The heart shape in the emoticon is recognized across the globe as a symbol of romantic love and affection, but its historical origins are fully Hellenic--at least, we think.


There are three theories. The most common is that the shape came from the shape of an ivy leaf. It's a plant that can live hundreds of years, literally attached itself to things, and it stays green all year round. Brides and grooms in ancient Hellas wore crowns of ivy as a representation of fidelity. An ivy leaf without its stem resembles a heart for sure.


Perhaps the most unusual theory concerns silphium, a species of giant fennel that once grew on the North African coastline near the ancient Hellenic colony of Cyrene. Silphium’s seedpod bore a striking resemblance to the modern emoticon. It was used to flavor food  and as a medicine against sore throats and coughs. It was most famous as an early form of birth control, however. Ancient writers and poets hailed the plant for its contraceptive powers, and it became so popular that it was cultivated into extinction by the first century A.D. The ancient city of Cyrene, which grew rich from the silphium trade, even put the heart shape on its money, as pictured above.

The last theory is more straightforward. It may just have its roots in the writings of Galen and Aristotle, who described the human heart as having three chambers with a small dent in the middle. The heart shape may have been born when artists and scientists from the Middle Ages attempted to draw representations of ancient medical texts. Since the human heart has long been associated with emotion and pleasure, the shape was eventually co-opted as a symbol of romance and medieval courtly love.

One of those "the more you know" things, hm?
On the day of the Hene kai Nea, I post a monthly update about things that happened on the blog and in projects and organizations related to it. I will also announce Elaion's coming PAT rituals.

Changes to the blog:
  • I've been very busy writing my new novel (and I am almost done!). Apologies, my blog had to be put on the backburner a little bit,
Statistics:
PAT rituals for Maimakterion:
  • 16 Maimakterion - 5 November 2017 - Maimakteria - festival for Zeus Maimaktes ('Blustering') to be gentle come winter.
  • 20 Maimakterion - 9 November 2017 - The Pompaia - festival in honor of Zeus Meilikhios ('Kindly') and Hermes*

Anything else?
Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.

Would you like to support me? Buy me a coffee.

I've never been inside the world famous ancient theater of Epidaurus, so I can't judge, but you might have so I'm curious what you think: according to Constant Hak, assistant professor at the Eindhoven University of Technology, and co-author of new research that suggests that its famed acoustics are little more than myth.


Dating from the fourth century BC, and seating up to 14,000 spectators, the theatre has long been admired for its sound quality, with claims that audiences are able to hear a pin drop, or a match being struck, at any seat in the house. In a series of conference papers, which also involved experiments at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus and the theatre of Argos, Hak and colleagues describe how they tested the claims. They used 20 microphones, placed each one at twelve different locations around the theatre of Epidaurus, together with two loudspeakers, one at the centre of the “stage” – or orchestra – and one to the side. Both speakers played, with a slight delay between them, a sound that swept from low to high frequency, with the speakers in five different orientations. In total, they made approximately 2,400 recordings.

They then made a series of laboratory recordings of sounds, including a coin being dropped, paper tearing and a person whispering, and played them to participants, who adjusted the loudness of the sounds until they could hear them over background noise. The results were then fed into the team’s calculations to reveal how far from the orchestra the different sounds would be heard.

While the sound of a coin being dropped or paper being torn would be noticeable across the whole theatre, it could only recognisably be heard as a coin or paper halfway up the seating. For a match striking, the situation was worse, while a whisper would only be intelligible to those in the front seats.

Further work, based on the loudspeakers playing voices, revealed that only when actors spoke up loudly would their words be intelligible in the seats furthest from the orchestra.

Dr Bruno Fazenda of the Acoustics Research Centre at the University of Salford, who has carried out work on the acoustics of Stonehenge, welcomed the study, saying that it finally busted a myth – with the results tallying with his own experience of visiting Epidaurus.

"You can certainly hear things, but [the results] are right: if you want to have good speech intelligibility, good perception right up the last rows, then you need someone who can project the voice. Greek thespians would have been expert at doing just that – possibly aided by the use of masks."

Fazenda believes the reverence for the theatre’s acoustics come, at least in part, from a popular belief that our ancestors had knowledge that has since been lost in time.

