Celestial and Chthonic

Rectilinear and Curvilinear architecture

Let us see the logic through which the clergy separated the rectilinear from the curvilinear shapes, to create the architectural systems we mention in the 1st part of the book “Holy Sacramental Journey to Greece” (by author G. Baltoyannis); a logic which had to do with the psychology of the individual. Even to this day we follow the same logic and express ourselves with designs and volumes in the same way. Today however it is difficult to say if our own perception of space is a spontaneous expression or if it comes from the processing of the past.
Nowadays when an artist wants to express “joy” or “sorrow”, he will use the same logic on the canvas, otherwise he will not be understood. Therefore through education we learn to distinguish the things, in order to understand the artist. Of course art nowadays is not bound by rules, based on which the art critic gave his opinion on the work of the artist and which started to be created during the Renaissance. These rules came from the interpretation of the works of art of antiquity. Therefore our opinion is very deeply rooted. Let us now observe the logic of the Ancients.
There was a clear distinction between a straight line and a curved part. When someone wants to express a powerful emotion, like passion, love or anger and has to choose between a straight line and a curved part, he will not choose the rectilinear but the curvilinear; on the contrary, if he wants to express thought, justice, conviction, he will use the rectilinear part.
The reason he would choose the curvilinear would not be because that was forced upon him, ergo it would have been a matter of habit, but because man lives and belongs to the natural environment, where everything is based on curvilinear shapes; he instinctively and spontaneously understands those, without being able to see the process within him, it is namely cthonic.

Necromanteion of Acheron is one of the first examples of Curvilinear architecture

The straight line occurred from cerebral activity, when man used tools and created structures, which are easier to solve in time. The outcome of said process is also visible outside of man, in the light of day, it is namely celestial.
Therefore, the rectilinear surface is a result of thought and is identified with reason, while the curvilinear always existed in the nature of man. The more a person evolves, the more the straight line dominates in his structures, because, it not only spares him time, it is also more economic.

Parthenon is the pinnacle of Rectilinear architecture

When then, in a given time, man, reaching some level of intellectual maturity, thinks of structurally expressing his religious needs, he chooses the curve for his passions and the straight line for his thoughts. But because man thought of his own origin, he came to the conclusion that he himself was also the creation of some rational thought, the same way he thinks and creates. Therefore he places this God, his Creator, based on the rectilinear logic, outside of man and above him, to watch and protect him. That is why the ancients sacrificed a white lamb, on a high altar, for the celestial gods.
On the contrary, as far as his passions are concerned, which make him clash with his fellow man, there is also some god responsible. And because it all starts within man, therefore the god of passion lies within man and bellow the earth, since he is not seen. They sacrificed then, to the chthonic gods, digging in the earth, the black lamb.

The STRAIGHT represents: above, thought, civilization, (and by a similar logic as the East) represents: light, truth, power.

The CURVE represents: bellow, the chthonic, the devious, the primitive, (and consequently) North which represents: darkness, lies, fear.

Mountain of the Gods

ROUTE INFORMATION – T.B.D. : Spring 2019

Central Greece

Historic Landmarks

  • Necromanteion
  • Dodoni
  • Dion

4/5 Culture Shock

Total Length 1050 km

7 Riding Days

Intermediate Skills Level

45% Offroad

Hotels and (1) Camping

National Forest of TBD

Middle May – Middle October

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Lodging

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Service

Brochure (coming soon)

