Chapter LIII - Deorum

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Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath raised up her pillars.
She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath furnished her table.
She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the high places of the city,
"Whosoever is ignorant, let him come hither.  As for him that wanteth understanding - 
Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.
Forsake the foolish, and live - and go in the way of understanding."

'Book of Proverbs' - Chapter 9
While the 'Book of Proverbs' of the 'Septuagint' is superficially part of Hebrew scripture, it valorizes the Hellenistic concept of 'Wisdom', as exemplified in the embodiment of 'Wisdom' in the person of the Goddess Athena - known to the Romans as Minerva - as Faunus shall doubtless explain to us later......
The world of the Greeks was filled with Gods, led by the towering Olympians, such as Zeus, Hera, Apollo, Poseidon, Athena, and other great figures in Classical Mythology.
Alongside worship of these Divine inhabitants of Olympus were hundreds of cults focused on local deities and heroes.
People prayed to these gods for the same reasons that many people still pray: for health and safety, for prosperity, for a good harvest, for safety at sea.
Mostly they prayed as communities, and through offerings and sacrifice they sought to please the inscrutable deities who they believed controlled their lives.
In addition to the formal and public religious ceremonies, there were also many rites which were open to and known only by the initiated who performed them, the most famous example being the 'Mysteries of Eleusis'.
In these closed groups, members believed that certain activities gave spiritual benefits, amongst them an answer to the mystery of the 'after-life'.
Places could also acquire a divine connection.
The great oracles such as that of Apollo at Delphi and Zeus at Dodona may well have begun as places considered particularly good to receive signs from the gods.
Such places became hugely important centres with their oracles consulted by both individuals and city-states so that their proclamations might help to guide future conduct.  


'Lunch' - And so they returned to the 'Villa Athena' in order to have lunch.
Novius had borrowed some scrolls - and Heliodorus was lumbered with them - but that was something that he would just have to get used to.
Glaux, of course, was having a fine time.
Athens was the city of Athena - and he was Athena's owl - and when they left their carriage, and walked in the street, there were many admiring glances which were directed towards Glaux, who was proudly sitting on Faunus' wrist.
No one, of course, recognised Markos, who was simply taken to be a wealthy young Athenian aristocrat out for a morning stroll with his friends - and that's just the way Markos, and Faunus, for that matter, wanted it.
After a chat about the gymnasion, and the similarities that it had to the gymnasion and the ludus back at Baiae during their meal, Archos (Aurarius, remember?) asked Markos if they would still be going to the Acropolis.
When Markos replied in the affirmative, Archos looked a little downhearted.
"Now Archos - if I may use your new name - please remember that the temple of Athena on the Acropolis is the representation, in Athens, of the Goddess - and so there is a special connection between Athena and our Glaux.", Faunus explained - and Glaux fluffed up his feathers, and tried to make himself look as tall and imposing as possible - which was not easy for a little, fluffy chap like Glaux.
The Parthenon was built under the general supervision of the artist Phidias, who also had charge of the sculptural decoration. The architects Ictinos and Callicrates began their work in 447 BC, and the building was substantially completed by 432, but work on the decorations continued until at least 431. Although the Parthenon is architecturally a temple, and is usually called so, it is not a temple. The Parthenon never hosted the cult of Athena Polias, patron of Athens: the cult image, which was bathed in the sea and to which was presented the peplos, was an olive-wood xoanon (a primitive wooden image of a deity), located at an older altar on the northern side of the Acropolis. The colossal statue of Athena by Phidias was not related to any cult. Also, it did not have any priestess, altar or cult name. The Parthenon should then be viewed as a grand setting for Phidias' votive statue rather than a cult site, and there were many treasures stored inside the temple, such as Persian swords and small statue figures made of precious metals.
"So Faunus - can you explain to this Athena, after which this city is named - and who seems to be a special friend of Glaux - the same Goddess as Minerva, who people talk about in Rome, but not in  Baiae, or here in Athens.", Archos asked, probably trying to 'trip up' Faunus with an awkward question.
