Showing posts with label history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label history. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Silent Ruins & Ghostly Faces

 
Slavery wasn't uncommon in the ancient world; the Spartans certainly didn't invent it. Although the purpose of the institution differed from place to place. Sometimes it was to pay off debts, the individual set free afterward. But slavery in Greece was normally for non-Greeks, aka foreigners. What made Sparta unusual is that they had no issue enslaving fellow Greeks. And it's also true that Greeks of this time period were different than the ones of the Heroic Age. After the Trojan War, Bronze Age Greece collapsed, for unknown reasons, and the great palaces and buildings went into the earth until they were rediscovered by archaeologists. After the collapse, a new wave of Greek people began immigrating into the mainland, and some of them founded the City we know as Sparta, picking the location because of its mountainous protection and incredibly fertile lands. These Spartans were not those of Menelaos, but they nevertheless admired Him.

Soon, the Spartans wanted more than just their own land, and needed people to work it. The people of Messenia to the west of Sparta's mountain range became the targets for no reason other than that their land, resources and labor were wanted. After 30 years of war, Sparta conquered the region and subjugated the population, having won both the First and Second Messenian War around 650 BCE. The conquered people were renamed Helots, which means slaves. They became an essential part of Spartan culture, but why were the Spartans so dedicated to keeping a slave class for 3 centuries? Simply put, the male Spartan citizen was allowed no profession other than war, which meant that there was no one to work the lands. Slaves or other forms of labor were needed so that the Spartans could focus on being a war culture. Because they were allowed to retain this sole occupation, they became the greatest fighters the known world had ever seen, at least for a significant time period.

The Spartans may have been the best warriors, but they were also not always admired in the Greek world. Athens basically thought them to be barbaric in their training and ways of life. Athens loved the beauties and pleasures of existence, they did not focus on war, and yet, as Perikles said in His funeral oration, they were just as ready for battle as the Spartans. Nevertheless, Spartan women were the envy of other Greek women. They enjoyed more freedom, more power, more equality, and were exceptionally beautiful. In the movie 300, when Leonidas comments to Xerxes that, "Clearly, you don't know our women," it wasn't a joke.
 
But soon, another City with some of its own infamous reputations would come onto the scene, Thebes. The home of the Hero Oedipus is routinely remembered for bowing down to the second Persian invasion in 480 BCE, surrendering the City and even eventually siding with them on the battlefield. When the war was over and the Greeks had won, Thebes paid a heavy price for their treason. But Thebes also did much good throughout ancient Greek history, and one of which was victory over the Spartan slave system. Sparta had worn itself obliviously thin after the Peloponnesian War, and in 371 BCE, their fragile peace with Thebes broke and the Thebans attacked Sparta at its weakest, with only about 1,000 Spartan men left to defend the City. At the Battle of Leuctra, a force of 6,000 Thebans finished off Sparta's strength, and absolished their slave system. The Helots were free after 300 years, and Sparta never recovered. Today on the field of Leuctra, the base of the victory monument built to Thebes still stands, a silent ruin and a ghostly face to the forgotten Heroism of the northern soldiers.

Our own American nation, like Thebes, probably, in part, freed the slaves because, like in the American Confederacy, it was the final blow to the enemy's power system. Without Helots, Spartan society would quickly decline. Not only was the labor gone, but war, the foundation of their culture, could no longer be solely utilized, and there was simply no time to make more Spartans. The Agoge training took several years. Sparta had been a producer of great soldiers, but it liked war too much. Considering the late Athenian overthrow of the Thirty Tyrants and the Theban conquest, some may argue that, ultimately, it was Sparta who lost the Peloponnesian War. The abolishment of Spartan slavery was, of course, not the only reason for the City's fall. The fact that they no longer had a standing army was the final factor.

Perhaps it was not coincidence that Thebes, being the City of Oedipus who freed it from enslavement by the Sphinx, was also the City who freed other enslaved people. But Sparta continued to be admired and studied throughout the centuries later and even into today. The face of Lykourgos, the founder of Sparta, is displayed today in the United States Congress. We can indeed learn a lot from Sparta when it comes to selflessness, honor, duty, strength, and Heroism. In the ancient world, some people did a lot of good, others bad, and others in-between. Humanity is not a perfect set but one that experiences, learns and grows. It is the good that the Gods teach us, and it is from the good that we find footing.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

The Godly and The Poison


I stopped drinking over a year ago, so my wife was recently puzzled when she heard me say, "A Greek home needs a good bottle of wine," referring to our own. Well, I would say, the keyword is "one" and the other is "wine," not liquor, and even though you can get drunk on wine, it takes a lot more and has never made me impaired. In truth, I'm not a big fan of wine either, but I do enjoy a glass that is fruity from time to time.

A few years ago, I used to drink a lot of hard liquor. Not because I enjoyed the taste, but because I loved getting drunk. Eventually, I realized I was going down a very dangerous road, as the alcohol was starting to control me in ways that sobriety never would or could. So I dropped the bottle in April 2021, I just quit cold turkey, and I haven't consumed so much as a beer or a glass of wine since. 

Liquor is not the alcohol of the Hellenes anyway, and for good reason. They had wine and also simple mead, but not the drinks we have now. I consider the difference between wine and liquor to be the difference between Divinity and poison. Wine in correct amounts is very good for you. It improves heart function and prevents artery disease. My in-laws have been wine drinkers all of their lives, and they are still healthy and active even at 81 and 78. Liquor, on the other hand, exists for no reason other than to get you hammered, as it has the highest alcohol content. Even too much beer can be fatal (my dad died at 45 from alcoholism). There's clearly a distinction between ancient wine and the monstrosities of today.

The purpose of wine, which is the gift of Dionysos, is to bless your life and give you peace and release from all that hinders it. What the God gives us is a blessing, but as per usual, humans can take a blessing and turn it into a curse, with names like Jack Daniels, Tequila and Vodka. Sometimes that's how it goes; the Gods give us something good and we defile it because we just can't accept something as it is. 

Now I'm not saying that the ancient Greeks never got drunk or tipsy, that would be absurd. But it was a different kind of intoxication. The goal of drinking in Dionysian ecstatic rites was to remove the mind and body from its normal mundane state, and they achieved this through drinking wine and also dancing. As we know now, the correct kind and intensity of dance can produce an altered state of consciousness; and alcohol would only help that process along. The Mystery Rites were probably not considered BAR trips, but an invocation of, and connection to, Dionysos. In other words, their purpose was religious, not to merely get drunk. To use the wine as a means of release and to explore the mysteries of the God, is a blessing and a Divine purpose. 

This summer, I planted a grape vine in my Dionysos precinct, in part so that on the occasion that I do drink a small amount of wine for a religious purpose, I will remember the true gift and true reason of the vine.


