Tuesday, April 28, 2015

'Greeks at War: Homer at Troy' online course

Would you like to gain a broad-based understanding of warfare in ancient Hellas through Hómēros' account of the Trojan War in the Iliad and receive a certificate as well by joining the course that kicked off on April 27? Colgate University’s free online course examines different accounts of Ancient Hellenic Warfare and you can join the course for free (yes, even a day late--sorry about that. News travels slow when you fall ill).


Hómēros'  account of the Trojan War in the Iliad explores the effects of warfare upon Hellenes and Trojans alike. It illustrates not only the challenges that the combatants faced, but also the plight of innocent victims – women, children, and the elderly. Though the Iliad is often regarded as a kind of Greek national epic, Hómēros'  is remarkably even-handed in his treatment of the two sides, even seeming to favor the Trojans over the Hellenes at times. He repeatedly emphasizes the horrors of war and his varied descriptions of deaths on the battlefield are unparalleled in both intensity and, paradoxically, poetic charm. The primary objective of warfare in the imaginary time period depicted by Homer is to attain personal glory through acts of individual prowess, with the good of the community seen as a secondary goal.

The course explores the idea that war is both universal and particular. The Vietnam War was not the same as the Iraq War. In every war, some things are the same, while some are different. Intense suffering and horrific acts are inevitable. However, the mode of fighting, the resources, the arms, the equipment, the treatment of prisoners, the command structure, and the ideology driving men and women to fight all differ. Students will learn:
  • The causes and contentions of the Trojan War through the eyes of Homer
  • What made the Trojan War unique and historically significant
  • What links the experience of this war to the men and women serving their country today, as well as innocent civilians caught up in the crossfire
The course is taught by Robert Garland, who  is the Roy D. and Margaret B. Wooster Professor of the Classics at Colgate University, where he has taught since 1986. A British citizen by birth, he obtained his B.A. from Manchester University, his M.A. from McMaster University, and his Ph.D. from University College London.  He is a Fulbright Scholar, a former Junior Fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington D.C., a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., and former Benjamin-Meaker Distinguished Professor at Bristol University. As a historian of Greece and Rome,  he has published numerous books, including 'The Greek Way of Death', 'The Piraeus', 'The Greek Way of Life', 'Introducing New Gods', 'Religion and the Greeks', 'The Eye of the Beholder: Deformity and Disability in the Graeco-Roman World', 'Daily Life of the Ancient Greeks', 'Celebrity and the Greeks', 'Julius Caesar', 'Surviving Greek Tragedy', and 'Hannibal'. His most recent book is 'Wandering Greeks', published by Princeton University Press (2014), an investigation of refugees and other displaced persons in the Greek world.

CLICK HERE to enrol.

Monday, April 27, 2015

"Atlantis" recap (2.10): The Gorgon's Gaze

Remember how last week, I said that our heroes had gotten themselves into quite a pickle? Double that for this week. Now the only way to save Ariadne from a certain and excruciating death is to sacrifice Medusa instead, and oh yeah, Pasiphaê took over Atlantis while we weren't looking. I do not like this. I do not like this one bit.


Cassandra, the new Oracle, is passionately praying. She's calling to the Gods. Literally everyone who hears her pray--Pasiphaê, Melas, Medea, Ariadne, and Delmos most of all--is anxious of what she's perceiving. The Gods are angry. fucking angry. Not just a little bit angry, but 'we will fuck up your city'-angry, because 'the rightful heir of Atlantis is not recognised'. Pasiphaê is not at all happy to hear that, but even though she is scared, she still has Cassandra taken away and tries to discredit her vision. This will not end well, I promise you that.

Once in private, Pasiphaê freaks out. Medea tries to calm her, but Pasiphaê knows that when word of the Oracle's vision gets out, the people of Atlantis will turn against her. Thankfully, Cilix has an even more devious mind than her, and he spins the story: the Gods did not tell Cassandra who, exactly, the rightful heir is, so it could be Pasiphaê since she has not officially been crowned queen. It could work, Pasiphaê realizes, especially if the bribed priests tell the world all is well in the world.

