I was visiting several web-pages of Hellenic interest during the first week of the starting Christian calendar when I reached a number of messages and articles discussing on the Triesperon, Τριέσπερον; a celebration which was linked -according to the articles perspective- with the new year in between the 21-22nd day and the 24-25th of December. Reading those comments I found a number of contradictory points in the way that inter-connection of the ancient-Greek and Hellenistic tradition was established with the Sun’s birth and with minor Olympian deities –such as Heracles– as well as the importance of the Triesperon which had, as it was stated, a relation with the Sol Invictus celebrations by the Romans. I am arguing therefore that the Triesperon did not has any relationship with the birth of the Sun - Helliou genethlion, Ηλίου Γενέθλιον -the Roman Sol Invictus (Dies Natalis Solis Invicti)- and/or with the Heliodesia as those articles arguing.
Firstly I would like to define Triesperon which according the LSJ the word occurs in two cases in the classical literature and are as follows: 1. Luc.Somn.17, Gall.12. – with the meaning of dream-bringer, oneiros. 2. in Lyc.33 who connects it with Heracles who was begotten in a triple night, Subst., hê Hêrakleous trans.: the triple night, Alciphr.3.38. Hence the celebration of this festivity has as meaning the birth of Heracles (Iliad, 16.778. Corpus fontium historiae byzantinae, xi, 1975, 647-55). Thus accordingly the above cannot prove that the celebration of Triesperon was in honour of the Sun and its birth. On the contrary was a festivity for the birth of Heracles. For that reason I am posting below what I consider to be more rightfully claimed as Sun’s celebrations in between the 22nd of November and the 25th of December.
Helliou genethlion, Ηλίου Γενέθλιον, and Heliodesia, sunset, Ηλιοδύσια –according the Codex Baroccianus 131 (saec. xiv), f. 423-423V, which was published in the Cat. codd. astrol. graec. ix, i, and contains numerous unconditional astronomical entries such as the New Year (νέο έτος) to be placed on the 23rd of September and the Heliodesia on the 22nd of November. Both the Helliou genethlion and Heliodesia do not have any relationship with the New Year celebration at least in the known Hellenic space. The New Year celebrations were normally transferred according the birth date of the current Emperor. For example the above mentioned date of the New Year was an Asian Minor calendar degree (c. 9 B.C.) with a request by the Paullus Fabious Maximus that the New Year celebration must be fixed according the birthday of Augustus (OGIS 458). Therefore the Hellenistic –Roman era– New Year festivities were not according the ‘ancient ways’. Therefore "birth of the Sun" does not mean the beginning of a new religious year.
In the case of Heliodesia (22nd of November when Sun enters the sign of Sagittarius and passes in the lower hemisphere and sends its rays up to the earth surface) is mostly related in the myth of Pluto and Dionysus (Porphyr., περί αγαλμάτων, frg. 7) or better known by the representations of Kronos (that represent the Sun of the night) – the early passage of the Sun is called Epinomis (Plat. Epim. 987c). Here we can see the relationship in between the ‘day and year’ and the ‘night and the end of the year’. Therefore the time in between the 24th of November and the 24th of December was called Kronia (Anal. Bollandiana, 16, 1879, ii). According the calendar of Antiochus (Silz,-Ber. Heid. 1910, 16) on the 25th of December there is the celebration of the Helliou genethlion. With the correlation of Kronia, the Heliodesia and the Helliou genethlion we can have the following results: a) the Kronia and the Heliodesia have the same starting day, b) and they both starting on the χειμερινή τροπή (Lyd. De ost. 70). Therefore the Heliodesia and the Helliou genethlion mark the end of the Sun’s existence into the Underworld (in Rome was call Sol Invictus with games on his honour-see CIL i2, p. 338). (Weinstock, S., 1948: 40-42)
Last Edited: 13/11/2010