Friday, May 22, 2015

'Eternal flames' of ancient times could spark interest of modern geologists

The Archaeology News Network recently put up a very interesting article on the use of gas and oil seeps in religious and cultural practices, something that has been happening for thousands of years.

[At Yanartaş in the Olympos National Park in Turkey, natural gas burns
from many vents on the side of the mountain. It is thought to be the location of
ancient Mount Chimaera. This is the largest venting of abiogenic methane on
Earth's terrestrial surface.]

Seeps from which gas and oil escape were formative to many ancient cultures and societies. They gave rise to legends surrounding the Delphi Oracle, Chimaera fires and 'eternal flames' that were central to ancient religious practices - from Indonesia and Iran to Italy and Azerbaijan. Modern geologists and oil and gas explorers can learn much by delving into the geomythological stories about the religious and social practices of the Ancient World, writes Guiseppe Etiope of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Italy. His research is published in the new Springer book Natural Gas Seepage. According to Etiope:

“Knowing present-day gas fluxes from a seep and knowing that a seep was active and vigorous two thousand years ago, we can estimate the total amount of gas that has been released to the atmosphere thus far. What can be measured today is probably also valid, at least in terms of orders of magnitude, for the past. Such information may not only be relevant for atmospheric methane budget studies but may also be important for understanding the leaking potential of petroleum systems, whether they are commercial or not.”

Gas-oil seeps have been the source of mythological tales, and many a Biblical and historic event. The observations of ancient naturalists and historians such as Pliny the Elder, who lived two millennia ago, helped to chronicle many of these occurrences, especially in the Mediterranean area. For example, he wrote about Chimaera, a large burning gas seep in modern day Turkey. In ancient times, the temple of Hephaestus, the Greek god of fire, was built next to it.

Similar 'eternal fires' integrated gas and flame emissions into ancient religious practices in many cultures. For instance, the Zoroastrians worshiped the 'Pillars of Fire' near modern Baku in Azerbaijan. In Iraq, the Baba Gurgur seep was probably the 'burning fiery furnace' into which King Nebuchadnezzar cast the Jews. A legend of ancient Rome reports a stream of crude oil issuing from the ground around 38 BC. It became a meeting spot for the first Roman converts to Christianity, and is now the site for the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere. The sacred Manggarmas flame in Indonesia, which has been active at least since the 15th century, is still used in an annual Buddhist ceremony.

Etiope writes that hydrocarbon seeps also influenced the social and technological development of many ancient populations. It not only contributed to global civilization, but was often the source of wars. The first evidence for petroleum usage comes from Syria, where the Neanderthal used natural bitumen on stone tools some 40,000 years ago.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

PAT ritual announcement for the Thargelia 2015

Elaion is proud to announce that on the sixth and seventh of Thargelion, we will be hosting another PAT ritual, this time for the Thargelia. PAT rituals, or Practicing Apart Together rituals, have become a staple for Elaion, where we, as an organisation, provide a date, time, and ritual for the festival at hand, and around the globe, as many of our members as possible perform the ritual at their homes. Some do it alone, some in groups, and we tend to share experiences and photographs of the altar or the festivities on the Elaion Facebook page.

On the 6th and 7th of Thargelion the two day festival of the Thargelia was held in honour of Artemis and Apollon Pythios. The Thargelia was a pre-harvest festival at Athens, and we will celebrate it over the course of two days. The rituals can be found here and here, with the focus on Artemis and Demeter on the sixth, and on Apollon on the seventh. You can join either for a one day celebration by combining the two.

The Thargelia (Θαργήλια) was essentially an agricultural festival, and as such, the Thargelia included a purifying and expiatory ceremony. While the people offered the first-fruits of the earth to Apollon, especially, in token of thankfulness, it was at the same time necessary to propitiate Him, lest He might ruin the harvest by excessive heat, possibly accompanied by pestilence.

In ancient times, two poor, ugly men (or a man and a woman) were chosen each year to be Pharmakoi. They were often prisoners, and fed for a while at public expense and were then paraded around Athens as scapegoats for the people, one wearing a string of black figs to represent the men, the other white figs to represent the women.  At the end of the procession, they were flogged and beaten with fig branches and squills (sea onions), and driven expelled from the city. It could be that in very ancient times, these men were  stoned to death themselves once they reached the place of sacrifice on the shore, but it's likely that they were soon replaced with animals, if they were ever even sacrificed themselves at all. Whatever the case, the bodies were burned, and the ashes thrown into the sea or land, to fertilize. The purificatory preceded the thanksgiving service. That first day, a sheep was also sacrificed to Demeter Khloe on the Acropolis, and perhaps a swine to the Fates.

