Friday, December 19, 2008

Greek Holidays

(Picture of Demeter)

Months (Approximate Translations): January - Gamelion, February - Anthesterion, March - Elaphebolion, April - Mounichion, May - Thargelion, June - Skirophorion, July - Hekatombaion (The first month of their year), August - Metageitnion, September - Boedromion, October - Pyanopsion, November - Maimakterion, December - Poseideon

Festivals and the months they are in.

  • Panhellenic Festivals
    • Olympic Games
    • Pythian Games
    • Isthmian Games
    • Nemean Games
  • Athenian and Attic Festivals
    • Hekatombaion
      • 12 - Kronia
      • 16 - Synoikia
      • 28 - Panathenea
    • Metageitnion
      • 15,16,17,18 - Eleusina
    • Boedromion
      • 5 - Genesia
      • 12 - Democratia
      • 17 or 18 - Epidauria
    • Pyanopsion
      • 6 - Proerosia
      • 7 - Pyanopsia
      • 8 - Theseia
      • 8 - Oschophoria
      • 9 - Stenia
      • 11,12,13 - Thesmophoria
      • 19,20,21 or 26,27,28 - Apaturia
      • 30 - Apaturia
    • Maimakterion
      • ? - Pompaia
    • Poseideon
      • 26 - Haloa
    • Gamelion
      • 12,13,14,15 - Lenea
      • 27 - Theogamia
    • Anthesterion
      • 11,12,13 - Anthesteria
      • 23 - Diasia
    • Elaphebolion
      • 10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17 - Great Dionysia
      • 17 - Pandia
    • Mounichion
      • 16 - Munichia
      • 19 - Olympeia
    • Thargelion
      • 7 - Thargelia
      • 19 - Bendideia
      • 24 - Callynteria
      • 25 - Plynteria
    • Skirophorion
      • 3 - Arrephoria
      • 12 - Scira
      • 14 - Bouphonia
Haloa, which was celebrated December (Poseidon) 26, is an ancient greek festival held in attic during the month Poseidon in the honor of Demeter. In Athens and other parts of ancient Greece, there is a month that corresponds to roughly December/January that is named Poseideon for the sea-god Poseidon. At Athens there was a festival named Posidea after the god. Since Poseidon is a sea god it is curious that his festival would be held during the time the Greeks were least likely to set sail. I do not know why the month is named Poseidon, and I doubt anyone else does either.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


(Hephaestus with Cyclops helper)

The Cyclopes were giant beings with a single, round eye in the middle of their foreheads. According to Hesiod, they were strong, stubborn, and "abrupt of emotion." Their every action ebbed with violence and power. There are actually two generations of Cyclopes in Greek myth. The first generation consisted of three brothers, Brontes ("thunderer"), Steropes ("flasher"), and Arges ("brightener"), who came from the union of Gaia (earth) and Uranus (sky). The second generation descended from Poseidon, and the most famous of these was Polyphemus from Homer's Odyssey.

Brontes, Steropes, and Arges (the three descended from Gaia and Uranus) were the inventive blacksmiths of the Olympian gods. They were skilled metal workers and created Zeus' thunderbolts, Poseidon's trident, and Hades' Helmet of Darkness that was later used by Perseus while on his quest to decapitate Medusa. However, they spent the majority of their early existence imprisoned. Their father Uranus (sky) hated all of his offspring (the Titans, Cyclopes, and Hecatonchires or hundred-handers) and kept them confined deep within Gaia (earth). The defeat of Uranus by his son Cronus (a Titan) freed the Cyclopes for a time, but Cronus was a paranoid ruler. He feared the Cyclopes' power and cast them into Tartarus (the place of punishment in the underworld) where they remained imprisoned until Zeus (an Olympian and son of Cronus) released them, requiring their aid in the Titanomachy (battle of the Titans). With the assistance of the Cyclopes and their thunderbolts, Zeus overthrew Cronus and the Titans and became ruler of the cosmos. He was grateful for the Cyclopes' help and allowed them to stay in Olympus as his armorers and helpers to Hephaestus, god of smiths. The Greeks also credited them with building the massive fortifications at Tiryns and Mycenae in the Peloponnese.