Wasting no time, Pasiphaê goes to work in manipulating Ariadne to step down and make Pasiphaê queen in return for her life. She refuses, and Pasiphaê takes Delmos to torture until she can.


At the temporary oikos in the woods, Jason wants to go back to free Ariadne and fight for Atlantis. Pythagoras wisely says they can't. With Pasiphaê back, there is no way they will even be able to get into the palace, let alone to Ariadne. Jason is not happy. Someone else who is not happy is Medusa. She's sitting out in the sun, enjoying the sounds of the birds best she can. Pythagoras comes to find her. He shares his blanket (and a hug) with her. She tells him she's cursed, that she hurts everyone in her life. She'd just... damned. And she doesn't want Hercules to suffer because of her.

Ariadne's getting an update from (who I think to be) Nestor (Sam Swainsbury): Pasiphaê is killing everyone who opposes her, he doesn't have news on Delmos, nor Jason. She forces him to look for Jason outside of the city and the poor boy--because he's no more than a boy--doesn't really have a choice than to go into the mountains to the hunting lodge where Jason once took her to meet her brother.

At said lodge, Jason is experiencing epic amounts of manpain and even Hercules, King of Manpain, is done with it. He gets him some food, tries to cheer him up, taunts him, teases him, and tries to get him to react in every way possible. But, of course, it doesn't work. Jason haz a sad, and it can't be taken away with kind words, taunts, or food. Then Hercules brings up how Jason told him to keep faith and to keep fighting for Medusa and look now: they are together. Jason will have to do the same for Ariadne. It restores a little but of his old spirit.


Nestor has made it to the cabin! Hurray! He tells Pythagoras that Ariadne is still alive and that she needs them. He tells them everything that has been going on, and it's not pretty. Pythagoras sends him back to Ariadne to protect her and they will tell Jason. Medusa tells Pythagoras as soon as he is gone that they can't tell Jason. He'll just run into the fray like a lunatic and get himself killed. She has a plan to get Ariadne out of the city, but he can't tell the others. Medusa tells him to trust her.

They announce the plan (well, whatever part of it Medusa feels comfortable of sharing): Pythagoras is going back to the city. He's the only one they won't execute on the spot and he has friends who can help him. This way, they can get an update on the situation. The boys take some convincing, but they agree eventually.

Meanwhile Melas visits Cassandra in the dungeons. She's cold and shit scared. She clings to him in desperation. Melas tells her that he knows her gift came with the condition she always tell the truth, but that she has to learn how to deliver that message carefully. In other words, to lie in order to safe her life. He hates to do it, and she hates hearing it even more. But she knows that he is only doing the things he's doing to keep her safe. the Gods will punish those who deserve punishment--he taught her that, and he mustn't forget that now.


Pythagoras packs up and leaves. Jason tells him to get word to Ariadne, Hercules to get himself wine and pie. Medusa just tells him to be strong and stay safe. He leaves.

Returning to their cell is Delmos, who has been brutally tortured. He's bloody and broken, and yet the first thing he says is that she must never, ever, give in to Pasiphaê's wishes, no matter what they do to him. She promises him, but when he turns his head away, she cries bitter tears out of guilt.

Pythagoras has reached the city and has snuck back in. It's not the city he knows though: there are bodies hanging in the street and the only people out are guards on patrol. He's not heading home, he's heading to the inventor Daidalos. Ikaros is also there, and neither of them enjoys Pasiphaê rule very much. the plan, by the way, is to retrieve Pandora's Box from the temple of Poseidon. Daidalos is in, instantly.

Ikarus goes to scout and finds out there is a group of lepers scheduled to seek Poseidon's aid. He thinks that Daidalos and Pythagoras will be cursed alongside them if they hide amongst them, but Daidalos thinks that's just superstition and refuses to entertain the thought. Meanwhile, Daidalos is making gunpowder bombs.