Glaux nodded, and Markos smiled.
"Yes indeed.....
You see we are now calling you Archos, because it's your Greek name, and we are in Greece, but when you were in Rome, you were known as Aurarius, which is a Latin name - and Latin, of course, is the language that the Romans speak - well most of the time - and so, 'Athena' is the Greeks name for the Goddess, and 'Minerva' is the Latin name for the Goddess.", Faunus explained.
"And Athena is the goddess of....?", Archos asked quizzically.
"Well, this is where it gets difficult.
Yes, Athena is commonly described as the Goddess of Wisdom, but although the Gods and Goddesses are shown as beautiful people..."
"But not Hephestus...", Adonios interrupted.
"Well...not Hephestus...", Faunus agreed.
"You must understand that they are not people...."
"No, they are Gods and Goddesses...", Adonios interrupted again.
"Now Adonios - do you want to explain this, or shall I ?", Faunus asked gently.
You go on - I won't  interrupt again.", Adonios said, looking sheepish.
"So how come she's the Goddess of War as well as Wisdom ?", Archos then asked, making Faunus begin to regret the whole business of discussing Athena - and Glaux, who was beginning to look a little bit annoyed -  was thinking in his amazing 'owl brain' that the boys were not being very respectful.
Athena and Glaux
Now this is what Faunus would have liked to say - had the boys given him half the chance..... 'Athena, often given the epithet Pallas - is the Goddess of wisdom, handicraft, and warfare, - who was later syncretized with the Roman goddess Minerva. Athena was regarded as the patron and protectress of various cities across Greece, particularly the city of Athens, from which she most likely received her name. She is usually shown in art wearing a helmet and holding a spear. Her major symbols include the owl (Glaux), olive trees, snakes, and the 'Gorgoneio' - (the Gorgon Head amulet, used  by the Olympian deities Athena and Zeus. It was assumed, among other godlike attributes, as a royal 'aegis' to indicate 'divine birth' or protection, by rulers of the Hellenistic age. Marcus had given Petronius a gold Gorgon head ring when they visited Rome). Athena was known as 'Polias' (derived from 'polis', meaning 'city-state'), and her temples were usually located atop the Acropolis in the central part of the city. The Parthenon on the Athenian Acropolis is dedicated to her, along with numerous other temples and monuments. As the patron of craft and weaving, Athena was known as 'Ergane'. She was also a warrior goddess, known as Athena 'Promachos'. Her main festival in Athens was the Panathenaia, which was celebrated during the month of Hekatombaion in midsummer and was the most important festival on the Athenian calendar.'
So that's roughly what Faunus eventually managed to say - with numerous interruptions - but Archos still had one more - very pertinent question.
"If she's the Goddess of Wisdom....then why is she also the Goddess of War ? I thought Ares was the God of War.."
And they all looked to Faunus to see how he would answer that conundrum.
"Good question...", Faunus replied, possibly - the others thought -  trying to evade the issue.
"It's something that most people misunderstand - but the significance is really simple.
Wisdom is something that is not easily acquired.
To obtain Wisdom we must fight for's a struggle (in Greek 'agónizomai' ) like the struggle of two contestants in the pankration - which is a fight - a kind of warfare.
To obtain true knowledge you must be a warrior - as you may well find at Eleusis."
The boys nodded, realizing just how wise Faunus really was.
Having rested a while after their meal, the group, once again, took to their two carriages and drove to the foot of the Acropolis.

Panorama of the Acropolis
'Exploring the Acropolis' - The Acropolis, of course,  had undergone some changes since Greece had become part of the Roman Empire - the Empire now ruled by Markos' friend, Vespasian.
