that moment in the argonautica when jason pulls together the heroes and is like ‘alright, guys….. we need to choose a leader. We need. The best guy. Who here do you vote to lead this quest’ and w/o hesitating everyone looks at heracles, who’s like ‘.. no?? Jason brought you here? This is literally his quest, he should be the leader? Obviously.’ and everyone else is like ‘damn I guess’ like.. how savage. dude brings you together and you turn on him like this

Pelias claimed to be too old for the great task but Jason as his niece and a youth, would be able to fulfill this feat. He said that Phrixus had appeared in his dream and demanded that someone would go to the house of Aeetes and fetch back to Iolcus his soul (Phrixus’) and the Golden Fleece. The oracle of Delphi also demanded this mission and the ship to sail. That was the price of dominion for Jason.~
Karl Kerenyi, “Mythology of the Greeks”

The Golden Fleece with its powerful properties represents Jason’s reclaiming of his parental kingdom.
Argo illustration by William Russell Flint.

anonymous asked:

who is your favourite character in Greek literature?

dionysus in the bacchae every time hands down this decision is so easy its kind of embarrassing actually like @sophocles @aeschylus get on this level

runners-up in no particular order

  • medea in the medea, like come on the agon? the women of corinth speech? the hero morality thing? i’ve seen like four different productions of this play and they all sucked because you need someone to get it and play her properly and that’s so fucking hard to do
  • jason in the argonautica, fuckboy supreme
  • antigone, like fun fact the antigone was the first piece of greek lit i ever studied and by this point i own maybe four different translations? (including the one i stole from my school classics department lmao) and like five different reinterpretations of it? and i still don’t like antigone! she’s the sort of person i would fucking hate to hang out with! i’ve read the play like four hundred times and seen four or five productions and i still. do. not. like. her. and yet! and yet i still own like eight different versions of her play and that’s why she makes it onto this list because you don’t like her but you do love her  
  • achilles like i hate everything about him! i hate his terrible decisions and his massive murderous hissy fits and the way he expresses his emotions by killing people and yelling at rivers and his big dumb shield and mostly i hate the way i dont hate him not even close not even a little bit not even at all 
  • orestes in euripides’ orestes. lol what a plank

Jason and the Golden Fleece - Greek Bronze Box Mirror, C. Second Half of the  4th Century BC

This represents one of the great heroes of Greek mythology, Jason, famous for his role as the leader of the Argonauts and their quest for the Golden Fleece: according to the epic poem, in order to regain the throne of his father (Aeson, dispossessed by his half-brother Pelias), Jason left for Colchis (a region located on the eastern coast of the Black Sea, centered on present-day western Georgia) with his companions; there, the king Aites (the Fleece was given to him by Phrixus) promised to give him the Fleece if he could perform three certain tasks. Jason succeeded in the challenges with the help of Medea (the daughter of Aites and Jason’s future wife), took the Fleece and went back to Thessaly, where he reacquired his father’s kingdom after killing his uncle, once again thanks to a trick by Medea.

This relief, which illustrates an episode of this long legendary voyage, represents Jason standing as a young athlete, quickly moving to the left. Except for a cloak that flutters in the wind behind him, he is entirely nude. He is armed with a sword, hanging from his shoulder, and with a spear; as defensive weapons, he wears a helmet of the Attic type and a large, richly incised round shield. Between his feet lies the ram’s fleece, which, according to the myth, was guarded by a serpent/dragon, and that Jason is about to steal: the incised tree behind the arm of Jason would have represented the shrub in which the monster was hidden.

clever-cliche-deactivated201412  asked:

What does flying balm do?

heres a whole chunk of info on it.  


A Background and History

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For those who may not know, a flying ointment is a salve or oil infused with psychoactive herbs purportedly used by witches to fly to their Sabbath rites in the early modern period during the height of the witch hunts in Europe. Early witch hunters perpetuated the myth that witches craft their ointments from the rendered fat of babies, but it was only fear-mongering propaganda.

Animal fats were used as the base to extract the potent oils and alkaloids from these poisonous plants because animal fats were convenient and accessible even to the poor. Today with the help of modern science we know that our skin will absorb a salve made with hog’s lard more quickly and easily than any other substance because our genetics are so similar to a pig’s. Adding plant-based oils to an animal fat remedies the problem of absorbing a substance foreign to our bodies. Our ancestors were pretty clever weren’t they?

