#AtoZChallenge (2017): X is for Xenia

Day Twenty-Four of the A-to-Z Challenge in April 2017. Let’s do this.

This year there’s no linky list or form to fill out to sign up. It might be too late to join at this point (unless you were double posting), but you can always cheer/comment on participants (and find awesome bloggers) at the A-to-Z’s official blog.

Now I should warn, that I didn’t stick to the common sense rule of writing short, pithy posts. Mine are long and bloated, but I’m having fun with it. And if you wanna skim, that’s absolutely cool with me!

Leave a comment down below with your blog so I can visit I’m thrilled to be making new friends. 🙂

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As part of my Greek mythic figures, places, and things theme, my “X” post talks xenia, or the etiquette of being a good host in Greek mythology.

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Look! Even the blond cherub at the bottom is offering food to the other dark-haired cherub. Teehee!

As I said, xenia is hospitality that extends specifically to strangers or foreigners.

Wikipedia describes xenia as being “the ancient Greek concept of hospitality, the generosity and courtesy shown to those who are far from home and/or associates of the person bestowing guest-friendship.” (source)

“Far from home” was also important to the ancient Greeks. “As seafaring peoples constantly engaged in trade among themselves and with outsiders, Greeks were inevitably in regular contact with strangers — and were themselves in situations where they were strangers.” (source) And you really probably don’t want to piss off strangers you’re trading with, especially if they cultivate something you want, maybe even need.

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It’s kind of like that story about the disguised (maybe not disguised) angels invited to rest their wings by Lot in Genesis 19. I do believe they were disguised because the whole idea is to always be polite to your guests. You never know who they might turn out to be…

Well, the ancient Greeks had this same fear. At least in theory they did, otherwise xenia wouldn’t be so important. So, basically, if you were a rude host, you might actually be rude to a disguised Apollo, or a masked Hermes, and that would NOT end up well for you.

This was also a theme, like xenia, in Greek mythology. And it was called theoxenia, or “theo” (god) + “xenia” (guest-friendship). Wikipedia describes it being when humans “demonstrate their virtue or piety by extending hospitality to a humble stranger (xenos), who turns out to be a disguised deity (theos) with the capacity to bestow rewards.”

And it also adds, that “[t]hese stories caution mortals that any guest should be treated as if potentially a disguised divinity and help establish the idea of xenia as a fundamental Greek custom.”

Life lesson, kids. Be nice to your gods – err, guests.

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And maybe the magical side of your family. Don’t want them hating you…

One source says that xenia “was more than merely a set of manners and social customs, but actually a religious ritual which placed demands both on hosts and guests.” That there was a process to do things, almost like a basic checklist to tick off once a visitor entered your home.

So offering a bath, a warm meal at the best seat of the table, and a warm bed was all very good, and very expected if you wanted to be consider a proper host in ancient Greece.

In turn, guests had their duty too. It wasn’t a one-sided guest-friendship: guests usually should have gifts with them. And, sometimes, they were given gifts too as they departed.

It’s really the same stuff that we expect from guests today. Family comes to visit, you play the role of courteous host…until they overstay their welcome. Well, it was the same then too. Guests in ancient Greece were expected to gather their affairs and never overstay their welcome, as long as they wanted to maintain a healthy guest-friendship.

So, what was the point of xenia besides the worry of trade deals?

It could have been used as a way of passport. At least to ensure safe entry into a country and be given a chance to explore. Or it’s possible that many inns weren’t available to travelers, or poorer travelers had to rely on the hospitality of citizens.

The Odyssey showed great examples of xenia in action.

As Odysseus traveled he met with foreigners on different islands, and some treated him awfully (i.e. Circe), and sometimes his men treated others awfully (i.e. Polyphemus and his sheep). And of course, since I brought up Polyphemus, we have the cyclops calling his father, Poseidon, to make Odysseus’s journey home a difficult one. And Poseidon doesn’t disappoint there.

Helen of Troy was abducted by Paris, and that’s a super no-no. A huge infringement on xenia. Heck, it started a war, that dragged in the gods as well!

And who was the protector – and possibly the most concerned with xenia?

Zeus, of course!

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He also went by the names Xenios, so there. Circles around.

Zeus was called the “protector of guests”. And he proved that in Bellerophon‘s tale. When the youthful hero is secretly slandered by the wife of his host, King Proteus. Proteus, believing his wife, wanted to kill Bellerophon but feared the wrath of Zeus (xenia at work!) and so he delivered Bellerophon with a false message to his father-in-law, King Iobates. But by the time Iobates opened and read the letter from his distraught son-in-law, Bellerophon had been “warmly received and settled in as Iobates’ house guest.” And so the same xenia stayed King Iobates’s hand.

Another tale with a bit of xenia running through it is that of Arcadian King Lycaon.

The twist is that Lycaon knew that his guest was Zeus (sometimes transformed into a pheasant). Lycaon wanted to “test” Zeus’s divinity (was he really as powerful and all-knowing/seeing as he was said to be?), and so he had his son, Nyctimus, served as the main dish. Zeus, realizing what was happening, grew angry.

Zeus put Nyctimus back together, giving the boy life again, and he cursed King Lycaon, transforming him into a wolf. Or, he sometimes just kills Lycaon.

Same went down with Tantalus – who wanted to steal immortality (i.e. ambrosia and nectar) for humans, and he ended up trying to sacrifice his son, Pelops, to the gods. Realizing what had happened, none ate except Demeter, who nibbled on the shoulder of Pelops before she clued in. (Supposedly she was still grieving for her Persephone’s abduction.)

