I'm going to have to have someone else tell you a story today, because I am extremely swamped! Today, the story of Athos, the mountain God who created Mount Athos. More tomorrow!



The Greek Reporter has a lovely little portrait up about the  oldest olive tree in the world, which happens to be on Crete.


The Vouves ancient tree is more than 3000 years old, has a trunk circumference of 12.5 meters, a diameter of 4.6 meters and belongs to the local variety of tsounati grafted at a height of 3 meters on a wild olive tree. Because of the grafting, its trunk is so beautifully shaped by nature that it resembles a sculpture. It's located in the village of Ano Vouves of Kissamos in Chania, Crete.In 1990, according to a unanimous decision of the prefecture of Chania, the Vouves Olive Tree was declared a Natural Monument of great importance.

The fruits of the evergreen olive tree make the best olive oil in the world, making the area the cradle of olive cultivation in Crete. The trunk of the tree is hollow as there is no heartwood, so the olive is renewed outward and the heartwood gradually rots. Since the olive tree is constantly renewing its wood, it is essentially a symbol of immortality.

Thousands of tourists visit the stunning tree every summer to marvel at it and learn its history. Mostly they are impressed by its enormous shape and the imposing volume of the trunk, but also by the fact that it remains alive and fruitful for 3000 years without pause.

The location of the olive tree, as well as the whole hill that hosts some villages, has thousands of olive trees and the villages produce the best olive oil in the world.


The Mounikhia (Μουνιχιας), the festival after which the month was named, is celebrated on the sixteenth of Mounichion. On this day of the full moon, Artemis Mounikhia (Αρτεμις Μουνυχια) was honored at the hill of Munikhia, for granting the Hellenes victory in the Battle of Salamis (Ναυμαχία τῆς Σαλαμῖνος).

During the festival, young girls walked in procession to the temple on top of the hill carrying green boughs, while the rest of the celebrants followed, carrying special cakes called 'amphiphontes' ('shining all round’). These round white cakes were adorned with dadia (little torches)--lit candle--and were supposed to represent the full moon. A she-goat is also attested as a sacrifice.

During this festival, an amphiphon was sacrificed to Artemis. It was a cheese pie on which candles were lit. Most likely, the amphiphon was a type of popanon; this is a large, round, flat cake with one or more, upright, protruding, knobs made from flour and cheese. The flat version of the cake, the popanon kathemenon was offered to Artemis, amongst others, as well as one with twelve knobs. We've seen this before for the Delphinia.

If you want to learn more about the festival and its history, please read this blog post.

To honour Artemis on this day, Elaion is organizing a PAT ritual. Will you be celebrating the Mounikhia with us? There will be two times: just after your dusk on1 May, or at our regular 10 a.m. EDT on 2 May As always, we hope you will join us at your oikos to honour Artemis, our eternal protector. You can join the community page here and find the ritual here.
Isocrates (Ἰσοκράτης), 436–338 BC, was an ancient Hellenic rhetorician. He was one of the ten Attic orators. Among the most influential Greek rhetoricians of his time, Isocrates made many contributions to rhetoric and education through his teaching and written works.

Hellenic rhetoric is commonly traced to Corax of Syracuse, who first formulated a set of rhetorical rules in the fifth century BC. His pupil Tisias was influential in the development of the rhetoric of the courtroom, and by some accounts was the teacher of Isocrates. Within two generations, rhetoric had become an important art, its growth driven by social and political changes such as democracy and courts of law.

I came upon a quote from "Panathenaicus" yesterday that I would like to share with you, because it resonated with me. I like these types of people as well, and I realized that I am very fortunate to know many who fit this description. Thank you!



“Which people do I call educated when I set aside the arts, sciences, and specialties? First, I prize those who handle well the events they meet each day and who have an appropriate judgment for each and the ability to plot the most advantageous path through them.

Then, I esteem those who always treat the people they are near appropriately and justly and who bear the unpleasantness and meanness of others with ease and good temper, and comport themselves towards their associates as lightly and measuredly as possible.

Then, I value those who always control their desires, who are not overcome by their misfortunes, but manage them bravely in a fashion worthy of the nature which we all happen to share.

Fourth—and most important—I consider people educated who are not ruined by their successes, who do not rebel against themselves and become arrogant, but instead remain positioned to be reflective and do not delight more in the goods they have received by chance than those which were theirs from the beginning by nature or thought. Those who have a mind well-fit not just to one of these qualities but to all of them are the men I say are prudent, complete people exhibiting all the virtues.” [30-32]
Just something pretty today: aerial footage of the ancient site of ancient Mycenae.



Mycenae, located about 90 kilometers (56 miles) southwest of Athens, in the north-eastern Peloponnese, is regarded as the most important and richest palatial center of the Late Bronze Age in Greece.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site is renowned for its technical and artistic achievements but also its spiritual wealth, which spread around the Mediterranean world between 1600 and 1100 BC and played a vital role in the development of classical Hellenic culture.

The palatial administrative system, the monumental architecture, the impressive artifacts and the first testimonies of Greek language, preserved on Linear B tablets, are unique elements of the Mycenaean culture; a culture that inspired the great poet Homer to compose his famous epics. At its peak in 1350 BC, the citadel and lower town had a population of 30,000 and an area of 32 hectares.

UNESCO says that the monuments of Mycenae maintain their authenticity since the various restoration works carried out in the past were based on the international standards for the intervention on monuments, on archaeological evidence and on architectural remains of the Mycenaean period.
On Mounuchion 6, the Athenian festival of the Delphinia (Δελφίνια) starts in honor of Apollon and Artemis. To celebrate this festival, Elaion is hosting a PAT ritual at 10 am EDT on April 22. Will you be joining us?


