How relevant and influential is the legacy of the ancient Hellenes to the western civilisation even today, is a question that has often been asked by many. The truth is the effects of the ancient Hellenic world have been ingrained so deeply into the West’s collective unconscious that we do not even notice it.

The recognition of the impact of the ancient Hellenes was once more highlighted by a BBC poll about the “100 stories that shaped the World”. Homer’s Odyssey topped the poll of 100 Stories that Shaped the World, with the other famous Homeric poem “The Iliad” coming in 10th spot. Natalie Haynes of the BBC looks at why the epic poem has survived for millennia.

"If any story can be considered the greatest tale ever told, Homer’s Odyssey has a better claim than most. Twenty-four books long, it runs to more than 12,000 lines of hexameter verse (the poetic form used in Greek epic and Latin epic after it) and follows the adventures of the wily, complicated Greek hero, Odysseus, in the aftermath of the Trojan War. The Odyssey has been valued as a cultural highpoint for millennia: in the 5th Century BCE, the Athenian playwright Aeschylus referred to his tragedies as “slices from the banquet of Homer”.

Writers from Dante to James Joyce to Margaret Atwood have taken inspiration from this original quest story. But Odysseus’ quest itself is an almost mundane affair, amid the gods and monsters which populate the poem. Because it is not about sailing off to find something wondrous and new (a golden fleece, for example, or an undiscovered land). It’s about a man trying to get home at the end of a 10-year war."

These are the top 10 book that changed the world:

1. The Odyssey (Homer, 8th Century BC)
2. Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852)
3. Frankenstein (Mary Shelley, 1818)
4. Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell, 1949)
5. Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe, 1958)
6. One Thousand and One Nights (various authors, 8th-18th Centuries)
7. Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes, 1605-1615)
8. Hamlet (William Shakespeare, 1603)
9. One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel García Márquez, 1967)
10. The Iliad (Homer, 8th Century BC)
On the June 1st, which coincides with 16 Thargelion, Elaion will hold a PAT ritual to Zeus Epakrios as was done on this day in ancient Erkhia. Will you be joining us at the usual 10 AM EDT?

Zeus Epakrios (Ἐπάκριος) is an epithet of Zeus derived from 'epi akrios', literally 'on the height' or 'upon the high place'. Zeus Epakrios had an altar on Mount Hymettos (Υμηττός), along with an altar to Zeus Hymettios (overseer) and Zeus Ombrios (of the rain). The cult to Zeus Epakrios seems to have been separate from the cults of Zeus Hymettios and Zeus Ombrios, with the altars of Zeus Epakrios and Ombrios located on the very summit of the mountain and the altar to Zeus Hyettios further down the slope. The altar of Zeus Epakrios lay unused for a while, even though the altar of Zeus Hymettios remained in use. The altar to Zeus Ombrios remained in use well into the 8th-7th centuries BC. All ancient remains of the altar to Zeus Epakrios have been obliterated by recent military building operations.

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites tells us about Mt. Hymettos:

"Separating the southern end of the plain of Athens from that of the Mesogaia to the east is the mountain range of Hymettos. In antiquity Hymettos was famous for honey and marble, and the scars of the worked-out quarries can be seen concentrated for the most part on the western slopes for a distance of 3 km south from Kaisariani. The bare summit performed a different function: even as today, it gave the Athenians a reliable indication of weather by the presence, or absence, of threatening clouds."

We are not entirely certain of the funtion of the sacrifice or the epithet. 'On the height' speaks for itself when taken together with the location of the altar, but it says nothing of its function. We do know that the altar was only visited once a year, for this sacrifice. It stands to reason that Zeus Epakrios oversaw the weather, as did Zeus Ombrios and Zeus Hymettios. In this time of year, sacrifices would have called for good weather for the continuation of the agricultural cycle and perhaps the herding of sheep and other grazers on the mountain who were presumably used to keep the area open for herbs and flowers for the honey creating bees to feast on.

The sacrifice was nephalios (wineless) and au phora (not carried – totally consumed (on site)).

The ritual for the event can be found here and you can join the community page on Facebook here.
A 2,300-year-old tomb in Aegean Turkey — once revered as a saint’s shrine — turns out to have been the final resting place of an ancient Hellenic boxer.

Local people in the Marmaris district of Turgut thought the unusual hilltop pyramid tomb was the burial place of a holy person. Young men going into the army to do their military service would take a handful of earth from the site as a good-luck talisman.

Many residents continued to treat it like a holy place until the 1970s when, Turkish newspaper Milliyet reports, the structure was ransacked after it was discovered it had no religious roots.
Now, experts who examined the tomb, claim it belonged to a boxer called Diagoras of Rhodes who lived in the third century BC. A statue depicting the legendary warrior and his wife was also stolen by thieves.

An inscription in the tomb apparently claims Diagoras will be eternally vigilant “that no coward will come” to disturb his rest. Other sources say the boxer was the victor in the 79th Olympiad in 464 BC. There is a statue to the fighter in modern-day Rhodes. It is rumored Olympia crowned three generations of his family for their athletic feats, adding to the boxer’s fame.
A former Swedish ambassador to Greece has called for the return of the Parthenon sculptures during an event held at the National Theatre in Stockholm.

Ett Levande Parthenon (A Living Parthenon) was a collaborative effort by the Swedish Committee for the Return of Parthenon Marbles, the National Theatre of Stockholm (Dramaten) and the Embassy of Greece to Sweden. Krister Kumlin, who served in Greece between 1993 and 1997, is the president of the Swedish Committee for the return of the marbles.

