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The Magic Sphere of Helios, Ancient Greek God of Sun

The Magic Sphere of Helios
The magic sphere of Helios. Credit: Acropolis-museum-Athens-Greece

The magic sphere of Helios, which is covered with strange symbols and letters, is believed to somehow be related to magic rituals.

The magic sphere of Helios was discovered in Athens, Greece and has, since then, been tantalizing the archaeological community. Many are still wondering about the significance of its features and its function.

According to Belgian classical philologist Armand L. Delatte, the magic sphere of Helios is comprised of four scenes. The first depicts an image of a person with a solar halo surrounding his head, believed to be Helios, the sun god, portrayed as “Kosmokrator,” the all-powerful Ruler of the Universe. He holds a whip in his right hand and three lit torches in his left.

This deity is often described as the son of the Titans Hyperion and Theia and brother of the goddesses Selene (the Moon) and Eos (the Dawn).

Helios is seen sitting on a throne beneath an arch, flanked by two dogs that could symbolize the brightest stars of the constellations of Canis Major and Minor, Sirius and Prokyon. Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky is known as the “dog star,” and ‘Canis’ in Latin and ‘kynos’ in ancient Greek both mean dog.

The second scene on the magic sphere of Helios depicts a circle containing five other intersecting circles impressed with the words: ΑΙΘΗΡ, ΑΝΑΒΠΑ, ΑΝΝΙΑΕΥ, ΕΔΕΒΩΠ̣Ι, and ΑΠΙΟΒΙ whilst three of the intersecting circles are marked with ΕΥΠΑΡ̣ΕC (“C” pronounced as “S”), ΑΧΦΕΙ, and ΑΘΕΛΑ. Beneath the circles, a collection of letters can be seen in the pattern of: ΧΧΧ, ΔΔΔΔ, and ΗΗΗΗ.

Sphere Used in Magic Rituals

Some scholars believe the sphere was used in magic rituals by those hoping to be victorious in various types of competitions.

The magic sphere of Helios is filled with astral and geometrical symbols, including a circle containing a triangle in which the left angle contains the letters ΑΔΑΞΑΞΒΕΝΒΕΝΒΛΩΘΝΩΜΑΖΟΜΟΗΡ while ΟΖΩΡΟΥΘΕΝΑΑΕΞΑΒΙΟΥΡΟ̣ΑΙΛΕΜΒΡΑΕΡ is inscribed within the second angle, and ΧΧΧ ΠΠΠΠ ΦΦΦΦ̣Φ̣ΦΦ̣ ΔΔΔΔ ΛΛΛΛ ΛΛΛΛ can be found at the base.

Additionally, there is also a snake as well as numbers and incomprehensible inscriptions with the only identifiable word being ΑΙΘΗΡ (Aether), the first of nature’s five elements in ancient science (aether, earth, water, fire, and air). Aether, or ether, also known as the fifth element or quintessence, was considered to be the material that fills the region of the universe beyond the terrestrial sphere.

Object Discovered Near the Sanctuary of Dionysus

The thirty centimeter magic sphere is made of marble, and it was discovered in 1866 near the Theater of Dionysus on the southern slope of the Acropolis hill. It was originally part of the sanctuary of Dionysus, god of the grape-harvest, winemaking, religious ecstasy, and festivity.

The sanctuary was constructed around the 6th century BC, and the theater was later constructed adjacent to the temple.

A study carried out in 1913 by Delatte, pointed out that the sphere was buried near the theater as an ancient talisman for luck in the events.

This association was based on Delatte’s belief that some of the symbols depicted strategies for winning an athletic or theatrical competition. This was further supported by the gladiatorial connection, as the sphere has been dated to the 2nd to 3rd century AD and, hence, to the Roman period.

After the conquest of Athens by Rome and the partial destruction of the city in 86 BC, the sanctuary and theater were later repurposed by the Romans to be used for performances and even gladiatorial combat.

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