Our blessed Goddess Aphrodite intrigues me. She is a Goddess of both love and war, of friendship and hate, of companionship and jealousy. She is one of the Goddesses with the widest range of domains and influence in our world and She is Goddess that touches us personally. She doesn't control the weather or the sea, She controls us directly.

Aphrodite's cult was very popular in ancient Hellas with numerous shrines and temples throughout the land. Her main cult centres within Hellas were the city of Corinth, and the island of Cytherea off the coast of Lakedaimonia. Beyond Hellas the island of Cyprus was famed for its Mystery cult of the goddess. Aphrodite was also worshipped with private rituals and prayers.

One of the aspects of Aprodite's worship that has always fascinated me is Her connection to doves. Aphrodite's jewel-encrusted, golden chariot was drawn through the sky by a team of doves. The Syrian Aphrodite Astarte was said to have been hatched from an egg nursed by doves. In Hellenic art, Aphrodite's doves symbolize the pure, spiritual aspect of love, rather than physical love.

Aphrodite's primary festival, the Aphrodesia, also had a very special place for doves. An inscription on a stele of Hymettian marble found near the Beulé Gate at the site of the aedicula on the south-west slope of the Acropolis, dated between 287 and 283 BC, records that at the time of the procession of Aphrodite Pandemos, Kallias, son of Lysimachos of the deme of Hermai, was to provide funds for the purification of the temple and the altar with the blood of a dove, for giving a coat of pitch to the roof, for the washing of the statues, and for a purple cloak for the amount of two drachmas.

Doves were probably the first birds to be domesticated, possibly as early as Neolithic times. They also return home (to their mates), making them inherently "romantic" animals. They were also
considered oracular birds; the oracle at Dodona was considered the oldest in Hellas, even if it was later replaced in importance by the oracle of Apollon at Delphi. According to Herodotos, in his Histories, the oracle was founded when two black doves flew from Thebes in Egypt; one dove settled in Libya to found the sanctuary of Zeus Ammon, and the other settled in an oak tree at Dodona, proclaiming a sanctuary to Zeus be built there. Doves also take nectar and ambrosia to the Gods on Olymos.

Doves are not unique to Aphrodite's worship, but it strikes me that they are as diverse as Her. They are also very "personal" animals--domesticated, bringing food and drink to the Gods, coming home to their mate. They fit Her, and I have no trouble picturing them as Her birds.
Greek archaeologists have unearthed part of the ancient theater of Thouria near  Kalamata city in the Peloponnese, the Culture Ministry announced on Thursday.


Thouria (Θουρία) is a village and a former municipality in Messenia, Peloponnese, Greece. Ancient Thouria was the most important city in western Messinia. The ruins of ancient Thouria are located on a hillside about 10 km to the northwest of Kalamata, to the north of the present town of Thouria. Since classical times until the Roman era ancient Thouria was once on the side of the Messinians and once on the Spartans. Coins of ancient Thouria however, bear the initials of the Spartans, presenting people from Thouria as Lacedaemons.

Acient Thouria had many sanctuaries, but it seems that Athena was specially honored and Her figure adorns the coins of the Roman era. A famous temple of the city was dedicated to the Goddess Atagartis of Syria considered a form of Aphrodite. Her worship took place in sanctuaries where there were tanks with fish, the symbol of the Goddess as she was originally depicted as one.

Thouria’s theater is oriented to the west, overlooking the vast plains of Messenia, known in ancient times as “Makaria” (Blessed, Blissful), and in the distance, to the southwest, the sea of the Messenian Gulf, which in ancient times was called “Thouriates”.

The first remains of the ancient city theater, which dates back to the 4th century BC, came to light during excavations in the summer of 2016. During excavations in the summer of 2017, archaeologists uncovered the perimeter of the theater’s orchestra and several rows of stone seats. The orchestra perimeter is 16.3 meters long and three parallel grooves around it suggest the stage was movable.
Excavation on the site started ten years ago and it has been identified by epigraphic finds that mention the name of the ancient city, and references made by ancient Greek geographers Pausanias and Strabo.

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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