GREEK HISTORY and CLASSICS ARTICLES
The following are private papers and articles written for the participants in Odyssey Tours to Ancient Greece. Please note all articles are copyrighted. If you wish to use any information published in any of these articles, please contact Astro*Synthesis for permission.
Athena, the spirit of Athens
The Parthenon: The Early Historyby Brian Clark
The Parthenon is immediately recognisable as a symbol of the glory of Western civilisation. But what underlies its grandeur was spurred on by the resurrection of the Athenian spirit and their dedication to their triumphant goddess Athena. This article explores some of the Parthenon's early history.
Artemis at Brauron
Sanctuary of Brauronby Brian Clark
In the countryside of Attica, about 30 minutes drive from the airport, is Brauron, a rural sanctuary dedicated to the Goddess Artemis in her role of guardian of the transition from childhood to puberty. In the ancient world rituals dedicated to the goddess were carried out here. When you step into the sacred precinct the goddess is still alive in the beauty of the landscape and the wild marshes. This article is an introduction to the magnificence of Brauron.
Centauromachy: The Southern Metopesby Brian Clark
The southern side of the Parthenon was decorated with 32 metopes that illustrated the battle with the Centaurs. From the ancient Athenian point of view the Centaurs were the barbarians at the gate which the Athenian democracy would keep outside their civilised entrance. Being fascinated with the Centaurs and how they became marginalised in Greek myth, I wanted to use the sculptures to tell me the story of the Centaurs and their battle with cultivation.
Heroic Healers: Chiron and the Thessalian Doctorsby Brian Clark
In 2006 I completed my Masters in Classics and Archaeology. My final thesis was titled Disease and the Deity; medicine and the divine in early Greek literature and myth. Melanie Reinhart (http://www.melaniereinhart.com), a colleague and witness to the profound importance of the archetype of Chiron in the human experience, asked me to make the second chapter available on her website. Therefore I have followed suit.
My primary argument underlying the thesis was that the amalgam of the divine with disease was fixed in the Greek mindset; therefore temple medicine was able to flourish amidst a culture developing a high degree of rational and intellectual complexity. As part of my argument, I examined the locality of Thessaly and Chiron, as the seminal mythic figure in Greek medicine, to establish the existence and transmission of a developed body of medical knowledge. Thessaly locates the prehistoric attitudes and beliefs in healing and represents a primal and archaic layer that underpins the development of Greek medicine; its celebrated healers included Chiron, Jason, Medea, Asclepius, Machaon, Podalirius, Philoctetes and Achilles. Focusing mainly on the Iliad, the second chapter of my thesis drew on the myths of Thessaly and Chiron in order to make a case that practical medical skills were co-extant with the supernatural belief in disease since the Bronze Age.
Asclepius and Hygeia
SACRED LANDSCAPES: The Placement of the Sanctuaries of Asclepiusby Brian Clark
By the 8th Century BCE land was being set aside for the development of communal sanctuaries, which also demarcated the boundaries of the polis, separating the secular space of the citizens from the sacred sphere of the gods. Influencing the placement of a sanctuary was a variety of factors, including the temperament and spirit of the divinity as well as the function of the deity's cult. This especially was so for the sacred sanctuaries dedicated to Asclepius.
The Classical Agora
The Classical Agoraby Brian Clark
The Agora of Ancient Athens was a wide-open gathering place where political assemblies and festivals took place. In this article Brian Clark looks at the developmental history of what became the heart centre of ancient Athens.
THE CORINTHIAN GODDESS: Aphrodite and Her Hierodouloiby Brian Clark
Placed high on the Acrocorinth overlooking the Gulf of Corinth was a temple dedicated to Aphrodite, the goddess of the Corinthian citadel. And it was here that Aphrodite brought her eastern influence of sacred prostitution to this western port. I was always intrigued at how the ancient Greeks welcomed this eastern goddess into their culture. This article is a quick glimpse into the Corinthian goddess Aphrodite.
Medea and the Cauldron.jpg
The Witches of Thessalyby Brian Clark
The region of Thessaly has always fascinated me because of its myths of healing and the supernatural. This was the home ground of Chiron, the birthplace of Asclepius, the place where Jason left on his Argo and where Medea returned with the magic herbs from the East. And here too is where the folklore about the witches in the ancient world was focused. I was curious and researched the origins of the legend in The Witches of Thessaly.
Aphrodite's Entry into Epicby Brian Clark
Aphrodite first entered into Greek epic literature through the voice of Homer in the Iliad. Needless to say the battle-focused epic had a difficult time dealing with the glorious goddess of the East whose charms overwhelmed the weary warrior. But perhaps this is just an allegory for the difficult transition Aphrodite had to make from East to West. Aphrodite's Entry into Epic is taken from my manuscript Chaos to Cosmos: The Olympians of Ancient Greece, available from Astro*Synthesis.