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God Hermes

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Hermes, the herald of the Olympian gods, is the son of Zeus and the nymph Maia, daughter of Atlas and one of the Pleiades. Hermes is the god of shepherds, land travel, merchants, weights and measures, oratory, literature, athletics and thieves, and known for his cunning and shrewdness. Most importantly, he is the messenger of the gods. Besides that he was also a minor patron of poetry. He was worshiped throughout Greece — especially in Arcadia — and festivals in his honor were called Hermoea.

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According to legend, Hermes was born in a cave on Mount Cyllene in Arcadia. Zeus had impregnated Maia at the dead of night while all other gods slept. When dawn broke amazingly he was born. Maia wrapped him in swaddling bands, then resting herself, fell fast asleep. Hermes, however, squirmed free and ran off to Thessaly. This is whereApollo, his brother, grazed his cattle. Hermes stole a number of the herd and drove them back to Greece. He hid them in a small grotto near to the city of Pylos and covered their tracks. Before returning to the cave he caught a tortoise, killed it and removed its entrails. Using the intestines from a cow stolen from Apollo and the hollow tortoise shell, he made the first lyre. When he reached the cave he wrapped himself back into the swaddling bands.

When Apollo realized he had been

2hermescondionisosdepraxc3adtelesrobbed he protested to Maia that it had been Hermes who had taken his cattle. Maia looked to Hermes and said it could not be, as he is still wrapped in swaddling bands. Zeus the all powerful intervened saying he had been watching and Hermes should return the cattle to Apollo. As the argument went on, Hermes began to play his lyre. The sweet music enchanted Apollo, and he offered Hermes to keep the cattle in exchange for the lyre. Apollo later became the grand master of the instrument, and it also became one of his symbols. Later while Hermes watched over his herd he invented the pipes known as a syrinx (pan-pipes), which he made from reeds. Hermes was also credited with inventing the flute. Apollo, also desired this instrument, so Hermes bartered with Apollo and received his golden wand which Hermes later used as his heralds staff. (In other versions Zeus gave Hermes his heralds staff).

Being the herald (messenger of the gods), it was his duty to guide the souls of the dead down to the underworld, which is known as a psychopomp. He was also closely connected with bringing dreams to mortals. Hermes is usually depicted with a broad-brimmed hat or a winged cap, winged sandals and the heralds staff (kerykeion in Greek, or Caduceus in Latin). It was often shown as a shaft with two white ribbons, although later they were represented by serpents intertwined in a figure of eight shape, and the shaft often had wings attached. The clothes he donned were usually that of a traveler, or that of a workman or shepherd. Other symbols of Hermes are the cock, tortoise and purse or pouch.

Originally Hermes was a phallic god, being attached to fertility and good fortune, and also a patron of roads and boundaries. His name coming from herma, the plural being hermaiherm was a square or rectangular pillar in either stone or bronze, with the head of Hermes (usually with a beard), which adorned the top of the pillar, and male genitals near to the base of the pillar. These were used for road and boundary markers. Also in Athens they stood outside houses to help fend off evil. In Athens of 415 BCE, shortly before the Athenian fleet set sail against Syracuse (during the Peloponnesian War), all the herms throughout Athens were defaced. This was attributed to people who were against the war. Their intentions were to cast bad omens on the expedition, by seeking to offend the god of travel. (This has never been proved as the true reason for the mutilation of the herms.)

345px-Hermes_Logios_Altemps_33The offspring of Hermes are believed to be PanAbderus and Hermaphroditus. Hermes as with the other gods had numerous affairs with goddesses, nymphs and mortals. In some legends even sheep and goats. Pan, the half man half goat, is believed to be the son of Hermes and Dryope, the daughter of king Dryops. Pan terrified his mother when he was born, so much so that she fled in horror at the sight of her new born son. Hermes took Pan to Mount Olympus were the gods reveled in his laughter and his appearance and became the patron of fields, woods, shepherds and flocks. Abderus, a companion of the hero Heracles, is also thought to be a son of Hermes, he was devoured by the Mares of Diomedes, after Heracles had left him in charge of the ferocious beasts. Hermaphroditus (also known as Aphroditus) was conceived after the union of Hermes and Aphrodite. He was born on Mount Ida but he was raised by the Naiads (nymphs of freshwater). He was a androgynous (having the characteristics of both sexes) deity, depicted as either a handsome young man but with female breasts, or as Aphrodite with male genitals.

