Hellenic Terminology Page

Below is a list of terms used on this blog, with a short explanation and a link to blog posts with more information. It's meant to serve as a reference guide to this blog as well as Hellenismos in general.


Aegis - mythological shield of the God Zeus, as well as His daughter Athena and even Apollo on rare occasions. Said to carry the head of Medusa on its front.

Agathós Daímōn - household spirits who protect the family, house and bloodline, or Theoi. Also the name of a festival held on the second day after the new moon.

Agonothetai - judges, most notably the judges of tragic plays during the City Dionysia.

Aiskhrologia - women insulting each other and using foul language, in honor of Iambe, who cheered up a grieving Demeter by either lifting her skirts or making a dirty joke. Part of the Eleusinian Mystery Tradition

Alseids (Ἀλσηΐδες) - nymphs associated with groves.

Amphidromia (τὰ Ἀμφιδρόμια) - celebration on the fifth or seventh day after the birth of a child where the child was presented at the shrine to Zeus and Hestia by the father.

Apopompai (ἀποποπμαί) - 'sendings away' or 'exorcism' of spirits and other supernatural entities.

Apoptygma - name of the fold in a peplos.

Archon (ἄρχων) - title. Ruled Athens first in threes, then in nines, then in tens and their power did not extend to law-making. Oversaw the tasks of the ancient kings.

Archōn Basileus (Ἄρχων Βασιλεύς) - title. Spiritual inheritors of the mythic kings of Athens, in charge of religious and artistic festivals.

Archōn Epōnymos (ἄρχων Ἐπώνυμος) - title. Chief magistrate of Athens for one year. Was in charge of the affairs of Athens' citizens; served as an ancient mayor for the city, and the year was named after him.

Arrephoros (Ἀρρήφορος) - year long handmaidens of Athena Polias

Arête (ἀρετή) - the act of living up to one's full potential.

Arètèr - title of a priest or priestess meaning 'supplicant'.

Aromatic herbs (ἀρώματα) - any woods, plants, or flowers which release a pleasant odor when burned.

Autochthonous (αὐτός χθών) - 'earth-born', applied to those born of Gaea, or literally 'of the earth'.

Bômos (βωμός) - properly signifies any elevation; an altar for the Ouranic Theoi.

Bothros (βόθρος) - offering pit to the Khthonic Theoi.

Boule (βουλή) - five-hundered members, selected from eledgable voters, to structure the democracy.

Caduceus - messenger staff of Hermes, and sometimes Isis.

Chiton (khitōn, χιτών) - clothing. Came in two forms: the Doric chiton and the later Ionic chiton. The Doric style was open on one side, sleeveless and didn't have the apoptygma the peplos had, while the Ionic chiton was pinned or sewn from top to bottom, was made with a much wider piece of fabric, and had sleeves.

Chlamys (χλαμύς) - clothing, cloak. Was normally pinned with a fibula at the right shoulder. It was worn by messengers and warriors, and could serve as a light shield.

Chorêgos (χορηγός) - a wealthy Athenian, who would train the selected actors and the chorus, and would pay for any part of the productions not paid for by the state, in the performance of the tragedies at the City Dionysia.

Dadoukhos (Δᾳδοῦχος) - 'torch bearer', official title within the Eleusinian Mystery Tradition.

Deipnon (Hekate's) - monthly festival day on the day of the new moon where the house is prepared for the new month. Dedicated to Hekate and usually celebrated with Hekate's Dinner.

Deisidaimonia (δεισιδαιμονία) - fear of spirits and other supernatural entities.

Delphic Maxims - the Delphic Maxims are a list of 147 guidelines towards an ethical life. Received from the Oracle of Delphi.

Drachma - base coin of ancient Hellas. On Baring the Aegis, prices calculated from drachma to dollars, are always 1 drachma = $ 60,-

Eiresiône (εἰρεσιώνη) - a branch of olive or laurel bound with purple or white wool, decorated with fruits of the season, pastries, and small jars of honey, oil and wine. It was carried through the streets of Athens during the festival of Pyanepsai (Πυανέψια).

Ekphorá (ἐκφορά) - 'funeral procession' during funerary rites.

Elaphos (ἔλαφος) -  cakes in the shape of a stag, made out of a basic dough, honey, and sesame seeds, in honor of Artemis during the Elaphebolia.

Epipuron (ἐπίπυρον) - a movable pan or brazier, used on top of a bômos so it could serve as an altar for burnt-offerings.

Epithets - an attachment to the name of a God or Goddess, used to indicate either a specific domain of the Deity, a specific origin myth or region from which the Deity came, or an entirely different entity, through either domain or origin.

Eschára (ἐσχάρα) - a low-lying altar used in burnt-offerings for heroes, demi-Gods and (nature) spirits. Sometimes used to indicate the corresponding projection at the top of a bômos that held its own fire.