Some may think flying ointments only go back as far as the Middle Ages as the majority of written accounts and recipes are from that period. But if we look in mythology, ancient literature, and folktales, we find a rich source of lore that leads back to pre-Christian times. Flying ointments are mentioned in Apollonius Rhodius’ The Argonautica from 200 BCE, Lucius Apuleius’ The Golden Ass from around 160 CE, and the oldest possible reference is in Homer’s The Iliad from around 800 BCE where the goddess Hera uses an oil of ambrosia to fly to Olympus, never touching the earth. To hear excerpts on flying ointments from these and other works listen to HedgeFolk Tales episode VIII: Flying Ointments.

So now we know flying ointments go at least as far back as ancient Greece and Rome, but what about even further back into history? Remains found of henbane, belladonna, and marijuana in Scotland and Northern Europe date as far back as the Neolithic period – that’s at least 10,000 years ago! (1) These plants were mostly found in the form of seeds and remnants of ritual alcoholic beverages so it is not known if they were used in salves by the magical practitioners of the time, but the pits upon pits of animal bone refuse show that Neolithic peoples had easy access to animal fats. It’s not too far off, I think, to put the two together – but it’s just this witch’s hopeful estimation.

What are the Herbs Used?

Most flying ointment recipes include plants from the Solanaceae family; you may recognize some or all of them: belladonna, datura, henbane, and mandrake. Other traditional flying ointment herbs include the opium poppy, water hemlock, monkshood, and foxglove. Wherever these plants are to be found, so are witches. Our symbiotic relationship with these poisonous plants goes back into the far reaches of time

Solanaceae contain the alkaloids atropinehyoscyamine, and scopolamine. The tropane compound within the Solanaceae family can cause heart problems or even heart failure among other issues when ingested, but if you use them externally they are much less dangerous, however careful dosage is still needed to avoid things like permanent blindness and death. The other well-known ingredients of foxglove, hemlock, aconite (also known as monkshood) should never be used in modern ointments now that we know better – they only poison and paralyze.

Traditional less poisonous plants used include balm of gilead, calamus root, cannabis, clary sage, dittany of Crete, mugwort, tansy, wormwood, and yarrow. There is a bit of controversy whether fly agaric or other psychoactive mushrooms were used and if their constituents are even fat-soluble, but there is currently no documentation on the subject to prove or disprove it. Balm of gilead (the buds of any poplar tree species) can be found in almost every flying ointment recipe from the Middle Ages as poplar salves were used for healing much more than they were used by witches for flying. Do not use balm of gilead if you are allergic to aspirin. The flying effects of calamus root are best felt from ingestion rather than topical application so I would only recommend adding it for its metaphysical properties and sweet smell. If you use calamus make sure it is the carcinogen-free speciesAcorus calamus americanus native to N. America.

Mugwort, oreganos (including dittany of Crete), sages (including clary sage), tansy, and wormwood contain thujone which is a stimulant and believed to be the cause of their psychoactive properties. Yarrow, while not having psychoactive properties, has been traditionally used by shamans for centuries to protect the body while the soul is journeying and to aid in bringing the soul and the person back to consciousness (3). Yarrow was more commonly burned as a smudge for these purposes, but can be smoked or added to a salve as well.

Modern Flying Ointments

“…despite the fact that none of the ‘modern witches’ themselves have any experience with the plants, they warn about the poisonous additives… [I]t is considered trendy to brew ‘modern flying ointments, guaranteed to not be poisonous.” The recipes are nothing more than ineffective rubbish.”

Christian Rätsch, Witchcraft Medicine

Like Rätsch I’ve seen numerous “crafty” witch books in the neoPagan market carelessly list the poisonous ingredients of Medieval flying ointment recipes with no dosages and then, in bold font with many an asterisk, tell the reader to never to attempt to make or use the recipes. Then the authors proceed to list two or more non-toxic flying ointment recipes that usually contain herbs and essential oils completely unrelated to soul-flight and otherworld travel. Many online Pagan shops are selling such recipes right now. An ointment that smells pretty but does nothing is only going to result in very pissed off witches.

