We are coming upon another festival celebrated in ancient Athens: the Niketeria. Surviving sources date the festival to the third of Boudromion, and it was in honor of one of the most important events in Athens' history: its naming and tutelage by Athena. We will be celebrating it on August 25th at the usual 10 AM EDT.


Many of us know there was a contest between Poseidon and Athena over who would rule the growing city of Athens (in the name it had before being called 'Athens'), and it is clear who won that contest. The earliest reference to this event we still have access to is from the fourth century BC by Plato, but it does not quite have the poetic touch Ovid's account has. For that reason, I will give the account of Ovid, and build from there. From the Metamorphoses, (trans. Melville):

"The rock of Mavors [Ares] in Cecrops' citadel is Pallas' [Athena's] picture [in her weaving contest with Arakhne] and that old dispute about he name of Athens. Twelve great gods, Jove [Zeus] in their midst, sit there on lofty thrones, grave and august, each pictured with his own familiar features: Jove [Zeus] in regal grace, the Sea-God [Poseidon] standing, striking the rough rock with his tall trident, and the wounded rock gushing sea-brine, his proof to clinch his claim. Herself she gives a shield, she gives a spear sharp-tipped, she gives a helmet for her head; the aegis guards her breast, and from the earth struck by her spear, she shows an olive tree, springing pale-green with berries on the boughs; the gods admire; and Victoria [Nike] ends the work." [6. 70]

Ancient Hellenic Neoplatonist philosopher Proklos (Πρόκλος) in 'On the Timaeus of Plato' speaks of this event as well, and notes that there is still a festival held to commemorate this event in his time (between 412 and 485 AD)

 "Farther still, the victories of Minerva are celebrated by the Athenians, and there is a festival sacred to the Goddess, in consequence of her having vanquished Neptune, and from the genesiurgic being subdued by the intellectual order, and those that inhabit this region betaking themselves to a life according to intellect, after the procurement of necessaries. For Neptune presides over generation; but Minerva is the inspective guardian of an intellectual life." [p. 153]

When this was celebrated, Proklos does not mention, but Plutarch does. One of these is in the Quaestiones Convivales, from the Moralia. Here, he answers the question: 'What is Signified by the Fable About the Defeat of Neptune? And Also, Why Do the Athenians Omit the Second Day of the Month Boedromion?'.

"While all were making a disturbance, Menephylus, a Peripatetic philosopher, addressing Hylas: You see, he said, how this investigation is no foolery nor insolence. But leave now, my dear fellow, that obstinate Ajax, whose name is ill-omened, as Sophocles says, and side with Poseidon, whom you yourself are wont to tell has often been overcome, once by Athene here, in Delphi by Apollo, in Argos by Here, in Aegina by Zeus, in Naxos by Bacchus, yet in his misfortunes has always been mild and amiable. Here at least he shares a temple in common with Athene, in which there is an altar dedicated to Lethe. And Hylas, as if he had become better tempered: One thing has escaped you, Menephylus, that we have given up the second day of September [Boudromion], not on account of the moon, but because on that day the gods seemed to have contended for the country." [Book 9, question 5]

Because of this, the official view of Elaion is that the festival of Niketeria--'Victory'--was celebrated not on the second of Boudromion as many modern researchers say, but on the third. The second day, after all, was no longer a part of the month. The question remains why the victory of one Goddess over one God was commemorated at all, and there is no adequate ancient explanation. None of the surviving works mention why and how the festival was celebrated. All we know is that it was noted--it might not even have been a true festival at all. We believe that by omitting the second day, the defeat of Poseidon was omitted, so as not to anger Him. A day later--in a somewhat unrelated fashion to Poseidon's defeat--there was a (possibly somewhat subdued) celebration of the victory of Athena, with sacrifices to Athena, Niké, and perhaps even Poseidon for the many wonderful gifts They had provided--and would hopefully continue to provide--for the city of Athens.