In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Hellenism Lost Is Honor Lost


During the last few years, part of my Hellenic studies has been the examination of modern Greece and its people (who are predominately Orthodox Christians). In any case, most Greeks today are not Hellenists, and there is no debate whatsoever that ancient Hellas was far stronger, far more prosperous, and far more successful in government and economics. But on a personal level, I have also routinely noticed the decline in human character.

I was talking with a friend and fellow Hellenist who actually lives in Greece today, and I happened to ask if there are any ancient cemeteries still standing. It's a part of history and archaeology that I find very intriguing as you can learn a lot about a person, their family and community. For me, there's just some kind of unexplainable mystique to it all. I ask myself, who was this person and how did they live and die? I remember when I visited Lincoln's Tomb in Springfield, Illinois. Standing before the burial chamber where Lincoln's remains rested just a few feet beneath me, not only did I ponder the president's life and times, but thought that if I could see the bones today, Lincoln's skull would still have the hole from the assassination. I know it may sound morbid, but to me it's simply a fascinating idea to be in the presence of such relics.

So when my Hellenic friend responded to my question by saying that, yes, indeed there are some ancient burials still visible, but people have littered them because they don't care, it saddened me at how far the culture has fallen. I secondly remembered a few years ago when I saw images of a ruined temple of Aphrodite in between two apartment buildings that was also covered in trash. 

In ancient times, people wouldn't have dared to desecrate a temple or a cemetery. Not only because they feared Divine punishment, but because it was simply wretched. People had real honor, character and respect in the old times. To the ancient Hellenes, not only were graves considered to be active places of the deceased, but each year in Athens they would hold days of honor called Genesia, starting on September 5th, during which time they would adorn graves and give an abundance of food, drink and sacrifice to the dead. They even believed that during the festive days in discussion, the spirits of the deceased would return to visit the Polis. To show any kind of disrespect toward places of burial would have been unimaginable to say the least.

But when humans lost the honor and dignity that Hellenism brought to the Hellenic people, they also lost their sense of sacredness, even of their own personal human life and behavior. It is this loss of the spiritual world and of the physical self that has greatly aided in the decline of Hellas and her people. I'm not saying that only Hellenists are honorable, but it clearly brought a world of difference to the Greeks that they no longer have, and their culture has paid the greatest of prices.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Source - Burkert, Walter, Greek Religion, Harvard University Press/Blackwell Publishing, Malden, MA, 1985.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Christianity Trembles Before The Pythia


For over a thousand years, the Oracle of Delphi gave the counsel of Apollon to the ancient Hellenic world. She was not, by any means, the only Oracle around. But she was, without a doubt, the most loved and revered. Fortunately today, centuries after she vanished, we still have records of the amazingly accurate words and sound advice she gave to mortals.

When her time came to an end during the rising Christian era takeover, allegations and legends came to surround the event. Some claim she was murdered by the Christian invasion. This could be a likely case, as we know that the Christian Emperor Theodosius the First ordered the temples closed, Games stopped, and the old religions outlawed. Considering that we know for a fact that the early Christians spilled seas of Pagan blood, it's not a farfetched idea that the Pythia (Oracle of Delphi) defended her temple and was killed. We know the murders happened and that Christian leaders and emperors ordered the attacks. Specifically considering people like the Pythia and Hypatia of Alexandria, we as well know the early Christians hated nothing more than a powerful woman. What remained of Delphi's wealth and treasures then faced certain destruction and looting. Another mystery is where her body, and those of the past Oracles, were buried. But if the last Oracle faced a mob of zealots, they destroyed her body, and if they knew the location of the graves or tombs of the women who preceded her, they destroyed and looted them.

If this account of the final Pythia is true, so could be her alleged final prophecy that she gave to her killers before they took her life, saying that the Christians would lose in the end. Specifically, "One day Apollon will return and He will stay." More broadly, we might interpret this to mean that the old religion cannot be kept oppressed for long, nor can the Gods be defeated, and that it's only a matter of time before they regain their rightful places. If she did make such a prediction, it needs to be added to her list of accuracies.

In our time, Christianity continues to significantly decline, both in America and around the world. In fact, it's always had trouble keeping power, largely relying on the force of government for most of its existence. But the more freedom of religion has spread, the greater their loss in numbers. In the United States, Christians make up 65% of the population, which is a 13% drop from just ten years ago. In truth, this is nothing new, as Christian numbers in America have been continuously falling for the last three decades. Catholicism, the largest Christian religion, has suffered a worldwide drop of two million in just the last three years. If the trend continues, American Christians will be a minority by the year 2042 at the latest, with Christianity itself becoming one of the fastest declining religions on the planet. In short, Christianity is losing power amazingly fast.

Meanwhile, non-Christians religions continue to grow. The old religions, Hellenism among them, even gaining enough foot in Greece again that the Christian government recognized them as an official religion once more. Polytheism and Paganism are among the fastest growing, or more accurately, fastest returning religions in the world. The last prophecy of the Pythia has come true.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Friday, March 18, 2022

The Sacred War To End All Sacred Wars


Even after 245 years of fighting, it seemed that people still had not learned that Delphi would always defend itself against invasion and desecrations. Just 7 years after the last war has ended, a new threat emerged on the southern plain of the City in 339 BCE, as the City of Amphissa (a region of Phocis) began to take possession of and cultivate the sacred land of Apollon that was always supposed to remain untouched without exception. It belonged exclusively to the God.

Delphi was a beautiful place of architectural and dedicatory advancement during this period. Its previous wars and the great conflicts between the Cities involved had not inflicted any damage on its religious functions or the love and devotion that people continued to retain for this center of their world. In fact, most Cities had an interest in protecting it, but religious and diplomatic unrest seems to have always been a danger from those who felt they had to compete.

After Philip II had won the last Sacred War for Delphi in 346 BCE, an agreement of peace between the parties had keep confrontation rather lowkey. That was until the people of Amphissa, or at least their government, came into the picture. It does not appear that there was a cease and desist order for uprooting Apollon's land, and it could be argued that even if there had been, the League of Delphi would have sought punishment for the offense. Amphissa was to face a military conquest by the Delphic Forces. 

Philip was naturally chosen to lead the assault, but his mentality and strategy seems to have been different this time. It appears that Phillip viewed the Fourth Sacred War as the war to end all Sacred Wars. Not only did he plan to defeat Amphissa, but conquer all of Greece itself in order to bring stability amid the Wars. He successfully invaded the City, exiled all of its citizens, and allowed Delphi to take control of it. And by 336 BCE, all of Greece would come under Phillip's authority. Although he was not universally opposed by mainland Greeks. The Cities of Thessaly, Argos and Arkadia fought on his side, while various other States led by the great powers of Athens and Thebes fought against them. The armies of both Athens and Thebes were decimated at the Battle of Chaeronea, which brought the war to its official close. As a result, the Hellenic League or League of Korinth came into being, consisting of the united City States that would later be used in the Eastern campaigns of Macedon. 

