Most of the ancient Hellenic islands have an origin story, recorded in ancient Hellenic writings. One of my favorites is that of Rhodes. Rhodes (Ρόδος, Ródos) is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in terms of land area and also the island group's historical capital. It is located northeast of Crete, southeast of Athens and just off the Anatolian coast of Turkey. In ancient times, it was home to the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

It's Pindar who recounts the founding myth of the island. He explains how the island was a gift to Helios after the Gods divided the world between Them and there was nothing left for Him. Zeus raised the island from the depths of the ocean and Helios lay with the nymph Rhodos who came into existence with it. From their union came three children, and the cities that were established on Rhodes were named for their three sons. From Pindar's odes:

"Now the ancient story of men saith that when Zeus and the other gods made division of the earth among them, not yet was island Rhodes apparent in the open sea, but in the briny depths lay hid. And for that Helios was otherwhere, none drew a lot for him; so they left him portionless of land, that holy god. And when he spake thereof Zeus would cast lots afresh; but he suffered him not, for that he said that beneath the hoary sea he saw a certain land waxing from its root in earth, that should bring forth food for many men, and rejoice in flocks. And straightway he bade her of the golden fillet, Lachesis ['disposer of lots', one of the Moirai], to stretch her hands on high, nor violate the gods' great oath, but with the son of Kronos promise him that the isle sent up to the light of heaven should be thenceforth a title of himself alone.

And in the end of the matter his speech had fulfilment; there sprang up from the watery main an island, and the father who begetteth the keen rays of day hath the dominion thereof, even the lord of fire-breathing steeds. There sometime having lain with Rhodos he begat seven sons, who had of him minds wiser than any among the men of old; and one begat Kameiros, and Ialysos his eldest, and Lindos: and they held each apart their shares of cities, making threefold division of their father's land, and these men call their dwelling-places. There is a sweet amends for his piteous ill-hap ordained for Tlepolemos leader of the Tirynthians at the beginning, as for a god, even the leading thither of sheep for a savoury burnt-offering, and the award of honour in games." [Pythian Odes VII]

I enjoy this story because it's nothing but fair and filled with respect. Zeus realized Helios--one of the most important Titans in regards to life on earth--had been denied His fair share and so He granted Him one of the grandest islands of the ancient Hellenic world and through the island's guardian nymph strong children. It's soothing and beautiful. Blessed be Rhodes!
Every once in a while, I take it upon myself to introduce Gods and Goddesses my readers might not be familiar with. Today, this is the Goddess Hebe.

Hebe (Ἡβη) is the Goddess of youth and the cupbearer of the Gods who serves ambrosia at the heavenly feasts. She is also the patron Goddess of the young bride and an attendant of Aphrodite. This is unsurprising when you know Her father is Zeus and Her mother is Hera. Her husband is the hero Hēraklēs.

       Khaos ------------ Gaea
           |         |
Ouranos --- |
                 Kronos --- Rhea
                      Zeus --- Hera

For a relatively minor Goddess, Hebe has quite a bit of mythology to Her name. Her parentage is mentioned by Hesiod, Apollodorus, Kallimachos, Pausanias and Hyginus. According to the ancient writers, Hebe's day was taken up by to major jobs: be a cupbearer to the Gods and be a handmaiden to her mother Hera. She also tended to Her brother Ares when He returned from war. A few choice selections of Homeros, in 'The Iliad', on these tasks:

"Now the gods at the side of Zeus were sitting in council over the golden floor, and among them the goddess Hebe (Youth) poured them nectar as wine, while they in the golden drinking-cups drank to each other, gazing down on the city of the Trojans." [4. 1]

