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Tropaion is a web-log / electronic journal and Carnival for the ancient Greek Religion and history. The main goal of the web-log is to present original peer-reviewed and well referred posts on theoretical and practical aspects of the ancient Greek religion, to add to a broader circulation of Humanities and Classics in the Internet as well as to rise awareness for the Hellenic Polytheism today and to explore its relation with its ancient past.

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Last year at the same period of time I wrote my response on the association – and even in some cases mixture – of the so called Triesperon, Τριέσπερο(ν) and Helliou genethlion, Ηλίου Γενέθλιον, or Heliodesia. In this previous article I argued that there is no connection whatsoever in between these concepts. First because the Triesperon – if considered to be a festive – was only affiliated with Heracles – and divinities connected with Him – and, second, that Heliou Genelthion a) is the Roman Sol novus (Invictus) and b) correlates only in time with the Haloa (and the winter solstice festiveties of Poseidon). By having clarifying these differences, let know discuss the issue of Triesperon. Is Triesperon a season’s festive? And if not what is?

Initially I must state that for a year now I am seeking to spot a classical resource mentioning and / or even referring the Triesperon festive – in fact there is none and for that reason there is no academic work which discusses Triesperon. There is, therefore, my honest and strong view that the individuals who trust the existence of such festive are seriously mislead. I must, however, state that my intention is not to alter and / or attack any religious feeling and /or practice even if it is contemporary. My pure intention is to make clear the historical veracity for those of interest.

The fact in which we must focus is that the term triesperon was existed in our original classical resources but not as a festivity. There is only appeared as an adjective which was applied to Heracles (tri-esperos, or tri-esperos leon in Lycophro, v.33 or referring to Heracles ‘who was begotten in triple night’ in Alciphro, 3.38, see also Suida, tau, 970) and used also by Lucian to name the dreams that occurred for three nights in succession (Somnium, 17 and Gallus, 12). According to the above, the term triesperon does not refer to Heracles, but, on the contrary, to an occurrence of mind and the unconsciousness based only to Lucian’s texts.

Why Heracles was named as Triesperos? According the scholiast, Zeus treis hesperas eis mian metabalon sunekatheude tei Alkmenei (Scholia in Callimachus v.204). It is indeed the mythological incidence of the Heracles’ ‘styled’ by the union of Zeus and Alkmenei. There is therefore no connection with the winter solstice whatsoever.

Where we can find Heracles’ worship? The well-known demos of Cynosarges is extremely connected with Heracles. Heracles’ son, Antiochus, was the eponymous hero of the like-named Antiochid tribe (SEG III 115, 116 and 117). In honour of Heracles there was, in Cynosarges, the religious festive of Heracleia in which He received sacrifices as an Olympian god (Aristophanes, Frogs, 650, SEG 42.50, IG II2 1247, Demosthenes 19.86 and 125, and Suda, eta, 458). There is also a case of Heracles worship at Isthmia were Pausanias located the Gymnasium of Iolaos (9.23, i-ii), where games for Heracles and his sons and to Iolaos entitled Heracleia took place (Schol. n,4.20). Thus, the religious festivities related to Heracles were named after Him as Heracleia in Attica and elsewhere.

There is not evidence of when the Heracleia’s feast in Cynosagres was taking place, however, there is a tendency -and assumptions- to believe that Heracles was honored in Attica mainly throughout Metageitnion (July – August) not in November and December (during the winter solstice). On the contrary at the winter solstice, the Attica months of Poseideon (November – December) and Gamelion (December – January) we have a fair number of evidences that suggest that mainly throughout Attica, there were festivities and sacrifices in honour of Poseidon, Hera, and Apollo.

Conclusively we can point out that a) Triesperon as an ancient Greek festivity was never in existence, b) there is no connection in-between Heracles Triesperos and the Heliou genelthion (as explained here) and c) Heracles was not a deity honoured during the winter solstice.

Happy New Year!!

Edited 02/01/2007

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