Monday, November 24, 2014

"Atlantis" recap (2.02): A New Dawn: Part Two

Previously on Atlantis, Ariadne became Queen, Pasiphaê became fully evil, Jason got himself shot and locked in a cave with a Cyclops along with Hercules and Pythagoras, and Atlantis was about to fall because a religious icon, the palladium, was stolen from within the palace walls by Medea, who is working for Pasiphaê. Welcome back to the war for Atlantis.

The war has begun. With catapults and arrows, Pasiphaê's army unleashes the first volley, then she has her men storm the walls with long ladders and sharp swords. From their encampment, Pasiphaê and Medea look on. Medea questions the folly of fighting; they should have surrendered while they had the chance. Pasiphaê blames Ariadne's youth and says she'll come around soon enough.

The fight is bloody and lethal, and Dion is earning his keep defending the wall. He needs more men, though, because they are dropping like flies. Ariadne gives him the palace guards, because if Atlantis falls, she will fall with it anyway. Ariadne's evil uncle/her father's former counsellor Sarpedon is not amused. I think he wants Atlantis to fall, but not for Ariadne to get killed. Well, dude, should have thought of that before you arranged affairs so that the palladium could get stolen.

Back in the cave of one eyed wonders, Jason is all but passed out and Hercules and Pythagoras are pretty much pissing their pants because whatever is growling in the tunnels behind them--they don't know about the Cyclops yet--is getting closer. things are not looking good.

In Atlantis, the outer doors are breached and the fight is on for real. Dion is a good fighter, a strong fighter, but even he struggles against Pasiphaê' hordes. He gets jabbed in the arm and nearly killed, but a young man saves him and takes him to a field hospital to bandage his wounds. Dion tries to recruit him, but the boy says he's a coward. His name is Critias (Thomas Coombes), by the way, and we already saw him last week when he beat Hercules in a dice game--by cheating.

Back in the cave, Jason is slowly getting worse and the boys run into a dead end. The growling is getting closer. They head back--they have to, they still have the palladium and Atlantis needs it. Once they track back to the nearest crossroads with their delightfully ever burning torches, there is a moment of suspense as they wait to see if the monster found them--it did, but Hercules beats it over the head with his torch and it stumbles and falls, momentarily distracted by the lump forming on its head. Ouch.

The boys run, but eventually Hercules realizes he has to head back because the Cyclops is tracking them. Pythagoras stays behind in the dark, with Jason, and the Cyclops nearly finds them because Jason decides to wake up enough to moan at that exact moment. Hercules calls out, draws it away, and this time, it's the Cyclops who hits him over the head. The two fight and Hercules manages to jab a dagger into its one eye before knocking it over. He makes a break for it, very proud of himself. They soon discover, however, that there is more than one, and that is a definite problem.

Back in the city, the fighting has reached Dion and Critias. Dion tells him to flee, but Critias says he won't. This is his city, too, and he will fight for it. He grabs a sword and jumps into the fray. This dude is greener than Pythagoras in season one, though, so I can't see this ending well.

In the cave, Jason wakes up enough to question why he's being hauled about like a sack of flour. The boys don't have time to explain: they have reached a cavern with a rather unfortunate chasm in the middle of it. They will have to jump into the water below, but it's a height that could easily kill them. Hercules doesn't really worry about little things like the lives of his friends and pushes Pythagoras off of the cliff. Nice move, asshole. Please don't resort to your infuriating season one ways or I will have to start skipping your scenes again.

Pythagoras is fine, by the way, but that is besides the point. Jackass. Now Hercules knows it's safe, he pushes Jason in as well, and then jumps after them. Ugh, I cannot with this guy.

Back in the palace, Ariadne is operating on no sleep at all, bandaging wounded soldiers while Sarpedon looks on. He tries to get her to rest but Dion returns, and Ariadne is wide awake again. Dion informs her that the barricades are holding and that Pasiphaê's army has retreated for the time being. Ariadne is relieved, but the death toll, the number of injured, and the number of deserters eats at her conscience. Besides, she knows that tonight, the army will come back stronger than ever--and there are too few of them left. Dion ask is she wants some caught deserters made an example of, but he already knows the answer (and agrees with it): Ariadne will not become a tyrant. The deserters are free to go and the dead on the side of the enemy armies will be returned to Pasiphaê. I really, really like Dion, by the way. I hope he survives.