Acropolis Athens - open in new tab to view and enlarge
During the Hellenistic and Roman periods, many of the existing buildings in the area of the Acropolis were repaired, due to damage from age, and occasionally, war. Monuments to foreign kings were erected, notably those of the Attalid kings of Pergamon Attalos II (in front of the North West corner of the Parthenon), and Eumenes II, in front of the Propylaia. These were rededicated during the early Roman Empire to Octavian Augustus, and Agrippa, respectively. Eumenes was also responsible for constructing a stoa on the South slope, not unlike that of Attalos in the Agora below. During the Julio-Claudian period, the Temple of Rome and Augustus, a small, round edifice, about 23 meters from the Parthenon, was to be the last significant ancient construction on the summit of the rock.
This was not the first time by any means that Glaux had been to the Acropolis, but regardless, he fluttered from one building to another, perching on a pediment here and a statue there - looking generally excited.
Of the new Roman additions to the Propylaea (broad steps and a monument to Agrippa) Glaux did not approve, and neither did Faunus.
The word 'propylaea' means a 'monumental gateway', and the Propylaea to the Acropolis in Athens is  prototypical of such gateways - and that, not surprisingly, was the way our little group of 'tourists' entered the Acropolis.
To use the word 'tourist' might seem strange, but in the relatively settled Roman Empire 'tourism' was a thriving business - as is indicated by the vast numbers of Latin and Greek graffiti recording various visits, and defacing numerous monuments all over the classical world.
The Propylaea and Temple of Nike - Athens
And while modern readers may be surprised at the prevalence of 'tourism'  (as we call it) in the ancient world, those viewing the images of the Acropolis, as it was at the time of this story, may be surprised that those beautiful building, constructed in the main of gleaming white Pentelic marble, had many ornamental details painted in what we might consider to be 'gaudy' colours.
And surprised for the following reason - when Europeans finally got down to investigating and appreciating the Classical past, they found the ruins of many building, such as those on the Acropolis.
Time and decay, however had stripped the building of their original, pristine colours, and it was assumed that the Classical world was filled with pale and ethereal white marble buildings.
It was only with the introduction of modern methods of scientific analysis that traces of pigment were found on most classical buildings.
There are problems with these discoveries, however, and there continues to be considerable 'debate', (to put it politely), as to the intensity of the colours used on buildings and sculptures - with some 'experts' favouring the 'fairground' and 'comic cartoon' effect, while others suggest more subtle, pastel washes. 
And we are still left with the puzzle of why very valuable, and in many cases rare marbles, would be polished to mirror like finishes, only to have paint slapped on them.
So here we take a middle course, with some colour - but hopefully not too much.
After entering the Propylaeum, they went into the side chambers to view the famous paintings which were on display.
There are no known examples of Greek or Roman 'easel' paintings - and our only knowledge of Greek painting is from ceramics and wall paintings.
They then left by a doorway to the right which led up to the temple of Athena Nike.
Temple of Athena Nike - Athens
The temple is named after the Greek Goddess, Athena Nike. It was built around 420 BC, and is the earliest fully Ionic temple on the Acropolis. It is a tetrastyle (four column) Ionic structure with a colonnaded portico at both front and rear façades (amphiprostyle), designed by the architect Kallikrates. It is in a prominent position on a steep bastion at the south west corner of the Acropolis to the right of the Propylaea. In contrast to the Acropolis proper, the Victory Sanctuary of Athena Nile is entered through the Propylaea Propylaea's south-west wing and from a narrow stair on the north. The sheer walls of its bastion were protected on the north, west, and south by the Nike Parapet, named for its frieze of 'Nikai' celebrating victory, and sacrificing to their patroness, Athena Nike. Nike means 'victory' in Greek, and Athena was worshipped in this form, as goddess of victory in war and wisdom.
"Not a good place for people who don't like heights !", Archos commented, looking over the parapet to the steep gorge below.
"True - and many years ago they had to build the parapet in front of you to stop people falling over the edge....", Faunus explained. (which is true)
"Falling, or being pushed ?", Archos replied with a grin.
"Who knows....", Markos said - not really wanting to look over the edge.