Phillip may have conquered the Greeks, but in reality, he was not that much different from them. He worshiped the Greek Gods and lived by Greek culture, as would his successor. While Phillip was viewed by many as the Lord of the peace that had been absent for so long, it also made him a target for those still determined to resist and/or who had major problems with him. Only 2 years after his ultimate victory, Phillip was assassinated. His son, Alexander the Great, became the king of a united Greece in a final overthrow of the Persian Empire, which he achieved. But Alexander would also die only 13 years later, and His Empire divided among His generals.

It appears that Phillip and Alexander, who fought alongside His father in the Delphic Wars, had achieved their goal, as there were no more Sacred Wars of Delphi. The only other conflict that came to be termed a Sacred War was actually a conflict between Alexander's generals after His death over control of the regions of the Empire. While Delphi was, of course, included in the Empire, it was no longer specifically about them.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.


Sources
* Scott, Michael, Delphi: A History of the Center of the Ancient World, Princeton Publishing, 2014.
* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expansion_of_Macedonia_under_Philip_II#Fourth_Sacred_War  

Monday, March 7, 2022

The Shotgun Wedding That Started A Holy War

In the name of liberty, to Apollon's temple once again! 

The bones of the first two sacred wars were now lying still in the soil, but as has been said, only the dead have seen the end of war. 

Historians would more than likely conclude that the conflict had been brewing for a while, but this part of the story starts on the day of a wedding at the sanctuary. A father by the name of Crates became outraged, to say the least, perhaps even insane when his soon-to-be son in law Orsilaus got cold feet and cancelled the marriage. Not only did the father have the groom executed, he also murdered the groom's family members right in the sacred areas of Delphi itself, which was the worst religious offense. The fact that the father supported Theban domination at Delphi and Orsilaus supported Phocis, probably did not aid in resolving tension between the families either. Some say the execution and murders likely had political ends as well as revenge. We will remember that in the last Sacred War, Phocis remained in control of Delphi, and the power struggles between the Cities were far from over.

As punishment for the pollution of murder in a sacred area, Crates and his family were faced with heavy fines, and the feud between Thebes and Phocis over Delphi would only intensify from this point. It all came to a head when the League of Delphi, who has been victorious in the past wars, came to support Theban power, and Phocis, unlike in the last Sacred War, was losing strength and support fast. 

At a meeting between the League and Phocis, which no doubt included talks about the actions of Crates against Osrilaus, the Phocians found themselves to be charged with basically the same thing Crates had been convicted of, impiety, blasphemy, sacrilege, etc. Phocis faced heavy fines as a result. Phocis, however, refused to bow to the League or the emerging Theban power, but at the same time, knew that defiance would inevitably lead to physical confrontation. Therefore, they attempted to end another war before it began. In 356 BCE they conquered Delphi. However, they surely knew that this was not the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning. If they had expected Greece to remain passive, they were wishful thinkers.

That summer, the League forces reunified, retook Delphi, and dethroned Phocis from its position of supremacy. Because of their eventual defeat, and probably their desire to remain important at Delphi, they began to comply with the original demands of the League. But the Third Sacred War was far from even a remote close.

In 355 BCE, the League decided to punish Phocis even more for their actions one year prior and attacked them with military force. The conflict was apparently too much for some of the Phocian leaders to handle, as their General committed suicide and even his replacement was killed in action. Nevertheless, Phocis was determined to take the war to whatever ends necessary to win. They robbed the temple's treasury and broke down valuable metal objects they could find in the sanctuary. This resulted in the immense loss of much of Delphi's history, story and economic stability. The theft was, in large part, to fund their army, but it probably also struck a blow to the spirit of the City, or so they might have thought. Religious work and consultations of the Oracle went on uninhibited.

As the fourth year of the war came in, it was clear that it was only a matter of time before Phocis collapsed, both from bankruptcy and military setbacks. However, a friend of Delphi to the far north would be the one to put the final nail in the coffin: Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. He had received word from the League and was asked to intervene on their behalf, which he did because of his dealings with and great respect for Delphi. By 346, Phocis was not only thrown completely out of the temple and sanctuary, but banned from having anymore influence over it. Even what remained of the Phocian City State was divided up into small neighborhoods, probably an effort by the League and Philip to ensure they could never again unify in power. Finally, Phocis was forced to pay monetary compensation for all they had destroyed and defiled. 

Delphi emerged the victor once again, although they could never get back the originality of their geographical glory. What had been destroyed, was destroyed. But if there's one thing to always remember about ancient Greeks, it is that they will press on despite any obstacles. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Chris Aldridge.

First Sacred War 

Second Sacred War

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

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.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

The Ancient Greeks Had Holy Wars, But For Different Reasons (1)

For a long time I've been wanting to write about the Sacred Wars of Delphi and what they mean to our Western world even today. In recent years, it's been a subject that has fascinated me. We think of Holy Wars as modern inventions of radical and extremist Christians and Muslims. The ancient Greeks fought them too at times, but the interesting part is that they were for far different reasons. They were not waged to eliminate another belief system, or to force another culture to adopt Greek religion.

Largely, there were four conflicts that took place over Delphi (the center of the ancient Greek world and seat of Apollon's renowned Oracle). The First Sacred War unfolded from 595 to 585 BCE, between the League of Delphi, consisting of religious tribes that included Athens, Thessaly and Sikyon, and the town of Kirrha (the League being allies against Kirrha). Kirrha was the harbor of Delphi, which meant that it held considerable influence over who and what came and went from the Temple Of Apollon and the Oracle therein. One must keep in mind that the Oracle of Delphi was not only vitally important to her locality, but all of the Greek world who went to her for counsel.

Tensions began to mount when Kirrha basically turned into a region of bandits and extortionists. Not only were people who were going to see the Oracle being attacked and robbed, but the town itself began charging astronomical tolls for those coming through their harbor to consult the Oracle or pay homage to Delphi (this likely also resulted in the theft of valuable gifts being brought for dedication to the sanctuary). Not only were they taking money and resources from Delphi, but also property that rightfully belonged to the God. The last straw probably came when Kirrha started to raid parts of Delphi directly.

The tribes who would form the League of Delphi decided they would unite in Delphi's defense. Along with Athens, Thessaly and Sikyon, the League likely included soldiers from many other parts of Greece that shared in Delphi's sphere of influence, including troops from Delphi herself. The War lasted for ten years. On advice from the Oracle, the League launched merciless and relentless war on the town. But what brought the conflict to an end was the first recorded use of chemical warfare. The League put hellebore into the water supply of Kirrha. It was an herb that simply gave everyone really bad diarrhea to the point that they could not fight. The League was victorious in the end. The result was the complete destruction of the town and the confiscation of its land by Delphi. Said land was left uncultivated and dedicated to Pythian Apollon, His sister Artemis, their mother Leto, and Athena Pronaia. The confiscation was also probably done to make sure the town could not reemerge. It's lack of virtue and justice meant that it had forfeited its right to exist in the eyes of its fellow Greeks. 