Known for his swiftness and athleticism, Hermes was given credit for inventing foot-racing and boxing. At Olympia a statue of him stood at the entrance to the stadium and his statues where in every gymnasium throughout Greece. Apart from herms, Hermes was a popular subject for artists. Both painted pottery and statuary show him in various forms, but the most fashionable depicted him as a good-looking young man, with an athletic body, and winged sandals and his heralds staff.

More facts about Hermes (well facts according to the myths and the legends, but I believe them – I believe everything the ancient Greeks believed):

See below the recent birthday (May 25th)  gift I received from my two beautiful nephews George and Angelo. Thank you kids! I love you!

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Family of Hermes

Parents: Hermes was the son of Zeus, the King of the Gods, and the mountain Nymph Maea, who was a daughter of the Titan Atlas. Hermes was born inside a cave on Mount Cyllene in Arcadia, southern Greece.
Famous ChildrenHermaphroditus and the Satyr Pan.

Hermes, the God’s Messenger and Conductor of Souls

Hermes was wearing wings on his sandals and therefore was the speediest of all Greek gods. Because of his speed, Hermes received the role of the messenger and conductor of souls to the Underworld. Hermes was the only Olympian god who was authorized to visit Heaven, Earth and also the Underworld and enjoyed this way popularity among all the Greek gods and spirits.article-new_ehow_images_a07_b9_dh_make-hermes-costume-800x800

Hermes, the God of the Thieves

It is well known that Ancient Greeks endowed their gods with human weaknesses. Hermes, for instance, felt an irresistible impulse of stealing ever since his infancy and quickly developed as the god of the cheaters and the thieves.

Hermes’ special Relation to Zeus

Hermes was a messenger of all gods, but mostly he was known for performing duties for his father Zeus with great pleasure. Zeus appreciated Hermes’ wits highly and always asked for Hermes’ assistance throughout his decisions, especially when it came to cheating on his wife Hera.

Appearance of Hermes

Hermes was a young man, wearing traveling clothes, a flat hat known as “petasus” and winged sandals on his feet. Oftentimes he was also considered to have wings attached to his shoulders and hat.
Hermes usually held a winged staff with snakes wrapped around it in his hands in order to gain access everywhere. This staff helped Hermes to charm the gods or to wake up those who were tamed by the god of sleep.

Symbols of Hermes

The caduceus (his staff), the purse (or leather pouch), the winged sandals, the ram and the petasus (his hat).

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Greek god Apollo

 

 

APOLLO

“Nothing in excess” Apollo

 


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APOLLO, one of the twelve deities of Olympus is the favorite son of god Zeus and Leto  – a Titan goddess who was impregnated by Zeus during one of his numerous love affairs. He is the twin brother of goddess Artemis.

He is known as the God of Light or the God of Sun- Helios, The Archer, the God of Prophecy, the Far-shooter, the Lawgiver or the God of Order, the God of Healing, the God of Music, the God of Plague, the Gold-bladed Apollo and the God of Arts and Muses.

His main iconic identifiers are the laurel wreath around his head, the lyre, the bow, the sun and the chariot (which as the sun god, drives across the sky daily-according to the myths). God Apollo is usually described  as the “most Greek” of the Greek Gods because he is THE idealized form of KOUROS, a young man in perfected beauty and grace.

EARLY YEARS

His story begins with his mother Leto and her attempt to give birth to him and Artemis. Hera ( the official wife of God Zeus), in her jealousy had pursued Leto relentlessly. Leto searched for a place where she could give birth to the children without Hera finding her. She convinced the island of Delos to be the home of Apollo, saying that a temple would be build there. Leto waited nine days and nights to give birth to Apollo, because due to Hera’s rage, Eilithyia, the goddess of childbirth, was not able to come to Leto’s aid. Finally Iris, the messenger goddess, was send to Hera, offering her a necklace fifteen feet long. Well, jewelrey always works (even back in the Ancient world of Greece ), Eilithya was able to come to Delos, and when she did, Leto gave birth to Apollo – full grown. Apollo immediately claimed, “The lyre and the curved bow are dear to me, and I shall prophesy to men the unerring will of Zeus” (according to Homeric Hymn to Apollo.

