Peach cobbler and Megara

peach cobbler
Megara, Hercules’ First Wife

After defeating the Minyans at Orchomenos, King Creon offered his eldest daughter, Megara, to Hercules as a bride in reward for his prowess in battle. Together, Hercules and Megara had anywhere between three and eight children. Although many different versions of Hercules’ doomed marriage to Megara survive, Euripides’ Heracles is the most popular account. There still remains much debate surrounding the sequencing of events.

According to Euripides, when Hercules returned home from his trip to the underworld to fetch Cerberus, he found Greece in chaos. During his absence, Lycus had come to Eubea to overthrow Creon and murdered him. At the precise moment of Hercules’ return, Lycus was about to murder Megara and their children. Hercules rushed to the defense of his family and slew Lycus with an arrow. Just as Hercules was about to sacrifice to Zeus, however, Hera interfered, causing Hercules to fall into a state of delusion and rage. Hercules shot their children with his arrows, believing them to be Eurystheus’ sons and not his own. (Although Apollodoros reports that Megara escaped and married Iolaus, Euripides reports that Hercules shot Megara too.) As Hercules was about to kill his own adopted father, Amphitryon, thinking him to be Eurystheus’ father Sthenelus, Athena intervened and pelted Hercules on the chest with a rock, knocking him out cold and sending him into a deep sleep. Once Hercules awoke and realized what he had done, he was horrified by his actions and wanted to commit suicide. Luckily his friend Theseus was there to calm him down, eventually convincing Hercules to go into exile.

Traditionally, Hercules’ momentary insanity is explained by Hera;s desire to make Hercules commit a crime that would require atonement. Some versions say that following the murders, Hercules traveled to Delphi, and was instructed by the oracle to go to Tiryns and to serve Eurystheus for twelve years and perform any tasks that he might ask of him. If Hercules would complete these tasks and serve his sentence to Eurystheus in full, Hercules would be made immortal. The tasks that followed were to be known later as the labors of Hercules. Continue reading

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Zakynthos

The beaches of Zakynthos are hosting the last and most important concentration of Loggerhead “Caretta caretta” nesting sites in the Mediterranean.

Every year, beginning from June through the end of August, the female Loggerheads come ashore at night to lay their eggs in the sand and then afterwards cover the nest. After 55 days, the hatchlings start to dig their way out of the nest to find their way down to the sea. Survival rate is very low, only very few hatchlings (1 or 2 out of 1000) will have a chance to adulthood. Thus, it’s very important to protect the nests.

The History of Zakynthos Island

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Pasta with shrimp and Hera

Pasta and shrimp

Hera was sister and wife to Zeus , mother of Ares, the god of war and Hephaestus,  the god of fire; as well as of Eileithyia and Eve, protectors of child birth and youth, correspondingly.

As soon as she was born, she was swallowed from her father Cronus who was afraid that his off springs would rebel against him. The brothers and sisters of Hera had the same fate, except Zeus who was saved due to a trick he did against Cronus, thus ending once and for all his dominance.

As she was the wife of Zeus, Hera was the most important of all goddesses, queen of heaven and of marriage. In ancient Athens, couples got married only the month Gamelion (ancient Greek month that doesn’t exist anymore) that was dedicated to Hera. The apple and the pomegranate were the holy fruits of the goddess and her symbols.

Hera was arrogant, mischievous, wicked, choleric, dominant and very jealous. Her marriage was a continuous conjugal squabble since Zeus was far from a loyal husband. She had never forgiven him for his flirting with all the minor goddesses, nymphs and plain mortals. Even his progenies had to pay for the infidelity of their father.  Hercules was one such example whereas all his life he was trying to escape the wrath of Hera. Once Zeus was so furious from her deeds that hung her from her hands, with anvils tied on her legs, at the highest peak of mount Olympus as a punishment. Continue reading

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Apricot Jam and Rites of Passage

apricot jam

The notion of symbolic death puts these stories of human sacrifice into the context of another important set of rituals, called rites of passage. Life consists of a series of moments that may be conceived of as dangerous and difficult transitions; many cultures construct practices designed to ease the passage between the stages. These transitional rites may share features with one another: for instance, in ancient Greece sacrifice, marriage and death, utilize rites of purification, garlanding, offering of locks of hair, and feasting. As a result, we sometimes see the conflation of marriage and death, or the image of the dead young woman as the bride of Hades. The ritual sacrifice and marriage perform parallel functions in that they both strengthen community ties. (Greek tragedy by Nancy SorkinRabinowitz) Continue reading

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Red pepper dip and Patroclus

red pepper dip

 Patroclus

My father was a king and the son of kings. He was a short man, as most of us were, and built like a bull, all shoulders. He married my mother when he was fourteen and sworn by the priestess to be fruitful. It was a good match: she was an only child, and her father’s fortune would go to her husband.

He did not find out until the wedding that she was simple. Her father had been scrupulous about keeping her veiled until the ceremony, and my father had humoured him. If she were ugly, there were always slave girls and serving boys. When at last they pulled off the veil, they say my mother smiled. That is how they knew she was quite stupid. Brides did not smile.

When I was delivered, a boy, he plucked me from her arms and handed me to a nurse. In pity, the midwife gave my mother a pillow to hold instead of me. My mother hugged it. She did not seem to notice a change had been made.