The second day was a lot less gruesome: a great pot of vegetables was prepared as an offering of the first fruits to Apollon. A panspermia was ritually sown into the earth. The Thargelia also featured choral contests among pairs of phratriai, and was recognized by phratriai as a day of festival and sacrifice. An eiresione (olive branch of supplication) with fillets of white wool and first fruits attached was carried in procession along with a winnowing basket full of fruit. This was either a new one, or the one created for the Pyanepsia.

We hope you join us for this celebration at 10 am on 25 and 25 May, and that you will perhaps feel comfortable sharing your experiences on our Facebook page.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mounukhion updates

On the day of the Hene kai Nea, I post a monthly update about things that happened on the blog. Well, that did not happen this time because of two new recap for Atlantis so... you're getting it a few days later. Same with the Pandora's Kharis donation.

Changes to the blog:
  • Remember when I announced two months that I would make an announcement this month about some changes that will renovate, invigorate and renew Elaion as a whole? And then I hoped it would happen last month? Yeah, me too, and I am aware it hasn't happened yet. Basically, Robert and I have had to deal with some things in our personal lives and the projects have been postponed again, which is frustrating, but sometimes it's all you can do just to keep the projects you already have going. I can say, though, that the projects are back on and we are working hard.
  • Atlantis has ended. Long live Atlantis! Are you fully caught up with the recaps?

Anything else?
Pandora's Kharis, a charity circle for and by Hellenistic Polytheists has selected CARE as its cause for Mounukhion 2015. If you want to donate, you have until tomorrow! Join us on Facebook if you would like to pitch a cause for next month!

If you're you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.

That is it for the last month's updates, as far as I can remember. Have a blessed month!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"Atlantis" recap (2.12): The Queen Must Die (Part 2)

Here we are. End of the road for Atlantis. in the next 45 minutes of screen time, this story is ending one way or the other. We are at the crossroads: an upcoming meeting with Cilix where both parties seek to commit murder; two romantic relationships ready to crack, one nipped in the bud, the other rushed to marriage; and the bond between a father and son that is fractured, perhaps beyond repair. Pasiphaê is dead. Aeson is dead. Minos is dead. Medea sacrificed herself for the cause. The war for Atlantis has cost thousands of lives already, and tonight, it ends.

Ikaros runs straight to Goran and cilix. He tells them what Pythagoras said about the peace meeting and begs for the release of his father. Goran agrees, as promised. This is the time where Cilix speaks up about his desire to claim the throne. They will kill Jason and Ariadne at the peace talks and that will be that: Cilix will take the throne and Goran will be his general. They will rule together. Goran tells him that Cilic doesn't have the support of the people in political power, but he brushes the concerns off. He who is in charge of the army has the power to lad, after all.

Ikaros goes to get his father out of prison. Daedalos tells him he will never forgive him for what he did and once more tries to send Ikaros off, but Ikaros pushes to take him home and Daedalos--at the gates of Hades--accepts. He lets his son guide him out of the Atlantian prison he willingly went into to aid Jason, Pythagoras, and the efforts to free Atlantis.

The time of the meeting is now. The soldiers checked out the area surrounding the forest and everything looks as agreed. Cilix brought a huge army presence though--and Goran--so I have to admit to being a little worried. Cilix isn't. Not at all. He saunters up to Ariadne and Jason, soldiers on stand-by. He has also hidden a regiment in the woods, though, bows in hand, and doesn't wait long with the betrayal. He says they do both want peace, but that Jason won't be there to see it. That's when Jason's men come out of the literal woodworks and shoot and stab the hiding Atlantian soldiers in the back before they can kills Jason and Ariadne. They do so quietly, though, so Cilix is left calling for an execution that never happens. When that fails, he calls on the guards he brought to finish the job but Goran tells them to stand down. It seems that he who controls the army truly does have the power, and Cilix is left to stand alone.Instantly, Cilix becomes the weasel he is and tries to talk his way out of it. When that fails as well, he runs and Jason throws a knife into his back. Goran finishes him off.

Goran says he has seen too many people die and that Atlantis needs peace. He and the army will stand down in exchange for one thing: that there are no reprisals against his men. They followed orders, that's it. Jason says that all who swear loyalty to him will be spared and the rest will be given the opportunity for exile. It's enough. Goran says he will make arrangements in Atlantis while Jason gets the consent of the Gods for him to take the throne. They will have to trust each other's word on all of it. Jason realizes it's the best deal he is going to get and agrees.