My advice to you is to avoid modern flying ointments lauding their non-toxic properties as all that will happen is you’ll have $10-40 less than you did before (unless it’s one of Harry’s ambrosial flying oils, of course). You should also be very careful of people selling supposed “genuine” flying ointments with the traditional herbs, but who don’t list their ingredients or give health warnings. This is very dangerous as many people are allergic to these herbs or have heart conditions and could be seriously harmed, ending up in the hospital.

How a Flying Ointment Works

The alkaloids present in the traditional herbs used in flying ointments and other preparations have been shown by scientific experiments to activate your pineal gland by increasing the flow of melatonin inducing a dream-like state while you are awake. Normally, this only happens naturally at night while you are enshrouded in darkness. This results in dream-like experiences and visions that may seem completely real even if you are sitting awake in your kitchen and not flying as a hawk in the sky. I personally differentiate this state from hallucination as it is more of an altered mental state akin to lucid dreaming and is much more relaxed.  To enhance this natural effect while using a flying ointment, use it in darkness or at night, and alongside ecstatic trance inducing methods.

Psychoactive plants are believed to remove the barriers between our world and the world of the spirits and gods; they essentially are keys to the otherworld door and, some would say, to the entire universe.  Consciousness is like seeing the world through a keyhole as there’s only so much you are able to see – we are too busy looking at the limited amount of what we can see, naming, cataloguing, and trying to explain everything in our field of vision, that we do not see what is beyond the keyhole or what is behind us in the dark. Now what if someone gave you a key? Would you put it in the lock and turn it to open the door and see all the wonders and horrors on the other side? Flying ointments are one such key.

Flying ointments are used to aid in trance, astral travel, and spirit work, to receive divine inspiration (awen, imbas, the cunning fire), to help release the spirit from the body, for hedgecrossing, for shapeshifting, or to enhance or access powers for magic, rituals, and spellwork.

How to Use a Flying Ointment

Before you use an ointment in a ritual setting I recommend first doing a tiny test patch on a piece of bare skin to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction. Then I would recommend testing out its strength and your tolerance. When you do this, you should have a friend with you or someone you’ve told your plans to who you can call in case of emergency. Use only a small amount to start testing your level of tolerance – a pea-sized amount is good.  Wait to see how you feel. Always wait a minimum of 30 min to feel the effects before using more salve. If you are comfortable with the level of effects you are feeling, stop there, and then apply that same amount for ritual use. If it’s not enough, apply another pea-sized amount to your bare skin and increase as needed. The  Effects may take 30 minutes to 2 hours to appear depending on sex, weight, and tolerance and may last 1-6 hours. Depending on your height and weight, 1-2 tsps of ointment is a standard dose for a smaller person and 2-3 tsps for a larger person. Flying Ointments can be mixed with cannabis and alcohol, but before doing so make sure you have tested the ointment alone first in case of any adverse reactions.

To use for magic and ritual, whisper to your jar of salve and reveal your intent; do you want to achieve soul-flight, shapeshift into an owl, borrow the plant’s powers for a spell? Then say so out loud to the plants and any spirits and deities you have called. You could say something along the lines of “as I anoint my body with this salve my spirit will loosen from its flesh and fly from here to [desired location].” If you are using a flying ointment for a group ritual, it is best for everyone to share a common purpose for its use.

The myth that witches apply flying ointment to their genitals or their brooms and “ride” them is exactly that, a myth. I found one reference to it in a witch trial under torture and the other references come from it and are sensationalist prose written by poets inspired by the trial. There are other accounts of witches rubbing ointments on chairs and tables and sitting on them, but there is no penetration. As a witch who makes and uses flying ointments I’ve found it is not necessary to anoint one’s mucous membranes for quick absorption (please don’t rape your broom or staff). Many of the plants used are very toxic and very potent and you do not want them near your sensitive bits as they can cause skin abrasions, rashes, and worse discomforts and you wont’ be able to wash it off. Please keep anything with henbane or belladonna away from your genitals and mucous membranes!

The only ointment I’ve found safe for one’s naughty bits is a pure mandrake ointment which can be used for sex magic by anointing each partner’s sex organs before doing the deed. Magically, the best places to apply a flying ointment are the base of the neck for the spine’s connection to the World Tree, the third eye, over the heart, the armpits (for wings), and the soles of the feet. Where your neck meets your spine and the third eye are especially effective because they are doorways in and out of your body.

