone, daughter of Demeter and Zeus who was taken to the Underworld by Hades. He offered Persephone seven seeds of pomegranate, which symbolized marriage. In this way, the couple was bonded forever and for six months Persephone was ‘above’ and for six she was ‘down’ in the Underworld Hades. This is how it was explained, in tradition and from mythology to modern art, that some for some months Earth is sleeping and then she is ‘reborn’ in Spring.

For example, it was used by a symbolist poet melodized by Mikis Theodorakis about a lover who left, symbolized as pomegranate. Also, pomegranate was depicted in statues of Hera, Goddess of marriage and fertility, but was also associated with Aphrodite, Goddess of passion and love. Therefore, in ancient Hellas it was cultivated as a shrub of love, fertility, family, and good luck.

When the outer surface is dried, the inner seeds are juicy ready to be consumed, another reason for this fruit’s symbolization of death and life.

Its nutritional value is quite high. Bit its sour taste is undesirable for some palates due to the high amounts of antioxidants, tannins, and vitamins. A great way to consume it raw is in a green salad with kefalotyri or parmesan cheese and some ‘ntakos’, dried Cretan bread or croutons. Also, it can used fresh in every sweet recipe with fresh fruits like strawberries or blueberries.

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

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

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

Anacreon - A Prayer to Artemis 

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

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

Turkish archaeologists believe they will soon solve the mystery regarding the ancient Greek city of Hadrianapolis, located in the Eskipazar district of the Black Sea province of Karabuk, which was mysteriously abandoned.

“This year’s excavations revealed that there was a sudden evacuation in the ancient city. We are trying to find out the reason — whether an earthquake happened, an invasion occurred or a big fire broke out. But we can certainly say that life here ended in the 7th century. There was not even a single person left in the ancient city,” Celikbas said to Hurriyet Daily News.

The archeologist recounted that their excavations have unearthed a church, one of the oldest in Anatolia, with mosaics dating back to the fifth century AD. 

“We found very important figures on the mosaics. We found a panel with one bull figure, one lion figure and two peacocks. When we look at similar examples of these figures in Anatolia, the most complete example is the mosaic that we found in Hadrianapolis this year. We think that the church was dedicated to Roman emperors. It is a very important ancient city and a ‘mosaic haven,’ because Hadrianapolis is known mostly for its mosaics. We can say that it is the most important city in the western Black Sea region. It was the center of eparchy in the ancient ages. Notable religious functionaries lived here. This year’s works unearthed many small findings from the 6th century. We are about to get more important results in our works. We are about to solve the mystery in the ancient city,” Celikbas declared.

Hadrianapolis was inhabited in the late Hellenistic, Roman and early Byzantine periods. Surface surveys have uncovered a total of 14 public buildings and other structures in the city. Two baths, two churches, a defense structure, rock tombs, a theater, an arched and domed structure, a monumental cultic niche, walls, a villa, other monumental buildings and some religious buildings were found at the ancient site.

There is an almost uncountable number of ancient Greek and Byzantine archaeological and historical sites in Turkey, many of which attract hundreds of thousands, even millions, of visitors every year. Many of them are landmarks not to be missed by any travelers to Turkey, and they should especially not be missed by Greek travelers, since they are incontrovertible evidence of their people’s long, rich history and contributions to Western civilization.

Taxation in ancient Hellas was much different than any modern system. It’s difficult to imagine now, but in ancient Hellas, the richest of the rich actually competed to pay the most in taxes. Direct taxation paid to the government at regular intervals, like our contemporary system, was unheard of in ancient Hellas. Rather than collecting regular taxes from citizens, there was only one method of taxation in ancient Hellas, called “eisphora.”

The eisphora was a tax levied on only the very richest members of society in ancient Hellas, yet it was only in place during times of great need, such as war. Hellenes were also given the right to reject this eisphora, or taxation, if they believed that someone wealthier than themselves was not being taxed, as only the wealthiest were subject to the tax.

Yet there was another system, called “liturgies,” in which the wealthy of Athens were asked to provide funds for public works projects, such as the construction of a trireme ship or gymnasium, or to support a choral or theatrical production.