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I guess he thought the Greek gods were stupid.

Tantalus was punished both in life (losing his membership to visit Mt. Olympus) and in death (being punished forever in the Underworld – in Tartarus, the wrong side of the Underworld).

MORAL: Dude, don’t be smart. Be nice. It’s probably going to save your life…and afterlife.

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Sources that helped me compose this post:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenia_(Greek)

http://classroom.synonym.com/hospitality-ancient-greek-culture-23751.html

http://classicalwisdom.com/the-odyssey-be-our-guest-with-xenia/

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+19&version=KJV

http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Mortals/Lycaon/lycaon.html

http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Mortals/Tantalus/tantalus.html

Check them out when you can!

#AtoZChallenge (2017): W is for Wine

Day Twenty-Three of the A-to-Z Challenge in April 2017. Let’s do this.

This year there’s no linky list or form to fill out to sign up. It might be too late to join at this point (unless you were double posting), but you can always cheer/comment on participants (and find awesome bloggers) at the A-to-Z’s official blog.

Now I should warn, that I didn’t stick to the common sense rule of writing short, pithy posts. Mine are long and bloated, but I’m having fun with it. And if you wanna skim, that’s absolutely cool with me!

Leave a comment down below with your blog so I can visit I’m thrilled to be making new friends. 🙂

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As part of my Greek mythic figures, places, and things theme, my “W” post is about wine in Ancient Greece and its uses (or misuses) in Greek mythology. This all coming from a teetotaler (not that it should affect the post).

I took an Intro to Ancient Greece course in college and I vaguely remember discussing wine and its importance in the lives of ancient Greeks.

But wine was viewed both as a gift and as punishment by some philosophers.

A gift because it could ail illness (more like numb you to it) and it was attributed to the gods, so in a way it could open your mind up spiritually.

But it was seen as punishment because it could drive you loco – though I guess that depends more on what kind of drunkard you are? A happy one, or a seriously mopey one, or are you a danger to everyone because your anger is explosive when you’re out of it?

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Wine was definitely present at symposia where philosophers would gather and chat and drink. And, of course, in vino veritas. Nothing like a little alcohol to loosen that heavy tongue.

Archeological digs unearthing gold goblets used for wine suggest that wine was extremely important to the ancient civilizations in the Near East and the Mediterranean. (source)

Wine became a strong commercial product and was traded by the Greeks in those large amphorae, but it was also kept for religious services and enjoyed by the people. Heck, they had a god for wine (Dionysus)!

Now I also heard about diluting wine, and that wine drunk straight was often seen as barbaric. But doing some research (source), I now understand wine was used to purify water and the Greeks (and Romans, if you’re interested) “were putting wine into their water more than they were putting water into their wine. Back then, wine was seen as a way to purify and improve the taste of the (often stagnant) water source.” Very interesting.

Now some more interesting maybe-not-so-entirely-factual tidbits hurled your way…

Tidbits 1:

Ten Bowls of Wine – or a measurement of just how drunk you are, and what is the appropriate limit to cut yourself off before you toe over that line of good times and move into crazy land. Dionysus supposedly capped himself at 3 bowls of wine. Now how BIG are these bowls, I have no clue. But no more than three bowls.

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Listen up!

Bowl One was for Health, ” the 2nd to Love and pleasure, and the 3rd to Sleep. The 4th bowl, they say, belongs to Violence; the 5th to Uproar, the 6th to Drunken Revel, and the 7th to Black Eyes. The 8th, they proceed, belongs to the Police, the 9th to Biliousness, and the 10th to Madness and hurling the furniture.” (source)

Self-explanatory really. In Ancient Greece, keep within the 3rd bowl and you’ll avoid crazy town, straight ahead.

Tidbit 2:

Gods got drunk too!

None but the virginal goddess, Athena, Artemis, and Hestia could be affected by alcohol. This was the eternal gift of vowing to remain chaste. It’s a pretty super cool superpower if you ask me!

One tale I like is Hephaestus’s feud with Hera.

Supposedly Hephaestus, Mr. God of the smithy and volcanic fire, was born a cripple – and therefore an immediate embarrassment to his mom, Hera. Not sure why she should be shocked: he’s an incestual product. You’re lucky he doesn’t have more health problems.

Anyways, she decided to literally give him the boot from Mt. Olympus, shoving him off to fall for “nine days and nine nights” on the island of Lemnos where nymphs hurried to his aid, tending to his wounds. In other cases he fell into the ocean and was “raised by Thetis and Eurynome”.

In another variant it wasn’t Hera at all, but Zeus who angrily shoved his son off of Mt. Olympus.

But let’s go the Hera-kicked-him-out route; it makes this story so much funnier.

No matter his new living situation, Hephaestus learned his trade and he learned it well. He also plotted revenge. He constructed a golden throne for his dearest mother. When Hera got her gift, she didn’t think, “Gee, maybe I should seriously get this checked out. I mean the god who made it is pissed at me for humiliating him…”

Nope, she just sat down and BAM! She’s trapped in the magical throne, unable to stand again. None of the other gods could free her, so they went to beg Hephaestus to undo his charm. He told them to “beat it”.

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She deserves the chair! And it deserves her!

It sounds all so childish, and it gets worse.

With the other gods unable to get him to sway from his harsh punishment, Dionysus decided to intervene. He was not yet an Olympian god, and remember, Hera hated him for being Zeus’s son – another product of his many mortal and nymph lovers. So Dionysus brings his wine with him, loosens Hephaestus up and hauls him over his donkey.