At the tender age of four days old, Apollo showed incredible talent in archery by killing the gigantic serpent named Python (at the city of Delphi) who had been harassing his mother during pregnancy (again, according to the myths and the legends.) When Goddess Hera found our that Zeus had had another affair, she send Python to follow Leto day and night so she could not have any peace to have her children.  The monstrous Python who was said to measure several acres in length was terrorizing the city and the citizens of Delphi were glad to be rid of of her and were grateful to Apollo – later Delphi was established as the center of Apollo’s worship.

Image above, Temple of Apollo at Delphi 

Delphi was the first oracle of Greece and the district where it was located was considered the navel of the world at the time.

“Know thyself.” Apollo (written at the entrance at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi).

Following his dramatic debut with the Python, Apollo went on to become not only an unerring archer, but the best musician, poet, philosopher, law-maker and creator of legal institutions, a masterful physician, the god of prophecy and a great scholar who always spoke the truth.

More about Apollo coming soon…there is so much more to tell…

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Alexander the Great continued – Aristotle

Aristotle is one of the “big three” in ancient Greek philosophy along with Plato and Socrates. Socrates tought Plato who in turn instructed Aristotle, who eventually became the teacher of the famous pupil Alexander the Great of Macedon.

Aristotle (Greek Aristoteles) was born at 384 BC at Stragira Mecedon. He was a Greek philosopher and polymath – his writings cover many subjects including metaphysics, physics,  poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology. Together with Plato and Socrates, Aristotle is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy. His writings were the first to create a comprehensive system  of Western philosophy encompassing morality, and aesthetics, logic, and science, politics and metaphysics.

Aristotle was invited by Philip II of Macedon to become the tutor to his son Alexander the Great in 343 BC. He was appointed as the head of the royal academy of Macedon – during that time he gave lessons not only to Alexander, but also to two other future kings of Macedon: Ptolemy and Cassander.

In his  Politics, Aristotle  states that only one thing could justify monarchy, and that was if the virtue of the king and his family were greater than the virtue of the rest of the citizens put together. Aristotle wrote many dialogues, but, only fragments have survived. Some of the most important works that survived are, Physics, Metaphysics, Nicomachean Ethics, Politics, De Anima (On the Soul) and Politics. He not only studied almost every subject possible at the time, but made significant contributions to most of them. In physical science, Aristotle studied anatomy, astronomy, embryology, geography, geology, meteorology, physics and zoology. In philosophy, he wrote on aesthetics, ethics, government, metaphysics, politics, economics, philosophy, rhetoric and theology. He also studied education, foreign customs, literature and poetry. His combined works constitute a virtual encyclopedia of Greek knowledge.

It has been suggested that Aristotle was probably the last person to know everything there was to be known in his own time.

Here are some of Aristotle’s most famous quotes:

We are what we repeatedly do.

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

Law is mind without reason.

We make war so we can live in peace.

Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.

All human actions have one or more or these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reason, passion and desire.

We must as second best…take the least of the evils.

A whole is that which has beginning, middle and end.

The gods too are fond of a joke.

Hope is a waking dream.

Well begun is half done.

To be conscious that we are perceiving or thinking is to be conscious of our own existence.

It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen.

Education is the best provision for the journey to old age.

For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.

A likely impossibility is always preferable to an unconvincing possibility.

They should rule who are able to rule best.

Happiness depends upon ourselves.

All men by nature desire knowledge.

It is unbecoming for young men to utter maxims.

All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind.

Liars when they speak the truth are not believed.

With regard to excellence, it is not enough to know, but we must try to have use it.

It is possible to fail in many ways…while to succeed is possible only in one way.

One swallow does not make a summer.

Man perfected by society is the best of all animals; he is the most terrible of all when he lives without law, and without justice.

Again, men in general desire the good, and not merely what their fathers had.

Nature does nothing uselessly.

The only stable state is the one in which all men are equal before the law.

Piety requires us to honor truth above our friends.

In the arena of human life the honours and rewards fall to those who show their good qualities.

To perceive is to suffer.

Misfortune shows  those who are not really friends.

It is in justice that the ordering of society is centered.

Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.

Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting a particular way…you become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions.

Dignity consists not in possessing honor, but in the consciousness  that we deserve them.

Aristotle inspired and encouraged Alexander the Great toward eastern conquest, and his attitude towards Persia was unabashedly ethnocentric. In one famous example, he counsels Alexander to be a leader to the Greeks and a despot to the barbarians, to look after the former as after friends and relatives, and to deal with the latter as with beasts and plants.  Alexander’s reply was his famous quote:

I am not interested in the descendance of the citizens or their racial origins. I classify them using one criterion: their virtue. For me every virtuous  foreigner is a Greek and every evil Greek worse than a barbarian.