To get the most out of your experience use a flying ointment in an atmospheric setting; in your decked-out temple room, in a pitch black space, under the moon and starlight, a beautiful spot in nature, or a place of threshold power (a place with water, land, and sky all present, a place between civilization and the wilds, a hedge, etc). Results are better when ointment use is combined with trance-inducing activities such as chanting, dancing, swaying, drumming, or breath work.

What to Expect

I need to say this as clearly as possible: the purpose of a flying ointment is NOT to “trip out” or “trip balls”. If you are hoping to pass out and hallucinate for days, losing all sense of reality, you will be sorely disappointed and should look elsewhere. Flying ointments are an aid, a tool for those with the gift — not a cannon that will shoot you to the otherworld. Flying ointments and their traditional plants are meant to be an aid for visionary experiences, not a wreaking ball to your sanity. If you hallucinate erratically a) your body and brain are freaking out and don’t know how to handle the alkaloids in the poisonous plants because it’s your first time ever using them, or, b) you’ve overdosed and need to cut way back on the dosage (you might also need to make a trip to the ER if they’re severe enough). Uncontrollable hallucinations are the body’s way of dealing with foreign chemicals that have effects our systems aren’t used to. Those who have never tried shrooms, cannabis, ecstasy, LSD, acid, and, heck, even wormwood and damiana before are more likely to experience hallucinations than someone who has tried them and knows what to expect. The more relaxed you are, the less likely you are to have a bad reaction.

What does a healthy reaction to a flying ointment feel like? It should feel like you are intoxicated; lightheadedness, silliness, and euphoria at first. Your pupils will dilate and your cheeks flush. You may experience dry mouth and blurry vision depending on what herbs are in the ointment (these effects are temporary). After, the experience should deepen, and colour, sound, smell, sight, and taste will all be enhanced. You will experience the mundane world differently and you may feel awe, amazement, and wonder at what you see and feel. You may have profound thoughts and realizations you normally would not. You may hear whispers or see glimpses of things you would not in ordinary consciousness. Suspension of disbelief will become easy in this dream-like state. And, when used ritually by those with the gift, you will be able to achieve things you’d never imagined when your spirit is separated from flesh; visionary experiences, shapeshifting into animals and elemental forces, long distance travel, dreamwalking, interacting with wights and shades…

I’ve also noted that using ointments with mandrake (mandragora officinarum) as the main ingredient lends one almost supernatural energy and stamina making it perfect for sex magic or all-night ecstatic rituals such as the witches’ sabbat I participated in at the Gathering Festival.

Everyone’s experiences will differ and individual reactions to the plants or a combination thereof cannot be predicted. While one person’s experience may be over powering, another may experience nothing. Only use will help discover which plant or combination of plants works best for you.

Contraindications (Warnings – Please Read Carefully)

Do not use flying ointments if you have a heart problem or serious kidney and liver problems. Do not use ointments containing belladonna if you are allergic to morphine and related opiates or you will have a very serious reaction and need to go to the emergency room. Do not mix with serious medications. Do not use when pregnant or breastfeeding. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth after using the ointment. Keep away from children and pets.  Do not drive or operate machinery while under the effects of a flying ointment. Side effects may include temporary dizziness, fatigue, and blurred vision (the latter especially if the ointment contains belladonna). Give yourself 2-5 hours to recover from the experience and get back to normal. In some cases, it may take 1-2 days to get your normal energy levels back.

If you feel hot, sweaty, nauseated, and you vomit, with no other factors contributing to it (food allergies, food poisoning, flu etc), you may be having an adverse reaction to one of the herbs (likely belladonna or datura) and should seek medical attention immediately. To reduce effects, wash the application areas with warm soapy water (or have a warm, not hot, shower), drink plenty of water, and avoid fatty foods.

awesomeevibevi  asked:

Do you know any websites where people can learn greek mythology easily?

Hello, there are actually a lot of ways to learn about Greek Mythology and I’d be lying if I said there was a way for it to be actually easy. Greek Mythology is very loaded and carries a massive amount of content. Here are my suggestions you should consider looking up if you want to have basic knowledge of Greek Mythology:


  10. (List to look up)


  1. The Illiad By Homer
  2. The Odyssey By Homer
  3. The Argonautica By Apollonius
  4. Modern Greek folklore and ancient Greek religion: a study in survivals By John Cuthbert Lawson
  5. Greek Fairy Tales, Folk Tales and Fables By Various Authors
  6. The Shield of Herakles, Theogony, and Works and Days By Hesiod
  7. You can also check out our poetry tag and quotes tag

Hope this helps you!