Donkey and gods make their trip to Mt. Olympus where Hephaestus is offered a trade: he frees Hera and he gets Aphrodite as a trophy wife. And he’s like, “sure”. (Not that that marriage was on a healthy track at all.)

And Dionysus gets his prize too, Hestia’s seat at the Olympian table when she willingly steps down for him.

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MORAL: Stick by your guns (or magical thrones) to stick it to them.

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Sources that helped me with this post:

http://classicalwisdom.com/the-importance-of-wine-in-ancient-greece/

http://www.winespectator.com/drvinny/show/id/5063

http://www.maicar.com/GML/Wine.html

http://etc.ancient.eu/interviews/drink-of-the-gods-wine-in-the-ancient-near-east-and-mediterranean/

http://www.pantheon.org/articles/h/hephaestus.html

http://www.greekmythology.com/Olympians/Hephaestus/hephaestus.html

Check them out when you can!

#AtoZChallenge (2017): V is for Virgin Goddesses

Day Twenty-Two of the A-to-Z Challenge in April 2017. Let’s do this.

This year there’s no linky list or form to fill out to sign up. It might be too late to join at this point (unless you were double posting), but you can always cheer/comment on participants (and find awesome bloggers) at the A-to-Z’s official blog.

Now I should warn, that I didn’t stick to the common sense rule of writing short, pithy posts. Mine are long and bloated, but I’m having fun with it. And if you wanna skim, that’s absolutely cool with me!

Leave a comment down below with your blog so I can visit I’m thrilled to be making new friends. 🙂

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As part of my Greek mythic figures, places, and things theme, my “V” post will parade some virginal goddesses. Three to be exact: Athena, Artemis and Hestia (my favorite!).

Can you tell I’m running out of ideas? “V” was a difficult letter, but I found a topic I was interested in. Considering there’s a lot of trouble surrounding gods getting jiggy with humans (or other species, *cough*nymphs*hack,cough*), it’s fascinating to see there are some gods taking a stand and going abstinent. Guess they don’t like their drama too much…or they found another outlet to take out their anger and add crazy tales to be immortalized through storytelling.

(I’m looking at you, Artemis and Athena.)

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So let’s dive in.

Athena:

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Goddess of reason, war craft and anything to do with intelligent activity. She was also the goddess protecting Athens, for which was named for her. (Or so they say.)

Athena is Zeus’s divine daughter, and supposedly her mother was Metis, the primordial goddess of wisdom. If you remember her, she helped Zeus and his brothers out in the war against the Titans/the Titanomachy.

In other cases, she has no mother. Zeus just got a really BIG headache – likely a migraine, and then Hephaestus was fetched for. The smithy god cracked open Zeus’s forehead with an axe and out popped a fully-formed Athena.

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Probably didn’t go down like this, but still funny to picture Zeus’s head being blown to bits.

Yeah. I want to say it doesn’t get weirder than that, but it probably does. We’re talking myths, folks. Things get dicey and axe-y.

In the other variant, Zeus swallows Metis while she’s pregnant with Zeus because he fears a prophecy that she would bear a son that would usurp Zeus (just like he did to his father, and just like Zeus’s father did to his father). A whole lot of daddy issues prompt these men to do some crazy things. Zeus pulls a Uranus and swallows Metis by tricking her to transform into a fly.

Then Zeus gets his headache and out pops Athena.

So whether an asexual product or not, Athena went on to become a well-known and well-respected goddess. She has no known consorts or offspring, and though she might not have been introduced a virgin at first, she was eventually thought to be one. Hence her epithets, Pallas and Parthenos, Greek words that mean “virgin” or “maiden”. So, she was Athena the Maiden/Virgin.

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Athena wears full-body armor, although sometimes she is depicted with the head-to-toe protection. But she’s usually also seen carrying a lance and shield, and she often also wears a helmet. Lady-god is always ready for battle.

Athena was once courted by Hephaestus, but since Greek gods don’t have an ounce of patience (or the gods’ equivalent of human milk of compassion), the smithy god tried to rape her. Athena was only in his workshop to get new weapons made (or something fixed), and then she fled his amorous (and seriously evil) intentions.

Apparently Hephaestus chased her, caught her and managed to smear semen on her thigh. She managed to get out of his hold and wipe the offending seed off her body, throwing the besmirched cloth to the floor. From there Erichthonius was born, an autochthonous (born of soil) baby who would go on to be a king.

Because in Greek mythology you can just grow your babies in the backyard, right between your seasonal vegetables.

Artemis:

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Goddess of the hunt, the moon, chastity, and archery. She was the twin sister of Apollo, and born to Zeus and his nymph lover, Leto. We heard Leto’s story, now let’s talk a bit about 1/2 of her progeny, Artemis.

She asked her father, Zeus, to grant her eternal chastity, rejecting marriage and love and baby-making activities.

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Soooooo, Zeus gave her a chastity belt with no lock.

Artemis was a bit loony. She was totally cool with ladies – heck, she had an entourage of nymphs, all skilled hunters, stalking through Grecian woods with her. Oddly, for a goddess against love, marriage and family (basically everything Hera stood for), wild Artemis was often a protector of pregnant women and their babies. She also, supposedly, helped ease with pregnancy pains.

So while she was a champion of women, she was not in a lot of male-friendly myths. Take, for instance, the tale of Artemis and Actaeon.