In certain instances, the wealthy were asked to donate a specific amount to help in funding the project. Yet, some believed that the prestige associated with providing financial support for such endeavors was worth giving away massive sums.

Frequently, in ancient texts, the super wealthy of Athens competed to donate the largest sums during these periods of “liturgy.” They would flout their wealth by bragging about the extravagant theatrical festivals they had funded, or by the large triremes that were built from their massive fortunes.

The economy of ancient Hellas was quite advanced, even during the Archaic period before the birth of democracy. The available land for crops in Hellas was limited, and the soil is suited mainly to plants like grapes and olives. Thus, trade was essential to Hellas’s economy.

Luckily, the country is located in one of the best areas in terms of trade, as it is at the heart of the Mediterranean Sea. Instead of simply eking out a living by planting whatever the local villages wanted and desired, farmers as far back as the Archaic era were already planning their crops according to the needs of international trade. This means that separate individual markets for a consumer good would become merged with others to form one large market, aimed at large-scale trading.

Adam Izdebski of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and his colleagues, in a paper published in the November edition of The Economic Journal of Oxford University Press, are saying that this is proof that a true market economy existed in that era.

It has long been known that trade existed between groups of people as far back as the Neolithic era, before man had invented the wheel or even domesticated horses. And the concept of money and even counterfeiting was extant as far back as those times. But now, researchers have combined varying fields of scientific research to provide evidence for a market economy in ancient Hellas — even including areas around the Black Sea where Greeks had settled — characterized by integrated agricultural production and a major expansion of trade.

It's time for another constellation: Piscis Austrinus: the great (or 'Southern') fish. It's also known as Piscis Australis, and prior to the 20th century, it was known as Piscis Notius. It was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy, and it remains one of the 88 modern constellations. The stars of the modern constellation Grus once formed the 'tail' of Piscis Austrinus.

In Hellenic mythology, this constellation is known as the Great Fish and it is portrayed as swallowing the water being poured out by Aquarius, the water carrier. The two fish of the constellation Pisces are said to be the offspring of the Great Fish. From Hyginus' 'Astronomica' comes the follow reason for his placement in the sky:

This is the Fish that is called Southern. He seems to take water in his mouth from the sign of Aquarius. Once, when Isis was in labor, he is thought to have saved her, and as a reward for this kindness she placed the fish and its young, about whom we have spoken before, among the stars. As a result the Syrians generally do not eat fish, and worship their gilded likenesses as household gods. Ctesias, too, writes about this. [II.41]

Aratos, too, confirms the position of the Great Fish in his 'Phaenomena'. Amongst other mentions, he writes:

"Below Aegoceros before the blasts of the South Wind swims a Fish, facing Cetus, alone and part from the former Fishes; and him men call the Southern Fish. Other stars, sparsely set beneath Hydrochoüs [Aquarius], hang on high between Cetus in the heavens and the Fish, dim and nameless, and near them on the right hand of bright Hydrochoüs, like some sprinked drops of water lightly shed on this side and on that, other stars wheel bright-eyed though weak." [385 - 389]

Needless to say, this is a minor constellation. It is visible at latitudes between +55° and −90°, and best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of October.

The best preserved shipwreck from the 2nd century BC was found in the waters surrounding Losinj near the island of Ilovik. This important archeological discovery was discovered at a depth of only two and a half metres, and previously undertaken research has confirmed that it is indeed the oldest ancient ship ever discovered in the Adriatic.

As Morski writes, this ancient wooden ship was built using the technique of "joining grooves and tabs", and in the process of its creation, the formwork was first constructed, and then the skeleton of the ship was placed onto it, all of it connected by wooden wedges.

It is merchant ship that sailed along an important maritime route, right next to the island of Ilovik in Croatia. The ship is between 20 and 25 metres long, and given that it sank into its watery grave at a depth of a mere two and a half metres, it is a real miracle that it remained so well hidden for centuries.