Brontes, Steropes, and Arges are mainly mentioned in passing in most of the myths to convey strength in heroes and the fine quality of weapons but are major characters in one other event – their deaths at the hands of Apollo. Zeus struck Asclepius, Apollo's son, down with a thunderbolt for having risen a person from the dead. Apollo was outraged and killed the Cyclopes who had forged the deadly thunderbolt. It appears that Apollo's rage was misplaced, yet by killing the Cyclopes, he was indirectly punishing Zeus. The ghosts of Brontes, Steropes, and Arges are said to dwell in Mt. Aetna, an active volcano that smokes as a result of their burning forges.

The second generation of Cyclopes was a band of lawless shepherds living in Sicily who had lost the skill of metallurgy. Polyphemus, son of Poseidon and the sea nymph Thoosa, is the only notable individual of the lot and figures prominently in Homer's Odyssey. Odysseus and his crew landed on Sicily, realm of the Cyclopes. He and a few of his best men became trapped in Polyphemus' cave when Polyphemus rolled a large boulder in front of the entrance to corral his sheep while Odysseus was still inside. Polyphemus was fond of human flesh and devoured many of the men for dinner. On the second night, Odysseus told Polyphemus that his name was "Nobody," and tricked him into drinking enough wine to pass out. While he was incapacitated, Odysseus/Nobody blinded him with a red hot poker. Polyphemus shouted in pain to the other Cyclopes on the island that "Nobody" was trying to kill him, so no one came to his rescue. Eventually, he had to roll away the stone to allow his sheep to graze. Odysseus and the remaining crew clung to the bellies of the exiting sheep where Polyphemus could not feel them as they passed him on their way to pasture and escaped. As Odysseus sailed away from the island, he shouted to Polyphemus that it was Odysseus who had blinded him. Enraged, the Cyclops threw huge boulders at the ship and shouted to his father, Poseidon, to avenge him.

Recent scholars have hypothesized about the origin of the Cyclopes' single eye. One possibility is that in ancient times, smiths could have worn an eye patch over one eye to prevent being blinded in both eyes from flying sparks. Also, smiths sometimes tattooed themselves with concentric circles which could have been in honor of the sun which provided the fire for their furnaces. Concentric rings were also part of the pattern for making bowls, helmets, masks, and other metal objects. Notice that the first generation Cyclopes were associated with metal-working while the second generation was not. Apparently, the lawless band of Cyclopes is a later addition to the myths. The incidence with Polyphemus seems to have had an independent existence from the Odyssey before Homer added it to his epic adventure. It was probably told as a separate myth at certain functions.

It is uncertain why the Cyclopes were demoted from the smiths of the gods to a lawless group of monsters with no reverence for the gods. When the universe came into being, there were many monsters and vague forms that were gradually replaced with beings with more human forms. Order was replacing chaos. The monsters were phased out, and this could have lead to the transformation of the "good" Cyclopes to the "evil" Cyclopes that were destined to be fought and defeated by the divine human form.

The Hundred-Handed Ones (Hecatoncheires)