Now Actaeon was either Artemis’s hunting companion (really?! how old was he? I mean, he is a he) or he was a wandering hunter who came upon her party.

Either way, Actaeon ended up sighting Artemis in the buff while she was bathing in the woods. Now depending on what variant you’re reading, he’s 1) taken by her beauty and decides he HAS to have her, or 2) maybe he steps on a twig, and Artemis notices him…

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Sit boy!

Sadly, it doesn’t go down like this at all.

If only Artemis just gave him a wrist slap.

Instead she turns Actaeon into a stag who is then devoured by his own hounds. Such a brutal end – especially if it’s the version where he didn’t try to rape her.

Then there’s Orion.

Now he actually was loved by Artemis. Shocker, I know.

Orion was a handsome, mortal hunter, he had gone to train or live with Artemis (you know, as one of her retinue). Poor Orion dies too, and he might have been killed by 1) Artemis, for trying to rape the goddess, 2) Apollo, who get a little jelly that his sister was in love, or 3) a scorpion stung him and he died of the lethal poison.

He does have a forever home in the skies where he’s being chased by Scorpio.

Hestia:

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Miss Goddess of the Hearth and all things domestic, and she remains a “miss”, although supposedly the wallflower of Olympian goddesses had her offers for her hand in marriage. PFFT. Like the Greek gods actually believed in upholding their marital vows. Seriously though…

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RIP Alan Rickman.

Anyways, Hestia had intrigued both Poseidon and Apollo (yippee! a choice between her brother and her nephew, the joy!), which led to her requesting eternal chastity from her brother, Zeus. Much like Artemis, she signed up for the permanent chastity belt. Maybe they get a 2-for-1 deal?

Now she was purported almost rapped by Priapus, a minor deity who had a major phallus. After a party of debauchery up in Olympus, everyone was passed out. Or, in one other variant, Hestia herself hosted a forest party.

However it went down, Hestia wasn’t drunk, but she went to rest herself at the end of the party. Then a drunk, horny Priapus came across her. He decided he’d like some action with the virgin-goddess, but she was saved by the braying of a donkey. She startled awake by the noise from the donkey and found Priapus trying to lower himself onto her. “She screamed.[…] And Priapus got scared and skittered away so Hestia’s virginity was retained.” (source)

FUN FACT: Supposedly Hestia was the eldest of the six original Olympians (i.e. Zeus being the youngest). But then her father, Cronus swallowed her and Poseidon, Hades, Hera and Demeter. When Cronus vomited his offspring out, Hestia was the last to be regurgitated. Thus, she earned the title of being both the oldest and the youngest of the six siblings.

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I can see the logic, but I’m like “that’s SO craaaaaaaaazy”.

Now Hestia was all about the hearth. So even after she stepped down for Dionysus and allowed him to take her seat at the big, adult Olympian table, she still had a job to do – and she was important to ancient Grecian life.

No family was allowed to extinguish the hearth, not unless a proper ritual decreed it. The hearth protected the family. When a child was born, it was introduced to its home by being carried near the ever-burning hearth. Her name was invoked at the start and end of a meal. She was the one who transferred sacrifices from humans to the gods, and making sure the peaceful connection remained. As one source puts it, she “represented communal security and personal happiness.”

So retired life for Hestia wasn’t much of a walk in the park. She had her duties, and she happily sought to them.

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She was like the Cinderella who wanted to be Cinderella…

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So, what did we learn?

MORAL: Wining and dining go a long way, gentleman. Also, it could help you avoid the wrath of mercurial goddesses. Or at least the shame of making history as rapists.

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Sources that helped me with this post:

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Athena-Greek-mythology

http://www.greekmythology.com/Olympians/Athena/athena.html

http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Mortals/Erichthonius/erichthonius.html

http://www.greekmythology.com/Olympians/Artemis/artemis.html

http://www.shmoop.com/artemis-actaeon/

https://greekgodsandgoddesses.net/goddesses/artemis/

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Orion-Greek-mythology

https://greekgodsandgoddesses.net/goddesses/hestia/

http://www.theoi.com/Ouranios/Hestia.html

http://www.greekmythology.com/Olympians/Hestia/hestia.html

https://www.paleothea.com/SortaSingles/Hestia.html

http://www.theoi.com/Georgikos/Priapos.html

Check them out when you have time!

 

#AtoZChallenge (2017): U is for Uranus and Urns

Day Twenty-One of the A-to-Z Challenge in April 2017. Let’s do this.

This year there’s no linky list or form to fill out to sign up. It might be too late to join at this point (unless you were double posting), but you can always cheer/comment on participants (and find awesome bloggers) at the A-to-Z’s official blog.

Now I should warn, that I didn’t stick to the common sense rule of writing short, pithy posts. Mine are long and bloated, but I’m having fun with it. And if you wanna skim, that’s absolutely cool with me!

Leave a comment down below with your blog so I can visit I’m thrilled to be making new friends. 🙂

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As part of my Greek mythic figures, places, and things theme, my “U” post features Uranus, the father (or grandfather) of the Olympian gods, and because there isn’t much to say about the primeval guy, I also added urns (or Greek pottery) to this quick post.

First up, Uranus:

Image result for uranus god
Look at me, looking down my nose at you.

A primeval god, like Nyx, Erebus, and his “wife”, Gaia, Uranus doesn’t actually have a father or mother. He. Just. Is.

Uranus was the god of the sky, just as Gaia was goddess of Earth. In some variants, Gaia actually ‘produced’ Uranus (she’s his mama, y’all).