That night, Pythagoras and Daidalos join the lepers and enter the temple. the guards check a few of the leper to see if they are actually afflicted, but before the guards can get to them, Daidalos tosses his bomb into a fire and BOOM! No one gets seriously hurt, and no one spots Pythagoras as he sneaks into the temple to retrieve the box. Well--no one but Melas, who spots him on the way out. He wants to call the guards, but Pythagoras reminds him that this is basically all his fault and Melas guides him out of the temple by a safer route. Meanwhile Pasiphaê orders the perpetrators found and hung in the streets for all to see.

Delmos is pretty much at the end of his rope. Ariadne tries to keep him alive with words alone, but he's not doing well. He tells her he believes in her and trusts in all she will accomplish in the future. His words give her the strength she needs to turn Pasiphaê's offer down once more, even when she promises her a physician to tend to Delmos' injuries. She stands strong, she defies Pasiphaê. When Pasiphaê takes a sword and treathens to kill Delmos, she has a harder time, but he nods to tell her it's okay and she stands strong. Pasiphaê kills Delmos and tells her that if Ariadne defies her again, she will be begging for sucha  swift death. She leaves Delmos' corpse in Ariadne's cell.

Pythagoras, meanwhile, has gotten out of the temple with Melas' help and out of the city with Ikaros'. He journeys back to the cabin with Pandora's box in his backpack and a heavy heart in his chest. He delivers the box to Medusa, who is waiting anxiously. He tells her she does not have to go throguh with this, but she reminds him that she is cursed and to not tell Hercules about any of this. Or Jason. In the hunting lodge, Pythagoras tells them of the state of affairs in Atlantis, and as expected, Jason immediately grabs his sword to charge the windmill. Pythagoras cools him down, but just barely.

Back in prison, Ariadne has been hung from the ceiling and she's livid. When Pasiphaê comes to once more threaten her into giving up the throne, she just snarls. That is until Pasiphaê introduced Medea, whose special brand of magic is apparently very well suited for interrogation. Pasiphaê leaves the two alone to get to work.


At the lodge, Medusa shares what she knows to be her last meal with Hercules. She tells him she loves him with such intensity that she almost gives herself away, but she manages to cover it up well enough for Hercules buys it. Pythagoras has spiked the food: he falls asleep after a few bites and she holds him tightly for long seconds before slipping from their bed and involving Jason in their plan: she wants to get back to rocking her snakes so they can use her as a weapon I do wonder why the snakes would suddenly work on Pasiphaê and Medea now, while they so clearly did not before but ey, details, right?

Jason won't have it. He says it's madness. She tells him she cannot live with what she's done. She killed the Oracle, and her curse for that is not physical, but that the guilt is killing her. This way, her death can do some good: she wants to turn back into the Gorgon, and then she wants Jason to chop off her head. Her body will only slow them down, and her head will continue to turn people to stone after her death. She rushes out in tears, and tells him to come to a nearby cave soon, because he is the only one immune. Jason rushes to wake Hercules, but Pythagoras stops him: it's the only way to save Atlantis--and by extension, Ariadne. In the cave, Medusa gathers her strength and opens the box.

Medea has done her work well. Ariadne is a ragdoll, lolling in Pasiphaê's arms when she turns her over on the ground. She whimpers and shudders. But when she blinks her eyes open, she tells Pasiphaê that there is only one true queen of Atlantis, and that it is not Pasiphaê. That's my girl! Pasiphaê says it's okay, that they will go another round tomorrow. It's only a matter of time now.

Jason comes to the cave, and the sound of serpents greets him. Medusa waits for him. She's so happy he came. She begs him to do this for her, for all of them, and while Jason cries bitter tears, he beheads her...


Hercules wakes up and finds Pythagoras waiting for him. Pythagoras tells him of the decision medusa made and he is... beyond anger, beyond sadness. He throws Pythagoras around the cabin and then sags into a heap to cry like no man should ever have to cry in their lives--like no person should. Meanwhile Jason returns to Atlantis and turns an entire squadron of guards to stone.