"When we then come across these beautiful structures from the Greek and Roman eras, which were basically the very first clear acoustic design spaces, we kind of revert back to that idea that they had this wonderful knowledge and they were somehow in touch with something magical that allowed them to do it in that way."

Armand D’Angour, an associate professor of classics at the University of Oxford, said that, while the research reveals the state of the acoustics now, it does not necessarily shed light on the past.
London’s new concert hall must be built on sound principles

"The research is based on theatre that has changed over the centuries, so it looks terribly precise and mathematical but in the end, we cannot be at all confident that the way it sounds today exactly replicates the way it would have sounded then. Research has suggested that the Greeks might have used all manner of devices to amplify sound, including placing hollow vessels at strategic locations."

Damian Murphy, professor of sound and music computing at the University of York, said that, while the research was probably the most detailed yet into acoustics of such sites, it was hard for modern minds to understand quite what the experience would have been like for ancient theatregoers.

"Any performing arts venue – it is not just about what they sound like, it is about the experience of going there."
Ethos is one of three modes of persuasion explained by Aristotle. It’s means “character” and serves as a measure of how credible one is when persuading an audience on the topic you are discussing--very important in rhetoric! According to Aristotle, there are three types of ethos: arête, phronesis, and eunoia.

I have spoken about arête before. It's the Greek word for "virtue," and in an ethical sense, it measn being the best version of yourself you can be. Aristotle believed that the ultimate goal in life for a human is happiness. In order to be fully happy in life, one would have to be virtuous. He describes the necessary steps to achieve this happiness in Nicomachean Ethics:

"[...] the man who is to be good must be well trained and habituated, and go on to spend his time in worthy occupations and neither willingly nor unwillingly do bad actions, and if this can be brought about if men live in accordance with a sort of reason and right order [...]" [Book x]

Phronesis is a Greek word for wisdom or intelligence. Aristotle didn't just mean to use it as an indication of IQ but also how well knowledge and skill are implemented in every day life. Someone with a low intelligence level can still be made wise by experience, for example. Aristotle believed that gaining phronesis required experience and there was no other wait to gain it.
           
Eunoia is Greek for “goodwill.” In rhetoric it is the relationship the reader cultivates with the audience to gain their trust. As a speaker, that trust is required to appear credible. Without it, you can't persuade an audience.

All three values--arête, phronesis, and eunoia--add up to create the meaning of ethos. According to Aristotle, ethos starts with good parenting, with teaching a child ethical behavior. Other teachers throughout life will add to this ethical framework. By learning skills we develop ourselves more, and also by exposing ourselves to many different experiences. By creating good habits and sticking with them until they become automatic, we develop each other even more. As a result, we will be happier, more productive people.
Five sculptures of gods and goddesses have been found in the sanctuary of Mēn Askaenos in the ancient city of Pisidia Antiokheia in Turkey.


Excavations close to the ancient city, located in the southern province of Isparta’s Yalvaç district, unearthed the five intact sculptures in one of the previously unearthed prestigious chambers.

Excavations head Professor Mehmet Özhanlı said the sculptures of the Goddesses Hekate, Kybele, Athena and the Gods Mēn and Apollon were found together in the excavation field. Özhanlı added that such an example had never before been found in any excavations in Anatolia.

"All the gods of Greek, Roman and Anatolian Pantiona were brought together to create a cult. The local Anatolian god Mēn is on an altar in the center of the other gods, in front of Kybele and Apollo. Next to Mēn is Athena. This is the first time in the history of archaeology that these gods have been found together in a prestigious chamber. That is why this year’s excavation works present very good data about ancient beliefs in the area."

For more images, please see here, at The Archaeological News Network.

Mēn, by the way, is a lunar God worshipped in the western interior parts of Anatolia. He is attested in various localised variants, such as Mēn Askaenos in Antioch in Pisidia, or Mēn Pharnakou at Ameria in Pontus. Strabo describes Him as a local God of the Phrygians.

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


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

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

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

Read more here.

Almost two meters of the ancient city of Phaselis have submerged in 2,000 years, indicated by studies carried out by geologists and geomorphologists in the area, said Akdeniz University Archeology Department Professor Murat Arslan. The submerging is a natural phenomenon.