With Gaia, Uranus had quite a few children: the Titans (as we know, with Cronus being their leader later), the Cyclopes, and the Hecatonchires. The latter two were locked up in Tartarus, or “away inside the belly of Earth” (source).

Supposedly Gaia watched on as her first children, the Hecatonchires, and the Cyclopes were locked up by their cruel father for no misdeeds (other than being alive…and maybe being more powerful than daddy) and when she had her Titans, she persuaded them to rebel against the Sky itself.

I can’t find an explanation as to why Uranus hated his children so much. Maybe he liked sex, but he didn’t like the consequences of unprotected sex?

Cronus Takes A Stand:

So Cronus, either alone, or backed by most Titans except Oceanus, waited to descend upon Uranus when he came to visit Gaia for some fun times in the sack. Grabbing him unawares, the Titans held him back while Cronus, armed with an adamantine (or diamond) sickle from Gaia, castrated Uranus.

Cronus supposedly tossed the bloodied testicles over his shoulder into the sea where the blood drops formed three new species, the Erinyes (the Furies), the Meliads (ash-tree nymphs) and the Giants. The sea foam around the testicles then formed beautiful, divine Aphrodite.

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Without his testicles, Uranus is supposedly unfit to battle.

Uranus disappears at this point from most Greek mythology, which suggests his tale was passed from a pre-Greek period. One source even theorizes that the sickle used by Cronus to “un-man” his father is of Asian origin (source) and this tale bears a resemblance to that of a Hittite myth. The Hittite Empire was an ancient Anatolian empire. Unfortunately, there’s a lot about the Hittites out there, and so little room in this post for them. But do research if you’re fascinated!

Now Uranus, or some random oracle, tell(s) Cronus that he, too, will grow to be a tyrant ousted by his son (or some foreign, new power). That’s why Cronus starts swallowing his and his sister-wife, Rhea’s children.

And that’s how Uranus’s power transferred to Cronus, which, now we know, is then forcefully inherited by Zeus, Uranus’s grandson and Gaia’s grandson AND great-grandson – remember, she very well probably is Uranus’s mother. Talk about convoluted family incestual couplings!

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MORAL: Avoid closer family ties than necessary. It could save yourself.

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Onto Greek pottery (which includes urns – that starts with a U!):

So the Greeks were all about the pottery. And why not, they were masters at creating some of the finest!

As “artists and scientists” (source), Greek potters had created many different kinds of pottery for specific purposes. The piece of pottery was tailored to its use, which was the fun part of my college intro to Greek history course (or what I remember of it anyways).

Painters and potters were usually separate people working as a team, no matter the surface of the pottery they were crafting and designing. So be it a plate or cup or a wine-storing amphorae, they made their professional relationship work to bring to life beautiful (and useful) pieces.

Image result for amphorae

So there were four types of Greek pottery, which makes it easier to classify considering there were a whole bunch of different styles of pottery out there.

The types are 1) the storage and transportation vessels, 2) mixing vessels, 3) jugs and cups, and 4) vases for oil (source). Typically #1 were larger, heavier pottery, like the amphorae you see above there. And the vases in category #4 were smaller, like an alabastron, which “were often carried by a string looped around the neck of the vessel.” (source)

Corinthian Alabastron Vase
Store your perfume in me!

As far as designs go, the pottery was used to tell stories. The same stories we’re told today – about Hercules’s Labors, and Dionysus’s tribunals to win his seat on Mt. Olympus, and so on. Stories that I’ve been sharing with you through this A-to-Z Challenge.

Now to the urns.

Cremation was common in ancient Greece. These funeral pots holding the ashes of loved ones were then buried, but the pottery remained beautiful.

The burial itself was three steps: first, the body was laid out, and then a funeral procession led the body to its final resting place, and then cremation.

During the laying out of the washed and cleaned body, people stopped by to mourn, much like a modern-day wake. This was followed by the funeral procession to the cemetery or final resting place. And finally when the deceased was cremated and buried, they were often buried with very little material treasures, even though the afterlife was very much a living concept in the minds of the, well, living.

And since we’re talking Grecian urns, one of my favorite poems is John Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn”. As an artistic medium itself, it forever captures the immortality that the eponymous Grecian urn has captured in its body. The poem speaks of both the power and weakness of art in its scope to pierce our imaginations and shape our actions.

Now that I’m reading the poem again, it’s getting me all broody.

Ha. That’s my way of saying let’s cut this post off.

MORAL: Try to stay focused when writing a post. I got pretty flustered right now.

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Sources that helped me with this post:

http://www.greekmythology.com/Other_Gods/Uranus/uranus.html

http://www.theoi.com/Protogenos/Ouranos.html

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Uranus-mythology

http://www.maicar.com/GML/Castration.html

http://www.ancient.eu/Greek_Pottery/

http://www.ancient.eu/article/489/

http://greece.mrdonn.org/vases.html

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/dbag/hd_dbag.htm

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/44477

Check them out whenever you’re free!

#AtoZChallenge (2017): T is for Titanomachy

Day Twenty of the A-to-Z Challenge in April 2017. Let’s do this.

This year there’s no linky list or form to fill out to sign up. It might be too late to join at this point (unless you were double posting), but you can always cheer/comment on participants (and find awesome bloggers) at the A-to-Z’s official blog.

Now I should warn, that I didn’t stick to the common sense rule of writing short, pithy posts. Mine are long and bloated, but I’m having fun with it. And if you wanna skim, that’s absolutely cool with me!