Quickly I became a disappointment: small, slight. I was not fast. I was not strong. I could not sing. The best that could be said of me was that I was not sickly. The colds and cramps that seized my peers left me untouched. This only made my father suspicious. Was I a changeling, inhuman? He scowled at me, watching. My hand shook feeling his gaze. And there was my mother, dribbling wine on herself. )(from here) Continue reading

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Strawberry meringue and Achilles

meringue with strawberries

Achilles

Achilles was the son of goddess and sea nymph Thetis and mortal Peleus. Even though he had supernatural qualities, in reality he had always been a mortal.  When handsome and arrogant Achilles was an infant, prophets had predicted his early death. Thus, his loving mother, in an effort to shield his divine descent, held him from his left heel and immersed him in the waters of the Styx river to make him immortal.     He was the super hero of the Trojan war and a vigorous and unrelenting fighter. When doomsday had come, Paris an insignificant fighter shot an arrow to Achilles. God Apollo who disliked Achilles, guided the arrow to the only vulnerable spot of Achilles, his left heel. At this provocative moment Thetis had tried so much to avoid, the prophecy was fulfilled. His mother mourned him for seventeen days. Even the Muses have come to sing at his lamentation, just before his cremation. Continue reading

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Greece

ITHACA

When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon – do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.

Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from scholars.

Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.

C. P. Cavafy

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Pea pancakes and the House of Atreus

pea pancakes

The House of Atreus is one of the most famous families in mythology.  Agamemnon, who led the Greeks against Troy, belonged to it. All of his immediate family, his wife Clytemnistra, his children, Iphigenia, Orestes and Electra, were as well known as he was. His brother Menelaus was the husband of Helen, for whose sake the Trojan war was fought.

It was an ill-fated house. The cause of all the misfortunes was held to be an ancestor, a King of Lydia named Tantalus, who brought upon himself a most terrible punishment by a most wicked deed. That was not the end of the matter. The evil he started went on after his death. His descendants also did wickedly and were punished. A curse seemed to hand over the family, making men sin in spite of themselves and bringing suffering and death down upon the innocent as well as the guilty. (from here) Continue reading

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Corn bread with feta

corn bread
Corn bread

The afterlife
The ancient Greeks believed in life after death. They believed that the souls of the dead left their bodies and travelled to a new life in the Underworld. It was divided into two parts-Heaven and Hell.
The poet Hesiod described Heaven as being above the earth, in the sky where the gods and goddesses lived. He said Hell was hidden deep inside the earth. Hesiod said it would take nine days for a blacksmith’s anvil to fall to Earth from Heaven-and nine days for it to fall from the Earth into Hell. This was his way of saying how far away the two places were.
When someone died their body was washed and rubbed with olive oil. A small coin was placed inside its mouth. Finally, it was covered with a cloth. The house was cleaned and wreaths of laurel and myrtle leaves were hung inside. The family sang a sad song then, at night, the body was taken to the cemetery which lay outside the town.
After burial, the grave was filled with soil, and a mound of earth was piled on top. A grave marker, which could be a vase, a statue, or a stone, was placed on the mound. The ancient Greeks believed that the body lived inside the grave, while the soul was taken on a journey to a new life in the Underworld.
The journey to the underworld
After a dead person had been buried, their soul was taken on a journey by Hermes, the messenger god. He took them to the banks of the river Styx, the boundary between the world of the living and the world of the dead. Waiting there was a ferry man called Charon. It was his job to row souls across the river, which they paid for with the coins from inside their mouths. Once on the other side, the gloomy and frightening god Hades-whose name meant ‘the Unseen One’-took them into a place of reward or of punishment-depending on how good or bad they had been on Earth. A three-headed guard dog, Cerberus, stood at the entrance to the Underworld to stop souls from escaping.(from this book) Continue reading

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Vangelis – Mythodea

The music on this web site was created by Vangelis, as art of a longer composition that he calls “Mythodea: Music for NASA’s Mars Odyssey Mission.”
Mars Odyssey team members wanted to know more, so we asked Vangelis a few questions about his personal connection to Mars and music.
Have you always been inspired by space, as you are by music?
Mythology, science, space exploration, these are subjects that have fascinated me since my early childhood. And they were always connected somehow with the music I write.I understand the world through music and I believe that music shapes the universe. Mankind has always had a sense of wonder about space, has always been curious. It’s something that’s implanted in us. It’s natural to want to travel and discover. It is, always has been, and is always going to be like this. We are space.
What fascinates you most about Mars exploration?
The stars and the planets have interested people for millennia, and Mars in particular. It doesn’t matter what each one of us believes about it — Mars has always held for mankind a sense of mystery, legend and intrigue. And man’s persistence to reach, to explore Mars, to find the much anticipated traces of life there, despite the many difficulties and set-backs incurred in trying, this persistence is amazing.
What connections do you draw between your music, the Mars Odyssey mission, and Odyssey — the great, epic tale written by Homer?
In Homer’s Odyssey, Ulysses is trying to go back to his homeland. And he goes through different adventures and difficult times for years and years. So Odyssey seems a good name for NASA’s Mars Mission, because it has been and is still an extremely difficult adventure.
You call your music for the Mars Odyssey mission: “Mythodea.” Where does that name come from?
I made up the name Mythodea from the words myth and ode. And I felt in it a kind of shared or common path with NASA’s current exploration of the planet. Whatever we use as a key; music, mythology, science, mathematics, astronomy,we are all working to decode the mystery of creation, searching for ourdeepest roots.
And whatever we find on Mars, the doors will be open to the next Odyssey, to something so many have instinctually felt for so long, something which through music I remember — that at the dawn of creation the seeds of life were likely scattered far and wide across the endless skies, and that science will continue to show us how we are connected, no different than the universe itself.

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mainly about cooking as well as sharing with the world glorious Greece