Faunus then led the way, but not to the Parthenon, which he wanted to keep as the highlight of the visit, but instead to the Erechtheion.
The Erectheum  - Athens
The Erechtheion (Erectheum in latin)  is a temple on the north side of the Acropolis which is dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. The temple was built between 421 and 406 BC. Its architect was Mnesicles, and it derived its name from a shrine dedicated to the legendary Greek hero Erichthonius. The sculptor and mason of the structure was Phidias, who was employed by Pericles to build both the Erechtheum and the Parthenon. The need to preserve multiple adjacent sacred precincts explains the
Cross Sectional Elevation of the Erectheum - North - South
complex design. The main structure consists of four compartments, the largest being the east 'cella', with an Ionic portico on its east end. The entire temple is on a slope, so the west and north sides are about 3 m (9 ft) lower than the south and east sides. It is built entirely of marble from Mount Pentelikon, with friezes of black limestone from Eleusis which bear sculptures executed in relief in white marble. It has elaborately carved doorways and windows, and its columns are ornately decorated  and are painted, gilded and highlighted with gilt bronze and multi-colored inset glass beads. The Erectheum (in Latin) was associated with some of the most ancient and holy relics of the Athenians: the 'Palladion', which was a xoanon (a wooden effigy fallen from heaven - not man-made) of Athena Polias (Protectress of the City); the marks of Poseidon's (Neptune) trident, and the salt water well (the "salt sea" - see below) that resulted from Poseidon's strike; and the sacred olive tree that sprouted when Athena struck the rock with her spear in her successful rivalry with Poseidon for the city. 
 Erectheum - the Caryatid Porch - Athens
On the north side, of the Erectheum there is another large porch with six Ionic columns, and on the south, the famous 'Porch of the Maidens', with six draped female figures ('caryatids') as supporting columns. A caryatid (Greek: Καρυάτις, plural: Καρυάτιδες) is a sculpted female figure serving as an architectural support taking the place of a column or a pillar supporting an entablature on her head. The Greek term karyatides literally means "maidens of Karyai", an ancient town of Peloponnese. Karyai had a famous temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis in her aspect of Artemis Karyatis: "As Karyatis she rejoiced in the dances of the nut-tree village of Karyai, those Karyatides, who in their ecstatic round-dance carried on their heads baskets of live reeds, as if they were dancing plants"
So they wandered round the Erectheum, and Novius pointed out the marks of Poseidon's trident in the rock
Novius explained to Archos and Adonios that Pausanias had written - 
'And in the interior there is sea-water in a well. But this is no great marvel, for it is found in other inland regions as well, as for example Aphrodisias in Caria. However, the well on the Acropolis is remarkable for the noise of waves it produces when the south wind blows, and on the rock is the imprint of a trident. These phenomena are said to have appeared as evidence in support of Poseidon’s (Neptune) claim to the land.'
Now although we might imagine people in ancient time to be superstitious and credulous - that would apply only to the foolish and poorly educated - as it still does even in 'our world'.
Archos and Adonios were far from credulous and poorly educated, thanks to their Latin and Greek tutors, and although they willingly accepted Faunus as (what we would call) a 'supernatural being', along with Glaux, they were not going to be 'duped' by a few marks in stone, or a plaster lined cistern full of salty water - so, they were not particularly impressed, - although they did admire the graceful and imaginative architecture of the Erectheum.
Equally, the much vaunted Athenian 'Paladion' (Paladium in Latin), did not impress them.
The 'Palladium' or 'Palladion' of Troy (Ilium), and later Rome, was a cult image of great antiquity on which the safety of Troy, and later Rome was said to depend. The wooden statue (xoanon) of Pallas Athena that Odysseus and Diomedes stole from the citadel of Troy was later taken to the future site of Rome by Aeneas. The Roman story is related in Virgil's 'Aeneid', and other works.  It was regarded as one of the 'pignora imperii', sacred tokens or pledges of Roman rule (imperium). Some said it was only a copy of the true Palladion which was still in Athens (see below). 