In the camp, everyone packs up. Ariadne is worried and ponderous, but Hercules misinterprets why. Ariadne has Medea on her mind, Herules has Goran. He does give her a valuable piece of advice: they made their choice and they need to put their faith in it. And so they all leave the woods together to go back to Atlantis. Once they arrive, Ariadne is shocked at the sorry state of it, of the torture and cruelty.

Guards await the small group of Ariadne, Jason, Hercules, Pythagoras, and Diocles as they enter the Palace square, and on the steps is Melas, who throws himself at Ariadne's feet. He says he is beyond forgiving for his betrayal and Ariadne forgives him anyway. His loyalty is now bought for life. All the guards here have sworn a similar oath and Goran hands them over to Jason and Ariadne. Diocles remains behind as the rest walk into the palace Ariadne never thought she would see again.

In the woods, Pasiphaê's prayer to Hekate pays off: something large and flying lands and scoops her up.

Back in the palace, Jason comes up behind Ariadne and kisses her neck. she freezes. He asks her what is wrong and she says this place no longer feels like home. They have retaken Atlantis, Jason says, but he realizes there is more troubling Ariadne. She just tells him Pasiphaê said some things to her that she is pondering about. He tells her not to believe a word from that woman's mouth and reluctantly, she agrees. Jason realizes he's loosing her.

The whatever-it-is that took Pasiphaê drops her onto the altar in Hekate's temple and after a few moments, she blinks. Dead people are not supposed to blink, damn it!

Back in the Palace, Hercules is giving in to the temptation of sweet wine, but Pythagoras can't relax. There is something he must do, and that 'something' is talk to Ikaros. Hercules takes out more wine. Pythagoras appears in Ikaros' home and tells Ikaros of what has happened. Ikaros is so happy, so relieved, but Pythagoras can't be. Then he notices Daedalos and Ikoras finally comes clean about what happened to his father. "That's why you betrayed us," Pythagoras whispers and Ikaros swirls back around.

He asks how he knew, when. Pythagoras tells him there could have been no one else who had betrayed the plans to infiltrate the arena prisons and Ikaros realizes they played him from that moment on. He is shocked, ashamed. He tells Pythagoras he would never have done it if there had been another way to save his father, and while Pythagoras understands it, the pain over his betrayal is very real. Other would have died instead of Daedalos. He would have died instead of Daedalos. Pythagoras says he means nothing to Ikaros, and Ikaros breaks down. He takes his hand and holds it. "You mean everything to me," he says into the minimal space between them. Pythagoras, in tears, says he can't say that after almost getting him killed to save his father. Ikaors whispers that he had no choice and Pythagoras, openly crying, says there always is a choice--he just made the wrong one. When Ikaros tries to kiss him, Pythagoras stops him and Ikaros steps back, shattered. Pythagoras says he understands why Ikaros did what he did, but he will never forgive him for it. Then he leaves. Ikaros beg him to come back, but when Daedalos wakes up and gets up, Ikaros just mutters that he had to, that he couldn't see his father die. Daedalos finally offers him the hug he so desperately needs.

Back in the palace, Hercules is staring off in the distance at a fire when Ariadne comes up to him. Hercules asks where Jason is, and Ariadne says he's sleeping. Hercules admits that Jason is a constant worry for him and Ariadne relates. she laments that she wishes she had friends like Hercules and Pythagoras. Someone to talk to. Without missing a beat, Hercules asks her if everything is alright with her. She hesitates a moment, then says she can't sleep. He thinks it's logical to be nervous, but she corrects him, saying it isn't nerves. Just as she needs, he asks her what it is then, and she crumbles a little. She fears that the memory of Jason's with his blackened heart will haunt them forever. Hercules tells her that it's all in the past and suddenly she can't keep it in anymore. She tells Hercules about what Pasiphaê told her. Hercules, too, says she shouldn't put any stock into Pasiphaê's words, but Ariadne knows Jason is hiding something when he talks about Medea. she knows their bond is special. Hercules says that whatever that bond is, Jason married her, not Medea. But Ariadne knows something has changed in Jason and things will never be the same.

Someone really needs to tell me what the flying thing sent by Hekate is (didn't I decide it was a Griffon somewhere in the past?) because it just flew by the palace, just as Goran and a bunch of guards trail the hallways. They either hear or see something because they enter the throne room with their swords drawn. It seems our overgrown stork came to delver a package fit for its size: a very much alive, and worse for wear, Pasiphaê, deposited on the throne.