Mycenaean Gold Argonaut Bead, Late Helladic II, c. 15th Century BC

The upper surface in repoussé, in the form of an Argonaut, the eyes and tentacles ornamented with granulation, the back plain, with four perforations.

Hera, I am as my father made me – oblivious to the arrows of that little fellow (Eros). Love charms and all such things are lost upon me. Still, if you like this plan, I’ll go along… please, though, do all the talking when we see [Aphrodite].

 Athena in the Argonautica by Apollonius of Rhodes

Athena, the best aromantic goddess this side of the Mediterranean.

Athena helps build the Argo: Roman moulded terracotta plaque, 1st century AD

This plaque is said to have been found near the Porta Latina in Rome. The relief represents the fitting out of the Argo, the famous vessel in which the Greeks risked the first great national undertaking. Athena herself, as Ergane, the goddess of labor, presides; and whilst the mythic builder (Argos) of the miraculous vessel is engaged in timbering the hull; she, as it were, imparts to it life and breath, by teaching the steersman (Tiphys) to clothe the towering masts with sails, which are to serve as wings to the vessel.

The goddess sits upon a stool, supported on lion’s paws; and is occupied in attaching, with her own hands, the swelling canvass to the yards, which Tiphys holds in readiness. She has laid aside the gorgon shield, and appears without the aegis. The owl, her faithful attendant, has perched on the stump of a pillar standing behind her. The surrounding landscape is simply indicated by the city-gate leading towards the haven; and by the trunk of an aged tree.

…Argus, son of Phrixus; and Argus, by Athena’s advice, built a ship of fifty oars named Argo after its builder; and at the prow Athena fitted in a speaking timber from the oak of Dodona. When the ship was built, and he inquired of the oracle, the god gave him leave to assemble the nobles of Greece and sail away. -  from Apollodorus, Library 1.9.16

Offerings for Hekate

In case you don’t want to read this whole passage, I have highlighted the offerings. 

Traditional offerings to Hekate consisted of a lot of animal sacrifice, but so did most of the Ancient Greek gods. But, her offerings also had components of other kinds. One such example is found in the Argonautica by Apollonius of Rhodes (the edition I quote from is the Penguin Classics Voyage of the Argonaut). In this quote, Medea, the witch priestess of Hekate, instructs Jason on how to make an offering to Hekate:

”Wait for the moment of midnight and after bathing in an ever running river, go out alone in sombre clothes and and dig a round pit in the earth. There, kill an ewe and after heaping up a pyre over the pit, sacrifice it whole, with a libation of honey from the hive and prayers to Hecate, Perses’ only Daughter. Then, when you have invoked the goddess duly, withdraw from the pyre. And do not be tempted to look behind you as you go, either by footfalls or the baying of hounds, or you may ruin everything and never meet your friends alive”

(Page 136, Book III, lines 1002-1044)

The methods used here to perform the offerings were very common for deities like Hekate. She is a chthonic deity which means she resides in the Underworld, or at least lives there sometimes. When performing offerings for these deities and for the dead, they would be poured/sacrificed directly onto the earth, or in most cases a pit that was dug. Also in this passage, we see two offerings: honey and an ewe. Also noticed is the suggestion not to look back. This is quite a common practice when honoring chthonic beings such as Hekate.

Another passage which describes an offerings to Hekate comes from a later Latin (which is probably considered a little less traditional) text that also discusses the workings of the witch priestess Medea:

“As she came Medea stopped before the threshold and the door; covered by the sky alone, she avoided her husband’s embrace, and built two turf altars, one on the right to Hecate and one on the left to Youth. She wreathed these with boughs from the wild wood, then hard by she dug two ditches in the earth and performed her rites; plunging her knife into the throat of a back sheep, she drenched the open ditches with his blood. Next she poured upon it bowls of liquid wine, and again bowls of milk still warm…”

(Ovid’s Metamorphoses page 128 from book VII in the Barnes & Noble Classics edition)

Again, we see the sacrifice of a sheep, but this time, there is the edition of wine and milk.