"Hera, high goddess, daughter of Kronos the mighty, went away to harness the gold-bridled horses. Then Hebe in speed set about the chariot the curved wheels eight-spoked and brazen, with an axle or iron both ways. Golden is the wheel's felly imperishable, and outside it is joined, a wonder to look upon, the brazen running-rim, and the silver naves revolve on either side of the chariot, whereas the car itself is lashed fast with plaiting of gold and silver, with double chariot rails that circle about it, and the pole of the chariot is of silver, to whose extremity Hebe made fast the golden and splendid yoke, and fastened the harness, golden and splendid, and underneath the yoke Hera, furious for hate and battle, led the swift-running horses." [5. 720]

"Hebe washed him [Ares returning from battle] clean and put delicate clothing upon him." [5. 905]

To the ancient Hellenes, youth was of great importance as it was linked to aesthetic beauty--an ideal held very high throughout Hellas. It was said (in part because She poured it) that the nectar of the Gods was what kept Them forever youthful and thus immortal. Hebe was the epitome of subservience and thus was a role model for maidens and an ideal to men. This side of her also aided in Her coming to fulfil another role in ancient Hellenic society: that of a Goddess of pardons and extended forgiveness. Freed prisoners sacrificed to Her in order to restore some of their youthful innocence. In fact, at Hebe's sanctuary at Phlius, prisoners would hang their chains on the branches of the trees in the grove dedicated to her as a form of supplication. This is mentioned by Pausanias in his 'Description of Greece':
"On the Phliasian citadel [at Phlios in Argolis] is a grove of cypress trees and a sanctuary which from ancient times has been held to be peculiarly holy. The earliest Phliasians named the goddess to whom the sanctuary belongs Ganymeda; but later authorites call her Hebe, whom Homer mentions in the duel between Menelaos (Menelaus) and Alexandros (Alexander), saying that she was the cup-bearer of the gods; and again he says, in the descent of Odysseus to Haides, that she was the wife of Herakles. Olen [a legendary Greek poet], in his hymn to Hera, says that Hera was reared by the Horai (Horae, Seasons), and that her children were Ares and Hebe. Of the honours that the Phliasians pay to this goddess the greatest is the pardoning of suppliants. All those who seek sanctuary here receive full forgiveness, and prisoners, when set free, dedicate their fetters on the trees in the grove. The Phliasians also celebrate a yearly festival which they call Kissotomoi (Ivy-cutters). There is no image, either kept in secret of openly displayed, and the reason for this is set forth in a sacred legend of theirs though on the left as you go out is a temple of Hera with an image of Parian marble." [2. 13. 3]

Herakles, perhaps the greatest of all ancient Hellenic heroes, received Hebe as his wife once he ascended to Olympos as a God. Homeros mentions it, Hesiod does, it's even in the Homeic Hymns. The best explination of why Herakles was given Hebe especially as his wife is perhaps best given by Philostratos, though, in his 'Images':

"Before long you [Herakles] will live with them in the sky, drinking, and embracing the beautiful Hebe; for you are to marry the youngest of the gods and the one most revered by them, since it is through her that they also are young." [2. 20]
I'm just going to say it: every time news about the Parthenon Marbles comes up, I'm shocked we're still talking about it. That getting them back to Greece is still a topic of discussion. I hope to be proven wrong one day but I just cannot see Britain sending these valuable pieces to Greece, period. At least not without massive political pressure--and I am sure that with Brexit, the EU has better things to demand of Britain than the return of these antiques. But there is news again--of a sort.

The Parthenon in Athens, Greece.

It seems that the reunification of the Parthenon Marble with the monument itself is part of the issues that archaeologists from around the world will talk about in the Palazzo dei Congressi in Florence under the auspices of the Italian Ministry of Tourism. In the conference that started on Sunday and will last a total of three day, the Greek Minister of Culture Lydia Koniordou stated that 'in a changing and challenging world, it is important to inspire to our youth the interest for the importance of cultural'.

The issue has gone since 2016 into a diplomatic path rather than a legal one. Before the conference, Mrs. Koniordou sat on a round-table coordination meeting with the 25 international committees for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, where the new Italian committee also presented its new president, the archaeologist Louis Godart.