Necromanteion

West Gate of the Mortal

West Gate of the Mortal

On the way to mount Olympus, we learned many different things. For starters, Alcibiades, was murdered in 404 B.C. and our opinion of him changed when we found out how much he had harmed his homeland, Athens. We found out about the destruction of the campaign in Sicily in 413 B.C., the death of Nicias and the annihilation of the 50.000 men, many of whom lived as prisoners in the quarries in Syracuse; about the surrender of the Athenians and the Thirty Tyrants imposed by the Spartans; about the march of the Ten Thousand in 401 B.C. and the death of Socrates, in 399 B.C.; about the hegemony of Thebes and the battles in Leuctra in 371 B.C. as well as Mantineia in 362 B.C., where Epaminondas was killed. Namely the whole collapse of the city-states, which was leading the country to a financial and sociopolitical crisis.
And yet, as things seemed dark in the Greek region, Philip II, the king of Macedonia appears since 356 B.C., defeating in Chaeronea in 338 B.C. the coalition of the Athenians and Thebians and thus putting things in order.
We were over the Athamanika (Tzoumerka) when Hermes reminded us about the murder of Philip II in 336 B.C. He then reassured us that everything will be fine, since – in his words – “Father Zeus has provided for the future of Greece. Alexander, the son of Philip II, will follow the advise of Isocrates, even though he died two years after that, in 338 B.C. The Greeks will unite under his scepter.” How strange a race are these Greeks, we thought, one moment they kill one another and the next they become brothers.

But there it is, the spot where the ArK of Deucalion landed (Ancient Greek flood myths), which I could see on my way to the Necromanteion, on top of the Athamanika.
Athamas was a son of Aeolus and grandson of Hellen, who was a son of Deucalion who was a son of Prometheus, namely of the cousin of Zeus. Athamas was the king of Boeotia and agreed to raise the young Dionysus, but Hera in her anger drove him mad and he killed his son Learchus, from his second marriage. It was he who in his first marriage with Nephele, fathered Phrixus and Helle. Helle drowned in Hellespont and Phrixus reached Colchis, creating the myth of the golden fleece.

After the murder of his son, Athamas was driven out of Boeotia and, following the oracle given to him in Delphi, he settled on this mountain giving it his name. It is the second most important mountain after Olympus. Euripides and Sophocles wrote their tragedies based on his myth.
The spot where the Ark of Deucalion landed, lies on the course from the Necromanteion to Olympus (point Δ); Jason, the relative of Phrixus passed from that exact spot, coming from Iolcos, to reach the Oracle of Dodoni. From Iolcos he embarked on the Argonautic Campaign, having first built the prow of Argo from oak wood he took from the Oracle of Dodona.
It is the next tallest mountain of Thessaly, after Olympus, and, as it seems, the waters of the deluge receded through the Necromanteion to Hades and from then to the Ocean of the Ancients which surrounds the Earth.

There, the ancient Metropolis (“Μήτρα” is Greek for Womb + “Πόλη” is Greek for City) which along with Trikke, Pelinnaioi, Gomfoi and Ithome, constituted the fortified square of the Thessalians. Metropolis was the center of the Thessalian Leauge with a powerful acropolis. This city took its name from Thessalus, who was a son of Haemon, who was the hero of the region which was initially called Haemonia. Haemon arrived here from Thesprotia.
At a distance of 116 kilometers from the spot where the Ark of Deucalion landed, to the right of my route, lies Iolcos, the inhabitants of which were Pelasgians just like the first inhabitants of Epirus, which was called Pelasgia, that is why Homer names the Dodonian Zeus Pelasgic. His sanctuary is located on the left of our route, at a distance of 20 kilometers.

Dodoni

Religious Center of Epirus

Religious Center of Epirus

We had traveled a fair distance from the spot of the Ark and we were still thinking about the creation of the human race by Deucalion and Pyrrha, who threw stones over their shoulders to create the humans. We were passing over the river Lethaeus and Lethaea came to my mind, the wife of Olenus, who were turned to stone because Lethaea was bragging that she was fairer than the goddesses. However I felt that this must have been the spot where Deucalion and Pyrrha were throwing the stones, because it is strange for the river to be called that, just a few kilometers from the spot where the Ark landed. Moreover just next to us is the location of the Meteora, the standing rocks up to 400 meters in height, that span in an area with a surface of 30 square kilometers.
This was the land of the Perrhaebians, a prehistoric people of Thessaly, which took part in the Trojan War. One of them Guneus, the son of Ocytus, was the leader of the Aenianes and the Rerrhaebians army, but also a suitor of Helen of Troy, that is the reason he joined the campaign. The Aenianes were also a prehistoric people residing in Dodona. They were part of the conference of the Greeks, namely the Delphic Amphictyony, founded by Amphictyon, the son of Pyrrha and deucalion, who lived in Phtiotis.