Goran is shocked, but tells her the throne isn't hers anymore. She doesn't give a shit about what he thinks and her magic is stronger than ever. When he tells the guards to capture Pasiphaê, she makes an example out of one of the guards by tossing him backwards into a wall that he dies instantly. The choice is easy: swear loyalty to her or die. Goran steps forward and asks her how many more will die to sate her thirst for power. "As many as it takes," she hisses. He refuses to kneel before her ever again and she starts to choke him with her magic until he is on his knees. she gloats, but he gets back up again. For his defiance, she snaps his neck. The guards sink to their knees and swear loyalty. They can't stand up against so much power.

By morning, all the palace guards have been recruited and they will strike at Ariadne and Jason before the Gods can give their blessing in a ceremony. The guards guide Ariadne to the ceremonial hall where Jason is already waiting. They walk a whole line of guards who are about to stab them in the back and enter the temple where the priests of Poseidon, Melas, and Cassandra await. Hercules and Pythagoras are also there. The ceremony begins and Cassandra prays to Poseidon. Meanwhile the guards loyal to Pasiphaê kill all the guards they didn't recruit on the steps of the temple. Others guide Pasiphaê to it. Screams and shouts reach inside the temple and Jason and Ariadne look up, shocked. There is a whole regiment of guards behind them that I worry about. Jason reaches for his sword and at that time, the temple doors open and the guards storm in. It seems the regiment remained loyal, though, making the fight moderately fair.

Melas--shocked by the bloodshed inside a holy sanctuary--steps forward slowly, telling the men to put down their swords. No one listens. As Hercules and Pythagoras get an unarmed Ariadne to safety, Jason takes on the guards. Then Melas spots Pasiphaê and a look of sheer terror settles on his face. Pasiphaê stabs him and with his dying breath, he tells Cassandra to run. She does, to Ariadne, who is still being guarded by Hercules and Pythagoras. Then Jason sees Pasiphaê and he freaks the fuck out. Everyone runs from the temple, leaving Pasiphaê in control of it. they cut through guards to get to freedom and hide in someone's home as the guards search the city. Somewhere in the struggle, Hercules got hurt at least enough to draw blood.

Hercules swears to Jason that he killed Pasiphaê. Jason doesn't doubt it, but the fact remains that she is alive and searching the city for them. so they have to wait out the day here and then try to escape the city. Cassandra isn't doing well; Melas' death hit her hard. she impresses upon Jason that what Melas did was to protect her. He was a good man. Jason knows that, too.

Ikaros tells his father about Pasiphaê's return, and that everyone is hunting for Jason and Ariadne. "What about Pythagoras?" he asks, and a very worried Ikaros says he doesn't know what happened to him. He says he has to try to help them and he grabs his sword. Daedalos tells him he will be cut down before he even reaches a guard. He'll help him make an impact, through.

In the palace, a very vengeful Pasiphaê tells the guards that anyone helping the fugitives will be hanged in the streets. Daedalos and Ikaros couldn't care less, anyway. They are carrying a large package through the streets, dodging guards at every corner. By some miracle, the group hasn't be discovered yet, but going out is suicide. They know it. Jason comes to sit with Ariadne and she says that if this is the end, she needs to know about Medea. He comes clean: there was a moment between them in the darkness. But it's over, he is never going to see her again. And then the sounds of the soldiers come closer. They need to arm up. Their talk is cut short and the guards hack down the door.

On the city walls, Ikaros finally gets his mythological wings. While I am no aerospace engineer, I think I can say with absolute safety that there is no way in hell real life wings like that will carry you anywhere but down very swiftly. The show makes a lovely pun about the wax melting if he comes too close to the sun, though, and I have to laugh when Ikaros tells his dad that, uhhh, it's the middle of the night. It seems the wings work, because he glides out over the city like an eagle--after a bit f a rough descend.

The rest of the group has no wings, though. they just arm up and wait for the inevitable--and then Ikaros starts throwing fire powder bombs down on the soldiers and they all die instantly. Ikaros saved Jason, Hercules, Pythagoras, Ariadne, and Cassandra. It's glorious. One of the few surviving guards manages to get an arrow off, though, and rips Ikaros' wing. He crash-lands hard in a courtyard and Pythagoras rushes to see if he's alright, breaking away from the group to do so. When it seems like Ikaros didn't make it, Jason is devastated. But Ikaros opens his eyes, whispers he's sorry, and Pythagoras kisses him as he cries with relief. Yessss!!! I fully admit to yelling that out loud, by the way.

Hercules breaks them up by clearing his throat. They have a city to flee, damn it. Pythagoras and Ikaros claim another moment, then they all leave the city together.

