Showing posts with label Athens. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Athens. Show all posts

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Holy War That Shook Ancient Greece To The Core

As we saw in the First Sacred War, the victory of the League of Delphi resulted in the destruction of the town occupying its harbor and the restoration of Apollon's Temple. Delphi had won her first holy conflict, but it would be only the beginning of religious and economic fights over the center of the Greek world. 

Athens has always taken powerful and pivotal roles in ancient Greek history, and even today they hold tremendous influence as the capital of modern Greece and the most populated City of the nation. Although, we must remember that in ancient times, Greece or Hellas was not a unified land. Each City State had its own government, laws and religious observances. In the decade of the 440s BCE, the imperial power of the City of Athens began to flex its muscle into central Greece, and the fact that Delphi was there did not go unnoticed, neither by Athens or its biggest rival City, Sparta.

Not only had Athens spent a lot of time, money and effort dominating the Delphic sanctuary with their own dedications and even a treasury whose ruins still stand today, but Athens also started to control and influence all the areas around or within proximity of Delphi, and the people who would strike this match were the Phocians. Phocis was a central region of Greece in which Delphi resided, and the people wanted to incorporate it into their jurisdiction, probably not only because of the influence it held over the Greek world, but the immense amount of wealth that was accumulating there. But it appeared as though the Phocians were not strong enough to do it on their own. They managed to enlist the powerful aid of Athens in removing the independence of Delphi.

Sparta had frequently consulted the Oracle of Delphi and had begun establishing their presence in the sanctuary. They did not like the fact that Athens was literally the master of the Temple and the City, so they decided to send troops to overthrow the Phocian control and return Delphi to its full independent state in 449 BCE. Sparta succeeded and Delphi was again ruled by Delphi alone, which the people of the City and Temple were extremely grateful for. They even erected dedications to the Spartans for their liberty. 

However, the victory was brief. Two years after the Spartans left, Athens sent its troops under the command of Perikles and restored Phocian rule, establishing a tug of war in central Greece. But by 445 BCE, independence was again won by Delphi, noting the fact that Athens had to eventually turn its attention fully to Sparta in the Peloponnesian War by 431. Athens, at that point, simply did not have the time or power to keep Delphi locked, and would end up losing the war to Sparta after nearly 30 years of brutal fighting. Further conflict would not return to the City of Delphi for around 100 years later, what would come to be known as the Third Sacred War. For the time being, Delphi would once again remain a free State.

Read my post on the First Sacred War here. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Chris Aldridge.

Sources

Scott, Michael, Delphi, A History of the Center of the Ancient World, Princeton Publishing, 2014.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Athens & Sparta ~ A Lesson For Our Time

We are approaching one of the world's defining anniversaries this October 1st, the day that His Majesty Alexander the Great of Macedon along with the Hellenic League crushed the overwhelming Persian forces of Darius III at the Battle of Gaugamela, completely releasing Greece from the threat of Persian tyranny for a conceivable future. Persia not only lost its power and empire to Greece on this day, but would also be ruled by a Greek, Alexander. The Greeks did more than just destroy the Persian army this time. They placed the Greek government on the Persian throne. This was the time when Hellas had its strongest empire and ruled the world.

But a unified front didn't normally last with the Greeks once the threat of Persia had been vanquished. Even though Sparta and Athens, for example, had stood together against Persian invasion before Alexander, they turned on one another in the Peloponnesian War some time after, resulting in brutal devastation across the ancient Greek world. Athenian thirst for power in the Greek world around the times of Socrates also brought Athena's city disaster after the Assembly had basically developed a Manifest Destiny mentality. Apparently, they had forgotten the story of Midas and it eventually came home to roost. 

As an historian and a Hellene, it pains me so greatly to see the great Greek cities harmed not by a foreign enemy, but from within, among each other over their inabilities to live together peacefully. Had the city-states united, and remained that way, focusing on common good and not letting cultural differences break them, Greece may have ruled the known world before Alexander and after. She may have been able to prevent plague, bankruptcy, and unnecessary wars that devastate economies and societies. It's actually surreal to think of the fact that it ended up being the Persians who helped Athens overcome Sparta and restore their city.