We were thinking about all of this while getting very close to Mount Olympus and suddenly we saw before us a huge mountain over the clouds covered in snow. It was the residence of Zeus and from there the god decided for the fate of Gods and men. We had already passed from the river Titaresius, where the Lapith Mopsus was born.
Mopsus was the son of Ampyx and Chloris, and joined the Argonautic campaign as a seer alongside Idmon, where they both died. Idmon was killed in Mariandyni, on the way to Colchis, by a boar and Mopsus died in Libya bitten by a venomous snake. The Lapiths were a prehistoric people of Thessaly and were related to the Centaurs, who initially lived in Perrhaebia. The Centaurs were monstrous hybrids, human from the waist up with the lower half of a horse, most of whom were driven away by the Lapiths, that is why we did not meet any Centaurs.
The further we distanced ourselves from the son of Macedon, Pindus, after whom the whole mountain range from Grammos to the Corinthian gulf was named; maybe it was the death of that lad which darkened this side of our homeland. Because to the west is where the wild and mysterious side of Greece could be found.

Olympus is the most beautiful mountain and we love exploring it. It is a volume rising steeply from the surrounding areas, with 1.600 species of plants many trees, but also animals and birds, that is why the Muses, born from Zeus, gather here. It has plenty of waters, from the snow on its peaks, which when the sunlight falls make the area shine. That is why it was called Olympus which means “Full of Light” (Ολόφωτος). Down bellow on its base, in the area of Pieria, there is the Sanctuary of Zeus, founded by the first king of Thessaly, after he was saved from the deluge. Up there, on the altar of Zeus, every new year the kings of Macedonia offered sacrifices, in their month of Hyperberetaiaos (September-October) according to their own customs; when the sign of Libra appeared in the sky, which symbolized the justice of Zeus towards gods and men.

Dion

Religious Center of Macedonia

Religious Center of Macedonia

Roaming Olympus through the mountains and plains, we understood that the “present” was every moment we could feel the beats of our heart, because there the gods are eternal and time loses its meaning. Only down bellow did Alexander struggled with it, advancing rapidly to Asia Minor of the state of Darius. His victory in Issus in 333 B.C. made the Olympian Zeus very happy for his son, because Alexander won without his help. On the other hand the merciful god was very sad about the degradation of Darius. Fate played an ugly game with him.
We was ordered to secretly leave for Delos, because the celebration of Apollo was to be held there and the jealous Hera would not let Zeus go. Leto, the darling of Zeus, found sanctuary on the barren island of Delos, which flowed endlessly on the sea. As a reward, the god stabilized it on four pillars forever and changed its name to Delos (bright, overt) from Ortygia, because it was the place that the god of light Apollo (Sun) was to be born.
We started traveling again in the company of Hermes who had to transport other souls to Hades, that is why he would pass again from Delphi, to ask Dionysus, who was replacing Apollo, if he had any orders from the god of light, before he would depart again for the hyperborean people.
Dionysus was a very peculiar god, because he had a difficult childhood, having Zeus for a father. The jealous Hera was trying to kill him. His mother was Semele, the daughter of Cadmus and Harmony, who was thundered by Zeus when she asked him to show himself to her with all of his might.
He was the god who discovered the vine, but Hera drove him mad and he roamed in many places in this state, like Egypt, Syria and Thrace. From there he left and reached as far as India, conquering many peoples. I did not forget that the god and my traveling companion had received soothsaying lessons from Apollo, that is why I believed him.
Through these and other hardships Dionysus decided to remain close to the humans, that is why he was a beloved god and was celebrated everywhere. So the god created the theater and, where comedies, tragedies but also the satyrical drama were performed.

