Theseus Abandoning Ariadne in Ancient Greek Art

As the story goes Ariadne's father put her in charge of the labyrinth where sacrifices were made as part of reparations; however, she would fall in love with Theseus and  later help him in overcoming the Minotaur and saving the would-be sacrificial victims 

Theseus took Ariadne with him when he set sail back to Athens, but then he abandoned her on the island of Naxos . Dionysos saw her there, fell in love with her, and whisked her away and married her. 

The vase-painters of Athens often showed Athena leading Theseus from the sleeping Ariadne to his ship.

Here it is Hermes, at left, who leads Theseus away. A winged figure attends to Ariadne—perhaps Eros, a hint at her upcoming marriage to Dionysos.

Athene commands Theseus to abandon Ariadne on Naxos, heading towards the ribbon-bedecked prow of his ship. The maiden slumbers as the winged god Hypnos (Sleep) drips Lethean water on her head. 

Athene rouses Theseus, commanding him to abandon Ariadne on Naxos. The maiden sleeps with a tiny, winged Hypnos (sleep personified) crouching on her head. (Museo Archeologico Nazionale,  Taranto, Italy ca 460 BC)

 Athena ushers Theseus off to the left while Dionysus leads Ariadne off to the right. Syleus Painter (c 470 BCE) Berlin, East  

The Destruction of Atlantis: Was It Lake Agassiz?

According to Plato (4th century BC), who relied on much earlier Egyptian accounts, Atlantis was a thriving, powerful island civilization that was destroyed by catastrophic flooding.

Was this simply a myth borne out of stories told by ragged men around campfires? Mankind used to be greater and rivaled the gods, but was crushed by jealous deities? Or was this a distant memory kept alive by the few survivors of a horrific event that almost destroyed all of civilization? After all, the same story was told worldwide around the same time. The stories of Noah, the Epic of Gilgamesh, stories told by civilizations of the New World…

The time frame in all these stories is the same. A coincidence?

Following the end of the last great ice age that ended about 10,000 years BC, the ice retreated northward. Behind, the great glaciers left a changed topography. Moraines, plains, rivers, and in one case…a lake that the world had ever before seen.

Lake Agassiz (named for an 19th century Swiss pioneer of glacial science) was huge beyond modern comprehension. It encompassed all or parts of the prairie provinces of Canada and into Minnesota and Michigan, and held more fresh water than that of all the lakes and rivers of the world today. It was deep beyond belief. Essentially, it was a huge reservoir of fresh water left by melting glaciers. Its southern end held the water by a barrier of topography and slowly melting glacial ice acting as a dam. 

About 8,200 years ago the ice dam abruptly gave away. Though the human population in North America at that time was scant, the impact on the burgeoning civilizations in Europe, Asia, and Africa must have been tremendous. The abrupt rise in the sea levels was up to 9 feet. In the Mediterranean, where the impact of the sea was more important because of the "bathtub effect", it must have been catastrophic.

Who knows what happened? Civilizations on the Mediterranean were sea-based, not land-based. What if there was indeed a burgeoning, scientific seafaring civilization at that time that was obliterated by the surging tides? The isle that became the nexus of Great Britain was once a struggling, isolated economy that in a few centuries came to dominate and influence the world we know today.  What would our world be like today if Britain vanished under the waters?

Was this what happened to Atlantis? Was it the destruction of the ice dam and release of the waters of Lake Agassiz into the ocean that destroyed Atlantis? Was it this event that created the flood "myths"? If indeed they were myths at all…science tend to support such a flood as fact, not fiction.

Was there once a civilization, advanced far beyond its time that fell to the rising water and quakes? Maybe so. Probably. You may call it Atlantis, or give it another name, but it once was, and it certainly existed. When you have the time and are next to the surging tides, pray to Poseidon it won't happen again in our time.

The Cult of Asclepius

Asclepius may have been a real person who lived sometime before 1200 BCE. Due to his great deeds, he was elevated to the rank of the deity. He was born in Epidaurus in Peloponnese (the southern tip of Greece). He and his followers, including Hippocrates and Galen, exerted great influence in the practice of medicine that was to dominate the Western world for nearly 3,000 years.

 As Asclepius became famous and his influence spread, he attracted a great number of followers which formed the Cult of Asclepius The Asclepiadae were priest-healers who practiced medicine in Greece and around the Mediterranean. They were a highly respected group in the society and were given many privileges. 

They built healing temples where the sick travelled to seek treatment. As time went on, the temples increased in sophistication and glamour . At the height of their glory, there were over 200 of such temples around the then known civilized world.

The most celebrated temple of Asclepius, or Asclepieion, was situated in Epidaurus, Peloponnese.

Cult (followers) of Asclepius. A sick child brought into the temple of Asclepius. John William Waterhouse, 1877.

 As patients came for treatment at the Asclepieion at Epidaurus, they took their offerings to the temple of Asclepius. 

