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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For those readers of this blogg who are interested in the modern day worship of the "Olympic Gods" (for whatever reason) I post below some information about the ancient Greek month of BOEDROMION and the Gods which were honoured in ancient times. Boedromion started (this year 2010) at sundown on Thursday 9th September.

(Note for modern day followers: This information may be of interest to both those people who prefer a more traditional approach to their worship - and those who prefer a more contemporary approach. Knowing what the ancients did allows us to make more informed decisions about what we choose to do today - mainly in our own households - and occassionally in communial gatherrings.)

I thank Bob Clarke for providing the information below:

2nd Year of the 697th Olympiad

At sundown on Thursday the 9th of September 2010, the Noumenia in honor of Selene, Apollon Noumenios, and the household Gods begins the month of Boedromion which is the third month of the second year of the 697th Olympiad.

The Noumenia begins the new month and the following day beginning at sundown on Friday 10th of September is the Noumenia kata Selene in honor of Selene, Apollon Noumenios, and the household Gods - the first crescent moon which marks the beginning of Boedromion which is the third month of the second year of the 697th Olympiad. Each Olympiad lasts four years. For every month, on the second day (the day the Agathos Daimon (spirit of abundant goodness, usually Zeus as the bringer of abundant goodness) is honored. On the third day, for this month, Athene is honored, and on the forth day, Aphrodite, Herakles, Hermes, and Eros are honored. On the sixth day, Artemis is honored and, on the seventh day, Apollon is honored. On the eighth day, Poseidon and Theseus are honored.

Noumenia kata Selene, Agathos Daimon

On the second day of Boedromion, the day of the first crescent moon, beginning at sundown on Friday the 10nd of August, the Noumenia kata Selene is celebrated in honor of Selene, Apollon Noumenios, and the household Gods. For every month, on the second day the Agathos Daimon (spirit of abundant goodness, usually Zeus as the bringer of abundant goodness) is honored.

On the third day, Athena is honored, and on the fourth day, Aphrodite, Herakles, Hermes, and Eros are honored and for this month Basile (Queen - a divinity worshipped with Neleus and Kodros at Athens) is also honored. On the sixth day, Artemis is honored and, on the seventh day, Apollon is honored. On the eighth day, Poseidon and Theseus are honored.

The Niketeria

On the second day of Boedromion (beginning at sundown on the 10th of September) the Niketeria commemorating Athena's victory over Poseidon to become mistress of the city and mistress over the land was celebrated.

Epops and the Genesia

On the fifth day of Boedromion (beginning at sundown on the 13th of September) the ancestral hero Epops was honored and the Genesia celebrated in honor of deceased parents where sacrifice was likely made to Earth holder of the departed and libations (wine or milk and honey) poured to the deceased.

The Democratia

In ancient Attica, on the twelfth of Boedromion (beginning at sundown on the 20th of September), the Demokratia (democracy) was celebrated.

The Greater Eleusinia

Beginning on the fifteenth of Boedromion (sundown on 23rd September), the greater Eleusinia was celebrated for nine days. It was a major part of the Eleusinian Mysteries. The greater Eleusinia offered hope of immortality through initiation:

Initiation: myein, mysteria and teleia.

Ritual celebration: orgia.

Achieve a state of enthousiasmos (en theos).

Eleusinian Mysteries center around the Demeter and Persephone. Women, slaves, and foreigners, as well as citizen males were accepted.

The nine-day festival was held every year in September.

Days 1-4: arrival, purification, sacrifice and feasting in Athens.

Day 5: Procession to the Telesterion at Eleusis.

Days 6-7: Initiation at Eleusis.

--- dromena (things done).

--- legomena (things spoken).

--- deiknymena (things shown).

Day 8: Rites to the Dead.

Day 9: Return to Athens.


Carl Kerényi in his book Eleusis writes beginning on page 31: . . . . In Arcadia she [Demeter] was also a second goddess in the Mysteries of her daughter, the unnamable, who was invoked only as Despoina, the "Mistress." But in the mysteries of Lykosoura, as in those of Eleusis, the greater of the two was surely the daughter. Was the Arcadian Persephone really different from her mother, who had also suffered the fate of the Kore?

In these figures one may ask, was the universal fate of women merely raised to a purely divine plane - what the mothers have suffered, the daughters also must suffer? Or were mother and daughter two only for the profane? For a great goddess could do just that: in a single figure which was at once Mother and Daughter, she could represent the motifs that recur in all mothers and daughters, and she could combine the feminine attributes of the earth with the inconsistency of the wondering moon. As mistress of all living creatures on land and sea she could reach up from the underworld to heaven. The mystery goddess of Lykosoura wore a cosmic mantle adorned with representations of the inhabitants of earth and sea, and she also held in her lap the cista mystica, the closed basket holding the instruments of the secret rites. Her mother sat beside her on the same throne. At Thelpousa, however, Demeter alone possessed two statues in the same temple, one of angry countenance, which bore the Mystery basket.

Sanctuary of Despoina at Lykosoura: Reconstruction of interior of Sanctuary of Despoina: from left to right Artemis, Demeter, Despoina, and Anytos.

