Sunday, July 31, 2022
Saturday, July 23, 2022
Friday, April 1, 2022
Friday, March 18, 2022
Monday, March 7, 2022
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,
Source: Scott, Michael, Delphi: A History of the Center of the Ancient World, Princeton Publishing, 2014.
Thursday, February 24, 2022
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,
Scott, Michael, Delphi, A History of the Center of the Ancient World, Princeton Publishing, 2014.
Wednesday, February 9, 2022
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,
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.
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,
Work Cited: The Odyssey, translated by Laurence of Arabia aka T.E. Shaw.
Friday, March 13, 2020
Tuesday, January 7, 2020
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.
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,
Sunday, November 24, 2019
Saturday, August 31, 2019
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
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,
Thursday, October 25, 2018
Friday, October 19, 2018
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.
In the Goodness of the Gods,
*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
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,
Saturday, May 19, 2018
and Blessings to you all, my friends,
Monday, July 10, 2017
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."
Monday, May 1, 2017
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