Ethike Arete - the practice of habitual excellence (ethics).

Euergetism (εὐεργετέω) - 'I do good things'--gift-giving from a wealthy citizen to the community.

Eusebia - reverence, loyalty, and sense of duty toward the Gods (of Hellas).

Fasting - the act of voluntarily withholding food from your body for a longer period of time than you would normally be without it.

Garon (γάρον) - fish sauce, prepared from the intestines of small fishes through the process of bacterial fermentation.

Grammateîs (γραμματεῖς) - title. Tenth archon, served as a secretary with a large variety of tasks.

Hagneia - the maintaining of ritual purity by avoiding miasma.

Hellen (a) - the preferred term for a citizen of ancient Greece.

Hellenist (a) - the preferred term for a practitioner of Hellenismos.

Hellas - the preferred term for ancient and modern day Greece.

Hellenismos (Ἑλλήνισμος) - the modern reconstruction of the ancient Greek religion. It focuses on the worship of the Twelve Olympic Gods--Zeus, Hera, Athena, Hephaistos, Apollo, Artemis, Demeter, Dionysos, Hermes, Ares, Poseidon and Aphrodite--along with Hades and Hestia.

Hetairai (ἑταῖραι) - female companions, a term used non-sexually for women, about women, but used by men to indicate a woman hired for entertainment, often leading to sex.

Hiereus - title of a priest or priestess meaning 'sacrificer'.

Hierodoule (ἱεροδούλη) - temple slave in the temple of Aphrodite at Corinth

Himation (ἱμάτιον) - clothing, cloak. Was usually worn over a chiton. It wasn't fastened with pins, but instead was held up by the friction created between two layers of the garment, usually over one shoulder.

Holocaustos (ὁλόκαυστος) - a sacrifice given--and usually burnt--in full to the Gods. Opposite of Thyesthai.

Katadesmoi (κατάδεσμοi) - cursing tablets, or binding tablets.
Kathiskos - name of an offer jar of foodstuffs used to protect the household's food storage. Dedicated to Zeus Ktesios.

Katharmos (Καθαρμός) - ritual purification, one of the pillars of Hellenismos.

Kernoi (κέρνοι) - offering dishes.

Kharis (Χάρις) - religious reciprocity.

Khernibeionas (Χερνῐβεῖον) - holder for khernips.

Khernips (Χἐρνιψ) - ritually purified water to remove miasma. Held in a Khernibeionas.

Kithara - ancient instrument in the Lyre family. In mythology, it was gifted to Apollo by Hermes.

Khoe (χοαί) - a type of libation where the entire content is poured out. Reserved for Chthonic Gods, Goddesses and other Underworld beings, like spirits or ghosts, as well as earth Deities. Consists of a measure of honey, milk and dark-red wine. Opposite of a sponde.

Khoi - vessel that holds the khoe.

Króki (κρόκη) -  a yellow wollen thread, worn by supplicants during the walk from Athens to Eleusis for the (Lesser) Mysteries. Se also: Martic.

Kurios (κύριος) - head of the Oikos. Male.

Kykeon (κυκεών) - a boiled down barley solution, sacred to Demeter.

Leitourgia (λειτουργία) - semi-voluntary financial contributions made by the most wealthy of citizens and métoikos in order to finance the state's public expenses in areas of war, theater, and religious worship.

Libation - liquid sacrifice.

Mageiroi - temple helpers.

Manna (μάννᾰ) - powdered frankincense.

Martis (μάρτης) -  a red-and-white piece of string, tied around the wrist, used as a charm against evil forces. See also: króki.

Melissai - temple dancers.

Mēria (μηρια) - the part of the sacrificed animal that was alotted to the Theoi; the preferred sections were the thigh bones, the tail, vertebrae and the sacrum.

Miasma (Μίασμα) - describes the lingering aura of uncleanliness in regards to a person or space through which contact is made with the Gods. Literally 'pollution'.

Muses, The (Μοῦσαι) - Melete (Practice), Mneme (Memory), and Aoede (Song) or Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Euterpe (flutes and lyric poetry), Thaleia/Thalia (comedy and pastoral poetry), Melpomene (tragedy), Terpsikhore (dance), Erato (love poetry), Polyhymnia/Polymnia (sacred poetry) and Urania (astronomy).

Mystagogoi - initiated mystai within the Eleusian Mystery Tradition.

Mystai - 'initiates', worthy of witnessing the Greater Mysteries.

Noumenia - name of a festival held on the first day after the new moon. The main purpose of the monthly festival is to kick off the new month and appease all Deities connected to this.

Nomos Arkhaios - observance of ancient tradition, (religious) law, and customs.

Nymphs - nature spirits. The term Nymph means 'bride'.

Oikos (οἶκος) - literally  'home', 'house', 'family' or 'bloodline'.

Oiônoskopos - divination by looking at the behavior of birds.

