Cast of Characters
Prince Alexios of Dicaea: A prince of Dicaea
Αλεξιος, a derivative of Αλεξις, which meant "helper" or "defender", derived from Greek αλεξω (alexo) "to defend, to help."
King Demetrios of Dicaea: Alexios’ father and king of Dicaea
Δημητριος, derived from the name of the Greek goddess Demeter.
Galen: Alexios’ slave
Γαληνος means "calm" from Greek γαληνη (galene).
King Lykos of Aenus: Visiting king of Aenus
Λυκος, means "wolf.”
King Philon of Doriscus: Visiting king of Doriscus
Φιλων, derived from φιλεω (phileo) "to love.”
King Theocritus of Abdara: Visiting king of Abdara
Θεοκριτος, means "judge of god.”
King Andronikos of Maroneia: Visiting king of Maroneia
Ανδρονικος means "victory of a man.”
Cyrus: The prophet known as the Voice of Apollo, traveling with King Lykos to Delphi
Κυρος (Kyros), the Greek form of the Persian name Kūrush, which may mean "far sighted" or "young."
Phoebus Apollo: The Greek god of the sun, also known as the Lord of Light
Muses: nine goddesses, who embody the arts and inspire the creation of song, theater, writing, traditional music, and dance.
Calliope: The muse of epic poetry, pictured with a writing tablet.
Clio: The muse of history, pictured with scrolls.
Erato: The muse of love poetry, pictured with a cithara (lyre).
Euterpe: The muse of song and elegiac poetry, pictured with an aulos (flute).
Melpomene: The muse of tragedy, picture with a tragic mask.
Polyhymnia: The muse of hymns, pictured veiled.
Terpsichore: The muse of dance, pictured with a lyre.
Thalia: The muse of comedy, pictured with a comic mask.
Urania: The muse of astronomy, pictured with a globe and compass.
Ippos: Means horse, Poseidon’s sacred animal.
Taurus: Means bull, Zeus’ sacred animal.
Halys: a faun/pan, one of Pan's descendants.
Agora, meaning "gathering place" or "assembly", was the central place for athletic, artistic, spiritual, and political life of the Greek city-state. During early times, freemen gathered here for military duty or to hear the decrees of the ruling kings or council. Later, the agora became a market place as well. The Roman equivalent word is forum.
Amphora (plural: amphorae or amphoras): a vase-shaped ceramic container with two handles on either side of a long narrow neck. Most taper to a pointed base to allow them to be stored upright by embedding them in sand or soft ground. In kitchens and shops, racks held the amphorae.
Chiton: a form of clothing worn by men and women in Ancient Greece. Also known as the tunica. The Doric chiton was simple, without sleeves. The cloth was pinned at the shoulders by fibulae for women and only over the left shoulder if the man was doing something strenuous. The fabric was gathered at the waist by a zone or girdle. The women's chiton fell to the floor, the men's to just under their knees. Male slaves wore a much briefer garment.
Greek Warrior Kit: The richer upper-class warriors had a bronze breastplate of the bell or muscled variety, a bronze helmet with cheekplates, a shield, as well as greaves and other armor. Most warriors carried a spear and short sword. Many warriors used javelins, especially when in chariots. Bows were more commonly used to defend the walls of a city, being considered cowardly on the field of battle.
Hiereus (plural: hierei): the word for "priest".
Hubris means extreme haughtiness, pride or arrogance. Most commonly used to describe the actions of those who challenged the gods or their laws, especially in Greek tragedy, resulting in the protagonist's fall. Hubris was considered the greatest crime of ancient Greek society. The person performs some act of folly due to their overweening pride, usually resulting in their downfall or some fatal retribution (Nemesis).
Iamos was the son of Evadne and Apollo. Evadne, one of Poseidon's daughters, was raised by a local king. Ashamed to be with child, Evadne exposed the child at birth in a patch of violets. Her stepfather discovered the child was the son of a god and made her go reclaim the baby. The boy was named Iamos (from ίον, "violet"). When Iamos grew up, he invoked Poseidon and Apollo, asking them to reveal his destiny. Apollo gave him the gift of prophecy and sent him to Olympia to found the Iamidae line of priests.