They would then spend the night in the dormitory, where Asclepius would appear in their dreams and cure them of their sicknesses, or give advice on how their illnesses should be treated.

Asclepius appearing in the dream of the sick. Dream with Asclepius, Sebastiano Ricci 1720, Academy Gallery, Venice.

The Myth of Asclepius

Asclepius  was the ancient Greek god of medicine. He was one among a family pantheon of healers. His father, Apollo, was a healing god and his daughters included Hygieia (personifying hygiene), Iaso (associated with recuperation) and Panacea (embodying all-cure medicine). 

His two sons, Podaleirius, a physician, and Mchaon, a surgeon, were respected doctors in the Trojan War. The great poet Homer referred to Asclepius in the Iliad as “the blameless physician”.The rod of Asclepius, a snake-entwined staff, remains a symbol of medicine today.

 According to the legend, Asclepius was the son of Apollo and Coronis, one of his many lovers. Learning that Coronis was unfaithful, Apollo ordered her to be killed. As Coronis, pregnant with Asclepius, laid on the funeral pyre, Apollo had the child rescued (This was the first legendary reported case of postpartum Caesarean section).

Asclepius taken from The Womb of Coronis. Wood carving, 1549 edition of Alessandro Benedetti’s De Re Medica.

Asclepius (child), being taught by Chiron the centaur.

 Apollo placed Asclepius under the tutorship of Chiron, the wise centaur (half man and half horse beast). Asclepius was a gifted and studious student. He soon acquired the great art of healing and became an outstanding healer. In the picture below, he can be seen attending to a thorn in the foot of Venus. Asclepius was so adept at his art that he not only cured the sick, but could also raise people from the dead.

Asclepius attending to a thorn in the foot of Venus. Sir Edward John Poynter 1880, Tate Gallery, London.

Asclepius reviving Hippolytus. Claude Lorraine, (1604– 1682) French Baroque Painter.

The Caduceus

There is a painfully apt misunderstanding between the rod of Asclepius and a similar symbol.

Greek mythology featured a separate and entirely distinct symbolic rod wrapped with snakes, the caduceus—which has two snakes and is winged.  The caduceus was carried by Hermes/Mercury, the god of merchants, thieves, messengers, and tricksters.  Hermes used the rod to beguile mortals or to touch the eyes of the dead and lead them to the underworld.

In the United States the two rods have become confused because of a military mix-up in the early twentieth century (when a stubborn medical officer refused to listen to his subordinates and ordered the caduceus to be adopted as the symbol of the U.S. Medical Corps).  Since then the caduceus has been extensively used by healthcare organizations in the United States and has come to replace the staff of Asclepius in the majority of uses.  Commercial and for-profit medical organizations are particularly inclined to use the caduceus instead of the rod of Asclepius as the former is more visually arresting (although academic and professional medical organizations tend to use the staff of Asclepius).

The Rod of Asclepius

Asclepius was a deity of healing among the ancient Greeks. A son of Apollo, he was cut from his mother's dead body on her funeral pyre by his father and given to Chiron, a wise centaur, to be raised. Growing to become a master healer, he was too good: Zeus killed him because his craft raised a man from the dead, and the god Hades feared that no more souls would come to his domain. The story of Asclepius is part of the novel MEDUSA.

The symbol of Asclepius was a serpent wrapped around a staff: the rod of Asclepius. A derivation of the rod became the symbol of the medical field in the USA, but was somehow changed to the caduceus, the symbol of the god Hermes that held two intertwined snakes on a staff.

There were healing temples devoted to Asclepius, including large ones in Epidaurus and Kos. These "Asclepieions" would have non-venomous snakes on the temple floor that were believed to having healing powers, thus the origin of the serpent on the rod, which remains a symbol of healing today across the world.

Lost city of Atlantis 'buried in Spanish wetlands'

The lost city of Atlantis is buried under marshland on the South Atlantic coast of Spain, a new documentary has claimed.

Plato wrote Atlantis had been destroyed by a natural disaster in 9,000 BC Photo: HAMID REZA IRANI

The film, Finding Atlantis, screened by the National Geographic Channel in the US and fronted by Professor Richard Freund, from Hartford University in Connecticut.

Professor Freund explained how he led a pursuit to find the lost civilisation, believed by many to be an ancient Greek myth, by using deep-ground radar, digital mapping and satellite imagery.

"I think we found the best candidate for what was the beginnings of civilisation ... one of the largest and most ancient cities at the bottom of a huge marsh."

He contends that Atlantis, described by Plato in 360BC, in Spain's Donaña National Park, north of Cadiz, and was wiped out by a giant tsunami. Plato wrote it had been destroyed by a natural disaster in 9,000BC.

"This is the power of tsunamis," he said. "It is so hard to understand that it can wipe out 60 miles inland, and that's pretty much what we're talking about."

