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Posted on Wednesday, May 02 - 2007

Archaeologists have discovered the place where Aeneas is believed to have first set foot in Italy. It is the closest point on the Italian peninsula to Albania and, until efforts by the coastguard some years ago, was the destination of choice for Albanians fleeing poverty for the glamour and prosperity of their wealthy neighbour. But suddenly, the little town of Castro in the province of Lecce has something much more exciting to shout about. Archaeologists at the University of Lecce have discovered that the modern town, with its 15th-century walls, sits on the ruins of the port that was the first landfall in Italy made by the semi-mythical wandererof the ancient world, Aeneas.

According to Virgil's epic, he fled Troy as the Greeks destroyed it and made his laborious way westwards finally to found a "new Troy", the imperial city of Rome.Aeneas was first described as coming to Italy by the poet Stesichorus, writing around 600 BC. But it is the Roman poet Virgil, who died at sea in 19 BC aged 51 before he could complete his masterpiece, who defined him and his voyage for posterity. In the Aeneid, Virgil provided the rapidly rising Roman state with its own national epic in a deliberate effort to out-Homer Homer and the Greek culture of which his poems were a foundation.Like the Illiad and the Odyssey, the background of the Aeneid is Troy and the 10-year war that culminated in itsdestruction. Like Odysseus, the poem's hero, Aeneas, the product of a fling between a noble of Troy and the goddess Aphrodite, wanders at length across the oceans with his devoted followers, seeking with increasing desperation the new Troy the gods have promised him. Is it Thrace? Might it be the island of Delos, home to the oracle of Apollo? Clearly not: in both cases the auguries are bad. For a long time he cherishes the idea that Crete is the place. But when he arrives there a pestilence is raging:

View: Full Article | Source: The Independent

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Scienctists turns to Greek mythology

Apollo drew his bow and fired arrow after arrow into the deadly pythondragon guarding the sacred ground of Ge, the goddess of the earth. With his victory, Apollo gained the right to call the slopes of Delphi his earthly sanctuary. It is a beautiful myth. Out of it grew the story of the Oracle of Delphi, a soothsayer who inhaled the breath of Apollo. The Pythia, the priestess who sat on a tripod inhaling fumes from the bowels of the earth, went into trances and muttered incomprehensible phrases, ...

Zeus devotees worship in Athens

Worshippers who believe in the 12 gods of ancient Greece have held a ceremony at the Temple of Zeus in Athens. This is a landmark event to celebrate official recognition of their religion by a court last year. The Greek Orthodox Church has said they are miserable resuscitators of a degenerate dead religion. But the ceremony went ahead, with crowds watching priests and priestesses, who said the event was a symbol of their civic rights. In 2003, white-clad worshippers performedan illicit ceremony ...

Evidence of pre-Zeus deity found

Submitted by Da Verminator: Before Zeus hurled his first thunderbolt from Olympus, the pre-Greek people occupying the land presumably paid homage and offered sacrifices to their own gods and goddesses, whose nature and identities are unknown to scholars today. But archaeologists say they have now found the ashes, bones and other evidence of animal sacrifices to some pre-Zeus deity on the summit of Mount Lykaion, in the region of Greece known as Arcadia. The remains were uncovered last summer at ...

New evidence of the cult of Zeus is 3,200 years old

Copyright Philadelphia InquirerIt's not hard to see why Zeus was such a popular god with the ancient Greeks. He not only wielded a thunderbolt, but he also got into all sorts of trouble, including liaisons with humans and goddesses - much to the annoyance of his wife, Hera.Greek gods were figures people could relate to, said archaeologist David Romano of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. And worshiping Zeus apparently involved some serious part...

The Oracle at Delphi

Legend has it that Zeus released 2 eagles from the opposite ends of the Earth and where they met became known at the center of the world. That place was Delphi, and though perhaps not really the center of the world, it was a place that played an important role in ancient Greek history.How the Oracle came to be is also well-documented in Greek myth. Originally, there was a shrine at Delphi to the Earth Mother, Gaia. That shrine was home to a giant serpent, named Python, who guarded th...

Stories in the starry sky

Most of the well-known constellations are associated with stories from classical mythology. Often the stories are intertwined, and several groups of stars enter into a single tale. One such fable, "Apollo and the Crow," features three constellations: the Crow, the Cup and the Watersnake. You can watch the story unfold on any evening in early spring.Once the crow was much different than the bird we know today. It had white, lustrous feathers; its voice was sweet and melodiou...

Legend of Perseus

BBC.CO.UK Perseus was the son of Danae, the daughter of King Acrisius, and Zeus. King Acrisius had been told by a prophet that his grandson would kill him, so he locked his daughter in a brass tower so she could not have children. Despite this, she secretly married Zeus and became pregnant. When King Acrisius found out about the baby, he was frightened. Not wanting to kill them, he put Danae and Perseus into a chest and cast them into the sea. The chest washed up onto an i...

Where is the mythical Ithica ?

A UK-led team is challenging cherished ideas on Greek mythology by proposing an alternative site for Ithaca. The island was said to be the home of Odysseus, whose 10-year journey back from the Trojan War is chronicled in Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Most people think the modern-day Ionian island of Ithaki is the location. But geologists are this week sinking a borehole on nearby Kefalonia in an attempt to test whether its western peninsula of Paliki is the real site. The scientists hope to...

Oriclae of Delphi

Interactive Ancient Mediterranean Copyright 1998 Historical significance: Delphi owed its international prominence to the famous oracle of the god Apollo, who foretold the future through his priestess, known as the Pythia. She responded to the questions of visitors while in a trance; her inarticulate cries were interpreted and written down by an official interpreter, in earlier times in hexameter verse, then later in prose. These oracular responses were notoriously ambiguous, an...

The prophet of gases

The Oracle at Delphi in central Greece was a major religious center for more than 1000 years. Citizens and rulers alike made pilgrimages there to get advice on everything from mistresses to military conquests. The officiant at the oracle was always a woman, referred to as the Pythia, who perched on a tripod above a chasm in the bowels of the Temple of Apollo and inhaled fumes from the earth that would induce a prophetic, often crazed, trance during which she would relay the wisdom of the gods. T...

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