The Athenian Palladion was kept on the Acropolis in Athens. The goddess Athena was worshipped in Athens under many names and cults, the most illustrious of which was of the 'Athena Poliás', 'protectress of the city'. The cult image of the Poliás was a wooden effigy, often referred to as the "xóanon diipetés" (the 'carving that fell from heaven'), made of olive wood and housed in the east-facing wing of the Erechtheum Temple in the classical era. Considered not a man-made artefact, but of divine provenance, it was the holiest image of the goddess, and was accorded the highest respect. It was placed under a bronze likeness of a palm tree, and a gold lamp burned in front of it. The centrepiece of the grand feast of the Panathenaea was the replacement of this statue's woollen veil with a newly woven one. It was also carried to the sea by the priestesses, and ceremonially washed once a year, in the feast called the Plynteria ("washings").  It disappeared at the end of the Roman Empire.
They then left the Erectheum, and made their way to their final 'port of call' which was to be the famed Parthenon.
As has been previously explained, the Parthenon it is not a temple.
It did contain a colossal statue of Athena by Phidias, but it did not have any priestess, altar or cult name.
Because of this the Parthenon could be viewed more as a 'museum', or a 'treasury', rather than a temple, and within its walls were stored  many treasures, such as paintings, Persian swords and small statue figures made of precious metals.
Having already seen the building from the outside, when they first entered the Acropolis, the 'boys' were by then keen to view the interior.
Chryselephantine Statue of Athena - Parthenon Athens
"Wow !.. She's big !", Archos spluttered, as they entered the cella (naos).
Glaux turned his back in disgust.
Faunus explained, apologetically.
"Glaux is upset because she's holding a 'winged victory' in her hand - rather that a golden sculpture of him.
I think, probably Phidias is 'doomed' for that elementary mistake.", Faunus said, giving  wicked smile.
Chryselephantine sculpture (from Greek χρυσός, chrysós, gold, and ελεφάντινος, elephántinos, ivory) is sculpture made with gold and ivory. Chryselephantine cult statues enjoyed high status in Ancient Greece. Chryselephantine statues were built around a wooden frame, with thin carved slabs of ivory attached, representing the flesh, and sheets of gold leaf representing the garments, armour, hair, and other details. In some cases, glass paste, glass, and precious and semi-precious stones were used for detail such as eyes, jewellery, and weaponry. Construction was modular so that some of the gold could be removed and melted for coin or bullion in times of severe financial hardship, to be replaced later when finances had recovered. For example, the figure of Nike held in the right hand of Pheidias' (see below) 'Athena Parthenos' was made from solid gold with this very purpose in mind. The two best-known examples, both from the Classical period, are those sculpted by Phidias: the 13 m (40 ft) tall standing statue of Athena Parthenos in the Parthenon at Athens, and the 12 m (36 ft) seated statue of Zeus in the temple at Olympia, considered as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Phidias (Greek: Φειδίας - c. 480 - 430 BC) was a Greek sculptor, painter, and architect. His statue of Zeus at Olympia was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Phidias also designed the statue of the goddess Athena on the Athenian Acropolis, namely the Athena Parthenos.
The 'tour' ended with an inspection of the treasury at the western end of the building - and then they left the Parthenon, and the Acropolis, passing through the Propylaea, and down the long wide staircase - probably feeling as hot, tired and satiated with images and facts, as all previous, and later visitors were, and are, and shall be.
It had, indeed been a tiring afternoon.
But Faunus had his reasons for the visit........

  'and the story continues -
Markos, Patroclus, Novius and the 'boys' return to the 'Villa Athena', where they have their evening meal, while Faunus begins to prepare them for the ceremonies at 
Eleusis that shall soon begin....
('Preparations for the Mysteries')
Please note that this chapter may contain sexually explicit and violent images and text.
If you strongly object to any of these images please contact the blog author at and the offending material can be removed.
Equally please do not view this chapter if such material may offend.

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