How Great was Alexander the Great!

Near the end of Alexander’s life, Alexander began to suspect plots against himself, and threatened Aristotle in letters. Aristotle had made no secret of his contempt for Alexander’s pretense of divinity, and the king had executed Aristotle’s grandnephew Callisthenes as a traitor. A widespread tradition in antiquity suspected Aristotle of playing a role in Alexander’s death, but there is little evidence for this.

Aristotle’s contribution to us is priceless…and Alexander’s achievements were enchanced and fueled by his great teachings and wisdom. Knowledge is power!

I rather excel others in the knowledge of what is excellent, than in the extent of my power and dominion.

I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well.                      Alexander the Great King of Macedon

Image above. Alexander the Great

I will be back with more details about the Alexander the Great Charity I am trying to create whose objective is to enhance education to everyone especially young men and women.

xoxoS

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A Post Card – Alexander the Great

A POST CARD 

“Nothing is impossible to him who will try.” Alexander the Great

                                                                                                           

 

 

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Nike – Greek goddess of victory in NYC

NIKE ancient Greek goddess of Victory in all her glory!

 

 

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It seems to me that the ancient Greek goddesses are all over New York City these days! Athena and Nike! I encountered them both…

First it was goddess Athena at the Metropolitan Museum’s facade, [she is eternally there, please visit] and then making a cameo appearance on the face of the most beautiful cameo I ever saw, at an estate art show, [please see my previous posts] and now its Goddess Nike [the goddess of Victory.] She is standing right at the heart of New York City. The center of the world I would say….

Her glorious and magnificent presence cannot be missed in the bold and beautiful golden gilded bronze statue at the northern half of Central Park’s Grand Army Plaza [at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street].  She is accompanying Union Army General William Tecumseh Sherman – a great American military hero of the civil war, which makes me wonder? did the ancient Greek goddesses help non-ancient Greeks as well? Apparently yes! Their divine existence is not only eternal, but universal! In this larger-than-life statute goddess Nike is accompanying general Tecumseh Sherman in a courageous lead into the battle of 1864 in which the Confederacy was successfully split in two effectively ending the Civil War. Amazing work Nike! … and thank you! Your presence and help is always welcome in New York City.

This major work of art by famous sculptor Saint-Gaudens (1848-1909 USA) ranks as one of the world’s finest equestrian monuments, winning the Grand Prix at the Paris Exposition in 1900.

I am so proud of my Greek Goddesses patronizing New York!  The next time you go for a walk to Central Park, or go shopping at Bergdorf’s  stop for a moment and admire the beauty called Nike!

I will be back soon with more details about glorious goddess Nike…..

xoxoS

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Goddess Athena reappears … at a jewelry Art show

GODDESS ATHENA reappears in NYC.

 

If you have been reading my posts, I am sure you read about the ancient Greek Goddess who inspired me on designing my spring ’12 jewelry collection, the majestic Goddess Athena. It started with my recent visit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the discovery of her divine existence at the museum’s facade. Well, this experience resulted in the birthing of the AGE OF GODS – Athena Collection, which I will introduce  to all very soon.

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I was so thrilled today, to meet Goddess Athena again, and so soon after my recent encounter with her at the Met!  While visiting  an Estate Jewelry show featuring mostly magnificent “collector’s” pieces, I came across the most stunning cameo! The dealer said, ” I don’t really know if its Athena…I am debating…  it could be Artemis  or Minerva.”

“This is Athena for sure!” I replied. ” I know my Greek Goddesses! Without a doubt, this is the helmeted Goddess of war strategy wearing an olive wreath around her signature warrior helmet symbolizing peace and prosperity. And Minerva, is the Roman name of Athena [as we know, the Romans respectfully adopted the Greek culture including its Gods and Goddess.”]

What a beautiful vintage piece! I am still thinking of this magnificent treasure. I know it’s going to be mine eventually because I cannot stop thinking about it! I felt like it “spoke” to me, saying, how much it will enjoy the company of my other pieces! Beauty loves company. That is what I say!

I will be back soon with more glamour, history, gods and goddesses…and more.

                                                                               xoxoS

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Ancient Greek goddess Athena – part II

Age of Gods – Athen

As I mentioned on my previous post, goddess Athena, was the patron divinity of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, arts, crafts, justice and skill.