We will hold a subdued PAT ritual in honor of the Niketeria at 10 AM EDT on August 25th. Will you be joining us? The ritual can be found here and you can join the community here.
Don't you just want to look at pretty temples sometimes? Just click through and imagine what it could have been like to worship on the site of them? The lovely people over at Greece High Definition agree. They have created an overview of the most famous ancient Hellenic temples and with the list come very pretty pictures. Click on the picture below to visit the site.

https://www.greecehighdefinition.com/blog/2016/10/27/10-ancient-greek-temples?rq=Ital

The Acropolis Museum is an archaeological museum focused on the findings of the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens. The museum was built to house every artifact found on the rock and on the surrounding slopes, from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece. It also lies over the ruins of a part of Roman and early Byzantine Athens. The museum was founded in 2003, and I have never been there, but yesterday I took a stroll through its collection.

https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/streetview/acropolis-museum/IwFUpQvIJ1QDVA?sv_lng=23.72884799999997&sv_lat=37.9685572&sv_h=237.7988111805615&sv_p=-1.2845305129461195&sv_pid=E2ffpS3Emg5tW00mF4AC7A&sv_z=0.996580440921653&sv_lid=6578783020017468350

The Acropolis Museum houses more than 3.000 famous artefacts from the Athenian Acropolis. Located in the historical area of Makriyianni, southeast of the Rock of the Acropolis, the Museum narrates the story of life on the Rock from prehistoric times until the end of Antiquity. The museum has a total area of 25,000 square meters, with exhibition space of over 14,000 square meters.

A tailor made museum building with extensive use of glass ensures breathtaking views of the Acropolis, the surrounding historic hills and the modern city of Athens and immediate views of the archaeological excavation that lies below the Museum, visible through large expanses of glass floor. With the benefit of the changing natural light, visitors can discern and discover the delicate surface variations of the sculptures and select the vantage point from which to observe the exhibits.

The archaeological excavation that lies beneath the Museum provides the opportunity to visitors to appreciate both the masterpieces of the Acropolis in the upper levels of the Museum against the remains of the day to day lives of the people that lived in the shadow of the Acropolis over various periods.

After crossing the ground floor lobby of the Museum, the first collection that lies before the visitor presents finds from the sanctuaries and the settlement which were developed on the slopes of the Acropolis during all historic periods.

On Level One visitors learn about the history of life at the top of the Rock, from the 2nd millennium BC until the end of Antiquity. On Level Three, visitors are afforded the opportunity to view the sculptural decoration of the Parthenon, the most significant temple of the Acropolis.

It's going to be a while until I can visit the museum myself, but through the wonders of the internet (and Google), you can already have a look at not only the collection but the museum itself. In order to relax a bit after a stressful day, that's exactly what I did last night. Go grab some tea, put your feet up, and have a look at all the pretty things by clicking the picture above.
To this day, Spartans are seen as the toughest SOB's of the ancient Hellenic world--and they were! The physical (and often intellectual) prowess of both Spartan men and Spartan women outdid that of those of any other Polis. Why? Because every minute of a young Spartan's life--right up to adulthood--was taken up with becoming the best adult they could be.


Spartan youngsters faced their first obstacle the second they were born: their father. If their father found a birth defect or otherwise rejected the child, he or she was literally left to the wolves. A child deemed worth raising was raised by its mother until it was seven years old, but boys accompanied their father to the syssitia (τὰ συσσίτια, tà sussítia, dining clubs) where he would sit on the floor and learned what it was like to be a Spartan man through watching and listening.

The laws of Sparta were developed and written by Lycurgus, a legendary lawmaker who, in the 7th century BC reorganized the political and social structure of the polis, transforming it into a strictly disciplined and collective society. He also developed the stringent military academy of the agoge (ἀγωγή, agōgē), where Spartan boys were trained from childhood to adulthood in three stages: the paídes (about ages 7–17), the paidískoi (ages 17–19), and the hēbōntes (ages 20–29).