The Delphinia is a festival to ask for the protection of all ships and sailors, to ask for guidance for young boys and girls transitioning into adulthood and--as a festival of purification--the Delphinia can be interpreted to be open to all who are going through a time of transition and/or struggle.

What is known about this festival is that virgin girls walked to the Delphinion (Δελφίνιον) atop the Acropolis in procession, carrying olive branches bound with wool (known as 'iketiria') and baked cakes known as Popana, made of soft cheese and flower. There is overwhelming evidence that the festival was held on the sixth of the month of Mounukhion, most notably from Plutarch, but the seventh of same month is also considered a possible date, quite possibly because the festivities could have taken place in the daylight hours of the sixth day, which is the same day as the start of the seventh of the month, as dusk rained in a new day.

Plutarch connects the sixth of the month Mounukhion to Apollon and Theseus--most importantly to Theseus' quest for the Minotaur--in his 'Life of Theseus'. Theseus vows to look over those the lots choose to be offered to the Minotaur in the maze on Krete. Roughly in the month of Mounukhion, the seafaring season started. It's therefor not odd that lots would have been cast about this time, for the youths--and everyone else with business across the sea--would set sail as soon as the weather allowed. The rising of the Pleiades, located in the constellation of Taurus, around late April, the beginning of May, was a signal for the boldest of sea-goers that the treacherous sea was at least moderately accessible. Still, it would be at least several months before the favoured seafaring season started, so anyone braving the sea, could probably use some protection. Somewhere shortly after the Delphinia would have been Theseus' first opportunity to sail to Krete, but it would place his return almost five months later; quite some time for a three day journey (one way) in favourable conditions.

During the Delphinia, young maidens presented Apollon Delphinion, and perhaps Artemis Delphinia, with the iketiria Theseus had presented them with as well, in the hopes of receiving for the Athenians the same guidance and protection at sea as the Kretan colonists, as well as Theseus and the youths, had gotten.

A connection can also be made with Theseus visiting the shrine of Apollon Delphinios as an opportunity for purification before his great quest, as the young supplicants who prepared for their personal collective journeys into adulthood would desire purification of their own, and Apollon in many of his epithets is a purifier. Also, in a little less than a month, the Thargelia took place in Delos, an event where the births of Artemis, and especially Apollon were celebrated. The rites at the Delphinia might have been part of the purification processes for those who were to go to Delos (with thanks to Daphne Lykeia for this interpretation).

As a festival of purification, the Delphinia can be interpreted to be open to all who are going through a time of transition and/or struggle. A divine purification of miasma might allow you to focus better on these issues, and receive guidance from the Theoi more easily--like Theseus, who purified himself at the Delphinion and prayed for the guidance of Aphrodite directly thereafter. Aphrodite made Ariadne fall for him, saving his life and those of the young men and women in the process.

One can celebrate this day by offering both Apollon and Artemis hymns, libations, and Popana cakes, and presenting Artemis with an iketiria, an olive branch wrapped with white wool, if you are a young female looking for aid. An iketiria was primarily used in rites of supplication.

The popana (or popanon) should be a flat cake with a single 'knob' in the center. We don't have a surviving recipe, but Cato's recipes for 'libum' seems to hold many of the same ingredients. It goes as follows:

"'Make libum by this method. Break up two pounds of cheese well in a mortar. When they will have been well broken up, put in a pound of wheat flour or, if you wish it to be more delicate, half a pound of fine flour and mix it well together with the cheese. Add one egg ...and mix together well. Then make into bread, places leaves beneath, and cook slowly on a hot hearth under an earthen pot."

That's a lot of Popana. Make this if you're with a large group, else the recipe would look something like this for something the size of a good loaf of bread or its equivalent in smaller portions:

- 14 ounces good ricotta or any fresh cheese, preferably unpasteurized (ricotta should always be drained overnight in a colander)
- 4 ounces (approx) flour, preferably farro
- 1 large egg
- a pinch of salt
- several bay leaves, preferably fresh
- olive oil, for the pan

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.

You can either make large cakes or small ones. If you're making large ones, line a baking pan or sheet with bay leaves and brush them lightly with olive oil. If you don't have enough leaves to cover the surface, distribute the leaves as best you can. If you are going to make smaller cakes, brush one leaf with oil for each cake you are going to make.

Knead all the ingredients (except the bay leaves) until well blended. Add flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Shape the dough into a single, or several smaller cakes. Place either the large cake on top of the bay leaves, or put each little one on top of one. Then put it in a baking pan and into the oven.

Bake for about 30 minutes for a large cake, or (much) less long for smaller cakes. Just watch them until they are firm and light golden brown. Don't forget to enjoy it yourself!

The ritual for the event can be found here and you can join the community here.
As part of the world’s largest three-dimensional digital archive of endangered monuments to be created by Google Arts & Culture and the non-profit company CyArk, ancient Corinth will be digitalized. It is an initiative – on the occasion of the World Heritage Day on 18 April – to preserve the world’s civilization.

cor

Google provides everyone through Google Arts & Culture with digital access to the data base of CyArk data collected around the world. So everyone can get in touch with the great works of world culture either through Google Arts & Culture’s “Open Heritage” website or through the iOS or Android free app.

The three-dimensional representation of more than 25 monuments from various parts of the Earth is already available. It has been accomplished with the use of sophisticated digital archeology techniques, such as laser scanners and drones.