Athena was also a shrewd companion and patron of heroes. She is the goddess of heroic endeavour.  The metal work of weapons also fell under her patronage. She led battles as the disciplined, strategic side of war. Although she was the goddess of war strategy, she disliked fighting without a purpose and prefered to use wisdom to settle predicaments. She only  encouraged  fighting for a reasonable cause, or to resolve conflict.         

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Goddess – Inspired Jewelry

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Next to God Zeus, the king of  ancient Greek Gods,   Athena was the second most important goddess in Ancient Greece. She was Zeus’s favorite daughter and she was the only one that he actually birthed himself – according to the myths. It is said that her mother was Metis,  the Titan goddess of wisdom and the original wife of Zeus.

Here is Athena’s interesting birth story: Zeus came to power by overthrowing his father Chronus. Cronuses’s mother, the great earth goddess Gaia, foretold a prophesy in which one of Cronuses’s children will eventually overthrow him and take control of both gods and men alike. Cronus decided that the solution to this problem was to devour each and every one of his children after they were born. Eventually, his wife, Rhea, couldn’t take it anymore and gave him a stone wrapped in a baby blanket, which he promptly swallowed – thus saving her last son, Zeus, from this terrible fate.

Eventually Zeus fulfilled the prophesy by overthrowing his father. He became king of gods and men and the days of the Titans rule were gone. Gaia had another prophesy once Zeus became an adult – she foretold that his wife, Metis, would give birth to a son who would overthrow Zeus the way he overthrew his father. Knowing this, Zeus devoured Metis while she was pregnant. His plan worked that he never had a son by Metis, but what Zeus didn’t realize was that his daughter by Metis [ the baby was a girl] was more strong-willed than he imagined.

After a bout of terrible headaches Zeus begged the blacksmith God Hephestus to split his head open to relieve the pressure. Out popped the goddess Athena, fully dressed in armor and ready to do battle – according to the myths and legends. Her father was the most powerful and her mother the wisest among the gods, so Athena was the combination o the two – power and wisdom harmoniously blended.

In contradiction with her brother Ares, the god of war, chaotic battle, blood lust, ferocity, courage and violence, Athena was the goddess of strategy, organized fighting, advanced weaponry and skilled manipulation on the battlefield. If Ares was offence, Athena was defence. If Ares represented pure force Athena represented controlled strength. It was her wisdom and strategic planning that often turned the side of the battle to the victor. Athena is usually shown with the Goddess Nike (Victory) at her side.

Images above and below. Giagantomachia (Battle of the Giants) marble relief sculpture frieze from the Great Altar of Zeus at Pergamont. 

Athena battles Alkyoneus  in the War of the Giants. The giant is winged with the serpentine legs. His mother Gaia, top image, rises up from the earth [Chronus had more children after Zeus split him open in his attempt to overthrow him, the rest of the children spilled out from his body] besides him. Athena is attended by the winged  goddess Nike. Hellenistic style200 BC.

Athena is mostly depicted armed holding an Argolic shield [featuring  the head of gorgon Medusa at its center] and a spear.  She is crowned with a crested golden helmet usually pushed back to reveal her elegant beauty. Her helmet is usually ornamented in the most beautiful manner with griffins, heads of rams, horses and sphinxes.  Her garment is usually the Spartan tunic without sleeves, and over it, she is wearing a snake-trimmed Aigis cloak wrapped around her breast and arm -adorned with the monstrous head of gorgon Medusa. Her general expression is of thoughtfulness and earnestness. Her whole figure is majestic, strong and slender and usually she is holding some of her favorite objects such as an olive tree branch [symbol of peace and prosperity] and an owl [symbol of clarity, vision and wisdom].

It is important to note that Athena was known as well for her role as a judge, diplomat and mediator. Her decisions were renown for their fairness and compassion. She was frequently called upon to settle disputes between gods and various mortals. The goddess of wisdom was known for her superb logic and intellect. Her decisions were usually  well-considered, highly ethical, and seldom motivated by self-interest.

More than any other of the ancient Greek gods and goddesses, Athena, remains an icon, a timeless symbol of civilization, useful knowledge, noble reasoning, logic and wisdom. She is such an inspiration to me as an artist and in creating  my new  Spring ’12 jewelry collection: Age of gods – Athena.

Coming soon Age of Gods ATHENA collection – Spring’12 by Susanna Galanis

xoxoS

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