The next morning, the familiar feeling of waking up on the forest floor is back. Cassandra is missing, through. She is praying for Melas a little way's off. Jason asks her if they will ever be rid of Pasiphaê, and she tells him it will be difficult. Pasiphaê will only be vanquished if he can find the source of ehr power and destroy it: the Golden Fleece... in Colchis (Kolkhis), where Medea is. And she is the one person destined to help him.

Jason tells Hercules and Pythagoras and they are not pleased, not even so much because of Medea, but because Colchis is the home of witches and black magic. Well, actually, Colchis was located on the eastern coast of the Black Sea, centred on present-day western Georgia. According to the Hellenic mythology, Colchis was a fabulously wealthy land situated on the mysterious periphery of the heroic world. Here in the sacred grove of the war god Ares, King Aeëtes hung the Golden Fleece until it was seized by Jason and the Argonauts. Colchis was also the land where the mythological Prometheus was punished by being chained to a mountain while an eagle ate at his liver for revealing to humanity the secret of fire. Amazons also were said to be of Scythian origin from Colchis. But, of course, I digress again.

Hercules tries to convince him not to go, but Jason won't be dissuaded. He goes to tell Ariadne who--naturally--is not pleased. She offers to go with him, but he won't let her. she says she is coming, that someone needs to protect him from himself. Cassandra watches the proceedings with sorrow and guilt. she has to tell the truth, that is the curse that comes with her amazing ability. But it deeply hurts her to hurt others.

We get a few more shots of Atlantis being brought to its knees under Pasiphaê rule. She has claimed the throne and her rule of the city is like an iron grip, choking the life out of it slowly but surely. Our group of heroes reaches the coast and out at sea awaits them the ship that will carry them to their destiny: Argo, carrier of the Argonauts.

During the night, while everyone sleeps, Cassandra prays for a vision of the future. She sees the Argo, plowing through the waves. Medea and Jason, kissing passionately against the bars of a cell. Ariadne, standing in the gull of an island, abandoned.

And Medea, in Colchis, knows Jason will be heading her way soon.

That's it, my lovely readers: the end of Atlantis. It was a wind ride, and I would have loved to have seen a third season. I still hold out hope for one (because you never know, right?). Until then, here is the pretty much complete account of the mythological journey of the Argonouts for you to work into fandom. It was a pleasure recapping this show for you. Thank you for reading, it will be missed.

Monday, May 18, 2015

"Atlantis" recap (2.12): The Queen Must Die (Part 1)

Things are rapidly spiralling out of control in Atlantis. Pasiphaê is still on the war path, Jason just lost his dad, Ikaros ratted them out to save his father, and--oh yeah--Jason and Medea kissed. I am sure that is not going to come back to bite you in the ass, my friend *cough*. This episode is the series finale, and was thus an hour and a half long. I'm going to spread the recap out over two days, so you get part two tomorrow.

Ikaros is meeting with Pythagoras in an Atlantian back ally. They duck away for a patrol. Atlantis most definitely is not a safe place yet. Ikaros guides them through the street but the patrols are everywhere and they have to flee. Eventually they escape by climbing onto a roof. I have no idea which side Ikaros plays for, but he helped Pythagoras here, anyway.

Back in some shed, Hercules is pacing and Jason is sulking. Pythagoras should have been back by now and Hercules is worried. It seems the errand Pythagoras is on ha to do with Diocles, the fighter who Jason bonded with last week when he was tossed into the arena. Hercules--obviously--is not a big fan of the plan.

Pythagoras asks after Daedalos, and just like before, Ikaros lies. They are lying on their back, looking up at the sky, stargazing as they wait and it's all very cute. I swear they were about to kiss there for a moment. Too bad Jason's father is dead because of Ikaros. They eventually make it back to the shed and Jason makes sure they weren't followed by asking very sternly. They leave for a suicide mission.

The suicide mission takes them down into the sewers--another thing Hercules is not at all amused about. Now he will be dead and smelly. The two lovebirds say goodbye and Pythagoras tells Ikaros to wait for them at the hunting lodge in three days time.

In the palace, Pasiphaê is asked about state things in which she has absolutely no interest right now--especially when Goran tells her his informant told him that Jason is heading to the arena prison to break out a prisoner. She hesitates, though. She still doesn't want to kill Jason--not anymore. But Cilix is adamant. Medea pleads Jaosn's case again, but she tells her she has no choice. Medea looks like a woman who doesn't give up so easily, though.