Phaselis, situated in the southern province of Antalya’s Kemer district, was important for trade in ancient times as it had three ports. It is possible to see the wealth of the ancient city in the agoras, trade centers, bath houses and temples, expressed by ancient era writers throughout the Classic and Hellenistic periods and Roman history. Each year, thousands of locals and foreign tourists visit the ancient city surrounded by sea and nature.

The excavations in the ancient city are carried out under the guidance of the Antalya Museum and the scientific consultancy of Arslan. Phaselis was a city situated in the basin of Lycia (West Mediterranean) and Pamphylia (Antalya and surroundings), Arslan told state-run Anadolu Agency.

"Because it was closely bordered by both, it was able to stay mostly independent throughout history. It protected its autonomy. Without becoming dominated by other countries and by protecting its independent structure, it was able to use the wealth it earned from trade for its citizens."

The importance of the Phaselis tradesmen were well-known in ancient times in famous cities from Athens to Rome and Alexandria to Rhodes.

"The Phaselis tradesmen had stood out so much with their trade that it was reflected in Demosthenes’ speeches, who was one of the most important orators of ancient times."

Arslan also said the circulation of trade in Phaselis was reflected in the entire Mediterranean basin by the coins issued from the Classic and Hellenistic periods. The ancient city of Phaselis has continued to submerge for 2,000 years, adding that this situation was seen in the ancient cities in the Mediterranean basin.

"The African continent puts pressure on the Asian plate. In some areas, it’s three-centimeters per year and in other areas, nine centimeters. Plate movements in the Mediterranean basin cause that area to collapse in some areas. We see the basin along the shores of the Mediterranean has slowly submerged, starting from the ancient city of Knidos, the province of Muğla’s Datça district until the province of Antalya’s Gazipaşa district. As a result of the studies carried out by geologists and geomorphologists, we have identified that almost two meters of Phaselis have submerged over 2,000 years. As a result of pressure, plate movements cause faults to crack from place to place, create earthquakes and therefore tsunamis occur."

Furthermore, he said some of the tombs, necropolis and port areas in the ancient cities of Kekova and Andriake in Antalya’s Demre district have been submerged under water for the same reason.

Arslan also said there was an earthquake in the Mediterranean region in the year 17 B.C., and after this, the Roman Emperor named Tiberius provided lots of aid to the cities situated in area.
He added that the area of Lycia and Pamphylia was subject to a big earthquake in the year 160 A.C. as well.

"We know that the well-known rich man of those times, named Opramoas from Rhodiapolis, supplied a large amount of aid to many of those demolished cities after the earthquake. The same goes for the ancient city of Phaselis. We learn from the inscriptions that after the earthquake Opramoas gave 12,500 drahmi to be spent in repairing the demolished areas and for the needs of the nation."

Phaselis, situated in the southern province of Antalya’s Kemer district, was important for trade in ancient times as it had three ports. It is possible to see the wealth of the ancient city in the agoras, trade centers, bath houses and temples, expressed by ancient era writers throughout the Classic and Hellenistic periods and Roman history.

The town was set up by the Rhodians in 700 BC. Because of its location on an isthmus separating two harbours, it became the most important harbour city of eastern Lycia and an important centre of commerce between Greece, Asia, Egypt, and Phoenicia, although it did not belong to the Lycian League.

The city was captured by Persians after they conquered Asia Minor, and was later captured by Alexander the Great. After the death of Alexander, the city remained in Egyptian hands from 209 BC to 197 BC, under the dynasty of Ptolemaios, and with the conclusion of the Apamea treaty, was handed over to the Kingdom of Rhodes, together with the other cities of Lycia.

From 190 BC to 160 BC it remained under Rhodeian hegemony, but after 160 BC it was absorbed into the Lycian confederacy under Roman rule. Phaselis, like Olympos, was under constant threat from pirates in the 1st century BC, and the city was even taken over by the pirate Zekenites for a period until his defeat by the Romans. In 42 BC Brutus had the city linked to Rome. In the 3rd century AD, the harbor fell under the threat of pirates once again, so it began to lose importance, suffering further losses at the hands of Arab ships, until totally impoverished in the 11th century.