Pasiphaê rides into the outer ring of the city, the part under her control. Atlantis is a mess. Her right hand Goran informs her that they will only attack by nightfall after they can regroup. Pasiphaê barely hears him; on the street lies a young man who looks strikingly similar to Jason from the back, and for a moment, Pasiphaê is terrified she has killed her son. It's not Jason, but she does come clean with Medea, who watches her mentor's odd behaviour with heaps of confusion. It's pretty obvious Medea had no idea she has a son.

Back outside of the cave, our heroes wade out of the water and collapse onto the bank. Jason tries to get up--he looks remarkably better--but collapses right away. His wound and the long swim have exhausted him--and the other boys as well.

In the palace, Sarpedon visits the temple of Poseidon so the show can fulfil its contract to Juliet Stevenson when they made her a series regular. The Oracle obviously knew Sarpedon before he was banished, and she carefully asks him what he has come to do. He's there to pray for the city, he says. She's not buying it for a second. "Not even the Gods can spare us from our own conscience," she warns him, and he just nods. "Minos misjudged you", she continues. "But don't let his mistake poison your heart." He says it's too late. She promises him that in the eyes of the Gods, it is never too late. Sarpedon leaves with an even heavier heart than he had when he arrived.

Outside of the cave, Jason is getting patched up again. He thanks the boys for not leaving him behind in the cave, and they say that saving him so he can save all of Atlantis has become their job. Neither seems to mind much. Jason walks off again, wobbly but determined. The boys give him a hand, carrying him so he can fulfil his destiny. It's very touching, and Jason is very grateful. Completely unrelated, where are these 'woods'? I must have seen them in at least six episodes now--this exact same bit of it.

Ariadne, Dion, and Sarpedon attend the greatly deminished war counsel. The news is not good--most of Atlantis is lost to Pasiphaê or burned to the ground. She asks Dion if she should surrender, then asks Sarpedon. Neither is willing to offer an opinion. She tells the men she has faith in Jason and to fight on. Dion follows her order proudly. Even Sarpedon is proud of the girl he knew when she was so very young. She breaks down when they are alone, though, and Sarpedon can't take it anymore: he comes clean. Pasiphaê came to him while he was bitter and in exile, and told him he could bring down the city. He took the opportunity.

Ariadne goes from shock to sorrow to anger in the span of a few second and good Gods, Aiysha Hart is growing by leaps and bounds as an actress. I am so happy they gave her some real material to work with this season. Ariadne orders Sarpedon to be captured, and nearly drowns in the pain of the betrayal of the man she once trusted. Because of him, Atlantis may fall, thousands are dead, and she welcomed him into the city with open arms. The guilt is weighing heavily upon her.

Garon asks Pasiphaê what he is supposed to do with the royal court once they invade the palace. Pasiphaê tells him that anyone who surrenders will be spared but that Ariadne is to be killed while 'deserting'. Garon isn't a fan of the plan; Ariadne is a servant of Poseidon and he's not about to make a God mad at him. Pasiphaê threatens him into cooperating, but he isn't happy about it.

In the forest, the boys move as fast as they can and they come upon a village that was entirely ransacked. It is the army's way, Pythagoras explains, to leave no survivors of these raids. The boys hurry a bit more.

In the palace, Sarpedon asks for an audience with Ariadne. She grants it to him. Sarpedon tells her he knows how to shatter the enemy's army's moral: kill Pasiphaê. He offers to do it for her; Pasiphaê will let him come close. Ariadne ponders the request, unsure if she can trust a traitor.

Back in the forest, the boys find themselves surrounded by archers all of a sudden. They drop their weapons and a group of Atlantian deserters comes forth. They say they refused to give their lives without hope of victory, but once Jason shows them the palladium, their loyalties realign to the side of good. Miras (Steven Cree), leader of the deserters vows to return with them to Atlantis to fight after Jason gives them a hero's speech.