Jason and the boys make it to the arena. It is eerily quiet--and that is never good. The entire arena is empty. The hallways are empty. And then a whole platoon barges in, watched on by a very guilty Ikaros. But Jason is a good fighter, and so is Hercules. They end the fight swiftly and free the prisoners. Goran leads an entire platoon of archers onto the lowest portion of the arena stands where they hide until Jason and the group have to cross the sand below to get back to the sewer entrance. They wait until the group is in the centre and bring on the rain. Needless to say, it's a massacre. Most of the prisoners die on the spot or are left to be killed later. The soldiers jump down and everyone with fighting skills fights to save their very lives. Jason, Hercules, Pythagoras, and Diocles are amongst the ones who make it, and Jason mentions that the soldiers were waiting for them. Pythagoras puts two and two together...

There are more soldiers waiting for the when they emerge from the sewers. Pythagoras is almost too shocked to move. Jason dispatches with the guards, but more and more and more come. Then Medea appears and magics the soldiers to death. She hides before Jason can talk to her, but Goran saw her and he rushes to tell Pasiphaê. Medea makes it back to the palace, realizing she got herself into major trouble.

At least her efforts helped to get Jason and the boys out of the city. In the forest, they meet up with about a dozen of the ex-prisoners, the rest was killed. Now they should make a camp. Pythagoras is staring off into the distance when Hercules comes over and asks him if he's thinking about Ikaros. "Don't worry," he says. "Ikaros will join them soon." Of course Hercules hasn't figured it out yet.

Ikaros is back in the prison, visiting his very sick father. He offers him some medication. Daedalos wonders--again--why he is still alive. He knows Ikaros is keeping a secret and asks what it is. Ikaros comes clean and Daedalos is shocked and sad--disappointed. Daedalos tells them that he would rather die than have a traitor for a son. He has never been so ashamed. He sends Ikaros away.

In the palace, Medea wakes up and realizes Pasiphaê has been sitting there, watching her. It seems she used to do that when Medea was a child, when she has nightmares. It seems Medea was calling for Jason in her sleep and she says she can't help it, that she is drawn to him, that she can almost feel what he feels, that they are a part of each other. Pasiphaê asks if that is why she saved him and after a moment of hesitation, she says she did. Pasiphaê sighs. She underestimated the bond between them. She should have protected Medea more. But Medea doesn't want to be protected: she's in love. Pasiphaê tells her to banish her feelings. He has turned her. If she sees Jason again, Pasiphaê will have no choice but to kill Medea as well.

Ariadne sits by the fire and makes arrows. I think that by now, she could supply an entire army. The princess has definitely turned into a warrior, and this life in the woods suits her well. Jason tries to surprise her, but her reflexes have become too good. They hug and then Ariadne realizes she is being watched. All the ex-prisoners look on, mightily embarrassed and fall to their knees. Right away, she tells them to get back up. They shouldn't kneel for her: Jason is the rightful heir. Aeson was king before Minos and Jason is his son. The ex-prisoners are all shocked, but very willing to accept Jason as their king. He did right by them, after all.

A little while later, Hercules realizes Pythagoras worried about something. And Pythagoras is. He walks off to 'stand guard' (read: pout and ponder). Meanwhile Ariadne tells Jason he ha a new army and that he 'inspires loyalty'. She brings up the wedding proposal and Jason says he would say yes again. At that, she proposes again and says she wishes to be married right now, here in the forest. And they are. In a quickly--but beautifully--put together ritual with Hercules presiding, Jason and Ariadne are married.

At that moment, Medea wakes up and flees the palace, eluding a guard to do so--and then killing him. Medea really is a bad enemy to have. And she is very crafty and lethal. She dispenses of every guard that stands in her way.

Cilix and Goran have a pissing contest about who is more loyal to Pasiphaê while trying to see if--should they betray her--the other will follow. I get the impression they both would in a heartbeat.

The next morning, Jason and ariadne wake up on a blanket on the forest floor. Their wedding night was cosy but not very private. It's only Jason who wakes up, though: he senses Medea. She found him easily--they always find each other. She wanted to see him before she left for home. She has realized Pasiphaê has been grooming her and she can't do it. She can't become like Pasiphaê. But she couldn't leave without seeing Jason one more time and that tonight, the night of the winter solstice, Pasiphaê must travel and while she will be well protected, she will be vulnerable when she prays at the temple of Hekate. Only those touched by the Gods may enter. She gives him another gift: the nectar of the passion flower. It will bind Pasiphaê's power.

She says she should leave and she valiantly holds back her emotions. But when Jason pulls her back and tells her that part of him doesn't want her to leave, she cracks. She kisses him and for a long moment, he drowns in her before pulling back. He can't, he's married. She gasps when she hears, and tells him this is goodbye. Heartbroken, she flees.