Ololygē (ὀλολῡγή) - the ritual scream women made, usually when an animal was sacrificed, but also at other sacred times.

Opisthodomos (ὀπισθόδομος) - usually refers to the back room of a temple, where secret rites to the deity of the temple were performed.

Opson (ὄψον) - 'the favorite relish', a most prefered dish.

Oracle - person or practice to divine answers from the Gods on current troubles.

Orphism (Ὀρφικά) - the name given to a set of religious beliefs and practices originating in the ancient Hellenic world, associated with literature ascribed to the mythical poet Orpheus, who descended into Hades and returned. Orphic incenses | Orphic hymns

Panspermia - a mixture of beans and grains, offered to Apollo during the Pyanepsia (Πυανέψια).

Pederasty (παιδεραστία) - the socially acknowledged erotic relationship between an adult male and a younger male usually in his teens, practiced mostly in the Archaic and Classical ages of Hellenic history.

Peplos (ὁ πέπλος) - clothing. A body-length garment established as typical attire for women in ancient Hellas. It was a tubular cloth folded inside-out from the top about halfway down to form an apoptygma. The garment was then gathered about the waist and the open top--at the fold--pinned over the shoulders. The top of the tube was then draped over the waist, providing the appearance of a second piece of clothing.

Polemarchos (πολέμαρχος) - title. charged with all affairs of war in the early days of Athens' democracy. Was in charge of the entire army, and required to make military decisions for the whole of the city-state. Became in charge of the city's métoikos after military rule fell to the stratēgoí.

'Practicing Apart Together' - a term dubbed by Elani Temperance and a practice adopted by Hellenistic organization Elaion to indicate timed rituals practiced by various people around the world as a form of community worship.

Prothesis (Προθησις) - 'display of the body' during funerary rites.


Prytaneis (πρυτάνεις) - fifty members, selected from the boule, to help structure the democracy.

Ptóchos (πτωχός) - a beggar. Purifier.

Protogenoi, The (Πρωτογενοι) - first Born Deities of the Greek Kosmos; Aether (Αἰθήρ, 'Light'), Ananke (Ἀνάγκη, 'Fate' or 'Compulsion'), Khronos (Χρόνος, 'Time'), Erebos (Ἔρεβος, 'Darkness'), Eros (Ἔρως, 'Desire' or 'Love'), Gaea (Γαῖα, 'Earth'), Hemera (Ἡμέρα, 'Day'), Hydros (Ὑδρος, 'Primordial Waters'), Khaos (χάος, 'Chaos' or 'Air'), Nêsoi (Νησοι, 'Islands'), Nyx (Νύξ, 'Night'), Ôkeanos (Ωκεανος, 'Water'), Ourea (Oὔρεα, 'Mountains'), Phanes (Φάνης 'Procreation'), Pontos (Πόντος, 'Sea'), Phusis (φύσις, 'Nature'), Tartaros (Τάρταρος), Thalassa (Θάλασσα, 'Sea'), Thesis (Θεσις, 'Creation'), Uranos (Οὐρανός, 'Sky').

Prytaneion (Πρυτανεῖον) - ancient Hellenic building where officials met and the communal fire of Hestia was kept.

Sophia - the pursuit of wisdom, understanding, and truth.

Sophrosune - the control of self through deep contemplation.

Sponde (Σπονδή) - a libation given, partly, to the Deity or Deities offered to, and partly drunken by those given the libation. Opposite of a khoe.

Spondophoroi (Σπονδοφοροί) - vessel that holds the sponde.

Stratēgoí (στρατηγοί) - ten men, elected from the ten tribes of Athens, to oversee Athens' military.

Symposion (συμπόσιον) - a gathering where wine was drunk, music played, political, philosophical and scientific discussions were held.

Symposiarch (συμποσίαρχος) - profession. A wine-mixer.

Theoi - Hellenic term for the Gods.

Theos - Hellenic term for a single God or Goddess.

Thespiode - oracle singers.

Thirty Tyrants (οἱ τριάκοντα τύραννοι) - a pro-Spartan oligarchy installed in Athens after its defeat in the Peloponnesian War in 404 BC. They took power over Athens in 411-410 and another slightly longer period in 404-403. During their reign, hundreds were condemned to execution by drinking hemlock, while thousands more were exiled from Athens.

Tholos (θόλος) - a circular edifice constructed for the prytanis, next to the bouleterion.

Thyesthai (θύεσθαι) - partially given--or burnt-- sacrifice to the Gods. Opposite of a Holocaustos.

Titanomachy (Τιτανομαχία) - ten year war of the Olympians with the Titans for dominance over Earth.

UPG - non-Hellenic term meaning 'Unverified Personal Gnosis'. Used to label personal insight into the Gods not derived from ancient, reputable, sources.

Xenia (ξενία) - ritual hospitality, one of the pillars of Hellenismos.

Xenion (ξεινήιον) - a parting gift for guests.

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