On another but somewhat related note: the Parthenon has been voted the most beautiful building in the world by the architects of Bussiness Insider. The first place ranking was explained as follows by Imani, the founding architect of Tara Imani Design:

"It's the quintessential beautiful architectural form. The Doric order, the use of entasis [a slight curve in columns] to make sure the columns didn't look spindly from a distance...the siting on a hilltop — it gave us our initial ABCs of architecture that we keep trying to use and improve upon today."

So say we all!
An olive grove in Bursa, Turkey has revealed what experts are hoping is just the beginning to a treasure trove of ancient Hellenic archaeology. Experts are predicting that the area could be a necropolis--a large and ancient cemetery with elaborate burial chambers.

Three more ancient burial chambers from the Late Antiquity period have been discovered in an olive grove in Turkey's western Bursa province. Officials from İznik Museum Directorate have reportedly covered the sarcophagi, while gendarmerie teams are on guard 24 hours a day to ensure the security of the ancient tombs until an expert team of archaeologists arrive from Ankara to start the excavation.

The sarcophagi were reportedly found in an olive grove belonging to Hatice Süren near the Hisardere district, 5 kilometers (3 miles) away from İznik's (Nicea) town center. They feature covers with unique reliefs of Eros covered in lotus flowers and figures with lion's heads. Burial chambers previously discovered in the region also had depictions of mythological figures, such as the Greek god of love Eros, as well as Herakles and Medusa. The sarcophagi reportedly weigh between 4 to 6 tons and are estimated to be between 1,800 to 2,000 years old.

In September, police teams searching the area for a stolen truck discovered a sarcophagus in the same olive grove. Treasure hunters had discovered the tomb and damaged its cover when they tried to unearth it, possibly in search of gold and other valuables they thought would be inside. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has been carrying out expropriation work after the discovery of ancient sarcophagi from the third century AD.

Another sarcophagus belonging to a queen was found near the area in 2015. It was also thought to be from the Late Antiquity period and weighed 7 tons. When it was discovered, officials found that treasure hunters had already found and raided it.

The area where the tombs were found has historically been referred to as the Bithynia region, which was a Roman province from the fourth century BC.
I was recently asked the following question:

"Theoretically what would be the colours of hellenismos. Something like white and red or blue and marble. It would be useful to know and I would like your opinion on that matter. Thanks and may the Gods bless you."

Interesting notion, the colours of Hellenismos. I think by now we all know that the statues and even the temples we're so used to seeing in a virgin white looked stunningly different in antiquity. They were painted with a palette that displayed a sophisticated understanding of color and shading. They liked their colours bold--yellows, reds, blues and of course gold. We might see these colours as gaudy, but the purer the colour, the more expensive it was to make.

the original colors of ancient Greek and Roman sculptures 4

One might say we should bank on primary colours for the colours of Hellenismos but there is a small complication: there is quite a surprising amount of scientific, literary and archaeological evidence that the ancient Hellenes perceived colour differently than we do today

Homéros describes only five 'colours': metallics, black, white, yellow-green, and red). Philosopher Empedocles, centuries later, believed that all colour was limited to four categories: white/light, dark/black, red, and yellow. Xenophanes, another philosopher, described the rainbow as having but three bands of colour: porphyra (dark purple), khloros, and erythros (red). By the way, did you know there is no word for 'blue' in ancient Greek? Not in the Bible either, by the way. I find this especially amusing because modern Greece thrives on blue. It's in the flag, art, architecture, you name it. The ancient Hellenes had blue paint, of course, but it might have looked entirely different to them than it does to us.

