Sunday, August 14, 2011

August full moon and ancient Greece

Every year each August when it's full moon the archaeological sites remain open all night for visitors. The whole full moon atmosphere along with the energy that the these ancient sites are transmitting , attract thousands of people every year for a free night visit . The municipal authorities often organise events like theatrical festivals , concerts and anything related to culture that wouldn't be insulting for the archaeological site.This year nearly 70 archaeological sites remained open for this event.

The temple of Poseidon in Sunion during August full moon

What's so important about the August full moon? There is a  modern Greek proverb that says Του Αυγούστου το φεγγάρι, παραλίγο μέρα μοιάζει(tou avgoustou to feggari paraligo mera moiazei) which means: The night of the fullmoon of August is almost like morning. This proverb is not far from reality cause the in August the full moon in the northern hemisphere is very low on the horizon and this makes it seem to be very close to earth so close that some people by instict stretch their hands to touch it. The proximity of moon to earth increases the light and makes the moon look like a sun. The whole night is like an endless dusk or twilight.

The ancient Greek calendar like many other calendars of the ancient world was lunisolar and therefore the moon phases were important for counting time.

Greek mythology has associated many deities with the moon.

A very known myth is  the  myth of Endymion and Selene, the moon (Selene) fell in love with a handsome young king named Endymion and bore him 50 daughters. One version of the story says that Selene placed Endymion in eternal sleep to prevent him from dying and to keep him forever beautiful.
This myth inspired John Keats to write his homonymous poem.

Another pre-Olympian deity associated with the moon was Hecate. Hecate was a cthonian goddess related with the darkness and the underworld(not with bad connotation).


Pasiphae was called the moon goddess of the Cretans.Pasiphae was an immortal daughter of the sun-god Helios. Like her two siblings, Aeetes and Kirke, she possessed the powers of witchcraft (pharmakeia). Pasiphae wed King Minos of Krete, and bore him a number of sons and daughters. However, as punishment for some offence against the gods committed either by herself or her husband, she was cursed with the desire to be coupled with the king's finest bull. The Queen conscripted the great artisan Daidalos to assist her in the endeavour, and he built for her a hollow wooden cow, wrapped in a bovine skin and endowed with mechanical life. Hiding herself inside this contraption she conceived and bore a hybrid child, the bull-headed Minotauros. Pasiphae's husband Minos also proved unfaithful. When the Queen learned of his indiscretions she cast a spell on him which caused him to ejaculate poisoned creatures and so destroy his lovers. Pasiphae herself, being an immortal, was alone immune. Minos was eventually cured by the Athenian girl Prokris who devised a remedy for his strange afflication.


Among the Olympians Artemis/Diana symbolised the moon. She was a twin sister of Apollo who was the god that symbolized the sun. Artemis' cult probably was imported from Minor Asia. She was the goddess of moon and hunting and patron goddess of the mythical Amazons.
Artemis. Notice the moon crescent on her forehead
There is not, perhaps any spectacle more enchanting than that of a clear night, when the moon shines in all her splendour and advances in silent majesty through the stars.Nature has at that time resigned the variety of her colours , and their shades have disappeared ,but the placid light shed on every object is perhaps not less attractive,whether it is reflected from the bottom of the smooth wave or illuminates the contour of the objects around.The summits of the mountains exhibit a splendid amphitheatre, while the woods below form a darker shade.The general calm that reigns the nature the solemn silence , so propitious to thought and solitary meditation, and which is only disturbed by the plaintive sounds of sorrow, or the tender accents of love, adapt the mind to every soft impression.
diodorus sicelus

sources: ,, ://


Anonymous said...

The Endimion and Selene myth reminds me of Sailor Moon :D
I am kind of curious to read the myth, do you know any reliable source where I can read it? It might be a Greek book or a Greek site as well coz you know, Greek sources are closer to the original myth...

Fay ἄρκτος said...

page 30.

Selene reminds me of Tuxedo mask xD

I love this post!!! Last night we went fishing with my father.. And we saw the moon rising out of the sea.. It was red and beautiful!

It looks red because the moon is in opposition to the sun. Not because Artemis is in a mood with Poseidon, haha.

(as someone wrote here

Anonymous said...

Excellent- Thank you for sharing

put your country on top

free counters