Sarpedon is sent out with four guards and a note. Pasiphaê believes he is a messenger for Ariadne's surrender. Pasiphaê takes him to her tent and takes the scroll from him while Medea looks on. Pasiphaê asks him how it feels to be back in Atlantis, and how Ariadne is doing, but he remains silent for the most part. Medea realizes something is up when Serpedon suddenly reaches for a sword. In a magical feat born out of pure emotion, she tosses Sarpedon through the air. He lands head first on a heavy trunk and lies dizzily on the ground. Pasiphaê plants a dagger into his chest for his betrayal.

Dion tells Ariadne that Sarpedon has failed and that the army gathers. She tells them she can't order them to fight to the death, but Dion tells her every man under his command volunteers. They will fight until the last man falls. She vows to fall alongside him.

Our heroes watch the armies trade the dead so they may be properly buried. It seems they have finally made it to Atlantis, but getting in is going to be one hell of a chore. The exchange of the dead gives Pythagoras an idea: they will 'die' so they will be taken into the city by wagon. It works, although they are nearly coup de grace'd for their trouble.

Jason finally--finally--makes it to Ariadne, who is suffering terribly under the burdon of her reign. She falls into his arms with a gasp, crumbling now hope has returned to Atlantis. Despite her earlier promise that they will never be together, she kisses him, so relieved to see him alive.

Hercules breaks them up with a cough and the palladium. Ariadne fears it's too late, even with the palladium, but Jason tells her it will be alright: the soldiers just need hope. Ariadne gives them that hope, appearing in public, palladium raised high, and the soldiers cheer. Regular men volunteer to fight en mass.  Hercules spots Cretias and forgives him for cheating at dice. Ariadne and Jason say goodbye with pain in their hearts.

At the front, Jason, Hercules and Pythagoras wait for Pasiphaê's army to attack already. The wait is killing Hercules, who resorts to teasing Jason about his kiss with ariadne to pass the time. Jason tells him to shut up so instead Hercules focusses on Miras and the deserters. Where are they? Jason says he's optimistic they will come while Pythagoras crunches the numbers and tells them they are all going to die. Hercules is not amused.

Finally the battle cries rise up and Pasiphaê's army attacks. It's a massacre; arrows and spears fly, then swords swing, and both sides take heavy casualties. Pythagoras is getting really deathly with a bow, Jason and Dion stand strong with swords, and Hercules and Critias do anything they can to fight off the army. It's not enough, though: the deserters haven't showed up and the army will soon take the palace. Dion sends Jason to convince Ariadne to leave.

Needless to say, she won't go. Or, more accurately, she will only leave if Jason does. He can't abandon the city however, and so she won't either. Jason hates it, but he understands. He vows to protect her as long as he can and Ariadne goes back to bandaging the wounded.

The battle rages on in the streets of Atlantis, and Jason kills many. Critias is also doing a really good job staying alive but there are so many of Pasiphaê's soldiers, the battle is hopelessly lost--and then the deserters return. There are so many of them that they swarm the square in front of the palace and suddenly the odds even out. Pasiphaê--who has thrown herself into the heat of the battle, expecting victory--spots Jason and is frozen to the spot. One of her archers takes aim at her son but she can't let him kill Jason. She shoves a dagger into his back before he can loosen his arrow. Medea looks on in shocked disbelief--and so does Hercules, who has seen it all and doesn't understand what has just happened.

One of Pasiphaê's luitenants, Alastor (Sam Redford), tells her the battle is lost and she has to leave. She hisses at him that they will fight to the last man. She realizes that he is right, though, and lets him escort her out of the city while Jason asks Hercules why he looks so grim. He doesn't tell Jason what he saw.

The day is won, but Ariadne mourns the dead. She looks down at the bodies of the fallen and wounded on the square below her window and asks Jason if it was worth it. They died for what they believed in, he says. In her, their queen. She thanks him for all he has done and says she will be forever in his debt. He says there is no debt to repay. None at all.

Ariadne tells Jason that before his death, Minos told her she would have to sacrifice all she holds dearest. It's only now that she understands what he meant, and she isn't just talking about the lives of the people of Atlantis, nor her fading innocence in the face of life or death decissions--she is talking about Jason, and it is killing her that they can't be together. Once more, she reminds Jason that he is not of royal blood and that because of that they can never be. I want to bang my head into a wall because we all know that Jason is Pasiphaê's son, and that his dad was special in some way as well, so this is all bullshit and ughhhh... just get together already, guys! I'm rooting for you two!