The Hecatonchires were born of Gaia and Uranus. They were stronger, more overbearing, and more fierce than even the mighty Cyclopes. They had 100 arms and 50 heads each. Their names were Cottus, Briareus, and Gyges. Uranus was disgusted by these children, so in a fit of outrage he cast them into Tartarus to be locked up forever. Gaia was distressed about this and asked the Titans for help in retrieving them. Only Cronus agreed to help. Gyges and Cottus revolted against Zeus and were imprisoned in Tartarus by Zeus as punishment. They were was guarded by Briareus.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Hephaestus was the Greek god of fire, especially the blacksmiths fire. He was the patron of all craftsmen, especially blacksmiths and others who worked with metal. There are two versions of how Hephaestus became crippled. One story says that he was born lame, and his mother Hera threw him from Mount Olympus and he fell for a day before landing in the sea. Nymphs rescued him and took him to an island, where the people took care of him. In the other story, Zeus, his father, threw him from the top of Mount Olympus after siding with his mother in an argument. Hephaestus fell for nine days and nine nights and landed on the island from the other story, Lemnos, and he built his forges under the Volcano there.
To gain revenge for his mothers rejection, Hephaestus made a magical throne. He brought it to Mount Olympus and when his mother sat in it, she got trapped. All of the gods begged Hephaestus to return to Olympus, but he would not. Dionysus, the god of wine, went to Hephaestus and had him drink a lot of wine. Dionysus brought him to Mount Olympus on the back of a mule while he was drunk. Once he was promised the beautiful Aphrodite as a wife, he released Hera from the chair. Even though Aphrodite was married to him, he suspected her of adultery. So he set a trap. He caught Aphrodite in a bed with Ares and threw a net over them that they could not escape from. He brought them before the other gods, but instead of punishing them, the gods let them go. Hephaestus was not born naturally. There was no participation from any male in his conception. Hera was jealous of Zeus' affair with Metis, she made herself pregnant and had Zeus.
Hephaestus helped in Athena's "birth", he split Zeus' head open with an axe and out popped Athena. Being a great craftsman Hephaestus manufactured wonderful articles from various materials, primarily from metal. With help from the Cyclopes, who were his workmen and assistants, he fashioned the thunderbolts for Zeus and his sceptre. He made weapons and armour for the other gods and heroes. For Athena, he made her shield or aegis and for the god of love, Eros, he made the arrows. The wonderful chariot which the sun god Helios rode across the sky was made by Hephaestus and in some versions it was a golden cup or goblet. He also fashioned the invincible armour of Achilles. Hephaestus helped to create the first woman, with the assistance of other gods, after Zeus had ordered that there be a new kind of human. Zeus plotted against Prometheus because he and his race of mortals had only included one gender, which was male, and so Hephaestus formed the first woman from clay. Her name was Pandora and from a supernatural jar, she released the evils of the world on mankind.

Monday, December 15, 2008


In Greek mythology, Morpheus is the god of dreams. He lives in a dim lit cave in an ebony bed surrounded by poppy. He is responsible for weaving dreams. He plays no real part in Greek mythology, only in "The Adventures of Ulysses", the Romans version of Homers poem, the Odyssey. In "The Adventures of Ulysses", he made the Lotus with his aunt, Persephone, and lived in lotusland. He is known as the son of Hypnos, god of sleep. The word Morphine is derived from his name.

Scylla & Charybdis: Terrors of the ocean

Scylla and Charybdis

Scylla is a monster in Greek mythology. She is a sea monster who lived underneath a dangerous rock at one side of the Strait of Messia, opposite Charybdis.

Scylla was a nymph, daughter of Phorcys. The fisherman-turned-sea-god Glaucus fell madly in love with her, but she fled from him onto the land where he could not follow. Despair filled his heart. He went to the sorceress Circe to ask for a love potion to melt Scylla's heart. As he told his tale of love to Circe, she herself fell in love with him. She wooed him with her sweetest words and looks, but the sea-god would have none of her. Circe was furiously angry, but with Scylla and not with Glaucus. She prepared a vial of very powerful poison and poured it in the pool where Scylla bathed. As soon as the nymph entered the water she was transformed into a frightful monster with twelve feet and six heads, each with three rows of teeth. Below the waist her body was made up of hideous monsters, like dogs, who barked unceasingly. She stands there in utter misery, unable to move, loathing and destroying everything that came into her reach, a peril to all sailors who passed near her. Whenever a ship passes, each of her heads would seize one of the crew. In the Oddysey, this is one of the many terrors that befell the greeks. Charybdis was once a nymph-daughter of Poseidon and Gaia who flooded lands for her father's underwater kingdom until Zeus turned her into a monster and have her suck in and out water three times an day. She lives in a cave at one side of the Strait of Messina, opposite the monster Scylla, the two of them forming a dangerous threat to passing ships.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Rivers leading to the Underworld

Styx, it is said winds around Hades nine times. Its name comes from the Greek word stugein which means hate, Styx, the river of hate. This river was so respected by the gods of Greek mythology that they would take life binding oaths just by mentioning its name, as referenced in the story of Bacchus-Ariadne, where Jove "confirms it with the irrevocable oath, attesting the river Styx."