Drawing by Candace Smith, from Andrew Stewart, One Hundred Greek Sculptors: Their Careers and Extant Works, 1990, fig. 788.

In the Homeric Hymn, Demeter says:

"For I am Demeter the honored one, who is the greatest boon and joy to immortals and mortals. Now, let the whole people build me a great temple with an altar below it, under the citadel's sheer wall, above Kallichoron, where the hill juts out. As to the rites, I myself will instruct you on how in future you can propitiate me with holy performance. "

The abduction of Kore and grief of Demeter is a poignant reminder of the death of a girl who would never become a mother. Yet, from Kore's abduction comes the ever renewal of crops and bountiful harvests. Ploutos, another name for Hades, means wealth, and Ploutos is the wealth of Earth. Kore brings that wealth to the living. She represents life, death, and the ever renewal of life. Demeter is the culmination of the renewal of life in the harvest.

The Epidauria

On the seventeenth of Boedromion (beginning at sundown on the 25th of September), the Epidauria (a festival of Asklepios) was held with sacrifices to Asklepios.

The Nymphs, Akhelous, Alokhos, Hermes, Gaia, and Athene

On the twenty-seventh of Boedromion, (beginning at sundown on the 5th of October), sacrifice was made to the Nymphs, <>Akhelous, Alokhos, Hermes, Gaia, and Athene.

Hekate's Deipnon

The next Hekate's Deipnon will be celebrated on the 29th of Boedromion beginning at sundown on the 7th of October.
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Today I wished to translate an opinion article by the well-known Cultural Editor Maria Thermou of the eminent Greek newspaper To Vima. I read the first paragraph and although I wished to continue to read and conclude the read, I decided to stop and wonder through books, indexes and dictionaries for one word: σφάκελος. According to T the term’s “interpretation is clear since σφάκελοι was in antiquity a form of curse, which in a diluted form is been used in modern era” as the gesture of insult in modern Greek μούντζες (moutzes) and / or φάσκελα (faskela).

The finding by T sounds with the first read quite impressive. Is it possible that the modern day Greek gesture of the ‘open hand palm’, known as μούντζα and / or φάσκελο is indeed derived from an ancient Greek curse gesture? I do not believe so. Please find below my exact translation of the first paragraph as seen in To Vima by T.

The marble relief may not be of highly technique, but its depiction is of great importance: a young man standing is been “confronted” with two...moutzes (sfakelous in ancient Greek, the new faskela). And its interpretation is clear since sfakela was in antiquity a form of curse, which in a diluted form is been used in modern era. The relief, within several more of the same themes, will be exhibited at the National Archaeological Museum from September 24th entitled “Wizards, spells and amulets: Magic in the ancient and Christian world,” as part of European Heritage Day.

The problem with the above interpretation is its used semantic reasoning. I cannot accept the confusion of two different terms and their meaning into one, which is obviously a modern misuse and misunderstanding of the ancient Greek language. The modern term moutza is indeed interpreted as faskela, however the one is of Byzantine origin and the other an ancient Greek word. To understand more clearly this modern confusion let us evaluate both terms separately.

Moutza according to Giannoulelli and Moysiadis is been derived by the Persian muzh which means dull, however in the Byzantine era was used as blackness or black dirt. There was a reason why the moutza has been to refer a hand palm gesture covered in black dirt: Byzantines used it for apprehend through their punishment of criminals. It is obviously a violent and offensive gesture and it seems that in Byzantium, as well as, today has no metaphysical use whatsoever.

Moreover, the term faskela (plural) or faskelo (singular) according to Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott (LSJ) is generally used for gangrene, mortification, or, of bones. There is only one reference which uses a derivative term σφάκηλος (or φάκηλος) as ‘the middle figure’ as stated in LSJ by an unpublished papyrus of the British Museum (PLond.inéd.). It is very difficult without the actual document available to accept an interpretation that the σφάκηλος or φάκηλος is been used as a gesture at all. The same can be said for the term in question: φάσκελα. All, therefore, references in literature use the above word within a medical terminology and nothing more of that.

What can be said for the relief that depicts the young man with the open hand palms or in ancient Greek παλάμη? My interpretation is as follows. According to LSJ it can be metaphorically means, cunning, art, device, either in good or bad sense (Thgn.624, cf. Hdt.8.19; esp. of the gods, θεοῦ σὺν παλάμᾳ, θεῶν παλάμαι, παλάμαις Διός, by their arts, Pi.O.10(11).21, P.1.48, N. 10.65; “ὦ παλάμαι θεῶν” S.Ph.177 (lyr.); πυκνότατος παλάμαις, of Sisyphus, Pi.O.13.52, cf. A.Pr.167 (lyr.), etc.; “παντοίας πλέκειν παλάμας” Ar.V.645.) and indeed the hand palm is a gesture used in phylakteria as "a defensive gesture against the evil eye" (see Georg Luck, Arcana mundi: magic and the occult in the Greek and Roman worlds, 2006, pp.19).

Conclusively, I do not believe that the modern day offensive gesture of moutza / faskela has nothing to do with the ancient gesture of open hand palm which is accepted to be, on the contrary of T’s opinion, a defensive gesture against evil.
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