The Swedish diplomat described the marbles as a moral issue, saying it was essential that all the parts of the ancient carvings be housed in the Acropolis Museum in Athens. Kumlin argued that the timeless marbles “yearn for the sun of Attica” and their natural place is in the new Acropolis Museum.

During the event, Kumlin read a speech by Greek Culture Minister Lydia Koniordou in which she argues that “the reunification of the Parthenon marbles constitutes the main strategy of the Greek government and culture ministry.

“Our position that a solution must be found through diplomacy and dialogue with the British government and the British Museum in the framework of the international organizations, such as UNESCO, remains the same.”
A wonderful friend and reader of this blog sent be a box with gifts. She's a lovely friend that way! I wanted to share two of the items with you, because they are already oh so dear to my heart.

Let's start with the coins! they're replicas of ancient ones and they're heavy and absolutely splendid! I've added them to my various shrines and I can't stop playing with Athena's owl one. I love coins, period, and (replicas of) ancient Hellenic ones? Heaven!

And then there is the dodecagram! In my most viewed post to date (by a landslide) I examined some symbols of Hellenism, in the hope of figuring out one that might unify the community. My choice out of a select few was the dodecagram.

The dodecagram, or twelve pointed star, is already one of the more widespread symbols of Hellenismos. The twelve points represent the twelve Olympic Gods and thus the symbol serves its purpose as a dedicational symbol well. Another version of this symbol is the Star of Vergina, a symbol with sixteen points. The Star was used in ancient Hellas (Macedonia, mostly) and is still part of the Macedonian flag today. Because of this association, the Star does not have my preference, but I'm a great fan of the dodecagram.

In that post I also mentioned that what will decide the battle is the availability of the symbol. Back in 2012 (!) you couldn't order it anywhere, not even online. I have found versions throughout the years but they were either too small or just plain ugly. My friend had one made especially for me (!!!) and had one cast in bronze for herself (mine is silver). 

I love it. I love everything about it. It's absolutely stunning and of course, I wanted to share it with you all. Tell me, if you could and it can be an affordable option, would you like to buy one? I'm sure I can figure out if that's a possibility some way. 
Βronze pieces of a Hellenic warrior’s breastplate have been unearthed near an ancient Celtic fortified settlement in southern Slovakia.

Regine Thomas of Cologne University digitized and analyzed the pieces, and determined they were once part of a relief that depicted the mythical battle between the Greeks and the Amazons. The pieces are thought to have been made in southern Italy in the middle of the fourth century B.C. Karol Pieta of the Slovak Archaeological Institute stated:

“It is the oldest original Greek art relic in the area of Slovakia."

He thinks the bronze artifacts may have traveled with Celtic warriors, who could have plundered them from the Greeks early in the third century B.C. The spot where the breastplate pieces were found is said to have been used by the Celts for ritual sacrifices. Archaeologists uncovered a sacrificial hole containing burned human and animal bones, bracelets made of blue glass, a spur, and a lot of pottery fragments. The Celts are thought to have thrown their beverage containers into a bonfire after sacrificial feasts.

Polyphemus (Πολύφημος Polyphēmos) is the giant son of Poseidon and Thoosa in Hellenic mythology, one of the Cyclopes described in Homeros's Odyssey. His name means "abounding in songs and legends".

In Homeros's epic, Odysseus lands on the island of the Cyclops during his journey home from the Trojan War and, together with some of his men, enters a cave filled with provisions. When the giant Polyphemus returns home with his flocks, he blocks the entrance with a great stone and, scoffing at the usual custom of hospitality, eats two of the men. Next morning, the giant kills and eats two more and leaves the cave to graze his sheep.

After the giant returns in the evening and eats two more of the men, Odysseus offers Polyphemus some strong and undiluted wine given to him earlier on his journey. Drunk and unwary, the giant asks Odysseus his name, promising him a guest-gift if he answers. Odysseus tells him "Οὖτις", which means "nobody" and Polyphemus promises to eat this "Nobody" last of all. With that, he falls into a drunken sleep. Odysseus had meanwhile hardened a wooden stake in the fire and drives it into Polyphemus' eye. When Polyphemus shouts for help from his fellow giants, saying that "Nobody" has hurt him, they think Polyphemus is being afflicted by divine power and recommend prayer as the answer.

In the morning, the blind Cyclops lets the sheep out to graze, feeling their backs to ensure that the men are not escaping. However, Odysseus and his men have tied themselves to the undersides of the animals and so get away. As he sails off with his men, Odysseus boastfully reveals his real name, an act of hubris that was to cause problems for him later. Polyphemus prays to his father, Poseidon, for revenge and casts huge rocks towards the ship, which Odysseus barely escapes.

I came across the above artwork yesterday and it broke my heart to see the gentleness of the giant knowing his fate. So, today's post is in honor of Polyphemus. Your life would have been much better if a certain stray hero hadn't set foot on your island.

“Oh gentle ram, why do you come from the cave behind the rest of the flock? You never before tarried behind the other skeep, but striding far before the others you snatched the mild blossoms, you came first to the banks of the rivers, and you ever desired first to return home in the evening. But now you are last by far. Are you worried about my eye, which that rotten bastard Noone and his awful friends took from me after wrecking my mind with wine – I do not say that he has escaped death. Would that you could be of one mind with me, and could tell me where that man has fled from my wrath. Once slain, his brain would drip through my cave here and there to the ground, and it would ease my heart from those troubles which that worthless bastard Noone gave me.”
(Odyssey 9.446-460)