Ariadne is not stupid. We all know that. When she woke up alone in the morning, she knew something was up. So she asks Jason if something is troubling him. To his credit, he tells her that Medea came to see him. Hercules overhears and freaks out. The last time Jason trusted her, Ariadne got stabbed. Jason goes to bat for Medea, saying she is not who she thinks she is. It becomes an argument where Hercules and Ariadne refuse to be convinced by Jason who says that Medea has seen Pasiphaê for who she really is and she wants nothing more to do with her. He tells them about the plan Medea presented her with and Ariadne demands to know why Jason puts so much stock in her words after Medea nearly killed her. He doesn't have an answer.

Pasiphaê, meanwhile, gets ready to travel, with a boatload of men. The ex-prisoners and the boys travel to the temple behind them. Hercules takes the opportunity to inquire after Pythagoras' state of mind. Pythagoras tries to shake her off, but Hercules is like a dog with a bone. He drops Ikaros' name and Pythagoras looks up in shock. Hercules says he remembers how he felt when he fell for someone the first time. Again, Pythagoras brushes him off, saying he has no idea how Pythagoras feels right now.

By nightfall, they reach the temple of Hecate and the small group stays behind. Jason has to go alone just like Pasiphaê has to go alone. He drops the potion into the basin at the temple and waits as Pasiphaê prays and drinks. She sacrifices her blood and afterwards, she washes the cut with the water. Jason steps into the light. He says he pities her, that everyone she has ever loved has deserted her. He drops Medea's name and Pasiphaê asks if he has seen her. He says that she realized the extent of Pasiphaê's darkness and that she told him he would find Pasiphaê here, alone. She tries to bewitch him, but the potion worked. She says he can not kill her and he agrees. He knocks her out instead. Jason carries her out of the temple and while his men quickly clear a path for him, they escape into the woods with Pasiphaê for luggage.

Back at the camp, everyone gathers around an unconscious Pasiphaê. Ariadne can't believe the day has come. Cilix and Goran can't believe the day has come either.  Well, Cilix can and says that if Pasiphaê ever returns, she will have Goran's head on a stick for failing her. Maybe it's time he jumps ship. He says he is a soldier and  leaves the politics to people like Cilix.

in the camp, Pasiphaê has been put into a makeshift cage. When Ariadne comes to visit, she is sure the former queen is there to gloat, but Ariadne isn't. With one to the ex-con's, she gets Pasiphaê to swallow down another potion. Pasiphaê asks if Ariadne loves Jason, and she says she loves him more than Pasiphaê will ever understand. Then Pasiphaê taunts her by telling her Jason has been unfaithful. She asks what Pasiphaê means and Pasiphaê asks her if Jason hasn't told her about his feelings for Medea. Ariadne says that isn't true and Pasiphaê asks if she truly believes that. Medea wouldn't betray Pasiphaê for anything other than love.

Jason and Hercules sit close together, and tearfully Jason says he must ask something important of Hercules. Hercules takes up his sword. Jason doesn't have to ask, he knows. Jason requests a moment with Pasiphaê first and says it's over. It's never be open, Pasiphaê replies instantly. He comes to say goodbye to her. She says the Gods won't allow it, but he says she doesn't serve the Gods. He says a part of him will love her forever and he hopes that she will find peace in death. She sobs and tells him he will regret it forever if he goes through with this and he agrees. He will. They are both crying now, and when Jason gets up and leaves, she starts to beg and scream for him not to go through with this. It's heart-breaking. Gods, I am going to miss this show.

The next morning, Pythagoras and Hercules take Pasiphaê out of her cage and into the woods. Jason is crying as he watches her go and Ariadne supports him. The men force her onto her knees and she begs to pray to Hekate. Pythagoras says they have to let her or risk angering Poseidon. As she prays, the scene cuts to Ariadne, who ponders what Pasiphaê told her. Then Pasiphaê finishes praying and Hercules quickly and quietly runs her through with his sword. She dies instantly. They leave her on the forest floor. Once they return, Ariadne and Jason wait for the confirmation and they are both equal parts sad and relieved.

The conversation topic changes quickly, though, to Jason and his claim for the throne. Jason thinks he can just walk into the city and claim it, but Hercules knows that the people in power will never go for that. Ariadne agrees. Cilix is the key, they need to get to him. So they will try to lure him out... through Ikaros. Everyone is shocked by the reveal that Ikaros is the mole. They won't believe it at first, but they see how sure Pythagoras is--how heartbroken--and they have no choice but to believe.