Goran rushes to Pasiphaê to tell her about the one man army with the Gorgon's head and she panics. She tells him to keep the men away, takes his sword, and waits for Jason to come to her. Because he will. She knows he will. They play a game of cat and mouse in the palace halls and eventually, they stumble upon each other. She is still not affected by the snakes, but he doesn't need them to: he has his sword, and he will kill her. The struggle is very quick: Pasiphaêis not a trained fighter, and he is. She tells him why he won't kill her:  because she's his mother. He's shocked, amazed, and indeed removes his sword from her neck. Then he knocks her unconcious with the pummel of the sword. He tries to kill her again, but he can't. He tosses his sword and Medea shows up. She tells him it's true, that Pasiphaê is his mother. That he is touched by the Gods. That this is why he can look upon the Gorgon without turning to stone. That is when she drops the other bomb: they feel this way about each other because they are both touched by the Gods. He snarls that he doesn't feel anything for her.

Jason rushes to free Ariadne and he hands her a blindfold. She ties it around her head instantly and takes his arm. With the Gorgon's head in hand, he guides her out of the dungeons, out of the palace, and out of Atlantis.


Next time on Atlantis: Jason is feeling the weight of his heritage, daddy dearest returns, and Jason and Medea kiss. Saturday on BBC One, recap on Monday.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Ancient Hellenic cakes

Yesterday, I introduced the concept of Popana (or Popanon), loaf-like cakes that were solely made for sacrifice. They were a staple of the Delphinia sacrifices, but there is a lot more to them than that. For example, they varied in shape and size, depending on whom they were sacrificed to. Today, I would like to share a little more about the various cakes the ancient Hellenes consumed and sacrificed.


Amphiphon
This cake was specific to Athens. It was a cheese pie on which candles were lit, offered to Artemis on the day of the full moon in the month of Mounichion. Philocorus says that an amphiphon would be brought to the temples of Artemis or to a crossroads, because on this day the moon sets at the same as the sun rises, and the sky is lit by both.

Animal-shaped cakes:
Cakes in the shape of animals were offered to the deities to whom they were especially suited. A wheat cake called a 'Elaphos', made with honey and sesame and shaped like a deer was offered to Artemis at her Elaphebolia festival. A large loaf full of lard, modeled in the shape of a goat, was offered to Demeter Achaina (sorrowful) at the Megalartia (Big Loaves) festival in Boiotia. Another cake, decorated with horns and said to represent either the new moon or an ox, was offered to Apollo, Artemis, Hekate, Selene, Demeter, and Kronos. Apparently, this cake could be substituted for an actual ox.

Ames
Ames is often translated as ‘milk cake’. The smaller versions are called ametiskoi: pastries.

Arister
The arister was a cake to be burned in a fire, in honour of Helios, Mnemosyne and the Fates, as described by Pollux.

Basynias
This cake was native, so to say, to Delos. They were made of a dough of wheat flour boiled with honey, to which pomegranate seeds, a dried fig and three nuts were edit. They were offered to Iris on the island of Hekate.

Diakonion
This cake is connected to the Pyanepsia festival in honour of Apollon. It seems these cakes were part of the sacrifices to Him on this day, and part of the decorations on the eiresiône. It was most likely a cake made of barley meal.

Empeptas
It was a cake made from various cheeses.

Enkris
This was a doughnut, fried in oil or lard and dipped in honey.

Gastris
This kind of cake is a flat oblong that may represent a cake of fruit or nuts compressed with honey. Common ingredients (especially on Krete) were: walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, and roasted poppy seeds which are roasted, mashed, and softened with boiled honey and pepper. White sesame is put through the same process to produce a contrasting white layer that is placed above and below the dark, flattened square of poppy seeds and nuts.

Glykina
Kretan cakes made with sweet wine and olive oil.

Itrion
A light dough made from sesame and honey.