The remaining people of Kirrha who managed to escape, went to Mount Kirphe, which is the southern part of Mount Parnassos that overlooks Delphi. The Games of Delphi, or Pythian Games, were born after this, to celebrate the victory, and members of the League would remain as protectors of Delphi.

The First Sacred War was fought in support of religious freedom, not against like modern Holy Wars. Delphi and the League had no interest in the beliefs of Kirrha nor her lifestyles. The League simply wanted Delphi to remain free, open and possess its property, and for everyone to have the safe right to go there for their pilgrimages. I think the War is a reminder to us in the West still today that freedom is not free and that it can be easily impeded if we don't protect it, especially from those who have the money and power to extort it. This factor plays out in our own American government where lawmakers are constantly bribed for their votes, and influential powers that can effect our country if they have a corner on something. However, if enough people simply stand for what's right and use their united powers (through things like voting and community organizing), they cannot be drowned out by the unjust.

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Chris Aldridge.

Sources, Citations and Credits

Photo: Ruins of Sikyon, Photo by Carole Raddato, Copyright of Author, Not The Creation of Chris Aldridge. Licensed Under Creative Commons (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/). Location (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sicyon#/media/File:Sikyon,_Greece_(23187324446).jpg)

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

Website: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Sacred_War

Monday, January 4, 2021

Massachusetts School Bans Odyssey Because Of "Sexism and Hate," Proving How Little They Actually Know About It


The declining intellect of some members of the human race never surprises me in this day and age. A Massachusetts school has actually banned The Odyssey because it teaches "sexism, racism, ableism, antisemitism, and violence." Good Gods, I don't even know where to start, but I'll try, because I'm a Hellenist of 10 years who has actually read the works of Homer and studies ancient Greek religion and civilization. The first thing these historically illiterate people need to understand is that Homer was not merely a Poet to the ancients, He was history. To them, He was simply reciting things that had happened long ago, not advocating a political or social position. It would be like accusing someone who writes a US history book of being sexist, racist, or whatever it may be. 

Claim 1: The Odyssey is sexist. 

False. The Odyssey holds Goddesses and mortal women to some of the highest levels of honor, power, virtue, wisdom and nobility. Without Athena, Odysseus and His son would not have been safe from the suitors. In the beginning, Athena even makes a plea for Odysseus to Zeus, showing how valuable it was to have the favor of female Divinity. If it hadn't been for Penelope's persistence and dedication, Ithaca might have been lost. Without Nausicca, Odysseus may have died before even reaching home. Or perhaps you might think the story is somehow sexist because men at times encounter female opponents or villains. But this is a huge fallacy, especially considering that there are many female Heroes, and male villains as well such as the Cyclops and the suitors who are depicted with great disgrace. At this point, you're finding sexism only because you desire to.

Claim 2: The Odyssey is racist.

Have you ever even read the first book? At the beginning of the story, Poseidon is away delighting with the Ethiopians, a race different than that of the Greeks. So let's put this into perspective. One of the greatest Gods of the caucasian Greeks leaves Greece to go feast and celebrate with the black Ethiopians, and this is supposed to signal racism. In what reality? Odysseus travels to many foreign lands of people different than the Greeks, where He often receives their aid and protection. Sometimes, people in The Odyssey even sacrifice to foreign Gods when they are in foreign lands to gain divine favor outside of their own culture.

Claim 3: The Odyssey supports ableism. 

What shall we say of the idea that abled people are more favored than disabled people in The Odyssey? I would imagine it thinks disabled people can be very capable, since at the end, Odysseus, in the form of an elderly wobbling man, outdid and defeated the younger, stronger suitors in the bow contest, and then killed them all. So the allegation that The Odyssey "doesn't like disabled people," is an invention at worst, and out of context at best.

Claim 4: The Odyssey is Antisemitic. 

The largest culture closest to the Jewish people in The Odyssey would be the Phoenicians, who were a semitic speaking people. While they resided in Israeli territory, they in fact had trade and influence all over the Mediterranean. Hardly something you would expect from people who were allegedly hated by the Mediterranean at the time, but there is something vastly important to consider. They were not enemies of Odysseus. They were friendly, helpful and essential to Odysseus completing His journey. In fact, in Book 8, Odysseus blesses them by saying, "The Gods shower down their grace upon these people, so that no evil dwell among them forever."  Odysseus bears no ill will toward the Phoenicians, but in fact is grateful for their presence. Some might even argue that the Phoenicians would not qualify as Jewish people, since their king Alcinous prayed to a Greek God after the blessing of Odysseus was given and encouraged his people to do the same: "Herald, stir the mixing bowl and carry drink to the entire hall, that our dispatching the stranger to his land may be with prayer to Zeus the Father."

The antisemitism that's allegedly in the story was, in fact, pulled out of someone's butt in the year 2020 and placed there. If anyone can locate a section in The Odyssey that is blatantly antisemitic, please post it in the comment section and we will examine it. 

Claim 5: The Odyssey is violent.

Violence is part of the nature of the universe, and part of human nature when necessary. Get over it. Sometimes violence is needed to create, build and preserve. You think the Earth came into being peacefully? You think there were no violent events? What of the United States that gives you the freedom to speak against literature you dislike? You think we maintained our way of life through campfire songs? Get real. Teaching children that there's no such thing as violence is to make them ill-prepared for the real world. It may be unfortunate, but sometimes violence is necessary. On a side note, you know other books and stories, whether fiction or non-fiction, that are violent? Harry Potter, but even with the immense violence and the clear transphobic attitude of JK Rowling, I bet they are still on the shelves of every public school library. 

In conclusion, yes, it is true that in parts of ancient Greece (not all), women were not equal to men. Although they were highly revered and privileged in Sparta, a kingdom which also appears in The Odyssey. But it's also true that women were not equal to men for most of American history as well. So are you going to ban US history books? And what of the violence? You'll have to ban US history for that as well. 

Disabled people in ancient Greece, unlike in other parts of the known world, could become valuable members of society, such as Seers. Some cultures, notably the Abrahamics, wouldn't even let disabled or deformed people sacrifice in their temples or at their altars because of their disabilites or deformities. The Greeks weren't that ignorant. And as said before, the Greeks routinely interacted with the many races and cultures around them. They traded with them, learned from them, and made friendships and alliances. This is not the conduct of racism or antisemitism. 

There is not, nor ever will be, such a thing as a perfect history, culture or people. You're going to end up banning every book known to humankind. The point of history is to learn, but this is the blatant erasing of it.

Update - Apparently the book hasn't actually been banned, there has simply been discussion of it, but nonetheless, it was strong enough to create news headlines, and accusations that should be addressed. 1/5/2021.