So where does the leave us? If we're going for official colours, I would still say we go with the primary colours and add green and gold. Marble is a material, not a colour so that doesn't really count. All in all, I think this is a good pallet to base things off of:

the original colors of ancient Greek and Roman sculptures
King Kroisos (Κροῖσος), the king of Lydia from 560 to 547 BC, was one of the wealthiest, most powerful, most impressive kings in the history of ancient Hellas. In fact, there is an English saying that goes: as rich as (or richer than) Croesus, the Latinized version of his name. Even though he was a man of great fortune, his life was not without its ups and downs. For one, Kroisos lost a son, Atys, after he dreamt Atys would die "by the blow of an iron weapon". Kroisos kept Atys out of wars, removed all weapons from the house, but eventually he was accidentally killed by a ally on a boar hunt.

It was, perhaps, this experience that caused Kroisos to seek out the counsel of oracles when he set out to combat the Persians, who were gaining ground. Divination played a fairly large role in Hellenic every day life. 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. 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.

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?'. This is what Kroisos did. As Herodotos has recorded in his 'Histories':

"With this design he resolved to make instant trial of the several oracles in Greece, and of the one in Libya. So he sent his messengers in different directions, some to Delphi, some to Abae in Phocis, and some to Dodona; others to the oracle of Amphiaraus; others to that of Trophonius; others, again, to Branchidae in Milesia. These were the Greek oracles which he consulted. To Libya he sent another embassy, to consult the oracle of Ammon. These messengers were sent to test the knowledge of the oracles, that, if they were found really to return true answers, he might send a second time, and inquire if he ought to attack the Persians.

The messengers who were dispatched to make trial of the oracles were given the following instructions: they were to keep count of the days from the time of their leaving Sardis, and, reckoning from that date, on the hundredth day they were to consult the oracles, and to inquire of them what Croesus the son of Alyattes, king of Lydia, was doing at that moment. The answers given them were to be taken down in writing, and brought back to him. None of the replies remain on record except that of the oracle at Delphi. There, the moment that the Lydians entered the sanctuary, and before they put their questions, the Pythoness thus answered them in hexameter verse:-

I can count the sands, and I can measure the ocean;
I have ears for the silent, and know what the dumb man meaneth;
Lo! on my sense there striketh the smell of a shell-covered tortoise,
Boiling now on a fire, with the flesh of a lamb, in a cauldron-
Brass is the vessel below, and brass the cover above it.

These words the Lydians wrote down at the mouth of the Pythoness as she prophesied, and then set off on their return to Sardis. When all the messengers had come back with the answers which they had received, Croesus undid the rolls, and read what was written in each. Only one approved itself to him, that of the Delphic oracle. This he had no sooner heard than he instantly made an act of adoration, and accepted it as true, declaring that the Delphic was the only really oracular shrine, the only one that had discovered in what way he was in fact employed." [Bk. 1]

Kroisos was elated and made the requested offering, then sent a massive amount of treasure to Delphi in gratitude and supplication. He also sent with it another question, the most important one:

"The messengers who had the charge of conveying these treasures to the shrines, received instructions to ask the oracles whether Croesus should go to war with the Persians and if so, whether he should strengthen himself by the forces of an ally. Accordingly, when they had reached their destinations and presented the gifts, they proceeded to consult the oracles in the following terms:- 'Croesus, of Lydia and other countries, believing that these are the only real oracles in all the world, has sent you such presents as your discoveries deserved, and now inquires of you whether he shall go to war with the Persians, and if so, whether he shall strengthen himself by the forces of a confederate.' Both the oracles agreed in the tenor of their reply, which was in each case a prophecy that if Croesus attacked the Persians, he would destroy a mighty empire, and a recommendation to him to look and see who were the most powerful of the Greeks, and to make alliance with them."

Kroisos figured this meant he would succeed in his war against the Persians and he set out to do just that. Fast forward a whole lot (seriously, the Histories go into glorious but very lengthy detail of this whole campaign and the many, many oracular messages that drove Kroisos forward), to where Kroisos is on the eve of attack.