Leave a comment down below with your blog so I can visit I’m thrilled to be making new friends. 🙂

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As part of my Greek mythic figures, places, and things theme, my “T” post details the Titanomachy, or the Titan War.

Image result for titanomachy greek mythology
Some of these deities aren’t even properly armored.

There isn’t much detail on the Titan War, other than that it may have lasted ten years, and the two opposing sides were the titans (of course!) and the Olympians.

The Beginnings:

It started with Uranus, the primordial grandfather of Zeus who wasn’t a really great father. Uranus was ousted by Cronus, his son. But Cronus was a tyrant too. He ruled with an iron fist, I suppose. But the most evil of his deeds was surely swallowing his own children, for fear of an oracle’s reading that told him that a son of his would end his tyranny (just as Cronus had ended his father’s). It’s the cycle of “love” that keeps giving, this family…

Image result for rolls eyes gif

So Cronus kept up his craziness until his wife, Rhea, decided that she had enough of giving birth to children, and then still remaining childless. She finally used her brain and hid the son she just had – but Cronus was expecting another child to devour, so Rhea passed him a stone she wrapped up.

Image result for surprise gif

Cronus ate the stone, thinking he got away with it again.

Rhea raised her son, Zeus, up from the eyes of his monstrous father, and when he was old enough, Zeus stood up to Daddy Dearest.

I know I keep mentioning Maury, but I swear this stuff is straight-up scandalous drama.

Image result for jerry springer gif
Here’s some Jerry for you.

I wonder if Cronus was like “Oh shoot” or if he was like “Rhea, did you cheat on me – cause I KNOW I swallowed my babies?! Mhmm-hmm.”

However it went down, Cronus and Zeus did not have a happy father-son reunion. They decided to take their beef to the trenches…

It’s War Time:

Before that, Zeus would need an army. He remembered his swallowed siblings. Zeus was the sixth child, and the youngest of those unfortunate, innocent souls before him. So he had either Gaia, his grandmother (Uranus’s wife) or Metis, goddess of wisdom and later the mother of Athena by Zeus, help him concoct a potion for Cronus to imbibe.

When Cronus did, he regurgitated his swallowed children. Out popped Hestia, Hera, Demeter, Hades and Poseidon, the original five Olympian gods – not including Hades, he doesn’t count.

Apollo, Artemis, Dionysus, Hermes, Athena, Hephaestus, and Ares being the products of the original Olympians, but Olympians in their own right. Hestia steps down for Dionysus, and Aphrodite, also an Olympian, sprung from Uranus’s blood (more on that here, in my “U” post for Uranus).

Back to the story of Cronus and the Titanomachy:

So, Cronus spat out his children, and Zeus now had his army. Not all Titans went to war, and those that remained (neutral) were later not punished by Zeus. Some Titans joined the Olympian cause, like Styx (as in the river Styx). She was the first of the second-generation Titans, a daughter of Oceanus, who joined Zeus and brought her sons and daughters to fight on his side as well.

Both opposing factions had their mountain tops to rule from: Zeus and the Olympians on Mt. Olympus, and Cronus and his Titan-goons from Mt. Othrys.

Image result for drawing line in the sand gif

They were evenly matched though, and it was Gaia who arrived to inform Zeus that he had hope of winning if he could go down into the Underworld and free the Hecatonchires and the Cyclopes.

How the War Came to an End:

The Hecatonchires were weakened, so Zeus had them revived with ambrosia, the drink of the gods, and nectar, the fruit of the gods, and once recharged, these hundred-handed giants could throw mountains as missiles.

Mountains?! Is it too early to call this one, because I think the war is won.

Now the Cyclopes played a major role too. Indebted to having been freed from Tartarus, the bad/wrong side of the Underworld, the Cyclopes used their master artisan skills to craft Olympian weapons for the three Olympian brothers, Zeus, Poseidon and Hades (at this time Hades had no rule over the Underworld yet).

So Zeus got his lightning bolts…

Image result for zeus lightning bolts gif

And Poseidon was gifted his trident…

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Hades received a helmet/helm of invisibility.

Image result for now you see me now you don't gif
Now you see me, now you don’t.

The war ended eventually. As foretold, Zeus and the Olympians won. Zeus imprisoned the male Titans in Tartarus by new, supposedly sturdy bronze gates built by the Cyclopes. In some versions, the female Titans are free – for they didn’t battle.

Funny enough, the female Olympians, Hera, Hestia and Demeter didn’t fight as well. Guess Zeus, Hades and Poseidon didn’t like the idea of seeing their sisters battle…who knows?

The Aftermath

In some cases, though, all Titans, male and female, were imprisoned eternally, except for Themis and Prometheus. They battled for Zeus, like Styx.

Prometheus would later earn Zeus’s ire for stealing fire for the humans. For years he’d suffer from being chained and having an eagle (or vulture) peck out his liver, bit by bit, for the day, only to return with the light of dawn to find Prometheus’s liver re-grown. Hercules would free him on his quest of Labors.

Zeus’s allies were rewarded as well. “Styx, was made a power river goddess whose name was invoked for unbreakable oaths, whilst her children would be given privileged positions upon Mount Olympus. Metis would become the first wife of Zeus.” (source)

Then, as the new rulers of the universe, Zeus, Poseidon and Hades divided its rule among themselves. Zeus taking the skies and Earth, Poseidon the seas, and Hades keeping the Underworld in tip-top shape (of course, he wasn’t counted among the 12 Olympian gods, and he held no seat in Mt. Olympus – oh well, all that space to himself).