The ship was discovered quite by accident by Slovenian archaeologist Milan Eric while anchoring in this particular Ilovik bay. After that, the research started, which has been being conducted since 2018 by the Department of Underwater Archeology of the Croatian Restoration Institute, in cooperation with French colleagues from the University of Marseille (Aix-Marseille University, the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), and the Camille Jullian Centre), and the Losinj Museum. This is all being done with the logistical support of the Diving Centre of the Special Police of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Croatia (MUP) and the Subseason Diving Centre.

The research procedure in the waters surrounding Ilovik was carried out by the most modern methods of documentation, using photogrammetric techniques. The movable archeological material found on the ancient sunken ship confirms the dating of the ship's wood, which undoubtedly belongs to the older horizon of ships sailing the Adriatic, and testifies to the importance of the Losinj archipelago in the context of ancient waterways.

The site of this ship near Ilovik is extremely significant because of the shipbuilding tradition to which we attribute it, its dating, the ship's cargo and the very shallow working conditions that both facilitate and complicate research and pose a challenge to preserve the site. Since it is a site on loose sand, the archeological excavation itself was difficult due to the constant backfilling of the site, so a dam was built in parallel with the excavation,'' they said from the Losinj Museum.

Upon completion of the research and the preparation of documentation, the remains of the ''Ilovik ship'' were covered with sand, geotextiles, then again with sand and with iron nets, which are connected by concrete blocks. The movable archeological finds discovered there were brought back up to the surface, added to the list of finds, and were stored in the premises of the Croatian Air Force in Split during the desalination process.

Upon the completion of the conservation and restoration works, the findings from the Ilovik wreck will be stored in the Losinj Museum.

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

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

You can join the community page on Facebook here and the ritual can be found here. We hope you join us today, on 14 September, at 10 AM EDT.

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.

"Hey, since they didn't have the letter J in Ancient Greece what would it be replaced with? Would Jennifer just become Ennifer?"

The Greek alphabet shows that there is no letter J or sound. In fact, there was no letter ‘J’ in  any language prior to the 14th century in England. The letter did not become widely used until the 17th century. Any name which we now spell with the letter 'J' would have been spelled with the letter 'I' instead. The modern spelling for the Hellenic hero 'Jason', for example, was 'Iason' in ancient times. As such, 'Jennifer' would most likely become 'Ieniffer' instead. But I will leave that open to the (native) Greek speakers!


"Would proper etiquette require that I say a prayer to Hestia every time I wish to pray to another god, or does recognizing her role during more formal ritual settings cover this?"

There are records that at least in some parts of ancient Hellas, Hestia was always sacrificed to first and last in state festivals, and I have adopted that for my household worship as well; many modern Hellenists have. Do you have to? No, you don't. But Hestia is the Goddess of the hearth, of the household, and the sanctity and safety of the house and family. To me it makes sense to always include her, except for during Kthonic rites--rites to the Underworld Gods.

It is my personal opinion that Hestia was not honoured (first, last or at all) in Khthonic rites. In fact, I think as few as possible Gods were called in these rites, and all of them had a Khthonic character. I think this is tied to the practice of miasma--after all, contact with the Underworld (and thus the Khthonic Gods) was a major source of it.


"Hello Mrs. Elani, I have a question pertaining to the burning of offerings in Hellenismos. I've seen a video in which you use ethanol to burn barley and wine in a simple libation. You said that you burn all libations. On your blog, I remember reading that you also burn nearly all of your other offerings as well. I was wondering how you would burn offerings other than libations and barley when you are indoors. Any help would be wonderful, thank you! :)"
I burn everything, and because of space limitations, I burn everything indoors. That video can be found here, by the way. I have found that everything can be burned indoors without upsetting the firealarms as long as you stick to one simple rule: keep the offering small. Meat, honey, cakes, whatever--everything can be burned as long as you either feed it to the fire in small quantities or make a small symbolic offering of it. A six ounce steak is gonna kill the fire but a small cut of it will do the trick.
And remember: during most sacrifices the Theoi recieved only a small portion, the mēria (μηρια), consisting of both thigh bones in their fat, which was placed on the altar, sprinkled with a liquid libation and incense, and then burned. The scented smoke was said to sustain and please the Theoi, and the sacrificial smoke also carried the prayers of the worshippers to Them. The mēria is a very specific portion, and you can read how it came to be and how it related to actual sacrifice here.