When Ikaros gets to the lodge, Pythagoras is already there, waiting. They hug and it's painful for Pythagoras to touch the man he loves. They eat and talk. Pythagoras is open about pretty much everything, including that Jason and Ariadne are alive and that Pasiphaê isn't. When Ikaros brings up that he heard Jason and Ariadne want to make peace with Cilix, Pythagoras agrees with that as well. The trap is set and they walk part of the way to the city together. They exchange another hug and Pythagoras is dying...

The bait is set, now Cilix just has to take it so the final battle can begin. But will they be able to trick Cilix, or will Cilix get the better of them? Will Ariadne and Jason's relationship survive in the afterrmath of Pasiphaê's words? What will happen to Pythagoras and Ikaros? Find out tomorrow in the second part, and last recap, of Atlantis.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

'Greek Gods, Human Lives: Our Fascination with Myths'

Oh, my beautiful, sweet, lovely, and supportive readers. Will you let me get away with a video today? This week has been batshit crazy and I've been pulling 14 to 16 hour workdays since Monday. I promise I'll do better after all the deadlines ;-) Don't worry, though; I am leaving you in very capable hands, especially after yesterday's post.

Mary R. Lefkowitz, former professor of classical studies at Wellesley College, says we can learn much about what it means to be human by studying the myths of the ancient Greeks. In the Distinguished Faculty Lecture during Wellesley's family weekend and in her fantastic book, 'Greek Gods, Human Lives: What We Can Learn from Myths' (Yale University, November 2003), Lefkowitz shows how myths have fascinated people through the ages while helping them cope with the uncertainties of their lives.

Diana Chapman Walsh, president of Wellesley College, introduces Mary Lefkowitz as she discusses this intriguing topic.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Hellenic mythology, triggering?

Protothema recently put up an article titled: 'Delicate Columbia Uni students say Ancient Greek myths 'trigger' pain'. According to the article, it seems that 'Columbia University students can handle Hollywood, but are too sensitive for rape, pederasty, bestiality and incest as depicted in Ancient Greek mythology'.

Students at Columbia University published an editorial complaining about Hellenic mythology being studied in one of their classes. They said that the texts “can be difficult to read and discuss as a survivor, a person of colour or a student from a low-income background.” They stated that the texts trigger toxicity. Specifically, the students wrote:

"During the week spent on Ovid’s 'Metamorphoses,' the class was instructed to read the myths of Persephone and Daphne, both of which include vivid depictions of rape and sexual assault. As a survivor of sexual assault, the student described being triggered while reading such detailed accounts of rape throughout the work. However, the student said her professor focused on the beauty of the language and the splendour of the imagery when lecturing on the text. As a result, the student completely disengaged from the class discussion as a means of self-preservation. She did not feel safe in the class. When she approached her professor after class, the student said she was essentially dismissed, and her concerns were ignored.
Ovid’s 'Metamorphoses' is a fixture of Lit Hum, but like so many texts in the Western canon, it contains triggering and offensive material that marginalizes student identities in the classroom. These texts, wrought with histories and narratives of exclusion and oppression, can be difficult to read and discuss as a survivor, a person of colour, or a student from a low-income background."

Look, I have never been raped or otherwise sexually assaulted. I am as white as they come and while my parents were not wealthy, I always had food, and we went on vacation every three or four years or so. Besides the fact that Ovid was a Roman writer who made things appear ten times more brutal than they actually were in Hellenic myth (so bad teacher for teaching Ovid!), I can understand how reading Hellenic mythology without proper explanation and introduction to Hellenic culture can be a triggering experience, at least on sexual assault. I hope other readers can inform me how ancient Hellenic mythology is triggering to POC's and people from low-income households. I don't have the expertise to comment. I asked one of my black friends and she looked at me funny so... take from that what you will.

That said, this is not the way to look at Hellenic mythology. Especially on rape in Hellenic mythology, I have written a really lengthy piece, detailing that context matter extremely. I cannot and will not judge on what triggers or does not trigger survivors. Not ever. If something triggers you in class, you should be able to reach out to your teacher and you should be able to work something out. But I do want to say that mythological stories are not fairytales. They are meant to teach and show the darker side of life as well as the light. It's supposed to cautionary as well as a teaching aid. And again, context matters. Mythology cannot be viewed separately from the culture in which it originated. The culture dictated many of the stories and offered explanations for why this behaviour took place.

For those who read the article, I wanted to offer these words and give a space for discussion, if need be. It's a complicated issue as I put much value in personal truth, but on the other hand, these beautiful tales that I love deeply are not meant to trigger. They are meant to teach. They are meant to warn, inspire, thrill, and foster respect for the power of the Gods. And in the proper context, that is what they do. So invest in the context, please, before missing out of their beauty.