Kollyba
These are the smallest of all the cakes. They are a small wheaten cake whose name derives from its resemblance to a small coin. Kollyba were used in the ritual welcome of a new family member or a slave, who recieved various 'nibbles' such as dates, kollyba, figs, and nuts. Kollyba were offered in sacrifices to Zeus, to the foreign god Men, and to Damia and Auxesia, goddesses usually identified with Demeter and Kore.

Kreion
The kreion was a kind of sweet bread loaf, and in Argo, brides would give it to their husband. It was served with honey.

Kribanai
These are a kind of plakous (cheese cakes) that Athenaeus, citing Sosibius (Spartan source) describes as being breast-shaped. It seems Spartans use them during women’s feast days, and the members of the chorus lead them in procession when they are about to sing the encomium to the bride.

Maza (also known as neelata, prokonia, or ompai)
This type of cake is a shapeless flat mass with circular incisions or stippling that seems to represent a grainy texture. The lack of height and shape makes one think of a mass of porridge or boiled grains. Maza is first mentioned by Hesiod in his description of the delights of early summer: to sit in the shade, drink wine, and eat it as it just runs dry. Traditionally, it's made with goat's milk, but Maza could be made with water, oil, milk, or even the bile of a calf; the grain used was most frequently coarsely ground, uncooked barley meal, or groats. Maza consisting of boiled wheat flour, honey, a fig, and walnuts, was offered to Iris by the Delians. Apollon received Maza offerings in Sparta, and a variation where wheat soaked in honey was burned in the fire as an offering to Demeter.

Pelanos
The pelanos was a cake which was also used in offerings. It was made from wheat flour obtained from the plain of the Rharus, and was offered to the Goddesses during the Great Mysteries.

Phthois
These were round cakes used in sacrifices, consisting of wheat flour, cheese and honey. They were eaten along with the flesh of the animals which had been sacrificed. In inscriptions, they are associated with Hestia, Zeus, Apollo and Asklēpiós.

Plakous
This type is a thick, single-knobbed, cake with deep scoring or ribbing on sides and top meeting under the large central knob. The plakous was a light, flaky cake, which consisted of honey and goat's milk cheese alternating with thin layers of pastry dough inside a firm cake shell. A variation of the plakous is a cake scored evenly into four parts, sometimes with a central knob, or scored into three parts without a central knob. It was sacrificed to Apollon, at least.

Popanon
This is a larger, round, flat cake with one, upright, protruding, central knob. The knobbed cakes were offered to Zeus Georgos, the Anemoi (Winds), and Herakles. The flat version of the cake, the popanon kathemenon was offered to Poseidon, Kronos, Apollo and Artemis. Its size is often mandated in leges sacrae; it must be made from a full choinix (a dry measure of less than a quart) of flour. The other main ingredient was soft cheese. A flat version with the same ingredients was sacrificed to Poseidon and to Kronos.

Popanon polyomphala
This type is the flat cake described before, but with more than one knob, which is also called a 'popanon'. The number of knobs on the cakes is usually five, arranged with one in the center and four evenly distributed around the perimeter, frequently with two strips of dough bisecting the cake and connecting the knobs to each other; in appearance the cake is not unlike a "hot cross bun". Clement of Alexandria described multi-knobbed popanon to Dionysos, Gaea, and Themis. Twelve-knobbed cakes known as 'popana dodekonphala' are offered to Demeter, Persephone, Apollo, Artemis, Zeus Arotrios, Poseidon, the Winds, Kronos, and Herakles.

Sesame (or sesamis)
This type of cake is spherical and is made up of pellets that may represent seeds. It was made of roasted sesame, honey, and oil, was one of the cakes carried in the rites of Dionysos and Giae, according to Clement of Alexandria. A Spartan cult calendar devoted to chthonic deities stipulates the offering of a sesame cake to Demeter and to Despoina, who is possibly Kore. A round cake that was made by crumbling up thin little sesame honey cakes, boiling them in honey, forming them into balls, and wrapping them in thin papyrus to keep their shape was also a variation of the sesame. In a private cult calendar of the 1st century A.D., sesame are offered to Zeus the Farmer.