Land of the Dead

ROUTE INFORMATION – T.B.D. : Spring 2019

Central Greece

Historic Landmarks

  • Eleusis
  • Sanctuary of Cabeiri
  • Delphi
  • Necromanteion

5/5 Culture Shock

Total Length 1050 km

7 Riding Days

Intermediate Skills Level

45% Offroad

Hotels and (1) Camping

National Forest of Parnassus, Oiti

Middle May – Middle October

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Service

Brochure (coming soon)

Acropolis of Athens

Route in Spacetime

Route in Spacetime

As the rhetorician and satirist Lucian wrote  “… ascending to the Acropolis I flew over the cliff …” towards the land of Hades, the Necromanteion of Acheron, with the help of the psychopomp Hermes. On our right we saw the Agora of Athens and on our left the Pnyx, where the assembly of the citizens took place (Ecclesia). After a while we were passing over the temple of Artemis Aristovouli, that was discovered accidentally in June 1958 during the construction of a small private house at the junction of Nileos Street and Irakleidon Street at Thission. In front of the small Greek temple, an engraved column was discovered dedicating the temple to goddess Artemis Aristovouli, the foundation of which was personally insured by Themistocles. Exiting the walls of Athens, we pass over the Gate of Piraeus, leaving to our right the Double Gate and the Graveyard of the Kerameikos.

Further down we came across the Sacred Lake (Lake Koumoundourou), to the right of the Reidi (salty sacred lakes used for cleansing), where during the celebration of the Mysteries of Eleusis the honor guard of Athens awaited wearing black tunics. Leaving behind Mount Aigaleo, where Xerxes watched, to our left, the Battle of Salamis. And behold, Hermes showed me the vast ritual center of Eleusis bellow us.
It was during the month of Hekatombaion (July- August) of 415 B.C. and as we found out Alcibiades along with Nicias and Lamachus already were on board the Athenian ships alongside the troops on their way to Sicily. When the men boarded the ship, the usual prayers and toasts were performed with gold and silver cups, with the participation of the citizens. After the hymns were chanted, the ships reached the open sea. They descended along the eastern Peloponnese and bypassing the Cape of Maleas, just outside of Cythera, after having circled around Laconia and Messenia, ascended to the western Peloponnese, passing between Zakynthos and Cephalonia and Lefkada, heading to the north of Corfu, to reach across, Southern Italy.

Eleusis

Ritual Center of Greece

Ritual Center of Greece

A lot of people started gathering from the surrounding area for the great celebration of the Eleusinian Mysteries in the month Boedromion (September-October), when the sign of Virgo appeared which symbolized Persephone. The celebration would end when the sign of Libra appeared, which symbolized the decision of Zeus for Persephone to return to the palace of Hades; thus nature deadened.

Constellation of Hydra, Corvus and Crater

Constellation of Hydra, Corvus and Crater

The mystics arrived in a ritual procession and no uninitiated were allowed to cross the courtyard. In Athens Alcibiades and nine more were denounced , for the amputation of the Hermai and for the parody of the Eleusinian mysteries and were called to be tried. Thus Alcibiades , abandoning Nicias and Lamachus in Italy, fled to Sparta of King Agis II. The Athenian court, as I was informed later, sentenced Alcibiades and his accomplices in absentia to death.

After this short tour in the Shrine of Eleusis, I was forced to resume the journey to the Necromanteion under the obtrusive pressure of Hermes. The Messenger of Zeus also had other orders from the father of the gods and men and was in a hurry to take my soul to Hades to be tried.

So, following the course, we passed over Erenia where the grave of Autonoe, the daughter of Cadmus, was located, who had come here from Thebes as soon as she found out about the death of her son Actaeon by the hand of Artemis, because he beheld her naked bathing in a spring. Further along the way we came across Aigosthena, where there is the shrine of the seer Melampus,the son of Amythaon  and Eidomene. Melampus was called this way because when he was born, his mother forgot out of oversight to put his feet in the shade.