 He said that some of Atlantis's inhabitants had fled a tsunami to establish similar "memorial cities" which he had identified in central Spain.

His film company, Associated Producers of Canada, added: "Besides identifying the location of the city, they discovered a stele that may have stood at the entrance to the ancient civilisation. It records the long lost symbol of Atlantis."

The film's claims however were dismissed as having no reliable basis in scientific fact and of misinterpreting partial results by an investigation by a team of distinguished Spanish scientists. Since 2005 they have been working on the site at a huge national park and bird sanctuary near Cadiz.

Juan Villarías-Robles, an anthropologist with the Spanish government's scientific research body, CSIC, says Professor Freund appeared sensationalised their work.

Mr Villarías-Robles was part of a team investigating ancient geomorphology and settlements in Donaña, Europe's largest wetlands.

He said satellite photos of Donaña's massive wetlands, west of Gibraltar, seemed to show buried rectangular buildings and concentric circles of a buried city near a beach.

"Richard Freund was a newcomer to our project and appeared to be involved in his own very controversial issue concerning King Solomon's search for ivory and gold in Tartessos, the well documented settlement in the Donaña area established in the first millennium BC.

"He became involved in what we were doing and provided funding for probes through his connections with National Geographic and Associated Producers.

"He left and the film company told us the documentary would be finished in April or May. But we did not hear from him and are very surprised it has appeared so soon and makes such fanciful claims."

Mr Villarías-Robles, who also dismissed claims of the "memorial cities", said his team planned to offer their own conclusions later this year

The theory that Atlantis is buried in the Spanish wetlands is the latest in a long line of suggested locations. In 2004, US ocean researchers said they were convinced they had found evidence of Atlantis off the coast of Cyprus. Others include various Mediterranean islands, Central America and even Antarctica.

Edward Owen   Reposted From The Telegraph

Atlantis: Myth or History?

Atlantis figures prominently in the novel ARIADNE:A Tale of the Minotaur, and had a part in MEDUSA as well. Plato describes Atlantis in his essay Critias and goes into great detail, describing the political structure, size, geography, and history of the island. Plato didn’t view the island nation as some type of utopia, but rather as a prior rival. The Atlanteans had conquered then world up into Egypt and Libya, but were finally cast out of much of Europe by the Athenian forbearers.  The Atlantis of Plato’s work was located west of the Pillars of Hercules (Gibralter). In other words, in the Atlantic Ocean, the ocean that was named for the fabled land. If Plato’s accounts are to be believed, Atlantis would be more properly termed a continent rather than an island.

Plato placed Atlanta’s zenith as several thousand years prior to his own. Other writers, including some older than  Plato, confirmed the existence of a powerful and advanced Island nation called Atlantis, with varying accounts of its size, dated,  and location. Oddly enough, some of these ancient writers point to existing hieroglyphics in Egypt which confirmed the accuracy of these stories. These hieroglyphics no longer exist or have not been rediscovered. The Egyptians themselves describe as being attacked by powerful “Sea People” and some equate these to the Atlanteans.

The story of an advanced island nation that was destroyed by the gods by either quake or catastrophic flooding is a common one through much of Europe, northern Africa, and the near East. The stories are too widespread and similar to be coincidental. Could there have indeed been an ancient Atlantis? 

Many scholars believe that the tales relate to the civilizations arising from Crete. Prior to the rise of classical Greece, the Minoan civilization (named for Minos) was the predominant power of the Mediterranean, both culturally and politically. These Island kingdoms were far advanced than their contemporaries and included the islands of Crete and Santorini (Thera). To the early inhabitants of the Greek mainland living in mud and thatch huts and fishing in primitive barks, the sight of a Minoan galley sailing into harbor with dozens or oars rhythmically splashing and its huge sail with a bull motif catching the breeze must have seemed magical. The traders and soldiers wearing fine woolens and linens dyed in beautiful patterns and bearing swords and armor of beautifully wrought bronze must have made them seem almost like gods. But somewhere in the 16th or 17th century BC the civilization abruptly vanished. The explanation seems to be the Thera volcanic eruption, a catastrophic volcanic event that devastated Crete and Santorini Island, another proposed location for events. Some researchers believe that Plato was working with mistranslations of ancient Egypt to report size and distance. If “hundreds” was substituted for “thousands”, his accounts would have been archeologically accurate.

Fresco at Santorini
But there are other explanations. Professor Freund from Connecticut has found ruins in Spanish Andalusia  submerged under swampy water which he claims could be the location of Atlantis. Tantalizingly close to the Pillars of Hercules, a program was devoted to his research on the National Geographic channel. Researchers have also pointed to ancient ruins in many other Mediterranean locations as well as Africa, Turkey, Ireland, and even North America. 

Did Atlantis exist? Probably. It was likely a civilization more sophisticated that its neighbors that was destroyed by a natural catastrophe. The take home lesion is the same today as it was in Plato’s day: Don’t get Poseidon mad at you!