There are five rivers that separate Hades from the world of the living, they are:

  1. Acheron - the river of woe;
  2. Cocytus - the river of lamentation;
  3. Phlegethon - the river of fire;
  4. Lethe - the river of forgetfulness;
  5. Styx - the river of hate.

It is thought that Charon, the old ferry man who ferries the dead onto the underworld, crosses the river Styx where the dragon tailed dog Cerberus guards, allowing all souls to enter but none to leave. This is a misconception, Charon crosses the river Acheron where also Cerebus stands his eternal guard. Also while on this subject, Charon only takes the souls across that are buried properly with a coin (called an obol) that was placed in their mouths upon burial.

If a god gave his oath upon the river Styx and failed to keep his word, Zeus forced that god to drink from the river itself. The water is said to be so foul that the god would lose his/her voice for nine years. The river is not the subject of any story itself but is mentioned in several. These little pieces give a wonderful view of not only the river but the ancient Greeks view of the underworld. From its Adamantine gates to its separate levels of Tartarus and Erebus onto the Elysian fields.


(The River Styx and the Goddess Styx)

Styx is the Goddess of the River of Death in the underworld, normally refferred to simply as the River Styx. She is usually said to be the daughter of Erebus and Nyx. She was married to Pallas by whom she had Zelus, Nike, Cratos and Bia.


Athena is the Greek Goddess of war, wisdom, arts, industry, justice and skill. She is the favorite child of Zeus. She sprung fully grown from Zeus's head after Hephaestus split it open. She is the daughter of Zeus's first wife, Metis, who Zeus ate. Athena also posses the Aegis.


Eris' Apple of Discord

Eris is the goddess of discord and strife. She is Ares' constant companion on the battlefield and follows him everywhere. She is sinister and mean, and loves nothing better than to cause trouble. She has a golden apple that she can throw among people, and their friendships quickly come to an end. This apple is called the Apple of Discord. During the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, she was the only god not invited. She came down and put the apple on the table. This action brought around the Trojan war.


Ares is the Greek god of war and the instigator of violence. His father is Zeus and his mother Hera. He is despised by all other gods because of his tendency for violence. Even Zeus despised him. He is bloody and merciless, Fearful and cowardly. He was the fastest god, and he became the goddess Aphrodites consort. On the battlefield Ares was accompanied by Phobos ("Fear") and Deimos ("Terror"), two lesser divinities who are sometimes given as his sons. He was furthermore attended by the goddesses Eris ("Strife") and Enyo ("Horror"). Ares is also the father of the Harmonia, the goddess of harmony, and of the Amazons Penthesilea and Hippolyte. His cult was never very popular with anyone, and there were very few temples built in his honor.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Zeus was the youngest of all of his siblings. He defeated his own father with his own scythe. He is the Supreme Ruler of Olympus even though he is the youngest. He controls thunder, lightning and rain. His father Cronus swallowed his newborn children Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades and Poseidon, but his wife Rhea (who was also his sister) and Gaia her mother, wrapped a stone in swaddling clothes in place of the infant Zeus. Cronus thought that he had swallowed another of his children while Zeus was hid away in a cave in Crete. Zeus managed to get Cronus to throw up his siblings and then, with the help of Metis who gave Cronus a potion which made him throw them up. Once he overthrew the titans, Zeus and his brothers Hades and Poseidon split the universe. Zeus got the Heavens. Poseidon the Ocean and Hades the Underworld. "Zeus had to defend his heavenly kingdom. The three separate assaults were from the offspring of Gaia: they were the Gigantes, Typhon (Zeus fought them with his thunder-bolt and aegis) and the twin brothers who were called the Aloadae. The latter tried to gain access to the heavens by stacking Mount Ossa on top of Mount Olympus, and Mount Pelion on top of Mount Ossa, but the twins still failed in their attempt to overthrow Zeus. As he did with the Titans, Zeus banished them all to "Tartarus", which is the lowest region on earth, lower than the underworld." Metis tried to escape from Zeuses advances, but from their union came Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom and War. Hera gave birth to Hephaestus parthenogenetically (without being fertilized) and it was Hephaestus who, when the time came, split open the head of Zeus, from which Athena emerged fully armed. In some of his human liaisons Zeus used devious disguises. When he seduced the Spartan queen Leda, he transformed himself into a beautiful swan, and from the egg which Leda produced, two sets of twins were born: Castor and Polydeuces and Clytemnestra and Helen of Troy. He visited princess Danae as a shower of gold, and from this union the hero Perseus was born. He abducted the Phoenician princess Europa, disguised as a bull, then carried her on his back to the island of Crete where she bore three sons: Minos, Rhadamanthys and Sarpedon. Zeus also took as a lover the Trojan prince Ganymede. He was abducted by an eagle sent by Zeus (some legends believe it was Zeus disguised as an eagle). The prince was taken to Mount Olympus, where he became Zeus' cup-bearer. Zeus also used his charm and unprecedented power to seduce those he wanted, so when Zeus promised Semele that he would reveal himself in all his splendor, in order to seduce her, the union produced Dionysus, but she was destroyed when Zeus appeared as thunder and lightening. Themis, the goddess of justice bore the three Horae, goddesses of the seasons to Zeus, and also the three Moirae, known as these Fates. When Zeus had an affair with Mnemosyne, he coupled with her for nine consecutive nights, which produced nine daughters, who became known as the Muses. They entertained their father and the other gods as a celestial choir on Mount Olympus. They became deities of intellectual pursuits. Also the three Charites or Graces were born from Zeus and Eurynome.