"Hi - do you have any advice for libations for someone who doesn't drink alcohol? Would it be best to offer wine and not drink it or offer something else that I can drink? I know some people offer the things they drink regularly, such as tea or coffee, but I'm not sure if this would be appropriate. Thanks x"
Wine is the traditional libation liquid; as drinking water was often stagnant, wine was used to purify it, and mask the taste. All men, women and children drank water which had some wine added to it. Wine was believed to be a healer--and it is--so everyone drank it, sometimes more when they were sick. Now, that is the Traditional side of it; what you do as a modern Hellenist is allowed to differ due to the changed from the ancient to the current society. One part of that is finding substitutes if wine is not something you want to consume--or can't consume.
As wine pretty much was the ancient Hellenic equivalent of water, water is a good replacement. That said, it may feel a little to plain and personally I enjoy the fact that I libate wine because it has ties to the grape vine and Dionysos. So, as a replacement, I would suggest plain grape juice--as pure and sugarless as you can find it. It still has the same ties to the Gods, but without the alcohol.

Bit of a Roman one today, but one that can be retroactively applied to the ancient Hellenes, I think. Perhaps not exactly so, but it's a step closer. And just plain fun! (And time consuming!)

Through archeology, food writer and researcher Farrell Monaco wants to revive our primal relationship with bread. As an experimental archaeologist, the founder of the award-winning blog has spent years studying Panis Quadratus, the carbonized loaves excavated from an oven in Pompeii, Italy. Now, she’s ready to reveal her findings and her own version of the recreated recipe, which she based on her research on this bread that dates back to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. 

Between archaeological evidence, written records, and fresco paintings, not to mention scientific experimentation, the story of Panis Quadratus slowly revealed itself. It’s been a long time coming, and some of the loaves’ characteristics have stumped archaeologists for decades. But Monaco has come to a few conclusions.

For starters, there’s the shape of the bread—a round piece that appears to have been imprinted so diners could easily break it into eight triangular sections. She believes this was meant to help the portioning of the bread in a time when serrated knives for this purpose weren’t widely available. 

Panis Quadratus also showed evidence of a band wrapped around the outside of each of the loaves. Most experts still don’t know for certain what ancient bakers used it for, but Monaco believes it likely served two purposes: keeping the pieces from spreading during baking in commercial ovens where space was at a premium, and making it easier for porters or bread hawkers to loop loaves onto poles and carry them around town.

As for the composition of the bread, it was likely made of common wheat and not spelt, as many historians postulate. Monaco posits the bread may even have contained parsley, fennel, poppy seeds, and Roman Coriander in some markets, a testament to the Romans’ sophisticated style of bread-making and adventurous flavor combinations.

Several forthcoming publications to be released starting this winter will fully reveal these findings, including a chapter by Monaco in The Bloomsbury Handbook of Experimental Approaches to Roman Archaeology. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait to make this Pompeiian bread yourself.

Monaco reconstructed this recipe for Panis Quadratus with Git (Roman coriander) to mirror several of the loaves found in Pompeii. You can bake it in a modern oven or using more authentic methods. Just don’t expect there to be any leftovers tomorrow.

Time: 6 to 12 hours
Cost: Between $5 and $10 per loaf
Level of difficulty: Medium

- 8 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup bread starter
- 2 3/4 cups tepid water
- 1 tsp coarse sea salt
- 1 tsp toasted git seeds
- Additional flour for dusting

Tea towel
Kitchen twine
A reed, chopstick, or a thin object like a skewer
Bench knife (optional)


1. (Optional) Make a bread starter. If you don’t have one already, start by growing one. We recommend using this recipe for a legume sourdough starter from Monaco’s blog. 

Alternatively, create a sponge by mixing 65 grams of flour and the same amount of water with a teaspoon of baker’s yeast. Sponges work just as well as starters, and you can make exactly the amount you need using store-bought baker’s yeast. After an hour or two, once the sponge has risen and tripled its size, add it to the recipe as a starter. 