Further along the way we flew over the mountain of Cithaeron, which took its name from the king of Plataeae and we saw it on our right. They used to say that Cithaeron advised Zeus , when Hera did not give into his embrace, to construct a female statue and wrap it in an overcoat. Then Cithaeron dispersed that Zeus had kidnapped Plataea, the daughter of Asopus, to make her his wife. The jealous Hera rushed and grabbed the overcoat and saw the statue. Then she laughed and reconciled with the god. So every year in Plataeae they celebrated the marriage of Hera to Zeus.

After a short  while, we found ourselves in mount Helicon, the mountain of medicinal herbs, which was the home of the Muses (Valley of the Muses). Here there was a shrine of Zeus and the spring Hippocrene, which was struck open in the rock of the mountain by the hoof of the winged steed Pegasus. Between Cithaeron and Helicon, to the right in a distance of 17 kilometers from our course and to the northwest of Thebes, in a distance of roughly 6 kilometers, there was the town of Cabeiri. They say that from the army of Xerxes, those who remained with Mardonius and enter the sanctuary of the Cabeiri, out of disrespect and to loot, were driven mad and were killed in the sea and precipices. The wrath of the Cabeiri was unmerciful for the uninitiated and the irreverent.

Sanctuary of Cabeiri

Religious Center of Thrace

Religious Center of Thrace

We have already arrived on the mountain Parnassus, which took its name from the hero of the area, the son of the nymph Kleodora and Kleopompus, through the intervention of the god Poseidon. Parnassus had founded there the Oracle of Pythos, which was later taken over by Apollo.

We found ourselves here during the period when the god Apollo was preparing for his journey to the Hyperboreans, mythical people who lived “beyond the North Wind“. During his absence, his place would be occupied by Dionysus, the celebrations of whom start with the harvest of the vine in the month Metageitnion (August-September); namely during the period, when the constellation of Crater appeared in the sky, which was used for the mixing of wine with water (Constellation of Hydra, Corvus and Crater).