Pemma
The term ‘Pemma’ refers to a small cake, either with, or without a cereal element. That element could have been replaced by other ingredients such as nuts or dried fruit. The word ‘Pemma’ is generally used to refer to the cakes offered to Demeter, Zeus and Athena.

Pyramis and Pyramous
These were pyramidal in form. It was a wheat cake made from sesame and honey, and was given as a reward or prize for religious and sporting event, as well as dance competitions. It's associated with the Thesmophoria. It seems to have been a staple of banquets and was much used in hero worship.

Tagenites, taganies, or tagenias
A sort of crêpe or pancake consisting simply of flour and water. Could be eaten or made with sesame seeds.

Tolype
Another round cake is made of maza. Since tolype also means a ball of yarn, it is usually assumed to be a round cake. It is not described as being made of seeds, however, and so its appearance would not match the round seedcakes previously described. What it was made of, I am not sure, though.


Other cakes:
There are various other cakes I don't have the name of, am unsure of when it comes to the name, of of which I just have very little detail:
  • Cone-shaped loafs or cake that had a rich sauce inside, composed of honey with ground raisins and almonds.
  • A cake that may have been called 'nastos'. The comic cult calendar in Aristophanes' Birds prescribes a honeyed nastos as sacrifice to the cormorant. In Attic cult Zeus the Farmer receives a nastos made from a full choinix of flour, as does the Asiatic god Men.
  • The melipekton and melitoutta, names meaning ‘curdled honey’ and ‘tasting of honey’, cakes of which nothing is known apart from their names.
  • The oinoutta, whose main ingredients are wine and cheese.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

PAT ritual announcement: the Delphinia

Yesterday at dusk, the Athenian festival of the Delphinia (Δελφίνια) started. What is known about this festival is that virgin girls walked to the Delphinion (Δελφίνιον) atop the Acropolis in procession, carrying olive branches bound with wool (known as 'iketiria') and baked cakes known as Popana, made of soft cheese and flower. There is overwhelming evidence that the festival was held on the sixth of the month of Mounukhion, most notably from Plutarch, but the seventh of same month is also considered a possible date, quite possibly because the festivities could have taken place in the daylight hours of the sixth day, which is the same day as the start of the seventh of the month, as dusk rained in a new day. To celebrate this festival, Elaion is hosting a PAT ritual at 10 a.m. EDT today. Will you be joining us?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.

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

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

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


Friday, April 24, 2015

Constellation Triangulum: the triangle

Did you know there was a constellation called 'the triangle'? And that the ancient Hellenes were aware of it, too? Triangulum is a small constellation in the northern sky. It was one of the 48 constellations listed by the second century astronomer Ptolemy, and so named for its three brightest stars, which form a long and narrow triangle. The Ancient Hellenes called Triangulum 'Deltoton' (Δελτωτόν), after the upper-case letter delta (Δ). Hellenic astronomers such as Hipparchos and Ptolemy called it Trigonon (Τρίγωνον).


There is not a lot of mythology connected to this tiny constellation, but the lore that it has is quite important. Hyginus, in his 'Astronomica' explains the options:

"This constellation, which has three angles like the Greek letter Delta, is so named for that reason.
Mercury [Hermes] is thought to have placed it above the head of Aries, so that the dimness of Aries might be marked by its brightness, wherever it should be, and that it should form the first letter in the name of Jove [Zeus] (in Greek, Dis).
Some have said that it pictures the position of Egypt; others, that of Aethiopa and Egypt where the Nile marks their boundaries. Still others think that Sicily is pictured there.
Others, say that three angles were put there because the gods divided the universe into three parts." [II.19]

The latter is the only one that might need some explaining. Zeus, the greatest of the Olympian Gods, and the father of Gods and men, was a son of Kronos and Rhea, a brother of Poseidon, Hades, Hestia, Demeter, Hera. When Zeus and His brothers drew lots for the rule of the world, Poseidon obtained the sea, Hades the lower world, and Zeus the heavens and the upper regions, but the earth belonged to them all. To quote the 'Iliad' by Hómēros:

"Poseidon was very angry and said, "Great heavens! strong as Zeus may be, he has said more than he can do if he has threatened violence against me, who am of like honour with himself. We were three brothers whom Rhea bore to Kronos--Zeus, myself, and Hades who rules the world below. Heaven and earth were divided into three parts, and each of us was to have an equal share. When we cast lots, it fell to me to have my dwelling in the sea for evermore; Hades took the darkness of the realms under the earth, while air and sky and clouds were the portion that fell to Zeus; but earth and great Olympus are the common property of all." [XV.187]

The constellation Triangulum is visible at latitudes between +90° and −60°, and best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of December.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Marble naturally illuminated the statue of Zeus at Olympia

In a study published in the journal Applied Optics, Rosa Weigand, professor of the department of optics of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM), and a team of researchers have attempted to reproduce the lighting conditions that occurred in this ancient Greek temple more than 2,000 years ago, using samples of the two types of marble that were used in the roof, thus reports the Archaeological News Network.

With a height of twelve metres and built from ivory and gold overlaid on a wooden frame, the statue of Zeus was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Located in the interior of a temple at Olympia in ancient Greece, it was crafted in the year 432 BC by the sculptor Pheidias.

Despite its large size, and the darkness of the temple, which had neither windows nor a door of great size, various classical sources describe the eyes and the hair of the god in detail, which would indicate some type of lighting by natural means. This natural lighting was sufficient for the statue to be perceived by any person when entering the temple, once their eyesight had become accustomed to the darkness.
 
According to Paul A. Garcia, co-author of the study and project collaborator from the Institute of Languages and Cultures of the Mediterranean and the Middle East (CSIC), whose doctoral dissertation is the basis of the research, the best light is transmitted by the Pentelic marble rather than the marble from Paros. This property of the marble could be one of the reasons that led the Greeks to replace the original material of the temple, brought from the island of Paros, with plates of Pentelic marble, although, as the authors say, this could also have been due to economic or commercial issues.
 
Jose Jacobo Storch of Grace, Professor of the Faculty of Geography and History of the UCM and director of the study says the researchers first became interested in the phenomenon because of the frequent descriptions of the hair and eyes:
 
"The reason that made us consider the lighting from the roof is that ancient sources place great emphasis on the eyes and hair when describing the Zeus of Olympia. The results [of our tests] reveal a high transmission area in the yellow-red end of the spectrum, which is suitable for illuminating an object made of ivory and gold."
 
In order to reach these conclusions, the researchers--among which are also experts from the Institute of optics of the CSIC--used a light meter, which estimated the transmittance (amount of light that passes through a body) of the samples, and a spectrophotometer, to measure the resulting spectrum and see what wavelengths are more efficient.
 
Unfortunately nothing remains of the sculpture today, except for representations on ancient coins and paintings on ceramics, in addition to detailed literary descriptions. Following the destruction of the temple in Olympia after several earthquakes, the statue moved to Constantinople (now Istanbul) where it was destroyed by fire in the year 475 A.D.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

$65,- raised for Naoto Matsumura

Members of Pandora's Kharis have come together to raise $65,- for Naoto Matsumura. He is known as the ‘guardian of Fukushima’s animals’ because of the work he does to feed the animals left behind by people in their rush to evacuate the government’s 12.5-mile exclusion zone. He is aware of the radiation he is subject to on a daily basis, but says that he “refuses to worry about it.” With our donation, Matsumura will be able to continue his good work and save many animals in need.

 
Because the donation needs to be made through bank transfer, it will take a while to transfer the funds, but you will be updated accordingly. 

From this moment on, the Pandora's Kharis Facebook page is open to pitches. If you do not have Facebook, feel free to pitch your cause in the comments. We will relay the message to the community.

On to another month of pitching, voting, and giving. Thank you for your generosity!