Ariadne knows that the nobles will turn against her if she weds someone not of royal blood, and so they can't be together. They vow that they will be united in the protection of Atlantis, if nothing else, and Jason leaves while Ariadne cries and tells him she is sorry. Obviously, this is killing her as much as it is Jason, and my poor heart can't take scenes like this too often.

In the temple of Poseidon, it seems another chicken is about to bite the dust, but Hercules interrupts the Oracle's rituals. He questions her about Pasiphaê's odd behaviour and the Oracle realizes she has to tread very carefully here. She lies through her teeth and tells him she doesn't know what's going on in Pasiphaê's mind. Hercules doesn't buy it, however. "I cannot help you," she says, and Hercules threatens to ask Jason why Pasiphaê--his sworn enemy--would stop one of her soldiers from killing him. The Oracle gets up and tells him to stops. Hercules--who is proving to have a fair bit of intelligence after all--asks who Pasiphaê is to Jason and the Oracle falters a moment. "She is his mother," she finally confesses and tells him that he must have known already; Jason is not like other men, after all. He is touched by the Gods. Hercules guesses correctly that Jason does not know and the Oracle confirms it. He asks after the Oracle's prophecy. Is that true? Yes, she says. It is. Only Jason can save them--and the Gods chose Hercules to protect Jason. The Oracle makes Hercules swear never to tell him, because if Jason learns the truth, his heart will blacken. He will be consumed by hatred and lost to them forever.

In the hills, Pasiphaê and what remains of her army flee. Dion informs Ariadne. She tells Dion to hunt her down; there will be no hiding place for her. She must be killed to protect Atlantis from her forever. As always, Dion simply bows and leaves. On her throne, Ariadne sucks in a deep breath and lets the hatred consume her. She is now queen, and she must be as ruthless as Pasiphaê or Atlantis will fall. That can never happen. Not ever. She has given up too much already.

Next on Atlantis: there is a suitor for Ariadne and Jason is not happy about it. Ariadne, however, seems to be fairly into the handsome fellow with the excellent swordsmanship. Uh-oh... Saturday on BBC One, recap on Monday.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Maimakterion updates

A while ago, I decided that on the day of the Hene kai Nea, I'd post a monthly update about things that happened on the blog.

Changes to the blog:
  • The Google festival calendar has been updated until the end of the Hellenic year, so until 16 July. Sorry that took a while!
  • Atlantis is back, and so are the recaps!
Anything else?
Pandora's Kharis, a charity circle for and by Hellenistic Polytheists is currently collecting for the Albert Kennedy Trust. If you want to donate, you have until tomorrow! Join us on Facebook if you would like to pitch a cause for next month!

Are you looking for an online shop to buy incenses and other Hellenistic basics from? Try The Hellenic Handmaid on Etsy.

That is it for the last month's updates, as far as I can remember. Have a blessed Deipnon!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Labrys published 'Hellenic Polytheism: Household Worship' in English

The Labrys Religious Community aims to preserve, promote and practice the Hellenic polytheistic religious tradition through public rituals, lectures, publications, theatrical and musical events, and other forms of action. Their vision is to restore the Hellenic religious tradition and by extension the Hellenic Kosmotheasis and lifestyle to its rightful place, as a respected, acknowledged and fully functional spiritual path. To bring this goal closer, they have released a new book, previously only published in Greek: 'Hellenic Polytheism: Household Worship'. To quote:

"A long awaited effort to make available for the first time abroad, the realities of Hellenic worship as practiced in the birth place of our religion. Our hope is that with this publication newer but also older followers of Hellenismos will find all the basic information to practice household worship in a traditional manner.
Within this publication, the reader is presented with explanations for the central concepts and basic guidelines to the ceremonies that form a part of Hellenic Household Worship as has been established and is currently practiced by the LABRYS Polytheistic Community in Hellas (Greece).
It serves as a useful introductory manual for the newcomer to contemporary Hellenic Polytheism as they take the first steps on their journey to worship the Hellenic Gods in a traditional manner."