Delphi

Administrative and Religious Center of Greece

Administrative and Religious Center of Greece

Leaving Delphi behind us, we entered the lands of the Locres Ozales and passed over Amfissa, which took its name from the daughter of Macareas, son of Aeolus, who incestuously joined his sister Canace. Then Aeolus threw their child to the dogs and ordered his daughter to commit suicide. But also Macareas killed himself when his passion became known. The first inhabitants of Amfissa were the Cyclopes. During the Peloponnesian War it joined the coalition of Sparta. Its inhabitants perform some mysteries which are said to be about the Cabeiri.
Bellow us was the river Daphnos (Mornus), which took its name from Daphne, a demigod of Sicily, who was son of Hermes and had died at the prime of his youth; that is why the god was quite moved. The cause of his demise was his love for the Nymph Nomea, who never forgave his relationship with the daughter of the king, who deceitfully seduced him, after intoxicating him. Nomea enraged blinded him and the now blind Daphne sang mournful songs, until he fell from a rock and was killed. His father then took him with him to the Heavens.
On our left, bellow Amfissa, lies Mounea, the inhabitants of which offer sacrifices to the meek gods after sunset and eat meat before the sunrise. Moreover on our left, towards the sea, lies Nafpactos which takes its name from some Nymph. There is a shrine of Aphrodite there, where the widows ask the goddess for a second husband. Near the sea the shrine of Poseidon was located and a little further that of Asclepius.
There is the river Evinos which was previously called Lykormas and took the name of the son of Ares, who fell in war trying to capture Idas, who had kidnapped his daughter. That is where Heracles killed the ferryman centaur Nessus who attempted to rape his wife Deianira. Heracles ended his life at the springs of Evinos, on the mountain Oeta near the peak, falling into the fire which Philoctetes had lit for the hero (Pyra of Herakles). The reason was because Heracles, after his victory against Eurytus, asked his wife for a new tunic, to establish a celebration for Zeus. However the tunic worn by the hero was drenched in the blood of Nessus and it afflicted his skin without him being able to take it off. Thus his wife, who had been tricked by Nessus, when she realized what she had done, killed herself and Heracles decided to throw himself into the fire. But a thunder was heard and the hero ascended to the Heavens on a cloud.
Aetolia, up to the river Achelous, is an isolated region, mountainous and with poor roads. Its antediluvian inhabitants were the Pelasgians and the Courites, who were identified as the Dactyl of Crete and the Korybantes, who were the first men born from Gaia. It took its name from the son of Endymion, Aetolus, who fled here from the Peloponnese because he had killed king Apis. The Athenians claimed that this tribe of the Aetolians was barbarous, spoke an incomprehensible language and ate raw meat, but was the largest in population. Despite this, they would create in Thermo the Aetolian Leauge and seize control of Delphi. Thermo is on our left in a distance of 15 kilometers, near lake Trichonida; the location of the temple of Apollo and Artemis. The town was filled with artistic treasures; most of which was a product of looting by the Aetolians, who had reached as far as Dion and Dodoni.
In front of us we can see the raging Acheloous, whom Heracles fought for the sake of Deianira. This river god is an untamed beast, son of chthonic gods, Oceanus and Tethys. Once, enraged because some Nymphs forgot him in their sacrifice near the banks, he suddenly flooded and drove them into the sea, creating the islands of the Echinades.
Further down we entered the land of the Amphilochians, who founded their city near the Gulf of Ambracia. Its name is taken from Amphilochus, the son of Amphiaraus, who was one of the suitors of Helen of Troy, that is why he participated in the campaign. After a while to the right we come across the great Corinthian colony of Ambracia (Arta), which was founded in 625 B.C. by Gorgus, an illegitimate son of the tyrant of Corinth, Cypselus. It takes its name from Ambracia, a daughter of Melaneus, who was a son of Apollo. The town was near the river Aracthus – who was a brother of the firstborn Achelous – whose springs were in Pindos, the great mountain range which includes the Athamanic mountains (Tzoumerka), on the peaks of which the ark of Deucalion landed, in the period of the deluge (the flood of Deucalion ended the First Bronze Age). It laid there on an altitude of 2.429 meters, 40 km to our right.
In a while we would reach the Necromanteion, in a sudden rainstorm which made us shiver even more than the course towards the unknown we were about to embark on. Hermes noticed this and, before we entered the entrance to Hades, he tried to encourage us. He is a good god, sweet tempered and we listened with devotion.

What is life, he told us, but a dream that you will relive in another body. If you were good, you will ascend and might even be reborn as a king. So do not shiver and try to understand the cycle of life. Down there you will see many good and evil people, but before all this you will meet your own, whom you loved and departed before you did, waiting for you.

However I have to deliver you to Charon and leave to bring more souls, this is my job. So here, take a drachma and give it to the ferryman to take you across, to the land of the dead.

Necromanteion

West Gate of the Mortal

West Gate of the Mortal

Among many others we also passed to the Palace under the gaze of Cerberus, feeling the invisible hand of Hades pushing us. Before we entered the dark tunnel, we took with us the sweet smile of Persephone which gave us courage. It was impossible to forget this slender lady with the long black dress, which fluttered like a wraith, without any air.

Leaving the palace of Persephone in the Necromanteion, we headed for Olympus, greeting the good lady. Persephone had great renown in the space of the chthonic gods, but the celestial gods respected her as well because she was a daughter of Demeter, as an intermediate union of the celestial and chthonic space. Hermes on the other hand, tirelessly made the trip Olympus (Dion), Delphi and Necromanteion, carrying the orders of Zeus.

Necromanteion

West Gate of the Mortal

The Necromateion (or Nekromateion) of Ephyra is as important as Delphi and Delos, because it is one of the basic elements of the religion of the Greeks. Namely it is a part of a complete logic. If Delos symbolizes the beginning of a new life, the Necromanteion is both the end and the beginning of a new life, according to the movement of Apollo (Sun).