Laws of xenia, a specific code of guest-friendship, dictated how to care for a guest. Zeus was the guardian of strangers and the enforcer of xenia.
Ienai means go, start or begin.
Mentoring or Pederasty in ancient Greece was a social custom likely originating as a rite of passage associated with entering military training and the religion of Zeus at a boy's coming of age. As such, it was likely a rite of passage. The practice was central to the homosocial Greek culture, which included athletic and artistic nudity, delayed marriage for aristocrats, symposia, and the social seclusion/exclusion of women.
The practice almost certainly involved sexual activity between the mentor and the young man, usually in his teens or early twenties. The extent would vary with local custom and individual inclination. The mentor, being older and socially superior, was the "penetrative" partner. In the case of mentoring, this almost exclusively referred to intercrural sex, where the penis penetrates between the thighs of the youth.
The erômenos, or "beloved", is the passive or subordinate partner. The youth would be of an age when an aristocrat began his formal military training, around fifteen to seventeen and extending up until the youth was in his twenties, or in some cases even thirty.
The mentor, or erastes, courted the young man with gifts. He was expected to show that his interest wasn't merely sexual. The youth was not to submit too easily. If more than one man courted him, he was expected to show discretion and pick the nobler man.
Nereus was a minor sea god associated with the Aegean Sea. He had fifty daughters, the Nereids, and a son, Nerites. His daughter Thetis is Achilles' mother. Another daughter, Amphitrite, was Poseidon's queen. Nerites was the charioteer and beloved of Poseidon. (Poseidon's wife and lover were siblings.) Nerites was turned into a shellfish for his hubris after challenging Helios to a chariot race and losing.
Omphalos, also known as the Navel of the World, is a carved stone erected at Delphi as part of the temple complex to Apollo. The stone was placed where the two eagles sent by Zeus to fly from the ends of the world to find the center, or the navel, met.
The Navel was guarded by Python for his mother Gaia. Apollo slew Python, the serpent, and took Delphi, making the oracular site his own. This is an example of the earlier earth deities, frequently female, being overthrown by the new sky deities, usually male. The place name Pytho was given to site where Python was slain.
Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi, was a mantic priestess at the Temple of Apollo. The title derived from the place name Pytho. The post was often shared amongst a triad of priestesses. The women varied from learned aristocrats to unlettered peasants. The Pythia gave her prophecies while perched atop a tripod.
The oracle only functioned during the nine warmest months of the year while Apollo resided in Delphi. He returned each year during the spring on the 7th day of Vysios, his birthday. The Pythia was required to undergo monthly purification rites on the 7th day of each month thereafter.
Stoas were covered walkways or porticos open to the public. They often had small stores down one side of the building with an open portico lining the other side, offering shelter to shoppers and anyone else who was in the agora.
Theos: the Greek word for "deity, god"
A trireme (from Latin triremis, literally "three-oarer") was a type of galley, a warship that was used on the Mediterranean. The vessel was named for the three rows of oars on each side, manned with one man per oar. The three tiers of oars required careful coordination and much practice so as not to tangle in one another. The Greek ships were manned by freemen/warriors unlike the galleys of the Romans. As a ship it was fast and agile, and became the dominant warship in the Mediterranean. They also had one large square sail, a bronze clad prow with a pair of eyes painted on both sides. The eyes were intended to see that the ship stayed on course and to ward off any evil.
Greek Days of the Week:
The Greeks adopted the Babylonian seven-day planetary week. They substituted the names of their own gods: Ares, Hermes, Zeus, Aphrodite, and Chronos. Sunday is quite literally sun-day. Monday is moon-day.
Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite vied for a golden apple inscribed with "For the fairest." Zeus refused to be drawn into the contest and sent the goddesses to Paris to judge. After each goddess attempted to bribe him, the foolish prince chose Aphrodite in exchange for the most beautiful woman in the world as his wife.