The lesson to learn from the times of division is the power of unity. Sometimes it is true that unity cannot be possible. You can't be friends with someone who wants to kill or destroy you. But many other times, our fights are avoidable, especially if we are basically the same people. It's ridiculous, for example, for American states to fight one another. Illinois and North Carolina may have different cultures, but we're more similar than we are different, and we're both the same nationality. Unity helps us far more than division. One of the reasons America is so strong is because she is composed of 50 different states, all united in their common interests, using their individual powers and resources to help obtain and keep those interests for the common good. Peace among us is more profitable than war.

The God of war, to my mind, reminds me that He's there for a reason, and His invocation to ignite an actual battlefield is never to be done on a whim. Sometimes war is necessary. Most of the time, it's not.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Courage and Honor,
Chris Aldridge.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Hidden Hellenic Secrets: The Mark of Poseidon's Trident

Like many other religions, Hellenism is filled with its mysteries, perhaps housing among the most of the world's religions. As a constant student of ancient Greece, and of course, a modern ancient Greek worshiper, I am always on the lookout for truths of our spirituality and people, things surfacing to show the powerful reality behind Hellenic Polytheism. Mostly all religions do this. Whether they have sacred artifacts, or like in this post, an actual imprint of a God's staff, the mysteries of the Divine are numerous, and I simply love exploring them. I am equally excited that you, the reader, have decided to join me on this particular exhibition.

We probably all know of the ancient Athenian myth concerning the contest between Athene and Poseidon, both Gods battling it out for control of the new city. Poseidon struck the earth with His trident to produce His gift to man (some say a horse, others a spring), and Athene then raised Her own (the olive tree). Athene's gift was determined to be the most useful and She was awarded the Patronage of Athens.

I've been reading a book recently called, The Parthenon Enigma, by Joan Breton Connelly. The Parthenon, as we all know, was the Temple of Athene that stood atop the Acropolis. I think it's important to remember, as well, that Connelly presents historical and unbiased research. She is a classical archaeologist, and gives very good information from what I can tell. On page 109 of her book, I found something extraordinary to say the least. Placing the contest between Athene and Poseidon on or near the Acropolis, she says that even now, an indention of a trident is visible in the bedrock below the Erechtheion temple (also on the Acropolis), marking the spot where the God hit the ground.

Since ancient times, this eternal scar upon the surface, left over from Poseidon's mighty staff, still speaks to us now of the wonder of the Gods. Certainly, it's no less than a holy place for Hellenists like myself. In school, many of us were taught a number of things about special places and objects concerning the world's religions, but how many of us were told where we could find the place where Poseidon struck the earth? The answer is, none of us. That is one of my main points in this post. Our modern society has only recently begun to treat Hellenism as a legitimate religion in the world. For years, we were blanketed with ignorance by the educational system, teaching us little to nothing about ancient Greek spirituality. Only when we reached adulthood and entered the religion, did we understand for ourselves the immense beauty, truth and magnificence of it. I'm not saying that the school system should teach a religion. I am saying that Hellenism should be included in teaching about the religions of the world. Teaching the facts of a religion is not the same as telling students what to believe or how to live. Furthermore, I want the educational system to treat Hellenic Polytheism as a legitimate religion the same as it would the mainstream belief systems.

As someone closely tied to the element of water, I am close to Poseidon, and consider Him one of my Patrons. But to read something this profound honestly gave me a new sense of holiness with my religion. In the past, I've even thought about writing a book concerning the truths and wisdom of Hellenism. I see such books on mainstream religions, but none on the ancient. That needs to change, and even if in a small sense, this publication in question concerning Poseidon has started to turn that tide. For us Hellenes, it speaks truth to the presence of our Gods, that they are here within the universe and the lives of mortals.

In closing, I hops this post gets people thinking and interested in studying the history of Hellenic religion and culture.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.

Source
Connelly, Breton Joan, The Parthenon Enigma, New York, Vintage Books, 2014. Print. (pp.109)

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