The Celestial Sphere

We observe then in the above image, that the Sun on 22/12 stops its downward course to the South, the moment it is found in the sign of Capricorn, in the month of Poseidon (December-January) which is visible from Greece, and starts its upward course to the North. It is when the winter begins and the human souls passed after death through that zodiac to reach the Heavens (“Gate of the Gods” – Winter Solstice). In reverse on 21/6 the Sun stops its upwards course to the North, the moment it is found in the Sign of Cancer in the month of Skirophorion (June-July) and starts descending to the South. It is the beginning of the Summer and the souls descended through this zodiac to enter new bodies (“Gate of Mortals” – Summer Solstice).

To see the function of this system, we should at the same time raise the axis EE’ of the celestial Sphere up to Delphi, which will become a Cosmic Center. Thus the “gate of the gods” will be found to the right of Delos and the “gate of mortals” to the left of the Necromanteion.

The position of the Necromanteion as a central gate to Hades is identified with the movement of the Sun and it can not be located outside of the straight line Delos-Necromanteion. The non existence of the Necromanteion also abolishes the function of reincarnation. So, the more the Greek civilization spreads, the further the Necromanteion is distanced from Delos. That is why Lucian talks about Hades beyond the Pillars of Heracles (Gibraltar) in 160 A.D.

Gate of Mortals

The Necromanteion or Nekyomanteion (“νέκυς” is the Greek word for dead) of Acheron (image IV) is located in the west part of Epirus, in the province of Preveza, north of the river Acheron. Homer mentions it alongside the sanctuary of Dodoni. It is estimated that it began its operation back in 1500 B.C.

The site of the Necromanteion was visited by many heroes for various reasons, like Theseus, Heracles, the son of Achilles Neoptolemy, Orpheus, Aeneas, Laodamia and Odysseus. They could of course enter Hades through some secondary entrance, but they would end up in the same place, because the acreage of Hades is fixed, the Necromanteion, because here lies the Palace of Hades and Persephone, where the river Acheron flows. This way the site of the Necromanteion was advertized so much, that the believers flocked there by the thousands. Moreover, a more systematic promotion of the cults happened during the reign of Pyrrhus, the son of Aeacides and Phthia, who propagated that he was descendant, on his father’s side, from Achilles. Pyrrhus was also the second cousin of Alexander the Great. Among the gods he promoted was also Persephone.

At Acheron river, time has a different meaning

Acheron was a son of Gaia who was sentenced to remain underground because he helped the Giants in their battle with the Olympian Gods. So this cold river for large periods of time was lost under the earth and reappeared, forming a dirty stagnation, with a depressing landscape; the lake Acherusia (image V) the name of which comes from the word “άχος” (achos) which means “sorrow”. Then it headed to the west towards the Ionian Sea. Cocytus, the “river of sighs” and Phlegethon, the “fiery river”, were two tributaries which both flowed into the river and the lake. In Cocytus also flowed the underground waters of the chasm of Styx. It was in this chasm that Thetis sank her son Achilles to make him immortal, with sole vulnerable spot the part of the foot where she held him from.
The scene was completed by deaths from malaria, because of the mosquitoes that arrived in swarms in the surrounding area and of the birds or animals which died from the fumes of the lake. Moreover, in the winter the whole flatland stagnated, leaving a hill above the surface of the water, like an island, on which the Necromanteion stood, at the point when Acheron moved towards the sea.

So then Charon transports with his boat the souls through the swamps of Acheron, to the other bank of the river for the cost of an obol (1/6 of a drachma). Acheron, just like the Nile of Egypt, is a border between Life-East and Death-West, as it descends from the North to the South. Charon directs the funerary boat and the souls row, through the environment we described. On the other bank Hades (Invisible) awaits with Cerberus and Orthus, his dogs, to transport the souls to the chthonic space, in order for them to be judged by Rhadamanthus and Sarpedon who were brothers of Minos, and the son of Zeus Aeacus. After judgment, the souls would proceed either towards the fountain of oblivion, next to the white cypress to the left of Hades, or they would follow the path to the fountain of remembrance, to the right, walking towards immortality. Judgment was about the serving of justice, namely punishment for those who headed towards the fountain of oblivion and reward for those who headed for the fountain of remembrance. The opinion of the Orphics was that the soul, depending on the mistakes of man while living, will enter in another body of an animal or human for catharsis and deliverance.