The fall of Troy was orchestrated by Hera and Athena as retribution for Paris' choice of Aphrodite as "the fairest." Aphrodite's gift, Helen of Troy, couldn't have been more suited to the task of bringing Troy down if she had been chosen for that purpose.
Due to her beauty, Helen had been courted by all the eligible rulers of the Greek city-states. She was abducted by Theseus and rescued by the remainder of her suitors. The kings all then swore to protect her and the husband she chose from further abductions. She wed Menelaus, Agamemnon's brother. When Paris abducted her from her husband, the Greeks had a holy reason for war. Paris had broken Zeus' laws of hospitality. Plus by her abduction, all the kings of the Greek city-states were held by their oath to retrieve her.
Agamemnon need only remind everyone of their oath and Paris' impious behavior. A huge armada was launched, but the winds were unfavorable. Informed he would have to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia to receive favorable winds, Agamemnon sent word that his wife Clytemnestra should bring their daughter to be wed to Achilles.
Iphigenia is portrayed as a girl who went to her death bravely once she knew what her fate was. Clytemnestra was not as accepting. When Agamemnon returned from Troy, triumphant, she slew him in his bath for his hubris and the murder of their daughter. The Fates did not punish her because she was not blood related to her husband.
Persephone, the daughter of Demeter, was abducted by Hades and taken into the Underworld to be his queen. Demeter petitioned Zeus for the return of their daughter. Even though Persephone was Zeus' daughter, marriage by abduction was common, even for the gods. When Zeus did not demand his brother return Persephone, Demeter used her attributes to coerce him.
Demeter, the goddess of grains, fertility, and harvest, refused to let any plants grow. Soon animals and people were dying. The humans petitioned the gods to succor them. Zeus was forced to go to his brother Hades and ask for Persephone's return.
Persephone had been pining for her mother and the open air. She wouldn't eat and had become pale.
Hades didn't want to give up his queen. Before he returned Persephone, Hades pressed her to eat something. She ate six pomegranate seeds. When Zeus discovered that she had accepted Hades' hospitality, he had no choice but to decree she remain with her husband for six months out of the year.
Demeter was not pleased, but could do nothing further. So for six months out of the year, the earth is fruitful and green, but for the other six months Demeter mourns her daughter and the earth does likewise.
Ganymede was a beautiful young man who caught Zeus' eye. Zeus took the form of an eagle and abducted the boy, taking him back to Mount Olympus. Ganymede was given immortality, unfading youth, and was made Zeus' cupbearer.
Zeus gave the boy's father the gift of horses "such as carry the immortals." His father was pleased by the gift as well as the boy's new station as Zeus' cupbearer and erômenos. Hera was jealous of her rival for Zeus' affections; the only one Zeus ever showed any attachment to. However, even the queen of the gods had to respect the relationship. She never tried to punish Ganymede like she did with all of Zeus' other lovers.
The story of Ganymede and Zeus illustrates the institution of pederasty and gives it divine validation.
Cassiopeia, the queen of Ethiopia, bragged that her daughter Andromeda was more beautiful than all the Nereids, the sea nymph daughters of the minor sea god Nereus. Poseidon's queen was one of the Nereids, Amphitrite. Poseidon became angry and sent a sea monster to destroy the kingdom. In an effort to save their kingdom, they consulted an oracle who told them they must sacrifice their daughter to the sea monster.
Andromeda was chained to a rock near the sea and left to her fate. Perseus was traveling through Ethiopia at the time. He saw Andromeda's plight and slew the sea monster. He carried her off and married her.
Poseidon was not pleased that Cassiopeia had not been punished. He could do nothing about Perseus who was one of Zeus' sons, so instead he tied Cassiopeia to a chair that was frequently used for torture and placed her in the sky as a constellation that spends half its time upside down.
The queen of Thebes, Niobe, had fourteen children, seven boys and seven girls. She boasted unwisely that she had more children than Leto, who only had Apollo and Artemis. Before she could repent of her hubris, Apollo and Artemis slew her children with arrows. In her grief, she turned to stone and the rock still weeps for her lost children.