MORAL: Try to be a kind ruler…and if you can’t lead, do good to follow, or teach future leaders. And if you’re placing bets, make sure it doesn’t bite you in the arse later.

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Sources that helped me with this post:

http://www.greekmythology.com/Titans/Cronus/cronus.html

http://www.maicar.com/GML/Titanomachy.html

http://www.greeklegendsandmyths.com/titanomachy.html

http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/The_Myths/Titanomachy/titanomachy.html

Check them out when you can!

#AtoZChallenge (2017): S is for Satyrs and Silenus

Day Nineteen of the A-to-Z Challenge in April 2017. Let’s do this.

This year there’s no linky list or form to fill out to sign up. It might be too late to join at this point (unless you were double posting), but you can always cheer/comment on participants (and find awesome bloggers) at the A-to-Z’s official blog.

Now I should warn, that I didn’t stick to the common sense rule of writing short, pithy posts. Mine are long and bloated, but I’m having fun with it. And if you wanna skim, that’s absolutely cool with me!

Leave a comment down below with your blog so I can visit I’m thrilled to be making new friends. 🙂

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As part of my Greek mythic figures, places, and things theme, my “S” post is all about Satyrs (and, yes, Silenus is one of them…sorta).

Image result for satyrs
Hey…this guy has regularly feet. Creepy tail though.

So let’s start with the satyrs.

Who were they? What did they look like? And what do they do?

Satyrs were an all-male woodland race. As “rustic fertility spirits” (source), they peacefully coexisted with nature, and later, on his birth and maturation, Dionysus took them in as his companions alongside the all-female, wild group of Maenads.

The satyrs had a distinct appearance, so they could easily be picked apart from other Greek mythical creatures. They had the legs of goats or rams, and “asinine ears, pug noses, reclining hair-lines, the tails of horses and erect members” (source).

Image result for pan greek god
Think Pan.

They were also looked upon unfavorably for their lascivious nature. Hesiod “describes them as a race good for nothing and unfit for work” (source).

Understandable, considering the main goal of satyrs seemed to be to have fun. They enjoyed their wine, their music and merrymaking, and they loved their women. Especially the poor nymphs… I can’t imagine being a beautiful woman and being accosted by a satyr.

Supposedly, as they enter different stages of life, the satyrs are classed differently:

Older satyrs might (or might not be) grouped as the Sileni. Although, sometimes the Sileni are another mythological race as a whole, with horse ears and tails, etc. But let’s go with their being older satyrs. And child satyrs were called satyriskoi.

Sileni “were depicted as fat, elderly, white-haired men, with snub noses, balding heads, and the ears and tails of asses. They were sometimes covered in fluffy white hair and occasionally sported a pair of ox horns.” (source)

Image result for silenus and dionysus
Silenus with Dionysus.

Anyways, one of the more well-known, aged, balding Sileni is the satyr, Silenus.

Who is Silenus?

This old satyr raised an infant Dionysus and nursed by the trio of nymphs on Mt. Nysa (supposedly his three maternal aunts).

Silenus might have been the older god of wine-making and drunkard rowdiness, but Dionysus would inherit that title when he came to his power. But Silenus continued to raise the baby god into a young man in a constant drunken state. He remained a companion and follower of Dionysus.

Silenus would often be seen riding on a donkey. Now though he might look a fool, he was never seen that way. In fact, Silenus was seen as having “homely wisdom”. Think the jester, minus the merry cap (Silenus’s ears would have trouble fitting in it). At least one source mentions Silenus having the ability to see the future. That he’d somehow gain this ability through his copious drinking.

As the young god’s foster father and teacher, Silenus was favored by Dionysus. Such that King Midas was granted such divine favor through his kindness to Silenus.

And if you don’t know who the Greek mythological Midas was…

Image result for trust the midas touch
Hint! (Not really, but really.)

As the tale goes, King Midas was the ruler of Phrygia and a drunk Silenus had wondered into the kingdom. Sighting him, and knowing him to be Silenus, King Midas took him in or captured him in some variants, but if he was a captor, the king took good care of his guest/captive. And King Midas delivered Silenus back to 

Once Dionysus got word of how well Silenus was treated by good King Midas, he granted Midas a wish. Idiot asked for everything he touched to become gold. And it wasn’t like he said “I’m ambidextrous, so I could use any hand, but I want my left hand to be making me gold”.

Midas quickly realized his folly though.

He couldn’t eat any food, for whatever he touched turned to gold. And as a king, it didn’t occur for him to ask for people to feed him. >.>

At least he’s not totally pompous. He has hope.

Midas’s problem crescendos and crashes when his daughter comes to greet him and he hugs her, turning her into a gold, life-like statue.

He prayed to Dionysus to reverse his newfound powers, and Dionysus instructs him to wash his hands in a river, so that he may be rid of the gold-transforming touch. Luckily Midas didn’t think to take a shower at any point…or he’d be a statue too.

MORAL: For Silenus, sharing is caring. For Midas, don’t be greedy.

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Sources that helped me with this post:

http://www.mythindex.com/greek-mythology/S/Satyri.html

http://www.mythography.com/myth/welcome-to-mythography/greek-chimerae/hybrids/satyr/

http://www.theoi.com/Georgikos/Satyroi.html

http://www.theoi.com/Georgikos/Seilenoi.html

http://www.theoi.com/Georgikos/Seilenos.html

http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Mortals/King_Midas/king_midas.html

http://www.greeka.com/greece-myths/king-midas.htm

https://lordsofthedrinks.com/2015/05/26/silenus-the-happy-drunk-from-ancient-greece-that-taught-dionysus-how-to-party/

Check them out if you have the time; they don’t disappoint!