Necromanteion

mr-history-04-05-06-necromanteion

Necromateion of Ephyra

The Necromanteion (Image VI) is composed by the main Sanctuary which is a square with sides of 22 meters, within an auxiliary site that surrounds it. If we compare the Telesterion of Eleusis with the main shrine of the Necromanteion, we will observe that the two buildings are similar because both are structural representations of Hades. Their structural differences come from the different use of the sacred sites.

Archeologist S. Dacaris dates the main Sanctuary of the Necromanteion 150 later than that of Eleusis; this indicates that it followed the structural logic of Ictinus (Pericleon). Despite this, the exterior of the Necromanteion seems structurally primitive, like the walls of Tiryns, namely a construction based on the Lesbian structure. According to architect and archeologist A. Orlando, this system is known in the 7th century B.C., rises in the 6th century B.C. and declines in the 5th century B.C. In any way, it is clear that the clergy follows certain basic construction models so that the believer is not confused.

The believer enters the Necromanteion from the North through a courtyard with the auxiliary spaces and the rooms for priests and visitors. From there he would turn to the east to enter the northern corridor of the oracle, where (to the left) there were rooms for the preparation of the visitor, a psychological and physical preparation, in a completely dark space, where circulation was only possible by candles. He ate foods, like in the funerary dinners, which essentially drugged him and he heard hollow prayers to the chthonic gods. After his cleansing with water, he followed, escorted by the priest, the eastern corridor, throwing along the way a stone on a pile to remove the bad influence. Next, washing his hands in a marble sink, like they do in catholic churches, he would enter with a western direction the corridor of the Labyrinth, which is located south, where he was completely disoriented and only with the help of the Priest he would be able to proceed. If the modern visitor repeats the same course blindfolded and with the help of a friend because the temple is in ruins, he will have the same result as the believers once had.

The Labyrinth was constructed by three arched metal gates, which represented the gates of Hades; therefore in this exact place begins the use of the curvilinear construction for the chthonic gods, (you can read more about Rectilinear and Curvilinear architecture here). The beliver would finally turn to the North and reach the main hall, where the invoked deceased of the visitor appeared in the back, accompanied by the idol of Persephone, who had her palace below the hall.

The thick walls of the main part of the sanctuary, according to the archeologist S. Dakaris, concealed hallways so that the Priests could move around unseen. In fact one such corridor was discovered between two exterior walls. Consequently the believer would talk to the back of the hall, asking for answers, which he actually received from the clergy. Of course no one questioned the process we described, since even Lucian, to avoid the accusation of “irreverence” in 160 A.D., moved the scene of necromancy from Acheron to Mesopotamia. During his departure, the believer left through a different exit, in absolute silence, because the announcement of anything he saw and heard incurred the death penalty.

The palace of Hades and Persephone still has strong presence

Below the central hall where the believer conversed, was located the Palace of Hades and Persephone, with the fifteen chthonic arches. The floor was natural rock, rugged, because it was about the chthonic nature – “Gaia”. In the back, the long and narrow room facing north ended in a rock wall, through which the souls passed to main Hades to be judged. It is from there that the souls came to meet the living believer who invoked them on the upper floor, from the roof of which, the idol of the goddess was raised and lowered. In the northern side of the basement of the Palace of Persephone then, exists a theoretical gate, in the form of a tunnel. And because it is about a soul, there was no reason for openings, as the souls can phase through matter. This is a logic that we inherited and that is why it does not cause us questions when we are told about it or we watch it in the movies.