"Meanwhile Croesus, taking the oracle in a wrong sense, led his forces into Cappadocia, fully expecting to defeat Cyrus and destroy the empire of the Persians. [...] When Cyrus beheld the Lydians arranging themselves in order of battle on this plain, fearful of the strength of their cavalry, he adopted a device which Harpagus, one of the Medes, suggested to him. He collected together all the camels that had come in the train of his army to carry the provisions and the baggage, and taking off their loads, he mounted riders upon them accoutred as horsemen. These he commanded to advance in front of his other troops against the Lydian horse; behind them were to follow the foot soldiers, and last of all the cavalry. The two armies then joined battle, and immediately the Lydian war-horses, seeing and smelling the camels, turned round and galloped off; and so it came to pass that all Croesus's hopes withered away. [...] They were driven within their walls and the Persians laid siege to Sardis.

Sardis [was] taken by the Persians, and Croesus himself fell into their hands, after having reigned fourteen years, and been besieged in his capital fourteen days; thus too did Croesus fulfill the oracle,
which said that he should destroy a mighty empire by destroying his own."

The ancient Hellenes trusted the Gods--and the Gods were right. The meaning of Their words weren't always clear, however, and most were only interpretable after the events took place. We live in an age where fewer and fewer people listen to the Gods--let alone Their predictions. We now listen to the promises of politicians like we used to listen to the words of the Gods. Those that shout the hardest get the most ears turned. I don't want to say that some oracles in ancient Hellas could be bought, but I will most certainly say politicians can be bought. And they are bought. So be careful listening to these modern "oracles" who say they can predict the future. Don't end up like King Kroisos, who was only saved from death by chance--or perhaps divine intervention.
Elaion members and other interested parties currently take part in a multiple day event for the Lesser Eleusinian Mysteries, like we did for the Greater Eleusinian Mysteries last year. In the middle of the Lesser Mysteries is another festival, one that seems very minor, but which was very widespread in ancient Hellas. From Athens, to Erkhia, to Agria, the night of the twenty-third of the month of Anthesterion was reserved for the Diasia, an ancient festival--even back then--dedicated to Zeus Meilichios. The Diasia was a hugely important festival, because it was a festival full of rites of placation and purification. In the daylight hours of February 20th, 10 AM EST, Elaion will host a PAT rite for the Diasia, and we encourage everyone to take part.

The Diasia is a complicated and very old festival. It has a mixture of Ouranic and Khthonic elements because it's related to purification; its intended purpose was to remove miasma and to bring prosperity. Ouranic influences are in the raised altar that was improvised, and in the fact that it was held during the daylight hours. Khthonic influences can be found in the fact that the sacrifice was given in a holókaustos and khoe, and that the actual festival took place outside of the city walls so as to carry miasma out of it (this is a practice more commonly seen during Hekate's Deipnon where a sacrifice was taken out of the house so the household would be purified).

Like with Hekate's Deipnon, the members of the household would touch a sacrificial animal during the Diasia before it was sacrificed, believing the miasma they carried would be transferred into it and then burned away. Old practices for Hekate's Deipnon included the same to be done with a dog. It was a grim festival, not a joyous one and it could have been quite scary for kids. As such, the festival was wrapped up with a communal meal that was usually lavish and kids were sometimes presented with a new toy. The day was ended on a happy not, because the family was now purified and Zeus Meilichios would watch over it and the crops. You can read more about the Diasia here and I highly encourage that you do so. The Diasia is special and because of its Khthonic character it was seen as somewhat dangerous if you messed it up. Understanding this festival is essential to any who participate in it.

The ritual for the Diasia can be found here. Please note that libations to Zeus Meilichios are khernips (water) libations and that all sacrifices are to be wholly burnt; they are given as a holókaustos. You are not to share in any liquid or foodstuff that you sacrifice to Zeus Meilichios. The Diasia calls for a sacrifice of an animal, or a cake version of it (namely a sheep or pig). Here is a recipe for ancient Hellenic honey cakes which you can use to make these (grain free version here). Please join the community page here to share your experience with others.