Lycurgus instituted the practice of appointing a state officer, the paidonomos (παιδονόμος, paidonómos, boy-herder) who organized the boys into divisions of about 60 each called agelai (ἀγέλαι, agélai, herds). These were groups of peers of the same age. Most of their time was spent in this compan. The agelai were under the supervision of an eiren (εíρήν, young adult) aged about 20, at whose house the agelai ate.

Children went barefoot to encourage them to move swiftly, and they are encouraged to learn to withstand the elements by having only one outfit. They were never satiated with food or fed fancy dishes. If the boys wanted more food, they went on hunts or raids. Their stealing was not only allowed but encouraged--but if they got caght, they suffered floggings. If they made a sound during their punishment, they were flogged again. From Plutarch's Life of Lycurgus comes this little titbit:

"The boys make such a serious matter of their stealing, that one of them, as the story goes, who was carrying concealed under his cloak a young fox which he had stolen, suffered the animal to tear out his bowels with its teeth and claws, and died rather than have his theft detected." [18.1]

During the day, the boys played ball games, and learned to ride and swim. They studied dance as a kind of gymnastic training for war dances as for wrestling. This was so central that Sparta was known as a dancing place from Homeric times. It is not clear whether they learned to read; Sparta abhorred written records and laws, and prided themselves on not needing them. After dinner, the boys sang songs of war, studied history, and discussed morality with the eiren. He also quizzed them, trained their memory, logic, and ability to speak laconically. They slept on reeds.

And what of Sparta's girls? The law reforms of Lycurgus also included certain rules and allowances for them. Spartan women were seen as the vehicle by which Sparta constantly advanced. Unlike many other ancient Hellenic girls, they were afforded formal education as well, although it seems they lied at home with their mothers instead of being into room and board like the boys. They also could not use their education to have careers or earn money.

Spartan girls were forbidden from wearing any kind of makeup or enhancements. The girls would exercise outdoors, unclothed, like the Spartan boys, which was impossible in the rest of the ancient Hellenic world. They also participated in athletics, competing in events like footraces.

Giving Spartan girls a physical (and mental) education was seen as a guarantee that the strong and fit Spartan women would reproduce, and when they had babies, those babies would be strong warriors in the making. I note the mental aspect because Spartan women of all ages mingled, in public, with Spartan men. Through these meetings, they learned many of the intellectual pursuits of the men and the ancient Spartan women were infamous for their ability to trade conversation and give political commentary. They were known for their razor-sharp wit and outspoken natures.

Their methods worked: Around 650 BC, Sparta rose to become the dominant military land-power in ancient Hellas and held that position for almost 300 years.
An archaeological excavation team from Yarmouk University has recently discovered a Hellenistic temple and network of water tunnels in Umm Qais, Atef Sheyyab, president of the archaeology department at the university told the Jordan Times. 


Umm Qais is a town in the extreme northwest of Jordan, near it's borders with Israel and Syria. It is perched on a hilltop 378 metres (1,240 ft) above sea level overlooking the Sea of Tiberias, the Golan Heights, and the Yarmouk River gorge. It's known for its proximity to the ruins of the ancient Gadara.

A member of the Decapolis, Gadara was a center of Hellenic culture in the region, considered one of its most Hellenized and enjoying special political and religious status. By the third century BC the town was of some cultural importance. It was the birthplace of the satirist Menippus and one of the most admired Hellenic poets,  Meleager. In 63 BC, when the Roman general Pompey placed the region under Roman control, he rebuilt Gadara and made it one of the semi-autonomous cities of the Roman Decapolis.

The temple dates from the Hellenistic era (332 BC to 63 BC) and was later reused during the Roman, Byzantine and Islamic eras, Sheyyab said. The temple, built following the Hellenic architectural  design of “Distyle in Antis”, consists of a pronaos (the inner area of the portico of a Greek or Roman temple), a podium and a naos, the holy chamber of the temple. At the temple, the team has found a number of Ionic-order columns that once supported the structure’s roof.

The team has also discovered a network of water tunnels at the centre of the ancient town, which are separated from the external tunnel that was discovered decades ago in the area, the professor said.
The network consists of a number of Hellenistic wells and Roman tunnels, he noted, adding that the tunnels lead to a hot bath inside the town.