2. Parch the git seeds. Pour the seeds onto a dry, hot skillet on high heat for a few minutes until the seeds begin to pop. Finish by taking them off the heat.

3. Dissolve your starter or sponge in tepid water.

4. In a bowl, mix your dry ingredients. Make sure the git seeds have cooled down and fold them into the flour.

5. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and knead. Adjust your water and flour content to achieve a firm dough. Your goal is to get a ball that doesn’t stick nor leaves flour behind. 

Adjust the stickiness of your dough sprinkling flour or water drops as you need them. Photo courtesy of Farrell Monaco

Note: The texture of the flour you use (coarse or fine) may affect the level of hydration of your dough. To solve this, sprinkle a couple of drops of water or a light layer of flour accordingly. 

6. Let the dough rest for 2 hours. Leave it in a bowl in a warm, humid place and cover it with a clean, damp cotton tea towel to keep the surface moist.

7. Knead the dough again for 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle the salt on the dough as you knead and fold. 

8. Let the dough rest for 2 hours. Follow the same instructions as in step 6.

9. Shape the loaf. Rotate and tuck the sides and seams under and towards the center of the dough to make a round cake.  

Pro tip: You can use a bench knife or the side of your hand to control the underside of the dough and shape it as you work it. 

10. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

11. Let the dough rest and rise again for another hour. This time, place your uncooked loaf on a surface dusted with flour or on the sheet that you will bake it on. Cover the dough with a damp tea towel and leave it in a warm place. Warmth (like that from near a preheating oven) promotes yeast growth. 

Note: The dough should be roughly 1.3 kilograms or 2.8 pounds, the equivalent of 4 Roman libre. This is enough to make a modern-age Panis Quadratus that matches several of the archaeological specimens found at Pompeii and Herculaneum.

11. Dust the top of the loaf with flour.

12. Decorate your loaf. Panis Quadratus is famous for its characteristic beltline. Create it by tying twine snuggly around the outside edge of the loaf. Next, mark the eight wedges on the top side of the bread. You can do it by pressing twine, a reed, a skewer, or a chopstick. These are not incisions: Do not use a knife as cutting the loaf causes splitting and further expansion during baking.

Finally, create the puncture at the top of the loaf. Use a sharp knife or the tip of your reed and press it into the center of the loaf straight down to the bottom. If using a reed, pivot it back and forth a few times to create a small slit in the dough.

12. Bake for 60 minutes at 400 degrees.

13. Let the loaves rest for about 2 to 3 hours or until completely cool. Serve with sides or condiments that the Romans commonly used, such as salted broth, lentils, stews, milk, olive oil, red wine mixed with water (“You read that right—drinking wine straight in ancient Rome was in very poor form!” says Monaco), ricotta, aged or smoked cheese, figs or dates.

Little food remains in the ruins of Pompeii, making these loaves discovered in an oven by Giuseppe Fiorelli in 1862, even more intriguing. Since 2019, Monaco has studied the carbonized bread at the National Museum of Archaeology, in Naples. There, she has examined its composition, shape, and anomalies, while referencing archaeological and written records to back up her theories.

She’s not new to this either. Monaco’s specialty is studying ancient food—particularly Greek and Roman—and recreating recipes and narratives to help us better understand not only the culture and civilization of the period but our shared history. That’s the experimental part of experimental archaeology. 

“Looking at something in a glass cabinet doesn’t tell you much, but when you’re deconstructing and reconstructing an object, you are able to step into the shoes of the creator and understand the object and its purpose much better.”

But it’s not just about the bread. Telling the stories of the people behind it—largely women and slaves, who tend to be invisible in historical records and modern scholarship—are just as important to Monaco. There’s a human connection in every loaf that she wants to bring into focus.

Two more PAT ritual announcements today, both on September 12th. This time it's a sacrifice to the Erkhian hero Epops and an optional celebration of the dead: the Genesia. Join us for both (in that order) at 10 AM EDT.

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

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

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

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