#AtoZChallenge (2017): R is for the Ring of Gyges

Day Eighteen of the A-to-Z Challenge in April 2017. Let’s do this.

This year there’s no linky list or form to fill out to sign up. It might be too late to join at this point (unless you were double posting), but you can always cheer/comment on participants (and find awesome bloggers) at the A-to-Z’s official blog.

Now I should warn, that I didn’t stick to the common sense rule of writing short, pithy posts. Mine are long and bloated, but I’m having fun with it. And if you wanna skim, that’s absolutely cool with me!

Leave a comment down below with your blog so I can visit I’m thrilled to be making new friends. 🙂

*

As part of my Greek mythic figures, places, and things theme, my “R” post will talk the Ring of Gyges in Plato’s Republic.

As Shmoop will tell you, there’s nothing LOTR here…although there is the same madness circling the ring. For the same reason Frodo hesitates to destroy the ring, I imagine some people wouldn’t be rushing to vanquish the Ring of Gyges (if the jewelry and its powers existed).

Image result for frodo destroys the ring
Basically sums LOTR up from Frodo’s standpoint. Lol.

The same reason the Gem of Amara is so important to vampires in Buffy. Or the invisibility cloak comes in handy in the Harry Potter series, or that same cloak is super handy with the soldier in the Grimm fairy tale, “The Twelve Dancing Princesses”.

And there are a multitude of other references I’m sure…not the first time a powerful item has swayed our human minds.

Back to the Ring of Gyges. It’s referenced in Plato’s The Republic because the character, Glaucon, wonders if humans can be morally good outside the laws of civilization. Glaucon uses a “thought-experiment” to pose his question to Socrates.

Glaucon’s example is the tale of King Gyges, a historical Lydian king believed to have been ruling from the late 700s BCE to mid-600s BCE.

Which makes this story interesting…

Did this guy actually have this powerful ring?

Oh, yeah, and what IS this ring?

The Ring of Gyges supposedly granted invisibility to its wearer. Though I’m not sure if Sauron’s eye followed you, or if the worst you had to fear was your finger turning green…

None of which Gyges worried about, because he took the ring off a corpse.

Yeah, you read that right. Dude was a grave robber.

Gyges the Grave Robber:

But he was really a shepherd before that, governed by the then ruler of Lydia when an earthquake and a ferocious thunderstorm ripped open the Earth near where Gyges was tending his flock. Curious, Gyges the shepherd went to investigate. Inside the hole he found many “wonderful things” and also a large, hollow horse with “windows in the side”. Gyges peered in and saw a “larger than human” corpse with “nothing on but a gold ring on the hand”.

And I’m sure you pieced this together, but he takes the ring.

Now there’s a monthly meeting that all the shepherds of Lydia attend with each other, gathering reports to present to the king about the kingdom’s flocks. Guess wool was important here…

Anyways, while at this meeting, Gyges was twisting the ring around his finger. Whenever the collet was grasped in his palm, or turned inward, he became invisible to the party of shepherd as they wondered aloud where Gyges had went so suddenly. When he turned it outward, he was visible to them once again.

Suffice to say, Gyges spent the rest of the meeting not talking sheep and confirming what he came to suspect – the true power of the strange, gold ring.

The Power of the Ring:

With this new power, Gyges aimed for a loftier position than He Who Roamed With Sheep All Day. Eventually rising to become one of the King’s messengers (whatever that meant), Gyges seduced the King’s wife and together they plotted to kill the King. Doing that, Gyges seized the throne and Lydian empire.

The story ends there, but Glaucon goes on to ponder that “no one is just willingly but only under compulsion”. If there were “two such rings” and one was given to a just man and the other gifted to an unjust man, then the just man would become unjust as well. And even if he remained just, he would be “thought a miserable fool by any who perceived it”. A miserable fool because he would be dumb not to steal, is what he means.

And if this extremely just man got praise for not acting on his baser instincts, Glaucon surmises, then his neighbors would be deluding themselves by praising him – really fearing that they would be robbed themselves (so it’s the fear of karma that shuts their mouths).

It’s a bleak painting of humanity, but Plato’s argument is focused on “power gained without accountability” (source). No one challenged Gyges, and that’s the problem.*

Remember how Donald Trump boasted about the loyalty of his voters. He says, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay – it’s like incredible!” (That video is here.) Well, it’s that kind of power that’s dangerous.

What if our leaders, our bosses, our principals or deans, our law enforcement – heck, our parents, could gun us down without any fear of retaliation?

Funny thing, I’d usually answer the “what one superpower would you want to have?” question with invisibility, until I realized I could be shot – and it would be my crappy luck that a stray bullet hit me while I tried escaping with my invisibility cloak.

MORAL: Check yourself, every day.

Image result for trust nobody meme

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My sources for this post:

*All quotes during my summary of Glaucon’s tale is taken from Great Dialogues of Plato: Complete Texts of The Republic… from publisher, Mentor (1956, 1984).

https://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl201/modules/Philosophers/Plato/plato_dialogue_the_ring_of_gyges.html

http://www.shmoop.com/the-republic/ring-of-invisibility-symbol.html

Check them out when you can.