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Chris Aldridge.

Work Cited: The Odyssey, translated by Laurence of Arabia aka T.E. Shaw.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Plagues Are Part Of Life

No one needs to explain to anyone reading what the coronavirus is at this point. It's been blasted all over television and the internet as the latest of serious viruses to enter the United States. 

When people, especially in today's First World, hear of a new virus, or anything that disrupts daily life, it tends to send them into a panic, not realizing that our ancestors often dealt with far worse. Humans certainly didn't invent sickness. From the earliest writings of Homer, plagues and epidemics have been a part of human life. In The Iliad, Apollon (whom some may believe is a God who heals as well as sends plagues for whatever reasons), comes down from Olympos and strikes many of the Greeks with illness. In later history, the infamous Plague of Athens that took place during the Peloponnesian War and likely contributed to the loss of the city, killed anywhere from 75,000 to 100,000 people. As Sparta razed the crops and fields of the Athenians, they had to rely on foreign food imports from other areas, some of which came with bacteria that their bodies were not used to, and this is probably a most likely cause of the illness.

Things have certainly changed in our own time, especially concerning our mentalities toward plagues and epidemics. However, of course, there is a new illness among us no matter how you slice it, and we should always be on guard to never let any kind of sickness into our bodies. Not only so that we will stay healthy, but so that we don't transmit it to people with compromised immune systems, because for them, the virus is deadly like any other would be.

But the truth of the matter is that we humans have always lived with plagues and illnesses among us. We work through them and move on. So what can we today do productively about the latest coronavirus? Well, we have one big advantage and understanding that many of the ancients did not, and that is daily sanitation and medical care, which is probably why our survival rates have dramatically improved. There are many things we can do that will help and keep us safe, and also many things that will do nothing but create more problems.

Things To Do
1- Get regular checkups with your doctor.
2- Take a good bath or shower every day.
3- Wear clean clothes every day.
4- Eat and drink foods and drinks that boost your immune system.
5- Wash your hands thoroughly and routinely through the day, and every time before you eat, with warm water and antibacterial soap.
6- Use hand sanitizer throughout the day.
7- Stay away from people who you know have weak immune systems if you're sick.
8- Stay home when you're sick with any illness that is contagious. 
9- Don't go into large crowds where there have been cases of the virus.
10- Wash and sanitize your foods, house and vehicle(s).
11- Of course, don't interact with someone who may be ill.
12- Wear a mask in public.

Things Not To Do
1- Panic.
2- Hoard health products from retailers so others can't be healthy.
3- Spread fear and alarm.
4- Be constantly negative (pessimistic people die sooner than optimistic).
5- Make enemies out of other human beings.

We need to realize that being negative isn't going to change anything, but being positive and productive will strengthen us.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Ruins Testify To Greek Resistance of Christianization

Many of us may not realize it, but modern history is mostly written by Christians, or historians who, in large number, tend to pander to the Christian idea of events, which as we know are all too common false or exaggerated. For example, for the longest time, the so called "Great Persecution" was regarded as a world event, whereas now, we have discovered that it was blown terribly out of proportion and propagandized by the Christian churches. Christians, by and large, were not targeted for their religion no more than anyone else, but rather because they routinely engaged in breaking laws and showed physical aggression toward the cultures where they resided.

However, the point of this post is an even greater falsehood that is often pushed, that which says that most Pagans and Polytheists willingly accepted Christianity. We have known for years that this is a lie, but we have recently discovered even more evidence to keep proving that it's a lie. What's interesting, however, is that the false history doesn't directly pander to Christianity. Rather, it tries to set up a false narrative about ancient Greek religion and faith that ends up being completely debunked by the stones in the dirt.

During my latest reading adventure, which I always love, I had the privilege of coming into contact with a magnificent work that I am enjoying very much, called The Complete Greek Temples by Tony Spawforth. In a nutshell, this amazing work details all forms of ancient Greek temples that have existed, and gives the wonderful architectural, religious, social and political histories behind them. I have not yet completed it, but at this point, I'd not only recommend it, but even place it in my temple's library. Indeed, the importance of temples to ancient Greek life and society cannot be overemphasized. Walter Burkert even calls the Greeks a "temple culture." The temple is as essential to Greek identity as the stars and stripes are to Americanism.

In the book, page 12 interestingly, the author talks about the fact that modern historians tend to fancy the idea that the ancient Greeks began to lose faith in the Greek Gods around the 4th Century BCE and onward. However, the large scale on which they continued to build their temples during this alleged time frame, tells a far different story. Some were, of course, smaller and bigger than others, and had a range of functions, but they always retained a religious significance among all else. In other words, people who are "losing faith in their Gods," don't continue to build temples to them. Archaeology and the hard evidence left behind continues to shatter these abundant falsehoods around the ancient Greeks, which has always been an attempt by modern society to delegitimize the ancient religions. The modern world, which by and large does not accept the Greek Gods as a real, legitimate religion, cannot possibly acknowledge the brilliance of the people in their culture. They don't want serious thought given to Polytheism, lest Monotheism lose control, and so they can't say in one breath what a genius Pythagoras, Hippocrates, Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle were and then admit that they believed in the Greek Gods. Therefore, they do everything they can to separate those people from their Gods, even at the expense of telling bold face lies to humanity.

The truth is clear and present. The ancient Greeks, by and large, did not willingly accept Christianity, Monotheism, or lose faith in their Gods. They were forced to give them up and accept Christianity at the hands of a government of massive state pressure, who had allowed itself to become corrupted by Christianity because of its ability to control people. The government fell in love with the very thing that destroys people and nations; greed. As a Hellenist, I think part of our duty is always to the truth, and we should never allow it to be concealed or hidden. We must always dedicate ourselves to that endless pursuit, upon which Apollon Himself sent Sokrates so long ago, that our minds remain free.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

An Amazing Visit To A Local Hero's Tomb

Calm, inviting, comforting, that's all I felt in abundance when I entered the burial place of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Since I moved to Illinois in 2012, Lincoln's Tomb in Springfield had always been on my vacation list. Lincoln is a man who needs no introduction, and His tomb is one of the most beautiful in the state of Illinois. As a historian and an American, the final resting places of Heroes has always fascinated me, to know that their bodies are right there before you, and that if you could open their coffins, you might still be able to see the marks on their bodies and bones from so long ago that marked pivotal moments in their lives. As a member of a minority religion, Lincoln has always held a sacred place in my heart because of the fact that He fought and died for the ideal that we are all created equal, and that the rights of humanity are not reserved only for one race or culture. His body lied before me this weekend, as a martyr to that cause which gave me and my family our blessed freedom upon this land.