(All links are from HERE)
(The Greek Gods family tree)

Friday, December 5, 2008


Hades is the god of the Underworld which can be referred to as simply Hades. Hades abducted his wife Persephone from the Upperworld. Zeus demanded that he release Persephone to the Upperworld. Hades gave Persephone a pomegranate seed which she ate and she was tied to the Underworld forever. She returns to the Upperworld every spring, for she is the goddess of spring. Hades sits on a throne of ebony and he has a scepter. He also has a helmet that makes him completely. Hades rules the dead with Demonic helpers such as "Thanatos and Hypnos, the ferryman Charon, and the hound Cerberus." Many heroes from Greek mythology have descended into the underworld, either to question the shades or trying to free them. "Although Hades does not allow his subjects to leave his domain, on several occasions he has granted permission, such as when Orpheus requested the return of his beloved Eurydice." Hades is the most avoided god, even by other gods. Mortals would not speak his name because they were afraid of drawing unwanted attention from him.

(All quotes from

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Poseidon: The god of the sea

As you can tell from the title (hopefully) Poseidon is the god of the sea, and also the oldest of all of the children of Cronus and Rhea, titans and also brother and sister. His siblings are Hestia the goddess of the hearth and fire, Demeter the goddess of the earth, Hera is the Queen of the gods and the goddess of Marriage and Birth, Hades is the god of the Underworld, and his most famous brother, and the youngest, Zeus, King of the gods and god of the Sky. Poseidon is also the god of Earthquakes and Horses. The symbols associated with him are the Dolphin and the Trident. He lives on the ocean floor in a palace of made of coral and gems. Poseidon was a very moody god, when he was in a good mood, he could makes calm seas and new lands. When he was in a bad mood, he would cause ship wrecks, earthquakes and drownings. He was married to the Neried Amphitrite who produced the half fish half human Triton. He also caused t he birth of Theseus, one of the Greek heroes. Other offspring of Poseidon include: Eumolpus, the Giant Sinis, Polyphemus the evil Cyclops, Orion, mated with Gorgon Medusa to conceive Chrysaor and Pegasus, the flying horse, King Amycus, Proteus, Agenor and Belus from Europa, Pelias, and the King of Egypt, Busiris. He also chased his sister, Demeter, who turned herself in to a mare to escape, and he turned himself in to a stallion and captured her, they had a horse named Arion, the first of all horses. Poseidon had a feud with the goddess of war, Athena. When they were trying to decide who was going to be the patron god/goddess of Athens, Poseidon threw his Trident in to the ground and produced a spring of saltwater and Athena gave them a Olive tree. Athena won. Poseidon used his powers to inflict fear and punishment on people or as revenge. Poseidon could also be cooperative, it was he who helped the Greeks in the war against Troy.