As seen, though animal sacrifice is a common motif, there are offerings which require no animal bloodshed. The philosopher Porphyry in his work On Abstinence expanded upon this by writing about other offerings given to Hekate:

“He diligently sacrificed to them at proper times in every month at the new moon, crowning and adorning the statues of Hermes and Hecate, and the other sacred images which were left to us by our ancestors, and that he also honored the gods frankincense, and sacred wafers and cakes.”

(Porphyry On Abstinence quoted in Hekate: Liminal Rites by Sorita D’Este)

Porphyry’s quote displays a few offerings: frankincense and sacred wafers and cakes. Incense was a common offering to the gods, and remains so today. However, incense was not usually given to chthonic deities. This is slightly different for Hekate most likely because she was not always in the role of a chthonic deity. She was often honored in an ouranic, or heavenly, aspect. This could account for the offering of frankincense.

Some more offerings recommended are found in Sorita D’Este’s book Hekate: Liminal Rites, which I think is a must read for any Hekate follower. In the book she includes a chart which lists offerings of garlic, mullet, eggs, and cheese. Though this book is modern, these are often commonly accepted as traditional offerings to Hekate. She also references cakes called amphiphon which is described as a “flat cheesecake which was surrounded by small torches” offered to her at the Deipnon.

I have outlined some traditional offerings to Hekate, but I have some of my own that I find she enjoys from my experience honoring her. I have found that candles, scented or unscented, sprinkled with her sacred herbs make good offerings, not only for the evaporation of substance, but for the presence of a flame. As a torch-bearing goddess, I figured she might like fires. Another offering I give to her is just a modification of a traditional one. When offering milk to her, I sprinkle cinnamon in it for extra flavoring. Another thing I have found to be an effective offering is blood. I often give her my blood on festivals and celebrations, but I also offer it to her when I am in serious need of her assistance. These offerings aren’t really traditional, but they have worked well enough for me!


Thank you all so much for 2000 followers! Your support of my blog and my passions and content means the world and I appreciate every note you give me. So, I want to recognize and promote some of my favorite friends, followers, and fellow fans

@marcustulliuscicero, @aegialia, @vangch, @kashuan, @ozzery, @euryalus, @atreides, @marcusanthotius, @pythionice, @vaeputodeusfio, @alexandrion, @didoofcarthage, @medeaofthepalatine, @thetwelvecaesars, @ciceronian, @madqueenalanna, @terpsikeraunos, @thoodleoo, @argonauticae, @wildandwhirlingwords, @owlask, @marcvscicero, @antony-cleopatra, @ultimusoctavian@romeneverfell, @livys, @patbroklos, @valiantparadox, @catullan, @acetechne, @procaelio, @astynomi, @ancient-rome-au

@erasregg, @assallo, @alk0n0st, @talleyelash, @maltese-swans, @bioticbear, @themoonshoes, @jimmy-mckill, @izzychao, @kitmarlowes, @hermitqueen, @vincentem, @scriboniuscurio, @skeleton-richard, @cqcandchill, @catseamus, @the-girl-who-waited-always, @alice-in-blunderland

@poorquentyn, @pretenderoftheeast, @warsofasoiaf, @goodqueenaly, @eliyadoodles, @stanniskingofwesteros, @stannisbaratheon@tmgbanter, @onemountaingoatssongaday, @godblessthemountaingoats, @goddamnshinyrock, @lives-in-a-harpsichord, @turtle-paced, @gotgifsandmusings

This is only a brief list, and of course I can’t list everyone, but thanks everyone, again, and I look forward to forging new friendships in the future!

anonymous asked:

so as someone fascinated by the classics and who avidly reads post on here about ancient lit wtf would you recommend i start reading cause i got no fuckin clue?

i can certainly tell you how i WISH i had gotten into classics-as-a-hobby, because i didn’t know shit-fuck when i started and it was messy af. the following is going to be, in rough order, how i’d recommend diving in. people will differ with me on this, and i’d like to disclaim that my focus is actually history, so i still don’t know shit-fuck about ancient lit, really. all advice below is humble & subject to correction.

first, know that saying “ancient literature” is extremely, extremely broad: do you want ancient histories, tragedies, comedies, orations, treatises, poems? funny poems or sad poems? epic poems? do you want roman – republic, late republic, empire – or do you want greek – mythology, athenian empire, classical, hellenistic? it’s okay: you don’t have to know yet. this is just an idea of the scope of what’s out there. i’m going to assume you’re thinking of literature as “media the ancients consumed for entertainment.” we’ll start at the top. 


