Forget the stories about cutting off breasts and murdering boy children. Also the ones about an all-female lesbian society. And definitely forget about the golden lasso and the invisible plane. Real Amazons were formidable warriors who wore trousers, rode horses, got tattoos, smoked cannabis, drank fermented mare's milk and were part of "a people notorious for strong, free women", according to Adrienne Mayor in her book The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World. [more inside]
How Did Ancient Greek Music Sound?
The music of ancient Greece, unheard for thousands of years, is being brought back to life by Armand D'Angour, a musician and tutor in classics at Oxford University. He describes what his research is discovering.Song Of The Sirens [more inside]
That Homer used the epithet "wine-dark" to describe the sea in the Iliad and Odyssey so puzzled 19th Century English Prime Minister William Gladstone that he thought the Ancient Greeks must have been colorblind. Since then many other solutions have been proposed. Scientists have argued that Ancient Greek wine was blue and some scholars have put forward the case that Homer was describing the sea at sunset. Radiolab devoted a segment to the exploration of this issue, saying that Gladstone was partly right. Another interpretation is that the Ancient Greeks focused on different aspects of color from us. Classicist William Harris' short essay about purple in Homer and Iliad translator Caroline Alexander's longer essay The Wine-like Sea make the case for this interpretation.
Chanukkah is the story of a group of warriors (the Maccabees, later the Hasmoneans, led by Mattathias) who rose up against the Greeks (the Seleucids), united the Jews, reclaimed the Temple (Beit HaMikdash), and then lit one day's supply of oil which miraculously lasted for eight days, started a brand new holiday called Chanukkah, and brought Jewish sovereignty and peace to the land of Israel. Except that almost every part of that story is either wrong or completely misleading. [more inside]
Theoi Greek Mythology is an internet encyclopedia with over 1500 pages on various characters from classical myth, covering everything from famous gods and goddesses to obscure nymphs, titans and monsters. If the confusing familial relations of the Greek gods vex you, there are 10 different family trees to help you make sense of it all. There's also an extensive library of ancient works concerning classical mythology and a bibliography should you long for more to read. Last but not least, Theoi has a gallery of over 1200 artworks from antiquity, which I have been happily browsing for a good while.
Greeks, postmodernity, and the rethinking of democracy Found this fascinating interview on openDemocracy by way of meat-eating leftist. Greek opposition minister George Papandreou, son of former socialist Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, says some interesting things about the changing nature of representative democracy and the new fluidity of citizens' political and social identities. Given our diminishing democracy in this country, it is refreshing to hear a politician say that individuals in society need to be empowered and that political leaders must listen to and trust individuals.
The Hellenic Ministry of Culture The Hellenic Ministry of Culture and its many guides and maps for hundreds of Greek archaeological sites, monuments and museums. Here's one of Herakleion, in Crete.