The team has taken pottery samples to examine in order to identify the exact date of the temple. The experts will also use them to prepare a blueprint showing the temple’s layout at the time, according to Sheyab.
Theokritos was a Hellenic bucolic poet who flourished in Syracuse, Kos and Alexandria in the 3rd century BC. His surviving work can mostly be found within an old compendium of 30 poems known as the "Idylls of Theocritus," Many of these works, however, are no longer attributed to the poet. In "Idyll 1" Thyrsis sings to a goatherd about how Daphnis, the mythical herdsman, having defied the power of Aphrodite, dies rather than yielding to a passion the Goddess has inflicted on him. Ift's a lovely song and I would like to share it with you today.


"‘Tis Thyrsis sings, of Etna, and a rare sweet voice hath he.
Where were ye, Nymphs, when Daphnis pined? ye Nymphs, O where were ye?
Was it Peneius’ pretty vale, or Pindus’ glens? ‘twas never
Anápus’ flood nor Etna’s pike nor Acis’ holy river.

Country-song, sing country-song, sweet Muses.

When Daphnis died the foxes wailed and the wolves they wailed full sore,
The lion from the greenward wept when Daphnis was no more.

Country-song, sing country-song, sweet Muses.

O many the lusty steers at his feet, and may the heifers slim,
Many the claves and many the kine that made their moan for him.

Country-song, sing country-song, sweet Muses.

Came Hermes first, from the hills away, and said “O Daphnis tell,
“Who is’t that fretteth thee, my son? whom lovest thou so well?”

Country-song, sing country-song, sweet Muses.

The neatherds came, the shepherds came, and the goatherds him beside,
All fain to hear what ail’d him; Priápus came and cried
“Why peak and pine, unhappy wight, when thou mightest bed a bride?
“For there’s nor wood nor water but hath seen her footsteps flee –

Country-song, sing country-song, sweet Muses –

“In search o’ thee. O a fool-in-love and a feeble is here, perdye!
“Neatherd, forsooth? ‘tis goatherd now, or ‘faith, ‘tis like to be;
“When goatherd in the rutting-time the skipping kids doth scan,
“His eye grows soft, his eye grows sad, because he’s born a man; –

Country-song, sing country-song, sweet Muses –

“So you, when ye see the lasses laughing in gay riot,
“Your eye grows soft, your eye grows sad, because you share it not.”
But never a word said the poor neathérd, for a bitter love bare he;
And he bare it well, as I shall tell, to the end that was to be.

Country-song, more country-song, ye Muses.

But and the Cyprian came him to, and smiled on him full sweetly –
For thou she fain would foster wrath, she could not choose but smile –
And cried “Ah, braggart Daphnis, that wouldst throw Love so featly!
“Thou’rt thrown, methinks, thyself of Love’s so grievous guile.”

Country-song, more country-song, ye Muses.

Then out he spake; “O Cypris cruel, Cypris vengeful yet,
“Cypris hated of all flesh! think’st all my sun be set?
“I tell thee even ‘mong the dead Daphnis shall work thee ill: –

Country-song, more country-song, ye Muses.

“Men talk of Cypris and the hind; begone to Ida hill,
“Begone to hind Anchises; sure bedstraw there doth thrive
“And fine oak-trees and pretty bees all humming at the hive.

Country-song, more country-song, ye Muses.

“Adonis too is ripe to woo, for a ‘tends his sheep o’ the lea
“And shoots the hare and a-hunting goes of all the beasts there be.

Country-song, more country-song, ye Muses.

And then I’ld have thee take thy stand by Diomed, and say
“’I slew the neatherd Daphis; fight me thou to-day.’

Country-song, more country-song, ye Muses.

“But ‘tis wolf farewell and fox farewell and bear o’ the mountain den,
“Your neatherd fere, your Daphnis dear, ye’ll never see agen,
“By glen no more, by glade no more. And ‘tis o farewell to thee
“Sweet Arethuse, and all pretty watérs down Thymbris vale that flee.