• is the iliad & the odyssey, and, by extension, the aeneid. this might seem intuitive, but it was not for me, because i don’t know, as previously mentioned, shit-fuck. no matter what you want to branch into afterward, the iliad and the odyssey are pretty fundamental for understanding the world that the ancients inherited. you have to know these works to understand their social mores if you go on to study ancient history, and you have to know these works to understand the archetype of the hero and other literary conventions if you go on to enjoy reading drama and poetry. 

good translations: the lattimore and the green are extremely similar and the closest you’ll get to actually experiencing the rhythm and pace of the poetry in greek. this does not mean they are super accessible and user-friendly for people who like to do this as a hobby, however. the lombardo is MUCH more accessible, but it takes a great deal of liberties and doesn’t fully embody what the text is about, i always thought. no shame in wanting a more accessible translation, but i would suggest reading the lattimore if you want to make a serious study of the works without, you know, spending an hour a day sobbing dryly over your greek flashcards. like myself 


i feel it’s more user-friendly to recommend that you track storylines instead of tragedians; you won’t get as confused that way. in line with that, here’s some works that jump off from the content of homer:

• aeschylus: the oresteia, which is comprised of three works: the agamemnon, the choephori, and the eumenides. absolutely compulsory reading 
• sophocles: the ajax 

then you might want to branch into some non-homer adjacent works:

• sophocles: the oedipus tyrannus and the antigone
euripides: the medea, but read apollonius of rhodes: the argonautica first
euripides: the bacchae. my heart tells me to tell you to actually start with this one, but the student in me tells you to save it until you’ve read at least the antigone. on the one hand, you’ll be confused; on the other, it’s one of the greatest works of the ancient world. therefore, peruse at your discretion 

SOME ESSENTIAL COMEDIES, if you’re sick of dead people by now, include the lysistrata, the clouds, and the frogs, all by aristophanes.

SOME ROMAN WORKS include the aeneid which you should get down asap, as i said up top, right after you do homer’s epics. vergil has some other works, but first and foremost i’d actually rec ovid: 

the metamorphoses (lots of mythology, extremely essential)
ars amatoria (guide to getting laid)
heroides (poetry from the pov of mythological heroines, very fun once you know your way around recurring figures)

you can read juvenal but you’ll fucking hate him. i’m partial to lucan’s epic the pharsalia myself. i also like petronius’s satyricon, which is an anomaly: it’s actually a very early novel, after a fashion, with poetry interspersed throughout. it’s weird as shit, and fragmented. the rest that we get from the romans is a few plays, and a lot of orations, biographies, histories, and academic writings.  


• martial’s epigrams (sick burns, funny invectives)
• literally just anything by catullus is fucking baller 
• horace’s odes. my favorite is nunc est bibendum 
sappho: fragments, sadly, and ode to aphrodite 

once you’re done with these, some level 2 stuff might include works like vergil’s georgics and eclogues, seneca’s plays, and pliny the younger’s creative nonfiction-ish epistulae. another branch could be more aeschylus, like the persians or the prometheus bound. hesiod and aesop are pretty essential, but tragically i find them boring and so they are at the bottom of this list. you should also probably read pindar at some point. here is a super useful website that i love and wish i had known existed two years ago!

or you could study history instead, in which case you’re in for a lot of demosthenes, cicero, and marcus aurelius not knowing how to shut the fuck up, in that order. have fun and lmk if you have more questions!

Oracle of Zeus at Dodona, Greece

Though it never eclipsed the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi, Dodona gained a reputation far beyond Greece. In the Argonautica of Apollonius of Rhodes, a retelling of an older story of Jason and the Argonauts, Jason’s ship, the “Argo”, had the gift of prophecy, because it contained an oak timber spirited from Dodona.

In c. 290 BCE, King Pyrrhus made Dodona the religious capital of his domain and beautified it by implementing a series of construction projects (i.e. grandly rebuilt the Temple of Zeus, developed many other buildings, added a festival featuring athletic games, musical contests, and drama enacted in a theatre). A wall was built around the oracle itself and the holy tree, as well as temples to Dione and Heracles.