As an ancient Greek, I found myself equally fascinated by the ancient Greek Hero worship that goes on at His tomb every single day. For one, the tomb is unique and set apart from all the others in the cemetery as a sacred and protected place, and people will go there to gain Lincoln's favor. One way they do this is by rubbing the nose of His statue outside the front entrance, which you can see my own son doing in the picture above. The nose of the bust is severely worn down from all of the invocations Lincoln has received here. If that's not an example of ancient Greek Hero worship, I don't know what is, and people do it with each passing hour, most not even realizing it. It's wonderful to see how the ancient customs continue over into our own culture.

When you enter the tomb, you find that almost everything is made of beautiful marble, and ancient Greek wave patterns encircle the floor at the main entrance around Lincoln's main indoor statue, or if we're honest with ourselves, a shrine, which you can see to your right. As you walk through the conjoining hallways, you find many other statues and engravings on the walls of His most famous histories and speeches, my favorite being the Gettysburg Address. One statue I really loved was called The Debater, a replica from Lincoln's historic debate with Stephen Douglas in Freeport, Illinois when He was running for president. Freeport was the first city I lived in when I moved to Illinois. Finally, you come to the burial chamber itself. Lincoln's headstone is a massive marble monument. Ten feet blow it rests His remains. Across from His crypt is that of His wife and most of His children. 

Going into Lincoln's tomb, I didn't feel southern or northern; I felt American. I prayed to Him as a Hero of my state several times while I was there at His grave, hoping for His blessings in my life. His presence was grounded toward me, not opposing. I felt that I could stay there all day if I liked. I love this man. If only He could come back and talk to us, the things He could tell and remember. Solon would most certainly be proud of Him, because He didn't do what was popular in His life, He did what was right, no matter how hard. He had enemies at every turn, and yet He still changed the American world forever. Before Him there was slavery and division, and after Him, the American ideal was possible. 

However, not all people have come to my own mindset. Upon leaving, I got into a conversation with the woman who operates the tomb. She is also considered its guard, because there is still the fear that haters will come there and desecrate it in the name of the Confederacy. Only the lowest forms of life destroy the grave of a dead person. I can't imagine how trashy someone's mind has to be, but I am certainly thankful for the service and bravery of the guard. If I lived in the city and didn't have my own career, I'd also be more than happy and anxious to help guard Lincoln's tomb.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Could Solon Solve Our Economic Crisis?

Class warfare isn't unique to America. The rich and poor have really never gotten along, and have had periods when they are ready to literally start throwing punches, especially when an economy deteriorates into those who have it all and those who have nothing. When the middle class vanishes, the society fractures. It's why Plutarch said that an imbalance between rich and poor is the most common and fatal error of all republics.

In our current political and economic atmosphere in the United States, we once again have the extremes that Athens faced some 2,500 years ago. We have the extremely rich and the extremely poor, and those in power and society who are for the rich or for the poor. Really no one stands on middle ground anymore. But in ancient Athens, one famous Reformer and Lawgiver seems to have done such a good job with these issues that his face was hung inside the United States House of Representatives, although it remains to be seen as to whether or not our government will ever live by his example. His name was Solon, someone who loved the Gods and the people.

He himself was not poor, but he also wasn't dishonest, deceitful or uncaring, which is why the poor loved and trusted him to improve their society. He did not make it illegal to be rich. He allowed success. But he also didn't permit it to be gained through the oppression or destruction of others. He forgave the debts of the poor and outlawed slavery as a condition for repaying debt, as was a custom at the time. In other words, no one could any longer turn you into an involuntary servant just because you owed money. He also repealed the harsh Draco Laws. These laws gave the death penalty even for minor offenses, which probably impacted the poor more than anyone else. Finally, he gave all citizens a voice in the government and established a kind of Athenian congress known as the Boule. Solon literally made life livable for all people.

Last night, I was thinking about how Solon would handle the situation today in the United States, which is much like the one he faced so long ago. What if the best way to handle our social and economic problems is not to destroy one side or the other, but to simply institute and enforce humanitarianism and civilized justice? And more so, has our country lost those two things? I think it has. We have become so obsessed with success and wealth that we actually devalue and exploit people who don't have it. The imbalance that Plutarch called the fatal error of all republics is growing by the day, and we are far past the declaration of war between the two classes; it's already raging.

Perhaps Solon would tell us to be humane and fair, that the best way to solve our problems is to simply give everyone the best quality of life possible. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Why Are Greeks Returning To The Ancient Gods?

Pagan and Polytheistic revivals are popping up all over the world, and Greece isn't an exception. More and more Greeks, perhaps slowly but also surely, are returning to the worship of the Gods of their ancestors, aka the Greek Gods. While it's important for Hellenists and Pagans to celebrate, it's equally important to know and understand the reasoning behind this emerging societal shift. It will help us understand our past, be solid in the present, and push on into the future.

Recently, I went online and caught up with Vlassis G. Rassias, a leading spokesperson in Athens, Greece for the modern ancient Greek religious movement and founder of the YSEE (Supreme Council of Ethnic Hellenes), to ask him what he thinks about the resurgence. According to him, when freedom and democracy began to regain a foothold in Greece in the 80's after the nightmarish military dictatorship of 1967-1974, the ethnic Greeks began to resurface. In fact, he said, religious freedom had been oppressed ever since the formation of the Neo-Greek Christian State in the 1830's after Greece won independence from the Ottomans. In short, a serious lack of oppression has allowed the ancient religion to come back. I finished by asking Vlassis about his personal devotion and what brought him to ancient Greek religion. According to him, the final straw came in 1976 when a Christian monk literally smashed apart the statue of Zeus outside the Ministry of Education in Athens. Thus began his rebuking of Christianity and his allegiance to the ethnic religion of Greece.

I noticed that in talking with Vlassis, two things stand out. One, that Greeks are returning to the old Gods because they are now free to do so, and two, they have seen what the Christian church has done and wants to do to Greece. They are realizing that their ancestors were converted by force, which was still being applied in the late 20th Century. This realization, I think, also makes people realize they have been lied to and enslaved by the present establishment, and it makes them want to seek their true identities that were taken from them. To this day, ancient Greek religion continues to grow, with 5,000 to 10,000 in Greece (which can't account for the number of people who may still be in hiding), and among the Pagans of America that number over 1 million, there are certainly many who worship the Greek Gods as well, if not exclusively like myself.

I feel I should include my own self in the topic as well, since I am also a Greek Polytheist. Although I'm not from Greece, I am still part of the ancient Greek religious movement abroad. In spirit, mind and deed, I am certainly a Hellene. Of course, mostly everyone knows of my conversion story from 2009, when the Greek Gods answered my prayers in the time of my family's greatest need, but I can also relate to the things said by Vlassis. I grew up Christian, and learning about how so many parts of the world had been forced into conversion, lessened my trust in the church and the religion. Not to mention the persistence, especially in the southern states, of trying to force Christianity on everyone, whether they wanted to accept it or not. There was still, of course, freedom of religion, at least on paper. But many parts of society and even the state and local government officials don't always want to respect it. Then, of course, there's the simple fact that Christianity just isn't the right religion for many people.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Heinrich Schliemann Converted To Hellenism On His Death Bed

Heinrich Schliemann was the 19th century archaeologist who proved to humanity that the world of Homer existed when he unearthed the ruins of Troy and Mycenae. Being born and raised in Germany, he was no doubt heavily steeped in Christianity, but he also developed a great love for the ancient stories of Greece, especially Homer's Iliad. Becoming obsessed with it, he declared that one day he would set out and prove to everyone that the Age of Heroes and the legendary citadel were real. 