The book is available on Amazon store (both US and UK) but purchasing directly through our CreateSpace online store will be appreciated since that will give the LABRYS Polytheistic community a higher portion of the royalties (without changing the price for you) which in return will help them fund our second publication that is currently in research/writing stage concerning the public aspects of worship with all the major city/community celebrations.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Zeugma yields more stunning mosaics

I am posting a lot of pictures this week, I realize. What can I say? There are lots of pretty things in the world right now, and I could use some. it's a long week. Anyway, let me share something else that is very pretty: archaeologists at the ancient Hellenic City of Zeugma in Turkey have revealed stunning mosaics that went straight to my heart when I first saw them.

The ancient city of Zeugma was originally founded as a Greek settlement by Seleucus I Nicator, one of the generals of Alexander the Great, in 300 BC. The population of the city at its peak was approximately 80,000 inhabitants. Zeugma is 80 percent underwater, after it was flooded with the waters of a nearby artificial lake. The mosaics, which were recovered in excellent condition, belong to the 2nd century B.C.

The first mosaic depicts the nine Muses in portraits. This mosaic was originally in a large room of a house that archaeologists have named 'House of Muses'. In the center of the mosaic is Muse Calliope and she is surrounded by her sisters.

The second mosaic depicts Ocean and Tithys. What is really striking about this mosaic is the wonderful and vivid colors used as well as the beauty of the heroes’ faces. Experts say that special glass mosaic pieces have been created for this mosaic alone.

I was unable to locate an image of the third mosaic, but it depicts an unidentified young man. It was also revealed to be in very good condition.

Zeugma was founded by Seleucus Nicator I, one of Alexander the Great’s commanding generals. It is situated at one of the easiest fording places on the Euphrates. Hence its name, ‘Zeugma’, which means ‘bridgehead’ or ‘crossing place’. Thanks to its strategic situation on an east-west axis, it quickly grew and developed, becoming one of the four major cities of the Commagene Kingdom founded in the 1st century B.C. in the post-Hellenistic period.

When the region came under Roman hegemony, one of the empire’s thirty legions was stationed here, the 4th Scythian. Its presence fuelled trade, trade in turn brought wealth, and when that wealth attracted artists, Zeugma became a metropolis of 70.000 people. On the banks of the Euphrates merchants built villas with a perfect view of the sunset. In the courtyards of those villas they added refreshing, mosaic-paved pools. With their mosaics depicting Poseidon, Okeanos, Tethys and the river gods, these villas on the banks of the Euphrates transformed Zeugma into a virtual fine arts museum. Swelling shortly to twice the size of London and three times that of Pompeii, the city rivalled the Athens of its day.

Many beautiful mosaics have been discovered at Zeugma, and many of those can be viewed online and in person at the Zeugma Mosaic Museum. The museum is located in the town of Gaziantep, Turkey, and it is the biggest mosaic museum on the world, containing 1700m2 of mosaics. You can see a slideshow of some of them here.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Google calendar updated until the end of the Hellenic year

In other news today, I have updated the Google calendar I use to keep up with all the Hellenic festivals. It can be added to your phone calendar like I always do, making it easy to see day by day whose sacred day it is and if anything else special is going on. I have (finally, sorry about that) updated the calendar until the end of the Hellenic year--that is until 16 July.

Looking for Carlos Jose

Khairete, everyone. I have a short request today: I am trying to locate someone for a reader of Baring the Aegis: Carlos Jose from Puerto Rico. He filled in his name on the map of Hellenic Polytheists but didn't leave a way for people to contact him. Are you, or do you know Carlos? There is another Hellenist from Puerto Rico looking for you/him. Any information is appreciated.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

John Keats: To Homer

I have ten minutes to get something together today, which is not a lot, so I hope you will forgive me for poetry blogging. I will leave you all with John Keats, one of my favourite poets.

Standing aloof in giant ignorance,
Of thee I hear and of the Cyclades,
As one who sits ashore and longs perchance
To visit dolphin-coral in deep seas.
So thou wast blind;—but then the veil was rent,
For Jove uncurtain'd Heaven to let thee live,
And Neptune made for thee a spumy tent,
And Pan made sing for thee his forest-hive;
Aye on the shores of darkness there is light,
And precipices show untrodden green,
There is a budding morrow in midnight,
 There is a triple sight in blindness keen;
Such seeing hadst thou, as it once befel
To Dian, Queen of Earth, and Heaven, and Hell.