Country-song, more country-song, ye Muses.

“For this, O this is that Daphnis, your kine to field did bring,
“This Daphnis he, led stirk and steer to you a-watering.

Country-song, more country-song, ye Muses.

“And Pan, O Pan, whether at this hour by Lycee’s mountain-pile
“Or Maenal steep thy watch thou keep, come away to the Sicil isle,
“Come away from the knoll of Helicè and the howe lift high i ’ the lea,
“The howe of Lycáon’s child, the howe that Gods in heav’s envye;

Country-song, leave country-song, ye Muses.

“Come, Master, and take this pretty pipe, this pipe of honey breath,
“Of wax well knit round lips to fit; for Love hales mé to my death.

Country-song, leave country-song, ye Muses.

“Bear violets now ye briers, ye thistles violets too;
“Daffodilly may hang on the juniper, and all things go askew;
“Pines may grow figs now Daphnis dies, and hind tear hound if she will,
“And the sweet nightingále be outsung I ’ the dale by the scritch-owl from the hill.”

Country-song, leave country-song, ye Muses.

Such words spake he, and he stayed him still; and O, the Love-Ladye,
She would fain have raised him where he lay, but that could never be.
For the thread was spun and the days were done and Daphnis gone to the River,
And the Nymphs’ good friend and the Muses’ fere was whelmed I ’ the whirl for ever."
A small catch-you-up news post today: Greece asks EU for the return of the Parthenon Marbles as part of Brexit, and the discovery of a 2000-year-old road in Western Turkey


Greece asks EU for return of Parthenon Marbles as part of Brexit
Greece asks EU for return of Parthenon Marbles as part of Brexit

For over three decades, Greece has repeatedly called on the British Museum to return the 2,500-year-old marble sculptures that once adorned the Parthenon and have been the subject of dispute since they were illegally removed and sold by Lord Elgin to the British Museum in 1817. Now, with Brexit negations going strong, the Greek government is requesting that the ongoing issue of the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece be made a part of it. Greece cites EU treaty law as the foundation of its claim. European Parliament member Stelios Kouloglou adds:.

“Brexit negotiators must take into account the need to protect European cultural heritage… The Parthenon Marbles are considered as the greatest symbol of European culture. Therefore, reuniting the marbles would be both a sign of respect and civilised relationship between Great Britain and the EU, and much more [than] a legal necessity.”

In response, a European Commission spokesperson said he believed that the Brexit team is not legally obliged to address the issue, citing Articles 3, 50 and 167. “The Parthenon Marbles were removed long before this date, and the EU has no competence in the matter,” Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport said, referring to a directive on the return of unlawfully removed cultural objects which applies to items removed after January 1, 1993.


A 55-kilometer section of a road that was built 2,000 years ago has been discovered in ongoing excavations of the ancient city of Aigai, located in Turkey‘s Manisa province. Aigai was one of the 12 ancient cities established in Western Anatolia. Assistant Professor Yusuf Sezgin, faculty member at the Celal Bayar University Archaeology Department and head of the excavation team, explained that the team had come across a road dating back to the Roman era in 1st century A.D., which started from the Aegean Sea shore and was once used to facilitate transport between Izmir and Manisa.

"It is noteworthy that the road is as solid as the first day is was built. Our examination showed that large water discharge channels were constructed under the road to prevent possible flash floods. In addition, we noticed that engravings were carved upon the stone plating to prevent horses from slipping during winter."

The road was first used as a route for war campaigns, and later for trade caravans, Sezgin explained, noting that it was part of a larger system of paths operated by the Roman Empire, which was famous for building vast networks of roads. Sezgin said that excavation work, which began in 2004, has pointed to evidence that the city became a regional point of economic and cultural attraction during the Hellenistic period in the 3rd century B.C., with the support of the Kingdom of Pergamon, located some 30 kilometers north of Aigai, nestled in the Yunt Mountains of the Aegean region. Sezgin added that he hoped the road would be open for visitors in the upcoming years.