Archaeologists and historians of his time laughed at him, being sure that Troy was barely even a myth. But around 1871, on a deserted plain in northwest Turkey, following the details in Homer's writings, Schliemann and his workers began digging and eventually brought to the surface the ruins of Troy and its many levels throughout its ancient life. Although some of his statements and conclusions about the site were inaccurate, such as the mistaken dating of the Treasure of Priam, the site itself was irrefutable proof that there was a Bronze Age city on this spot, and that it perished in war. Other scholars didn't even believe anything existed there at all before Schliemann. So his career was far more successful than the willful ignorance that would have remained with archaeology had he not pursued his visions.

Heinrich loved travel and exploration, and he learned several languages throughout his life, including Greek. It seems that the more and more he pursued his dream of finding the world of Homer, the more he fell in love with ancient Greek religion itself. He married his final wife, Sophia, in 1869. She was a Greek Christian, but Schliemann wasn't too enthralled with the idea of raising his children in her religion. He didn't even give his children Christian or modern names. Rather, he gave them the ancient Homeric names of Andromache and Agamemnon. It took a lot of consideration for him to allow his wife to finally baptize the children, and even at the ceremony, Schliemann placed a copy of the Iliad upon them and recited lines from the text.

1890 would be the last year of Schliemann's life. He developed a growth in his ear, which he underwent surgery for back home in Germany. Although the doctors initially declared that they had removed the infection and growth, it's obvious that they either didn't get it all, or it returned following Schliemann's reluctance to stay in bed. He instead continued his work, which he pursued until he could no longer stand. As he lay dying, as with many people, the thoughts of religion and prayer came to mind, but he was fighting to decide whether he should pray to the Christian god, or to Zeus. In a final letter to his son, however, he wrote "I pray" that Father Zeus and Pallas Athene will give you many days of happiness throughout your life. The official cause of death was cholesteatoma. Schliemann was buried in Athens, Greece in a magnificent ancient Greek style tomb. His body still rests there today in the First Cemetery. 

Schliemann's final religion was never officially listed as Hellenism or Hellenic Polytheism, but it's obvious to me that he made his choice as to who he would pray in his final days.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Work Cited:
Durant, Will, The Life of Greece, Simon and Schuster INC, New York, 1939. Print. (pp. 25-26).

Friday, October 19, 2018

Was Ancient Greece Sexist?

Historians usually pin up ancient Athens when they want to talk about the sexism that existed in ancient Greece, or at least Athens of the Classical Period. While I am certain that sexism existed, as it has existed in many forms throughout human history, I have also found myself increasingly skeptical of its magnitude in ancient Greece. 

Ancient Greek sexism is normally applied to a starting point with the writer Hesiod, although the alleged statement he made about women isn't even 1% of his writings. What we must remember about Hesiod's writings is that, what we have today, could, in some cases, be entirely different from what he actually wrote. It's very possible, and likely, that Greek cultures down through the centuries did their own editing based on the culture of their time period. Unlike the bible, there was no "change nothing nor add nothing" when it came to Greek literature. But in the Hesiodic writings, it is claimed that he said that anyone who trusts a woman is a fool, and that she is after everything you have. But depending on translation, such as the one found in my copy, what he actually said was that to trust a woman is to trust a flatterer; do not trust flatterers. Hesiod was only able to look at the world from his own eyes, which were that of a man, so the flatterer to him would have been a woman, whereas a flatterer to a woman may have been a man, and that to let your lust lead you astray without thought and reason, may end up costing you everything you have. He was probably more so warning against a lack of moderation and recklessness than against women themselves.

We are led to believe that in the more Archaic Era of Athens, according to Plato's Dialogue of Critias that, "Military training for both men and women was very common in the ancient days. Athena was adorned with armor - an indication that all the female and male creatures that live together can pursue in common the special talents that are suited to each (Plato Complete Works, 1,296).

But even in the Athenian times of Socrates and Plato, we find that the City, ran by men, venerated a Goddess (Athena) as the Patron of the City, and did so in place of a male God (Poseidon). That's not something you'd expect from a culture that is overly sexist. You normally see that in monotheistic cultures where the worship is centered around one male deity. While the religions have many prominent female figures like the Virgin Mary, they are never considered divine or deified. You'd also not expect a culture, like ancient Greece, to be highly sexist while putting their trust in a female oracle, who was the greatest and most revered one of the ancient world; the Oracle of Delphi. The office was always held by a woman, who had been appointed by Apollo. So a mortal woman was always selected to bring the messages of the Gods to mankind, whereas in the male-dominated monotheistic cultures, women weren't even allowed to be clergy.

Being that Greece in the times of old was not a unified nation, but rather a collection of numerous City-States with their own laws, governments, calendars and religious denominations, it would also be entirely inaccurate to assume they were all the same when it came to societal roles. The women of Sparta were highly revered by the men. Women in Sparta could own land, receive an education, and gained a reputation for being the heads of their households. The Spartan society wanted thriving soldiers, and an essential part to that was a thriving female population to have and care for the men in the military, and naturally to look after things while the men were away at war. So you can't really say that ancient Greece was "this way or that way," because each culture was different.

If you knew nothing of ancient Greece and went back in time to judge their culture by simple appearance, it would shout at you, "We revere the female as well!" There would be no doubt as to what your eyes and mind would automatically interpret as the religious and spiritual foundation of their culture, and in many cases, even in the foundation of their societal roles.

Depending on where you went in the ancient Greek world, and the time period, you were likely to find women in several professions, including priesthoods. A notable woman may have even found herself being worshiped by a locality after her passing, like Helen of Sparta/Troy. Did sexism exist? Of course it did. But were women always viewed as moles of society? Certainly not.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Work Cited

*Hesiod, Works and Days, trans. Lattimore, Richmond, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor Paperbacks, 1991. Print. (pp. 63).

*Plato, Plato Complete Works, edited by Cooper, M. John, Indianapolis, Indiana, Hackett Publishing Company, 1997. Print. (pp. 1,296). 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Enduring Faith of an Ancient Greek

Last night, I was going through new background art for my website. I enjoy bright and positive images for my religion and life, so I was very much drawn to the ruins of ancient Greek temples in the daytime. Although I found some worth using, at first I didn't really grow to like them on my background. I thought I should use something that shows more of the active Hellenic religion of today, instead of the ruins of the past. However, I came to realize that the ruined temples make a huge statement that I don't think many people think about.

In the past, there have been times when I've posted pictures of completely ruined sanctuaries or temple grounds on Facebook, often consisting of nothing more than a few scattered stones, and said, I would rather worship here than at the biggest cathedrals. In other words, I'd rather be here among these ruins, praying to the Gods with a few of my brothers and sisters of Hellas, than to be in a giant Christian church supported by millions of followers. Ancient Greek religious followers in Greece today still idealize worshiping at old temple sites, although from what I have heard, the state wants to charge them a significant fee to do so. This, of course, is absurd. They wouldn't charge Christians to go to church, so why charge the Hellenes to worship at their own temples that their ancestors built for that specific purpose?

Worshiping at, or displaying ruined sites, as a Hellene, has a profound message and realization for Hellenes and the world. No matter how much ruin their temple is in, the Hellene will still go there willingly and lovingly, and pray to the God it represents. Whether there are a hundred shining columns or a few rugged ones leaning over in the loose soil, the presence of heaven still radiates there for the Hellene. The faith of an ancient Greek is unconquerable. For us, it doesn't matter what the temple looks like now, or how many worshipers still choose to come there. The Gods never die, and we know this. They are still as real and glorious today as when their temples were the wonders of the world; humans and time don't change this factor.

I came to realize that the ancient ruins are not symbols of something which is dead, but rather, something which can never be killed; the Gods and the spirit that resides within every one of their followers. The ruins do not represent something which has passed, but rather, they stand as a reminder that the ancient Greek spirit shall never leave the Earth.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

How To Build An Outside Sanctuary That Will Withstand The Elements

For 2.5 years, my Sanctuary of Artemis has stood completely unmoved without cement, glue or nails, despite the fact that the area gets heavy snow and ice in the winter, and hard and powerful rain and wind storms in the spring and summer. You too can build these kinds of natural worship areas with little labor and low cost. All you need is a little land and personal drive.

Step One: In ancient Greece, sanctuaries were sometimes built in caves, which no doubt provided amazing protection. This did not go unnoticed by me when I built my own sanctuary. I chose sturdy terrain and surrounding buildings. As you can see from the first picture on the left, the sanctuary is basically in a cave-like area. The only fully open direction is the front, or the entrance where the sunlight mostly penetrates. The back, left and right are all cut off by bigger, stronger structures, like my house on the right, my concrete carport behind, and another building on the left that isn't my own. It sits on other property, but is still close enough to protect the smaller structures around it. The sanctuary has no doubt been spared natural destruction in its past because of these factors. The other nice thing is that it provides you with a good level of privacy when you want to go there to worship, pray, sacrifice, or just be alone for a while. So step one is to surround the sanctuary with naturally stronger things. These can be as complex as buildings, or as simple as large trees. Something that is left completely out in the open, is going to get hit by everything around.

Step Two: I employed the soil of Earth Herself to help me stand the structures of the sanctuary. The column in the center that holds the statue of Artemis is actually nothing but a hard and hollow plastic, very light weight. So how does it stay in place without cement or something extremely heavy on top? Answer: soil. In the picture on the right, you will notice the base of the column. The very bottom platform of the column is completely buried by dirt and mud. When the soil was loose and wet, I dug a hole big enough to place the base of the column in, then I packed it extremely with the surrounding mud. Once it dried and hardened, the column basically became part of the ground itself. It's hard to move the ground unless there's an earthquake.

Step Three: Simply put, make sure the vital structures are made for outside, or can at least hold up in such natural conditions. My statue of Artemis is made of pure bronze, and while that may sound expensive and toilsome to carry, it's not at all. I believe the statue was a little over $100 when I bought it, and it's not anymore than 5 or 6 pounds, I'm certain. Yet it's heavy enough to not be moved easily, and strong enough to not be broken down by natural weather. Combine this with the natural footings and the protections of a cave, and you have an amazingly strong sanctuary. 

In the Goodness of the Gods,
and Blessings to you all, my friends,
Chris Aldridge.

Monday, July 10, 2017

How Monotheists Created Make-Believe History

We all know the stories of the persecution of Polytheistic cultures at the hands of Monotheism, but what I want to talk about is something rarely noticed, and because it's so easily missed, the campaign against Polytheism continues to gain ground in the academics even of today.

As followers of ancient religions, one thing that puts us at a disadvantage today is the fact that our ancient literature is translated not by people like us, but by Christians or other forms of Abrahamic religion. Not only was there an attempt to wipe the old cultures from the Earth, there was and still is a revision of history by the conquerors.

Yesterday, I came across a copy of Plato's dialogues, a book of "complete works." This copy, however, was quite old, published in 1960. I picked the book up and started looking through the pages because I simply adore old literature, especially if it's from my religion and culture. I thought I would have a nice morning with some light reading of The Apology from this particular publication. For those of you who don't know, this dialogue is the defense of Socrates against the false charges levied against him by his prosecutors. It's certainly one of the most noted of Plato's writings. Any student of Socrates no doubt has this dialogue come to mind when his name is mentioned.

I didn't even get a few pages into it before I noticed clear religious errors in the translations. These were repeated, which means they were not mistakes. Of course, as per usual, it centered around the continued insistence that Socrates was a Monotheist and didn't believe in the Greek Gods, something we now know is a lie but that some continue to propagate even now. When Socrates talked about his mission from Apollo as given to him by the Delphic Oracle, the text kept omitting from Socrates' speech the word "the" before "God." So for example, the text quoted him as saying, "only God is wise." When in actuality, he said, "only the God is wise," meaning Apollo. That simple omission by modern writers and translations is something few people really notice, but it's one of the simple ways that modern mainstream theology sways history into its worldview, thus continuing to hold rule over the religious and theological minds of the people.

Monotheism counts on people being too simple to research what they see at face value. Socrates was a devout Hellenic Polytheist. He declared himself to be on a mission from Apollo to enlighten the Greeks, and that he would NOT give up this mission even at the cost of his own life. That doesn't sound like someone who doesn't believe in the Greek Gods. That sounds like someone who has the utmost devotion and dedication, as well as assurance in his belief. Just because he may have rebelled against some of the social norms of his time, doesn't mean he renounced the Gods of his people and culture. For example, the American colonists completely rebelled against England, but many of them were still Christians just like the British soldiers marching against them. The Americans didn't consider themselves to be fighting against Jesus even though they routinely shot at the flag that displayed his symbol. Theology and social ideal are not necessarily dependent on each other. Needless to say, I placed a post-a-note on the cover that said, "Inaccurate Translations."

History, it is often said, is a craft of the presenter. There's a lot of talk these days about "fake news." I don't know about all that, but I do know there is certainly "fake history."

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.

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